Just like drivers need to undergo a driving test, young couples should pass a parenthood test before making babies, says our columnist
Parenting Road Test PHOTO: TORQUE

As children, we were taught by our parents to always ask for permission
before going anywhere or doing anything. As students, we were subjected to countless tests and exams before earning our promotion to the next academic level or entry to an educational institution of good
standing. As adults, we still aren’t spared a slew of official assessments – before getting a licence to drive, for instance.

But there is one thing that needs no prerequisite or permission - becoming a parent. As long as you're legally married, you are encouraged to procreate - by some parents and relatives whose incessant nagging doesn’t stop until the first birth; and by a government voicing concern
about the country's declining Total Fertility Rate. There's no need to meet any requirement or sit for any test before we start a family. But is this a boon or a bane?

While we cannot guarantee how our children will turn out when they grow up, we do what we can to the best of our abilities, nurturing them properly and inculcating in them the correct values.

Without going into lofty morals, let me start with small, everyday acts. I
have witnessed bo chup parents standing by and watching their kids urinate along a walkway or by a park bench, allowing their domestic helpers to wait on the little princes and princesses hand and
foot, and letting tantrums go unchecked.

In the world of wheels, I see kids running amok around the estate on their
bicycles, rollerblades and skate scooters, and parents not enforcing the use of child seats and seat belts when travelling in cars. Such poor parenting will simply perpetuate another generation of “repeat offenders” down the road.

In the Margaret Peterson Haddix novel Turnabout, about a group of
senior citizens who become part of a scientific experiment where they grow younger instead of older (similar to the movie The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button), there is a rigorous “Parent Test” every couple must pass before they are allowed to discontinue birth control. This concept sounds ludicrous, until I saw the way some parents here fail to teach their children well.

So, I am all for a Parent Test. I don't know if my husband and I will pass
with flying colours, but we’ll gladly submit to it if this will help ensure that
the next generation is a well-raised, gracious, civilised and overall better
bunch of people. My only reservation is, if the Parent Test ends up like our local driving test, it would be far from foolproof – we still encounter utterly incompetent drivers, even though motorists on the road have passed the test and hold a valid Class 3 licence.