David: A man's vitality begins at puberty and peaks at around 35. During a child's early years, he/she needs a lot of attention and interactions with his/her environment in order to grow healthily. If you start fatherhood too late, you may not have the energy and vitality to engage your child in an active or positive way.
2. Most young families these days are double-salaried. How can modern dads do more to help the mums?
David: Couples should discuss and agree their parental roles and expectations preferably even before their first child. There are some things that either parent does better than the other. Couples should let each other know what they expect from each other. Never keep quiet and assume.
Kheng Yeow: It will definitely be great if dad can take time to be more involved like feeding and showering the baby. This will help relieve the burden of working mums.
3. What should both couples with bad tempers take note of when they quarrel?
Kheng Yeow: Bad temper can be toxic to many relationships, especially in marriage. Couples must first talk about how they would like to resolve their conflict and set ground rules for themselves. Learn how to manage the anger, intentionally walk away and take time out to calm down. You must also learn to fight fair, that is no name calling, insult, curse or hit below the belt. You must also remember that no matter what happens, no one should raise his/her hand to hurt the other partner. If you don’t know how to express yourself without getting angry, consider going for counselling to help you manage your anger.
4. How did you manage your finances in planning for the first child? Couples these days have more financial responsibilities like parents’ medical bills and monthly allowances and education loans to pay off which results in financial stress when we want to have children.
David: We had to look after our parents’ needs. I had to work and pay for my part-time degree course. I think the financial responsibilities are the same then and now. Our first child was unplanned, but once he was born, we naturally make provisions for his care. The key is to keep our lifestyle simple and basic. You may want to budget based on your income and prioritise what is important.
5. Is being independent in the relationship wrong? I meant well but my partner complains that it makes him feel redundant in the relationship. How do we balance this?
Kheng Yeow: The key is to balance between being dependent and independent in the relationship. Healthy emotional and physical boundaries are the basis of healthy relationships. There are couples who depend on each other to fulfil their emotional needs, “to make them feel good, whole or healthy, but they do it in a way that sacrifices psychological health.” In other words, “their self-concept is defined by the other person,” and they “lose their individuality to get their needs met.” On the other hand, if a partner is so independent and makes the partner feel redundant, it is also not healthy. A healthy relationship should allow you to have time together as a couple, and yet allow you to create space or time for him/her and friends.
6. How do you balance children and climbing the corporate ladder?
David: When my wife gave birth to our third child, she nearly died of severe bleeding. At that time, I had just started a business with a friend and the business was growing rapidly. But when the surgeon told me that my wife's chance of survival was 50-50, I realised that all the money I had in the bank could not save the only person that meant everything to me. That night, I decided to sell the business to my friend. Life sometimes forces us to choose what is truly important to us.
7. We are curious on some examples in daily life that we can prioritise our partner over our children. What are your experiences?
Kheng Yeow: We still went on dates even after the children came along. It is important to have time alone with your spouse, as children can be a distraction. Sometimes, I may feel tired and not keen on sexual intimacy, but, I would make a point to find other occasions when I was less tired to initiate sex. When my children grew older, I do not only cook the food my children like, but often remembering what my husband loves too.
8. They say it’s harder for women to have an orgasm while trying for a baby, would this cause a resistance in the married couples’ relationship (e.g. the process of trying is not as enjoyable)?
David: Whoever is the "They" said is wrong! A woman will experience orgasm if you treat them the right way and caress her at the right areas!
Kheng Yeow: It is important to make the sexual experience pleasurable for her. Communicate to each other what excites you and what causes discomfort.
9. What is your advice if the couple finds out that the fetus has Down syndrome or other deformities during the pregnancy?
David: This is a very personal decision. And very often it depends on the couples values and beliefs systems.
Kheng Yeow: It is therefore important for couples who are preparing for a child to talk and deliberate on such issues.
10. Our priority is to get a house five years later, enjoy two years of marriage before having our first child. Looking at the timeline, it seems like it will not be feasible to have more than two children. What is your opinion on this?
David: I suggest you re-prioritise! You can buy a house anytime. You can still enjoy each other's company when the children arrive. In fact, most couples find that having children actually enhance their marital relationship. The reality is many couples who wait too long, find it difficult to conceive.
11. How do you know if you are prepared to be parents and ready to raise a child?
Kheng Yeow: I personally do not think there is a right age or time to be a parent. If you are questioning your readiness, you are already ahead of the game.
Questions you should ask: Do you want a child for the right reasons? Is your relationship stable? Are you prepared to put someone else’s needs ahead of yours? None of these questions lend themselves to an easy yes or no answer. But by thinking and talking about them with your spouse can help yourself make a wise decision.
12. How much should we set aside to be ready for a child?
David: Not much, really! If you keep a simple lifestyle, raising a child really doesn’t cost much. It's like sending your child to a government or private Childcare Centre. When setting a budget, start with the simplest and most basic, and then add on depending on your balance.
13. What are the concerns of labour and delivery? What are the costs involved?
David: It depends on the couples’ expectation. For the exact costs, I suggest you consult the hospitals directly.
ILC: These are the links that you can go for the rates at the government restructured hospitals:
14. How long should a couple wait before having a second child?
David: In my opinion, two to three years. It gives the mother enough time to recover, and the couple enough time to adjust to their new role as parents. This time gap also ensures that the process of childbirth is still relatively fresh in the minds of the parent. Children with this age gap also bond better.
15. What advice would you give to couples in Singapore who say it is too costly to have a child now?
David: Actually, this fear is quite unfounded. Most Singaporean couples have dual income. If they decide on a simple lifestyle, raising a few children should not be a problem, especially with the government-related schemes and subsidies to encourage conception and family life.
16. Is love a feeling or a choice?
David: Love usually starts with a feeling, thereafter, it becomes a choice. You need to be attracted to someone before anything can happen. Once you decide to commit to a relationship, you choose to continue loving that person, regardless of his/her shortcomings.
17. Is one child enough? Will having three children be a crowd?
David: When my wife and I started talking about children, we decided that two was enough. Like many couples, financial considerations were a deciding factor too. Eight years after our second child, our third child came unplanned. We were a bit apprehensive then. But now that our children are all grown up, and looking back at the joy they brought us, we wished we had half a dozen!
18. How can I remain sexy and desirable when pregnant?
Kheng Yeow: Dress in stylish maternity wear, with eye-catching dress and bright colours to draw your husband’s attention, continue exercising and keep up your appearance. Keep yourself happy, positive and sexy and schedule dates with your spouse.
Fundamentally, having a baby is as expensive or inexpensive as you want it to be.