Babysitting Via The Village Idiot
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Babysitting Via The Village Idiot

I live in a fairly small town. It’s probably a lot like the places many of you live: a handful of churches, a grocery store, a pharmacy, a hardware store, small businesses and restaurants plus the schools, public and private. Just by doing a Google search, I came up with nine day cares for children in our area.

Yet, Nancy Pelosi thinks this isn’t enough. She wants universal childcare, just like Obama is giving us universal healthcare (and we all know how well that’s working right now.) In an interview with The Hill, Pelosi says:

Atop her priority list as Speaker, she said, would be “comprehensive affordable, quality childcare” for working mothers, which she sees as a natural extension of ObamaCare.

“That would have the biggest impact on women, families and … job creation,” Pelosi said. “That was on President Nixon’s desk … in the ’70s, and he vetoed it for cultural or whatever reasons. And now we have to do that again.

…This is the missing link in so many things that we’ve talked about. It is not exhaustive of all the things we want to do or have done with regard to women, but I do think it would unleash the power of women.”

First of all, Pelosi apparently isn’t aware that many an entrepreneurial mom in America is running a day care business, and they charge competitive rates because it’s a tough market (see above: nine day cares in one small town.)

Secondly, Pelosi and her cohorts won’t be happy until Big Government has taken over every aspect of our lives, from raising and educating our kids to dictating the health care services we are allowed and what price we pay for them.

Leslie Loftis, in an insightful piece about motherhood and child care at The Federalistsays “Feminism promised to empower women. Instead it destroyed their support system.”

Pelosi isn’t alone in her desire to take over child-rearing; Hillary Clinton touted “it takes a village to raise a child” a few years ago, and Pelosi (in her interview with The Hill) believes Hillary is the woman for the job –  as President – to get this universal government daycare idea rolling. Loftis says this whole idea of the village is skewed:

[Clinton] meant the village as a proxy for state intervention in childrearing. As often happens when the left refers to a traditional phenomenon, they appropriate the label for its archetypal value and discard the substance, which is invariably (and inconveniently) conservative. But archetypes trump vocabulary. The “village” got absorbed in the popular consciousness becoming a proxy for the voluntary associations of those with shared bonds of family and community who all pitch in to help with childrearing. It’s now the socially acceptable terminology for the old Burkean notion of “little platoons.” Of course, Burke had a more eloquent understanding of all this than Hillary Clinton’s mushy-headed ghostwriters could ever dream of — “to love the little platoon we belong to in society, is the first principle (the germ as it were) of public affections. It is the first link in the series by which we proceed toward a love to our country and to mankind.”

So, what went wrong? Loftis says we razed the village:

It was a slow burn. Over the next 20 years, the “career first” advice brought fewer children to become older siblings, cousins, aunts, and uncles—essential members of the childcare village of old. Our career pursuits often led us far from family, anyway. The career building single doesn’t need a village. We didn’t need it, and didn’t miss it until we started a family.

But it was gone. And it wasn’t just the lack of extended family. We had waited later to have children, and many of our parents simply grew too old to keep up with our toddlers. That old domestic drudgery libel came back to haunt us too. Among the available villagers, some refused to participate in childcare. Grandparents told us they had done their time. Neighborhood teenagers had resumes to build for those careers they would need to establish before marriage and family. Babysitting wasn’t, and still isn’t, accepted entrepreneurial activity. (Although, in urban areas babysitting is very lucrative. So few teens babysit that the willing and experienced can command a high price.)

The village still exists in rarefied places. Expats form villages. They are very hip but hard to join. Churches form villages. They are easy to join but fundamentally un-hip. Moving home is an option, but also un-hip.

The end result is that most parents are on their own.

Does the answer then lie with the government? Does the House Minority Leader in  Washington, D.C. know what is best for your child? Does the President of the United States know the needs of your family, your job situation, your values and ideals? Or do we want to raise our children, our way? Again, Loftis:

I am not a feminist, not as the label is commonly understood anyway. My mother isn’t either. Despite the many sacrifices she made for me, she has a very different approach to intergenerational debt. I once asked if I could pay her for babysitting. She said no. She told me that I would pay her back when I freely babysat my own grandchildren.

That is the essence of the village. If we want it back, we need to find it wherever it still lives, be it in large families, expat communities, or in churches. We need to find it and use it. And we need to rebuild villages where the old ones once stood.

Elise Hilton

Communications Specialist at Acton Institute. M.A. in World Religions.