Brett Hetherington

Banner photos: Cornelia Kraft

The Economic Crisis: A Perfect Time to Rethink Parenting

Has there ever been a better moment to rethink parenting than right now?

 

The global recession has given us a perfect opportunity to re-evaluate how we live our lives and the ways we bring up children. For those us who are still lucky enough to have paid work there are pressing new demands, such as the pressure to work harder and longer hours, or to make “sacrifices” in our conditions. For those of us who have had our earnings reduced or lost our jobs completely there are even more urgent concerns, including making enough money to pay the bills.

 

But this current economic crisis can also be used to also consider more than the financial constraints that parents have. Capitalism has clearly failed us but we must not fail our children. And we will be failing them if we give in to accepting that it is parents who must somehow ‘foot the bill’ for the greed and bad judgment of decision-makers in banks, money-markets and political backrooms across the developed world.

 

If, as full-time working parents, we agree to bear the burden of the world economic crisis by allowing ourselves to be bullied into giving more hours in the workplace and therefore reducing the time, energy and interest we have for our kids, it is they who will suffer. There is the real danger that if we make this mistake then the children that we claim as our own will in fact be little more than the victims of a global recession that was caused by nameless, faceless others.

 

Rather than increasingly busting our collective guts in the workplace, we must see use this present historical situation to consider making wholesale changes to our lives and turn our focus back to the home.

 

At least one parent in a household can be there for our young before they are of school age and then be there for them at the end of their school day when they are older. We must surely resist the external pressure (or the temptation) to let these vital roles be regularly done by ‘paid help.’

 

An unemployed parent is, amongst other things, a parent who automatically has more time for their children. Periods of time without paid work in my own life showed me this. No work means less money but it also means opportunities for greater involvement in the life of a son or daughter and should be seen as a blessing at least as much as a curse.

 

As I argue in the following chapters of this book, it is mothers and fathers who should be the most significant figures in children’s daily lives. And there are ways we can do this.