Childless Marriages in Singapore
“What do you mean you don’t want kids?!” is often the reaction 26-year-old Joanna gets when she tells them she doesn’t intend on having children.
“Yah, I don’t want babies. They’re troublesome, smelly, noisy and expensive,” she’ll reply.
Like Joanna, a small but increasing number of Singaporean Millennials are opting to be in a childless marriage. “We’d just get a dog,” they’d often say.
But unless there’s a secret fertility epidemic we’re not talking about, is being more “career-minded” the only driving force for women to be child-free?
Daunted by parenthood’s responsibilities
Most agree making a baby is fun and easy but raising a child well is difficult. Once a parent, your life will revolve around bringing up your child for the next twenty-odd years.
Arguably, many of our parents had us ‘young’—merely a few years younger than we are now. Like us, it was likely they weren’t any more ready to be parents.
The huge responsibility parenthood demands can be a turnoff for some young Singaporeans like Ariel, 23, who shares how she’s afraid of being a “bad parent”.
“I’m still a child myself, and trying to make sense of things. I don’t want to be one of those people who has a kid because ‘it’s about time’.”
Managing rising costs of living
Aside from the fear of parenthood, some young Singaporean women aren’t ready to adjust their lifestyle practices and spending habits.
Raising children in Singapore isn’t cheap. From diapers to milk powder, having to buy baby products often means sacrificing more luxurious lifestyles.
For women like Joyce, 27, they understand how children will curtail their freedom.
“My husband and I travel at least twice a year, usually to Europe and we still club on weekends. This wouldn’t be possible if we have kids,” she explains.
Unlike Joyce, there are some who desperately want kids but are unable to afford them.
This is why Amanda, 24, feels having children has now become a luxury. “If the government wants us to have children, they need to decrease the cost of childcare.”
“The benefits they offer can’t even pay beyond the first year of expenses. I don’t want to bring a child into this world knowing we’d both struggle,” she laments.
Juggling work and home
To live in the ‘most expensive city in the world’, a dual-income family is a norm, not a rarity.
Despite the anti-discrimination laws in place to protect pregnant women from being unfairly dismissed, some women like Tricia, 25, are unwilling to put their career on hold for fear their jobs would be on the line.
“I’ve had friends who were asked to leave their jobs or be passed over for promotions because of their pregnancy,” Tricia shares. “I’m staying childless even though I hope to eventually start my own family.”
For career women who still choose to have children, they have to learn to juggle work and motherhood.
Having seen my own mother stress over raising my sister and me, I’m completely put off from becoming a working mum. The problem I observed was how the caregiving work remained largely in the domain of women.
Parenting is a two-person job
Like making a baby, parenting requires two hands to clap.
While it’s possible for children to be raised single-handedly, women like Pamela, 29, would prefer the responsibilities of parenting to be shared equally.
“I’d love to have kids, but with my job’s long hours, it’s too difficult to do it alone. There should be flexible work schemes and job-sharing for couples to balance work and family.”
Pamela, adds, “Although the government provides maternity leave and bonuses to help working mothers cope, the policies ignore the fathers. Paternity leave is only two weeks while maternity leave is 16 weeks. This makes it difficult for my husband to help out.”
A Better Child-Raising Environment
Maybe Singaporean girls aren’t reluctant to have babies but put off having children because the environment we live in makes it difficult to raise children.
Perhaps we could take a cue from our kampong days and create ‘parenting communities’. By changing the perceptions of our society and creating more supportive policies, it could help ease the burden on mothers and mothers-to-be.
After all, it takes ‘two to make a baby, but a village to raise a child’.
Cool Offices in Singapore Led By Female Founders (e.g. child facilities)
This SG ‘Mompreneur’ Caters Free Lunch For Employees Daily
*Names were changed to protect identities
Cover image: source