An Osbo for families…

Maybe George Osborne has a horrible family, but he certainly seems to be opposed to them, doing all he can to force parents out to work. Perhaps he’s got shares in a nursery? Certainly it’s the nurseries and childminders who are thriving on his watch. Want to stay at home and raise the kids while your partner works? Sorry, Osbo wants you out earning, so you’d better pay someone else to care for them. Lone parent? Osbo says you should pay someone else to fulfill your role. Which makes absolutely no sense at all. Children still need to be raised, so you’re still asking someone to take over that role. Why shouldn’t a parent who wants to fulfill that role do so? Why must everybody farm out their children to, let’s be blunt, second-rate substitutes? Study after study confirms what anyone with half a brain already knew – children need their parents in their early years. Couple that with reports into how paedophile paranoia is forcing nurseries to ban any form of comfort for children in their care and a generation is being raised in an environment devoid of love and nurturing.

From a full employment point of view, it makes no sense. Stay-at-home mums and single mothers who would have been funded by the state to look after their own children are, instead, funded by the state to pay someone else to look after their children. Because those other people, mostly women, are employed to look after children, there is no real change as they could have done the jobs that the mothers are doing. In fact, as many of the stay-at-home mums thrust into the workplace are likely to have qualifications, even if we assume (as unlikely as it is) that all the single mothers fit the stereotype of feckless losers that the government loves to paint, it is probable that they are taking jobs from men and women without family commitments. Why? They don’t want to work, that’s Osborne’s obsession! Why not get the unemployed into work first, then worry about whether anyone else should be working?

Nor does it make any sense from an equality standpoint, despite attempts to couch such policies in feminist rhetoric. For a start, as so often happens in such cases, it’s men telling women how to live, which is hardly the epitome of feminism. Yeah, all those stupid women who mistakenly thought they wanted to raise their own children and that doing so would be best for them need a man to set them straight on what they really want and what is really best for them! Then there is the fact that it is largely women who are employed to replace the (mainly) mothers in the raising of their children. Obviously predicated upon the old masculine nonsense that raising children and doing housework doesn’t count as ‘real’ work and the Capitalist notion that nothing is worth anything unless you paid for it, it makes no sense to shift the work from one woman to another and claim that somehow liberates womankind. If it’s okay for one woman to do the job for a paycheck, why is it somehow wrong for another to do the job out of love? (There’s also a horrible classist element to all this – middle class and wealthy women who don’t need to work are farming their children out to poor women who do in order to make themselves richer…)

Worst of all, when Osborne declares that choosing to remain at home to raise your children is a ‘lifestyle choice’ and does his darnedest to make those women change their minds, a smokescreen is created that conceals the fact that when a woman with a well-off or wealthy husband chooses to go back to work rather than raise her children she’s also making a lifestyle choice that is denied to those women married to poorly-paid or unemployed man and to the impoverished single mothers who are forced to work if they wish to attain a decent standard of living for their children. Rather than punish those families willing to sacrifice a little of their prosperity to do right by their children, why not do something to help those families currently without that option to be able to make the same decision?

It is time we had true equality, where women (and, indeed, men, who might be better placed in a relationship to be a stay-at-home dad) can make a personal choice about how to raise their children without being dictated to by government and preferably not even by circumstance. Different people have different views about raising children that will see them returning to part or full-time employment at different stages of their children’s lives. Society should be attempting to accommodate them in their decisions, not enforcing the prescriptive views of one section upon the whole.

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