Family Matters


Cheap Day-Care: The Devaluation of Parenthood

by Chris Beneteau


As a candidate in the recent provincial election, I had the opportunity to participate in a number of all-candidates meetings. Unfortunately, most of the issues were agenda-driven and every effort was made to avoid the more controversial moral issues such as abortion and homosexual marriage. Besides the usual spending promises, the NDP candidate discussed how her party would implement a ten-dollar per day day-care program. This promise caught my attention because a few days earlier the media reported about a day-care workers' strike in Quebec.

Quebec, as our readers may or may not know, has a five-dollar per day day-care system. Although it is often touted as a major success, the facts prove otherwise. Outside of the devastating impact on children, the system has become so costly, that the Quebec government has had to withdraw funds from the Quebec pension plan in order to keep the system afloat. While this fact is certainly scandalous in its own right, it pales in comparison to the message that it sends about the importance of parenthood.

For the sake of argument, let’s assume that all of the day-care centers in Quebec could house sixteen children. Sixteen children times five dollars is eighty dollars. If each child had two parents, there would be thirty-two parents in each program. Next, if you take eighty dollars and divide it by thirty-two parents, you get two dollars and fifty cents. In essence, the day-care industry in Quebec is saying that parenthood is worth a couple of bucks and some change. The message here is that parenthood is something that you can put a price on. It is the commodification of parenthood taken to its extreme.

It is not my intent to bash day-care. Some parents truly do need day-care programs in order to work and make ends meet. These parents, however, are clearly in the minority. In my opinion, there is no excuse for middle class or wealthy, dual income couples to put their children in day-care centres.

I make a modest living and my wife is a stay-at-home mom. We have five children and we are regularly asked just how we are able to make ends meet. What I usually tell people is that children are born with a loaf of bread under their arms. Our Lord himself said that He would provide for us. We must depend on providence and trust that God will give us what we truly need (Cf. Lk. 12: 22-32).

My wife was a preschool teacher for the first two years of our marriage. She worked for a very professionally run day-care program that could accommodate a maximum of sixteen children. I can remember with vivid detail the stories that she used to tell about the damage done to children who attended her day-care. For example, a number of children would cling to the legs of their parents while crying and begging not to be dropped off. After a few weeks, these children would develop a hardness of heart as a result of the stress associated with the separation and feelings of abandonment. Parents would report that on weekends their children would say things such as, "I miss Lindy" (my wife’s name is Melinda). Other parents would report that their children actually dreamt about the caregivers. The saddest of all were the children who waited by the window with long, sad faces for their parents to pick them up at 6:30 pm and beyond. This becomes even more tragic when you consider the fact that most of these parents were doctors, lawyers and other professionals.

As I watched the day-care workers in Quebec picket and chant slogans in front of their workplaces, I couldn’t help but think just how lucky some of the kids were that day. Alternative arrangements would certainly be made for some, but for others the day would mean something else - a chance to spend it in the company of mom, dad or even both parents.

How did it come to this? How did our country come to de-value parenthood? I would argue that this has been the goal of the state for a number of years. Communist dictatorships have always known that they must destroy the family and all of its traditions in order to secure allegiance to the state. In the academy award winning film, The Killing Fields, there is a scene where the North Vietnamese are indoctrinating the Cambodians in one of their concentration camps. Children are shown attending a school. There is a "stick drawing" on the blackboard of a family holding hands. The teacher asks a question and one of the children raises his hand. The child then gets up, goes to the blackboard and proceeds to draw a big X through the mother and father. The communists understood that the younger the Cambodian, the greater the chance of indoctrination.

In the formative years, children have no baggage and they have not yet developed a value-system or a properly formed conscience. It is the parents who are primarily responsible for this formation process. Christian parents must begin to instill a sense of the sacred and divine at this age or else risk losing their children to the dominant post-Christian culture. Even parents who are able to do this still must compete with the dominant culture that is at war with traditional Christian morality. Although the deck seems to be stacked against Christian parents, there is at least hope within the family.

Obviously Canada is not a communist dictatorship, but it would seem that we are heading in this direction. Those in our government who would seek to undermine the family would never be upfront about it because Canadians would never tolerate it. Incrementalism is the modus operandi of those who seek to re-define the family unit. Like the frog that is being cooked to death slowly on low heat, we Canadians have been willing to accept minor encroachments on our freedom during these past forty years. As the readers know, there are many groups that are actively trying to dismantle the very definition of family.

Make no mistake about it, the Canadian government realizes that he who controls education controls the future of any society. Why do you think that the current provincial government seems so hostile to home-schools and private education? They know that the faith and values that so many of these families hold dear are passed on within the family. Secular humanism and moral relativism, which are the pillars of most public education, are undermined within the alternative systems. I would argue that the Catholic secondary system lost something when it decided to accept government funding. They inadvertently opened the door enough for the State to water down the Faith.

After being deprogrammed and then reprogrammed, the children in the concentration camps developed a resentment and hostility towards their parents as a result of being isolated and alienated from them. Many of the children were then given the authority to ‘rule’ over their parents. Faced with the trauma of daily separation and the competition for the attention of the day-care workers, children will most certainly rebel against those who should be raising them – mom and dad. Recent studies have found heightened levels of aggression in children who have attended day-care compared to those who have been raised at home. What the North Vietnamese did by force, too many Canadian parents are doing the same thing by choice, the consequences of which will resonate for generations.

Chris Beneteau
The Catholic Legate
October 16, 2003