Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Parental Madness and Childcare Issues

Evan linked to this fantastic article from Newsweek: Mommy Madness, which is part of a series on The Myth of the Perfect Mother. Despite the focus on moms, I found that most of it could apply equally well to engaged fathers. Two companion articles are also well worth reading: The Good Enough Mother and Meet the Slacker Mom. The theme isn't new -- being a great parent is hard when you want to also have a solid career and some kind of life for yourself -- but there's more depth in these personal stories than most of the stuff I've read.

The recommendations at the end of the first article underline many of the points I've covered here before, and I thought two were especially worth repeating: the need for flexible, decent-paying part-time work and demands for affordable high-quality childcare that is flexible enough to be part-time or even drop-in.

The latter issue is hot in Canada right now, and I want to get into it here in the next month or so because it's loaded with lifestyle values. Here's an article to get things rolling, and an admission (startling to me): for the first time in my adult life, I find myself aligned with the right-wing party's stance on a major political issue. Instead of spending billions on institutionalized daycare like the Liberals are planning, the Conservatives would rather spend the money (or give tax breaks) to let parents choose how they want their kids cared for, which should include giving them the same amount of money to care for them at home.


Anonymous said...

Jeremy wrote that he agreed with those who were against "spending billions on institutionalized daycare".

There are many others who have the same mindset about daycare.

Jeremy said...

...not that I'm anti-daycare. As I wrote in the post, I think it would make sense to have more flexible daycare options, and if they want to raise the standards of quality, then that's probably a good thing (although it's not exactly cut-and-dried...who decides what should be 'taught'?).

In a recent article about the national program negotionas, I saw this quote from an activist:

"If waiting means good quality child care then the wait is worthwhile. However there are thousands of families lined up for child care across Canada. They are not prepared to wait forever," said Mayer.

There are some serious assumptions here, and they raise one big question -- if the demand for daycare is so high, why has the supply not increased? It sounds like a great entrepreneurial opportunity! Thousands of families lined up, just waiting for your services.

I've heard the argument that daycares can't make enough money to provide better care or more daycare spots...which means that they're not charging enough. And of course the rebuttal to that is that families can't afford to pay more.

That may be true, but there are lots of things my family cannot afford to pay for. We're not lined up outside travel agencies demanding cheap (or free) high-quality travel. We don't expect our local Mazda dealership (or anyone else) to subsidize our next car just because ours is broken.

There seems to be the assumption that government-provided childcare should be a right of citizenship, and I just don't buy it. What about the responsibility to raise our own children?

Anonymous said...

I relate to your views on where is parents' responsibility (and privelege)to raise their own children. With hindsight, the time of the child being in the nest with mom & dad is short, and making sacrifices to enable parenting your child(ren)can be rewarding. Yet, there is the tension of needing to push some parents to make use of public daycares so they can become self supporting financially, as in my line of work. Maybe there should be a return to extended families or community becoming more involved in helping with the raising of children.

Jeremy said...

Cyn's cantankerous tone on this issue started a great discussion.

Reading through it reminded me that there has been some really thoughtful posts and discussions over at Rob's site(s) on the same topic, some of which Cyn had weighed in on as well. Just to get a few of them in one spot in case others are interested:

Ken Dryden - Child Care and a Deal

Early Childhood or Early Parenting?

What is happening to boys?

Columbine, Ritalin, Hooking Up, Dropping Out, Child Obesity, Bullying - What is going on?

Jeremy said...

Thanks for this note, Pearl. You wrote: "Yet, there is the tension of needing to push some parents to make use of public daycares so they can become self supporting financially, as in my line of work."

I think that's a great point. The issue is split down socioeconomic lines somewhat. I guess I'm most critical of middle-class folks who complain about not being able to spend time with their kids, or wondering why their kids are so disconnected...but they claim they can't afford to have one parent raising the kids because of their spending levels.