Google+ Bree Bronson's Babies: Luxury or neglecting the kid?

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Luxury or neglecting the kid?

I mentioned on the Facebook page lately how Son thought I'd lost Daughter when I turned up alone to pick him up from daycare. I must remind him of this sometime many years later. Daycare for small children has been a huge discussion in Finland for a long time already. Some people speak for daycare in kindergarten, some for taking care of the kids at home. Everyone seems to have equally one-eyed arguments and I'm dead tired of the conversation. Kids and families are different, and I just wish someone would realize that there are different needs as well.

I hated going to daycare when I was a kid. It was horrible, and I don't even know exactly why. I didn't have any friends. I still have very few. I had a feeling all the time that I was in a wrong place or in someone's way. Probably I was just the odd girl who wouldn't adapt. I guess I still am.

When Son was born I had my own experiences about daycare in mind and decided to keep him at home. However, as about 2,5 years old he started to seem bored at home and wanted to play with other kids. Daughter was just a baby, she didn't qualify as good company. So we decided to put Son in daycare for half-time. Now he spends his mornings in daycare and has a blast. For Son the benefits have been obvious. He's started to speak fluent Swedish (it's a Swedish-speaking group), he's learned to play with other kids, he's learned to function in a group and knows nowadays a bunch of songs and other stuff I'd have never thought of learning him. I'm surprised. Because, although I really needed help with the everyday life, I somehow felt guilty. I still notice I'm quite keen on defending my decision if someone's asking about it.

I notice also that I'm talking about my decisions like this wouldn't have anything with Husband to do. Well, he has let me understand that he wants to have the kids at home. So that I take care of them, not him of course. Between the lines he lets me know that I'm not doing my job if I can't manage to take care of the kids and our home by myself.

No matter what, I've decided that I hereby don't give a rats ass about what Husband thinks I should or shouldn't do about the kids' daycare. I think Husband doesn't even try to understand my point of view and my situation. That's why I applied yesterday for full-time daycare for both Son and Daughter.

Let's see how this works out. At the end I just want to remain sane. And I might again have soon a baby to take care of. By myself.


  1. To put this a bit bluntly: if your husband has zero interest in taking care of the kids, then why should he get to have the last word on whether they're at home or in daycare? I know that in reality it is not as simple as that but he does have a chance to pitch in on taking care of the kids at home if he wanted to, right? If he does, then this seems like a case of "if you want something, but don't want to work to make it happen, then shut up". You know, like if you don't vote in elections, then you've sort of lost your right to complain ;)

    Frankly, if having the kids at home would truly be a priority for him, then he'd step up already and do something to help make that happen. Right now it sounds like he's just going "but I wannnaaaaaaa..." in that whiny cranky three-year-old voice and expecting it to magically change the circumstances. Sorry if I come across as a bit harsh, but I've been with a man like that myself, and what it boils down to is that he has a truck-load of demands and a total inability to see how HIS own behaviour is making the things HE demands completely impossible within the known universe.

    1. I think you nailed it quite exactly - I had a blast reading your comment because I often feel like I had two 3-year olds in the house. :D

      Husband wants to have the last word on *everything* (is it a masculine thing or is he just being an egocentric jackass?) and most of our arguments happen when I don't let him to. I've done a big job "marking my territory" so he would let me decide things that are my responsibility. Because what I think in a nutshell: power and responsibility should always go hand in hand. Like you said it's not so simple in real life; I didn't have the kids Virgin Mary style and Husband provides for them too. But since I have the major everyday responsibility and a baby on the way I took the liberty to decide. Husband gave me an icy "a-hm" when I announced what I was doing on the computer sending the applications.

      I totally agree that if the kids would be a priority for Husband he'd step up and do something. The funny thing I find is that in his own words (maybe in his head too?) he gives *everything* to the family. He keeps complaining how he has no time for his friends or hobbies (like I would be somehow better off). Still he can never be expected at home before 8 PM from work. He has even said that he wants to become a stay-at-home dad. When I was excited and started to develop the thought he backed and stated that it wouldn't probably work out because of his work.

      Work is number one priority for Husband and he works *way* too much. I'm devastated to realize again and again how far behind we come with the kids. One demand loaded in his truck is that I should do the same amount of work he does. I refuse and it pisses him off. Exactly like you said: he doesn't realize that changing his own behavior would make a difference. Or he doesn't want to - sad but true.

      P.S. I also make sure I vote so I can keep complaining! ;)

    2. Very recently I saw an interview of a psychologist, who is a specialist in children and family relations. He said that a lot of men who have small children and who work very long hours are honestly convinced that this way they are giving their children the best thing that they possibly could give by making as much money as possible to provide for them. But he also said that this is a delusion, as there are no circumstances under which the children would be able to see things the same way.

      So what happens is that the father becomes bitter as he's doing his best and no one appreciates it and the children become bitter because all they can see is that their father (who has a choice) chooses to spend all of his time at work instead of being with his kids. Somehow the father should be brought to realise that the money is not what his children need or care about. They need a father who knows them and shows that he likes them.

      Think about all those men who had small children in the 50's and 60's. How many of them spent all their time at the office to provide for their families? And sure enough, many of them took very good care of their wives and children financially. But do the children call now that they are grown? So many people of my parents' generation have absolutely nothing to say to their fathers, because they have never had the chance to talk about anything or do anything together. It's like they are complete strangers. Would it be possible to ask your husband if he is prepared for that eventuality? That he would not be much more to his children than a dear relative who they have to visit because he's close family, but to whom they have nothing to say to.

      -The same anonymous

    3. That is really interesting, thank you! I didn't know that someone has actually studied this although I know many other moms who struggle with the same dilemma as well.

      I've been under the impression that Husband genuinely somehow thinks he is doing the best thing by working long hours. Although I also sense that he's much more comfortable at work than at home with the kids. (Example: He's working from home today, he has an office here. He chose to eat lunch while I was picking up Son from daycare with Daughter instead of eating with us.) I've noticed that he often shows up in the evening so that he doesn't have to participate in the daily routines - which is sad.

      We've had discussions about Husband's work and I've pointed out to him that he doesn't have to work around the clock to provide for us. I've also told him that my preference is to have him around and participate in our everyday life rather than having more money. I think he disagrees with me, he likes spending money on electronic toys so it's for his own benefit for the most. Also, like me, he hates cooking and cleaning so why be at home when he can play hero and be at the office instead?

      Husband is, like you described, absolutely bitter about "no-one appreciating his efforts". I don't think it has ever crossed his mind that the kids may later on in life consider him as a stranger because of his choices today. The kids are small now, they're just overly happy when Husband shows up at last in the evening so it's not visible yet. But I see the phenomenon you described in our house as well: Husband's reality is very different to mine and the kids'. I must try to make him realize this somehow.

    4. I guess the true problem is that the father not being present very much will only dawn on the kids much much later. So when they are very young, they don't mind it so much, because they don't yet think of it in terms of "could daddy be here if he wanted to". When they're old enough to realise that he actually had a choice, they will resent it all the more, because it will have gone on for several years by then.

      The children can learn to understand their father's thinking once they have grown up (this happened to myself too), but the feeling of not knowing you own father is quite hard to shake. And if it turns out (as it has in my own case) that the child and the father -as adults- have very few things in common, where do you even start building a relationship?

      Sorry for being so negative here, of course it is not at all obvious that any kind of estrangement will happen between your husband and the children. This is just something that I myself have become very aware of when thinking about raising children.

      -still the same anonymous

    5. You're right, I'm wondering about the same issues as well. And I sort of think that he should take the initiative of making it home earlier from work himself rather than me nagging about it.

      I do worry a bit what the kids will think of this long term but I've been actually more worried about the example Husband sets by always putting work as the first priority. He's learned this mindset from his own father and I'm afraid that he will contamine it further to our kids. I wouldn't like to see that happening.

      What makes me feel a bit better is that Husband is often great with the kids when he's around. Other times he's so tired from work that it would be better for everyone if he stayed there overnight.


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