by Maureen | Nov 4, 2015 | Divorce, Indonesia, Scoops of Joy, Single Mother, World Motherhood
“They blame me…”
“They said I must not have been a good enough wife…”
“Is it okay to ask the father to pay for my child?”
“I’m not allowed to leave the house.”
“Being a single mom, feel people look down on me as I matter less.”
What Single Moms Need
Those are just a few of the things I’ve heard over the year, since I started a local support group for single mothers called Single Moms Indonesia.
Living in a patriarchal country Indonesia, women still get blamed for filing divorce. The religious divorce court will put the blame on the women. The court will have a mediation session that almost always ended up with a panel of male officials putting the blame on the women. Women are usually prone to be verbally abused in this situation. It doesn’t matter if the woman filed for divorce following her husband’s infidelity or even abuse.
Indonesians have one word for divorced woman and it is laden with a negative connotation. The word is “Janda” and it’s true meanings are: a woman whose husband has died, or she is a divorcee. I’m not a fan of the word because of the shadowing negativity behind it. The word has turned into a label. It means that the woman behind it is someone who will seduce another’s husband, who ‘asked for it’. It means a woman who is worthy of all the juicy gossips.
To hear members of the support group that live outside of Jakarta, in small towns talked about how they are being isolated just because the neighbor thinks she may pose a threat for being divorced really disturbs me. Not only have these women lost their families but they are also being shunned by the society and having little supports from the government.
What these women need are our support. They do not want to be blamed for their decisions in life. They do not want to be made embarrassed and put on the spot often in a derogatory way.
What single moms in Indonesia needs:
- Emotional support. Some members of our group choose to be anonymous because they fear that their families or friends will start gossiping.
- Financial Education. Having to be responsible for their own financial state can be daunting for some women especially if they have never work before. Financial education can really help single moms to make better choices or investment.
- Parenting Therapy/Support. Often times single moms here are stressed borderline depressed going through their divorce process this can greatly impact the way they mother to their children.
- Affordable Daycare. One of the biggest challenges of working single mothers in Jakarta and Indonesia, in general, is the lack of affordable daycare available.
- Affordable Housing. With prices of housing skyrocketing in Indonesia, plenty of single mothers are forced to move back in, with their parents or rent the cheapest place they can afford.
- Child Support. There is no legal binding laws or government agency in Indonesia that assure children out of divorce families are financially taken care of. In most cases, men just flee and leave the financial burden of raising children to their ex-spouse.
I know these are very general things that not only Indonesian single moms needs, but all single parents needs.
Maybe as a society the simple first step we could take is to be kind and understanding towards single moms because deep down we are all just trying to do our best with the circumstances we are forced to be in, in this life.
Single moms, just like the rest are trying to make it work and to raise children who will become great individuals in the future.
How is life for single moms in your country? Does your government provide special assistant for single parents?
This is an original post to World Moms Blog from our writer and single-mom to one in Jakarta, Maureen.
Photo credit to unsplash.com
by Maryanne Waweru Wanyama | Oct 29, 2015 | 2015, Advice, Africa, Culture, Kenya, Traditions, World Motherhood
Last Sunday, my closest friend became a mother for the first time. It has been excitement galore from all the people who know her: her family, her friends, her colleagues, neighbors, acquaintances, and just about everybody.
When I visited her in hospital, I found myself giving her all kinds of advice about motherhood from breastfeeding, to weaning, to walking, to teething, all that and more.
Then I quickly told her that I would add her to some Facebook groups that would be of great help to her as a new mum. I began by adding her to a group that is exclusive to Kenyan mums who are breastfeeding. As I did so, I amused myself at how Kenyan mums have turned Facebook into their go-to resource center.
There are plenty of Facebook groups by and for Kenyan mums whose membership constitutes a certain phase of the motherhood journey.
For example, when one is trying to conceive, there is a group to join. When she conceives, she then swiftly moves on to a group for pregnant mums. Once she has her baby, she moves on to the next group –that of breastfeeding mums. After that its a group dedicated to weaning, and where nutrition advice is offered –by fellow mums.
Then there are also larger groups made up of Kenyan mums with babies of whatever age, a general group where everything about motherhood is discussed. From schools, to detergents, to diapers, to cooking fat, tissue paper, to the very critical issue of house girls (nannies). Everything goes. Each of these groups have thousands of members, with one even having slightly over 90,000 members!
I have been in all of these groups, and I am still members in some of them.
In the traditional African setting of the past, new mums were guided into the motherhood journey by the older women around them: their mothers, their aunts, their grandmothers, older cousins and female neighbors.
However, in today’s society some of these traditional fabrics are slowly ebbing away.
More women have to work to supplement the family income, which leaves little option for staying at home to look after the children. In fact, we are seeing less and less of the special interactions between generations of women when it comes to raising her child.
Consequently, we are turning to our friends, our online friends, most of them strangers, for advice that would otherwise have been given to us by our ‘African mothers.’ Combine that with modern technology where access to the internet in many African urban cities is growing, and accessing information and connecting with mums online becomes inevitable.
Sometimes when I think about it, I believe it’s unfortunate, especially for those of us who live in the urban towns, that we no longer have easy access to those traditional pieces of motherhood advice that we would have received directly from our mothers. But, in turn, we are grateful about how the internet has made our parenting journeys significantly easier for our modern lifestyles. Because, it truly has. But, it is only natural to wonder if we may be missing out on something lost.
How has online motherhood support played into your experience as a mother?
This is an original post to World Moms Blog by contributor Maryanne Waweru-Wanyama of Kenya.
Photo credit of Kenyan women to the author.
Quote image credit to World Moms Blog.
Maryanne Waweru-Wanyama, a mother of two boys, writes for a living. She lives in Nairobi, Kenya with her family. Maryanne, a Christian who is passionate about telling stories, hopes blogging will be a good way for her to engage in her foremost passion as she spreads the message of hope and faith through her own experiences and those of other women, children, mums and dads. She can be found at Mummy Tales.
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