April 29th, 2009

Counsellor’s Notebook: Single parent

Over 300 women approach AWARE’s team of 9 counsellors every month. This puts our counsellors in the unique position of having an intimate knowledge of the troubles faced by women in Singapore. All details shared with our counsellors are strictly confidential. The following testimonials are reproduced with permission from clients who feel they can help other women by sharing their stories.

“I had a strained relationship with my in-laws, even before I got married. It became much worse after I gave birth to my baby a year ago. The day I returned home from the hospital with my baby, she started saying things like I was a lousy daughter in law, and therefore I was a lousy mother too. She scolded me if the baby cried, she scolded me if I kept the baby in the room, she scolded me if I brought the baby out.  Nothing I did was right. Throughout all this, my husband did not do anything.

After two weeks of this, I was on the verge of a nervous breakdown. I was crying all the time, and I could barely look after myself, much less my new-born baby. When my cousin came to visit me, she was very worried to find me in such a state and gave me AWARE’s Helpline number.

It took me another few days before I called. The lady who took my call was very sweet. She patiently waited while I cried and told my story in between sobs. It was the first time in weeks that I felt that I could be a good mother.

We explored my options, and I said I wanted to try to talk with my mother-in-law. She role played the different scenarios with me so that I would be more confident when I approached my mother in law. I approached  my mother in law the next day, but she did not want to talk. I called the Helpline again. Another lady helped me brainstorm ways of getting through to my mother in law. I tried several ways over the next few days, but things did not improve.

The final straw came when my mother in law did something so horrible.  That night I spoke to my husband and told him that I had tried all means. He couldn’t be bothered to listen to me at all, and just told me that if I want to move out, it would be on my own. My heart broke and I cried the whole night.

The next day, I called the Helpline again, and the lady helped me sort through my feelings, and explored my options. I had not asked about divorce up to this time, but knew that it was something I had to face up to.

I am now a single mother to my baby. I am very grateful to AWARE for helping me get through my period of crisis.”

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