Parenthood debate

26 08 2008

It was announced just a few weeks back that the parenthood and babybonus scheme would have more incentives. Amongst the changes:

  • Paid maternity leave of up to 16 weeks;
  • !st child will be entitled to a one time $4K bonus (payable over 4 instalments), and the Child Development Account (CDA) where every dollar of savings is matched by the Government, up to $6K for the 1st and 2nd child.
  • 5th child and beyond will get up to $18K CDA of matching savings.
  • Enhanced Parenthood tax rebates
  • Increased in subsidies for infant care and childcare centres.
  • Improvement in the quality and service of centre-based childcare
  • Subsidies for couples who are going for IVF treatments

The initial start date was 1st Jan 2009, which caused a huge response from many. Online petitions, interviews with the media, feedback to the govt portals –> Resulted in a 48 hours response that the start date for IVF subsidies and babybonus will start on the day of the announcement: 17 August 2008. Amazing feat considering how difficult it has been to get feedback heard by the relevant agencies.

All the announcements, news, articles and comments from everyone lead me to ponder, whether these incentives would encourage those that aren’t ready for parenthood to embark on this adventure? I doubt it will convert them, probably to help those who have or are going for more children.

Even more comments came from SME employers who are concerned with the 4 months paid maternity leave. How do you get resources, trained them up and to cover those going on maternity leave in a short time? Effectively one could have gotten a staff, train them and confirm that person in that 4 months. What would happen to those that go for that 4 months of paid maternity leave? The Government paying for the last 2 months of paid maternity leave isn’t going to resolve the issue of resources.

My aunt said, “Maybe this would be an encouragement for employers to hire mature workers who have completed their family. No more maternity leave.”

Having kids is not about doing national service. No one is going to just have more children because of all the monetary incentives that you would get doing it. Most people recognise the time, effort and responsibility of having kids, but I wonder if some worry too much. There is no better time to have children when you are married and have a stable income.

Again, it’s a personal choice. I may no longer have too much extra to spend on my whimsical purchases, nor frequent holidays during the initial years of having kids, but the joy of seeing the kids running to me everyday when I return to work, giving me a hug, and hearing them call me “Mummy” is worth so much.

The contentment and appreciation of the minor things in life, the amusement of seeing the kids learn everything we do is something money cannot buy. Whatever help I can get, I appreciate it, but it’s not like there will be someone else who will help me with this responsibility. Many people seem to be taking it for granted, asking for backdates of the scheme and more money to be dished out. Wanna backdate till my grandparents’ time? 😛

The money has to come from somewhere admittedly. There are singles who feel that their tax money is going into schemes that do not benefit them. There are those who feel that COEs should be subsidised. Do we all really need to get a car once the kid arrives? Really. I survived on cabs with a pair of twins in the initial years. Still much cheaper versus getting a car.

The announcement also brought back the topic of the “2’s enough” campaign. People were disincentived if they decided to have more than 2 kids. Pay more during delivery, low priority if the 3rd child goes to school, pushing women to go for sterilisation after the 2nd kid.

The same aunt sums the feelings back then. When she had her 2nd kid, the nurses were asking if she wants to ligate. “No” was the answer. By the time her first child went to school, the policy has changed to “Have 3 if you can afford it”. How to have #3 if you have ligated before? I think that was a real sore point, taking away the personal choice, pushing the many thousands and thousands of women to go for sterilisation. It did seem to be deeming to the female species. Like how pet owners need to sterilise the animals.

This over-successful (instead of saying that it’s a mistake by the father) campaign probably left a dent, but with moving trends, it would seem inevitable that people today would choose to have fewer children. Family structure would have evolved and people will have a different feeling about what parenthood entails.

Is having kids scary? Yes.

Do children bring joy? Most of the times before they turn into teenagers. hahahaa

Do children help us adults to learn and grow? A definite Yes!

Which is why I’m on this journey, with or without incentives (but lucky the incentives came just in time!). Every bit helps.

Would you start your parenthood journey?