[First let me extend apologies for erratic communication with those of you kind enough to leave comments. I am dancing a nightmare fandango with my broadband and my landline and not even I am brave enough to attempt blogging from a mobile. So I am scribbling this and scurrying off to the nearest coffee emporium. If you are reading this it meant I figured out the process J
Morag is currently working on a project about the proposed changes to our benefit system that would see parents on benefits being made to return to work when their children reach the age of 12. Needless to say there is a huge outcry from the ‘I have made this choice to stay home and take care of my child why should I be penalized for it’ contingent. Followed by the ‘What is the world coming to that society doesn’t care about our children’.
Where do I begin on this one……..
First of all I would suspect that the overwhelming majority of us would like to stay home and raise our children but unfortunately that is not possible for many of us. I happen to be one of those people who believe that you should stay home as long as is humanly possible. Do without the holidays, do without the fancy clothes, and do without whatever you need to do without to provide your child with that love and care that only you can provide in their formative years. I stayed at home until my son was in Year One. It was really difficult and an incredible sacrifice financially – but that is what having children is about – maximum reward for which all sacrifice should be considered minimum. Yes I do realise that many people do not have that choice but I will always argue the point that many parents nowadays just are not willing to give up their luxuries and sometimes that is what needs to happen.
People I have been speaking with in conjunction to this project are trotting the well-worn ‘It’s not worth my while to go to work’. When people say that I feel that proverbial red mist settling over me. Have people totally forgotten the concept of ‘an honest day’s work for an honest day’s pay’? Have we become so numbed by Big Brother contestants making millions for fumbling under duvets and footballers being paid £40,000 a week that we lose sight of a normal pay-packet. And living within the means provided by what is in that pay-packet. Can you imagine our grandparents saying ‘Well I can’t live on this so I’ll just stay home’. The shame that would be associated with that kind of behaviour would far outweigh any other consideration. Nowadays our idea of shame is not being able to send our child to school with the latest trainers on their feet and the latest gaming gadget in their pocket. On the weekends they must be in the newest football strip of their club or up at the high street shopping for England.
How did we become a society where so many feel the need to shower our offspring with ‘stuff’ to make up for the really important elements missing from many of their lives such as fathers and self-respect. And for heaven sake let’s not start blaming Maggie Thatcher again………not should we blame the current government. Kids are not in trouble because the government hasn’t given them enough youth centres (see my last posting) – a lot of kids are in trouble because we’re not giving them enough attention. Not the government – it is not their responsibility – us. When you speak with a lot of these parents who complain that they don’t want to go to work so they can spend time with their children you find that they may be present but they are certainly not accounted for. In other words they may be in the house when the child is there but the quality of the time spent is non-existent because they aren’t focussing on the child in the way that most working parents make an effort to because we know our time is limited.
Then there is the matter of setting an example. What does it teach your child when they hear you saying ‘It doesn’t really make sense for me to go to work I’d make more money staying home’. How do they develop a work ethic if that is the sort of example you are setting?
Yes people need help and support. But they also need to learn to help themselves. One of the people I am ‘conversing’ with is an unemployed mother of 4 who is horrified at the thought that she might be made to go to work. ‘I have made the choice to stay home and raise my children and it is society’s responsibility to help me do it’…………then she continued with the logic that she is ‘raising better individuals to strengthen society’ well I’m afraid that’s not what the figures are saying. I have yet to see evidence that single mothers with multiple children who stay home and collect benefits are raising an uber-class of citizens.
And I am saddened by this. I am not totally without heart. But I think it is time for us to insist as a society that if people don’t want to participate in the process of a productive life then they will have to deal with the consequences. Of course we do not want to see children suffering so we have to come up with a way to see that does not happy. And yes there will be help for those really need it but not for those who just want it – heck when I drag myself out of bed in the mornings and go off to do an honest day’s I think how badly I would want it. But then I remember my how disappointed my grandmother would be if I held out my palm, without needing to and my feet hit the floor.