It probably hasn’t escaped your notice that when it comes to politics I lean rather more to the Right than to the Left. I don’t think that’s the only possible position for a Christian (some of my best friends are Lefties…!), but at its best it is the closest philosophical fit with my vision for helping society flourish.
Sadly, David Cameron’s approach to Conservatism is not the Right at its best.
As evidence, I present the Government’s latest bright idea for helping families (thanks to Joni MacArthur for the link):
“Campaigners and Tory MPs have rounded on the Government after it announced that working parents earning up to £150,000 each will get up to £1,200 to help with child care because they have a “greater need” than those who do not work.”
So far so good…
“The scheme will only apply to couples where both parents are working or a single parent who is in employment.”
So women (or men) who choose to stay at home and take care of their children in the earliest, most significant formative years will be penalised.
Why? Because, “Downing Street suggested … they do not want to “work hard and get on”.”
Right. Because being a full-time parent is the easy, lazy option. Because in a world where your value is measured by how far you’ve climbed up the business and financial ladder, choosing to potentially sacrifice your own success in favour of that of your children is lazy and ought to be discouraged. Because removing childcare and childhood development from the realm of the home and family is clearly the best way to strengthen the unit that is the core of and model for a healthy society.
Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that all childcare is evil – my aunt and my cousin both run excellent childminding services where they do far more than ‘mind’ their little charges. They and many others provide safe, stable, stimulating environments for children whose parents are unable to provide the same level of care at home.
Nor am I saying that putting your child in care is a sure way to ruin his or her chances of a happy, successful life. I know there are some circumstances where it is better for the child and the family as a whole if he or she spends at least some time per week in child care. (Though sometimes, as for parents of children with special needs, this facility is to release the parent to take care of him- or herself, the home and the other children. Going out to work is the last thing these parents need to do with their respite.)
What I’m saying is, if you think the best start for your child is to spend his or her preschool years at home with you, tough. The Government disagrees and is not going to help.
There’s nothing conservative or right about that.
Picture Credit: ‘Maia’ by Sergiu Bacioiu (Creative Commons)