Are Single Moms Not Moms Too?
The Fate of Singapore's Single Moms
Currently in Singapore, single mothers will get half of the 16-week paid maternity leave that married mothers are entitled to. They also cannot claim child relief that ranges from 15 per cent of their incomes for the first child to as much as 25 per cent for their third and other subsequent children as compared to married moms.
"These additional benefits are given to encourage and support parenthood within the context of marriage. This is the prevailing societal norm in Singapore, and one which we seek to reflect and preserve." Minister for Social and Family Development Mr. Chan Chun Sing, said.
This along with the HDB's (Housing Development Board) regulation that if you are under 35, you are not entitled to buy an HDB flat and when you do reach the age of 35, you can only purchase under the Singles scheme and losing out on additional benefits like the Parenthood Priority Scheme (PPS). If you are unwed, then your child is considered “illegitimate” which means that to make your child “legitimate”, you need to spend at least $3000 to adopt your own kid. This also means that if you die without a will, all your assets would be given to your parents and not your child because the government considers your child as “illegitimate”. Putting single parents and their children at a remarkable disadvantage.
There's Nothing Single About A Single Mom
A Humanistic Approach to Single Parenthood
What the regulators fail to understand is that encouraging single parenthood is drastically different from a humanistic approach to the reality of social issues. I can't help but think this narrow definition (2 heterosexual parents with children) of what constitutes a family leaves various segments of society out of the equation when a nation is for all. Remember the popular song, One People, One Nation, One Singapore? How can we achieve this when our laws are discriminatory to begin with? The segments that need assistance the most are the same ones that are penalised.
Who doesn't want to give provide a stable loving home for their newborn? No one gets pregnant with the mentality of choosing to be a single mom or becoming a single mom, knowing the discrimination and obstacles they face. Do some women choose to become single moms when they know they are pregnant instead of choosing abortion? Yes, for sure. It is a choice born under drastic circumstances of life and death. Prominent sociologist Dr. Chua Being Huat says, " Singapore has about 12,000 abortions a year, due in part to single mothers fearing the social stigma that comes with raising a child in such circumstances." They should be supported for making a courageous choice rather than stigmatised for their decisions.
It is a decision often made during times of emotional turmoil as in the case of divorces after marriage or accidental pregnancies without a stable loving partner. It is a heavy decision to make and not one someone takes lightly.
Often times, people enter into marriages or relationships with the intention of building a long meaningful relationship, full of possibilities and faith in the future. Who doesn't want a faithful supportive partner to spilt the responsibilities of a child? So when someone chooses the choice to take care of a child for the next 21 years, carry him in her womb for 9 months, the last thing they need are unfair laws against them that make their path even harder.
The reality is that single moms aren't going to go away simply because they are swept under the carpet and made to feel as lesser than, it is real social issue, especially so for the single moms walking this path.
As any parent would tell you, parenting is a long and arduous road that is best walked with a loving partner which even then can be extremely challenging at times. The same amount of bonding time right after birth will go a lot towards easing their journey into motherhood, giving each child the right to an equal start.
Even for those who disagree with the decision of being a single parent, to penalise an innocent child for a decision made by a parent is unnecessary, even cruel. What constitutes a mother? A mother is a person who nurtures and cares for a child as best as they can. Parents are imperfect, as imperfect as anyone else, they try to do the best by their children and what more can you expect from them? To start to divide up mothers into categories is going down a slippery slope, a slope that threatens the core of the most sacred and self-sacrificial relationships, one of a parent and child.
No Child Left Behind
A Compassionate Society for Our Children
On a larger scale, it is a reflection of why people are disgruntled about living in Singapore. Building a compassionate society start from having a legal framework that gives every segment equal opportunities for success. When various segments are legally penalised, it gives people living in Singapore carte blanche to be discriminatory in many other ways, promoting a self-centred attitude that have become the norm.
Case in point is the recent news about the amount of trash left behind by St. Jerome's Laneway Festival participants in Singapore. If let's say majority of the patrons picked up after themselves and in turn motivate others to do so as well, creating a wave of social responsibility, it will just benefit us all in the long run.
Unfortunately, this communal attitude towards social responsibility isn't shared by all. It's disheartening that instead of acknowledging the need for increased social responsibility, some commenters started shifting blame on various segments of Singapore. A typical Singaporean - you not me attitude. There often isn't a talk of us, a far cry from One People, One Nation, One Singapore.
So I say, forget the courtesy campaign, forget the strict punishments for littering, forget the copious signages with reminders to pick up after your dog, to not hog the bus lane and to give up seats to the elderly, etc. What we need is to create a more compassionate society which will in turn result in a better environment for all and graciousness will come with it. You will only be gracious if you care enough about what is the true essence of a country - the people in it.
To Be Free Is Enhancing The Freedom of Others
What Do You Think?
Singaporeans Could Use a More Compassionate Environment?
© 2015 Min