With every generation having different aspirations, Mr Lee said that many young people are prioritising career development, spending quality time with their partners and pursuing other interests.
“Even couples who want kids may put off starting families, not realising how quickly it gets harder with each passing year,” he said.
“All this is quite understandable. But I still hope that more Singaporean couples will decide to have more children, and to have them earlier!”
Mr Lee added: “We will build a ‘Singapore Made for Families’, and continue supporting your marriage and parenthood aspirations.”
Support for infant caregiving and work-life harmony has been “progressively strengthened” to see parents through their children’s formative years, he said, adding that government-paid paternity leave was recently doubled from two weeks to four weeks on a voluntary basis.
Such measures will “lighten the burden on parents, but they are merely enablers”, said Mr Lee.
“Ultimately, couples will decide whether to have children for their own reasons. I hope more will decide to go ahead, and I am confident they will find parenthood a deeply rewarding and fulfilling journey.”
He added that he hoped his encouragement “prompts more couples to try for a baby”, although he acknowledged that “the decision is a very personal one”.
The Prime Minister also said that families should be celebrated as Chinese New Year is celebrated.
“Families are at the heart of our society. Our families give us unwavering strength and support, cheer for us in our triumphs and stand by us through adversity. They are a big part of our sense of identity, belonging and purpose. Through our families, we pass on our aspirations and values from generation to generation,” said Mr Lee.
“One important element of family life is having and bringing up children. It is a great joy for parents to bring kids into this world, and to watch them learn and grow, reaching one milestone after another and growing up year by year.
“Grandparents, like me, share this joy too. We dote and fuss over our grandchildren, helping the parents to bring them up and contributing our part in this journey filled with happiness, purpose and love.”
In closing, the Prime Minister said: “Entering the Dragon year, let us press forward with optimism and determination. I wish all Singaporeans good health, and a very happy Chinese New Year.”