For parents, a pittance and sneers

TheStar.com – opinion/editorialopinion
Published On Mon Feb 07 2011.   By Heather Mallick, Star Columnist

“It’s the Liberals who wanted to ensure that parents are forced to have other people raise their children.”

As vicious and callous remarks go, this one fizzes in its own little acid bath. But I credit Human Resources Minister Diane Finley with honesty. She does indeed think this of parents who go to work and place their children in daycare. So do her Conservative colleagues. Maybe that’s why there are so few female Conservative MPs. They kept the home fires burning, and burning, and burning, even as the world changed.

Statistics Canada says that in 2009, 72.9 per cent of women with children under the age of 16 went out to work, nearly twice the rate of 39.1 per cent recorded in 1976. That’s a lot of women voters for the Conservatives to despise but somehow they find the time.

I can chat away here endlessly, explaining that Conservatives prefer wives to women, mothers to wives, and stay-at-home mothers to working mothers. They like a man who goes off to work, with a wife and children relying on his money. But who has that option nowadays?

So I actually adore the cartoon hate bubble coming out of Finley’s mouth. It proves me right (columnist pauses to buff nails of typing fingers).

My problem with parent employment stats is that they often exclude fathers, who also love their children, and want the best and happiest possible home for them. Debating the moral worth of families that hire nannies or use daycare tends to load all the responsibility on mothers. That’s called misogyny.

Finley thinks those men are lousy fathers, too, for allowing themselves to be “forced” to farm out their children. They are not. They’re just busy at work. I do know men who would like to stay at home with their children. Good luck with that.

Here’s the thing: when Finley makes unfair comments on the most personal, deep love that humans feel — for their children — she pits parents against each other. The resulting vitriol is extraordinary and bad for all parents. Everyone has an opinion. I don’t want judgments on child-rearing from childless people. Stay out of it.

And as a step-parent who might be said to occupy the middle ground between the childless and the fully childed, I advise everyone, nurturingly, to take a deep breath. If you don’t have a village to raise your child, you need an employment unit of nannies and daycare workers. That’s just the way it is.

Here’s a pillar of feminism I bored my stepkids with. Never rely on anyone else for financial support. (Except your loving parents. Just call us, anytime. I mean that. Call. We’ll have a nice lunch. We’ll hug. Okay, I’ll go now.) Two loving parents who each haul home a paycheque is what your modern kid needs. Single parents need more help. If only Conservatives would lend a hand to these people they see as feckless, indeed deplorable.

How I wish Stephen Harper hadn’t killed the Liberal daycare plan. The Conservative approach — $100 a month whether you need it or not — shows both disdain and cluelessness. That money wouldn’t buy me a roll of TTC tokens and a snow shovel to get the stroller out of the driveway.

Ottawa offers a pittance and a series of sneers. Then it frets about the aging population and how there won’t be enough young people working to pay for their hip replacements and dementia therapy. Do we really wonder why people don’t have more children?

It’s too wearying, too expensive, too arduous. It squeezes the living juice out of us. Parenthood: It starts with fear, pain and joy and then it continues with, well, fear, pain and joy — I hope I’m not scaring anyone here — for the rest of your parental life. After the youthful poverty years, the worry kicks in. And the worry never ends.

Spare a thought for fathers and mothers, Ms. Finley. A compassionate one, I mean.

< http://www.thestar.com/opinion/editorialopinion/article/933836–mallick-for-parents-a-pittance-and-sneers >

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *