While bringing up children can be rewarding, it can also be a tough job. For single parents, the parenting journey can be doubly challenging without a co-parent by their side.
According to a 2014 MSF survey, around 7% of households in Singapore are headed by single parents living with their children. Out of these, more than 3% had a youngest child aged seven and below. The majority lived in HDB 3- and 4-room flats.
Much of the attention and available resources have been largely focused on single mothers. But there is also another group of solo parents who are often overlooked but require just as much support and help – single fathers.
The challenges of solo parenting for dads
Solo parenting is no walk in the park, as single dad Joachim Goh can attest to. “My daughter would ask me why mummy and I are not staying together. It can be hard explaining to her that despite our differences, we still love her”, he says.
Thankfully for Joachim, he is not alone. His family helps with the childminding while his church provides him additional emotional support.
It is single parents like Joachim that the Alliance for Action to Strengthen Marriages and Family Relationships (AFAM) is working with its community partners on such ground-up initiatives to support.
For Joachim, this support is timely. He says, “There are a lot of social groups out there that cater to women. Unfortunately, there isn’t enough awareness that some of them also support men”.
Reaching out to the single father
One such support group for single dads is the Centre for Fathering. Mr Kevin Goh, Deputy Group Head for Engagement and Programmes feels that there can be better alignment with other agencies and institutions to help single fathers in their parenting journey.
He says, “There can be a stronger partnership with the Courts for example, for us to be informed when the fathers get custody of their children so we can come in to journey with them and provide the support”.
There are also existing resources that single dads can tap on, such as HCSA Community Services SPIN online portal. SPIN, which stands for Single Parents INformed, INvolved, INcluded, is an initiative in collaboration with the National Council of Social Service. It matches members with befrienders who provide practical and socio-emotional support, as well as offer respite services and parenting workshops and activities.
With access to such resources, single parents – including single dads – are empowered to make informed decisions and strengthen their social support network.