Why, why, why: Marrying Late, avoiding having babies

August 23, 2011, 0 Comments

WHY do Singaporeans get married later and hesitate about having a family?

Singapore is recognised more and more as a model country by other nations. From the innovative urban development strategy to the adaptive estate master plan, from the panoptic transport management to the precocious education formation, Singapore has earned a reputation for effectiveness, diligence and determination.
Sadly, we hear little of pro-family measures, elevating family values in the building of a nation and nurturing healthy relationships within families.

There needs to be a paradigm shift, from the Government to corporations and even to heartlanders.

- Higher real cost in all aspects of living standards.
The pressure of an inconsistent message to society comes with a price tag. Higher cost, per se, is not a problem. It is a global phenomenon, but as individuals we should be able to cope with these changes if we are guided with the right information. The problem, really, is the message that comes from everywhere.

From TV programmes to the print media, all seem to say the high life is the only way to live. We show people who have made it to the top, not necessarily understanding the impact on the audience, who can only hope to share the same fortune. We feature homes and places only the elite can own or visit. Even public broadcast, which the Government can use to impart the right mindset, prefers to spotlight the 20 per cent. These messages only lure society to splurge all for the sake of the lifestyle.
The message, truly, has not been balance or consistent. On the one hand, we encourage people to go ahead to develop their family. On the other, we seem to foster the chase after success and pleasure – at all cost. Having a family is not only about giving birth to children, as much as pouring out true love to our children. We cannot do this until there is a decision not to go with the flow and keep away from the seductions of the high life. Government and community need to teach that life with contentment is a great gain.

- Belief that academic excellence is the only important goal in life.
There is over-emphasis on academic excellence. It is not necessarily wrong to study well and grow in your career. The problem arises when everyone seems to live in competition and there is a lack of acceptance of individuals with different gifts. There should be an avenue, available within average means, for children to develop their own gifts.
Furthermore, there is a need for a place to nurture young lives to be better-rounded, not only in skills, but also in life character. Compassion, care and love seem to be a strange language in young adults in their 20s and 30s. In a way, this is an effect of specialisation in Singapore’s educational mechanism.

Children should be trained to care for one another. Those who have more, even if they can learn more academically, should be given the opportunity to interact with those in need. This will allow them to exercise kindness to others. Likewise, at home, families need to talk more about others. Bottom line; There is a massive self-centredness we need to deal with in society before we can bring up new life.

- Employers prefer working mothers to part-time or temp mothers.
Women who are working mothers often face a struggle between career and family. Guilt weighs heavily on them as they leave their child in the care of someone else. In the midst of balancing a lifestyle, a career and spending more time with the child, many are pressured into making more money, in order to make up for the lack of time. There is no support, even for mothers who prefer to work from home or choose flexi hours. Employers seem to feel less secure with employees who come in less than five days a week. Freelancers are often exploited. There seem to be no businesses that will support work-from-home decisions.

There should be full thrust to allow mothers to function without being punished because of their decision to put family first. The full-time mother should receive the same privileges or even more because of her sacrifice. At present, full-time mothers seem to be penalised for giving up their work. Childcare subsidy, for example, is less than that for working mums. The assumption is that non-working mums should have more time to look after their kids. This is, however, only partly true. Sometimes signing up their children to childcare is not due to lack of time, but to give them the opportunity to interact and learn from others. As the family income is halved, this should be more than enough justification to allow an equal subsidy. There seems to be no channel to allow parents to put their family above their career.

ST Forum 11 Aug, 2008 – Sharon Tay (Ms)


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