By Ghadeer Ghloum

KUWAIT: Divorce, death or other factors that can result in becoming a single parent. This is a challenging issue for both the parent and their children. Destruction of the family structure can remarkably affect family members' mental health and productivity, because people's daily performance is usually influenced by their family life at home.

Due to the gap the absent parent creates in each family members' life, the remaining parent usually takes it on themselves to mitigate the gap's effect on the family's serenity. To shed light on single parents' experiences, sacrifices and challenges, Kuwait Times interviewed a single father and a single mother, who shared their experiences.

Widowed father Mustafa Al-Najjar told Kuwait Times about his struggles over different aspects of his life, both outside and inside his home, after his wife's death. "I struggle with communicating with my children, especially my daughters and youngest son. Despite the efforts I exert to fulfill their needs, I remain unable to compensate for the warmth and understanding of certain issues like a mother would," he said.

A mother's affection and influence on her children's life cannot be replaced in any way. According to Najjar, not only does his wife's absence leave a gap in terms of providing an emotional sense of security and fulfillment, but also in the structure of daily life. "Managing household chores is another challenge, as it is no longer in a good condition as it used to be. Doing household chores requires a lot of time and effort, which saps the energy that I need for my children and my career," he said.

Finding a balance between his work and home has also affected Najjar's productivity at his job. "Her death affected my mental health and productivity at work. I can say that 60 to 65 percent of my productivity and thinking capability has been affected, since working in the media sector necessitates creativity and new ideas, which I am no longer capable of due to being preoccupied and worried about my children's needs," he pointed out.

Olivia, a divorced mother of three sons, told Kuwait Times: "I am the only supporter of my kids, so I have to work twice as harder in order to be able to afford life's expenses, such as house rent, groceries, school fees and other living essentials that are becoming more expensive by time." Financial stability forms a major challenge in Olivia's life as a single parent, as she is always racing to make ends meet. "I do not take any breaks - as soon as I leave my job, I start working from home as a freelancer to secure money for my kids' education and health," she said.

Olivia also pointed out the issue of raising three boys without a father as an example of an adult male in their lives. Raising children is a cooperative task that needs both parents' efforts and partnership, and Olivia struggles with shifting between both roles. "Raising my kids and trying to fill the gap that their father left is where my real struggle lies. Being a single mom worries me about my kids, especially as boys, they do not have a proper father figure. I have to play both roles and be both, a father and a mother - soft and firm," she said.