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Want Happier Families with More Kids? Don’t Force Both Parents to Work


Over the past few decades, we have seen a rise in the number of dual-income families as a result of increasing female labour participation.

With both parents away for most of the day, the challenging child-rearing responsibility has often been relegated to grandparents, maids and childcare centres.

We are now beginning to see the ramifications – in particular, the social and economic consequences – of such arrangements.

Some parents have realised that any financial benefit from having dual incomes pales in comparison to having a parent look after the children full time.

Nonetheless, due to the high cost of living here, many families, particularly the low-income ones, require both parents to work.

Raising a child well is not an easy task. Many working parents struggle with being an “involved” parent and an “ideal” worker at the same time. Fortunately, if forced to choose, most would opt to be the former.

It is also heartening to see a growing number of fathers being more involved in parenting, or willing to be stay-at-home spouses.

We should encourage such trends by lowering the cost of living – that is, making the dual-income route a choice rather than a necessity – and changing the work culture here.

This letter was written by Tan Eng Tat.
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