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15 Things Only Single Parents Understand So Well

15 Things Only Single Parents Understand So Well

You might not believe it, but the number of households run by single moms in the US now make up 25% of the total. Single dads come in at 6%. Add the two together and that accounts for about a third of all American households. This may ease the pain and the challenges of being a single parent a little bit. There is also the consolation that March 21st has now been designated as National Single Parent’s Day which recognizes the heroic contributions made by single parents to society.

We cannot forget that the difficulties single parents face to-day are compounded by certain misconceptions and prejudices going the rounds. But there are also happy memories and tender moments you will never forget. Here are 15 things that only a single parent can fully understand.

1. You may not be financially well off

It may just be a statistic and there is, of course, an explanation for it. The fact is that according to Pew research, married moms are earning four times as much as single moms. Sociologists explain this by saying that many single mothers come from ethnic minorities and have fewer qualifications. In addition, according to CNN, raising a kid can cost in the region of $245,000 and your child support may not cover all that. You are only too keenly aware that a single income is going to be stretched to its limit.

2. You do not have the luxury of co-parenting

As a single parent, you can only understand too well what it is like to do everything solo. That will range from running the house, picking kids up, dealing with minor crises and the list goes on and on. You will never have the luxury of co-parenting so it is almost always exhausting. Watch the inspiring video here of how a single Dad in Russia brings up his two boys. You will also see how single dads have got together to lend each other support and fight for more rights for single parents.

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3. You make a superhuman effort to look your best

You have to find time to look after yourself, even though that is an almost impossible task. But look at the benefits. If you are a single dad, your kids will not feel ashamed when you pick them up at school because you do not look like an unshaven tramp. Looking your best and feeling great will rub off on your kids too. It will be a great help to them in facing life with confidence and good humor.

4. You have to put up with the stigma of being a single parent

Society still finds it difficult to fully accept single parents and you always wonder why. The novelist, J.K. Rowling of Harry Potter fame, was poverty stricken as a single mother. But the worst thing for her was the stigma and the patronising attitude of people around her. She recalls working in a church where a woman openly referred to her as ‘The Unmarried Mother’.

5. You now have freedom to do what you want

It is not all hard work and drudgery being a single parent. Do you remember when you had to tiptoe around the house trying to keep to all those compromises? Maybe you never had the luxury of a stable partnership even at the beginning. But now you have the freedom to have your pet cat in bed, go to bed when you want and enjoy a long lie-in (kids permitting!).

6. You involve your kids in decision making.

One great thing about single parenting is that the kids are often much more capable in the house and can do the chores with very little fuss. You have involved them a lot more because you just simply cannot cope on your own. The great thing is that they become much more autonomous and they are also keener to help you make decisions on what to eat, where to go on holidays and other things which directly concern them.

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7. You need adult companionship

While you love your kids to death, there are times when you just want to have adult company. If you are a single mum, you have more opportunities to organize get-togethers and share some of the parenting tasks such as collecting children and taking turns with sports practice. But many single dads find that they are often excluded or that they do not cultivate the same networks that mothers do. If you are a single dad, you often feel you cannot get emotional under pressure as you have to conform to the male stereotype. You are also very reluctant to talk to your male friends about these matters, especially when you are in financial trouble. It can be terrible lonely.

8. You have set rigid rules about criticizing the absent parent

Children have to get used to the constant switching from one home or parent to another when there is a divorce or separation involved. It is less complicated for children of single parents who never knew or can remember the absent parent. One thing you insist on is that you never criticize the other parent in front of your kids. You just hope and pray that the other parent is also following this rule. You know how important it is for the child to be able to love both parents without all the drama. This is why you are really pleased when the kids get excited about their day or weekend with the other parent.

9. You no longer have to negotiate

Do you remember all the negotiations you had to go through when you had to decide with your partner about which school was right for your kid, what the boundaries should be for the kids’ behavior and even what time kids must go to bed? Now you are the one who makes all the decisions and even though some of them may be wrong, you will never have to justify, explain or defend your decisions. What bliss!

10. You are a super role model

The fact that you are now an independent and well adjusted adult is a wonderful role model for your children. You are the one who walks the talk about learning how to get things done. Although you find it frustrating and lonely at times, you are quite proud of the fact that you have built your own support system, complete with emergency procedures for coping when things get desperate. You know that your kids may not be famous but they recognize your efforts for them and that is all you need.

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“I grew up without a father in my life. I had a heroic mom and wonderful grandparents who helped raise me and my sister, and it is because of them that I am able to stand here today.”- President Barack Obama .

11. Your bed is all yours

Ever wondered about all the sleep you lost when you both had to make adjustments in sleeping next to each other? According to the National Sleep Foundation, sleeping together may be great for cuddling up but not when it comes to getting a good night’s sleep. They estimate that the double bed arrangement may result in a loss of 50 minutes sleep a night. Now the bed is all yours and you sleep more soundly.

12. You sometimes feel it is all too much

Having a job and then going home to an even more demanding job is putting you at risk of suffering from depression, chronic fatigue or some other illness. You feel that you cannot meet all your child’s demands on top of running the home. You admit that there have been times when you resorted to physical punishment when you were pushed over the edge. You know though, that the best way is to get support from other single parents’ groups or get help from friends and family.

13. You keep the lines of communication open

There are sometimes problems with boys who become very aggressive when the father moves out. You know that you have to tell the father about this misbehavior and ask for his support in helping you maintain your authority. It is even more important to establish common boundaries for behavior so that when kids are with one parent, there is no good cop, bad cop parenting. The best way to ensure this happens is to always keep the lines of communication open.

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14. You know how to work smarter

One of the great challenges is making the best use of your time. I bet that many single parents could run courses on time management because I have seen many of them run incredibly successful homes. They should be a role model for business leaders and many other parents. You know how to plan ahead and organize and you also know how and when to get extra support when you really need it. Above all, you are not afraid to ask!

15. You always manage to see the positives

You know only too well that your love for your kids is just as good, if not better, than those who have a two-parent home. Above all, the absence of a parent does not hinder your child from becoming a well-adjusted, balanced and happy kid. You also know that your children are much less likely to have problems with grades at school or behavior because the main causes there are family conflicts and arguments among spouses. Well, that will certainly not happen in your household!

Featured photo credit: A kid’s Sunday morning at the Beach!!/ Sudanshu Goyal via flickr.com

More by this author

Robert Locke

Author of Ziger the Tiger Stories, a health enthusiast specializing in relationships, life improvement and mental health.

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Last Updated on March 14, 2019

7 Questions to Ask in a Job Interview That Will Impress the Interviewer

7 Questions to Ask in a Job Interview That Will Impress the Interviewer

Recruiters might hold thousands of interviews in their careers and a lot of them are reporting the same thing—that most candidates play it safe with the questions they ask, or have no questions to ask in a job interview at all.

For job applicants, this approach is crazy! This is a job that you’re going to dedicate a lot of hours to and that might have a huge impact on your future career. Don’t throw away the chance to figure out if the position is perfect for you.

Here are 7 killer questions to ask in a job interview that will both impress your counterpart and give you some really useful insights into whether this job will be a dream … or a nightmare.

1. What are some challenges I might come up against this role?

A lesser candidate might ask, “what does a typical day look like in this role?” While this is a perfectly reasonable question to ask in an interview, focusing on potential challenges takes you much further because it indicates that you already are visualizing yourself in the role.

It’s impressive because it shows that you are not afraid of challenges, and you are prepared to strategize a game plan upfront to make sure you succeed if you get the job.

It can also open up a conversation about how you’ve solved problems in the past which can be a reassuring exercise for both you and the hiring manager.

How it helps you:

If you ask the interviewer to describe a typical day, you may get a vibrant picture of all the lovely things you’ll get to do in this job and all the lovely people you’ll get to do them with.

Asking about potential roadblocks means you hear the other side of the story—dysfunctional teams, internal politics, difficult clients, bootstrap budgets and so on. This can help you decide if you’re up for the challenge or whether, for the sake of your sanity, you should respectfully decline the job offer.

2. What are the qualities of really successful people in this role?

Employers don’t want to hire someone who goes through the motions; they want to hire someone who will excel.

Asking this question shows that you care about success, too. How could they not hire you with a dragon-slayer attitude like that?

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How it helps you:

Interviewers hire people who are great people to work with, but the definition of “great people” differs from person to person.

Does this company hire and promote people with a specific attitude, approach, worth ethic or communication style? Are the most successful people in this role strong extroverts who love to talk and socialize when you are studious and reserved? Does the company reward those who work insane hours when you’re happiest in a more relaxed environment?

If so, then this may not be the right match for you.

Whatever the answer is, you can decide whether you have what it takes for the manager to be happy with your performance in this role. And if the interviewer has no idea what success looks like for this position, this is a sign to proceed with extreme caution.

3. From the research I did on your company, I noticed the culture really supports XYZ. Can you tell me more about that element of the culture and how it impacts this job role?

Of course, you could just ask “what is the culture like here? ” but then you would miss a great opportunity to show that you’ve done your research!

Interviewers give BIG bonus point to those who read up and pay attention, and you’ve just pointed out that (a) you’re diligent in your research (b) you care about the company culture and (c) you’re committed to finding a great cultural fit.

How it helps you:

This question is so useful because it lets you pick an element of the culture that you really care about and that will have the most impact on whether you are happy with the organization.

For example, if training and development is important to you, then you need to know what’s on offer so you don’t end up in a dead-end job with no learning opportunities.

Companies often talk a good talk, and their press releases may be full of shiny CSR initiatives and all the headline-grabbing diversity programs they’re putting in place. This is your opportunity to look under the hood and see if the company lives its values on the ground.

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A company that says it is committed to doing the right thing by customers should not judge success by the number of up-sells an employee makes, for instance. Look for consistency, so you aren’t in for a culture shock after you start.

4. What is the promotion path for this role, and how would my performance on that path be measured?

To be clear, you are not asking when you will get promoted. Don’t go there—it’s presumptuous, and it indicates that you think you are better than the role you have applied for.

A career-minded candidate, on the other hand, usually has a plan that she’s working towards. This question shows you have a great drive toward growth and advancement and an intention to stick with the company beyond your current state.

How it helps you:

One word: hierarchy.

All organizations have levels of work and authority—executives, upper managers, line managers, the workforce, and so on. Understanding the hierarchical structure gives you power, because you can decide if you can work within it and are capable of climbing through its ranks, or whether it will be endlessly frustrating to you.

In a traditional pyramid hierarchy, for example, the people at the bottom tend to have very little autonomy to make decisions. This gets better as you rise up through the pyramid, but even middle managers have little power to create policy; they are more concerned with enforcing the rules the top leaders make.

If having a high degree of autonomy and accountability is important to you, you may do better in a flat hierarchy where work teams can design their own way of achieving the corporate goals.

5. What’s the most important thing the successful candidate could accomplish in their first 3 months/6 months/year?

Of all the questions to ask in a job interview, this one is impressive because it shows that you identify with and want to be a successful performer, and not just an average one.

Here, you’re drilling down into what the company needs, and needs quite urgently, proving that you’re all about adding value to the organization and not just about what’s in it for you.

How it helps you:

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Most job descriptions come with 8, 10 or 12 different job responsibilities and a lot of them with be boilerplate or responsibilities that someone in HR thinks are associated with this role. This question gives you a better sense of which responsibilities are the most important—and they may not be what initially attracted you to the role.

If you like the idea of training juniors, for example, but success is judged purely on your sales figures, then is this really the job you thought you were applying for?

This question will also give you an idea of what kind of learning curve you’re expected to have and whether you’ll get any ramp-up time before getting down to business. If you’re the type of person who likes to jump right in and get things done, for instance, you may not be thrilled to hear that you’re going to spend the first three months shadowing a peer.

6. What do you like about working here?

This simple question is all about building rapport with the interviewer. People like to talk about themselves, and the interviewer will be flattered that you’re interested in her opinions.

Hopefully, you’ll find some great connection points that the two of you share. What similar things drive you head into the office each day? How will you fit into the culture?

How it helps you:

You can learn a lot from this question. Someone who genuinely enjoys his job will be able to list several things they like, and their answers will sound passionate and sincere. If not….well, you might consider that a red flag.

Since you potentially can learn a lot about the company culture from this question, it’s a good idea to figure out upfront what’s important to you. Maybe you’re looking for a hands-off boss who values independent thought and creativity? Maybe you work better in environments that move at a rapid, exciting pace?

Whatever’s important to you, listen carefully and see if you can find any common ground.

7. Based on this interview, do you have any questions or concerns about my qualifications for the role?

What a great closing question to ask in a job interview! It shows that you’re not afraid of feedback—in fact, you are inviting it. Not being able to take criticism is a red flag for employers, who need to know that you’ll act on any “coaching moments” with a good heart.

As a bonus, asking this question shows that you are really interested in the position and wish to clear up anything that may be holding the company back from hiring you.

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How it helps you:

What a devious beast this question is! On the surface, it looks straightforward, but it’s actually giving you four key pieces of information.

First, is the manager capable of giving you feedback when put on the spot like this? Some managers are scared of giving feedback, or don’t think it’s important enough to bother outside of a formal performance appraisal. Do you want to work for a boss like that? How will you improve if no one is telling you what you did wrong?

Second, can the manager give feedback in a constructive way without being too pillowy or too confrontational? It’s unfair to expect the interviewer to have figured out your preferred way of receiving feedback in the space of an interview, but if she come back with a machine-gun fire of shortcomings or one of those corporate feedback “sandwiches” (the doozy slipped between two slices of compliment), then you need to ask yourself, can you work with someone who gives feedback like that?

Third, you get to learn the things the hiring manager is concerned about before you leave the interview. This gives you the chance to make a final, tailored sales pitch so you can convince the interviewer that she should not be worried about those things.

Fourth, you get to learn the things the hiring manager is concerned about period. If turnover is keeping him up at night, then your frequent job hopping might get a lot of additional scrutiny. If he’s facing some issues with conflict or communication, then he might raise concerns regarding your performance in this area.

Listen carefully: the concerns that are being raised about you might actually be a proxy for problems in the wider organization.

Making Your Interview Work for You

Interviews are a two-way street. While it is important to differentiate yourself from every other candidate, understand that convincing the interviewer you’re the right person for the role goes hand-in-hand with figuring out if the job is the right fit for you.

Would you feel happy in a work environment where the people, priorities, culture and management style were completely at odds with the way you work? Didn’t think so!

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Featured photo credit: Amy Hirschi via unsplash.com

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