Monday, 8 October 2012

Grannies, Childcare And Parenting



Last week two bloggers had a conversation on Twitter about childcare. It was started by Ellen who asked opinions about the plans for a National Parenting  Strategy.  The following tweets caught my attention:

 Educate grannies, I think. There is evidence now that wasn't there when they were bringing up their kids.

 Interesting. You mean not allowing the 'I brought up x kids 40 yrs ago therefore I know it all' notion to prevail?

  I don't know how many grannies you know, but none I know fits your images. They keep out of the advice thing.

I jumped in to support grandmothers because I know many parents would much rather have their own parents look after their children, when the necessity arises, rather than put them into a nursery.

Alison joined the conversation giving high praise to help provided to her childcare problems by her great grandparents.

   If people decided to have children then these children should be their priority

   Are you saying that mums should stay at home and look after their babies?

Caron seemed shocked that I suggested mothers (or fathers) should look after their children full-time.

   My children are my priority, they wd be no better off if I didn't work but I'd be miserable
Ellen admitted she would be miserable being a 'full-time' mother to her children and she feels the necessity to go out to work although not necessarily for financial reasons.  That is her choice and one I assume she made before she had her children; thereby making appropriate plans for any necessary childcare and costs involved.

   More, better, cheaper childcare would give parents choice mot depend on gran.
   Nobody ever suggests men should give up their careers. Work needs to be more flexible.

Caron and Ellen are intelligent women and mothers who have no doubt about what childcare facilities should be available for parents today.  My question is should the taxpayer be paying for three and four year olds to attend a nursery for more than the current 475 hours a year?  Can the country afford it without it being means tested?

Norway's childcare system is often held up as a prime example of excellent provision but unless we pay higher taxes will cannot fund similar care provision. Also, 'free' childcare in Norway is only given to single-parents after a thorough means test. Even after acceptance the parent must pay 30% of the cost.

Women welcomed the invention of the Pill some forty years ago. It was possibly the biggest breakthrough in female society for generations.  The intention was that women could now safely plan their families and not leave conception to chance.  At the time it was hoped it would reduce unwanted pregnancies and give women the opportunity to be successful in a career before they decided to have children. It's so much easier to return to a career which was a success.

Caron says 'nobody ever suggests men should give up their careers'.  Oh yes they have. Women have been arguing this for generations with no success and that's simply because women physically give birth and give the initial nurturing.

As for work being more flexible - how about parents being more flexible?  It's always the employer who is criticised. Employers have the upper hard where work is concerned; he who pays the piper and all that. Paid employment is available in the UK 24 hours a day and certain vocations operate on a 24 hour system - the biggest being the NHS. I set up my own tiny business when I was in desperate need of extra money and structured it around my family's needs.  There's nothing more motivating than being broke and having a family who depend on you. My wee business was so successful I managed to sell it for a small sum after it had been operating for only 18 months.

I digress. Last week, in my post about the proposed National Parenting Strategy, I was ambivalent about the concept.  Now I think it will be just another intrusion by the state into the lives of families. The success of National Family Centres has been well recorded and rather than introduce another overlapping tier into society, the money would be much better spent on the provision of more Family Centres for those parents who required assistance.

For those who manage to wind their way through the joys, trials and tribulations of parenthood my congratulations.  Most of us get there eventually, as long as we remember our main aim is for our children to have better (not necessarily more) opportunities than we did in the 'dark ages'.  The cost is accepting the responsibility for your children and not allowing the state to dictate your actions. They do too much of that already.

16 comments:

JimS said...

With 190,000 abortions per year in the UK one could almost wonder if women liked children anymore!

Personally I can't think of anything better than bringing up your own child, who will grow up far too quickly anyway.

Society is far too influenced by the 'you can have everything' message put over by the media. The people who are CEOs, mountain climbers, jungle explorers, best-selling authors, pop stars etc. usually just do that one thing to the exclusion of everything else and often have others helping out in the background. The 'modern' woman is spoilt for choice I'm afraid.

Dioclese said...

I firmly believe that you shouldn't have children unless you are prepared to look after them yourself and unless you can afford to do so properly. Not a popular view I know!

My wife brought up a daughter for ten years on her own until I came along after her first husband buggered off. She did 'whatever was necessary to put food on the table' and I can tell you that involved some pretty crappy part time jobs.

Parents have it too easy these days and grandparents are put upon to take up the slack. I have a couple of friends who have just been lumbered with caring 5 days a week for their second grandchild - and the mother just tootled off back to work and assumed they would do it. didn't even ask. Like a couple of mugs, they did. I would have just dropped her right in it and serve her right!

Also I just lost my bridge partner for the duration of term time while mummy goes out to work.

A thank you costs nothing, but many grandparents don't even get that. Perhaps they should consider charging? But then, that would require them to be vetted and registered as child minders.

This happened to friends of my daughter who used to take it in terms to look after each others children, until the authorities stepped in and told them it was illegal. That's the sort of nonsense we need to stamp out.

If these people want children, they should stay home and look after them - and if that labels me a 'dinosaur' then all I can say is that I'm proud to be one.

JRB said...

I could be somewhat controversial and suggest that the demise of the family unit and the fragmentation of child care can be traced directly back to the introduction of the pill and the concomitant onset of women’s lib.

Today’s women have found sexual emancipation, financial independence and the freedom to pursue a career. However, along with these advances in individual status and a greater role in society, women still want to fulfil that basic need to be a mother.

But having produced their offspring, the modern woman now negates her role to care for and nurture the developing child and demands that the state assumes that responsibility. (or if near enough then the grandparent)

We have to change this feminine ‘I want it all’ attitude, and get back to basics, of which a fundamental basic must surely be the care and nurture of ones own child.

I could be controversial and suggest just such a thing - but being a cowardly male I better not.

subrosa said...

I don't think women's attitudes to children have changed too much Jim. My other didn't like them and told us that until the day she died.

What's happened is that being pregnant is no longer a problem for women. It's easy just to have an abortion these days. Can't quite decide if that makes them a bit irresponsible with their sex life.

They are spoilt for choice you're right.

subrosa said...

I must admit I concur Dioclese. Also I think parents should be married (or in some way legally bonded) before having children.

In a few generations time few will be able to trace their ancestors because of the lack of marriage certificates and non-biological parents signatures on birth certificates.

A few of my friends look after grandchildren during school holidays etc and are delighted to do so, but one isn't treated with much respect. Strangely enough she was my local bridge partner and we were fine until she started caring for the new baby. I would get a call just half an hour before we were supposed to be at the club saying neither baby's mother or father had turned up to collect her.

It wasn't essential for both parents to work but both wanted to do so although not pay the high nursery fees. (In fact no nursery would stay open long enough for them. They seldom collected the baby before 7pm).

Strangely, it was the taboo of smoking which halted the free service. My friend liked 2 cigarettes a day - both in the evening. The mother was again very late one evening and found her mother sitting at the top of the garden smoking a cigarette. The baby had fallen asleep in her pram which was on the patio near the house.

The daughter exploded and told her mother she was killing her grand-daughter.

That was enough for my friend. I remember she phone very upset because she'd told her daughter she'd had enough.

Although she's no longer my regular bridge partner we play now and again. It takes some time for dependability to reassert itself.

I'm told her daughter and son-in-law have approached her several times since to apologise for the daughter's outburst but my friend has stood firm and good for her.

She is now able to say when she would like to look after the children rather than be told and I believe the balance in the family has now been restored.

You're no dinosaur but a person who has common sense.

subrosa said...

Oh JRB, you sound as if these three advances have been 'granted' by some higher authority.

Never having been part of the 'feminist' movement (in fact I objected to many of their radical views), I don't think the sexual freedom for women has been a great success. It seems to cause more problems than ever.

However, I do wonder if all women who have borne children have a basic need to be a mother.

Call me cynical, but I would say a reasonable percentage have no basic need and if it happens, it happens. After all, the state will pay, although I know some women who, having little though of bearing children, now would give their lives to protect them.

I agree about the entitlement attitude around today and would say you're not 'entitled' to children no more than I'm entitled to having a svelte shape - even with dieting.

Children are not accessories and it's hard being a parent - particularly hard years ago when men didn't participate much.

As far as I can see what women need to do is change the workplace culture and that means women owning companies.

How many female bigger business owners do you know?

Sheila said...

"Educate grannies, I think. There is evidence now that wasn't there when they were bringing up their kids."

And so destroy the extended family too...

I have very fond memories of my grannies - they were very different, but both were strong, intelligent and by the time I knew them, wise women.They added an extra dimension to my childhood and that meant a telling off when it was needed as well as a fair bit of "spoiling".

I'm trying build similar relationships with my grandchildren. I'd hesitate to describe myself as "wise" but am definitely much better informed than my younger self.

As for all that "evidence"?

This is where evidence based parenting programmes are taking us:

Triple P - "parenting now comes with an instruction manual!" - is what they're using up here and it seems to be the global favourite too...

http://www.triplep.net/

http://www.gla.ac.uk/researchinstitutes/healthwellbeing/research/mentalhealth/projects/psf/evaluationproject/

http://www.triplep.net/cicms/assets/pdfs/pg1as100gr5so123.pdf

"Plans are underway to introduce world-wide best practice guidelines for parenting programs….for every parent"

JimS said...

Subrosa

Workplace culture is an interesting area. I can understand that from a woman's perspective it is the 'fault of men'. From the 90th percentile man it is the 'fault of all those Bs men at the top'.

Now it might be that in order to be a success in business that a B at the top is needed, which is why the non-B men don't make it and why the women that make it are even bigger Bs. Or it could be that Bs recruit in their own image!

I worked in a large organisation once where the subject of bullying came up big-time in staff surveys. The head man set up a task force to track down the source of the bullying. The task force duly did its work and reported back that one name kept coming up in interview after interview. "I want that man out!" said the boss. "I'm afraid sir it is you" said the unfortunate task force leader.

Sheila said...

Well, well - surprise (not):

Positive grandparenting focus of new program:

http://www.uq.edu.au/news/?article=25260

Barney Thomson said...

May I take the liberty of pointing out that many grannies nowadays have little time to look after the bairns as they have to go to work themselves? Their unavailability as free child minders will only increase if Cameron, Osborne and Lamont are allowed to implement thier ideologies.

Subrosa - I must disagree completely with what you say above -

"I think parents should be married (or in some way legally bonded) before having children."

I am trying hard not to take offence from this nonsensical comment, given the circumstances surrounding my daughter's pregnancy and the subsequent birth of my beautiful granddaughter.

subrosa said...

I was rather taken aback by Caron's tweet Sheila, because I know she's an activist for the LibDems and does work for Willie Rennie.

I've no grandchildren yet but have dropped a few hints and I too will do my best to build a caring relationship but one with boundaries.

Sheila, the links you gave need to be studied, but I have the jist - social engineering as usual.

subrosa said...

Indeed Jim, only those who are happy to step over colleagues make their way to the top. Like you I've watched that process over and over.

Hence I've preferred to work for small businesses or myself.

subrosa said...

Ah Sheila, I thought there must be something for grandparents. Perhaps Caron had read it first.

subrosa said...

Barney I'm sorry if my opinion has upset you, but that's the ideal (if there is one) situation for children to be brought up. It's just my opinion and one formed more recently as I see so many young folk wanting to trace their fathers but can't.

I don't know the circumstances surrounding your daughter's pregnancy or granddaughter's birth but I'm sure most older folk welcome a new addition to the family.

There is some truth in what you say about working. I've a few friends who are still working and are well past their 65th birthdays.

Barney Thomson said...

SR - Aye, the ideal situation if the situation is ideal.

May I quote you again -

"The cost is accepting the responsibility for your children and not allowing the state to dictate your actions"

I tend to agree but making nursery and childcare facilities available is not dictating to the people, it is caring for them, specifically the children, not the parents.

A civilised society cares for its children by providing protection and education. I despise means testing and believe that the provision of care for children, the incapacitated and the elderly is the mark of a truly civilised state. The current penny-pinching selfishness of the "middle-classes" who yearn not to contribute to the common good of society but retain their illusory wealth to themselves disgusts me.

Beware also the moralising of the unco guid.

subrosa said...

I agree availability is essential for wee ones whose parents are unable to care for them 24/7 Barney, but I also feel we ought to be providing help for those parents who feel they lack the skills required. Unfortunately identifying them isn't an easy task and involves many agencies these days.

Means testing is a difficult subject but I tend to lean your way these days. After all the 'rich' pay their taxes and some tend to send their children to private schools, thus leaving more money in the pot for those in state schools.

There's continual talk of equality yet those who have worked hard all their lives and managed to save something are talked about as if they're another species. Why have we such hang-ups about those who do well for themselves? Shouldn't we be proud of those who do?

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