When Edlyn from Mummy Ed asked if I wanted to attend a Bloggers’ Tea Session, I immediately said yes! It turns out that the Bloggers’ Tea Session was with the Senior Minister of State Mrs. Josephine Teo who had recently added marriage and parenthood to her portfolio following the recent cabinet reshuffle.
Held at the serene Canopy Garden Dining in Bishan Ang Mo Kio Park, I and 14 other parent bloggers shared collective concerns regarding children and issues we faced as couples and parents in Singapore.
In the 2-hour session, we discussed the incentives for working mothers and the lack thereof for stay-at-home moms. We talked about how to encourage the younger generation to get married earlier and start procreation sooner rather than later, and the reservations they have.
We spoke of the costs of modern parenting and the illusion of luxury regarding marriage and parenting — i.e. the desire to have the ideal wedding, the one-carat diamond ring, and the beautiful home before saying the vows and the expensive branded clothes and schools for the children respectively.
Childcare was a big whopper of a discussion. It is the largest bulk of our parenting expenses and the well-meaning Baby Bonus packages the government endowed on parents have been pillaged by enterprising childcare centers. Let us not even open another can of worms that is the demanding local education system, which breeds other costs and issues.
Then there is the discussion on IVF assistance as well as incentives for stay-at-home moms, single parents and adoption.
The issues discussed are not new. The sentiments echoed by the parent bloggers reflect that of the general population. At the end of the day, I am not sure if our session will change or inspire any policies that is not already in place or about to be put into motion. However, there is acknowledgment from the Senior Minister that we, the parent bloggers, are initiating a social movement from ground zero.
My personal take is that marriage and parenthood are not commodities that can be traded for incentives. They are choices made by individuals to create a family, in whatever form, sizes or mold, and governed by the preferences of these individuals to be executed in the best possible way they can with whatever resources they have.
It is the culture of the country and the mindset of the citizens that will ensure that parents get a work-life balance and can afford a sustainable future for their kids. The hill towards this goal is still very steep when the corporate culture continues to be resistant to flexible work arrangements and parents struggle to fend off increasing education costs and pressures.
So what did I take away from this tea session?
First, I was very happy to meet Mrs Teo. She was very warm, engaging, and pleasant in her demeanor. I thought she facilitated our discussion extremely well (yes! I know, it’s an occupation hazard). She was observant and listened very carefully to what the parents said. She always reflected on what she heard and was very inclusive in her discussion. She was also very candid about the challenges of the government policies already in place and the conundrum of implementing new policies.
Second, I was very gratified to be among like-minded parents who are setting a culture of modern parenting with their posts and views. For example, the daddy bloggers who share that it is COOL to be involved and active fathers (check out the Daddy Matters) and the mommy bloggers who choose to be home-based, hands-on moms to better steer their kids’ social, emotional and educational development from the ground up.
I feel excited and inspired by the insights of this circle of parents. In our own way, we are pioneering a new culture of aware, mindful and involved parents. They motivate me to write more about the things that truly matter to us – the successful development of our children to be grounded, well-rounded individuals and the happiness and wellbeing of our family.
I want to give a special shout out to Edlyn for bringing me on board this thought-provoking sharing and the National Population and Talent Division for initiating this tea session.
Here are the parent bloggers who were at the session. Check out their blogs:
- Adeline Tan — Growing With The Tans
- Andy — SengkangBabies
- Ashlyn Thia — Ashlyn Thia
- Daphne — Mother Inc
- Edlyn Giam — Mummy Ed
- Edmund — Edunloaded
- Geraldine Guo — Mummy Chuck
- June Yong — MamaWearPapaShirt
- Justina Tey — Mum in the Making
- Kelvin Ang — Cheekiemonkies
- Pamela — Tan Family Chronicles
- Susan Koh — A Juggling Mom
- Winston — The Blogfather
- Ng Chin Leng — Singapore Motherhood