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By Karen De Coster
Something unfashionable became fashionable during the early 1980's, and I'm not talking about greed, junk bonds, or Ronald Reagan. But rather, this is something that is truly detestable, yet is a part of American culture every bit as much as Saturday morning cartoons or Sunday church. The fad that I speak of is child daycare.
Daycare, slowly evolving throughout the 70's, became the rage of the 80's as two-income households became the norm in middle-class America. After all, during this time we watched tax rates creep upward and personal responsibility creep downward, while Mom trotted off to work, and Dad came home from his job and changed diapers and vacuumed carpets.
These days, what we are witnessing is the first full generation of daycare kids having grown up. This is a generation clearly lacking in virtue, morals, discipline, and classical education. We complain about this all the time; of how young people today - in general -- are so disrespectful of adults and so culturally repulsive in their preferences, behavior and dress.
After all, what we observe is a generation full of baggy pants five sizes too big, frosted hair cut into bizarre twists, and body piercings, where kids, and not all of them so young, deform their faces and heads and private parts with two-dollar silver bits purchased in filthy backrooms. Tattoos, obnoxious and unfeminine, adorn our young women's bodies, making them look like backwater tramps straight out of long-term incarceration. The music they listen to, from Marilyn Manson to trash-rap, reveals that we have, indeed, raised a generation of humans that have little respect for the spirituality of life. The kids call this "individualism". I call it collective rubbish. What we now witness is daycare brats becoming adults.
I suppose parents thought little ill effect would come to their children as they dumped them, daily, into the hands of strangers, to be watched over, played with, and fed by these strangers at daycare centers that soon became substitute parents.
The picture of a typical daycare family is an absurd one: rising early, the house is bustling with stressed-out parents trying to get the children ready to be carted off, while they also grapple with their own preparations for work and the stress that already awaits them in their workplace. Amidst the stress of typical child antics in the morning, Mom is trying to clothe and feed everyone while she tries to clothe and feed herself for a power day at the office. Thinking about it, how much quality attention can the kids really get when Mom is wrapped up in preparing herself mentally for a long day at work or her meeting with the CFO?
The soccer Mom, as she is typically dubbed, speeds over to daycare, drops the kids off at 7am, and gets to the office by eight o'clock. Working until 6pm, Mom rips out of the office, having fallen behind in her work again today, but has no choice but to get to the daycare center to pick up the kids by 7pm, because Dad will be working late tonight. By the time she arrives home, the kids are restless, misbehaving, and it is 7:30 or so before Mom and the kids pile out of the Explorer and into the house.
Now, depending on the age of the kids and their bedtimes, Mom has approximately a couple of hours to spend with the kids. If dinner is prepared and cooked at home, then we can assume that most of that time is taken up doing just that, all at a frantic pace, because Mom is hungry and tired, Dad has just come home, and the kids are impatient.
Where, in all this commotion, can parents possibly find time to share themselves with their children? After cooking and eating? Or is that time taken up with housecleaning, fielding phone calls, maintaining the house, shopping, paying bills, and just plain getting one's bearings in order? And of course, this cycle repeats itself daily, as the children are left with what little time remains after all the necessary tasking is done.
These are horrible circumstances for any child to have to bear. Already, the kids experience stress and chaos as a normal part of their daily routine. Life's little enjoyments, like quiet-time and personal reflection are not even in the cards for kids growing up in this family disorder. And then, add to that the numerous planned activities like soccer, dance class, gymnastics, and hockey, and you have a family that is no longer the epitome of a family unit. Rather, they find themselves spread out, each covering his or her own individual activities, and coming together only under rare circumstances.
Now I know it is not always possible for a woman to stay home with the children, either because of economic circumstances or career choices. What I do know is that parents have choices to make regarding their children, choices that need to be made before bringing those children into the world. Parents are responsible for being attentive to their children, and raising them as best they can. They are responsible for providing them with the emotional and intellectual tools they will need to grow in the world. Only parents and close family can do that for a child, not the daycare centers.
At the daycare center, parents entrust their children to strangers; strangers that have provided them with a babysitting rate that was probably cheaper than the other daycare centers they visited upon. At these centers, young people who are paid low wages and who are, typically, poorly trained, usually provide the childcare. The childcare may be lax, it may be inattentive, or it may simply be abusive, but it may be difficult for parents to gauge the overall quality of the services.
In a typical daycare unit, there are numerous children with few supervisors. Whatever the laws for supervision may be, it is not sufficient to replace real parenting.
As a child, I placed a great premium on quiet-time and time spent alone indulging in my solo interests. Whether the order of the day was creating some new artwork or reading my books, or writing a story or listening to my records, it was something I found necessary for my peace of mind, and for the growth of my intellectual capabilities. After school, I remember running home as fast as I could and bursting into the house, heading straight for my room and all my little tasks that lay before me. It was as much fun planning those activities as it was doing them. I felt a sense of security and comfort, since I knew Mom was there, and therefore, everything was going to be all right. I ran home because I knew it was a place that I wanted to be. Now, kids don't run home to Mom anymore, because they have the latchkey stopover that comes between school and home. The security of Mom may come hours after school is over. And during the summer months, for me, it was a whole day of various things to do; things I wanted to do. Daycare kids have no summers at home. I never could have survived a moment as a daycare kid.
Can one who grew up like I did even imagine living the chaos of the daycare center life? Gaggles of kids, some screaming and some crying, some fighting and some sick, all letting loose in an atmosphere void of parents, control, or set discipline. Even saying there is a sense of discipline, where can a child get any peace, for instance, to read or write or study, or to develop artistic or musical talents?
There is no peace, for a daycare kid is trapped in a ritual of group games, group projects, and group trips. The activities are planned, as are lunchtime and nap time. Solo time, however, is not planned because it does not exist. A child is forced into this groupthink whether he likes it or not. He has no access to his own "things", his own comforts that he chooses, or his own hobbies. He's there to be babysat and to go along with the rest of the group on its little projects, no matter how uninteresting he may find them. And he is expected to do that for eight, ten, twelve hours a day, every day.
What happens to a high-IQ child who is squeezed into this environment daily, as his time revolves around activity after activity set around a group? How does the child become nurtured to use his God-given gifts? He doesn't, you can bet. In the groupthink atmosphere of childcare, the bright child is dumbed down to the lowest common denominator in the group, and he is not allowed to go off independent of the group and think as he might, do as he might, and create as he wants.
I know if I had grown up in this hellish environment, I may have been part of the whole body-piercing, tattooing thing out of a lack of respect for anyone, let alone myself. It's an awful environment to put kids in, and yet, expect them to come out of it behaving as respectable and civilized adults.
The daycare-oriented society, instead, nurtures fiends that hang in groups - at the malls, at the schools, in techno clubs, drug-and-sex parties, and in the streets. They look like bums, and they sniff glue and poisonous solvents to get their kicks. They take ecstasy to remove themselves from reality and listen to creep music to display their own unhappiness.
It's likely that this generation, and those to follow, can not nurture great scholars and thinkers like Lord Acton or Lysander Spooner. Besides the fact that the education system is a shambles, we adults cannot expect kids to grow unless we give them the time and space to do it. In the daycare environment into which parents thrust their children, there is no space and there is no opportunity for personal growth. There is only a low-paid babysitter who sticks you in the midst of the growth pattern of a dozen other kids. It's almost like raising kids has become akin to raising rabbits or hamsters.
We must stop to ask what has led people to make these decisions to treat their kids like that. What is it that has superceded the raising and nurturing of their children? The answer is, dependency on the Nanny State.
After all, the State has fostered a certain dependency upon the population; a dependency that finds people unwilling to be responsible for the education and nurturing of their own children. Parents have become so accepting of a routine that allows them to shove their children off to the free public school each day, they don't stop to think for a moment that any of it is really their responsibility. Along with that has come the government school's free-lunch programs, free breakfasts, after-school group activities to keep kids out of the parent's hair, and of course, latchkey. All of this serves to sway parents into thinking that the State is more able than the parents to provide for kids and their needs. Daycare, even if it is privatized business, came along as an extension of those attitudes.
Parents have simply got to take responsibility for the rearing of their own children, and they have got to be willing to sacrifice their own wants in order to do so. Their priorities need to shift from satellite dishes, two new cars, and houses full of electronics, to a more attentive environment in which kids can have their abilities nourished, and realize their intellectual potential.
Life isn't easy, and it surely is not made any easier by a parasitic government that robs every family of independence through criminal tax rates, redistribution schemes, and regulatory madness. However, when parents claim economic excuses for the lack of attention to their children, it is pointless. After all, parents aren't forced to have children. It's a decision that needs much forethought before the action is taken to bring babies into the world. The children are a priority that has to be put ahead of everything else.
Let's start raising our own children, whatever it takes. Keep them out of the hands of State educators and replacement parents. For God sakes, give them a chance to lead a fruitful life.
Karen De Coster is a politically incorrect CPA, and an MA student in economics at Walsh College in Michigan.
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