Monday, August 02, 2010

How Do You Define Raising a Child?

There's a tragic story in Alberta this week about an 18 month old girl who was seriously injured in a day home. (story here) I can hardly bear to think about a young baby being abused by someone who was supposed to care for her. So I'm going to leave that where it is and simply say some prayers for her and her family as she fights for her life tonight.

But stories like this always bring out the crazies in the comments. Like this one: "If only people would wait to have children when they can take the time off themselves to be at home all day with them. Im baffled at how people bring a kid into this world, just to let someone else raise it! and then we are all surprised when soemthing goes wrong?! This is sad, sont get me wrong, but who do we have to blame but ourselves. Stop making babies just cause you can! wait until you have the time and money to raise them yourself."

It makes my blood boil, it really does. I have to remember that the person writing this just doesn't KNOW. They don't know all the reasons for putting a child in day care. My daughter goes to sleep each night and asks me "do I get to go to daycare tomorrow?"

We seem to have this 1950's definition of "raising kids". It's supposed to mean a mom at home with an apron on who has supper on the table while daddy goes out and earns a living. Nevermind that for hundreds of years kids weren't "raised" this way.... some were married and pregnant by 14. They had to get up and work on the farm and school was a privilege. It's only been in the last century that we defined "raising" kids by having a mom at home and kids having a pretty sheltered life without having to get up and milk cows at 4am.

Raising a child is a long time commitment. It's 18+ years of knowing exactly where your kids are, thinking about their best interests all the time, making decisions with their needs ahead of your own. Raising also means funding and paying for kids. It means sometimes going without so they can have something they want or need.

For some of us it means going to work full time and paying someone else to provide childcare. Childcare is not raising. That's like saying a house cleaner is a home owner. (There's another topic... oh how I'd love a house cleaner!)

But I too once thought I'd never send my kid off to day care. But then I found myself raising my kid on my own and I knew that I had to go back to work to give him the best life. I tried three day homes that didn't work out and finally tried a large "big box" day care. I was terrified to do it - especially when family members were so critical of my decision. I remember words like "institution" and "abuse" being thrown about.

Now I've had at least one kid in day care (the same "big box" company) almost consistently for six years. Both of my children LOVED day care. And why shouldn't they? It's playing with kids their age all day, doing crafts, unlimited supplies of paper, new learning experiences, fieldtrips... they both have gotten to experience way more than they would have if they'd been home alone with me.

And I'll admit something else... I am happier. Yes, I spend less time with my kids than my stay or work at home counterparts.... but we enjoy all of our hours. I have more patience. I have more energy. I can justify relaxing over doing laundry.

I am thankful - so very thankful - that my daughter loves her day care. She loves her teachers. They greet her every morning with smiles and hugs and the smile at me and wish me a good day at work. She finds treasures during the week and wants to save them to give to her teachers. She has a sweet "boyfriend" at day care that she is inseparable from.

So to those who might think like our friend above... who might think that I'm handing the reins over to someone else to raise my kid: think again. Raising involves so much more but I'm sure glad that I have wonderful partners to enhance my daughter's (and previously, my son's) life and bring love and laughter into it.

1 comment:

Allison Killins said...


Its like I've always said, the more time you have, the more you waste.
When I am "home" with the kids, I have a million other things to do, and sometimes I dread it.

I stayed at home with my kids until my daughter was 3 and that was enough for me. I just couldn't put my own pursuits on hold any longer without serious resentment.

Now when I am home, I put my kids first because we don't have as much time together.

Isn't quality better than quantity anyways?