Group to share joys of parenthood with younger S'poreans

Minister for Social and Family Development Tan Chuan-Jin (standing, far right), who was the guest of honour at the I Love Children roadshow at United Square shopping mall with the voluntary welfare organisation’s president Joni Ong (kneeling, far right) and other ILC ambassadors on October 24, 2015.
PHOTO: I Love Children

With fewer young people thinking it important to have children by the age of 30, a group called I Love Children (ILC) hopes to reach out to a younger crowd to tell them about the benefits of having children.

The voluntary welfare organisation (VWO), which turns 10 this year, launched a new work plan yesterday to target Singaporeans from the age of 19, instead of 21, for the next two years.

"At 19 years, they are mature enough to think about love, to think about dating, and future marriages," said ILC president Joni Ong, who has five children aged 19 to 25.

The VWO has, in recent years, come across more people who do not see it as a priority to have children by the time they turn 30, and has already started to reach out to tertiary students through dialogues in schools.

Besides launching the work plan, the group also shared findings from its fifth parenthood survey at its roadshow at United Square shopping mall's atrium yesterday.

Conducted in February, the survey polled over 600 respondents, of whom 67 per cent said they wanted to have children.

The ideal age most people wanted to have their first child was 29.7 years, which has increased by 0.4 years on average since 2010.

Among those who did not want children, the top reasons given were the cost, a greater priority placed on careers and a lack of time. Compared with two years ago, fewer cited their workplace environment and lack of childcare support.

While 16 per cent of the respondents said there was a lack of quality affordable childcare support in the group's 2013 survey, only 6 per cent did so this time round.

Similarly, 18 per cent of respondents in 2013 said that an unconducive work environment was a reason for not wanting children. This has dropped to 4 per cent this year.

"The entire community and society has, over time, made changes to address various concerns of those considering having children or more children," said Mrs Ong.

For instance, a week's paternity leave, paid for by the Government, was introduced in 2013.

Minister for Social and Family Development Tan Chuan-Jin, the guest of honour at the event, said childcare is an important factor for those considering parenthood.

He added that the Government has been doing more to ensure that there are affordable, accessible and quality childcare options. "I don't think people have children because of the incentives alone, but it's to help alleviate the cost that comes with having children," he said.

The physical and financial incentives, in terms of the accessibility of housing and subsidies, will make it easier for young couples to factor children into their plans, he added.

The parenthood survey results this year also showed that risks associated with late pregnancies would not affect most people's decisions on when to have children.

Said Mr Tan: "I think, intuitively, all of us know that as we get older, it gets a bit more difficult (to have a child)."

He added: "It's about encouraging greater awareness at an earlier age, for people to start thinking about what are things that really matter to them."

This article was first published on October 25, 2015.
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