Things to Consider Before Hiring a Babysitter

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What Changed My Mind About Having Kids

Counting the cost, beholding the joys

By Jerrold Hong | 12 August 2022

“The most we’ll have is one child, and if not, none. It’s just too expensive to have kids in Singapore.”

In this day and age, it is common to hear such a narrative. Increasingly more youth and young adults are either indifferent towards having a child or do not want a child. A primary reason is having to deal with the high costs of living in Singapore.

Parenting also involves a significant investment of time and energy. It is little wonder then that fewer married couples find it desirable to have children today.

What struck me about the words above was that they were spoken to me by a family member who loves children. Although he and his girlfriend enjoyed being around kids, they felt it was too costly to have their own. This got me thinking: If even people who love kids aren’t keen on becoming parents, why would anyone still want to have children today?

The real costs to raising children

Many people whom I’ve met have the impression that I’m a “family man” through and through. While it is true that I am passionate about family life today, it was not always so!

Growing up, I could not understand why anyone would invest so much of their lives in their children only to have so many outcomes beyond their control. I even used to wonder why people would congratulate parents on the arrival of a new baby!

Now as a father myself, I can appreciate the sacrifices that parents make to give their best to their children. Before my son was born, I had invested much of my time in martial arts. I had the ambition of becoming an instructor, a goal that seemed attainable given my passion and dedication to the art.

But as the date of my son’s birth drew near, I grappled with the fact that commitment to martial arts would mean being away from my family quite often. Even my attention at home would be compromised as I had to spend time practising when away from the gym.

After months of deliberation, I ceased my gym membership. I tried switching to other martial arts with a lower time commitment, but a few weeks in, I realised that my family would still feel my absence at home. I decided it was best that I quit the hobby altogether for my family’s sake, though I did so with a heavy heart.

This is just one example of the many choices parents make at their own expense to give their best to their children. Indeed, the costs involved in raising a child are very real.

Children are our best teachers, and they remind us that there is so much of the world around us to explore and enjoy.

But there are also real joys

If the cost is so high, what then could have convinced me to cross over to this side of the fence?

My turning point came during an encounter with a neighbour several years ago. This next-door neighbour was very young, no more than two years old at the time. That afternoon, I was re-entering the house after disposing trash in the common chute when he peeked out of his gate, curious to see what I was doing.

I smiled and gave a little wave. Just before I shut the door however, he gave me a big smile in return. It was the first time I had experienced such a moment of connection with a child. I’d never thought of myself as child-friendly before, so I was surprised the boy wanted to interact with me at all. Though the interaction was fleeting, the pure joy of being greeted by his smile softened my perspectives towards children.

As the years went by, and with more interactions with other children, I slowly began to understand the joy of being with kids.

For me, parenthood takes this joy to a deeper level. When I became a father, I was awestruck by the miracle in my arms as I observed the movements of my son’s tiny chest and his peacefulness as he slept safely in my embrace.

Fast forward a few years, and I’ve now experienced tossing a ball and running freely in the park with him, and I realise these moments of fun and discovery with our children provide a sense of respite from the toils and complexities of our grown-up world.

Raising my own kids has opened my eyes to the meaning of life and the joy of family. And I feel so privileged to be able to carve a strong and precious bond with my children in their early years, a bond that will hopefully anchor our family through every season of life.

Children are our best teachers, and they remind us that there is so much of the world around us to explore and enjoy.

How do you value children or count the joys they bring through their adorable smiles, hearty laughter, and pure wonder?

The true value of children

It is hard to put a price tag on children; after all, how do you value children or count the joys they bring through their adorable smiles, hearty laughter, and pure wonder?

On the flip side, because we live in such a pragmatic society, it is easy to calculate the costs of raising a child.

The truth is, having children is not a fully rational decision you make. We can budget and count the cost beforehand, but we will never be able to comprehend or behold the joys until we get there.

As parents, our desires and hopes are often very simple. Ask any parent what they desire most for their child, and the likely answer you’ll get is: "For them to grow up happy, healthy and strong.” Few would say, “I hope they will become the next CEO of a multi-million dollar company.”

And yes, while there are day-to-day challenges to overcome, I think my biggest takeaway as a father is that my children open my eyes to the joys of life, and anchor me to the present moment. And the love we share helps me find the strength to tackle the challenges of tomorrow.


© 2022 Focus on the Family Singapore. All rights reserved.

Jerrold is passionate about family life. He is happily married to Rachel and is a father of two young children.

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