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A round peg in a world of square holes...

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Why breed? II

"Life!" The Straits Times, Sat Nov 18, 2006

Married and happy with no kids

My wife and I cannot agree more with Suzanne Sng's Girl Talk column (Tick Tock, Get Me A Dog, Life! Nov 13).
       For the past 12 years of our marriage, we've had to put up with questions from friends, relatives, clients and colleagues why we don't have children.
       The remarks range from the casual to downright unimaginable. If it is tough for a single woman to bear with them, it is doubly bad for a married couple to weather the barrage of criticisms, like "Why get married when you don't want kids?", "Have you seen a doctor?", "You two can afford it, so selfish".
       In fact, we mark our 12th anniversary this week and our relationship is stronger than ever. We do not need a child to "cement" it.
       If a marriage isn't strong in the first place, having a child will only place further strain on it. I've seen marriages break up due to child-related issues, such as having a child for the sake of having one, or because of pressure from parents and in-laws. In the unfortunate event of a divorce, the children suffer most.
       And, yes, we have pets — one dog and two cats, and we donate monthly to the SPCA. Some people say our pets are better off than most children in Singapore — no homework, no exam stress, they live in a city condo, and get gourmet food and attention from their "parents". I'm proud to say that they are better behaved than most brats, too.
       Not only do couples who are childless by choice usually have pets, they tend to be very practical as well when it comes to superficial ceremonial rites. We only registered our marriage at the Registry of Marriages, and that was primarily for the sake of getting an HDB flat. We did not have a traditional Chinese tea ceremony, dinner, bridal car or wedding photos.
       These are unnecessary expenses that serve no purpose except to please some relatives that you don't even know.
       Our plan is to enjoy our lives now and save and invest wisely for retirement. We took up yoga recently to keep fit and prepare for old age.
       There's so much we can do during our golden years, such as golf, yoga, touring, mentoring the young and helping out in animal charities.
       Contrary to common belief, you don't need a horde of grandchildren to be happy and find self-actualisation.
       Should we still have a lot of money left when we're gone, it will go to help animal groups and charities. Why leave everything for one when you can benefit hundreds, or thousands of lives?

Daniel Tan Yong Nam


I like babies, but don't need them

It was refreshing to read Suzanne Sng's column.
       I, too, have never felt the biological clock tick and now, at 49, am happy and content.
       I am originally from London and have been in Singapore for the past 14 years.
       It's not that I dislike children — in fact, I like babies and teenagers and I am a favorite aunt to my nieces and nephews.
       I'm miffed when friends or acquaintances (with grown-up kids) assume that despite my protestations, I must have some secret longing and regret for not having chosen the path of the standard female.
       How could it be possible that I could find satisfaction and completeness in life without children?
       Ms Sng is right when she suggested that you are seen as unnatural in some way, this very often by other women rather than men.
       To choose not to have children is regarded as selfish, though some of the most selfish people I have met have children themselves.
       My husband never wanted children either. We have a rich and diverse life and have never once regretted it. Nor do we fear a lonely old age.
       To have friends of all ages and races ensures plenty of contact with others.
       To have the freedom to live a life, and not inflict life and its hardships and struggles onto another human being: This is my choice and I rejoice in it.

Berenice Hickey


"Life!" The Straits Times, Sat Nov 25, 2006

We need young ones

I am sad to read Daniel Tan Yong Nam's letter (Married and Happy With No Kids, Life!, Nov 18).
       Apart from basing the decision to have kids on medical and financial factors, it should also be linked to social responsibility.
       If every couple decides not to have kids, who is going to provide the essential services to ensure the survival of the human race?
       When you are young, mobile and healthy, having someone to take care of you is not an immediate concern.
       However, as you get older, you need young people to take care of you.
       There is a price to pay for the freedom of not raising children. The country may fall to enemies because there are not enough young people to defend it.

Melvin How


If the next generation possesses the reasoning faculties of Mr Melvin How, then the human species is indeed in peril. Apart from his committing the logical fallacy of hasty generalization (i.e. "If every couple decides not to have kids, who is going to provide the essential services to ensure the survival of the human race?"), Mr How also suffers from the "Father of God" complex (I.e. my child could save the world). Rather than indulging in his fetish of fantasizing whether couples are doing it bareback on this sunny-tropical-island-city-state, Mr How's time could be better put to use developing his argumentative capabilities.

An example: There are only X-number of cubicles in every school, mall, or building. This is almost always a (small) fraction to the number of people present on the premises. What is going to happen if everyone decides to take a sh*t at the same time? People will be crapping in stairwells, under trees, and bushes! The streets will overflow with human sewage!

Looks like Mr. Melvin How should have paid more attention while he was in school.

From a previous post:

Reason given: My child could find a way to save the world.

Real reason: "Mother of God" complex ("Father of God" complex for men).

Suggested alternative(s): If you want something done right, do it yourself. Your child could just as likely turn out to be the next Adolf Hitler as he could be the next Mahatma Gandhi.

Reason given: Want someone to care for me in my old age.

Real reason: Fear of aging.
Exploitative personality.

Suggested alternative(s): Save money, invest wisely, and prepare for retirement.
Be nicer to people so they will visit you in the old folks' home.
(Also, even if you have kids, they are most likely to hire a maid to take care of you.)

Mr Melvin How's recourse to xenophobia and nationalism in his last paragraph,

There is a price to pay for the freedom of not raising children. The country may fall to enemies because there are not enough young people to defend it.

reminds me of Katsuhiro Otomo's Memories, specifically, "Cannon Fodder." ("Cannon Fodder" was also printed in comic form in the magazine, Heavy Metal.) The story is related from the perspective of a young boy growing up in a socialist regime where each and everyone's duty is set for life. The entire society exists for one purpose and one purpose only: the defense of the regime and the total annihilation of the enemy. Everyday the media broadcasts the number of rounds fired towards a nebulous enemy beyond the horizon. Nobody has ever seen the enemy. Nobody even knows what the enemy is. No one, however, questions its existence. "Everyone is provided for ... but no one is truly happy, if the best thing one can aspire to be is the commander of a cannon." The path to happiness in this dystopia then, is to fulfill one's social responsibility — to be a tool for the regime.

Bravo! Mr How!


Anonymous Anonymous said...

How about this morbid thought: use the offspring as a source of organs (like everyone needs a compatible liver or kidney someday, heh!) so China doesn't need to harvest executed prisoners' organs!

November 30, 2006 1:15 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Amen. Finally some sanity and thoughtful discussion about not having kids. I'll raise my glass to that any day.

November 30, 2006 2:21 PM  

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