Thursday, May 05, 2005

Conceptions of children

I realized that people's conceptions of children may be very different from mine.

Yesterday, I had lunch with my old friend who is a top real estate agent and a millionaire at age 29! Incidentally, she is quite stunning and looks like Zhao Wei. It was because of the distraction caused by her that I did so badly for A-levels! And because of that I became a casualty of the system and couldn't become part of the 'elite'.....(excuses, excuses...) :)

Anyway, where was I? Oh, the conceptions of children thing...Yes, we were talking about having children. Not with each other, obviously, because she's married :), but just the idea of having children. She thinks that a child is a huge burden, and that bringing up a child brings only marginal happiness with very little benefits.

I tried to convince her that having a child is great. 'Don't you think it's magical seeing a cute little version of yourself?' It's like extending your life in both space and time - that is, you have someone who is in fact part of you, and s/he can carry on when you are gone...' She said no, because if the child doesn't turn out well (e.g. unfilial, incapable, unhealthy, etc), then she might as well not have him in the first place. But if the child turns out better than her (e.g. better-looking, more successful in career, etc), she will feel jealous. So for her, either way, she will lose out or in Singlish, 'loo-gi'....

'Why should you feel jealous of your own child???' I asked...

For me, I'd do everything to make sure that my child surpasses me in every way. I do not think (as my friend does) that spending money on a child is a waste of money. She thinks that money can be more wisely invested or used to earn more money, go for travelling, etc. But the point is that even if one has a child, one can still do all these things! And in the first place, what's so great about travelling? It's a fine experience but there are many things finer than that - and watching a little boy/girl grow up and grooming him/her into a 'you1 xiu' (outstanding) individual is one of them! My friend feels that since she went through hell in order to achieve success, 'why should my child have such an easy time?' She would force the kid to go out and work at age 16, and tell him, 'if you want money, earn your own money'.

In my opinion, supporting your child until s/he attains success is a wise thing. Take a business venture as an example. If I have a successful company, and I want to create new outlets, it is in my interest to give all I can to make sure the new outlets succeed. Each new outlet carries my name, so the failure or mediocrity of it does no good to me. Even without such practical, rational-economic thinking, supporting your child until s/he succeeds is intrinsically satisfying. The child is like 'me-plus', a better Version 2.0 - who doesn't want Version 2.0 to be better?

I realize, at this point, that at the end of the day, our disagreement about the way a child should be conceptualized boils down to our view of money. Money is obviously the price that one must pay in order to have a child. And money can purchase a range of second- and third-order goods such as a nice house, a nice car, and a 'feel-good factor' (nice!). Who doesn't want all these things to make oneself feel better?! I would! But it doesn't follow that without these, I will feel bad. Instead of looking at a Jaguar (i'm referring to the car, not the animal) with envious eyes, why not just see it as what it is - a technological artefact with 4 wheels and an invitation to aspiring robbers (please rob me! I'm rich!)? So money and its second/third-order goods are viewed as supremely important to the quality of one's life. I beg to differ. I think that money and its second/third order goods are but illusions...(ah mi...tuo fo...tok tok tok) I can't possibly carry them into my grave (unless I have a very big coffin - but I'd rather not as I'm environmentally friendly)...

So, in conclusion, I disagree with my friend that having a child is a waste of money. Having a child is fun. And fun is certainly worth paying for! After all, are the second/third-order goods that money is supposed to purchase not all about fun, fundamentally?

5 Comments:

Blogger Dorothy said...

Haha, I like a good few things about this entry :) You make a good blogger! I like the part about the Version 2.0 (have you read too much ICT related stuff?!), the Jaguar and coffin part *laugh* and the 2nd/3rd order goods are just illusions part (VERY zen :)). And I also wonder how somebody can actually be jealous of their child! Its always inconceivable to me :P I think your friends said that because she have yet to be a mum! lol But what makes me an expert on the mum psyche?! I'm not a mum.... haha!

Sat May 07, 08:18:00 PM 2005  
Blogger Heavenly Sword said...

Yes yes...having 5 kids by the age of 30 is highly recommended :)

Sun Jun 19, 12:31:00 PM 2005  
Blogger Alson Teo said...

For me, I am content with just having 2 kids. :)

Fri Jun 24, 01:17:00 AM 2005  
Blogger Heavenly Sword said...

Hi dead poet: unfortunately when it comes to childbearing, the woman can call the shots.... :)

Mon Jun 27, 08:08:00 PM 2005  
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