This may cause a little debate but please I understand I respect and I am fully aware of the range of parenting techniques and as long as you’re not abusive towards your children and are trying to do right by them, then there is no way to actively ‘bad parent’. However, I believe there are two types of caregivers in the world when it comes to children. Parental Caregivers are those that have or had children, they have raised a family or sadly suffered a tragic loss, they have carried a baby inside them or gone through the adoption or foster care process. They have become parents in whichever way they did. Non-Parental Caregivers are those that help parents, they are the nannies, the nursery and pre-school staff, the childminders – some have had children, but they would be parental caregivers. I am talking about those that have chosen a career in childcare but do not, for whatever reason be it age, lifestyle choice or experience, have their own children – and that is NOT A BAD THING! But there is a distinctive difference between those of us that are parents and those of us that are caregivers. I want to try and explain the differences and the best way I could think of was to try and display it in the form of a job advert.
WANTED – NEEDED – PARENT.
Male or Female of legal age to raise a child either adoptive, foster or through conception. If female must be willing to provide nine extra months before you physically meet your child – duties may include not being able to eat/drink what you want, difficulty in walking, pregnancy related conditions such as SPD, gestational diabetes, an average of 12 hours of labour. Adoptive parents must be willing to accept that even after the choice, paperwork and everything else process, the mother may change her mind when she meets her baby, foster parents must be willing to accept children from a variety of backgrounds and behaviours.
This is a lifetime contract. Very little time off, holidays or weekend lay ins. You will be on demand 24/7 unless you personally enlist and pay for help. There will be minimal financial help if you chose not to work as well as raising your children, and if you chose to single parent and accept benefits you will have to accept the stigma that comes with it.
Benefits: You will be able to share your life and watch something so tiny grow into something with such imagination. You will swell with pride at the new things they do and learn. You may fight, but you will have someone to love unconditionally. You have a chance to provide someone with the things you did not have.
WANTED/NEEDED – CHILDCARE PROVIDER. (A NON-PARENT)
Male of Female with experience in the early years development or looking after children of a variety of ages. Paid work, can be up to 50 hours per week. Usually needed between 8am-6pm. Needs to be trustworthy and have relevant qualifications so that you understand the needs of the average child and be able to shape those to fit all types of children. Must be willing to change nappies, deal with tantrums, provide food for the child. Must create a fun learning environment for the children. Must make sure no child’s needs are ignored.
Benefits – Holidays, probably up to 28 days from employers. Time off during the evenings and weekends. You HAVE and GET to give the child back. No worrying about child’s future when you are no longer their caregiver, no need for family financial worries, you can ask for help from parents whenever you need it. You can quit.
It is my understanding that without childcare providers some of us wouldn’t be able to work and I have come across both ones with and without children who are brilliant at looking after my daughter during the times I can’t or, now, need to work. They have chosen a challenging career path and I am so grateful to the ones I have met BUT at the end of the day or week, when they are no longer on call, that is it for them. For us, as parents, there’s very little time off. I am lucky that my daughter regularly see’s her dad and so every other weekend I get a little time to myself and as I only have the one child at the moment it means during those two days my boyfriend and I get to do whatever we want as I know my daughter is safe with her grandparents (- as they look after her more, but that’s completely another story for another frustrating day) So please understand I am not criticising childcare providers who don’t have children. They can look at things more objectively because they get time off, because they are better rested and not on call and if it wasn’t for my nursery then I wouldn’t even be able to work, really.
As a parent there is one thing that we do that childcare providers don’t do as much. They don’t have to worry. They don’t have to face the hardships of pregnancy with your child, and the increasingly dreadful thought that the life you are carrying inside might not make it the whole way through – I don’t know about other mothers but that was always on my mind through my pregnancy. I was so careful and didn’t eat certain foods because I didn’t want to risk harming my child before I’d even met her. Some may worry that they are not good parents because of how their labour went – I know I worried about it because I thought I would be seen as a failure because I had an emergency C-Section, because I couldn’t naturally bring my daughter into the world without assistance, I thought “If I can’t even give birth, then how am I ever going to be a good enough parent?” Then, as a parent you worry that your child is under developing or have to face smug mothers who describe, boast and brag about how their child is developing quicker than yours because they have to have the better lifestyle than you do.
And the biggest worry, that no childcare provider WILL EVER no the heartbreak of is SIDS. Obviously a very sensitive topic but until you have had to watch your baby breathe whilst they sleep because they might just forget to, until every waking moment of a nap fills you with a mix of emotions because you are so happy your child is still alive yet you’re so sleep deprived and overwhelmed from bringing a baby into this world, until you have had to do these things and worry about these things then you will never really truly understand what being a parent is all about. Sudden Infant Death Syndrome is a heartbreaking and tragic topic that some parents have had forced upon them, and if this is something that has affected you then I am so, so sorry that you or your family have experienced this because no parent should ever have to. A charity I have followed since they started, Olly’s Rainbow, are trying to help raise awareness and fundraising for more research to be put into this condition because the hardest thing a parent has to deal with is there is no answer to why? If you are suffering because of this please do not feel alone, please seek out these charities as they have mothers and parents that have experienced the same tragic loss and they can help, support is always better than fighting something alone. I can only imagine how hard that loss might be for you, because I have thought “What If…” and each time those thoughts come to my mind I burst into tears for the fact that I am so grateful to have my child, where someone else does not, and I am sorry for this. Time is supposed to be a healer, things might not get better right away, but each and every day you wake up and seek support and carry on will be a day you learn you cope better and that you gain the strength needed.
To get off from the topic above, I would say the biggest difference between a parent and non parent caregiver is the amount of worry a parent will put into that child. They will worry for their future, worry about finances because we, as parents have to pay extortionate amounts for childcare if we want to return to work. My nursery fee’s are £46 for a full day of childcare for my daughter. Luckily there is help to those that ask for it and my daughter qualifies for 11 free hours a week cutting the cost down and it is my choice to work rather than face the benefits stigma and pressures of being a non-working parent.
But as a working mother I now have to put my faith and trust into other non-parental and parental caregivers to look after my child. They get to watch them develop and say new things and learn new skills where I am out earning money. I am happy with my choice if it means time with my family will be more fulfilled with quality time over quantity. At the end of the day whether I work or not I will always be a full time parent, I may not be a stay at home parent, but I’m not going to just decide to part-time parent because I can’t do that. I will still worry every second of every day about my child, her welfare, her development, if she’s happy, if she’s eating enough at nursery and all the other things parents worry about and after working a seven/eight hour shift I will still come home to feed my child, play with my child, get her bathed and ready for bed because there is no one else that will do that for me. I am no longer a stay at home mother I am a full time mother with a full time employed job. I will be on call 24/7 still and my weekends “off” will now include me working on a saturday and sleeping for a majority of the Sunday to catch up on any insomnia or sleep deprived episodes I might have in the week.
Anyway my final point is whilst non-parental caregivers are a good thing, they are still not yet parents, and whilst they might help raise the children or provide exceptional care to those that need them and can probably be a little more patient or a little more objective than parental caregivers, they get to give them back. As parents, that’s it for us, for life.