Wednesday, February 13

Why Still No Babies?

Yesterday, we brought our kids to River Hong Bao Carnival at The Float @ Marina Bay and I was approached by a CNN journalist who wanted to put me in front of the camera for an interview. She wanted me to talk about 'Why Singaporeans refuse to have more babies?'

The first thought that came to my head was "WOW! How could she possibly know that I have been saying NO to having a third baby to my relatives for the past two days during our CNY visiting?"

"Could she have read my blog post, the one I wrote with conviction about not having more babies? Or do I just have the I WANT NO MORE BABIES look?"

 As she was wiring me up for the interview, she told me that many Singaporean families cited stress as the main reason for not having more children. Many families felt that our country is too stressful to live and work in, let alone raising a family. If it is true, why are there still millions of immigrants flocking to our little island?

I can't speak for the majority of Singaporean families, but personally, stress isn't the main reason for me not having another child. Even with the recent package thrown in by the government to promote fertility rate, I didn't feel or think that Singapore is a great place for raising children, mainly because this country couldn't see past GDP growth and focused too much on life's tangibles. Maybe this country's vision is just entirely different from that of mine.

When I imagined my daughter going to Primary school next year to have lessons, homework, spellings, and whatever MOE thinks is going to prepare her for PSLE, filled up most part of her childhood, and not to mention that she will be labelled streamed at a tender age, I get depressed and very disturbed. Why isn't this country getting it?! When you cramped the child with so much textbook knowledge, you murdered her interest to learn! And streaming - it is at best capping a child with self-limitation. Tell me, why do we even want that?

Going to school shouldn't be about preparing for PSLE, O level, A level or even the University, it should be about preparing a child for living a life worth living! It should be about cultivating characters, inspiring passion, helping one to develop his/her talents and shaping a more resilient personality. And no amount of homework or exams will do justice to that.

Children should be given time to explore, to discover, to enjoy what the world has to offer, and not chain them up with tuition and lessons, making them slaves to paper qualifications or to be pushed to 'drug' themselves with the Internet and/or video games to escape the mundanes of school lives.

Our education system has produced inevitable amount of stress for the children and their parents and when these children grow up and become parents themselves, they are going to think twice about having their own. There you have it, a vicious cycle! Congratulation!

Meanwhile, here I am, bringing my two children into our world and possibly trying to go against the odds, raising them the way I want, in the most misfit manner. I am already (in the eye of our society who only wish to produce complying and GDP-focused bunch of people) a bad mother of two.

So tell me, how could I, this bad mother of two, possibly want another child for this country.

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