What is a millennial curse? We are always full of hope when a little one is born. Yet, we don’t need a crystal ball to know their future. It is already fixed.
In almost any country, we only really spend time with our kids the first six years of their lives. After that, it is school for the next 12 years, and then university for another four to 12 years.
By the time we leave school to start work, we are often in our twenties. Some start a new life after that while others are stuck with a student loan.
No matter. Everybody will end up working like crazy for the next 35 to 40 years to pay all sorts of loans : mortgage, auto, renovation, business, holiday, furniture, personal and credit card.
Then in our sixties and onward, we spend time looking after our health. Sadly, very few manage to deviate from this kind of life. Which to me, is a curse.
Why are we in this predicament?
Many people say that they want to be financially viable first before building a family. The rate things are going, young people will have to build their families later and later. We end up with a crazy TFR (total fertility rate). Singapore (1.26) together with some of our Asian neighbours, Taiwan (1.21), South Korea (1.33), Hong Kong (1.33) have some of the lowest TFR in the world.
It is funny, many developing countries want lower TFR and developed countries lament the same falling rate. For me, I worry whether my five children will be worked to their bones paying taxes so that their children can go to good schools and my peers can continue to enjoy free quality medical services, nice roads, good airport terminals and beautiful parks.
I muse myself with solutions for years… can we innovate around older ways of doing things instead of pushing forward with the way things are blindly? Will small changes create great impacts?
What if we reverse the order, and make building family a priority over building a career? If we build a family first with the help of our younger grandparents, the young parents can focus on their work or higher/post-graduate education. By the time the grandparents are aged, the grandchildren are already working adults. Wouldn’t that lift the pressure off the parents and the society? In their prime (thirties), they can focus on their careers as their kids are school-goers and not babies.
People often ask me what my ideal world is. Quite simply, I want to see children and students passionate about what they learn. I want to see adults having their dreams fulfilled. I want older people to feel valued by the society and their families. That’s so simple, yet so difficult.
I think we have progressed but we have been impoverished as a result. Our education has removed the individuality out of our children. Our work has taken the meaning out of everyday life in our adults. Our retirement has taken the life out of us.
Sometimes, it is a matter of rethinking the priorities, and revisiting the old. Sometimes, it is just so simple.