Jul 29, 2008

A Personal Baby Insight From Mr Wang

The national baby discussion goes on. Every day you can read something more about it in the newspapers.

I have lots of thoughts on this topic. And unfortunately, too little time to blog them all. Today I'll share just one small thought on the "career versus babies" theme.

Many women say that they do not want children because they want to focus on their careers. You must have heard that quite often. What you’ll rarely hear in Singapore is a woman saying that she truly loves her job and is passionate about it. (I should add that the same applies to men).

Gallup’s studies are clear on this. Here's an article which says that Singapore has one of the most disengaged workforces in the world. This means that compared to most other countries, people in Singapore simply aren’t very interested in their work. A human resource study has shown that 82% of employees in Singapore are indifferent about their jobs; 12% strongly dislike their jobs and only 6% love their jobs.

(And if you just look around your own workplace, you’ll probably find that the people who really love their jobs are greatly outnumbered by the people who don’t).

In a future post, it will be interesting to explore the reasons why so few Singaporeans enjoy their careers. Personally, I think it all begins with the way the education system pushes students to choose courses which are "useful", "practical" or "in-demand" (rather than the courses for which the student has a genuine interest). But for now, let's just stick to the baby issue.

So how is this relevant? Well, the next time you meet a woman who has chosen a career over having kids, ask yourself what that really means. It means that the woman has decided not to have kids, so that she can focus on something else.

And 94% of the time, that “something else”, her career, is something that she strongly dislikes, or just doesn't care about.

Sounds like a strange lifestyle choice, doesn’t it? Then again, human beings are peculiar creatures. Meditate on that, the next time you sit in your office at 10 pm working on a useless and painful project for your unappreciative, grumbling boss. This is what you sacrificed your family life for.

A clarification. I am not saying that if you hate your job, you should have children. But suppose you do want children. Then further suppose that you, like most Singaporeans, don’t really love your job. In that case, your career aspirations should not hold you back. In the first place, why aspire to what you find uninspiring?

48 comments:

Anonymous said...

It's the money and freedom. But of course not nice to put it this way, right? So of course say career lah, sounds better isn't it?
Same thing applies to politician speak. Need to have good leaders lah, reduce traffic jams lah, foreign talents good for the country lah, GST is to help the poor lah etc etc.

weekee said...

I think a good career indicate a certain level of financial independence. This is a dilemma that i face as well.

To me no money equal no baby. :) I guess i have to see how to recondition myself to see things in a more positive light.

Mr Wang Says So said...

The "babies & money" question I will address in a future post. And I will show that while the concern is valid, many Singaporeans are simply misguided in the way they consider the issue.

d said...

In a future post, it will be interesting to explore the reasons why so few Singaporeans enjoy their careers. Personally, I think it all begins with the way the education system pushes students to choose "useful", "practical" or "in-demand" courses, (rather than the courses for which the student has a genuine interest).

And I think this has unintentionally caused many to chicken out of having children because to them it is not "useful" or "practical" - even if they hate their job, they can't see the value of raising a family. Not surprising for kids who see their disinterested parents treat them more like investments than human beings.
And yes it sounds like a cliche situation but I frankly think it's getting more and more common. At least among the middle classes.

Anonymous said...

I'm male 40 single and not planning to marry. Even if I do, I will not want to have children. Why?

I spend the last 10 to 15years working hard to reach my current position in a electronic manufacturing industry(not very high, comfortable enough)

Now with the high cost of living and inflood of FT, I don't think I will change my mind on marriage.
Besides, worrying about lossing my job, I'm stuck with it. Hate it but can't live without it.

One of the way out is to immigrate before I reach 45.
Many of my friends who can't immigrate, are buying their hope of getting out of the job they hate on ToTo, Big Sweep, 4D.....

Anonymous said...

Reason is simple. The majority dislike their lifestyle so much that they don't want their offspring to suffer the same.

eve+line said...

I smell Breeder Bingos coming...

Anonymous said...

i love durains. but will i take a job where i have to eat a durain every day. think i'll pass.

the problem is boredom. any job with well defined boundaries u will grow to hate. sadly, most jobs are like that.

growing babies does not have well defined boundaries. maybe thats what keeps u content longer. if not content, at least challenged.

Anonymous said...

Actually, it's not a strange lifestyle choice, as Mr. Wang puts it. Humans will want to have children only if they are enjoying their career.

It's like others animals (we are mammals). What kind of tiger or lion will breed? The kind that just had a satisfying meal with all the blood and gore. It's true! Zoo will tell you that and ST reported on that before. You gotta feed them live chicken/pigs whatever, and let them chase after the prey. And when they have tasted the fresh blood, the hormones kick in and libido comes. Otherwise, the captive lion or tiger does not breed as well as those in the wild no matter how well look after they are. Scientists think it's the stress of being a captured animal. And somehow, "hunting" for a prey in the zoo helps mimics a non-captured stress-less environment.

So that's how nature works - comfortable wild surrouding -> breed. In humans, it translate to: comfortable fulfilling career -> breed.

I heard that after just winning their law case (i.e. a "fulfilling" career), DPP and lawyers have higher urge to mate, compared to after losing one (i.e. unfulling career). No? Haha

Anonymous said...

I totally agree with what was being said. We(Singaporeans) are aspiring for something we do not aspire. When I made a decision to quit my job as an executive to do counselling work. Lots of comments came to me. Example: U don't earn much as a counsellor, why burden yourself with others and the list just went on.......
life is more than just making money. I don't deny the fact that money will bring a certain sense of happiness but it's never the main cause of it.
Also to side track a little, the writer have his rights to say whatever he perceives .. Whether others want to accept it or not, it not a matter.

Anonymous said...

I talk with my nephews and nieces and sense that there is a metaphysical reason why they choose not to have babies. This metaphysical (which I hasten to add that for me here simply means beyond the physically obvious) may be in addition to the demands of a career and the hectic life/work demands of Singapore. I feel that many of my younger relatives do not have faith in the future. Not that they dread the future but the future is simply empty, not there for them. The Government may talk about buidling a better future but what is nourishing and sustaining about that future. There is an absence of meaning when it comes to the future, which for the younger ones must mean the life they will have in thirty / fourty/fifty years. If there is one thing which condemns government policies over the last thirty years it is this lossof meaning, both collective and individual.

Peesai sticky said...

the problem is boredom. any job with well defined boundaries u will grow to hate. sadly, most jobs are like that.

Sadly, that's not Singapore. At least not the working class white and blue collars.

Try giving some initiative and doing something you see has common sense over the old wheel. If nothing goes wrong, the boss will "act blur" and you will not get credit. If anything goes wrong, that'll be a good luck to your ass for most paper-general dominated places.

Singapore bosses are just too stuck up and arsed (sorry to use these words Mr Wang), that is why so many of us are so disengaged, and the "productivity" lags.

Plus, it's always not the bosses' fault for not recognising where your talents really lies and steer your portfolio towards there. It's where they need people to patch the gap and "multi-task" so that their "vision" can be reached, even if it's crap.

Leaders in Singapore just seem never to err, even in judgement. Because it's always the workers' fault.

Anonymous said...

the problem is boredom. any job with well defined boundaries u will grow to hate. sadly, most jobs are like that.

And why do most Singaporeans face stagnating career paths?

Mr Wang you have an insight to share?

Anonymous said...

It takes two hands to clap, whether to have children or not, not just because of women and their careers. Also whether we enjoy our careers or not, we still can have babies if we want. It is a matter of priorities and lifestyle choices.

Time to stop finding excuses and admit our own interests come first in most cases.

Anonymous said...

I agree with "d"...


"Not surprising for kids who see their disinterested parents treat them more like investments than human beings."

I was having a conversation with a friend about adoption vs having your own child. Many valid and interesting points came up butone really hit home. She joked "Aiyah just adopt one that is 19 years old, very smart but can't afford to go to a good uni. Then just pay for him/her uni education and when it gets a job we can expect to be paid back. No need to wait so many years."

Of course she was joking but this did strike a chord. I am sure quite a lot of Singaporeans would agree or at least laugh loudly in recognition of the sentiment.

It's like an investment backed by moral and filial obligation, with no maturity date or principal amount. Payments go on until the recipients' deaths. But you have to invest for 21 years before you can expect this!

Obviously I personally don't agree with this and would never treat children as an investment.

I agree the dilemma is usually babies vs money, with "career" being a synonym for "money" in most Singaporeans' minds.

Thanks for writing, Mr Wang. I really enjoy your posts.

Israphale

Mercia said...

I think the corollary being that if 94% of the task force dislike their jobs, it would be hard to justify a family. Think of it as deriving satisfaction from a particular area of your life. Perhaps, when you are happy with your work and going where you want in said industry, you might be more enthusiastic about having a child or getting married.

I wonder how this job dissatisfaction ranks historically in Singapore - were our parents (and even grandparents) bothered with such an issue?

Anonymous said...

If you take the need to earn money (ie, husband earns enough to support you and your children) out of the equation, most women would choose to look after their children full time. At least this observation is made based on the few women that I know who have made that decision. It's also what I have chosen to do.

This makes me inclined to think that women who choose career over having babies either need the money (then more than likely they fall under the unhappy 94%) or actually are the rare 6% who genuinely enjoy their work (or various aspects of it- such as being on par with the men, sense of accomplishment etc).

Unfortunately with the rising cost of living in Singapore these days, not many couples have the freedom to make such a choice.

Also, an interesting thing I noticed among "modern full time moms" is that we do not disappear completely from the corporate world, and instead take up ad hoc projects whenever our time permits.

Anonymous said...

Actually, the news-article about 2070, Singapore population will decline by a fair bit...makes me laugh.

Are we so sure, by the end of global warming, and by the year 2070, Singapore will not be submerged into water and invaded by wandering jellyfishes.

Anonymous said...

Nurrafshah syas - Babies come from God. When we have four or five then when we are old they can looked after us. If one gave the parents $100 then we have $500. A lot of money already.

We are thankful the goverment now give Singaporeans more incentives to have the babies.

Brian said...

You're right Mr Wang. I took up Chemical Engineering because my dad said it was going to be a booming industry. My coursemates say the money is good, but I don't think I ever will set foot on a refinery. It is just not my thing.

Mockingbird said...

It's funny that women claim they don't want to have babies becos they want to focus on their career when in actual fact they are not exactly in love with their job either.

i guess most of us are stuck with jobs we don't love becos we need the salary to pay the bills more than anything else.

Unlike America, most of us usually end up with jobs that pay the bills but jobs which we are not passionate about; jobs which we are disengaged from.

It's like working for the sake of working. Dreary.

Anonymous said...

quote:
"And 94% of the time, that “something else”, her career, is something that she strongly dislikes, or just doesn't care about.

Sounds like a strange lifestyle choice, doesn’t it? Then again, human beings are peculiar creatures. Meditate on that, the next time you sit in your office at 10 pm working on a painfully boring project for your unappreciative, grumbling boss. This is what you sacrificed your family life for."
unquote

Mr Wang, with this article, you've tarnished the objective and unassuming image that you've painstakingly created of yourself.

#1, you are assuming that the women is always the party that is responsible for not wanting to have kids.
What about men who do not want kids as well? What are their reasons? This an area to explore as well, isn't it? Have you uncovered how often it is the men who says no?

#2, You are concluding that the woman will be kicking herself for 'sacrificing family life'.

If her 'sacrifice' resulted in having a better quality of life and a more meaningful one than yours of changing diapers, sending kids to remedial classes on weekends, or having a vacation at disneyland once again or dealing with your angsty teens, well then I'm sorry, whose sacrifice was it again?


#3 Referring to the quote I've extracted from your blog, how did you arrive at the conclusion that 94% of the time, that 'something else' is her career? Where does this statistic come from, how accurate is it and is it still relevant in today's context?


Speaking as a married woman with a job and growing up from a poor but large family, I can well be the one to complete a survey in this aspect if there is one. I can give you 101 reasons why we should not have kids in Singapore and in the current global climate. My career is definitely not one of them.

Personally I feel that having kids just to satisfy your own need to have a family or to have someone look after you in your golden years is being rather selfish, isn't it?

-Have you thought about the emotional and financial burden you might become to your children?

- In today's society, can you guarantee that they are going to come up strong and steady for the rest of their lives? If your answer is 'yes', just remember that not everyone has the means or wealth to provide such 'guarantee'

Some argue that it's a natural cycle we have to go through. This is really quite lame because humans think and reason.
Animals just have sex.

Meditate on this: Why were you born?
Next this: Why did you want to have a kid?

If you can convince yourself that your having a child is not for selfish reasons, well then, congratulations.
But do prepare if your child ever says to you 'Dad, I didn't choose to be born'.

People who chose not to have kids do not condemn those who have.

Why are you taunting and mocking at those who have not chosen the popular decision?
Do give credit to them as I'm sure they have given it a lot more thought than you have.

Is there a right or wrong here?

You sing of liberty for homosexuals and advocate freedom in politics but now, how different are you from those who impose the same stigma?

Anonymous said...

sometimes ideals and aspirations (the "intangibles") just don't fit in our [over-]pragmatic (or is it mercenary already...) society

Anonymous said...

Mr Wang;

do kindly allow me a long post to narrate my personal life up to this point in time.

But before doing so, me likes to make a divination based not on occult but on factual phenomenons. And that is this country(nationhood) is destined for doom in a very short time.

Me born to a farming family in a village, educated to lower secondary level. Worked as a farm helper in the family at as young as six year old. Became a construction worker with mother when resettled to Public Housing at about 17 year old. Completed NS in 1972, was a driver in the Army.

After NS, became lorry, rubbish truck driver. Was Driving Instructer with Adult Education Board for a year. The longest job I ever held was that of an Auxilliary Officer followed by about 10 years as a retail salesperson in the Electricals and Electronics Sector.

Married with a Healthcare Sector Staff, we have three children and a grandchild. All our children are adequately educated and are earning their keeps. They are excellent children by any measure, disciplined and responsible. Can't ask for more from them and I feel blessed.

Many thanks to my Ancestors as well for the very good genes, we are all healthy, physically and mentally. My father left peacefully at 88 yr old and my 92 yr old mother is up and moving on her own.

From the above, it is clear that living for me has been good except for the many menial jobs that I have got myself into. I hardly had much complaints in most of the jobs that I did before the 2000s AD.

In the earlier days of my working life, it was very tough physically but highly satisfying due much to the camaraderies and kindnesses of fellow workers. There were eveready helps and cares especially from the elder workers toward a frail looking boy worker(me). Co-operations were common in the older days which are now replaced by 'friendly/peaceful' competitions and mind plays.

NEVER ENDING EXPLOITATIONS AND SCHEMES ARE IMPLEMENTED BY EMPLOYERS ALL OVER THE WORLD WHEN PROFITS(MONEY) BECOME THE ONLY OBJECTIVE. THIS CULTURE MANIFESTED ITSELF EARLIEST IN THE USA WHERE TOP EXECUTIVES WERE PAID RIDICULOUSLY FOR TURNING CERTAIN GIANT CORPORATIONS AROUD FROM LOSSES TO GAINS. This culture infiltrated into our society as early as the Seventies and now is at the height of its' glory. OUR LEADERSHIP HAD ALSO SUCCUMBED TO THIS CULTURE SOON AFTER THE UNITED STATES DID.

Now, no workers will like to be exploited, they stay in their jobs for the sakes of earning a living. When workers are not happy in their jobs, they are disturbed and unhappy and more often than not are not able to get along with others, including members of their own families.

IT IS DANGEROUS AND A REAL THREAT TO A SOCIETY AND ESPECIALLY NATIONHOOD WHEN THESE MEMBERS(CITIZENS) OF THE SOCIETY ARE NOT HAPPY WITH THEIR WORKS. THEY WILL CARRY WITH THEM THE BAGGAGES OF UNHAPPINESS WHICH AFFECTS THEIR RELATIONSHIPS WITH OTHERS AND THEIR KINS AND KITHS.

SPOUSAL RELATIONSHIPS IN SINGAPORE, BASED ON WHAT ARE OBSERVABLE AT THE OWN FAMILY, RELATIVES, NEIGHBOURS(HOODS), LEISURE RENDEZVOUS AND MEDIAS REPORTINGS ARE HORRENDOUS. DARE I SAY, THERE ARE PLENTY OF SIGNS OF A VERY OMINOUS CONSEQUENCE FOR OUR SOCIETY IF IT CONTINUES TO BE LEAD IN THE MATERIALISTIC WAYS AS IT IS NOW.

When a person fails to have a happy family due to FLAWED SOCIETAL UPBRINGINGS, one is likely to be a discontented individual. This unhappy individual then feeds the unhappiness into his/her family, into the colleagues at the work places and into the society itself. A very unpleasant vicious cycle perpetuates and each cycle gets more vicious and ominous.

Two aspects of SINGAPORE stand out prospectively and they are LOTS OF UNHAPPY WORKERS AND UNHAPPY SPOUSES. MANY GRUMPY EMPLOYEES AND BROKEN MARRIAGES. THESE TWO CHARACTERISTICS OF OUR SOCIETY WILL NEVER EVER GIVE US NATIONHOOD BUT WILL DESTROY THIS SOCIETY VERY SOON.

The Singapore Leaders have to be very mindful of their doings and deeds if they ever care for this Country. But, if they only care for themselves, which seems to be the case now, then they should not be telling the People what to do. Please just make your monies and let the People decide for themselves, be it good or bad. No one likes to be pulled by the nose or ears.

patriot.

chris said...

i believe babies are about cost.

also, if you continue to do things the same way, nothing will ever change. *from ugly betty*

do you think baby bonuses work?
maintenance of parent act work (as in achieve its desired "social" purpose?
--
the next generation will be all about self sufficiency. in otherwords, if I can't be satisfied, forget about caring about the next gen. so when rising costs, inflation, etc erodes their lifestyle, what do you think their priorities will be?

its possible to be married and childless and its probably good for the environment GLOBALLY, although not desired by the SG govt.
--

I would suggest the state pay for babies, via surrogate parenthood, and then having all babies born as slaves to mindef.. (right now they are just conscripted for a couple of decades, but mindef can do better..)

Chester said...

HapiBlogging to you my friend! Have a nice day!

Mr Wang Says So said...

Anon July 30, 2008 2:30 PM:

You're projecting your own perceptions onto my post. And thereby have managed to misunderstand it quite thoroughly.

Among other things, please note that I did not suggest that any woman, or any man, should (or should not) have children.

In fact, I think that there are many possible good personal reasons that a person might have, for NOT wanting to have children.

The point of my post is merely that if a woman does not in fact enjoy her career, then it is an odd thing that for the sake of her career, she should choose not to have children, if in fact she did want to have children.


"how did you arrive at the conclusion that 94% of the time, that 'something else' is her career? Where does this statistic come from, how accurate is it and is it still relevant in today's context?"

94% = 82% + 12%. See 4th paragraph of my post.

Anonymous said...

To be honest Mr Wang, I also have the impression that you are attributing the lack of babies to career women. Maybe because you did not mention the men's role in our predicament.

Anonymous said...

Dear Mr Wang,

I fall into the Gen X age group.

I'm not married so the baby debate does not concern me. Even if I was married, it still would not concern me.

I have not made a conscious choice not to have children, if eventually I do settle down. If fact, I have thought about it and then think of what it would be like. I'm sure many people do. But after day dreaming, I go back to my crummy job and desperate quiet life.

Many of my friends, male or female, seems to be doing the same thing. We are not moving on in the cycle of life, we are just delaying or living as long as we can in our phase in life. Over grown kids, materialstic adults, addicted consumers, putting of starting a family because it just does not make any sense any more.

Speaking for myself, I wonder if I can take care of my aged parents. Forget about children for now.

ILMA said...

Hi Mr Wang,
This is a great post. The reality is that even though its not a job that that the woman enjoys, our society is designed such that everyone is paranoid of the day his or her income stream is gone. And for good reason too, for welfare is completely absent in our system.

I have often advocated for greater welfare support in my time as a civil servant. But its constantly shot down, the reason given (always the same one) being "welfare would erode the work ethic."

If this is really true, then why are we bending over, getting Scandinavian companies to set up in Singapore? If welfare really erodes the work ethic, how then could the Scandinavians enjoy some of the world's highest GDP per capita?

The truth is that because of our country's lack of support at the individual level (in contrast to our excellent support at the enterprise / company level), the average citizen in Singapore treats Singapore the same as do any China and Bangladeshi immigrant worker --> make your money, and get out when you cant make your anymore.

Given such considerations, would the average woman have the guts to give up her career, when she does not have confidence that the country would help her in the future? The truth is that Singaporeans have no faith (and neither should they) in the system, no trust that being a citizen actually means something.

The baby and career issue is but a manifestation again of Singapore's lack of citizenship.

jabir said...

Of course, it could also mean that babies are even less important than careers to those women. Nothing wrong with that, as I see it.

madeline said...

I chose career because I have to pay not only for my bills but support a parent as well. I am in no way resentful for having to support her, I'd rather take care of what I have than create more responsibilities for myself. I think this is an impt decision, whether you like your job or not. Fact is, with most jobs out there, you are dispensable. So if you quit to have babies, trying to come back several years later (assuming you'd want quality time with your kids), you'll be back to square one.
Please dont try to simplify this issue.
I dont even live in singapore (live in a western country with excellent health and child care benefits) and I still have to chose.

Anonymous said...

Dear Mr Wang

This post fills me with sadness.
As it shows that you are as connected to the ordinary folks as our dear Vivians\MBT\Khaw\etc.

Many ordinary singaporeans out there just aspire to survive and maybe somehow have a family. They may complain a little but mostly making the best of what they have. That is their values. You do not have to belittle them.

You are an elite precisely because you were lucky enough to be blessed with intellect and focus.
If you were in their position, with their limited opportunities, chances are you would do the same. you think the ordinary joes have time(or ability) to take a step back and consider his options? Sure, that may have indeed been the solution. But if every1 could do that, then you, Mr Wang, wont be exceptional anymore.

You are also lucky to have found a soulmate who loves you and doesn't mind having your babies. You think they grow on trees?

NoName

Mr Wang Says So said...

This is interesting. Where did I "belittle" anyone?

Anonymous said...

Dears countrymen;

despite having a good family myself up to this point in time, I want to say: think carefully before YOU decide to be a parent.

Think about your childs'(ren) life, how much are You able to care and nurture for him/her personally? How are the Education, Healthcare, Transportation Systems affecting You in bringing up your child(ren), in terms of time and finance?

What and how are our society able to offer to You and your child(ren) in the immediate foreseeable future. Will the Society be able to provide your offsprings a wholesome and fulfilling life? Remember to seriously consider the lack of Nature and the the highly artificial environ/livings of our habitat. A Nature lacking and materialistic society does not provide much inspirational, creative, spontaneous(natural) and hence happy livings.

Another very important, even vital area to look into is the backgrounds and relationships of your present families, the parents and siblings of both spouses. Are the marriages of the parents and that of their children in good shapes? Are the parents relationsips with their children good? In today's context, there are likely relationship problems than bliss.

When families have troubles in the households, ask yourself sincerely if You are likely to suffer similar problems. If the answer is yes; make love but not baby! The problems will get more complicated and bigger and the offsprings will likely suffer as a consequence.

Maybe I should say here that my personal observations have left me very worry, uneasy and even vexed by the many family disputes and marital problems in our society. And invariably, innocent and ignorant children suffer the greatest.

Lastly, ones' work and career too come into play when planning for parenthood. Are You happy with your work and career prospect? If You are not happy working now, do put parenthood aside until You are stabilized in your career. It requires a lot of money to survive and more so to be a parent IN SINGAPORE!! AND YOU NEED TO BE A HAPPY INDIVIDUAL TO GIVE OTHERS HAPPINESS.

NO MONEY NO TALK SOCIETY MEANS ALSO NO MONEY NO CHILD(REN).

The Above are personal opinions which may not apply to everyone and I put them here just to help reduce stress and casualty; just in case it matters.

patriot.

Anonymous said...


Well, the next time you meet a woman who has chosen a career over having kids, ask yourself what that really means. It means that the woman has decided not to have kids, so that she can focus on something else.


sorry, I would not know if the woman is (a) not having enuff sex (b) infertile (c) husband infertile (d)really like their job (e)would rather have expensive hairdo \ prada than kids.

But I believe they have a right to make their decision w/o being judged. Not by the gahmen, not by me and since Mr Wang obviously have not atained buddhahood yet ...


Meditate on that, the next time you sit in your office at 10 pm working on a useless and painful project for your unappreciative, grumbling boss. This is what you sacrificed your family life for.


I assume this is not a compliment.


In the first place, why aspire to what you find uninspiring?


Despite what the papers say, IBs do not line up to offer high flying jobs to the average Tan Ah Lian. and the average Ah Lian\ah kow usually does not have mentors to guide them along. sure there may be choices out there. But not every1 is like you and knows how to plan or how to look out for opportunities. and maybe u should be thankful for that.

NoName

Anonymous said...

Having children is a personal choice and no1 have a right to tell you whether or not to have kids or get married.

Regardless of career\age\savings\whatever.

(You have poor but happy families. And you can have rich but unhappy ones.)

You make a decision and you make the best of it.

I would expect such a post from a gahmen mouthpiece. coming from the esteemed Mr Wang, it is such a letdown.

NoName

Mr Wang Says So said...

NoName:

I'm surprised how you have managed to misunderstand my post. For example, consider this:

"sorry, I would not know if the woman is (a) not having enuff sex (b) infertile (c) husband infertile (d)really like their job (e)would rather have expensive hairdo \ prada than kids."

EXACTLY. There could be many reasons why a couple is not having or not wanting to have kids.

My post only discusses one specific scenario - where a woman WANTS to have kids, but has decided AGAINST it, for the sake of a career that she does NOT enjoy.

When I wrote the post, I was actually thinking of several female colleagues I have personally known. These are people who have delayed / decided against marriage / motherhood for the sake of their legal careers, and YET seem to HATE their legal careers (judging from the way they complain about it; and get stomach ulcers; and in one case, get a nervous breakdown).

Mr Wang Says So said...

"You make a decision and you make the best of it."

I agree. What my post is suggesting is that people should decide wisely.

It may be a wise decision to have children, OR it may be a wise decision NOT to have children. It all depends on your personal circumstances,

What I am suggesting, however, is that many women (and probably their husbands as well, since the decision-making process is joint) probably fall into the trap of ...

.... giving up what they DO want, for the sake of what they DON'T want.

This is an UNWISE decision, IMO.

To put it in a simple matrix, a person may either:

1. want kids; and love her career

2. want kids; and not love her career;

3. not want kids; and love her career

4. not want kids; and not love her career

... and in all 4 cases, she may or may not actually proceed to decide to have kids.

However, having kids in Scenario 3 and 4 is unwise, because in fact she does not want kids.

Having kids in Scenario 1 could be wise or unwise; and NOT having kids in Scenario 1 could also be wise and unwise; in both cases, it depends on whether the person has correctly assessed her ability (or inability) to balance family with career.

BUT I am saying that in Scenario 2, if you choose NOT to have kids for the sake of your career, then it is probably unwise.

In all 4 scenarios, I have excluded all other considerations such as fertility; infertility; the other spouse's views etc etc.

Anonymous said...

"The point of my post is merely that if a woman does not in fact enjoy her career, then it is an odd thing that for the sake of her career, she should choose not to have children, if in fact she did want to have children. "


Mr Wang,

Thanks for the clarification on the point you are trying to make. But judging from the comments, looks like I'm not the only one who is misunderstood.

Perhaps it's because you are trying to connect the 2 topics rather awkwardly:

1) First being, too many Singaporeans are disengaged with their jobs (94%)

2) Second, that there is a group of women who have chosen to pursue their careers over a desire to have children.

The way I see it, the first subject is really experienced by both men and women, there is no hint as to which gender tends to be more disengaged. It could well be 70 % men and 24% women for all we know.

Next, you try to relate this to a group of women as described in (2), suggesting that although they have chosen career over having children, they may well be pursuing a career that they are disengaged from in the first place and hence, may regret it later on.

In that case, I'm not quite sure why you are blogging about this because the number of women in this situation may be really small, perhaps not significant enough to affect the birth rate at all.

Anonymous said...

Dear Mr Wang

Thanks for your clarification.

My comment also includes a scenario - where a woman WANTS to have kids, but has decided AGAINST it, for the sake of a career that she does NOT enjoy.

Maybe she is afraid? Or has other considerations. Whether her fears are real or not, who are we to judge. For a woman(or man) who wants to have children, forsaking the opportunity cannot be easy.

When I wrote the comment, I was *also* thinking of several female colleagues/friends I have personally known. These *include* people who have delayed / decided against marriage / motherhood for the sake of their *various* careers, and YET seem to HATE their *various* careers (judging from the way they complain about it; and get stomach ulcers; and in *more than* one case, get a nervous breakdown).

My point being that reading this article, I had a feeling that you were passing judgement on them. As if you were superior. Like they are asking for misery.

*Hey, ur readers are expecting a messiah u know, not LKY II*

Times are bad. And I have been hearing too many sad (real-life) stories recently. I am tired.

Sorry if I had misunderstood you.

NoName

Anonymous said...

NoName, the scenario you have just described is Mr Wang's Option 2.

One further comment:

Has anyone else also been subjected to sanctimonious questioning from people unable to understand why someone would choose NOT to have kids even when the person was financially,socially,mentally able to shoulder this responsibility?

This is not a direct comment on Mr Wang's original post, which points out the illogicality of citing a career that one does not enjoy as the reason for not having kids.

That, at least, people can understand and do not pry further, because implicit in that is a financial reason.

Why is it that some people do not understand/will not respect another person's decision not to have children, which is not based on the usual reasons?

It would be irresponsible to have children simply because you are in a position to have kids!

Kids = burden and responsibility as well as potential security, companionship and personal fulfillment. What if someone decides that the former outweighs the latter?

Do these people seriously think we somehow owe it to these unborn children, and the world at large, to propagate ourselves? Like some kind of a biblical obligation?

I think not having kids is a wise decision if you do not want the responsibility, regardless of whether the benefits can potentially outweigh these int he future.

These are the same people as religious fanatics - you cannot argue with them logically because they cannot differentiate statements of fact from statements of opinion. "To have happy family and a happy life = must have children". Same as "God exists and loves us". Fact or opinion? I am not not disputing the truth or falsity of either statement, merely saying that how can you expect the whole world to share your opinion and take it as fact?

Sometimes I feel like I am defending my human rights NOT to have children.

Israphale

Anonymous said...

Hi Mr Wang,

I'm a home maker in my mid-40s with a teenage son. I left the workforce to be a full-time housewife when my son was 1+.

Gave up all the perks of a career in the financial industry and have no regrets at all. Was fortunate as we are doing fine with just my husband's income. And yes, my spouse left the decision entirely up to me. It was definitely a sacrifice but looking back, I would have made the same decision.

Some of my friends chose to delay parenthood, some chose not to quit after a baby. At the end of the day it boils down to one main reason : financial independence.

When someone says their career is more important than having a baby (especially when they are not passionate about the job), it is not the main reason. Of course, there are many other issues involved in having a baby. But from personal observation, the most compelling reason is financial freedom.

I've always enjoyed reading your articles. . . Keep on blogging Mr Wang ! :-)

Anonymous said...

I agree with what you said about women these days who may not necessarily enjoy their careers, but with these jobs comes the money and the financial independence, as well as the freedom to splurge and pamper oneself. I would say that some women may have the impression that having children essentially removes this luxury. Hence it may be more correct to say that these women chose to have "financial independence" (which they enjoy)over "children". Often it is also the money which is the motivating factor to stay in the "careers which they are indifferent to or do not enjoy".

Anonymous said...

CNA news today 4-Aug-2008 says that of 39,490 babies born last year only 59% (or 23,299) are born to parents who are both Singaporeans.

Ha, ha, ha, no wonder PAP panic lah, not enough peasant slaves for them in future. If they piss of any of those with a foreigner parent, you can imagine he/she can easily emigrate. In fact, the article didn't mention if Singaporean includes PRs. If so, the number of Singapore citizen slaves with 2 Singapore citizen parents are even fewer. Way to go, PAP.

Anonymous said...

Ref: Aug. 4 2008;2.40pm.
A salutary lesson for Singspore that government policies and government are not infallible. The consequences of the stop at two campaign are deepseated and hard to correct. It is the same with education policies, it takes five/ten years for an educational policy to work its way through the systm and another decade for the full consequences to become firmly apparent. The wastage in terms of money,lost opportunities and human lives are often horrendous. So, we can still learn and benefit from the debate on population IF we recognize that public policies and governments can fail disastrously. That is why debate and increased not less involvement by citizens in all aspects of the public arena (and no, I do not think the NMP carrot works at all) are necessary. All should bear this in mind. Certanly the government needs to learn and accept this painful lesson.

Teoh Yi Chie said...

This article is so spot on to what I feel about the workforce in general.

Jean said...

This comes a year and 2 months late but Mr Wang, You are BRILLIANT. Nab-shot observation about our nation and the gazillion idiosyncrasies that encapsulate it. Interesting how the very people who replied so naively to this post are the very kind of Singaporeans you are referring to in it. Do they even notice or perhaps that's the very reason they are defending their case. Quite hilarious. Will keep reading your blog. I absolutely love Adrian Tan's speech. One of the best I have come across in my lifetime. Cheers :)