In a bad economy, it’s a dog’s world
After a long, boring flight, I arrived in San Francisco, where my two daughters live. It was hot and humid in Seoul, but the climate in Northern California was refreshing and balmy. After having dinner together, I went to the elder daughter’s house. It had been six months since we met last winter. Much must have happened in the mean time, and she was talking non-stop. “Mom, I must be an aggressive tiger mom. Amy had a test at day care, so we practiced for hours. And she was the best in her class. I was so nervous because of the test.” When I asked her about their schedule the next day, she said, “Amy and Roker have sports tomorrow. The coach will come to pick them up, so please just let the coach in.” Every conversation involved Amy and Roker. I noticed that she had a mobile sauna. She explained that she got it from a thrift store in an affluent neighborhood. “Great, I am so tired I could use a sauna,” I said. She responded on cue, “Amy and Roker love the sauna, too.”
That was the final straw. Dogs in a sauna? She claimed that Amy is originally from Mexico and likes the heat. So I was sitting inside the sauna box with two dogs. Thankfully, it was a dry sauna, so I didn’t have to get sweaty with them.
My daughter was educated at a top university in the United States and is currently a professor. Her husband works for a computer company. The couple has no plans to have children. When I asked why, they argued that having children cost a fortune, and they are not confident that they would be good parents. But they were already spending good money to send their dogs to pet day care and gym classes.
Aside from the financial burden, they do not want to sacrifice their careers. “You can take leave and work part time for a few years,” I advised. But they said they had barely gotten their jobs in the bad economy. She said that it was her first semester teaching at the university, and she would not have time to take care of a child when she often has to work overnight. Venerable Hemin posted on his Twitter that working parents would not feel so sorry for their children if they got up at 6 a.m. and played with the children for 45 minutes every day.
She was always fond of children, and she is avoiding parenthood not just because of the financial burden. She thinks she has more to lose than gain by having children.
Many people choose not to have children for a number of reasons. To boost the fertility rate, it may be more important to promote positive values and perspectives on parenthood than providing great childcare policies.
*The author is a guest columnist of the JoongAng Ilbo.
By Eom Eul-soon