Posted by: Jennie Pollock | March 20, 2013

Bringing up Baby (Please don’t, says the Government)

'Maia' by Sergiu Bacioiu (Creative Commons)

‘Maia’ by Sergiu Bacioiu (Creative Commons)

It probably hasn’t escaped your notice that when it comes to politics I lean rather more to the Right than to the Left. I don’t think that’s the only possible position for a Christian (some of my best friends are Lefties…!), but at its best it is the closest philosophical fit with my vision for helping society flourish.

Sadly, David Cameron’s approach to Conservatism is not the Right at its best.

As evidence, I present the Government’s latest bright idea for helping families (thanks to Joni MacArthur for the link):

“Campaigners and Tory MPs have rounded on the Government after it announced that working parents earning up to £150,000 each will get up to £1,200 to help with child care because they have a “greater need” than those who do not work.”

So far so good…

However,

“The scheme will only apply to couples where both parents are working or a single parent who is in employment.”

So women (or men) who choose to stay at home and take care of their children in the earliest, most significant formative years will be penalised.

Why? Because, “Downing Street suggested … they do not want to “work hard and get on”.”

Right. Because being a full-time parent is the easy, lazy option. Because in a world where your value is measured by how far you’ve climbed up the business and financial ladder, choosing to potentially sacrifice your own success in favour of that of your children is lazy and ought to be discouraged. Because removing childcare and childhood development from the realm of the home and family is clearly the best way to strengthen the unit that is the core of and model for a healthy society.

Honestly!

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that all childcare is evil – my aunt and my cousin both run excellent childminding services where they do far more than ‘mind’ their little charges. They and many others provide safe, stable, stimulating environments for children whose parents are unable to provide the same level of care at home.

Nor am I saying that putting your child in care is a sure way to ruin his or her chances of a happy, successful life. I know there are some circumstances where it is better for the child and the family as a whole if he or she spends at least some time per week in child care. (Though sometimes, as for parents of children with special needs, this facility is to release the parent to take care of him- or herself, the home and the other children. Going out to work is the last thing these parents need to do with their respite.)

What I’m saying is, if you think the best start for your child is to spend his or her preschool years at home with you, tough. The Government disagrees and is not going to help.

There’s nothing conservative or right about that.


Responses

  1. I think, probably simplistically, that a parent of a preschool child could be paid the single persons tax allowance to stay home. Children’s pre-school years are the most formative and you cannot put a price on the time you spend with them. We should be promoting the value of the next generation and raising the self esteem of their parents. So I think that we should be helping mums to stay at home, after all why give someone else the joy of raising your child.
    And as for giving £1200 to someone who already earns £150,000pa, well that’s just madness. Give it to someone to stay at home and raise their children, without strings attached.

    • Thanks Judith! Good to have a perspective from a mum. I’m really thankful my mum chose to stay at home with my brother and me. I learned recently that she took in some work at home when we were asleep, and I know there was a season when she went to stack supermarket shelves at night. Things were tight and she worked really hard to give us the best start possible.
      If only the Government would support people like that, eh?!

  2. My thoughts exactly and very well expressed. I don’t understand why this point of view is so little addressed in the media.

    • Thank you Sheila. It’s not often addressed in the media because it is very unpopular to suggest that there is more to life than productivity, and that children need their parents. (Especially if you dare to assume that it will most likely be the mother who stays home.)

      Maybe if we all start saying it at ‘ground level’ someone will start listening…?

  3. actually maybe the gov motive is to encourage parents to work so kids have to go to school or daycare to be indoctrinated.

    • Hmmm, you might be onto something there…!

  4. It was all fine and sensible sounding until Cameron said it was for those who want to “work hard and get on”. How rude. Obviously we wouldnt need help with childcare costs – we dont us it. But my life doesn’t revolve around work. Its sad that he thinks it should.

    • I then read the bit about people paid up to £150k! Thats a huge amount of pay. If you cant make ends meet on a single persons salary of £150k then you have serious issues. These people are just out of touch

      • Yes, I don’t think they could do worse of they genuinely tried to offend voters!

        And if you’re struggling along on £300,000, is an extra £1200 really going to make all the difference?

        Crazy.

  5. £1200 for someone with £150k salary is ridiculous.
    I agree whole-heartedly with Tim O’B that work shouldn’t be the focus of our lives.
    Judith Barnett’s comment (‘why give someone else the joy of raising your child?’) puts childcare into perspective because the thought of missing your child’s first steps whilst slaving away at work (whilst paying someone else to witness these beautiful events in your place!) is just so sad.

    • Thanks Virginia! Nice to ‘see’ you! 🙂

  6. Interesting perspective Jenny. At some point someone has to pay for the care however other benefits are structured to pay when you don’t need it and draw when you do (at individual or, most commonly society level). I think there should be financial support to stay at home, especially if it is ‘career break’ style. Personally, I am very grateful for the benefits that enable me to work and have childcare (which basically equates to a person’s salary, even though only used for 3 days per week – a frightening amount of money) but hoping to earn enough to not need them at some point and happy to have been able to make contributions through tax etc. in prior and present working life. Main point is though that the cost of having children is still a huge impact on any income and when I was stay at home the money available to actually spend on the children’s educational experience/rounded development was severely limited. Help for stay at home parents (not just mums) would make a big difference. It will be interesting to see how changes in paternity influence this as well – for most families I imagine it would be even harder to enable the father to stay at home.

    • Thanks Beth. Yes, that’s a good point about the cost of doing educational and entertaining things with your kids, especially if you live somewhere where you can’t just walk to a library or park or…whatever. It’s an expensive business however you look at it.

      Thanks for stopping by! 🙂

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