Single mothers in Singapore are increasing in number. Statistics reveal that between 2007 to 2011, there is an average of 550 registered births each year that did not have a father’s name. That means in the span of 5 years, there are more than 2,750 single mothers that are struggling to raise their child on their own.
Generally, a single-parent household has it harder than traditional families because there is only one adult shouldering the major responsibilities at home. The fact remains that raising a child is tough. It can be expensive and exhausting. As a single mother in this city, you should not only expect to go through the physical exhaustion. You will also go through both mental and emotional exhaustion.
5 challenges facing single mothers in Singapore
There are 5 different challenges that single mothers have to deal with as they struggle to raise their kids in Singapore.
Raising a family in Singapore is very expensive! Out of 133 cities, Singapore is the most expensive city to live in. It can be a real struggle for any single parent to meet the financial needs of a family – maybe even more so with single mothers. Single fathers are more able to provide for their kids financially because they have a higher chance of going up the ranks in their work. Single mothers, on the other hand, may have to work harder to have enough financial resources to fund the needs of their children. Being a manager might help you cover your monthly budget. However, if you are part of the working class, your salary might not be enough to meet your needs.
Employment opportunities for single mothers are not the same as their male counterparts. The United Nation’s Human Development report revealed that although Singapore is the leading Asian nation that promotes gender equality, women are still under-represented at senior management levels. That means women are able to work. However, the opportunities to work in a higher position is not as open compared to single fathers.
But that is not the only problem that affects the employment opportunities of single mothers in Singapore. Their decision to work will also be heavily influenced by child care concerns. Although hiring a nanny is a common practice in Singapore, it can be tough to find the right help that you can trust enough to care for your child’s needs. Not only that, the cost of hiring a nanny will be added to the growing financial burden that you have to carry.
There is a benefit in Singapore about child care leaves that single parents are not qualified to have. There are companies that allow parents to get 6 days on childcare leave. But there is one important requirement – you have to be married. This is good news for traditional families because both parents can enjoy a total of 12 child care leaves. However, an unmarried single mother does not have that luxury. They only get 2 days of child care leave each year. This can be a struggle for single mothers who do not have family members or relatives to help them care for their young kids.
When it comes to filing taxes, you will also not get any tax relief – at least not on the same level as the married mothers. Even if your child is a citizen of Singapore, you have to pay a different income tax rate – usually higher just because you are not married.
Housing is the third highest expense that families have to pay for in their monthly budget. It comes after food and transportation. Unfortunately, single mothers in Singapore do not have much to expect from the government when it comes to housing assistance. According to the eCitizen, the Housing and Development Board requires single parents to either be divorced or widowed in order to avail of the Assistance Scheme for Second-Timers. Unmarried single mothers cannot avail of this. They would have to wait until they reach the age of 35 years before that can buy a Housing Board flat – but it will still be under the singles scheme.
This challenge may not be related to your finances but it does have a significant effect in the way you raise your kids. In a traditional family setting, the parents can alternate between themselves to physically care for the kids. It gives them enough time to rest and recharge. This is not a luxury that single mothers can enjoy. They have to work long hours to finance the very expensive lifestyle in Singapore. When they get home, they still have to spend quality time with their kids. They have to juggle all the responsibilities even as they complete all the household chores too. When the kids start to go to school, the cost of living increases and they also have to squeeze in some time to attend various school activities.
As you can see, these 5 challenges that single mothers in Singapore have to face. It is not an easy feat to conquer. In most cases, they have to sacrifice one to focus on another. For instance, they have to sacrifice the quality time spent with their kids to earn more. Or they can sacrifice a higher standard of living to focus on the well-being of their kids. It is not an easy decision to make and it can be exhausting to try to meet all the needs at once.
Where single mothers in Singapore can get help
The truth is, Singapore has a long way to go when it comes to providing better benefits and opportunities for single mothers living there. However, that does not mean it is impossible to raise great kids in a single-parent household. There are children who have become successful despite growing up with the challenges of a single-parent home.
Admittedly, the challenges will not be easier unless you learn how to ask for help from those around you. The question is, where can you get help?
Do your research.
Start by doing your research. This is the best way for you to empower yourself. There are laws that have single mothers in mind – like the 16-week maternity leave. You have to educate yourself about these so you will know what you are entitled to receive. Not only that, you should also know the websites that you can use as a source of information about your rights.
Get help from family and relatives.
Singapore is a very small country. That means family and relatives are nearby. You do not have to put a brave front all the time. Humbly ask for help from them. If your parents are nearby, they might be willing to look after your kids. You can still hire a nanny if you can afford it. But you can ask your family to help you out. You can also get moral support from them. Sometimes, this is enough to help you get through the hardships of single parenthood.
Finally, you have to work on your connections. This is both for your personal and work life. Make sure you make friends with the right people who can help you out. Be friends with fellow single mothers. You have no idea what a group of women can do together. There are also organisations like AWARE who have campaigns focusing on the welfare of single parents.
Life may be hard for single mothers in Singapore but it does not have to be a miserable one. Get to know the resources that will help you survive. As you show the world that you can do it, your kids will benefit from having a strong and empowered mother to look up to.