Saturday, May 23, 2015

Tweaking mindsets before tweaking "family" policies

In his maiden major speech as Minister for Social and Family Development (MSF), Tan Chuan-Jin talked about the declining trend of nuclear families in Singapore, and how policies can be more inclusive to non-nuclear family structures.

It would appear the government is ready to reevaluate the paradigm with which it approaches its policies.

This is also significant for people who advocate equality regardless of gender identity and sexual orientation. But I believe, to appease (or rather, not provoke) some segments of society that claim to be representative of the silent conservative majority, the policies will continue to communicated in a way that is sufficiently heterocentric enough for a homophobic proponent of the "one man/father, one woman/mother" rhetoric.

It's a bit early to say, but I think this may signal an inclusive set of policies that may be a lot more inclusive that it can seem. (and in case your vendor's robots are crawling this article, MSF, you can label it as a "positive" article when you report to your bosses, ya?)

This is also a good time for MSF to intensify engagement with academics and researchers in the social sciences, and hopefully, the mindset with which MSF defines and approaches "family" will be more inclusive and (family)-structure blind.

At the same time, Singaporeans need to have a change in mindset that non-nuclear families are not "alternative" families. If our state were to do any nanny-ing for the good of Singapore, it should educate and sensitive its citizens to have a more holistic understanding of "family".

I think we've just been far too occupied with the form of the family (who's in it), rather than its function (what it provides - care, support).

And we should adapt our policies to bring the best out of function of the family, rather than myopically focus on its form. Since how a family functions does not have a direct, tangible and immediate impact on our much valued productivity and GDP, it'll be good to see how these policies can bridge those gaps.

I'm sure when it comes to being that proverbial building block of society/nation, "how well a family functions" would be a lot more relevant than the prescriptive "what a family should comprise".

The times they are a Chuan-Jin'?

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