1. Recently, the NLB removed two children’s book titles off its shelves, after complaints from a member of the public that the books did not promote family values (http://www.todayonline.com/singapore/nlb-pulls-two-childrens-books-dont-promote-family-values?singlepage=true), and it caused quite a debate on the cyberspace and even beyond as letters were written to the NLB condemning the act and requesting for a reversal of its actions.
2. The main issue of the debate is whether those books are “pro-family”, with supporters of the withdrawal suggesting that,
“pro-family” = “1 father + 1 mother + 3 or more children (if you can afford it)”.
3. That is too simple a definition of family, and perhaps it should be,
“pro-nuclear family” = “1 father + 1 mother + 3 or more children (if you can afford it)”?
4. We have to face it and acknowledge that increasingly, there is a diversity of familial forms, including the nuclear family, same-sex unions/partnerships, single-parent family, and even cohabitation. The world is increasingly globalized and Singaporeans are exposed to all these.
5. Against the backdrop of the contents of the two books, it is clear that the supporters of the withdrawal are pro-nuclear family while those on the other side of the spectrum also consider themselves as pro-family considering the existence of diverse familial forms.
6. It is timely to acknowledge that diverse familial forms do exist, and then from there on decide if the nuclear-family still plays important roles in our society.