Monday, 25 August 2008


Now that the details of the new Baby Bonus have been finalized and made public I would like to express my feelings and thoughts as a father.

While I am happy that Mothers will get an additional 4 more weeks of maternity leave I am also worried for some of them at the same time. As it is we are already hearing ladies complaining that their office is not very family oriented so by increasing the maternity leave will it affect the job opportunities for these ladies?

Say a company planning to hire a staff is presented with 2 very qualified and good candidates. Will this company choose the one that already has a few kids over the one that just got married and is planning to start a family within 2 years? If this company is small and worried about staff going away on maternity leave surely it will reject the latter right? Let’s not even talk about promotion.

Guess the above scenario is also good for the Stay At Home Mummies who are looking at rejoining the work force after taking care of their children during the early years.

As you know the new incentives were originally supposed to take effect next year but what you may not know is there was a petition from the SMH mummies to have the effective date backdated to August hence benefiting almost everyone.

My sister is due sometime in October and she is of course on the October Mummies thread and according to her there is this mummy who is also due in October and she was the one who called for this petition. It seemed she gathered enough signatures to sway the government to change their decision.

I always say those mummies on SMH are amazing. Getting all the bulk purchases and now getting the Government to amend their policy. I know they tried to bring in prams and strollers at about half price but unfortunately that hit a road block. Nevertheless I am confident it is only a matter of time before they work around it. Imagine if they can bring in cars or the latest gaming consoles with their bulk purchase wouldn’t that be fantastic?

So the mothers are all happy now. What about us dads?

When PM Lee said gave his speech and touched on the role of a father, he had the following to say: “First of all, we have to share responsibilities for child-raising. Traditionally the husbands go to work, wear the pants, the wives stay at home, have the babies, take care of the babies. And it's true that the women have a better touch with children. But the situation today is different and the men can make the effort. If husbands leave everything to the wives, or the women are forced to choose between working or having babies, they are going to go on baby strike. So the husband has to share duties at home. I was discussing this with some MPs, including a lady MP and I said, you know, nowadays, I see men carrying babies in the markets when they go out. So she says you think carrying babies is enough? You have got to wake up at night, feed the baby, change the nappies. I used to change nappies. In the days before pampers, you’ve actually got to fold the cloth, you got to put it on, you got to put the safety pin and I haven’t pricked any baby yet. If I can do it, it means everybody can do it and I think that you have to change these attitudes.”

After his speech I was glued to the TV waiting with anticipation for his announcement of paternity leave and as you should have all guessed, I was left bitterly disappointed. On one hand he said that times have changed and parenting these days cannot be left to the mothers alone but on the other hand the Government still does not recognize that Fathers like me do appreciate paternity leave so as to allow us to help out at home when the wives are recuperating.

According to our Deputy Prime Minister, Mr Wong Kan Seng, Men in general just prefer not to take the paternity leave. See article here. “Surely the statistics must be wrong because I for one will welcome the idea with open arms” I thought to myself. “Why is it that these types of studies never find their way to me? Same thing with the Durex sex survey?” was my next thought.

So, with the successful petition by the mothers to backdate the effective date of the incentives, I was wondering to myself if I should start a petition too for us fathers. I was confident that there must be many fathers like me. That was until the Mrs told me that there are really not many. In fact some of the husbands of her friends and acquaintances are actually relived that there will be no paternity leave. For a lack of a better word, I was “SHOCKED”!!

“Really?!?! How come?” I asked.

Interestingly enough it is not on money issue and fathers generally earning more. According to the wives, the husbands are worried that with paternity leave they will be "forced" to take the leave and stay at home to help care for the kids. If the wives do not expect them to help out at home then paternity leave would have been welcomed because they can take four weeks to enjoy their golf or catch up on their many hobbies, healthy or otherwise.

After listening to the Mrs I found my answers to both my questions. 1) There is no need to petition because we already know what the response will be. 2) This is why I never get to answer these types of surveys because I am not their targeted audience. I have a feeling perhaps these surveys are done with the fathers at the golf course on a Sunday afternoon or at the pubs on any given nights.


Anonymous said...

Hi Dylan,

I m half way thru a post related to tis "petition" thingy too, tho my content is different fm yours. =)

Altho i need the addl 4 weeks of leave more than my hubby (cos i m the official cow to the baby, not him.) I think it wld be nice if the last 4 weeks can be taken by either parent. It'll be perfect for husbands who are keen to take paternity leave (like you) & wifey not convenient to take long leave, due to work commitments. If i m not wrong, Sweden is practising that. Why not leave a feedback here, who knows ur wish may be granted when ur #3 arrive. =)

Sophia said...

hmmmmm, my two cents worth?

Well, back in Jan 2006, my hb did the noble thing by taking 1 months's leave (public sector, had lots of accumulated leave) to "help" me out during my confinement month....I was very touched...but looking back, I realized that he was of no help to me totally!!!

Sure, he helped changed the nappies (during the day) when baby is wet/soiled and burped the baby after I've fed the baby via breastfeeding...other than that, he just went about doing his own stuff i.e. gaming, watching tonnes of anime, going out for his shooting sport.

Come night duties, he couldn't even stay awake for night duty and the way he tried to pacify a crying newborn, I was so scared that he would kill the boy back then!!!! And I so needed the night's rest and mind you, I had an emergency C-sect and was miserably in pain at the C-sect wound as well as having to deal with painful engorgement of the breasts and a crying newborn and a grumpy husband. The cycle went on and on during the 1st month.

End of the day, I rather very much that the fathers be more empathetic towards the wives and be more patient with newborns/infants and supportive and loving in their words and touch towards their wives, more-so post-partum.

So paternity leave or not..... I figured it makes not much of a difference in the household of 1st-time parents really...maybe it'll be great for 2nd-time, 3rd time parents as say for example, you can help care and play with Issac when the Mrs delivers #2.

End of the day, the mindset of men has gotta change!


F A I T H said...

Hahaha... I was laughing all the way reading this post!!! I thought of my husband who'd be very keen to have the paid paternity leave to help out at home, but then I'm 102% sure he'll end up answering official calls most of the time and accessing his office network via VPN which will annoy me to the core. Hrmp!

Personally, I think paternity leave is still welcomed but might be more appropriate if classified as "Family Leave". If the Mr belong to the "Of No Help" category, the leave might as well be saved till the Mrs or the baby's medical review and vaccination appointments. Otherwise, I'm sure the majority of the Mrs will end up frustrated or disappointed if they have a husband who belong to the workaholic cohort, like mine. :p

The Bimbo said...

Dear Dylan,

mmm I know a husband who would like Paternity leave. Mmmm but I know 10 others who don't. Poor thing. Well it'll take some time for... "times to change more"

:) Bobo

Aces Family said...

Hi Dylan,

Having a baby is actually a very personal choice. It's quite sad to even need such Bonus to encourage couples to have Baby.. : P


inahairi said...

Hi Dylan,
I guess the Government is still fine tuning the package to see what new measure can yield some results as mothers now are not easily swayed by cash coz there are so many other factors that one has to consider before even thinking of having another child. I'm a 1st time mother and is in the same state as sophia only difference I did EVERYTHING on my own. I lost my cool @ my other half lotsa times..he can even snore away @ the sound of my wailing baby. If only men can feel the PAIN & fatigue that we women go thru' I think they will understand why we get so mad. But I do welcome the additional 2 days of paternity leave, I guess we ladies have to make sure the daddies really do their duties when they take the leave ey? ;P I would prefer the leave to be used for clinic appointments as I hate to go on my own & I'm glad that my hubby is active in accompanying me to doctor visits.

F A I T H said...

Hi Dylan
Check out Steven Chia's (Prime Time Morning's host) blog.
Quite interesting to read other men's views on this too. ^.^

A Husband's Voice said...

Hi Nana,

So when will you be posting your version of "petition"?

Actually I prefer for the mothers to keep their 16 weeks and fathers get a minimum of at least 2 weeks.

Surely that is not too much to ask right?

A Husband's Voice said...

Hi Sophia,

Hahaha! My experience was really quite different. I would like to think that I was pretty hands-on.

Besides the usual changing and burping of Isaac, I also bathed him on a daily basis and during night duties I was there to assist most of the time.

So if there is official paternity leave for me to do this then it will be great.

I guess it is really down to the individual and even though Isaac was our 1st child I like to think that between the 2 of us we did great without the confinement lady and maid.

A Husband's Voice said...

Hi Faith,

Actually I will be in a way similar to your husband. Although I was on leave during Isaac's first month, my laptop was on the whole day so I can check my emails on and off.

Frankly speaking being a newborn he slept a lot of the time so I could steal a little time to do some work and play a bit of my games.

The way I see it is if the husbands are of no help then they can always choose not to take the paternity leave or simply take and do his own things. I'm sure the wives will understand since by being around they will cause more grief.

Guess my point is it should at least be there as an option so that dads like me can choose to exercise it.

A Husband's Voice said...

Hi Bobo,

Guess you're right indeed. It will take our society a lot longer to make this sort of changes.

Just ask those parents that had to pay fines for giving birth to more than 2 children.

In fact my in-laws were fined for having 4 kids.

A Husband's Voice said...

Hi Astee,

Actually I do not think the Baby Bonus will change peoples' mind on having babies.

The sum is really not a lot so if a couple is not going to have kids then I doubt this little help will sway them.

I believe this scheme is really to encourage those that already want to have kids to take the plunge and to help ease their burden a little.

A Husband's Voice said...

Hi Inahairi,

True the government may still be fine tuning and paternity leave may be made available next year.

Looks like I will not be benefiting from it after all.

2 days of paternity leave? Did I miss something?

Guess your husband can always take the childcare leave to accompany you to the doctor.