Because we promote the nuclear family above all others

I had enough of this “I want to promote the nucleus family but I still admire the single family” nonsense. It is at best ignorant, at worse hypocritical, and insufferable when these people start waving the I-am-also-from-a-single-family card in my face.

I’ll give them the benefit of doubt that it is ignorance, so here are some facts –

Precisely because we promote the nuclear family above all others, our policies become discriminatory towards those who do not conform.

Precisely because we promote the nuclear family above all others,
my daughter is considered illegitimate without the same legal rights as other children.

Precisely because we promote the nuclear family above all others,
she received only 2 days of childcare leave to spend with me, while other children received 12 days from both parents combined.*

Precisely because we promote the nuclear family above all others,
I had a baby, but someone forgot my $12,000 bonus.

Precisely because we promote the nuclear family above all others,
I am a mother, but am denied the Parenthood Tax Rebate and Working Mothers’ Child Relief.

Precisely because we promote the nuclear family above all others,
I have a family, but it is deemed incomplete and we are refused a home to call our own.

So if you want to promote the nuclear family, it is your prerogative. But do know that it is precisely this prerogative, together with the domino effect from your blind persecution of certain groups, that makes reality that much harder for us.

Unfortunately, your admiration will do nothing to alleviate that.

#getreal

*true story 2012 – when I raised this issue with an MP in a dialogue session, she gave me the most interesting expression, “oh, I didn’t realized we forgot about you”. In 2013, the childcare leave of 6 days was given to all parents. It is an improvement but from the perspective of benefits to a child, we are still shortchanged.

photo-4

 

This post originally appeared on facebook.com/jaxepan

Today

Today,
I have no advocatory pictures, but I would like to share one of my daughter, when she first picked up a book on her own. It was a small book but a big step, towards the love of reading she still carries today.

Likewise today, we have a small victory but a big step towards inclusivity. Our stories will no longer be removed, but instead relocated to another section. It is a fair compromise which truly respects diversity, so I accept.

A week ago today, we made a small gesture to seek the realisation of varied families within our midst. It lead to a big outpour of love and support from Singaporeans and people around the world. Some were inspired to start community pages while other shared stories of their own. I am deeply humbled and give to each and every one of you my utmost gratitude.

Some ninety years ago today, was also the birth of Nelson Mandala, the unequivocal representation of equality and reconciliation. He said that no one is born to hate others because of the colour his skin, his background or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart.

So the haters, to you I say today,a truly great library contains something that offends everyone, so I will accept the same of a truly open Internet. I stand by my call for tolerance and grace, for I can always avert my gaze, as I have asked the same of you in the library, with the stories which you distain.

Today is a great start of an incredible journey,

today I can tell my daughter that no matter how small you are in size or number, you will always have a voice and place;

for today that small gesture, has led to a big difference being made.

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This post originally appeared on facebook.com/jaxepan

 

We Are Real

#wearereal

Dear Mr Yaacob Ibrahim, Minister for Informaton, Communication and the Arts, 

my daughter and I have a very close relationship. Even though there are only two of us, we are bonded in love and kinship and we are a real family. Together with many friends I know who are single parents, adopted parents, blended-family parents, homosexual men and women, we are real, and we live alongside other Singaporeans from traditional men-woman union, making the same contribution to our country.

By removing books not conforming to the prescribed family model, I fear that we are creating an artifical reality for our young children.

I fear that my daughter is denied the opportunity to learn the diversity of families and that she will grow to doubt her value as an individual.

I fear that other children would only recognise a singular family model, and regard my daughter as alien.

I fear this perpetuates intolerance and bigotry, which leads to isolation and discrimination. I fear the outcome would be a society where children of different family circumstances would be mocked and bullied because others cannot relate to or understand their differences.  T

he German poet Heinrich Heine wrote, “Where they have burned books, they will end in burning human beings.”

And this, I fear most.

As a mother, I can teach my daughter to be brave and optimistic if ever being ridiculed about our family situation. As a mother, I can order any of these books online for her. But as a mother, I am powerless, alone, to change the society she would find herself in.

Consider this my feeble attempt, my fears as a mother and my aspiration as a citizen, to implore you to reconsider the censorship towards our children’s books, to make Singapore an inclusive society that has a heart as big as it needs to be, to hold all of our different families.

wearereal

 

This post originally appeared on facebook.com/jaxepan

 

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Out in Perth

Judgement and Stereotypes

There is an insatiable desire in Man to make sense of the world which he lives in. He learns by inventing stories to explain natural phenomenon, structure to order his society and definitions to distinguish himself from others.

As we eagerly sort our world into boxes, we inevitably forget that our Earth is round. Often, the things we witness or the people we meet don’t quite fit into the norms we invented. In the absence of understanding, we cast them into the fringes of our society.

Freedom from judgement only comes when we willingly forsake the comfort of our knowledge to be disarmed by our experiences; when we are ready to unlearn as we learn. For the more we know, the more we must also realize that it is impossible to make sense of the world in the way we know it to be.

This post also appeared on facebook.com/jaxepan

Discrimination

Bodies of 800 children, born to unwed mothers, have been found dumped in a sewerage tank during mid 90s. (You can read it here http://bit.ly/Td8rZG)

I am weeping for these children and their mothers. The slights we receive now are pale in comparison; I am grateful we live in a time when we do not need to fear for our lives. Moral codes of society are not cast in stone but change over time. We have come a long way, but there is still further to go. T

oday, there are still people all around the world persecuted for their beliefs, their sexual orientation, their ethnicity, in other words, being different. I hope someday during my lifetime, we can live in a society that is tolerant and inclusive of all those who are different either by birth, choice or circumstances.

That would be my one wish for humanity.

(Single) Mothers’ Day

Being a single mother to a young child often means Mothers’ Days go by quietly without celebration of flowers or gifts.

Before going to bed tonight, my 7-year-old gave me a kiss and said to me, “Thank you mommy for giving birth to me on the first day of Spring”.

Those who know my story would understand how, at these words, all the hardship and sacrifice I endured to bring this little life into the world, were instantly validated.

When a child is born, so is the mother. All of her hopes and dreams gradually realign with the needs of this little person. She never sleeps well again, until she hears the restful breaths of her child’s slumber. The mere thought of losing her child paralyses her with fear, yet she experiences no greater joy, than the delight of that child running back into her arms.

Being a young, single mother had been an arduous journey, and would likely continue to be. But I have never looked back, since that faithful first day of Spring, when my heart decided it was going to walk outside my body for the rest of my life.

This post originally appeared on facebook.com/jaxepan