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An article by Ginny Phang (founder for Flyin'Solo)

This is a discussion on An article by Ginny Phang (founder for Flyin'Solo) within the Single Parents Support Group forum, part of the MummySG Special Group category; Hi Mummies, I came across 2 articles by Ginny Phang as extracted below: FIRST ARTICLE Source: http://fourtrimesters.wordpress.com/...-a-single-mom/ 15 things they ...

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    An article by Ginny Phang (founder for Flyin'Solo)

    Hi Mummies, I came across 2 articles by Ginny Phang as extracted below:


    Source: http://fourtrimesters.wordpress.com/...-a-single-mom/

    15 things they dont’t tell you when you decide to be a Single Mom

    April 9, 2009 by fourtrimesters

    1. What “category” of a single mom are you?

    Does it matter? YES, absolutely.. just to add on to the list of “labels” Singapore already has for many things. More importantly because it affects your taxes, the benefits you get from the government, your child’s rights and the list goes on. When someone says that she is a single mom, she could be “widowed”, “divorced”, “unwed” or “a woman who adopts by choice”.
    You will also get quite alot of women, some married, some living with their partners making comments such as “I feel like a single mom because my partner/ husband isn’t around a lot/ travels a lot etc.. is it the same? I dont’t know. But i do wonder if it is harder to parent knowing that you are on your own OR expecting that other half to have a part to play and he/she isn’t playing that part hence unmet expectations – i dont have the answer to that one.
    If you are unwed like me, you are not entitled to government benefits for married couples with children. If you are under 35 like me, you are not entitled to buy a HDB flat until you reach 35 years of age and can be entitled to purchase a HDB flat under the “singles” scheme. If you are unwed like me, 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 (huh??? excuse me.. he came out of my vagina ). 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”. Er btw, you still need to pay taxes and your child, if a son, has to serve National Service.. Is Lee Kuan Yew on facebook reading this?

    2. Visitation rights
    Whether the biological father pays child maintenance or not; whether his name is in the birth certificate as the father or not; as long as he can prove that he is the biological father (via court ordered DNA), he is entitled to some form of visitation rights to your child. So might as well claim child maintenance and dont’t need to be “gung-ho” about going solo and doing this on your own. After all, since the government is not making it any easier (single moms dont get welfare/ handouts in Singapore), you certainly need ALL the help you can get…

    3. Child Maintenance
    Unless of course getting a few hundred dollars is a real pain in the ass and simply not worth the emotional roller coaster or worse still, reliant dependency. For the record, I dont’t get child maintenance. The last sum of money I got from my ex was to pay for the abortion that i did not go for, so i used it for maternity care instead. For those of you who are mothers, you know how far $2000 can get you in maternity care. The year I decided to take the leap of faith, quit my fulltime job and run Four Trimesters full time, i was barely afloat, if not sinking, for the first 1-1.5 years and out of folly and desperation, i decided that its time my son’s biological father “paid his dues”. So i called him and explained the situation, and he asked me to email him and we can work something out. Hopeful i was – NOT! My emails starting bouncing coz he banned me from his email folder. Now this man owns more than 2 cars, lives in the prime district area. What can I say???? I speculated and fore-casted then, as i did when he proposed marriage only upon finding out that i canceled the scheduled abortion, that this was not a road worth walking, so I found another path.

    4. Choose your battles wisely
    A lifelong skill – choose your battles wisely. I kick-arsed three times before i was given a “special concession” to purchase a 3 room HDB flat at market rate. When i wanted to upgrade and re-appealed to buy a 4 or 5 room HDB flat, HDB turned me down. I tried a couple of times to appeal only to discover that I have “progressed” to a point in my life where I am really tired of fighting. dont’t wanna sell me a 4 or 5 room HDB flat at market rate?? Fine, i’ll fuck off and look for alternatives. Choose your battles wisely, just as you decide if child maintenance is worth the emotional turmoil esp if you are in a situation where you got to “chase” the other for monthly payments.

    5. Support… SUPPORT… support
    You need ALL the support you can get. ALL, i repeat. I agree with Malcolm Gladwell who debunks the myth of a “self-made man” in his book: “Outliers – the story of success”. Had it not been for the dedication of my family in the foundation years, even though only part of them supported me through and through, and in my later years, the strong network of close and trusted friends who believe in me, i truly would not have made it this far. And it will probably be worth your while to strategize the kind of support you need, so as to maximize resources.
    I cannot do without my family and my friends, however, i have also learned to be very selective when it comes to family and friends. I choose to be around people who are supportive of me as a person and a single mom esp in the early days, when hormones are all tender and all over the place and still a “newbie”, you need a free flow of love, support… support, love… love, support…. support, love….

    6. Be your own woman
    After which as you “season” with experience (not so much age), you evolve into a tough cookie. By now, you would have probably learned that you are on your own baby – with another to raise and feed. No one is going to stand up for you and your child, not even the people you pay taxes to and sometimes, very very sadly, your own family which violates your basic right to belong. You are on your own, so might as well get use to it and be bold.
    So what if you pay $1,000 for your child’s kindy education that even married couples(read dual income) would consider extravagant; so what if you pay for a $17 2-1 soap that would motivate your child to bath; so what if you do a thousand one other things that are not the “norm”. its no longer about what others think.. you are your own woman, be bold, and do what you have to do because at the end of the day, it is always easy for others to “speak behind your back” but NO ONE, is walking your path in YOUR shoes. So you earn the right to be your own woman. Besides you are already an “outcast” from society as an unwed mom.

    7. Confidence
    Unless of course, you’ve got confidence. You are only an outcast if you deem yourself an outcast. There is nothing wrong being a single unwed mom. Nothing. The government may punish you for it; your family and friends might choose to abandon you; the last thing you want to do is to punish yourself and worse still, your child for it. So walk your talk woman!
    “These boots are made for walking..
    thats just what they’ll do
    these boots are made for walking…
    and they’ll walk all over you!”

    8.Always remember that being a single mom is a choice
    You could have gone for an abortion; you could have given your child away for adoption; you could have left your child outside a hospital (like a drama series), and you didn’t. Even though the situation wasn’t ideal.. YOU CHOSE TO BE A SINGLE MOM, remember that.

    9. When the going gets tough, the tough gets going.
    There are only 2 options: you either sink or you float. However, if you choose the latter, you take not one but two down with you – whilst science would prove that it would be much harder to float and a lot easier to sink – Science does not measure intangibles such as “love, faith, hope and determination” that keeps us afloat when the going gets tough.

    10. Fuck it!
    Then, there will be days when you are at the end of your tether with some of the following attitudes “Fuck it!”; “What the fuck!”; “fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck everything”… Know that its ok and that you are ok… life goes on… go back to reading point 8 and 9

    11. And please, dont’t vent it on your child
    This does not sound nice but its the truth, and i know, i am not the only one who does it. I plead guilty. The days when i could pull my hair out, the days when i cried buckets but not enough to flood the world so my problems can be swept away.. those days…. start anew. every day every moment every breath – is a new moment to start afresh. Bygones are bygones. Live in the present.

    12. Remember that YOU have your own life to live
    I know, its hard, esp when you need to work a full time job to pay the bills, send and pick up your child from childcare and not having extra help after work hours such as baby-sitting, how to have a life??? I started with a life “online” thru parenting forums and support groups for the first few years. It was only when Kieran was about 6.5 years old that i started going out and establishing a life of my own. Bit by bit, step by step, some things can wait, but remember, you have your own life to lead.

    13. It can get lonely
    No matter how strong and supportive your support system is, there will be days when you wish you had that “someone” that you could lean on and share both your joys and your sorrows. You can indulge by romanticizing or even grieving the absence of one, but girl, get moving after you are done coz you are on your own. Disclaimer: if you believe in God, then you’ll also know that you are not walking alone even when it feels that way. And if you dont’t, know that there are more than 500 single unwed moms out there lurking somewhere incognito in Singapore, who knows, they could even be one of your neighbours!

    14. What about sex baby?
    Er, start dating??? Learn to masturbate and give yourself pleasure??? And please carry condoms… you know better now than to rely on the “other”. And if you say condoms dont’t work, then double up with other forms of contraceptives.

    15. The Contingency Plan
    I have not come so far in my single parenting journey to know what to do and if i need a contingency plan should I find a partner I want to spend my life with. Whilst I still want to have 2 more kids (and home births they will be, to add to the record), I dont’t know if i will ever be ready to give up my financial independence to rely on the other to provide for my family and esp. his non-biological child. it does not help that i am brought up in a family where biological children have more rights than non-biological children, and the latter being treated as second class citizens. If you have insights to this, i would certainly be interested to hear your point of view.
    Dedicated to ALL mothers, esp. the single ones…I have to be honest and admit that i am in a “mood” as i write this. I also have to add that had I known all this when I made the decision keep my pregnancy instead of turning up for my scheduled abortion, it wouldn’t have made a difference to my decision. However, a survival check list would have been nice…

    Source: 10 MORE things they dont’t tell you about being a Single Mom Four Trimesters

    10 MORE things they dont’t tell you about being a Single Mom

    April 11, 2009 by fourtrimesters

    16. The “f” word
    Almost as vulgar as the “f” word, is the word “father”. If there are TWO important concepts you should know as a single mom, the first would be that EVERY child has a father.You know that, but your child does not understand that esp when he has not met his father or his father had not played an active role in his life. Put yourself in your child’s shoes and think of it as a fairytale, its there but its unreal and beyond grasp.
    For many years now, Kieran will go around saying that “he doesn’t have a father” and trust me, as a mom, there is nothing more painful than that especially when you understand the damage it does to him on an emotional level and one of the underlying causes of the power struggles that we have. Whilst I truly dont’t think he deserves being acknowledged as the father, nothing can change the fact that he is his biological father. Only during the Family Constellations weekend that I attended last October, did I realise that for Kieran to acknowledge that he has a father, i would have to do so first. So swallowing a gallon full of pride and resistance, I acknowledged that he has a father by digging out a really old picture I had of his father and I and displayed it at home, in full view of everyone who comes by.

    17. If you have nothing good to say, dont’t say anything
    The other important concept that I swear by till today it to NEVER, i repeat, NEVER speak ill of your child’s biological father, no matter how much he has hurt you. That’s between you and him, not your child, so dont’t pull your child into it. When your child is older, your child will be the judge and should be given every opportunity to meet your ex if he wants to. This is something I have managed to keep to for the past 8 years. And if i have to speak of his dad, i will only share good memories I had with him. And if i have nothing good to say, then dont’t say anything.

    18. the other Men
    Now that the man is out of the picture… or rather, literally, on a picture on my wall, what about men and role models that the ’single parenting or raising boys’ books usually talk about? Well, the theory goes that if a child in a single parented family has positive role models around him, that should suffice. BUT what the books fail to mention is how difficult it actually is to find consistent positive male role models who would genuinely care about your son’s (not theirs) welfare. Eight years on, I have not found one, and unless you have a bloody good suggestion that will work, then share it with me coz’ I am tired of empty promises and non-constructive suggestions.

    19. Buy One Get One FREE
    Yes it comes in a package, take it or leave it. And hey, it certainly takes more than BALLS to date a 2-1 package. especially someone like me, haha! And whilst I dont’t have any suggestions as to how to find positive male role models for my son, I also have none when it comes to dating. Some say you should not introduce the man until your relationship with him is stable, some say to introduce him right from the start so you know whether the relationship will work or not. I have only done the latter and all I can say is that it has been insightful. Whilst I have not settled down with “the one” yet as there is none at the moment, every relationship has brought me closer to what it can be by showing me what it can be like, and what I would like to avoid, ultimately bringing you one step closer to yourself.

    20. It takes a village to raise a child
    Whilst it may sound depressing, it really isn’t that bad altogether. Men aside, the next best thing you can do for yourself apart from establishing a very strong support network to support YOU, is to establish a Parent-led team for your child. Quoting Margaret Mead“it takes a village to raise a child”.
    I got the idea of a Parent-led team from a book I am currently reading – The Minds of Boys by Michael Gurian (http://www.gurianinstitute.com), just in time when I am looking to hire someone to come in 3-4 times during weekday evenings to sit with my son and coach him on his homework since my lifestyle is so unpredictable, which in turn is really unfair to my son.
    The idea of a Parent-led team is to get a group of people to be involved in parenting your child. Now, to get someone to commit to coming in once a week is already hard enough, ask Kieran’s Godpa and he can attest to that… however, with Skype and the wonders of the internet, logistics and spacial issues should not be an issue.
    Without realising it, I already do have some members on Kieran’s Parent-led team. Kieran’s Grand-aunt is in charge of his religious education, ensuring that he turns up for catechism, attends mass with him, and reads him the Bible. My wonderful housemate, who unfortunately is moving back at the end of this month, has been loaning, reading and coaching him on homework whenever I am not around.She just said to include her in this team so they can chat via Skype or meet up once a month or something… Being a literature teacher from New Zealand and teaching at Julia Gabriel Singapore, its great exposure for Kieran.
    So if you are reading this, and may be interested, we have OPEN positions for exposure to “nuclear families” so Kieran can experience what it is like to immerse with a family with both a father and a mother; male role models where when time permits, you can bring him out for sports or a man-to-boy testosterone time; music exposure (apparently helps to improve Maths by leaps and bounds as it uses the same side of the brain); and/ or just outings with kids since I work weekends; or anything else you can think of ie. using computer for creative design etc..

    21. dont’t be pai-seh
    If there is one other thing that comes useful, be thick-skinned and always ask for help when you need it. I did an interesting experiment last year when I had to rope in a team of helping hands to help me out last year when I was stranded without a live-in domestic helper for 6 weeks after breaking up with my boyfriend. This also had to happen at a time when a few of my family members were hospitalised so the help I got from them was very limited.
    I emailed a group of friends living nearby, both locals and foreigners and to my surprise, it was the foreigners who all responded almost immediately to lend a helping hand, from single friends who had less family obligations and babysat whenever i had to work weekday nights or stayed over when I had to attend births, some even being on “stand-by” when I am on stand-by for my clients, to a close friend living in a huge house and 4 kids offering to ask her helper to come by and babysit or even coming over herself with her toddler when the other kids are in bed. Wow wow wow. I heard from a local family two weeks later…
    A few learnings after this incident:
    (a) My friends are truly my extended family, which is also the reason why I am very selective, protective and loving towards them. When the going gets tough, you truly see who your allies are.
    (b) I think its very “asian” to not dry your dirty linens in public, hence not coming out in the open about being unwed (its unbelievable how many are incognito); with a mindset that when you need help or have problems, it should be kept within the family. Sweetheart, its time to break conformity! Be thick-skinned, be bold… ask for help!!!

    22. Stability amidst the chaos
    By now, you might have noticed the influx of people streaming in and out of your lives.. because finding a few committed people is really hard but making do with bits and pieces everywhere is a lot more realistic. Adds variety as well! However, kids need some form of stability and routine, so with my almost totally unpredictable hours and lifestyle,its really unfair for Kieran.And that is why, a solid domestic helper and support from friends and family are crucial for me, so that whether I am there or not, his life goes on.
    So who is the oak tree? YOU!!! And your child needs to know that, that you are available and there for him no matter where he is. And if you can’t be (i have limited access to my phone when I am at births or with clients), there had better be a reliable back up person he can call on.

    23. The other “f” word
    Trust me, it can get very stressful just coordinating the number of people around a child’s life. My friends can attest to how stressful i get when my domestic helpers in the past cannot get their act together as it adds to the list of things i need to manage and worry about. And now, you’ll also understand why my tolerance level is very low as some may say, because I have high expectations. I do expect the person to do their job WELL, and if they dont’t, they are out of the picture or at most in my case, if they dont’t and it becomes a necessity, they stay on the picture literally.
    So the other “f” word, fortunately, is to remember to have FUN, F you and, FUN!!! Its easy to get carried away by logistics of getting things done and accomplished. Participate in being a human-BEING, and not a human-DOING. Just the other day, I was having lunch with my housemate and she was sharing with me about her night with Kieran when I was away at a birth. It sounded as though she was talking about someone else’s son as he shared with wonderful adventures at school with her – golly, i felt like a brick just fell onto my head. It made me miss him so much yet he is always there, its ME who is not present and who has lost sight of what is important in life. Kids – they are your teachers, truly!

    24. Integration
    Now that I have given you nuggets of information here and there, how does it all fall in place? How does one be a mother, a daughter, her own woman, a partner, a friend, a professional???? Firstly it takes time to get everything together; Secondly, it takes to get use to it and balance what you want and dont’t want; Thirdly, be fluid and make allowances for changes as nothing is truly constant; Fourthly, master the art of bouncing back whenever you fall off the bandwagon. There is NO other way truly but bounce back on track, another valuable life skill. Its all easier said than done I can assure you, having lived through it and still living it. Life’s a journey, you need the destination to provide you with the direction, but it’s the journey where you truly grow, upwards, downwards, sideways, contort.. I trust that you’ll figure it out even if it means going in circles sometimes.

    25.Last but not least…
    It is important yet challenging to live in the present, however it is also important to remember to “Hold on to your dreams…” Who are you? What are your dreams as a person? What is the purpose of your life?
    Wanna know my dreams? I’ll tell you when I get there…
    This is for Kieran, my family and my friends – without which, I DO NOT want to even imagine what life would be like.. I love you all, very very much!
    Last edited by JoyBliss; 09-10-2009 at 11:09 AM. Reason: Added 1 more related article
    'Life isn't about how to survive the storm, but how to dance in the rain.'
    If God brings you to it, He will bring you through it.
    Happy moments, praise God.
    Difficult moments, seek God.
    Quiet moments, worship God.
    Painful moments, trust God.
    Every moment, thank God.
    The will of GOD will never take you where the GRACE OF GOD willl not protect you!!!

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