Thursday, February 15, 2007


UK Worst Place for Kids....

This story has distressed me for several reasons. It serves to remind me of why I have strong doubts about bringing children into this world for one thing. Living in a non child friendly country like Britain does not help.

Like most people I can only speculate on the reasons for it. The individualism of the 1980s with it's economic restructuring went a long way towards breaking down community ties and led to a greater degree of social atomisation, for one thing. The Scandinavian countries with their strong Welfare States seem not to have so much of a problem with their youth, and neither do countries where family ties remain strong.

Alongside this goes the long work hours culture of Britain. Most two parent families these days have little choice but for both parents to work, often full time, and this results in them not being able to spend as much time with their children as is ideally needed for their growth. The State is still trying to grasp an idea of flexible working hours and a family friendly workplace but much of it remains hot air. A rush to make profits now appears not to make for good investment in the future - children of course being the future.

It is little wonder that the birth rate is declining as the incentives for having children are highly neglible in the UK. But something will have to be done to reverse this trend if the government do not want to struggle with an ageing population with not enough people of working age to support them.

Aside from the obvious things which spring to mind such as flexible working, better welfare for poor families and children, accessible child care etc we could also do with treating our children as human beings in their own right, not as mere extensions of ourselves. A child friendly society recognises children's needs and accepts them as part of that society. We have a long way to go. The constant demonisation youth receive in the media is a big part of this problem.

5 comments:

QUASAR9 said...

"The Scandinavian countries with their strong Welfare States seem not to have so much of a problem with their youth, and neither do countries where family ties remain strong."

Interesting thing there is no perfect family and no perfect way to raise children, but
1) Raising them within a happy household is fundamental, the ideal household would be a loving couple
2) Scandinavian welfare, in Iceland they have extended marriage to the nth degree, where you literally have to check you are not marrying your half-sister, though of course generally the community is so small, you know whose parents are who, and who swapped wives and when ... very 'commune' like society.

Some societies (tribes at war) say it is selfish not to want to have children - other societies like China (for a while) preached having children was selfish

But really I think what most people should look at before their selfish desires, in a time of so many & diverse contraceptive methods 'freely' available, when one can 'choose' whether to have children or not - would perhaps be genetic screening - is the child likely to be healthy or not.

After that (and there are still no guarantees nature will not play a trick) at least you only need ensure they are properly nurtured and fed, with a sprinkling of love and a dash of discipline ...
then it is still up to the fates, will they fall off their bike and break their teeth, bust their knee or even break their kneck ...

Will they get the best grades or simply pass their exams, and then there is still fate - will thei bring you sadness will they bring you joy ...
will they be successful or will they fail, will they find fulfilling careers, or like 2/3 of people simply get on with the job to pay the bill - and what will mortgages be like in twenty years, never mind living in a shoestring will they be living in a shoebox

james higham said...

Liz, I'm not going to get all religious but it's staring us in the face - we've broken free of our moorings, as a society and now the consequences are accruing. there's no way out.

Gus Abraham said...

Get a life. You dont decide whether to have children because of policy. Be a human. Be a person. Be a woman. Stop hiding behind ideology.

Liz said...

Thanks, Quasar and James.

Gus, what are you implying? That it is somehow not human to have doubts about the necessity to breed? Indeed policy does not decide the issue, but it does come into it. Is it desirable to raise children in a society which is not child friendly and where families and children have a rough deal? Any fool can see I was not merely talking about myself but society in general. And I don't have an 'ideology' save for wishing the world to be a better place. People post on this blog who are from a variety of political backgrounds. My idea behind it was that it would not be constrained by any dogma but rather a reflection of my own ideas.

Ms Melancholy said...

Liz, I agree with most of this post and certainly that we need to value our children and pay attention to their emotional existence. I would like to say that I had very similar thoughts before having my son. He is now 11, has experienced his parent's break-up and has a step-dad, step-mum, and 2 step-sisters. He adores them all. He is a lovely, lovely boy. But we have always engaged with him as a small person (not a mini-adult)and have been mindful of our impact on his emotional development. (And I am not an over-liberal parent, either. I am very boundaried and treat him like the child that he is.) I have worked in inner cities teaching child development in socially excluded communities, and it has scared me, frankly. I think we have a genuine problem with our child-rearing practice in this country, and it genuinely worries me. We also have a crisis of how all of us meet our relational needs, seeking as we do to find fulfillment through consumption and material success. But you can do it differently. There is space for all of us to live how we choose - we just have to find a way of forging that space. Don't mean to sound so preachy! I loved this post.

And Gus - why so aggressive? Chill out....