When it comes to parenting, everyone has a story to tell. Many will say it takes a village to raise a child, but there are also single parents who have to rely on their own efforts to build their homes and nurture their children. Whatever your parenting struggle is, help is at hand, if you reach out. Read on to find out how 6 single parents, with support from the community, managed to overcome difficult times and become the confident parents they are today.
Life Doesn’t Always go as Planned
You know what they say, you plan a trip somewhere and life takes you elsewhere. Life isn’t always picture perfect, as much as we may want it to be. Pregnancy doesn’t always happen at the ideal time and not every family has a Mum and Dad who are present and involved. Unforeseen circumstances such as an unplanned pregnancy, divorce and even rape may leave some people as single parents.
It Isn’t Always Till Death do Us Part
Ideally, married couples envision themselves raising their children together, and growing old together. Sadly, sometimes relationships fall apart.
When children are involved, it gets even more complicated. Dealing with a failed relationship while trying to raise a child is never easy, especially when they get older and start asking questions.
Joachim, 43, echoes similar sentiments. His marriage fell apart and as his 7-year-old daughter was growing up, she often compared their family to that of her friends, and asked him why her parents don’t live together. In fact, she still harbours the hope that her parents will reconcile.
When his marriage was going through a tough patch, Joachim realised he needed help. He acknowledged that he needed to talk to someone, and decided to turn to a Family Service Centre (Strengthening Families [email protected] Service Centre). He found his support system and managed to weather the storm.
“The counsellors were always available for me to make an appointment and walk in to have a chat, and it has helped me a lot.”
Moving on from his divorce has been challenging for Joachim, but he is in a good place now. He has learned that we cannot control the cards that life deals us, but we can learn to seek help and cope with whatever comes our way. Here’s what he has to say to parents like him:
“It’s very important not to hold on to your children too hard. Instead, equip them with the life skills to cope with life’s challenges.”
Walking Away When it Gets Toxic
Barina was in a similar situation. When she broke the news of her second pregnancy to her partner, she was anticipating his excitement. Instead, he accused her of infidelity.
Being in a toxic relationship doesn’t benefit anyone in the family. Barina made the decision to leave her partner, taking her two children with her. Just like Joachim, she turned to a Family Service Centre after someone referred her to it.
“I don’t usually open up to everyone so I only have my counsellor throughout the whole journey. I’ve been with the same counsellor since 2016.”
It’s never easy walking out of a toxic relationship but it is the right thing to do. What’s most important is to ensure the children have a happy, loving and safe home.
Seeking help and being self-dependent was a tough process but Barina is certain that she made the right decision for her children.
You Plan a Trip, Life Takes You Elsewhere
Jena was a 2nd year polytechnic student when she discovered that she was pregnant. Her parents were shocked and their first reaction was to call the abortion clinic.
It was a difficult time for Jena as she struggled to manage the situation on her own, but she chose to stick with her decision of keeping her child. When it came to a point that she couldn’t even walk to the bus stop without throwing up, Jena knew it was time to seek help. She found the courage to speak to her teacher and defer school for a year.
Later on in her journey, Jena also received support from Facebook groups and communities that generously blessed her with diapers and formula milk when she needed help. She appreciates the support of these groups and the fact that they never made her feel judged.
Jena’s advice to others in a similar situation?
“It’s ok to say I need help. It’s ok to reach out for help!”
Taking the first step to reach out for help can be extremely daunting to anyone in her situation. But taking that step makes all the difference for Jena!
Too Much to Handle
There are times in life when everything that can go wrong seems to go wrong, at the same time. Fortunately, there is light at the end of the tunnel and if one perseveres, good can come out of it all.
Natalya, 40, is a single mum to a 5-year-old daughter. In addition to being a single mum, she suffered from kidney failure and has to work full time. Life was incredibly hard until Natalya heard about Daughters of Tomorrow, an organisation for women. She took a leap of faith and sent them an email asking for help. The very next day, she received a call asking her if she was safe.
“Nobody has ever asked me if I was safe, in any of the situations, so when I heard that, I left myself open up and I broke down.”
Natalya has come a long way since then. Today, she’s a staff with Daughters of Tomorrow and she feels that she has gone a full circle with them – from beneficiary, volunteer, intern to finally a staff member. Natalya is in a happy place now and embraces all that life has to offer. Here’s what she has to say to women in a similar situation,
“Just know that you’re not alone. There are a lot of women out there who have similar stories and are going through similar stuff and you know, you’re welcome to join us in our support groups.”
Gone Too Soon
Losing your spouse is unimaginably painful, let alone being left with young kids to raise. When Kakali lost her husband, her initial thought was how to support her children financially as well as protect them from the shock that they received at a young age. This is in addition to coping with her own grief.
To make things worse, her family members are all in India, so she was left alone to deal with the situation. Kakali’s doctor then referred her to Wicare, a support group for new widows and that’s when her healing began.
Kakali finally felt that her grief was understood as she met many other widows in a similar, or even more challenging situation than herself.
“Single parenting is overwhelming so please go and ask for help. There are many good souls around there who are willing to help so long as you ask for it.”
Victim of Rape
Sarah was a victim of rape at the age of 27, which left her pregnant. She fought many battles including how her community would perceive her, for she comes from a culture that considers pregnancy under such circumstances to be a disgraceful thing.
“I had no idea if I was made out to be a mother. I was terrified, asking myself what I was doing. I wanted to throw my kid out of the window, I really did.”
Thankfully, Sarah found the courage to rise above her challenges. The moment that abortion crossed her mind, she decided to reach out to a pregnancy crisis contact who then told her, “I don’t care where you are, you come to us tomorrow.”
She was given an immediate appointment and her situation only got better from there. With sufficient support and care, Sarah is now raising her child happily.
“Community has made a very big impact in my life, there are people within the community who have made an impact on me. Community can be the social networks that you have or it could be your friends. Choose the right kind of community and make sure that they are making positive increments of good effects on your children.”
If you are a single parent, we hope that you resonate with some of these stories. Just remember that there is a support network out there to help you through your journey. You can reach out to your nearest Social Service Office/ Family Service Centre, Strengthening Families [email protected] Service Centre, Divorce Support Specialist Agency or KidSTART Singapore. Help and support is available to every single parent. Just reach out!