Ready to be a dad, handouts or not
At a recent family gathering, soon after my nephew’s birth in October, my mother made a remark to our relatives.
“The uncle is more anxious than the father,” she quipped.
It was not a subtle complaint about my brother-in-law.
You see, this first-time uncle had made numerous trips, even to Johor Baru, to find the perfect stroller for the baby. My sister’s birthday present from me last August was a diaper bag. And I would spend my days off from work just having little Harvey nap on my belly for hours.
Truth is, I can’t wait to have my own kids, even though I have yet to tie the knot. But when my fiancee and I get married, the plan is to have our first little one within two years. (I’m still working on convincing her to increase the quota from two to four.)
So, the goodies in the Enhanced Marriage and Parenthood package announced last week must have been great news, right?
Not really, because I felt the Government could have done more for would-be parents like me — those who have wanted kids all along even without “bonuses” from the Government. And it’s not because I’m well-to-do — journalists earn a very modest living, trust me.
Whether I have handouts to make infantcare or enrolling my children in top pre-schools more affordable is not at the top of my wishlist. Whether I’ll be there to witness my baby take his first step or hear him blurt “Pa” for the first time is.
A legislated right for parents, especially of young children, to request for flexible working arrangements, therefore, would have made it easier for others like me.
Those who have never thought not to start a family but, at the same time, do not want to be stuck in the office and missing the milestones in our children’s growing-up years.