Sunday, 6 November 2011

There are new claims

being made about proposed changes to the child-care legislation in this state. I do not know the exact details, although they do involve higher training requirements and (naturally) more pay for child-care centre staff. Many of them do not get paid a great deal and few people would argue they are "well-paid".
Nevertheless alarm bells are ringing and claims are being made that, if the legislation is brought into force, it could increase the cost of caring for two children to a $1000 a week. There are claims that some people will have to give up work and stay at home to care for their children. That is also an only to be expected claim.
I looked through the reports in the state newspaper and on a couple of websites and there is a lot being said about the rights of women to pursue their careers, their need for the extra income, how their qualifications should not be wasted and how they need stimulation outside the home.
There is a little being said about the value of child care for the child - and yes, I agree that socialising is important. It is important to learn to give and take and share. Learning the nursery rhymes, listening to stories, counting, colours and crayoning are all important.
In this current set of reports however nothing is said about grandparents or the amount of child-care they provide. This is despite the fact that on any day it is possible to see people who are clearly in that age group caring for small children.
I know grandparents who have put retirement on hold. They stopped working at one job and they took on another. Their grandchildren are dropped off early in the morning. They see the school-going age children to school, they care for the pre-school children, they pick up the other child or children from school, get them to their after-school activities, they feed them and return them to their parents. During school holidays they are expected to care for and entertain all the children. In order to do these things they go on running a car, pay extra food bills and other expenses. They take on a greater responsibility than they did with their own children.
Many of them do not want to do this. They love their children. They love their grandchildren. It is not however how they planned to spend their retirement. They planned to do some travel, take up a hobby, see friends, go fishing, join a social group, downsize their homes or just "straighten the garden out". Grandmothers say they find it particularly difficult as they still have households to run.
Sometimes vague mention is made of the contribution of grandparents. There are (even vaguer) suggestions they should be compensated for their contribution to the economy. It is unlikely to happen. It is expected of them. This is what you do for your family. Emotional blackmail is rife.
Even when, because of age or other health issues, they are not well they continue to care for their grandchildren because their children cannot get time off work or because, if they did, they would use up annual leave.
Nobody should doubt the contribution grandparents make to the economy. It is enormous. It also comes at a great cost.
My own parents did this for their grandchildren. My father, reading the reports, sighed over them.
"You know, you don't do the things you want to do," he told me, "I always wanted to take your mother to see the Great Barrier Reef. We never did it. I have always regretted that."
I regret it too - but I wonder if my siblings are even aware of it.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I don't see why grandparents shouldn't help. Everything is so expensive nowadays and they have plenty of time. They shouldn't expect to be on holiday all the time just because they are retired.