Thursday, June 18, 2009

What?! A Child Needs A Stay-At-Home Parent?! Apologize This Instant!

It sounds crazy, but that's the way the Alberta Liberals have reacted to a suggestion by the provincial Finance Minister Iris Evans that it takes a stay-at-home parent to raise children properly. They want her to apologize for committing such an appalling act of crime-think and, if Iris Evans refuses to repent, they believe, the Premier should fire her.

No, I'm not making this up:
"If she really said these things, she must apologize. If she doesn't apologize, the premier must fire her," David Swann said in a statement Wednesday. "These are truly outrageous claims. I have never been as stunned by the sheer arrogance and ignorance of the Tories as I am today.
Hmmm... let me remind you that this is the same provincial political party that fiercely opposed an amendment to the Alberta Human Rights Act that enshrined the rights of parents to have their children exempted from controversial curriculum. Apparently they believe that allowing parents to scrutiny the values taught to their kids at school is also not the way to properly raise children. If so then what is their recipe for success? Apparently - it's something similar to the one that's being promoted by their Ontario colleagues:
A new plan for Ontario could see kindergarten students in school from 7:30am until 6pm.

The full day of child care is better for both children and their families, a government report suggests.

Premier Dalton McGuinty commissioned Charles Pascal to conduct the two-year study back in 2007. At the time, it was expected to cost $500 million.
Now, let's think about it: if a child stays at school from 7:30 to 6 - how much time does he get to spend with his parents and siblings on an average weekday? 3-4 hours, 5 at most. Should we wonder that so many children put their classmates and even their teachers ahead of their parents?

Locking up children in public schools could be a great option for the Liberals of all stripes, who want to indoctrinate the young generation into their utopian views. But when it comes to the families' and children's best interest - I believe Iris Evans is absolutely right: Children are better off when one of the parents stays home to take care of them.

As for the income - guess what - even nowadays it's still possible for families to live on just one income. It's just a matter of setting priorities: What's more important - luxurious lifestyle or your relationship with your children?


The Rational Number said...

I don't think it's ridiculous to ask for an apology. And I'm glad she did apologize on Thursday.

My wife and I both work, and sent our 3 kids to a daycare (not a babysitter). My wife is franco-Ontarian and wanted the kids to learn french as their first language. When we lived in Ottawa they had plenty of french, but here there's little. The daycare was 100% french and provided great exposure. My kids are now fully bilingual. I believe they learned more french than they would've at home, but I'll never be sure.

Also they learned social skills to get along with other kids. When they entered school they had no problems, they'd already been used to the routine for 2-3 years.

But I'm not suggesting you be forced to send your kids to daycare, or that you be forced to raise your kids in the manner I choose.

Indeed, you support parents that would optionally like to exempt their children from controversial curriculum. But you stopped short of suggesting all children be exempted from curriculum you consider controversial. Why? Do you believe parents have a choice over what they consider controversial? I expect so.

What I object to is Minister Evans' assertion that there is no choice, simply one right way - hers. A simple statement with no qualifiers, which would indict my own case of french daycare. She simply states my choice is not proper, and she doesn't treat the matter as opinion but as a fact.

And she offered no proof, facts, or even any evidence that there is only 1 proper way to raise children. Ms. Evans has education in nursing and worked as a school board trustee; neither of these is sufficient qualifications to render final judgment on a single solution.

So when she asserts that my decision to use daycare is not proper, I disagree.

Further, what must she think of the evil agents which run this enterprise, the daycare workers? They're enabling a choice which is improper, which insinuates (indirectly) they're a drag on society.

She must've changed her mind in issuing her apology. I hope.

Leonard said...

Well, she did say that her statement wasn't against daycare, but about what she believes is the proper way to raise children. And I don't think she should have apologized for merely expressing her beliefs.

Especially - with so many politicians supporting some sort of taxpayer-subsidized daycare, not to mention the tax penalty for single-income families (speaking about not being forced to raise children in the manner someone else chooses) - it's about time for someone to say it loud and clear that kids are still better off with parents than in a daycare.

P.S. The voters at the online poll seem to agree with Iris Evans.

The Rational Number said...

What she believes must be handled differently than what you or I believe. We're not in a position to directly influence or vote on legislation; she is. This is the same principle you'd apply when tendering public contracts vs. how I hire a contractor to fix my roof. What you and I do affect us (families, etc.); what she does potentially affects us all. Well, if we both lived in AB, but my point is valid.

I think it depends on both the parents and the daycare in question, as well as the children themselves, whether children are better off at daycare or at home. In some cases yes, in others perhaps not.

Specifically, I think my kids learned more french at daycare than I could teach them - I'm an anglophone. Because they played with other children speaking only in french, I think they learned french more naturally and organically than they could at home or by simply hiring a tutor.

Having sent my kids to daycare, I don't feel they missed much at home. I still read to them every night, some in english, some in the french I can manage. My wife helps them with language home, I help with math.

I grew up in a very conservative, rural riding in NS. I'm glad my kids see their mother has a good career. I think it gives them the confidence to know they could pursue a career if they choose.

I would regret if their choice were limited, especially by an elected government.

Leonard said...

>>What she believes must be handled differently than what you or I believe. We're not in a position to directly influence or vote on legislation; she is.<<
So, should let's say an NDP politician refrain from expressing his opposition to corporate tax cuts - just because he is in a position to directly influence or vote on legislation? I don't think so.

After all - that's why he became an NDP candidate - because he had those views. And that's why he got elected as NDP MP - because the plurality of voters in the riding supported his views and expected him to do just that - act on those views when it comes to influencing or voting on legislation.

Or - let's look at the Green party. None of their candidates have been elected so far, but a handful of them actually came quite close. Supposedly, one of them does get elected - could you imagine him (or her) apologizing for having said that the proper way to travel is not by SUV, but by public transit? Of course not; otherwise - why would they become Green party candidates? You don't like their views - don't vote for them, it's as simple as that.

So, is there any reason why the same principle shouldn't apply to the other end of the political spectrum? Why is it ok for a Liberal or an NDP politician to express his opinion that kids are better of in a daycare, but when a Conservative politician says that kids are better off with a stay at home parent - the opposition demands an immediate apology?

Too bad Ms. Evans chose to give in to those bullies instead of defending her opinion. I don't believe that elected members should have their freedom of speech restricted to only "politically correct" opinions.

The Rational Number said...

OK, now this is getting interesting. Thanks for the discussion (no sarcasm intended, just to be explicit).

I think what the NDP (Green, etc.) politician says must be interpreted more carefully than what you or I debate on your blog especially if he's in a position to influence legislation. What he says would more likely to be interpreted as his party's position - or the gov't position in in NS. What you or I say would not. Ms. Evans is a minister in the AB gov't, she speaks with that authority.

The NDP position on tax cuts would affect investment decisions and indirectly employment opportunity; same for the Green.

In fact, I think Obama expresses support for mass transit right now, advocating it over SUVs (and he loves GM SUVs so much, he bought the company! lol). But I don't think (I'm not certain) he says anything about the morality (or lack) of SUV drivers. He wants to offer a more compelling alternative. Indeed, he legislated a fuel economy requirement against car companies, and I think the standards apply to a fleet in general rather than singling out SUVs.

That NDP politician would likely influence legislation in favour of his party's platform, as would the Green, Liberal, Conservative or BQ, etc. But you can't depend on the tyranny of the majority as your weapon to eliminate freedom of choice - that a majority (or minority, federally) voted for you. A parliamentary system must protect the minority while at the same time respecting the majority. That's part of the role of our constitution and our supreme court: to prevent parliament from making laws that aren't fair to minorities simply because a majority of people want it.

I expect it would be unconstitutional to force you to send your kids to a public school or daycare, even if, say, a Liberal majority legislated that.

I think you're correct that the same principle should apply to the other end of the political spectrum. If a left wing politician said the proper way to raise kids was in a daycare, that would be offensive to stay-at-home parents, and I'd feel that same way that an apology was expected.

Ms. Evans must respect freedom of choice so that you can raise your kids at home, I can send mine to daycare, and we aren't both forced into one choice or the other. And as an elected official she must respect both our choices.

Leonard said...

>>If a left wing politician said the proper way to raise kids was in a daycare, that would be offensive to stay-at-home parents, and I'd feel that same way that an apology was expected.<<

I guess we have a different understanding of what's offensive. I don't see anything offensive in saying "the proper way to do things is...". For me it sounds more like expression of opinion rather than implication that "I'm the smart guy who knows what's right and you guys are morons because you do things the wrong way". So, as long as Ms. Evans doesn't resort to name calling or stereotyping or any other pejorative language - I believe it's her freedom of speech to say what she said. Especially since she did reiterate that her speech is not against day-cares, it's just about what she believes is right.

If this was a question of authority - then all the complaints would be directed to the Premier: "Is that the position of Alberta government from now on or is this just her own private opinion?" And the retraction or apology should have focused on that issue: "This is my personal opinion, I'm not planning to ban day-cares and I'm not even planning to legislate preferential tax treatment for stay-at-home parents."

But the emphasis was on insulting working parents - and as I said before - I hardly see how could this be an insult. To me this whole commotion looks more like "are you saying that women are only good to be stay-at-home mothers?! Are you?!" rather than "are you saying that working parents tend to neglect their children?!", let alone "are you planning to ban (or defund) day-cares?!"

As for the tyranny of the majority (or - in Canada's case - tyranny of the 40% plurality) - that's what the constitution is for. That's what the courts are for. That's why every bill gets to be studied by a suitable committee before the final voting...

So we have ways to ensure that nobody is forcing his choices on others. Not sure if we have enough protection; (for example if the government legislates to extend compulsory education to 3 year-olds, thus making day-cares mandatory, the courts are quite likely to uphold the decision, arguing that early education is good for the child.) But I doubt that imposing some sort of self-censorship is the way to strengthen those protections against the tyranny of the majority. Somehow I believe it would do just the opposite.