Child Care – Is It A Parents Job?

Doesn’t anyone want to look after their kids anymore?

Is it my imagination or is it now the norm to palm them off to child care as soon as we are able so we can get on with our own lives?

As a stay home Dad I fully know what a thankless, exhausting and alienating job full time parenting can be but does that mean we should give that responsibility to someone else?

I know that for some parents there really isn’t a lot of choice these days with the cost of living sky rocketing and the amount of money required to be part of the great Australian dream of home ownership means that two incomes are almost absolutely essential.

I also know that some parents really don’t want to be looking after kids all day. They have their lives and their careers and why should they give up what they like doing when you can call in the professionals?

Many people I meet are surprised when I tell them we have decided to keep our child at home with one of us until at least the age of three. “Why?” they ask, “when you could both be working and getting ahead?”

Getting financially ahead? My wife and I agree that we would happily sacrifice a little getting ahead to be able to spend some beautiful time with our growing little bundle. After all she is our child and the responsibility is ours and ours alone.

What I can’t understand is that the amount of money required to send a child to child care (up to $150 AUD per day per child) can in a lot of cases almost negate the income earned from the second parent working!

In other words, if the second income is solely for the purpose of sending your kids to child care then there seems to be little financial benefit for the consequence of spending less time with your little ones.

Grandparents’ houses are often used as pseudo child care centers and this can help with the financial burden as well as encouraging bonding but as it is in the nature of grandparents to spoil their grand kids, discipline can become a problem when the child is back in the family home.

The arguments for child care range from the benefits of social interaction i.e. kids spending time with other kids to getting them used to a structured day. I am sure that these things can also occur within the parameters of dedicated parenting. That’s what regular play groups, sporting and social activities are for.

Some also say that when your kids finally get to kindergarten (around age five) that the ones who had spent time in child care are more developed in terms of numeracy and literacy than the ones who didn’t.

There may be some truth in that except that a recent study showed that most kindergartens have a wide variance in these skills and the whole first year is dedicated to getting all the kids level for the beginning of year one when the serious learning starts!

Child care is a booming industry in Australia and I believe that the marketers of this industry have a lot to answer for by scaring parents into thinking that their kids will fall behind academically and socially if they do not get into child care as soon as possible.

While this philosophy may go a long way to easing the guilt of those parents who need or want to use child care there is simply no evidence to prove it is more beneficial for your child than dedicated parenting.

So…who wants my kid for the day?

This article was published on the Mamamia website and attracted a huge response. If you would like to read the 500 or so comments (mostly derogatory) then click here.

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14 Responses to Child Care – Is It A Parents Job?

  1. Derek says:

    Fully agree with you – IMHO the first few years of a child’s life are the most important for overall development.

    To steal and adjust a line from my wonderful mother-in-law…. you can always get another job but you will never see your children have another early childhood.

  2. Kate says:

    I find this a very narrowminded view. I work part time and leave my baby daughter in her grandparent’s care 2 days a week. I left a high paying job after having my baby because I didnt want the stress of a career that would take my time and efforts away from my little girl. I’ve returned to the workforce in a basic job- but without this job we couldn’t afford food, nappies, health insurance etc. I don’t feel that I’m working to have a fancy lifestyle, I am working so we can live. In a perfect world, I would be at home 7 days a week- that is where I want to be- I think you need to consider that not everyone has the luxury that your family has. Please don’t judge working parents until you have walked a mile in their shoes.

  3. Rach says:

    It is wonderful that you can stay at home and enjoy watching your kids grow up because you can afford to live off your wife’s corporate income. However most families cannot and child care does not cost $150 a day as there are rebates for families. I would hope that your child/children are attending playgroups as they need to learn to socially interaction with each other before starting kindy or school. I would not call you superdad as I think the term superdad belongs to those single fathers who are trying to juggle fulltime work and parenting. It is a lot harder to work and use childcare than it is to be a stay at home parent. I know this from experience as I used child care and was a stay at home parent and found working and using child care harder than just staying at home with the children.

  4. Tanya says:

    Just wanted to say I loved the gist of your post…I actually read it on Mamamia, but they had closed the comments before I could write anything there! The reason I liked your post was that you actually said/wrote what I have thought for ages but was way to scared to say out loud, for fear of attack, as you have found.
    I am a ‘mostly’ stay at home Mum of a 2 and 4 year old (I recently returned to work 1 day a week, and my Mum looks after my 2 year old then, I’m very lucky). I am a professional, a psychologist, who has chosen to stay home to be there for my kids in these vital first 3 years of life. I am SO grateful that we were in a financial position to be able to do this. But I also think I would have made any sacrifice possible if we weren’t financial stable to choose my kids over the job and salary. I just couldn’t imagine leaving the early life experiences of my children up to someone else.
    Parents do love their children, and we all do our best to make the choices we think will benefit them the most. I think the problem is the Western world has normalised childcare to the point that we think that’s what is best for them. I think this idea needs to be changed…little kids need love and security and no one will love a child as much as their own parents/guardians and family.
    Good luck James, hope you don’t cope too much more flak!

  5. Deb says:

    I also read your post on mama mia and fully agree with you and often have this conversation with other Mothers who stay at home and some like myself who try to work a little from home also.
    I feel childcare should be for those that have/need to work not for those who would simply like ‘free’ days, I know too many of these who type on FB great kids in daycare (and even when they are sick), time for coffee etc… To be honest I just dont understand the way people like this think, these years are so precious and will be gone in a flash.
    Im now into my 3rd year of parenting and I wouldnt or couldnt do daycare no matter how tough my days are, there have been tears!! I will only leave my kids for an hour with friends for odd medical appointments…I have saved very hard to be in this position and very much enjoy mornings at playgroups , pools, music etc. The daycares are a business and as said before no-one can love or care for your child like a parent…
    This is ONLY MY opinion and of course there will be different circumstances but I have all too often been made to feel I’m the one who is ‘different’ for not using daycare or wanting to put my child in 3yr old Kindy ! Keep up the good work James:)

  6. Karen says:

    I’ve read ‘those comments’ om mamamia and I would take them with a big pinch of salt. I think any stay at home or working parent is doing a stellar job. And you’re right a blog is just that a blog, a point of view and those words were your point of view. Since when have we the community become so righteous about parenting. Really sad. I agree dads are not supported enough. I’m a Child and Family Health Nurse and am thinking of starting up a dads group in the Alexandria area so if you’re interested…

  7. jo says:

    I just read all the hoopla on Mamamia regarding this article….seriously, I cannot see why people are so offended…..good article!!!

  8. Lucky says:

    you have to learn to stop thrusting your opinions down other people’s throats. It is economically viable for us for my wife to work 4 days a week (and still have a day with our toddler), but that is none of your flippin business!
    You with your “everyone who puts kids in childcare is selfish” attitude are lumping everyone in the same boat, when not everyone is the same. Here’s a plan: you don’t criticise my choices and I won’t tell you what I really think of yours.
    Moderate this, don’t moderate it – I won’t be coming back. Tosser.

    • Tina says:

      Hi Lucky,
      This is just an opinion. If you are so “married” to your choice and you believe it is the correct one, why are you getting angry at James for simply expressing his opinion and opening up a discussion?

  9. KD says:

    I can’t believe all the hoopla either! I would imagine most of those who took offense were trying to make themselves feel better about their choices, so don’t take it to heart James. But I guess we all get a bit defensive about our family choices, especially through the haze of sleep deprivation and the daily stresses of being a parent – whether you are stay-at-home or not! I am just happy you brought up a subject I’ve been quietly thinking since my first child was born 4 years ago. I am a SAHM, and while I know we are fortunate we can live on one income, my husband and I have definitely made sacrifices so I can stay at home. As every parent knows, our job is incredibly trying but also incredibly rewarding. But this is what I signed up for. And without the luxury of having parents or in-laws around to help! Anyway, bravo James, and also for your follow up on MM.

  10. lauren says:

    I can’t understand the fuss about this post. You’ve even said that you know sometimes it’s not a choice, how is this narrow minded? people need to put the mummy guilt aside and read it properly. I agree with you for what it’s worth. I have stayed at home with our 2 children until I recently started expanding my business now that my children are old enough for preschool/school. We were in that position where I would have been working solely to pay for childcare as my husband was earning just too much for the rebates and benefits but not so much that we didn’t struggle on one wage. We would have found a way to make it work for us anyone because I think it is important for a parent to be home with them but I know that’s not always possible and I don’t judge anyone for making a different choice. Our kids are certainly not behind when it comes to literacy and numeracy or social interactions either.

  11. serena26 says:

    Great article!

  12. Tara says:

    To each his own. I don’t get the fuss either. Maybe everyone feels a guilty, or not!
    Each person has their own opinions about their own family situation.
    PS There is 3 yr old Kinder, 4 yr old Kinder, at 5 they should be in school!!

  13. Anna says:

    Thank you James. I agree with your ideas. I am a SAHM and believe me, we have made big sacrifices to do this. I am the only SAHM in our group of friends and constantly feel pressure to ‘just put them in childcare’. Most of my friends work part time or not at all and still use childcare. I have my days where I think it would be easier to just put the kids in care and go to work, but it is not financially viable for us either. People may think that we are lucky to be able to stay at home – and we are. But we made it this way – we give up the dinners out and the weekends away and the shopping and the fancy cars so we could do this. But we wouldn’t have it any other way.

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