GROWING up with divorced parents, Anne Soo*, 33, recalls her mother trying to “brainwash” her by saying negative things about her father.
“She told me that he won’t be able to take care of me. I’ll get a stepmother who’ll ill-treat me and I wouldn’t be able to see my brother anymore. I’d also have to change schools and never see my friends again,” says the office clerk, who had initially wanted to stay with her father.
She, however, chose to be with her mother because she didn’t want to move away and live with her father’s girlfriend, whom he eventually married, after the divorce. Her mother’s opinion didn’t influence her decision though.
“I saw for myself how my father walked out of the house, how my mother would ask where he was going and they would end up arguing because she knew he was going to see the other woman,” she recalls.
Life was tough after her father, the family’s sole breadwinner, left, and Soo remembers helping her mother make pineapple tarts until 3.30am – just to make ends meet. This she did despite having to sit for exams later in the day.
Now, Soo sees her father occasionally during birthdays and Chinese New Year. They are on speaking terms but there’s nothing much to talk about when he comes around, she adds.
Jasmine Tan* has turned out to be a kind and caring person but she’s “very broken” inside. Her parents divorced shortly after she was born and her mother had custody of all three children. She moved in with her father when she was in her teens but isn’t close to both parents now. She thanks her lucky stars for the caring relatives she has.
“My mother doesn’t love me. She wanted custody to spite my dad. She always talks about how he treated her badly, cheated on her, and doesn’t love me and my two siblings. When I moved in with my dad, he too would say bad things about my mum, and the extended family I’m close to.”
Listening to the adults rant and interrogate her about each other was painful. Tan finally obtained a scholarship and moved out to pursue her studies. It was a blessing as it was the “only way to keep sane”.
Sarah Lo* who’s in her 30s, is still experiencing parental alienation. Her parents who are in their 60s, have been estranged since she was a student.
“Mum still speaks ill of dad. She complains about everything. Through the years, my dislike for him has turned to hate. Can you blame me? My mum still cries everytime she talks about him.”
* Names have been changed