Raising children – ‘free range’ or ‘caged’?

Rights involve responsibilities. Morally. Since a woman has a right to produce a child, does she not have the responsibility to nurture the child, rather than to hand over the task to an institution?

Would not this mean being there, being available, to assuage pain, to offer bodily comfort, to answer the million questions which arise in the growing child’s mind? And to be home when the child is ill? Otherwise, why produce the child?

Do these questions challenge the right of a woman with a baby or pre-schooler to go to work? Not at all. However, reality requires a response to the modern-day dilemma: how balance the subconscious needs of such a young child with the right of the parent?

If the mother has a substantive need for sustenance, should not other arrangements be made which do not subjugate the young child’s needs? Even in a Western society based on individualism (not communalism), parents and politicians can surely give priority to the emotional and psychic needs of a little child?

Yet, in a modern capitalistic nation such as Australia, in which no one has to starve, some babies and little children seem to be brought up in institutional care for (reportedly) up to 5 days/week, and up to 8 hours/day. Is this situation comparable to laying hens being brought up in large closed sheds, in which they are allowed to wander and feed, but without access to sunlight, and the right to forage freely in nature?

What are the consequences of little children being cared for (even educated) for long hours? A 4-year old boy I knew spent 8 hours/day for 5 days/week in childcare. Each day, he ‘lost’ something – his jacket, bag, etc. I recognised what was happening; he was hurt. Right through primary school, he tended to be unco-operative, recalcitrant. I recognised subconscious anger.

From about age 13, when conceptual development begins to flower, he gradually changed (with guidance from grandpa). Recent research confirms this pattern of response to aggravated institutionalisation. Hurt feelings do last.

In my low-employment district, one sees young mothers and their little ones enjoying one another’s company – in the traditional way; the way my generation was prepared to live frugally in small houses while our children knew that mum or dad was always there; even to sort out problems at school.

I hasten to iterate that I accept that childcare workers and teachers are caring people, and qualified professionally. I was once responsible for childcare policy in Australia’s migrant hostels (and also qualified in psychology, with emphasis on child development).

Society is based on families. Families need children – the future of society, and its leaders – who are stable emotionally, and have an adequate sense of societal responsibility. Parents and politicians need to ensure such children. Childcare and schools cannot be expected to be surrogate parents. Unfortunately, that seems to be the modern trend. Read Fukuyama’s ‘The Great Deterioration,’ and observe what is happening in your society.

Has there been any mention in the media, ever, about the psychic needs of very young children in two-career-person families who are being brought up in childcare and in after-school care? What about their rights?

All that one reads about is how much more of Other Peoples’ money needs to be spent in subsidising working mothers. Why not pay them to stay home for the first five years of a child? Want to work, to have a career? Surely not at the expense of the psychic needs of a little child!

What of society are our politicians creating? Should not morality over-ride materiality? Let us learn from the animal kingdom, from which we are said to have evolved.