In 1950, the life expectancy of an average Singaporean (that is, someone living in Singapore, rather than having the nationality since the nation technically did not exist yet) was around 58 years. By 1965, it was at 67 years. So when my parents were born during that period, their parents, don’t expect to be able to grow old enough to care for all their grandchildren. Most of them would expect to retire around 55, or 60, and then spend less than 10 years in retirement before passing on. Should they die younger at around 50s, their children pretty much should be able to take care of themselves.
Today, the figure stands at 84 years. So not only can you have kids later. You can parent your kids for longer. Instead of training them for independence, you train them to hit the society’s metrics for success and support them with all the resources you have. Often, you use them as your further trophies in life and psychologically co-mingle their success with your own. This psychological dependence on the child’s relative performance vis-a-vis their peers reinforce their dependence on you. After all, to win your affection requires them to do better at violin classes and who else is going to drive them to the classes?
I wonder if anyone would study the cultural impact of having most of our lives lived with surviving parents. This means that the prevailing ideas, thought patterns of our parents actually might have greater influence on us than previous generations. The impact of the boomers’ mentality and mindset persists longer than most other generations, sustaining the franchises of Star Wars, Lord of the Rings. Yet our generation also face continued fast pace of change; and so we face greater tension than previous generations in terms of trying to manage the force of the resistance to change, and the onslaught of it.
So the irony is that while people are claiming that children no longer have much childhood – or that their childhood ended prematurely, I’d argue that childhoods are getting longer, we are creating more childlike adults who have not really gained independence, and parenthoods are getting longer than what is good for the children.
This article is being read and recorded for readers here to increase accessibility of my writings and also to prepare myself to start a podcast that is currently in the works. Note that the written article is not an exact transcript to the reading.