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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

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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 May 21, 2019

How to Communicate Effectively in Any Relationship

How to Communicate Effectively in Any Relationship

For all our social media bravado, we live in a society where communication is seen less as an art, and more as a perfunctory exercise. We spend so much time with people, yet we struggle with how to meaningfully communicate.

If you believe you have mastered effective communication, scan the list below and see whether you can see yourself in any of the examples:

Example 1

You are uncomfortable with a person’s actions or comments, and rather than telling the individual immediately, you sidestep the issue and attempt to move on as though the offending behavior or comment never happened.

You move on with the relationship and develop a pattern of not addressing challenging situations. Before long, the person with whom you are in relationship will say or do something that pushes you over the top and predictably, you explode or withdraw completely from the relationship.

In this example, hard-to-speak truths become never- expressed truths that turn into resentment and anger.

Example 2

You communicate from the head and without emotion. While what you communicate makes perfect sense to you, it comes across as cold because it lacks emotion.

People do not understand what motivates you to say what you say, and without sharing your feelings and emotions, others experience you as rude, cold or aggressive.

You will know this is a problem if people shy away from you, ignore your contributions in meetings or tell you your words hurt. You can also know you struggle in this area if you find yourself constantly apologizing for things you have said.

Example 3

You have an issue with one person, but you communicate your problem to an entirely different person.

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The person in whom you confide lacks the authority to resolve the matter troubling you, and while you have vented and expressed frustration, the underlying challenge is unresolved.

Example 4

You grew up in a family with destructive communication habits and those habits play out in your current relationships.

Because you have never stopped to ask why you communicate the way you do and whether your communication style still works, you may lack understanding of how your words impact others and how to implement positive change.

If you find yourself in any of the situations described above, this article is for you.

Communication can build or decimate worlds and it is important we get it right. Regardless of your professional aspirations or personal goals, you can improve your communication skills if you:

  • Understand your own communication style
  • Tailor your style depending on the needs of the audience
  • Communicate with precision and care
  • Be mindful of your delivery, timing and messenger

1. Understand Your Communication Style

To communicate effectively, you must understand the communication legacy passed down from our parents, grandparents or caregivers. Each of us grew up with spoken and unspoken rules about communication.

In some families, direct communication is practiced and honored. In other families, family members are encouraged to shy away from difficult conversations. Some families appreciate open and frank dialogue and others do not. Other families practice silence about substantive matters, that is, they seldom or rarely broach difficult conversations at all.

Before you can appreciate the nuance required in communication, it helps to know the familial patterns you grew up with.

2. Learn Others Communication Styles

Communicating effectively requires you to take a step back, assess the intended recipient of your communication and think through how the individual prefers to be communicated with. Once you know this, you can tailor your message in a way that increases the likelihood of being heard. This also prevents you from assuming the way you communicate with one group is appropriate or right for all groups or people.

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If you are unsure how to determine the styles of the groups or persons with whom you are interacting, you can always ask them:

“How do you prefer to receive information?”

This approach requires listening, both to what the individuals say as well as what is unspoken. Virgin Group CEO Richard Branson noted that the best communicators are also great listeners.

To communicate effectively from relationship to relationship and situation to situation, you must understand the communication needs of others.

3. Exercise Precision and Care

A recent engagement underscored for me the importance of exercising care when communicating.

On a recent trip to Ohio, I decided to meet up with an old friend to go for a walk. As we strolled through the soccer park, my friend gently announced that he had something to talk about, he was upset with me. His introduction to the problem allowed me to mentally shift gears and prepare for the conversation.

Shortly after introducing the shift in conversation, my friend asked me why I didn’t invite him to the launch party for my business. He lives in Ohio and I live in the D.C. area.

I explained that the event snuck up on me, and I only started planning the invite list three weeks before the event. Due to the last-minute nature of the gathering, I opted to invite people in the DMV area versus my friends from outside the area – I didn’t want to be disrespectful by asking them to travel on such short notice.

I also noted that I didn’t want to be disappointed if he and others declined to come to the event. So I played it safe in terms of inviting people who were local.

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In the moment, I felt the conversation went very well. I also checked in with my friend a few days after our walk, affirmed my appreciation for his willingness to communicate his upset and our ability to work through it.

The way this conversation unfolded exemplified effective communication. My friend approached me with grace and vulnerability. He approached me with a level of curiosity that didn’t put me on my heels — I was able to really listen to what he was saying, apologize for how my decision impacted him and vow that going forward, I would always ask rather than making decisions for him and others.

Our relationship is intact, and I now have information that will help me become a better friend to him and others.

4. Be Mindful of Delivery, Timing and Messenger

Communicating effectively also requires thinking through the delivery of the message one intends to communicate as well as the appropriate time for the discussion.

In an Entrepreneur.com column, VIP Contributor Deep Patel, noted that persons interested in communicating well need to master the art of timing. Patel noted,[1]

“Great comedians, like all great communicators, are able to feel out their audience to determine when to move on to a new topic or when to reiterate an idea.”

Communicating effectively also requires thoughtfulness about the messenger. A person prone to dramatic, angry outbursts should never be called upon to deliver constructive feedback, especially to people whom they do not know. The immediate aftermath of a mass shooting is not the ideal time to talk about the importance of the Second Amendment rights.

Like everyone else, I must work to ensure my communication is layered with precision and care.

It requires precision because words must be carefully tailored to the person with whom you are speaking.

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It requires intentionality because before one communicates, one should think about the audience and what the audience needs in order to hear your message the way you intended it to be communicated.

It requires active listening which is about hearing verbal and nonverbal messages.

Even though we may be right in what we say, how we say it could derail the impact of the message and the other parties’ ability to hear the message.

Communicating with care is also about saying things that the people in our life need to hear and doing so with love.

The Bottom Line

When I left the meeting with my dear friend, I wondered if I was replicating or modeling this level of openness and transparency in the rest of my relationships.

I was intrigued and appreciative. He’d clearly thought about what he wanted to say to me, picked the appropriate time to share his feedback and then delivered it with care. He hit the ball out of the park and I’m hopeful we all do the same.

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Featured photo credit: Kenan Buhic via unsplash.com

Reference

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