More support needed to nudge young couples towards parenthood

A parent holding his child's hand after fetching her from the childcare centre.
A parent holding his child's hand after fetching her from the childcare centre. PHOTO: ST FILE

I agree with Dr Ho Ting Fei that in trying to increase the procreation rate, we need to be cognisant of the real needs of young parents (Pay attention to real needs of young parents, April 26).

While young couples may want to start a family, they may not do so if they feel it is unsustainable - both financially and in terms of the support they may feel they need.

The high cost of living here makes the option of one parent staying at home untenable in many cases.

Leaving childcare to domestic helpers is worrying, as many lack the aptitude, commitment and experience for the task, and they may be a last resort for parents.

In my case, my children are somewhat fortunate that my wife and I are able to help care for our grandchildren, with limited help from domestic helpers.

Both my children's parents-in-law are unable to help with taking care of the grandchildren, so that leaves the burden on my wife and me.

It is not easy, both physically and mentally, given the great responsibility, as well as the social media-fuelled demands of childcare by modern-day parents. It seems a far cry from our days, when things were relatively simpler.

Procreation is the easy part. The challenges come after the child is born. It is a great game-changer.

Unless the infrastructure is in place to support these young parents, the motivation to have children will remain elusive.

There needs to be a detailed and proper think-through to create a holistic support framework for bringing up children, involving both the private and public sectors. Piecemeal measures and paying lip service are futile.

Lawrence Loh Kiah Muan

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 01, 2019, with the headline 'More support needed to nudge young couples towards parenthood'. Print Edition | Subscribe