Collective childrearing in a liberal society

This is a brief follow up to my last blog, People who need people. It took off a bit after being linked in a few places, and I’ve seen comment threads elsewhere that have misinterpreted it as advocating some sort of Gloriavale-style commune or something. Which, whoa, no! I usually write for a small audience of people who know me in real life or follow this blog closely, and read each piece in the context of two years’ worth of ramblings. In the recent piece, I didn’t discuss what collective childrearing might look like in a liberal society. It’s something I touched on in one of my earliest pieces, back here.  It’s an area that I’m kinda preoccupied with. It seems like the way we do things now is so punishing for at-home parents and it doesn’t need to be, it shouldn’t be this hard, what the hell.

I think the issue is best tackled by asking why caregiving is done so predominantly by so few.

Today the little dude shrugged off napping, second day in a row, and I’d been hanging out for the downtime of his nap after a bad night with bub, and I had no emotional reserves when he refused it. There was a gruelling patch in the mid afternoon when I so desperately wanted to be able to take a break – and when you’re alone with two littlies you can’t. Who ya gonna call? All my Wellington peeps work standard office hours. I was not my best parent self, I yelled at him when he hit the baby and I cried at one point and he anxiously said “no mummy cry!” and it was all a mess. When I clamour for a more collective model of care, I fantasise about a set up where there are drop-in childcare centres or a shorter working week… I dunno, the specifics aren’t the point, just SOMETHING that reflects a cultural expectation that other people in the community are there to help support parents.

And y’know, it’s fine, it was one rough day and whatever, tomorrow is a fresh start. But it seems to me that my yelling is on the same spectrum as someone else’s hitting a kid, and I know that I wouldn’t have yelled at the little dude if I hadn’t had a bad night then a whole day alone.

It’s just symptomatic of the whole problem that raising children is utterly invisible and unaccounted for, and I don’t think we can expect children to receive consistently good care when it’s not put foremost in policy development across the board.



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