Saturday, March 11, 2006

My Womb Is Not At Service to the State

My children are long past the daycare age. I can’t say I am sorry to see that aspect of their lives end. I have been relatively silent on the daycare debate. Largely because I have nothing new to bring to the debate. I have some wonderful daycare experiences and also a few nightmares. I have had horrendous experiences with relatives or people who came highly recommended by friends of relatives caring for my children. I have two wonderful experiences of people who were absolute strangers to me when they answered my ad and were wonderful substitutes for me. If I were to ask the children what was their best memory of caregivers the institutional daycare side would loose hands down which might not be entirely fair, but the bad definitely negated any of the fun they did have in daycare.

Last fall a British study was released that suggested that institutional daycare might not be the emotionally healthy place we were once assured it was. Drawing on my own experience the worst childcare scenarios I experienced were daycare centres run by the municipality which really should not be a surprise to anyone. The best were run by private community groups.

For almost four years I was a stay at home mom when circumstances conspired against my ability to stay at home with my children. One thing that we should keep clearly in our minds is that there is no one, absolutely no one, who has a bigger stake in the welfare of a child then its parents. No one is going to love your child as much as you do. Not the state, not the centre, and not your hired caregiver. Never presume the values you hold dear will be cherished by others no matter what lip service a center or person gives you.

Even if you choose an institutional setting for childcare you cannot get away from the fact that you still have to have in place emergency child care arrangements for when your child is ill. If Johnny or Susie is running a slight fever from the frequent colds young children are prone too - which won’t necessarily slow them down; working parents have to face a decision to either stay home and possibly endanger their employment situation or have someone who is competent to care for a child whose fever could potentially come worse or not; and that is another potentially expensive cost.

If you were to ask couples what was the biggest impediment to either having children or having more children, I would lay money on the hassle and costs associated with finding affordable child care outside of the home. I don’t have a study to prove it, but that is the sum of my experience and I am not talking diapers, baby formula or the cost of a snowsuit and winter boots. What would have helped me as a working parent in providing care for my children? Lower taxes. The government has so completely mauled my paycheque with its standard deductions that it severely lowered my options and affected the bread and butter quality of my family’s life. Let’s not even whisper the annual rite of self-flagellation the government requires in April – I haven’t mentally prepared myself for that experience yet.

I am not sure why people even want to consider a universal system of daycare for children, our most vulnerable of citizens. If the government cannot run healthcare or a thing as simple as a gun registry in budget; is this the institution to trust to run a universal system of daycare? And frankly, the idea of the government having potentially 8-9 hours of unlimited access to indoctrinate my child scares the hell out of me. My womb is not at service to the state.

Stephen Harper’s CPC ran an election campaign that included a beer and popcorn proposal to give a tax credit to families of young children to offset some of those costs for all parents under school age. It’s simply a half-step in the right direction for allowing parents the ability to put a little bread and butter quality choice back into their child care options. Let me put it another way. The proposal is aimed at giving back some of the money the state appropriates regularly from those who are parents of young children. Opposition MPs and senators are threatening to impede or even derail this piece of legislation. Follow this link for more information on what action you can take to help keep senators and MPs on track.

(Via The Sorry Centrist)


Brent Colbert said...

What a well written and personal take on the challenges that families face over the care of their children.

for millions of Canadian families your story is their every day challenge and yet some politicians choose to ignore our reality in the pursuit of yet another grand social program.

If government cannot wean themselves of confiscating 50% of our income they should at least recognize that no bureaucrat will protect a child better than his or her parent and that the economic benefits that they claim to funding childcare can be achieved by respecting all of the choices that parents make for their children.

Sara said...

Stop by anytime,, I completely agree with you. It will happen with the Conservatives, if not the next government!

Nicole said...

Thank you for your thoughts. I have run a private home-based daycare out of my home for the last 16 years. I have an excellent reputation, love my job, and have also had the opportunity to stay home and raise our own two children who turn 14 and 12 respectfully this spring. Obviously, my children's age makes our family no longer require care, should I choose to work out of the home, but I really love and care about what I do. Sadly, I feel that the Liberal government did not value what I do, as we are labeled " alternative care", called unregulated and not ece. Like the parents that employ me are uncapable of regulating the care I provide. I would like to see a government come up with a plan that would benefit ALL Canadian families. Harper is headed in the right direction, but 100$ does not cut it, and children still need care past the age of 6. Last Nov. 18th, we staged a " Rally" here in Regina Sask. one of 17 rallies held across Canada at the same time called " Fund the Child" Rallies. We protested the Martin government's proposed provincial childcare agreements as they discriminated against the majority of Canadian families. Had to mention it as I read your blog about the rally you attended. My own daughter insisted that we keep the signs incase she needs them when she is a Mom and has to fight for "choices in childcare". I still smile when I think of that day. Cheers, Nicole

Anonymous said...

You have one of the most intelligent discussions I have read on this issue. I would like all the MP's to read this. When I was home with my kids we realised that a bit of a tax break would have made our choice easier.The Coservatives are going in the right direction by helping families,not daycare centres.VF