They are usually the last to be remembered.
My WhatsApp recently buzzed with news of the sudden resignation of David Ong (David who? I also didn’t know).
Along the course of the weekend, the WhatsApp chats got juicier and juicier, with pictures of his mistress, background profile and speculation on what would happen next.
I suddenly remembered a friend who is undergoing a really tough separation due to an extramarital affair (not of her own doing), and her intense struggle to come to terms with raising her very young children alone.
She has to figure out big questions such as how her children will grow up without a strong father figure, whether she can juggle being the sole breadwinner and caregiver of her kids without losing her sanity, and who she can depend on if she needs help or a shoulder to cry on.
Her eldest child has witnessed his parents quarrel often. His self-esteem has been affected by the tension in the only household he grew up in (which he no longer knows as he has moved out with his mother and siblings). The upheaval has made him fearful of being alone, intolerant of changes and having a much higher emotional dependency on his mother.
How will my friend’s children manage their replies and emotions in the future when people ask them, “Where’s your daddy?”, “Why aren’t your parents living together?” or “Did you parents separate because you were too naughty for your dad?”?
The children of David Ong and those of his mistress may have it much worse, because of the fact that their parents were thrust into the limelight.
Will their families and friends be understanding and sensitive towards these children, helping them through this difficult time and coping with the emotions ahead?
Or will these children be teased and taunted for the rest of their lives by bullies looking for a weak point to poke fun at them, and uncles/aunties who “tsk, tsk” to forever remind them of their Daddy’s or Mummy’s mistake?
What makes up a “normal” family, aka a loving husband and wife with kid(s), may not be as prevalent as many people think it is.
As a society struggling with the acceptance of non-traditional family structures and caregiver roles, are we able to be more accepting of different types of families, such as divorced, widowed, grandparent caregivers, stay-at-home dads, fostered, adopted, and more?
Or will we continue to “tsk, tsk” at imperfect families in order to make ourselves feel better about our own imperfect lives?