Being a Mum in Turkey, Often feels like being a single Mum

Being a Mum in Turkey, often feels like being a single Mum, (well for me anyway!) I have always take the main role in my son’s life, but what it has created is a feeling that I am an single Mum but now I have reached my breaking point!


Being a Mum is a hard job, you don’t get a break you are on call 24/7 it doesn’t really matter where you live or who you live with. When you become a Mum be prepared to work full time. I don’t know any other way but at times I feel being a Mum here living in Turkey, is a bit harder.

The reason I say it’s harder being a Mum in Turkey for me, is mainly due to the fact that we don’t have any family around us, even after our lovely move to Demre from Sakarya we are still out here on our own.

We never had anyone close enough to us in Sakarya who we felt we could leave our son with and now in Demre we are starting all over again and certainly don’t have anyone we would leave our son with for a few hours. A friend of mine from the US suggested looking into finding an au pair which sounds like exactly what I need but I haven’t been able to find a similar program over here.

Since our son was born I have been with him nearly everyday, with exception of a few hours off when my parents visit or we go home to Scotland. Even a visit to the In Laws never provides much of a break, but there are more hands on deck.

Normally I deal with everything and my husband gets to enjoy the fun part of having a child and this is where feeling like a single Mum comes in.

When our son was born he didn’t want his Dad it wasn’t until about a year old he started to bond with his Dad, this is a normal thing. I was breast feeding and I didn’t like expressing so I would get up at night and feed and deal with the dirty nappies.

Later on my husband started to take on more of role, but in the fun times not when the crying started or the nappy needed changed. I will say in his defense there where times when he stepped up and helped out, especially as our son suffered with gas and often helped out walking him up and down and trying to sooth him.

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It often feels like I am a single Mum, I don’t have grand parents or close friends to leave him with or go call on to get a bit of rest and no one pops round for an hour or two to let me have nap, especially in the early days and when my husband gets home from school having looked after a classroom full of kids all day he’s to tired to help out.

Now before anyone says boo, hoo to you, you are a Mum so get on with it, you don’t have to work and can spend all day with your son, your lucky. That’s what I do and have done for all 3 years of my son’s life so far. I love nearly every minute I have with my son and watching him grow up. I know in the UK I wouldn’t be able to do this.

I allowed my husband to take on the fun parts and as our son got older and was able to kick a ball and go to the park without the worry of frequent nappy changes and feeds. My husband was happy to take him out.

It can be said that many Turkish men don’t take responsibility, they see the children as the Mothers responsibility and will only do the fun stuff with them and won’t help out. But there are plenty of them that do take being a Dad seriously.

But as our son got into that terrible twos (well 3s for us) it was me who had to step up and hand out the discipline, figure my way through some very heated temper tantrums, thankfully not many. Deal with the “No’s” the “I won’t s”, drawing on the walls and turning into a tornado when we go out.

This weekend, taking advantage of the lovely Mediterranean weather we went out for a BBQ. And my son the tornado put in an appearance. He was so excited and wanted to play with some kids from another family. Unfortunately he’s not up to speed yet with the whole playing etiquette yet, not having many friends and not started play school yet. Any way he nearly got into a couple of fights with another kid and also when he decided to be pals with the boys younger sister.

Now I don’t know if it’s me but Turkish parents can be very laid back, there is me telling our son off and getting all hot under the collar and there sits the Turkish Mum with her friend, half laughing and giving a light hearted row to her son. And so it continued. Our son wanted to help with the BBQ as he often does but he was upsetting his Dad so again it was me who got shouted to step in and help.

Gone had my thoughts about a lazy afternoon at the beach and park having a BBQ with my family.

And there it happened. Melt down……….

I had finally come to my breaking point of 3 years, I decided I had, had enough of being a single parent and that it was time for my husband to step up and take control.

My husband could tell that a storm was coming and he looked a little nervous, I picked up my bag and the car keys and politely told him I was going home I had, had enough being the one to hand out the discipline, that I was fed up feeling like the bad cop and that something has to change.

Our son in general is a great kid, very easy going but like all kids at this age he has his moments and his moments leave me worn out and fed up. I look forward to the phase ending but too many of my friends are happy to point out there is more to come!

I didn’t leave in the end as our son decided he needed the toilet at that point and my poor husband couldn’t deal.

I then sat down with my husband and explained my frustrations and feelings. I asked him to take more of a role in our son’s life and not just as the good time guy. I do believe for our son to have respect for his Dad he also needs to see him as someone who will lay down the law.

So far my husband has started to be more active in his role as Dad since Sunday but I would say that so far our son is winning, he has his Dad wrapped around his little finger.

But also I realised I had to step back and let go of a little control and not step into help.

Often as Mothers we feel we have to control, even as wives or girlfriends without kids, we feel the need to control our Men or kids. We think we are the only ones who can do the job and instead of standing back and letting them get on with it, we step in and they think well if she is willing to do it or she gets moody if I don’t do it her way. Let her get on with it.

If I had in the beginning, stepped back, said I can’t do this alone, I need your help and let my husband get on with it and leave him to do it his way. Then perhaps I would have had more help a long time ago.

It doesn’t matter if the husband feeds them the wrong thing for breakfast or puts on the wrong colour combination of clothes, or thinks he has to buy his child things or sits them in front of the TV. What matters is they are helping, they are doing there part. Don’t criticise them or over think it.

Because for most part you are in charge and can see that your child has a proper meal or the right top on to match the bottom.

I could have avoided feeling like a single Mum if I had let go of control. My husband is a wonderful Dad, he adores his son and can be soft with him. But now we have both understood the problem and are working on fixing it.

I would love to hear your parenting issues living in Turkey and what you find difficult here. Please leave your story in the comments below.

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14 Responses to “Being a Mum in Turkey, Often feels like being a single Mum”

  1. 25th November 2014

    Ecila Reply

    I have no children, so not much help with advice, but I totally get what you’re saying! Everything you discussed has crossed my mind when considering trying for children or not and I know it won’t be an easy road! My fella does discipline his nephews when they’re causing trouble, so there is hope if the time comes 😉

  2. 25th November 2014

    Ecila Reply

    And I wish you all the best!!

  3. 25th November 2014

    Christine Reply

    Yes… finally someone who is almost on the same page as me. I’m married, My hubby works full-time and over; meaning, he is a soldier and has to be guard once a night every week AND at least once a month 1 weekend (3 whole DAYS! and lucky IF he gets to come home Monday, but usually comes home that evening). So, with all that and I also have been with my lil’ munchkin since birth I am the one that has to deal with EVERYTHING. I have my good days as well as bad and then there are the ohhh this is hell day. depends on my mood when I wake up- I hate being ambushed with demands and questions in the morning, which is fired from my 3 year old son. Trying to clean and maintain a clean house is difficult; especially now that he wants to paint. And as always wants to play with things that he is NOT supposed to. when he wants something, like play Mario bros (I play, he watches) I say wait, let me finish (I’m typing this right now) he is on one side tugging at my shirt, and yelling in my ear what he wants very loud….. I want to go berserk!… I am also a broken record of NO! Stop, I said… etc. He doesn’t understand stop, or do not do that.
    Like you, I keep thinking if I had been back home in the states, then things would be easier. why? I have my family, my friends, and I have a car and places to go to take him so he can let go of all that energy. Here in Turkey, there is not much for kids to do except the basic: play alone, watch tv (cartoons all the time), play alone or with me, and the park. unfortunately, I am in an area with bad weather right now. SO home it is. I also have a language barrier problem- so visiting neighbors is difficult. He also doesn’t know play together etiquette and his speech is mixed with English and Turkish. So kids don’t quite understand him. Also, I see I am trying to teach my son sharing and be kind and manners. The other moms are just…sitting there, looking, and not doing much. It really frustrates me. anyways, that’s enough about my story. 🙂 you are not alone. too bad we can’t be near each other 😉

  4. 25th November 2014

    backtobodrum Reply

    My husband was 48 and had hardly met a baby when I threw him into fatherhood. We ran a business together so neither of us could give up work but shared baby care like we shared work. Despite swearing he could never change a nappy, he did and got good at it. I often had to be out for 12 hours a a time and despite a few mishaps both child and husband survived. The house looked like a bomb site but who cares. I could never trust anyone else to look after my child so she went every where with us or one of us stayed home to look after her. We also had no family near by. When she was three she started going to nursery and after a few tricky days, loved it. Most nurseries like to teach kids English, you might be able to swap giving lessons for a reduced cost place.

  5. 25th November 2014

    Jane Ozmus Reply

    The big test will be when he has a temper tantrum,in the middle of a busy shopping centre, because he wants something.

  6. 26th November 2014

    Alice Reply

    So glad to read and know that there are others who went through the same as I. My Turkish husband did not leave his understanding of new mothers and their responsibilities in Turkey, when we moved to the USA. We live apart from my American family, so family and friends tended to their own busy lives.
    My husband gave me 2 hours at the most, on every Sunday, to escape to my mother’s home for a visit. He seemed terrified of taking care of a toddler…happiest when our son took his long naps.
    My motherly ordeal soon became compounded, as you know about having to stay with the baby 24/7 in the first year. Our son showed signs of delays, which dear husband denied. While my husband worked like a work-aholic, I took our son to be checked out for Autism.
    I was a stay at home mom for those first 10 years. My husband worked and worked, afraid to go out in public with our son and I. I learned a whole new way of handling our daily life and keeping daddy’s life peaceful and as normal as possible. No easy task!!!
    Now, our son is 15 years old. The more I understand (psychologically) my son, the more I understand my husband. Our son grew very, very attached to me. My word is law, due to my husband’s…fear all those years of being more involved. We are very fortunate that our son is high functioning and can speak his mind…sometimes aggressively towards his father.
    I can almost understand why Turkish guys love their mothers so much. We know them from birth, feed and guide them through life. While the fathers remain somehow distant, letting the mothers take charge of the home. But sadly, the dads miss out in remaining seperate.
    I have two guys in my life now. One who still works hard for his family and one who will have my back forever.
    I survived.

  7. 29th December 2014

    Mumee 2 1 Reply

    I can absolutley relate, we live in the uk but my husband is a Turk from a small Asian side village, he has no idea what
    To do with a child as women look after them, we have a daughter and he will play with her but not change her, bath her, has never made a bottle or a meal for her and when I was ill I has to call my mum in to help as while laying in bed terribly il my husband kept bringing in the baby and holding her over me and saying take her she needs changing/ bottle/ won’t sleep, he is an excellent provider but that is it, to be honest if I didn’t love him I would have left him a while ago because sometimes I think it would be easier to be a single mum(as I feel like it anyway) than be stressed out and running round like a maniac while he lays in bed or on the sofa

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  9. 10th July 2015

    Jeaneth Reply

    Hmm… My boyfriend has told me how he believes that changing diapers, dressing, feeding, bathing the baby are all things that the mother should and WILL do. Definitely don’t like this attitude. From your experiences I can see he’s not joking, this is really how he believes things to be and how he’ll act in the future…

    • 10th July 2015

      Mumee Reply

      Just try explaining that if he doesnt help this will affect your relationship, the cracks will start to show and resentment creeps in and once that happens its a downward slope! Sometimes underneath the “your the woman you do it attitude” is a quite modern man who is just afraid of what the men in his family will think if he helps more with the children! My husband and i have now come to an agreement and he is much more helpful and spends lots more time doing practical things for my daughter- dressing- bathing etc, our compromise is that here in the uk he will help when asked (and he does) and when we visit his family back in turkey he doesnt help and i act lile the good little wife and do everything without complaint, he will tell me when to put our daughter to bed, he will.spend most of his time with the men etc, this is fine because its just for a couple of weeks a year and then its back to the uk and back to our way of doing things again, may not sound perfect to some but so far so good its working for us now

      Good luck jeaneth i hope it all works out for you 😉

    • 12th July 2015

      Kerry Arslan Reply

      It’s not just Turkish men who think like that, a lot of men don’t take much interest in babies, not till the toddler stage do they actually get involved. But expect to be the main carer and that he will just be there for the fun stuff till your kid is older. It’s what they are used to if they are particularly from a traditional home or thinking. But do try to find a compromise and don’t give into everything remind him you are different household a mix culture and he has to appreciate your ways to.

  10. 15th March 2016

    Sinem Reply

    This was a beautiful thing to read.
    As a Turkish girl, I can understand you.
    My father is still proud because he changed my nappy more than my mother when I was a baby. Or he was the one who was giving me baths. I think this is a very normal thing and this is something, which should be so.
    But lots of older people should change their mind, sorry but women don’ t do baby theirselves, mans should look their child equally.
    If you say “I cannot feed my baby, I cannot change her/his nappy, this is womans job”, this is not a different culture, this is laziness.
    I am happy that you finally find a midwAy. I hope this will rule for everyone else too.

  11. 25th April 2016

    Virginia Reply

    Reading your posts is like looking at my-self in a mirror…
    We are so similar and we have so similar lives…that it’s scaring!.
    Thanks for sharing!.

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