Parents vs State Intervention in Child-Rearing: Clarifying our Roles

January 4, 2006

Last month, Scott Reid, chief of communications for the Liberal Party, repeatedly insisted that parents would “blow” the $1200/year per child 0-5 promised by the Conservative Party on beer, popcorn and videos. Another aide supported him and threw in cars as another item parents would it spend on. Reid scrambled to apologize, saying the point was still valid but inappropriately expressed.

So what was the point Reid was making? His point was that parents cannot be trusted with control of child-rearing decisions. The state must now intervene aggressively in the family sphere. He is hardly alone in that view.

The real issue is that his comments clearly reflect a patronizing, state-interventionist view that is shared by all four parties in parliament.

Liberals, Conservatives, NDP and the Bloq all share the belief that parents do not deserve equity. Discrimination against parental care and parent-controlled care, and preferential funding for daycare centers—the least preferred option of all care forms—is a pillar of each of their platforms. Rewards and punishments are openly used to coerce parents into using the state-sanctioned choice.

Mr. Harper says he trusts parents. But he too plans huge financial awards for daycare construction. And he would maintain personal tax deductions for non-parental care.

They just don’t get it: The state has no place in the child care choices of the nation.

This is not to say the state should maintain its laissez faire approach to protecting families with dependent children and not intervene at all. In fact, we desperately need more state intervention to protect families with dependent children in the face of the corporate/technological assault on our emotional and physical well-being. The state must claim its proper place in helping families.

What is Needed

The government must insist that definitions of “child care” do not discriminate against any form of care.

“Work” is not currently defined by Stats Canada. Child rearing and related work done by parents must be included in definitions of work and productive activity. Currently this essential work is officially classified as “leisure” and “non-activity”.

All parties to affirm the validity of developmental science as essential to the formulation of family and child policy. Currently, the architects of daycare policy explicitly reject developmental science and attachment theory on ideological grounds. This is like health ministries rejecting germ theory on ideological grounds.

The government must terminate the other existing agreements with the provinces that provide preferential funding to daycare.

We need to eliminate tax-funding to the daycare lobby. In particular the SDC/HRDC-sponsored Child Care Resource and Research Unit at the U of T must be closed.

We need to sever ties with the social policy ideologues in the OECD and the World Bank. These are the power source behind the daycare agenda. One OECD conference was bluntly called “Putting More Women to Work”. The agenda is called “post-maternalism” and seeks to create a more “flexible” workforce for the global corporate economy by forcing more mothers into more time at jobs. This is to be accomplished by de-funding parental care (welfare, baby bonus, child benefits) and transferring funds to daycare. Daycare is intended to act as a subsidy to low wage McJobs for mums (“welfare in work”) in the global corporate economy.

The federal government must insist that provinces uphold Charter rights to equality before the law for parents, women as mothers, and all children.

The federal government must apply the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child which states that children have the right to be cared for by their parents, that the state must protect the family, and that the state will not discriminate against a child because of the parents’ beliefs.

Daycare business licensing requirements must reflect the findings of developmental science when it comes to ratios of staff to children. Ratios for infants should not exceed two babies per staff. At present one staff may care for 8 one year olds in Quebec.

However, government does have real regulatory responsibilities regarding children’s care.

Where the State can and Should Intervene to Improve Children’s Care

The government ought to leave parents to regulate their families, and get on with intervening where parents cannot. Complex international regulatory tasks have been downloaded and entrusted to parents at the same time as parents are told we cannot even adequately care for or feed our own children.

For one, regulating and eliminating TOXINS is the job of the state, not parents. MMT—called a “dangerous neurotoxin” by Chretien—is in gasoline here but is banned in California. Likewise for many toxins available to Canadian babies in their toys and environments but banned elsewhere.

Regulations controlling ADVERTISING targeting children need to be re-instated and expanded. These were dropped in 1981 by the “pro-family” Reagan administration, unleashing a multi-billion dollar psychological assault by Madison Avenue designed to create discontented greedy children who nag their parents to buy. Thanks.

Regulation of ARTIFICIAL INFANT FOOD companies is grossly inadequate. And the state needs to reduce disinformation by its own agencies regarding breastfeeding. The WHO recommends at least 2 years, not 6 months as reported by Stats Can.

The regulatory powers of the state would be well employed and go far to improving children’s well-being if aimed at better controlling CHILD PORNOGRAPHY, PEDOPHILES, and TRAFFICKING.

Maybe the kids could go out to play again. And they wouldn’t get fat and sick riding in the $1200 cars their parents buy, or eating popcorn and watching videos with their beer-swilling folks.

Helen Ward,
Kids First Parent Association of Canada

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