Tuesday, 29 April 2014

The "Paid Parental Leave" scheme

proposed by the present government may or may not happen. I suspect that, if it does happen, it will not be in the presently proposed form.
I don't like the idea of "parental leave" or, in most cases, "maternity leave", for the sole purpose of having children and then going back to work. To me it sends the wrong message.
It sends the message that, yes it is important for you to have children but then you can hand them over to us to bring them up. You can put them in day care and kindergarten and pre-school or hand them over to your parents or a neighbour who is caring for other children. Then you can go back to work. Once they reach school going age the same sort of thing can continue with before school care and after school care as well as the school day being handled by other adults.  It sends the message that rearing children is not "work" or that it is, at best, a part-time occupation.  
It is work and it should be, for one parent, almost a full-time occupation.
I would like to see a scheme whereby one parent was paid to stay at home and be responsible for rearing the children...at least until they are of school going age.  Yes, I know there are all sorts of other issues attached to that - many of them to do with "careers" and "adult company". In other words they are to do with adult desires rather than child rearing.
I don't know what the answer is, especially while we are told that both parents going to work is so important and we look down on those who are "stay-at-home" parents. I have my concerns too about those parents, usually mothers, who stay at home and then "hover" over their children.
But yesterday I was asked to take on a very big responsibility for someone else. It probably won't be for that long and it may not be that onerous but, when I was asked, I was told "I want you to do this because I trust you." Although the person asking me to help is an adult I had another brief but alarming glimpse of what it should be like to be a parent. I said "yes" but saying "yes"frightened me. It also, oddly, comforted me because it gives me an opportunity to do something positive to help someone else.
How can anyone who has a child who looks at them and says, often without words, "I trust you" betray that trust? How can they just pass the responsibility for rearing the child over to someone else? How can they forego that sense of comfort at being needed? We have been told it is all right to do this but is it really?
If we took child rearing seriously, child rearing as an occupation in itself, we would have a very different sort of society. I don't know whether it would be a better one but would it be worth thinking about?

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