'Single parenthood by choice' not always about choice

We should not be so quick to dismiss those caring for their children alone as cases of "single parenthood by choice", says one forum writer.
We should not be so quick to dismiss those caring for their children alone as cases of "single parenthood by choice", says one forum writer. PHOTO: ST FILE

While similarities may exist across divorce cases, we should not be so quick to dismiss those caring for their children alone as cases of "single parenthood by choice" (Policies should not inadvertently encourage single parenthood; Oh Ee Hoe, May 20).

This is because a choice that presents a poor chance of survival or leaves one in hazardous circumstances is no more than a cloaked unviable option. Consider the following scenarios:

In the case of family violence, had a parent faced with relentless family violence not elected to leave for safety with his or her children, they would have been subjected to an environment that would not only be injurious to their mental and emotional well-being, but also highly perilous to their physical state.

In the case of adultery, do we really expect a parent to put up with the promiscuous ways of his or her spouse just so "single parenthood by choice" would not be ticked as an option? What values would we be imparting to the children watching?

In the case of irresponsible behaviours, such as compulsive gambling, excessive drinking or imprudent neglect of maintaining the children financially, "single parenthood by choice" might be the only sober option to get away from a spouse who is dissipating family savings, remaining unfailingly intoxicated, indulging in dereliction of parental responsibilities, and causing immense distress to all at home.

Each divorce carries with it a unique set of circumstances. Only the Family Justice Courts which is privy to the details can make a judgment based on merit, and hopefully one that courageously defies political correctness to place the best interests of the children above looking fair to both parents.

While there are parents who may have elected to divorce due to reasons other than those examples cited here, we must remain aware of and sensitive to those for whom "single parenthood by choice" was less about having any feasible choice at hand, but more about survival, safety and well-being.

Lily Ong

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 24, 2019, with the headline ''Single parenthood by choice' not always about choice'. Print Edition | Subscribe