OUTRAGE is found in all the wrong places these days. The BBC reported a story last week about a pregnant woman who was planning ahead when she rang her local nursery to arrange a place for her unborn child. Shock horror, baby will be almost two years old when mum is able to finally hand it over to the State since the nursery is fully booked until September 2025.
The scoop is this: the plan to expand government-funded childcare will create a rise in demand that cannot be met. As the founder of the endearingly-named organisation Pregnant Then Screwed points out, what originally looked like a positive development for parents will result in ‘incredibly long waiting lists and even more uncertainty’. She forgot to mention the babies but never mind.
BBC journalists use all the right buzzwords. Extra childcare will be better for the economy (because nobody has paid any attention to the fact that the tax part-time working mothers pay will not even begin to cover the cost of other people looking after their children – though Patricia Morgan set out this negative equation more than 30 years ago, and it still stands). But never mind because extra childcare is better for gender equality (because mothers really can have it all and there is never any tension between pursuing a career and raising a family). What’s more, childcare is already insufficient in deprived and rural areas (because mothers in deprived and rural areas are even more incompetent than other mums at looking after their own children and need to be able to outsource quick).
I wonder what has blinded us to the obvious fact that our government really does not care about our children at all? You might ask, to begin with, what the extraordinarily high number of abortions, paid for by taxpayers’ money and encouraged by state agencies, tells us about the government’s attitudes? In 2022 there were 605,479 live births in England and Wales but in the first six months alone there were 123,129 abortions. Should this not be of deep concern to any government with a moral compass? What does this say about a government that’s happy with a tax system so hostile to married families and responsible child rearing that, for so many, it feels as though the only financial and practical choice is to go down the abortion route?
If this does not convince you then think about this: Suella Braverman pointed out last week that the Prime Minister has not fulfilled promises about protecting biological sex in schools, safeguarding single-sex spaces or even being transparent to parents about what is being taught to their children. In other words, protecting children from the ‘child grooming’ sex educationist takeover of the school RSE curriculum exposed in Belinda Brown’s recent TCW series. If I were writing this 20 years ago it would sound like a farce.
Somewhere along the way we have completely forgotten the fact that children are a heritage from the Lord (Psalm 127:3). Babies are not a right that we may demand once there is an appropriate lull in our careers. They are a gift from the gracious hand of our Heavenly Father to be treasured, nurtured and enjoyed. God divinely instituted the family so that in the normal course of events, there is a father to ‘win the bread’ and a mother to nurture and raise the children. An ‘at-home’ mother means that a child is cared for by the woman who loves him or her most in the world. How could we possibly think the state can do better than that?
I know life isn’t simple. I know that there are many kind and caring nursery-workers who do a competent job of ensuring our children are safe and cared for. However tender they are, turnover rates are high and it cannot equate to a committed relationship. Gone are those precious months and years when mothers forge lifelong bonds with their little ones. I also know that there are mothers who find themselves in a situation where they feel that they are stuck between a rock and a hard place. I could weep for them. I am not trying to induce guilt where there is really no alternative.
What bothers me is the total absence of public anguish at the unnatural severing of the mother-child bond, though mothers and babies feel it painfully, but are made to feel guilty about acknowledging or expressing. Would it not make more sense to lobby the government to reform family taxation, replacing child credits with a neutral childcare tax allowance so families are not forced to outsource their childcare?
Apparently, this investment in childcare will be backed by £8billion a year once it is officially rolled out. Am I the only one asking whether we can have our eight billion back to give to young families direct?