Letter of the week: Give children a meaningful life, not just a comfortable one

Parents are like experienced fishermen who should teach their children how to fish instead of giving them fish, says the reader. ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG

Singapore celebrates Children's Day today.

Like many developed countries, Singapore's resident total fertility rate has been gradually declining over the past decades. It fell from a high of 1.96 in 1988's Year of the Dragon to 1.12 last year.

With married couples having fewer children, these children may become pampered by overly protective parents.

What are the obligations of parents? Is it to give their children a meaningful life or a comfortable one? Is it to force their children to graduate from top universities or to inculcate in them a love for lifelong learning regardless of their academic path?

Parents are like experienced fishermen who should teach their children how to fish instead of giving them fish.

As the Chinese saying goes, wealth does not last more than three generations. Leaving a large inheritance for our children may produce a generation that is selfishly focused on enjoying the "catch" without knowing how to "fish" to survive.

I am married and looking forward to having children. When I become a parent, I hope to share with my children my "fishing journey" - the joy of fishing, the right fishing equipment to use for different environments, and how to fish safely, responsibly and sustainably.

Most important of all, I hope to teach my children the social duty to share the catch and fishing skills with others who are struggling and who may not have the privilege of being guided by experienced fishermen.

Let us strive to make our children develop a love for learning, and to nurture them to become responsible and good citizens of the world.

Benjamin Ng C.K.

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