(Published - ST Forum, Online Story. June 21, 2007)
There have been letters in the Forum discussing issues pertaining to stay-at-home mothers and single mothers.
These individuals who dedicate their time and effort to taking care of their children have always been in existence, but as society changes, they become less invisible and more recognised.
Singapore is unfortunately not a place for single mums as policy and welfare do not favour them. Perhaps it is time to make changes to accommodate single mums in society, and not discriminate against them in any way.
This should not be seen as advocacy of single motherhood or singlehood per se. However, the Government should recognise that single parents contribute to both family and the economy.
We should also be wary of our patriarchal predisposition and be less discriminating when it comes to gender roles. Policy and welfare unfortunately embody and reproduce patriarchal norms and expectations based on traditional, and to some extent puritan, ideology. Any family unit that does not fit the traditional description of the 'normal' family cannot be dismissed as dysfunctional or a signal of moral decay.
In this case, stay-at-home parents, whether male or female, should be respected, recognised and represented by policy, welfare, the system and society. We should not bother ourselves with trying to dictate the form and function of families, or act as moral police providing rigid moral yardsticks for others. Such attempts will only stifle minority groups, with the system leaving them with fewer or even no options for welfare, rights and progress.
As society progresses, we need to be open to many choices as well as many more choices for others.
Ho Chi Sam