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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 January 16, 2020

12 Simple Ways to Boost Your Confidence Right Now

12 Simple Ways to Boost Your Confidence Right Now

The way you feel about yourself greatly influences how you live and interact with others. If you are confident about yourself, you tend to see yourself positively and actually enjoy spending time with and around people. You don’t feel self-conscious or awkward around others, and that allows you to live your fullest and happiest life.

However, if you’re drowning in a sea of self-doubt, hesitancy and shyness, you often withdraw and isolate yourself from others and avoid interacting and connecting with people. That anxiety you feel in the pit of your stomach when you are around people is holding you back greatly and it is not good for your emotional health and overall well-being. You need to do something about it if you are low in self-confidence or have friends or family members who are not confident.

“Confidence isn’t walking into a room thinking you’re better than everyone, it’s walking in not having to compare yourself to anyone” – Anonymous

Here are simple, practical tips to boost your confidence right now and make you feel and act your best.

1. Stop labeling yourself as awkward, timid or shy.

When you label yourself as awkward, timid or shy, you sub-consciously tell your mind to act accordingly and psychologically feel inclined to live up to those expectations. Instead of labeling and entertaining negative self-talk, visualize and affirm yourself as confident and strong. Close your eyes for a minute and visualize yourself in different situation as you would like to be.

Be your own cheerleader. Experts believe that positive affirmation and good mental practices like picturing yourself winning or achieving a goal can lead to greater feelings of self-assurance and prepare your brain for success.[1] As the saying goes, “seeing is believing.” Picture yourself as confident and soon enough you will begin to manifest behavior that gives evidence to this new ‘fact.’

2. Recognize that the world is not focused on you (unless, of course, you are Kanye West).

That means you don’t have to be excessively sensitive about who you are or what you are doing (or not doing). You are not on the center stage; there is no need for preoccupation with self and perfectionism. As rap music star Rocko sings, “You just do you and I will do me, aight?”

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Forget about trying to please everyone or being perfect. Trying to be perfect and being a people-pleaser puts too much pressure on you and creates unnecessary anxiety. Besides, people are too preoccupied with their own issues to pay much attention to your every move unless, of course, you are a mega famous, super celebrity like Beyonce or Kanye West.

3. Focus on other people as opposed to yourself.

If you are low on confidence, self-conscious, nervous and shy in social situations, focus your attention on other people and what they are saying or doing instead of focusing on your own awkwardness.

For example, think about what it is that is interesting about the person who’s the centre of the party or the guy or girl you are talking with. Prompt them to talk more about themselves and be genuinely curious and interested in what they say. You will instantly come across as confident and warmhearted.

People generally want to talk about themselves, be heard and understood. They will love it when you’re eager and willing to listen to them and really hear what they have to say.

This habit of focusing more on what you love in others as opposed to what you dislike in yourself will not only help you become more assertive and comfortable in virtually all social situations, but also instantly make you feel great about yourself.

4. Know (and accept) yourself for who you are.

Chinese military general, strategist and philosopher Sun Tzu, author of the internationally acclaimed book The Art of War, said, “Know yourself and you will win all battles.” Even in the battle with lack of confidence, you will need to know yourself to win.

Knowing yourself starts with understanding that people are not all the same, neither are all social situation suitable for everyone. You might not be confident in large gatherings, but you could be bold and confident in one-on-one and small group interactions. We all have our own unique gifts and unique ways of expressing ourselves. Embrace yours!

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Introverts, for example, have a quiet confidence that is, unfortunately, often confused for shyness. They are naturally low key and prefer to spend time alone. However, this natural disposition affords them certain unique gifts, such as an ability to listen better than most people and notice things that others don’t.

Your uniqueness is where your strength and advantage lies. You won’t be comfortable and confident in all situations all the time. Albert Einstein said,

“Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.”

5. Crack a smile.

If there is one sure way to instantly boost your confidence, it’s cracking a smile. Christine Clapp, a public speaking expert at The George Washington University, says that flashing those pretty, pearly white teeth will immediately make you appear both confident and composed. But, the effect of smiling is not just external. Studies show that smiling can also help nix feelings of stress and pave the way for a happier and more relaxed you.[2]

Not a bad return for something seemingly so trite, wouldn’t you agree?

6. Break a sweat—with exercise.

Working out is another great way to make yourself feel amazing and confident. Science has shown that exercising increases your endorphins, helps reduce stress, tones your muscles and makes you feel happy and confident.[3]

And hey, all you have to do is take a walk a few times a week and you’ll see the benefits. What seems to matter—as far as your confidence goes—is whether you break a sweat, not how strenuous your session is, which is pretty cool. Start working out now.

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7. Groom yourself.

This might seem mundane, but it’s amazing how much of a difference a shower and shave can have on your confidence and self-image. And when you spritz on a scent, the boost on confidence and self-esteem is incredible. As it turns out, your favorite fragrance does more than make you smell oh-so-nice.

A study found that a fragrance can inspire confidence in men. Interestingly, the study also found that the more a man likes the fragrance, the more confident he might feel. Another study found that 90% of women feel more confident while wearing a scent than those who go fragrance-free.

8. Dress nicely.

Another one that might seem trite, but it works. If you dress nicely, you’ll instantly feel good about yourself and give your confidence a real boost. That is largely because you’ll feel attractive, presentable and sometimes even successful in nice clothes.

While dressing nicely means something different for everyone, it does not necessarily mean wearing $500 designer outfits. It means wearing clothes that are clean, that you are comfortable in and that are nice-looking and presentable, including casual clothes.

9. Do activities you enjoy.

Whether it is reading a book, playing a musical instrument, riding your bicycle or going fishing, do what you really enjoy and what makes you truly happy often. It will boost your self-esteem, soothe your ego and allow you to identify with your gifts and talents. That will in turn bolster your self-belief and grow your confidence exponentially.

You might not become popular for doing what you love, but you might not even want to be popular at all. Being popular doesn’t make you happy; doing what you love does.

10. Prepare for the possibility of rejection / setback.

Late World No. 1 professional tennis player Arthur Ashe said, “One important key to success is self-confidence. A key to self-confidence is preparation.” You need to prepare for the possibility of rejection and setback.

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Why?

Everybody suffers rejection and setback at one point or another. You are not exempted. The question on your mind, therefore, should not be if you will be rejected, but how you will handle rejection when it comes.

Prepare yourself adequately in every situation to minimize the risk and effect of rejection and so that your confidence is not broken. For example, learn public speaking and rehearse what you are going to say beforehand if you have landed a public speaking engagement. That way, you are sure of yourself and confident you have what it takes to hack it. If you are rejected, don’t take it personally.

Rejection and setbacks happen to the best of us. Take it as a learning experience. Learn from your mistakes and move on.

11. Face uncomfortable situations square in the face.

Don’t run away from uncomfortable situations. Running away from people or situations because you feel scared, shy or timid only confirms and reinforces your shyness. Instead, face the situation that makes you uneasy square in the face. For example, go ahead and talk to that person you are afraid to approach, or go straight to the front of your yoga class! What’s the worst that can happen?

Prepare and be ready for any eventuality. The more you face your fears, the more you realize you are stronger than you thought and the more confident you get. This simple, yet admittedly courageous, act makes you unstoppable. You get comfortable being uncomfortable and begin to feel like you can take on the world. And that is the hallmark of someone destined for great things.

12. Sit up straight and walk tall—you are awesome!

Yes, sit up straight and believe you are awesome. Don’t slump in your chair or slouch your shoulders. Experts say the right stance can not only keep your self-esteem and mood lifted, but also lead to more confidence in your own thoughts.[4]

The way to sit is to open up your chest and keep your head level so that you look and feel poised and assured. And when you get up, stand tall and walk like you’re on a mission. People who sit up straight and walk tall are more attractive and instantly feel more confident. Try it now: you’ll feel fierce and confident just by sitting up straight and walking tall.

Featured photo credit: Freshh Connection via unsplash.com

Reference

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