Have informed discussion about parenting before embarking on journey

I fully agree with Dr William Wan that parents have the prime responsibility for raising children ("Teachers are mentors, not vendors"; yesterday).

In fact, it would be a sad reflection on the current state of our society if this basic premise is even being questioned.

As our society encourages marriage and parenthood, it is also better, in the long run, for both society and the individual to be clear-minded about parenthood.

Parenting requires a lot of time and effort from individuals, and often does not follow one's well-laid plans.

In fact, unpredictability is a key feature of the parenting experience, particularly of young children.

This often runs counter to the structured nature of careerism. After all, children do not fall ill "on schedule" or at a time of "convenience", nor do they often behave in a predictable manner.

Hence, it is heartening to see many women, and increasingly more men, making hard choices to place parenting before careers.

Parenting requires a lot of time and effort from individuals, and often does not follow one's well-laid plans.

In fact, unpredictability is a key feature of the parenting experience, particularly of young children. This often runs counter to the structured nature of careerism.

These sacrifices and hard work often go unnoticed, or are taken for granted by society.

We often forget that the onus of raising a child falls solely on parents. There will be long-term consequences, if not already evident now, for both society and the individual, if we readily outsource the inconveniences of parenting to third parties.

The latter are meant as support or a measure of last resort and not a crutch to sustain a pre-parenthood lifestyle.

Given that the choices made during parenthood have lifelong implications on both parents and children, it is best that our society has an informed public discussion on what parenting really entails before individuals decide whether to embark on this journey.  

Tan Eng Tat

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 21, 2016, with the headline 'Have informed discussion about parenting before embarking on journey'. Print Edition | Subscribe