Sunday, July 20, 2008

Parenting tips from a Nanny State

When I have time during the weekend, I try to read the paper. It is always a mistake because I will inadvertently get pissed off with something someone said. This past weekend was no different. It annoyed me that organ trade has been in the press' attention so much over the past week and it has overshadowed something that is more deep-seated and long drawn- the baby issue. Of course, the baby issue is of more concern to me than the organ trade one, not so much because I don't have organs and don't care about organ trade but because the case, for me is clear on that count. But the baby issue hasn't fizzled out totally. There were still some letters to the press and that's what annoyed the heck out of me.

All these people who keep thinking that throwing money at the problem of baby dearth really are not getting it right. There are also people who think that by providing more support for parents, we are encouraging deadbeats and freeloaders. Then there are those who think that we can open child care centres run by senior citizens because that will help solve the problem and will actually kill two birds with one stone because we will then get rid of another problem, the unemployed seniors. All this really pisses me off. And the more Packrat and I talked about it, the more we agreed in sotto amazement and irony that a nanny state like Singapore had no idea how to help us raise children.

The way Singapore solves problems to do with its people- Throw money at it. Hand outs. Every time there is a problem, money is given to appease the mobs looking for pitchforks. Either that or chastise and admonish them for behaving like brats but not really giving them an opportunity to discover why. At the same time, scold them when they get too used to such handouts and lecture them on taking things for granted.

If a parent employed that method of child rearing- The child would become quite spoilt. The child would find no reason to draw close to the parent. After all, the parent offers nothing else but financial support and harsh words. Worse, if the parent raises the child using fear to foster total obedience, at best there will be obligation to the parent but more likely than not, it will be a relationship filled with resentment and bitterness.

All this plays to a very familiar tune. Our nation demands loyalty and love for it. But how has it fostered it? Parents who automatically expect it without putting any effort into child rearing are often sorely and angrily disappointed. Similarly, with no concern for our emotional well-being and needs, always concentrating on the tangible and measurable outcomes, how does society expect us to be filial to it? Where solutions often involve some sort of monetary fix, in the same way, by ploughing the child with gifts or an endless allowance, the child will take whatever is handed to him but will not know what to do in return because time was not spent trying to cultivate or nurture a relationship. When parents lament that their children are strangers to them, that they are being influenced in ways that are unfathomable, that they don't understand their children and the children only see them as a bank of spare change, whose fault is it?

If the government thinks that fixing the baby problem can be done without addressing the deeper issues of work family balance, the role of the mother, the expectation in society of the mother as a nurturer as well as an equal provider for the family, there will be much raising of eyebrows and little attention paid. It will breed resentment and more destructive than that, disappointment. It will cause a distancing of familial relationships. It will cause also aspirit of uncooperativeness. Obviously. "if my parents don't get me, why should I confide in them/ love/look after them?"

So, it's a strange revelation that the uber parent in this context has no idea how to get across to his kids. It was also a strange revelation, to me personally, that I could so clearly extrapolate parallels between the shortcomings of individual families and Singapore being one big family under the government. Families in Singapore all too often convenient to foist the upbringing of their children to other people- school/ maid/ grandparents/ tuition/ enrichment centre. They just pay the bills. Their excuse is that they're out working and providing for the family. That the child should be grateful that this is done because it is the reason why the child has a PSP, a DS, a mobile phone, a laptop and an ipod to boot. Sadly enough, we've learnt that it is the right way to do things because it is the example set for us. Our values come from the 'evil' West, we are encouraged to go to the 'evil' West or our former colonial masters to be finely educated. We have great niceties in life, safety, good transport system, bonuses that we can count on and economy with a surplus rather than a deficit. We have it good. But like the child who is constantly reminded that he is a child and he ought to listen to the parent, however absent the parent is, we are expected to do the same thing. Of obeisiance, of coercion and of the end results. Singaporeans worry that their children will dump them in a retirement home and why is this so? And will Singaporeans dump the government once the government has handed out all the gifts that it can? If families are a microcosm of society, we all know how that one is going to play out.

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Ondine tossed this thought in at 22:15

4 thoughts...

4 thoughts...

At 2:33 am Blogger Zii:- said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

At 8:26 am Blogger quatscherei said...

I liked the way you drew the parallels. Aren't we like the kids who need to be disciplined, and when we're good (as in, Daddy gets to stay in the house for the next 5 years) or if we're in trouble, we happen to get more pocket money? Hehheh.

NDP is coming up and every soldier who has been for rehearsals knows what NDP is about - a waste of time, burn your weekend, so much for patriotism. It's more for show, more to convince the people that Singapore HAS spirit.

And then i always ask the TV: We is got spirit, meh?

oh well. jaded me.

At 9:49 pm Blogger Liquidfuel said...

Don't know if you wished to express your disappointments in the P65 blog (

I totally agree with you. With out of the world ministerial salaries, the policies implemented are a pathetic lot.



At 1:46 pm Blogger imp said...

bravo. absolutely astute.

no amount of huge payouts will convince me to have children. it's not the money. it's the environment rather that's the greatest deciding factor.

where's the structure of support for disabled and dyslexic children? till they resolve their policies issues, i'm not going to have children and then fight with them my whole life for my children.


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