Warehousing Children

Ilana Mercer, August 17, 2001

The plight of middle class North Americans waiting in line to warehouse their children in day care centers makes the heart bleed – for the children, of course. Middle class couples don’t have enough “high quality” subsidized daycare facilities, which leads to “hell on earth,” to repeat Canadian media hyperbole. Accordingly, as soon as they conceive, these couples are impelled to rush out and place their unsuspecting embryos on daycare waiting lists for fear there will be no placements when the time is ripe to kick the neonate into the harsh world. Apparently, the daycare plight is rife among “single parents” as well. “Some have just been accepted into school, or have just finally got a job and can’t take it because they don’t have day care.” As one Canadian daycare stakeholder vaporized, “it’s heart breaking.”


Evidently, people are going to work, but are also lugging along gnawing guilt pangs. And a blob of protoplasm like a child should not be permitted to set in motion a self-correcting emotion like guilt. When guilt besieges the nation, it is time for government to act. I am no longer a young mother, but I still recall the day I learned my pride and joy had been conceived. Silly me, had I gone out and placed her on a waiting list, my career might look a lot different today. There is a price to pay for that well-adjusted, independent thinking, marvel of mine, and I have nobody to blame but myself. Call it a personality flaw if you will, but I was unable to deposit this personage of my creation to the custody of strangers.


But let me put aside my animus over the lot in the world for mums who stay with their kids, versus those who don’t. At the heart of the assorted attempts at national daycare in Canada is, of course, the government’s patronizing belief that parents need “systemic and structured support” in raising their children. Sadly, government is not alone. Fully three quarters of Canadians “welcome a system of day care available to all families that is paid for by government and parents.” It would appear that Canadians, at least, need more than government help with their children – they need divine intervention.


There is a world of difference incidentally between an educational nursery school for the tiny non-voter and the daycare internment geared for their working parents. My own toddler attended a private nursery school from the ages of three to six (albeit not in North America). The teachers were all highly qualified, and the environment was a structured one, packed with learning and socializing. By noon, the children were ready for home and had to be collected. My recollection is of a tired tot who was only too eager to spend a laid-back afternoon unwinding.


The stimulation of a nursery school is very different from the ordeal of the warehoused child. For her, it is up with daylight (or before that in winter), gulp down a hurried breakfast, get shoved in the car, and then ejected at school or nursery school. Then it’s get picked up and dropped off at daycare, only to be fetched in the evening by a weary and distracted parent. Children that young cannot cope with such a schedule without forfeiting some of their centeredness, peace of mind, and rightful childhood. Why, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder is the appropriate metaphor for this hectic life. Any acting out by the child is congruent with this life style; it is no more than a child’s adaptive reaction to an abnormal life.


The solution to this quagmire is to be found in the personal–not the public–domain. Couples can leave off having children until they are able to give the child the care it needs: be it dual parenting where father and mother work part time to be with child, or be it a relative, or a stay-at-home parent. There is no reason for societies to collectively retool in order to accommodate parents’ perceived entitlement to career and children all at once, minus the guilt. The various nationalized schemes entrenched across Canada come at a price. Someone always pays for distribution-based plans. Women who might have chosen to stay at home with their children are forced to work to pay for shouldering the system. Commenting on the British situation for the Institute for Economic Affairs, David Conway averred that national day care in that country will have served, if anything, to diminish the choices women have.


Cause and effect pronouncements on daycare and the state of youth today are probably misplaced. But the warehousing of children, coupled with the intellectual and moral abnegation inherent in progressive parenting and schooling go some distance in explaining the inarticulate, directionless, and angry youth of today. Not even dogs are placed in kennels day in, and day out; and even dogs get to have “quiet time” on the rug, interrupted only by the dog-sitter who comes to fulfill the mutt’s recreational needs. Doubtless, if children had a say, they would want more of their own parents and less parenting by proxy.



©2001 By Ilana Mercer

  Special to LewRockwell.com

  August 17


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