Child care centres collapse. Now what?

Readers of this blog know very well by now, that through no fault of my own I have to return many faulty items to the place of purchase. While I am at those shopping malls, I have observed two social trends.

The first is that owing (in part) to the $5000 baby bonus there are many, many more babies around. The second is that many of these babies are being cared for by their grandparents. People who should be free at last after bringing up their own children are being recruited to look after the children of their children.

The seniors look tired and find it hard to chase a couple of toddlers while struggling with a pram laden with baby.

For most seniors looking after grandchildren is fine but preferably only for a couple of hours. The occasional childminding is a delight, but to look after grandchildren days on end one needs to have the stamina of a person thirty years younger. In other words, there is a season for such things and that season belongs to the parents.

My heart goes out to the poor grandparents who have to become primary carers of their grandchildren because the parents may be drug addicts or disabled in another way. It must be beyond endurance and yet they are forced to do it. It’s a tragedy and I praise them for their sacrifice.

Next year, however, I predict that the onus on grandparents is going to be exacerbated owing to the demise of many child care centres. More and more grandparents will have to put their lives on hold to do a job that they did for many years already.

These will be stolen years since their life savings have also been affected by the financial crisis.

Quite frankly, these grandparents are being hit from all sides and I believe that there needs to be a serious reappraisal on the part of parents. Parents have to ask themselves whether they need to have everything straight away. Do you really need that bigger house, the second car, the mortgage you
can’t afford?

After all, the global credit crisis and subsequent financial problems are due to not living within one’s means. That goes for corporations as well as for ordinary people– Main Street, as they are now being called.

My question to parents is “Do you really both have to work while your children are too young to go to school? Does the lure of having it all and having it straight away play a part in the shirking of your duties?”

“If you think that a career is important, then by all means have one, but delay it until the children go to school. But if, on the other hand, the career is most important then don’t have children. Today, you have a choice!”

There is a great joy in being there for your children in their formative years. Watch them grow, be there when they fall over, be there to play with them during the day and not just at bath time. Once that time has gone it has gone forever.

You should not leave all this to the grandparents. It’s simply not fair to the kids or to your own parents. They’ve done it once already and now it’s your turn. Face up to it.

Perhaps the collapse of the child care centres will make parents think seriously about why they had children in the first place. Or perhaps there will be more seniors trawling the malls until the end of the day. It’s time for a rethink about priorities.


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