August 31st, 2016

There is nothing wrong with single parent families.

This post was originally published as a press release on 27 August 2016. 

There is nothing wrong with single parent families
Children of single parents speak up in AWARE’s #asinglelove campaign

27 August 2016 – Two children of single parents are going public with their stories to help show that, despite the challenges they and their parents faced, there was nothing dysfunctional in their families.

The stories of teenage Taekwando enthusiast Isabel Felipa Rivas and creative director Valerie Cheng are told in posters that will appear for the next 10 weeks at stations of the Northeast Line. The posters are part of #asinglelove, AWARE’s initiative to build empathy for and stand up for single parents in Singapore.

val-isabel-phase3The posters feature quotes by Isabel and Valerie about the obstacles they had to overcome as part of a single-parent family – the financial struggles and the stigma of growing up with only one parent.

“We wanted to challenge the stereotype that single-parent families are in some way ‘broken’ or dysfunctional by nature,” said Jolene Tan, Programmes and Communications Senior Manager of AWARE.

“Valerie and Isabel are living proof of the huge potential of children who grow up in a single-parent family. These families and the children in them deserve equal support for their needs – they should not be disadvantaged simply because they do not come from what society considers to be a ‘complete’ family.”

Launched in March this year, in collaboration with Kinetic and Daughters Of Tomorrow, the #asinglelove campaign challenges the stigma and harmful discrimination against single-parent families, that affects their livelihood in very real ways. The movement seeks to:

●  Support and empower single parents through direct services and programmes.

●  Promote more supportive and equitable policies towards single parents.

●  Encourage more welcoming and inclusive attitudes toward single parents.

“I never felt like I had an incomplete family.”

Valerie Chung is Head of Facebook’s Creative Shop in Southeast Asia. Her childhood was not easy as money was scarce.  “My mother’s job as Guest Relations in a hotel meant that she had to work odd shifts, which made it difficult for us to spend more time together,” said Valerie.

Her mother came under tremendous pressure and judgement when she decided to raise Valerie by herself.

Valerie continued, “My mum and I were very fortunate to have support from my extended family who lived together with us in a flat. It never crossed my mind that some people would consider my family “broken”.

Today, Valerie is one of Singapore’s most influential creative directors. She has been awarded at top advertising award shows including Cannes, One Show, London International, Effies, Spikes Asia and Adfest.

When Isabel Rivas’ parents separated, she felt the pressure of having to contribute twice as much to keep the family running. She also stepped up to take care of her younger siblings.

“Not many of my friends know about how things are at home, except my best friend. But my mother is my role model, and I can talk to her and she will understand what I am going through,” the 12-year-old shared.

Support is key component for success

Family support and a stable environment at home go a long way when parents are raising their children alone, whether by choice or by circumstance.

“Struggles with housing, employment, childcare, poverty and social stigma have a major impact on the well-being of single parents and their children,” said Jolene Tan of AWARE.

“When equally supported and allowed to fulfill their potential, children of single-parent families have just as much to contribute to society as any other children. We need to examine the attitudes and policies that may be holding them back.”

The #asinglelove movement will continue to raise the issue of support and equality for single parents to the public and policy-makers.

We invite you to cover this campaign for your media channel, and request that you share the website (http://www.asinglelove.sg) with your community. If you would like to request for an interview with Valerie, Isabel and Isabel’s mother Arlene, please contact Nabilah at media@aware.org.sg.

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