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Single Chinese mothers beset with troubles
Updated: 2004-12-18 10:44

With more Chinese women joining the group of single mothers, they have found themselves encountering problems with money, housing and educating their children.

Divorced in 1999, a single mother surnamed Chen is now living with her only son. According to the court verdict, her ex-husband gives her 200 yuan (about US$24) monthly as child support, which is far from enough for raising a child in urban China today.

Chen said before the divorce, her husband let her kept all his wages, 1,400 yuan (about US$168) a month, together with her 600 yuan (about US$72), which made their lives well-off.

"Things turned different since the divorce," Chen said. She said she has been under continuous economic pressure, as her son is now in middle school and needs to pay tuition.

Chen said she felt embarrassed when the days for paying tuition approach, and doesn't know where to raise the money, though she is determined to provide the best education for her child.

The problems Chen faces are common to many single mothers in China. A recent survey done by the Shenyang city government shows that 57.3 percent of single parent families are faced with economic difficulties, and 43 percent of single parent families have monthly incomes below 300 yuan (about US$36). Most of these families are headed by single mothers and have and much lower living standards than before divorce.

Another bitter situation for single mothers is housing problem. When families are broken, single mothers often live in the homes of their own parents or rent cheap house, which make the family feel uncomfortable.

Education is the most import issue for single mother families. Single mothers tend to pamper their children as compensation for the incomplete family love.

A Ling's husband died of disease when their son was five years old. She chose to live with her son instead of remarrying, giving all her love to the child, she said. She never blamed her son, even when he made mistakes or played truant, until one day he committed robbery and was arrested by the police.

More people have realized the difficulties faced by single parent families, especially single mother families. Beijing and Tianjin have both set up single parents' clubs to offer psychological counseling and parenting courses to single parents --including the divorced and widowed.

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