We spoke with Mdm Yati on the challenges as a single parent and how she managed to overcome them and to care for her.
As a single mother and sole breadwinner, Mdm Nur Haryati Binte Adali faced many family and financial struggles. Since her mother fell ill and her father passed on, she had to face constant emotional and mental struggles. She is also not receiving financial support from her daughters' father. Instead, she singlehandedly settles her bills with income from her job as a delivery rider, while her oldest daughter helps to look after things at home
Driven to be a good role model for her children, Mdm Yati is looking to help others by sharing her experiences as a single parent, how she overcame her challenges and also the support she received from community programmes and resources that helped her to build a more stable life for her family.
1. What are the challenges that you faced as a single parent?
Mdm Yati: Time - working to make ends meet while being there for my children both physically and emotionally. I have to make time in my day to juggle taking care of two daughters, one in Primary school and another in ITE.
I struggle financially as well – currently, it’s hard for me to have a stable job due to my irregular schedule as a caregiver for my children. I work as an adhoc housekeeper and previously did gig work such as delivering food and parcels. It can get very physically and emotionally tiring.
Another big challenge is being emotionally strong for my children, to make sure they are not affected by the struggles that our family goes through. I make sure I put on a smile and a strong front for them, so they can grow up feeling safe and well-supported.
2. Tell us about one of the most challenging situations that you have faced as a single parent.
Mdm Yati: Previously, I faced difficulties securing a home due to financial issues – my part-time jobs were not enough to pay for my monthly rental. My children were already schooling then, and I had to think about how to support them despite facing possible homelessness. Thankfully, my children were able to live with my ex-partner at that time – I knew I could never leave them in an unsafe situation and always prioritised their safety.
Even when my relatives and siblings knew I needed help, they turned a blind eye. Learning from that situation, I have now developed a strong sense of independence.
3. How did you overcome the possibility of being homeless?
Mdm Yati: I previously went to Ang Mo Kio Family Services Centre (FSC), under AMKFSC Community Services, to seek help with regards to my mom, and later for me and my children.
With regards to my housing issues, they were also able to help me get a subsidised flat, which I managed to pay for, after saving enough money for the rental costs. They had also extended other help, like getting my child enrolled into kindergarten
Emotionally, I try my best not to think negatively – having such anxieties makes you less focused. Spending family time at home with my daughters keeps my spirits up, and there’s never a boring day for any of us!
Also, AMKFSC Community Services gives me the opportunity to engage in resident-led community initiatives such as distributing unused food rations and donated items to less privileged residents in the neighbourhood, in which I am able to give back to my own community - the sense of belonging and empowerment makes me feel stronger as an individual too.
4. How else did Ang Mo Kio FSC support you?
Mdm Yati: My social worker from Ang Mo Kio FSC has been very helpful! Every time I face challenges – even when I damaged my phone in an accident, they helped me get a new one!
One of the main help that I received was when my younger daughter's school counsellor contacted me about her attendance issues and problems with her studies. I initially did not know where I could seek help for her, but Ang Mo Kio FSC was able to help ease these issues by providing her with socio-emotional counselling – I am glad to know of the resources to turn to whenever we need a little help!
5. How will you advise other single parents facing these challenges?
Mdm Yati: I will tell them to not give up. If you do not go through it now and learn, you will never grow. If you always fall easily or have to depend on someone, you will not be able to stand on your own feet in future.
I will let them know that they can seek help at the FSC. If they are unsure how to go about it, I will offer to guide them through or even bring them over. The first step is to come forward and tell the right people what your difficulties and problems are – you will never know what they can help you with.
It may sound easier said than done, but if you must do something for your family or kids, you need to set your ego aside.
6. Is there anything else you will like to share?
Mdm Yati: I like to take this opportunity to correct some misconceptions about me, and single mothers. Some people may think that I earn money through unsavoury ways as they don’t believe a single mother can support her children, but it’s all through hard work and juggling part-time gigs! Even when I’m at home, I try to find ways to earn extra income. So don’t underestimate the resourcefulness and independence of a single mother.
Others may also think that I am lazy or finding excuses because I do not have a stable, full-time job, but they do not realise how hard it is to do so when you have children to take care of through the day - so do try to imagine living a day in the shoes of a single parent, getting through things no matter what and not crumbling even if there are others who will try to put you down.
7. Finally, is there challenges that has not or cannot be solved?
Mdm Yati: It is mostly okay when I get the necessary support. I have always been a very independent person and have coped fairly well even with little support in the past.
However, time is an issue – I can never find it in me to sacrifice the time with my children, even if I am told that I need to. It is also not easy to find people you can trust who will help to look after them. It has been a challenge to find a job that is flexible enough, but ad hoc work has helped me to tide by. When my youngest daughter is ready to be more independent, then I am hoping to be able to find a more stable job that gives me regular hours.
We would like to thank Mdm Yati for her time in the interview and sharing her challenges faced as a single parent. Every family is different, and each family is faced with their own problems - so we hope everyone can be more emphatic and don't jump to conclusions about others easily. If you are facing issues, do know that help is around and do reach out to suitable community groups and resources around you, including
- Spin by HCSA (hcsa.org.sg)
- FAM@AMKFC (amkfc.org.sg)
- Safe Place (safeplace.org.sg/)
- Babes Pregnancy Crisis Support (babes.org.sg/)
- Daughters of Tomorrow (daughtersoftomorrow.org/)
- FAM@FSC (www.msf.gov.sg/FAMatFSC/)