If I can live a day without having to worry about bread and butter in the future, then it’s something I may wish to consider – putting my career on hold and stopping to have kids. However, from the outlook of the cost of living in Singapore, I highly doubt whether this is really feasible.

Most families that I know of are dual-income families, i.e. both the husband and wife works and if there are children, they are usually looked after by the grandparents or a maid. Most of them are ordinary people with ordinary pay, and they have to finance their HDB flats and car, if they chose to have one.

However, if you add up the cost of paying for the house and car and putting money aside for the children, while having a saving (for rainy days or retirement, since we can’t really depend on our kids anymore nowadays – do I sound like some 60 year old lady?) at the same time, it is quite unlikely that a single-income family will make it through.

Thus I feel that there is some flaw with Mrs Teo’s statement – that women should consider putting their career on hold to have children. Let me elaborate why I feel this way.

Firstly, to have a child is a big responsibility for the family and it entails bringing up the child and putting him or her through education and providing for the needs of the child. This requires not just time and money, but also effort to bring up the child and inculcating in him or her the right moral values. These are things that are intangible.

Secondly, the moment a woman have a child, it may not be as easy as giving birth to one at one instance and going back to work in the next instance. There is a transition time needed to return to the work force and it may not always be as easy as planned because the needs of the child comes into consideration. In this aspect, I do not agree with Mrs Teo that “women ought to consider putting their career on hold to have children as they will a lot of time to focus on work later”. The care of the child should not simply be left to the care of the elderly at home, nor the maid.

Thirdly, there is the issue of expense. Having a child means an additional financial burden – I’m just bringing in a fact. While having a child might bring immense joy to the family, in reality, this means having to fork out more to feed one more mouth. Am I being pragmatic? Yes, because as the cost of living increases and as kiasu Singaporeans start their child young, there is no way I am not going to provide the best for my child if he or she asks for it. No, I am not spoiling my kid, but if he or she decides that something (in terms of activities, materials) is good for them and my spouse and myself agree with it, then I’d want to provide for my child. There is nothing wrong with this – it’s only natural for a parent to provide the best for the child. However, this would mean incurring more cost – possibly something that the family is not ready for.

Hence, considering just these 3 points, without elaborating into further details, I can see for myself that there is very little reason for me to suddenly give up everything to start a family. However, there is a caveat. I understand that economically, it is important for there to be renewal, i.e. each country should have a generation to “replace” the ageing population; but I feel that this “renewal” should only happen when the spouses are financially prepared. That is, there has to be advanced planning for a family and not when either of the spouse “feel like having one”.

Moreover, with the recent increases in oil, essentials, food, GST and transport costs, in addition to a whole list that every Singapore is familiar with, it is difficult to predict what happens the next day. Of course, if I based myself on these arguments, then I’d having a problem with “finding the correct time” since it seems like there will never be one.

That’s still where proper financial planning comes in. When we plan financially, we plan a buffer based on what we know of today’s world. While it may not be able to cushion the entire impact of hikes, it will, to a certain extent, absorb part of the impact. I also do not think the carrot hung by the government is doing any good, because the “bonuses” does not seem to be able to help much financially (I need clarification on amount and payment periods).

To ask every women to consider stopping work and having children is not really a responsible thing to mention, especially if the spouses are not sure of the financial drain that can come from it. While I understand that it was difficult for Mrs Teo and her husband to give up their career in Suzhou, not every family have a well-earning spouse to support the family single-handedly. I hope Mrs Teo can be more sensitive to the reality of the situation.

AS people look set to live and work for longer, women ought to consider putting their career on hold to have children as they will a lot of time to focus on work later, said a woman MP.

Making the pitch to young couples on Sunday, MP Josephine Teo (Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC) urged them to include both work and family in their lives.

Mrs Teo, who has a son aged nine and twin daughters aged seven, was responding to PAP members who raised concerns during a dialogue with PAP leaders about the low birth rate, despite national efforts to boost it.

The efforts have included a slew of cash and tax incentives – including a parenthood package of $575 million in 2005.

But the increase in the birthrate has been small: there were 400 more babies in 2005 than the year before. Last year, 36,200 babies were registered, 700 more than those in 2005.

Mrs Teo urged young couples to relook the conventional approach of putting career before children, as lifespans stretch.

‘If we think of…85 and beyond being a likelihood, what is the hurry to do the things that can be done later?’

‘I would arrange my life so that I have more children, start a family earlier, start it sooner, and then when the children are a little bit older, I can put my heart back to work,’ said Mrs Teo, a human resources director with the labour movement.

But putting children as a top priority was no easy decision, she conceded.

In fact, she and her husband, had made a tough call to give up careers in Suzhou, China, to return to Singapore, so Mrs Teo could tap on their families to care for the babies.

Article obtained from straitstimes.com on 12th November 2007

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