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Thursday, November 29, 2007

Parenting, who's doing it?

On Tuesday (Nov 27, 2007) I was pleased to see my letter to the editor was printed in the Journal. It was in response to the previous day's piece calling for publicly funded day-care. I bristled at the original article for two reasons.

1. The writer sounded so incredibly spoiled and she lamented that her father had promised her the she could "have it all" and she was terribly disappointed to discover as an adult that she couldn't, or else that she could but it would cost her a lot and be (gasp) hard work. I had a great deal of difficulty feeling any empathy for her since, for a lawyer with multiple degrees, she sure sounded like a spoiled little 8 year old who didn't get the pony she wanted. She took exactly the tone that I hate. I find so many people totally oblivious to what is involved with parenting a child. Her father obviously was, but he probably had no idea. She should have taken his promises with a grain of salt and then gone and spoken to her mother for the real deal. I find we have so many adults in our society who want everything done for them and who think that they should get everything they want. And they are raising their children the same way. Yikes!

2. The other problem I had was that she clearly felt that society only showed it valued children and mothers by providing publicly funded daycare. NO. It shows value for working moms or moms who want to use daycare, but not for any other mom out there and not necessarily for the children involved. Why should I pay for their childcare? Are they paying for mine? Only if I put my kids in daycare. Which I don't think is best for my kids or for most kids. My fear is that we will take away the choice for those who want to raise their children themselves. I also think it devalues and undermines stay-at-home parents because it does not encourage people to stay home. I think more people should be spending more time with their kids. I felt this as a teacher and I feel this as a mother.

I know that a lot of my argument comes from my personal situation. I know that. As a teacher I dealt with so many kids whose parents over-compensated with stuff and permissiveness because they didn't put the time required to properly parent. This didn't do their kids any favours. Those same parents were often unable or unwilling to do what was needed to really help their kid. Instead, they wanted me, the teacher, to fix the problem. They were paying me, right? Well, they were paying me to teach their children, not raise them. But, when your kids are in daycare from infancy and you have always passed parental responsibility onto someone else I guess you think that's what a teacher is. The last year I taught I had so many moments where I literally thought "I could be at home with my own child, instead of dealing with someone elses" mostly because of frustrations I would feel from dealing with idiotic parents. This made me realize that there are severe flaws to the way so many people send their kids out to be raised by someone else. It also made me realize that I wasn't going to be one of those parents who didn't do the job myself.

I don't have a solution. And I don't think that all working parents are bad parents. Many are wonderful, engaged parents who do the work required and who rise to the challenge of juggling parenting and work. And I know some stay-at-home parents who are not the best at it and whose children might have been better served by being out of the home. I just know it isn't as simple as pouring a lot of money into providing child care to a select group of people just because they want it. What I'd like? Well, I don't think children under 5 should be in full-day mass child care. I look at my 3 year old and know the institutionalized care of day-care is too impersonal for him to be there for a full day. There is a good reason why Kindergarten is half day. I know there are a lot of people who want full-day Kindergarten, but the "results" of that are only shown to be beneficial for lower-income high-risk groups. There is no benefit to the average or above-average income low-risk child. Day homes and nannies are a compromise, but I really think part-time daycare or shared parenting is a better choice for your children. I want to support choice, but I want people to make the choice not just for themselves but for their children as well, and I want more options than just mass daycare to be considered valid and important.

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