reports indicate something is not quite right in the child's adjustment between your own company and that of others. A child who feels secure within themselves and within their parental relationships (and yes, this is possible by the age of 2 or 3) will not behave in such ways.
If a minder is someone they see quite fre-quently, they begin to form a relationship with that person. The nature of this relationship can affect them in many ways. If we think of a childminder simply as that, a person to keep the child safe while we are away from them, then that is all the child and parent will gain - time away from each other. But if we consider the childminder as an intentional, or even accidental influence, on the child, then we should be choosing wisely those people to whom we entrust the development of our children. And here the parents should assess not just the "qualifications" of their childminder, but also their nature as well. Ask yourself, would you choose that minder as a close friend? Have you discussed with that minder how they would handle certain situations? Does that minder understand your wishes and ways of child raising - and would they observe those wishes in such situations?
This section, more that providing a critique of childminding options, is intended to focus upon the nature and quality of the relationships a child forms in his early life. However in examining the options, serious consideration must be given to the relationship arising out of those options. Childminding by those inside the family, is not so far removed from the motives and intentions of the parents. However, childminding by strangers - irrespective of their age, experience, empathy, training or qualifications - is of a different quality. A financial transaction infers there has been a transfer of responsibility, a commodification of upbringing, of parenting in a way. What lies within or without that area of responsibility is of much controversy. Which brings us to the sticky topic of professional childcare.
My views in this section tie in closely with those in Chapter 7 - "Outside Work, Part or Fulltime Mothercare" on page 511, where I discuss the thorny issue of mothers taking on paid work outside the home and how that impacts upon the early life of the child.
Presently in Australia approximately 30% of mothers work fulltime away from home and use childcare extensively, 40% work part time and many of those opt for hybrid (part paid, part familial) childcare. The remaining 30% are fulltime mothers who use childcare as a way of socialising
their children or for personal time-out.
It is my opinion that modern, institutionalised childcare is the antithesis of the naturalist approach to growing up. To me, the general acceptance of a variety of forms of paid childminding represents mass capitulation by women to the present social and capitalist forces which so undervalue the purposes and methods of fulltime motherhood. Childcare for working mothers is a subtle by-product of the masculini-sation of motherhood due in part to the early feminist focus on equalling and even bettering men at their usual tasks such as bread-winning. It is also a by-product of the over-attachment some women have formed to their intellectual personalities at a time when the biological call of nature and nurture should be more emotionally heeded. Paid childcare is merely a "logical" extension to the patriarchal academic, medical and workplace systems which consistently steer women from the beginnings of pregnancy towards doctor's appointments, clinics and tests, and the eventual obstetric "necessities". Beyond the birth of their babies, more checkups and professional assessments are required and then, as soon as possible - "Off you go, back into the workforce, but don't worry, we have plenty of professionals to look after and educate your baby in your absence". The whole subtext of this scenario is that motherhood, in all its phases and skills, can always be replaced by paid profession-als.
When I was a young child in the late 1960's, around 3 or 4 was considered a reasonable age for a child to begin 1 or 2 excursions a week for socialisation amongst their peers. At that time, pre-school education was only just beginning to become the norm and the minimum primary school entry age was 6 months on either side of the 5th birthday.
In the 1950's, there was no such thing as preschool, and the beginning of primary school (then called 1st Grade) was not allowed until 6. Younger than that was Kindergarten, which was optional. During this time and before, childcare was only an option for the seriously wealthy, who employed a live-in nanny.
Nowadays, preschools in some areas will accept children as young as 2 years old, as they sometimes have staff qualified in early childcare as well as in pre-school education. In respect of early daycare, it is now commonly accepted that by the age of 1 a child can "safely" be separated from his mother for regular, extended periods and that with "specialist" care a child of even 6 weeks can satisfactorily be minded for the usual