updated 24 Feb 2013, 08:04
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Tue, Aug 28, 2012
The New Paper
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One kid but who'll care for our future ones?
by Benson Ang

They have one child.

But Mr Frank Teo and Ms Lydia Soh, both 31, say they may not have more children.

He is an assistant manager, while she is a claims officer.

They live in a four-room flat in Clementi.

Despite them making more than the median monthly household income, the Teos say that it will be hard to have more children, even if they wanted to.

The median monthly household income from work among all resident employed households was $7,040 last year.

While they are at work, their three- month-old daughter, Alyss, is cared for by Mr Teo's father, who lives in the same block.

Says Ms Soh: "If I have another child, I'm worried my father- in-law will not have the energy to care of an additional child.

"It's hard to get affordable and reliable childcare.

"Professional infant and child care is expensive and is quite a long way from our home.

"The waiting list for a childcare centre is also very long."

"We wouldn't want to hire a maid, despite the endless household chores as it would mean additional costs and we do not feel comfortable with a stranger in the house.

"And it would be inconvenient for me to work from home as my job requires me to access many different computer systems."

One possible solution would be to further subsidise infant care and locate childcare centres near workplaces so parents have some peace of mind while at work, says Ms Soh.

But there are other problems, such as how to pay for the child's education.

Ms Soh has considered buying an endowment plan to pay for her daughter's university fees in about 20 years' time.

But such a plan would cost the family about $300 a month, she says.

So a larger baby bonus, would definitely provide more support for young parents, she says.

In addition, Ms Soh hopes fathers can be given paternity leave.

Currently, there is no statutory entitlement to paternity leave.

"Two weeks to a month would be good. It's important for the father to be around in the first few weeks after the baby is born, so that both parents have time to settle in during this transition period."

Mr Teo agrees. He says: "It'd be great to have a few more days to provide mental support to my wife and family.

"I will also be able to help her with the adjustments she will have to make to welcome a new member to our family."

But both acknowledged that no matter what carrots are dangled before them, young parents would have to make many personal sacrifices to have more children.

Says Ms Soh: "When we were dating, we could go on longer holidays. Now we tend to go only as far as Bangkok.

"We used to go for movies every weekend, but now we are more restricted in terms of time.

"But it's worth it because having a child really completes our lives. We love our little princess very much."


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