December 9, 2016 by Robert Franklin, Esq, Member, National Board of Directors, National Parents Organization
Yesterday I pointed out that what Kathy Gyngell bemoans is not really as widespread a phenomenon as she makes out. Her point is a valid one, of course. She complains about Cherie Blair other elite opinion-makers as continuing to plump for more women in the workplace with the result being more kids in daycare. Sure enough, it’s an all-too-common theme and Gyngell is right to debunk it.
But as I said, whatever snake oil elites may be hawking women aren’t buying it. The idea that the true desire of women with kids is to dump them in daycare and trip joyfully off to work is absurd and always has been. Countless studies and still more anecdotes lay waste the notion. Yes, many mothers place their children in daycare, but overwhelmingly, they do it of necessity only. Dr. Catherine Hakim’s work with data from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development makes clear what everyone without a contrary agenda already knew – motherhood is a powerful motivator. Given a choice, the great majority of mothers opt for staying home with the wee ones over any other alternative.
Gender feminists tie themselves in intellectual knots trying to explain the fact using their usual distorting lens. They’re sure the Wizard of Oz patriarchy lurks behind every bush diverting women into hands-on motherhood and away from their true Friedan-inspired desire – paid work. More recently, they’ve informed us that, in some unexplained way, young women in college are “segregated” into majors that lead to lower paying jobs. Presumably, those jobs, being less rewarding, in turn lead to the abandonment or marginalization of paid work once little Andy or Jenny comes along. With that sort of nonsense offered by elites, is it any wonder mothers ignore them?
But Gyngell protests a bit too much, me thinks.
Such day nurseries now look after about 440,000 children aged 0-2 years.
That’s about 20% of U.K. kids of that age. In other words, 80% of those children have some other form of care, most of it parental and much probably kinship care, i.e. grandparents or other relatives. Again, whatever Cherie Blair may believe, parents generally know better.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m no fan of daycare, particularly not for kids of that age. As I wrote here and here, reliable research into the effects of daycare on children, both while they’re there and long afterward, discourages its use. Briefly, daycare increases cortisol levels in children, particularly toddlers. That stress hormone is associated with a variety of negative outcomes for kids well into their teenage years.
Unsurprisingly, parents seem to know the dangers of daycare and avoid using it when possible. According to the Washington Post, some 75% of mothers and over half of fathers say they’ve “passed up work opportunities, switched jobs or quit to tend to their kids.” Amazingly, the Post found that to be a bad thing. The idea of parents putting their kids’ welfare ahead of paid work discomfits elites, but not the rest of us.
So Gyngell is right that even one child under two in daycare is probably one child too many. Fortunately, only about one in five actually ends up there. Still, Gyngell is merciless, and rightly so. I can think of few words too harsh for the people she targets.
Is it any wonder that subsequent years have seen a blitz of self-harming adolescents and that mental health problems, escalating amongst non-coping young people, are now rife?
It is not done, however, to put two and two together.
Formal childcare is the new norm justified by ‘PC’ childcare ‘experts’. They usually come with a handy line in jargon, such as that childcare “is an investment in human capital”. To give us comfort, they also insist it is good for children regardless of whether mum goes out to work or not – all in the absence of rigorous evidence and against all common sense. Not that Woman’s Hour, their natural habitat, cares.
Of course, it’s far better to offload you baby or infant onto someone with no special interest in it or long-term commitment to it.
Really, we have the Mrs Blairs of this world to thank for this abandonment of common sense – the feminist grand dames who know what’s best for the nation’s women and their long suffering, off-loadable kids. Inconvenient childcare effects are brushed to one side in the name of that greater good of getting women to work.
Well said, Ms. Gyngell.
What’s less well said however is her complete failure to mention fathers. Reading her piece, you’d never guess that children need their dads as much as they do their moms. Worse, readers receive no hint of the fact that fathers and mothers working together can – and usually do – solve the problem of doing enough paid work plus enough childcare to pay the bills and see to it that little Andy or Jenny doesn’t spend too much time in the care of strangers. By conceiving of parenting as being solely a maternal activity, Gyngell places mothers in a far more confining box than necessary. The simple fact is that a family consisting of two parents and one or more kids functions a lot better for all concerned than any other arrangement yet devised by the human mind.
But Gyngell is too busy criticizing Cherie Blair and her ilk to recognize that, implicitly, she’s adopted one of their most cherished assumptions – that fathers don’t parent and are therefore not part of the conversation on children’s welfare. That’s not only factually wrong and bad for kids, it’s subversive of fathers and mothers too. The poorest and most stressed person in all of society is a single mother who’s trying to pay the rent and be a decent mother to her children at the same time.
Insert Dad into that situation and – presto! – there’s more money to support everyone and little Andy or Jenny spends less time (or none at all) in daycare. Gyngell should pay more attention to the root problem – the breakdown of families – and less to snark about mediocrities like Cherie Blair.
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