Wednesday, November 25, 2009


The daycare revolution is entirely unprecedented. For the first time in history, parents are choosing to have their children cared for by strangers. For the first time in history, parents are being told that commercialised care is and should be the norm for every child. Those who choose not to avail themselves of the childcare industry are perceived to be either religious extremists or shut-ins… or both.

We are reassured, over and over again, that childcare is good for children – socially, emotionally, educationally. We are told that one-on-one care does not afford a child the same wide table of benefits that a daycare centre can bestow. And we are told this, not by psychologists, child health experts or mothers, but by the industry itself who is trying to sell us its product.

In a clever marketing strategy, the childcare industry has made the humble stay-at-home-mother believe that what she gives her child on a daily basis does not stack up against what the local daycare centre offers her neighbours child.

What they fail to include in their advertising are the numerous studies conducted in the past decade which outline the many adverse effects of non-family based care.

Such harmful effects include increased risk of infectious diseases (1), lowered to non-existent one-on-one time with carer, (which lowers the chance of optimal brain development) (2) and increased incidence of disruptive behaviour in later years (3).

Internationally acclaimed psychologist and author, Steve Biddulph writes in his comprehensive book Raising Babies- Should Under 3s Go To Nursery that "Children at this age - under three - want one thing only: the individual care of their own special person. Even the best run nurseries cannot offer this."

This generation of children thrown into daycare centres en masse has become part of a hideous social experiment, which is proving to be nothing less than damaging for the child involved and his/her family life. Millions of parents have embraced the childcare revolution without any proof that it actually does a child good, and increasingly, in the face of comprehensive studies and reports which prove otherwise.

“Governments have failed to protect families from corporate pressures and many people can no longer afford to care for their own children," Biddulph continues. And he is right. A Government which rewards parents who thrust their children into corporate care by reimbursing them the cost, successfully strips children of their right to a full-time parent.

© Eva Whiteley 2009

(1) Ferson MJ. Control of infections in child care. Med J Aust 1994; 161: 615-618
(2) Australian Institute of Family Studies conference, February 12, 2003
(3) National Institute of Child Health and Human Development Study of Early Childcare and Youth Development, March 2007 (US)

Monday, November 16, 2009


Christmas after Christmas, parents fork out billions to support a booming toy industry, profiteering from little girls the world over.

The concept that Barbie dolls eulogize the unhealthy, unnaturally skinny (yet buxom) female, while Bratz dolls emulate the ever-offensive stereotypical tween, is apparently unfamiliar to most parents, as they pile their trolleys high with character beach towels, toys, clothing, underwear, shoes, school materials, cheap novelties and other stocking fillers for their daughters.

Holding pride of place on the shelves this year is a scantily clad collection of Bratz models whose knee-high boots, mini-skirts and midriffs give them away more as harlots than as children's play things.

Each Christmas there seems to be a greater array of character products than there were the year before, and each year the tween dolls are strewn in fewer clothes and display more cleavage than they did the year before.

These are not like the dolls of a 2 year old who carefully dresses, feeds and plays with her precious toys and whose playtime is actually a reflection of the reality in which she lives.

No, these dolls have no serious purpose, except perhaps for the manufacturer or creator whose bottom line is at stake. To the little girls who receive these dolls this Christmas, their use is totally unnecessary, perhaps even dangerous.

As Teresa Tomeo notes in her recent book on the media and modern culture, the incidence of breast augmentations on girls under the age of 18 has more than tripled in the past decade.(1)

Couple this with an unhealthy diet of ‘reality’ weight-loss programs and supermodel discovery chanels, and we have a lethal combination for creating materialistic, image-focussed, sexualized pre-teens.

(1) Tomeo, T. Noise 2007 Ascension Press, p. 106

© Eva Whiteley 2009

Monday, November 9, 2009

Nationally Offensive

Sex education dominated headlines again over the weekend as discussion began about a new Health and Physical Development National Curriculum, which is the third phase in a curriculum overhaul, set to begin in 2011 with new Maths, English, History and Science programs.

For the moment, the Government has promised “a strong consultation process” when it comes to implementing a national program for sex education, but has refused to hint at the program content, including how it will treat topics such as homosexuality, contraception and abortion.

Federal Education Minister, Julia Gillard, has promised the concerned private sector that they will be consulted before the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA) confirms any course content for national implementation.

The ACARA, a paid board of professors and educators, will determine age-appropriateness of certain topics and decide if parents will have the right to withdraw their children from the course if they disapprove of the content. The right of independent schools to completely withdraw from teaching the course does not appear to have been considered.

The NSW Teachers Federation maintains that sex education should reflect the needs of students, but how these needs are determined is uncertain.

How the ACARA will determine what is appropriate sex education content for my friend’s 10 year old is well beyond me.

© Eva Whiteley 2009

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

The Modern Mother

If the modern mother suffers from anything, it is from low self-esteem. It is from the false idea that what she does in the home and for her children can be replicated in a child-care facility by a paid child-care worker; that the work she is trained for outside of the home is somehow far more important and a role in which she cannot be replaced.

The modern mother suffers from low self-esteem because for decades now she has been told that wiping noses, changing nappies and cooking meals are menial tasks that can be accomplished by anybody and are of so little value as to be almost meaningless.

Terms like ‘working mother’ and ‘working family’ have become synonymous with daycare. And the phrase ‘stay-at-home-mum’ is, for many full-time mothers, an embarrassing label that insinuates long hours in front of the television watching soap operas while the newborn sleeps and the toddler draws.

In subsidising paid childcare, the Australian Government has succeeded in raising the status of the so-called ‘working mother’ and lowering the status of the woman who chooses to raise her own children. It has created a favourable environment for successfully transferring the rearing of millions of children from within a family-based care environment to outside the home in state-run facilities manned by young women with university degrees who stand behind locked gates.

And what a paradox! That the work a stay-at-home-mother does is menial, and yet her tasks cannot be replicated but by a graduate of tertiary education. This alone should boost the confidence of a full-time mother.

Perhaps there is a need (real or perceived) for mothers to work outside the home. If this is the case, then the Government has abandoned its most valuable citizens to the office, the checkout, the factory. It has failed to support the most important career a woman could choose and fails to ensure that full-time motherhood continues to be a real option for thousands of women.

© Eva Whiteley 2009