For anyone who reads my blog or knows me personally, they know my stand on child care and parenting. I've certainly had my share of flack from those who don't agree with the choices I've made. Whether it's predictions that "I'll never get them out" of my bed because we had a family bed when they were babies (they are quite happy to have their own room now), or that they'd be stunted emotionally or intellectually because I chose to stay at home with them rather than putting them in day care or pre-school, or that I'm ruining their chances of future success because we chose to home school, I'm used to making choices that other people don't agree with. I've learned long ago that the only experts that are qualified to make decisions for my children are me and their father. We will listen to the advice and opinions of others, whether they be "experts," or friends and family, or strangers on the street who start lecturing me because *gasp* we do things differently from them. Then, after hearing them out, we make our own decisions based on what we believe to be the best thing for our children and our family.
While I believe that the decisions we made for our family are the right ones, even when doubts creep in (and they always will), and believe that there are others who would be much happier if they made decisions similar to ours, we also recognise that for some families, the choices we've made would be totally wrong for them.
Which is why the child care issue is so important to me. My children are well beyond the age of daycare, and the Conservative plan of $1200 a year per child means nothing for us. We are, however, part of a community, and that community includes families off all types and children of all ages. Some of these families have made choices very much like our own, choosing partenting practises similar to ours, choosing to have a parent at home, choosing to home school. Others parent differently, live differently, and choose daycare and public school for their children. I respect those decisions, and would hope that they respect mine.
Right now, we've got the Liberals and NDP threatening to do everything possible to force the Conservatives to break their promise of $1200 per year per pre-school aged child, and to instead keep the Liberal promise of a "national" daycare system. Aside from the hypocrisy of trying to make the current government keep the promises of the previous one (and they managed to avoid keeping this promise for over a decade), there are many problems with this stance.
First, there is the myth of a "national" daycare system. Daycare is a provincial responsibility, and the most the federal government can do it throw money at it.
Next, there's the fact that government regulated daycare doesn't meet the needs of the majority of parents. From the numbers I've seen, only a quarter of the parents who have children qualify for these spaces.
What galls me the most, however, is the day care advocates insistance that only *their* vision is the "right" way to go. The very fact that they claim to be the only "child care" sources - that parents do not child care their own children - shows a remarkable lack of respect for parents in general, and mothers specifically. The level of contempt shown towards parents is staggering.
Government run daycare is but one choice of many, and it's not the best choice for all parents. If the daycare advocates truly had the best interests of children at heart, they would recognise this. But it's not about what's best for the children, is it? It's about their own jobs. It's about pushing their own agenda and ideology. The children are little more than pawns in their game, shuffled across the board, used to bring about emotional responses, like when they are used to hold signs at demonstrations.
What we need is a system that recognises that, while someone might become an "expert" on children in general, it is the parents that are the experts of their own individual children, and that they are the ones who need our support. We need a system that doesn't penalize parents for choosing to live on a single income so that one of them can stay at home with their children. We need a system that recognises that there are many different ways to child care, and that if there is to be any funding for childcare, fairness demands that all these choices be recognised, and that funding the child rather than a system is the fairest way to accomplish this.
Sara at Choice for Childcare has asked bloggers to "strike for childcare" today, and I am proud to take part in this. Visit her site to see a list of many other bloggers who are also participating.
There are many other sites that also support true choice for childcare and funding the child.
Fund the Child: Kids First Canada has a list of links to sites and articles about funding the child, as well as research on different types of child care and other links of interest.
Hopefully, our current government will not allow themselves to be bullying by the opposition and the powerful day care lobby, and instead be given the chance to make a decision based on what parents actually want and need.