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Raising children is no fairy tale

  |  April 2, 2013

We live in a strange world where China is trying to control its birthrate to avoid overpopulation, while Singapore is struggling from a low birthrate and is encouraging its citizens to procreate. It would be dream come true if both countries could find a happy solution.

Yesterday, The National published a piece titled "Make babies, Singaporeans told".  The aging population in Singapore is quickly becoming the majority,  so the government introduced an advertising campaign using modern fairy tales to warn women of their declining fertility.

Fairy tale images such as Cinderella, Alice in Wonderland and Mulan are being used to convey the message that Singapore has a shrinking population, so women should "make babies".

The government believes women are waiting too long to start families, instead setting up their own lives first.

In the tale of Snow White, she is sitting beyond the mountain with her seven children who learn, play and give her kisses every day. To her, she is the richest of all.

If my big sister came to know about the modern-day Snow White mama with seven children, she would probably faint. The other day, I was telling her about my sudden impulse to sponsor a child abroad. To which she responded, "Why look after other children? I will give you my three kittens for free."

My sister has three lovely children and only she knows the time it takes to collect them for a proper photograph. She can't imagine trying to organise seven children.

I fear such tales of mothers with seven children will put off many people, because bearing  children and raising them are huge turning points in many people's lives. Often they get excited with their first child, without being knowledgeable about the responsibilities that come along.

I can assume that the government is thinking in terms of economy, development and infrastructure when it proposed increasing the population. But surely the citizens are smart enough to know that having a child means more expenses and less personal time.

Singapore is one of the richest countries in the world and the cost of living is increasing. The government should either do something about the cost of living and provide nurseries for mothers at their workplace, or continue encouraging the population to "make babies", without offering them any incentives to do so.

I am not against the government trying to increase the population, but it has to come up with more creative ideas. Children are beautiful creations, but in this fast-developing world, little care is often given to these innocents. Having children is definitely not a fairy tale.

Making babies might not be difficult, but making a happy family takes work.