I feel guilty every time I read about the need to have more babies in Singapore.

It’s not that I am ready to procreate but refuse to do so because of various constraints. I am just 14 years old and have a long way to go in contributing to Singapore’s population.

When I was six years old, my parents asked me if I wanted a sibling. I responded: : “No! I hate babies.” Now, I am the only child in the family.

The actual reason was that I was afraid that my parents’ love would be shared. Two more siblings in the family meant 33 per cent love for me.

Perhaps, it was naïve of me. But I am not complaining because I am getting all their attention.

With hindsight, I think I was selfish. The community should come before self, right

Yes, but producing more babies without the ability to nurture them into healthy, caring and responsible citizens will not be good for society.

I like the Government’s slogan used some time back: “Two or more, if you can afford it”. It means that the babies can be given a good headstart and have a better chance of thriving in a competitive environment of a global city.

For me, affordability is more than money. It is also about the time parents can afford to share with their children.

It is easy to bring babies into this world and leave them with the best maid. But what they need is their parents’ personal attention. They want to feel that they are part of the family. They want their parents to be there for them.

My father took leave of absence from work several times just to carry me up the school hall. There were other people who could do that but I felt safe in his arms.

What’s more, I wanted him to watch me perform on stage in front of the whole school.

It’s a special feeling which every child deserves.

Coming home from a hard day’s work to play with their children is not enough. If that is what parents want, they may as well have pets.

Quality time is more than helping children with their homework or taking them for a walk.

Children need the unconditional love, encouragement and support of their parents. They want their parents to be their loyal fans. They want them to cheer them on.

They want their parents to be proud of their achievements by celebrating their successes.

When they are down and under tremendous stress, they need their parents’ shoulders to cry on. They want help, comfort and empathy from their parent.

So, can you be there for them, wannabe parents? If you can, have as many as you want, because each of your children will one day say: “I owe my successful development as a person to my beloved parents.”

The Government has done its part to make it easier for you to have babies but you should not take advantage of it if you cannot fulfil your role as parents effectively.

Remember, babies do not ask to be born. If you want to bring them into this world, make sure you can afford to be the best parents they can have.

(This journal entry was published in Weekend TODAY of 28-29 August 2004)