SINGAPORE: For 25—year—old Adora Doganis, housing is the biggest challenge facing her as a single mother.
She raised this concern at a
with Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on Friday.
Ms Doganis, who has an eight—year—old daughter, said she sought help several times in the past from the Housing and Development Board (HDB) and grassroots leaders.
"The answer was always ’no’...’you don’t form a proper family unit’, ’come back when you’re married’, things like that," she lamented. "It really does bring me down, it doesn’t really motivate me to want to have kids or want to get married."
She said she would like to see the society being more open to the idea that single women want to have kids, and hopes there will be more help for single parents in housing.
Paulin Straughan, Associate Professor of Sociology at the National University of Singapore, said she would also like to see the state and society extending help towards single—parent families.
"In Singapore now, the proportion of single—parent households — and this could come from divorced families or just out—of—wedlock procreation — is significant," she said.
"They need help because if it’s so difficult for married couples to have children, the problems are compounded for single—parent families."
"I think that in terms of reaching out to those who are already in this situation of setting up a single—parent household, I’d like to see the state and society stepping up the kind of help that these families need," she continued.
"And it’s very important that we are conscious and conscientious about their needs because we’re dealing with the well—being of children."
Assoc Prof Straughan stressed the importance of ensuring the well—being of children from single—parent families.
"Every child is a child to Singapore so I think that it is because of the well—being of the child, that we need to be cognizant of the kinds of gaps that they fall in, whether it is housing, financial adequacy, and to find ways to reach out to them," she said.
But she said this does not mean setting new boundaries for what a normal family is, as Singapore society is still fairly conservative.
"It’s the whole idea of single parenthood, if you draw the debate a little bit further, it goes all the way down to premarital sex and of course the minute you touch that hot wire, that hot button, parents will be worried over the message we’re sending to our young children, to our teenagers, particularly," she commented.
"So I think that’s not going to happen in the near future."
Assoc Prof Straughan said the most useful way forward is to not challenge the status quo by pushing for a change in policies.
Rather, the society should allow the government to work offline and exercise discretion in helping single—parent families.
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