Blog Opinion

Journey Of The Daycare Generation

Daycare is a necessity for some parents. For others, it’s a way to avoid the 24/7 job of parenting a child from infancy to pre-teen years. Daycare is the lifeblood of many single Moms who must work. It’s also an excuse for other “Must Have” parents to live far beyond their means with their children as the major sacrifice.

Many older adults today view the destruction of families as coming not necessarily from divorce or single parenthood. Rather, the destruction begins with a more obvious view: Children growing up in the company of strangers paid as surrogate parents for parents who want it all and want it now.

Seniors with adult children and grandchildren try to help by being caregivers long after their children became independent adults. They refer to themselves as the “Sandwich Generation.”

Yet, many seniors see the reasons behind two working parents as their grown children unwilling to live within their means. The end result of this is the new multi-generational families living in a single household. The June/July 2014 issue of AARP magazine focuses on “The New American Family.” According to AARP findings, the traditional “nuclear” household is no longer common and has been exchanged for “shifting family configurations.”

The article outlines these changes from 1970 to 2013. The picture appears thus:

In 1970, 40% of households consisted of a married couple and their children. In 2013, this decreased to 19%. In 1960, 72% of adults were married. In 2013, only 51% were. In 1960, 5% of births were by unmarried women. In 2013, the number jumped to 41%. Another startling fact related to multi-generational households is that as recently as 1980, 12% of Americans lived in multi-generational households. In 2009, this jumped to 17%.

Note here that the numbers of unmarried women heading households has increased. So, what a single mother can do on one income, two other adults with two incomes can’t? Two presidents of the US were raised in single parent households. Thus, the old adage that single parent families only breed failures and criminals is proven wrong. 

The “Real” Generation Gap

Since the end of World War II, parents have struggled to give their children the little “extras” they couldn’t or didn’t have. The problem with this is that since World War II, the prices of “extras” have risen every six months. In 1950, prices could be expected to remain stable for a period of up to 18 months before a price increase. Today, that span of time can be anywhere from 3 to 6 months. This is a red flag for those on fixed incomes as well as those becoming “independent.”

Many young adults today rationalize that the cost of “extras” like daycare is easily managed by a second household income. For nearly four decades, parents have been living in two-income households and are no better off. They must rely on help from their aging parents, often for a roof over their heads and their children’s, as well as food and other necessities.

The real generation gap isn’t chronological or ideological age differences. It’s mindset. What really constitutes necessity? If you are over age 65, your necessities are fairly limited, as is your spending. This is never the result of “bad decisions” as some younger adults want to claim. It’s the direct result of incomes that don’t meet the expectations of today’s younger workers. Where a $40,000 salary in 1975 was considered adequate, younger parents just cannot imagine living on less than $90,000 annually. The mindset here is that “everything costs more.” Yes. It does. But, the pervasive question is “must it?”

Mindset that falls prey to “want” instead of “need” always empties their financial well more quickly due to an inability to distinguish what’s really needed and what is only wanted. Young adults spend more on their weddings without consideration for the longevity of the state of marriage. A wedding today is as costly as a lifetime of medical bills. “Must it be?”

Most parents of young adults are forced to take out a loan for their daughter’s wedding. Older parents then become saddled with a costly wedding bill until their demise. These are parents who have struggled for adult children who have no money management skills. Six years later that $200,000 wedding ends in divorce, often with one or more children neither parent of these children could afford.

Not all younger adults are financially foolish. Many do have great investing skills. Yet, they manage to save by living with their senior parents and paying virtually little toward their living arrangements. Those with two household incomes can barely make ends meet. Until you take a microscope to how they spend their money compared to how their parents spend theirs.

Credit card mentalities exist among young and old. Yet, the credit card industry focuses mainly on younger and younger adults they manage to hook onto lifelong credit debt. Thus, household expenses like daycare are “on the arm” of credit cards. Buying food or other household needs on credit is a double whammy for debt and shows lack of proper money management. Not only do these young parents pay for daycare, they pay the credit card company interest on daycare bills in a bizarre endless circle of debt. This is just one of conundrums of daycare.

Daycare Babies Grow Up

One of the most misunderstood issues about daycare is an 800-lb. elephant in the room: Here’s an example: A young couple marries, saves up for a down payment on a home, takes out a mortgage while both continue to work. Five years later and now close to the onset of middle age, the couple decides to have children. Most of their household income has been eaten up by regular vacations, gas guzzling vehicles, weekend entertainment. Very little of their income has been saved for the realities of parenting. Parental culture shock begins.

Both work 8-hour jobs, 5-days a week and live on nearly six figure incomes after taxes and household expenses are deducted. They both travel at least one hour to their jobs and one hour to return home. But, they want a child.

In the US, maternity leave is not always paid by some employers. Two household incomes and a baby becomes one. Their struggles begin. Although most of the cost for prenatal, post-natal and pediatric care is covered by employer medical plans, the couple is unprepared for the cost of baby’s regular need for food and clothing. On one income, their choice is clear: Daycare and back to two incomes. So, like a sack of potatoes, a six-week old infant is dropped off at a local daycare center to be cared for by strangers who also care for a dozen other infants, toddlers and pre-school aged children.

Where Daycare Mentalities Get It Wrong

The regimented routine of dropping off their darling little sack of potatoes at 5:30 AM and picking it up 9 hours later begins. Their infant is actually living in its home a grand total of 8 hours a day, most of which is while asleep. Toddlers dropped off at Daycare begin a vicious routine of being awakened at 5:30 AM and then 9 hours of fighting for shreds of attention from strangers at Daycare. Meanwhile, Mom and Dad convince themselves how wonderful it is for their child to “learn social skills at such a young age.”

The hurry to get their children into school where they will again be in the company of strangers before and after school, is a gleam in parents’ eyes. Meanwhile, these children are building up emotional resentment of never actually living in their own home, playing in their backyard or having free time to just be kids.

They arrive back home long enough to be fed a fast, pre-cooked meal from a local fast food store. Then, they are bathed and shipped off to bed where the vicious cycle begins again the next morning at 5:30 AM.

These parents refuse to admit they are too tired to manage childcare properly. They make vain attempts at parenting turn them into “weekend parents.” On weekends, these children are shipped off to all manner of activities that further keep them out of their home and backyard. After all, that expensive home was to really to “look” at, not to actually “live” in, right? So, the family mansion appears unlived in at all times because in reality, it is.

Regimentation and Daycare Adults

The regimentation and ritualistic routine that begin at six weeks old breeds angry, unruly school age kids who are defiant, disrespectful to all but their parents and have been programmed by their parents to never fail or be considered “wrong” even when they are. 

In sports, these school age kids must never be anything less than the stars of the team. Should they lack star quality athletic skills, that’s the fault of teachers, the athletic director or the other more athletic children on their teams.

The breeding ground for Daycare Adulthood begins. At school age, these daycare graduates have already discovered they can do no wrong and if they do, their parents will throw someone else under a bus. In college, it matters not that they cheat on their tests to get passing grades. Success is all that matters even when it’s been gained through deception, lies and cheating.

Daycare Adults – Off to Work

If there’s one thing daycare teaches these adults, it’s how to get away with obligations and commitments. In daycare, it was a simple matter of pulling a tantrum to get the caregivers to cave. The louder their shrills screams became, the faster the caregivers caved.

Admittedly, they find this a tad harder to do under the watchful eyes of other adults bred in their own homes under the observing eyes of two parents. Making excuses is another skill learned in daycare, although it isn’t singularly limited to those bred in this venue.

It’s human nature to grab for an excuse whenever a faux pas or discomfort shows human inadequacy. However, children who have not had the opportunity to be disciplined 9 or 10 hours a day by their parents and not surrogate caregivers, learn a different set of skills where making excuses is concerned. To these children, now adults, any excuse is fact, substantiation and truth whether or not it is. The real skill here is viewing the world from an insular realm. They spend their entire lives trying to prove negatives and fantasy is reality.

How to Spot the Daycare Adult

Parents who dump their kids off in daycare make excuses that they have to work even as they continue to spend foolishly. Then, they try to compensate for what they know is refusal to be their children’s sole caregivers. They buy their children outrageous toys and gadgets, hoping it will compensate for the time they should spend with them. The massive wall of guilt over making the wrong choices is evident. Daycare Adults will tell others they “made all the wrong decisions” and fail to see their own wrongheaded decisions will come back to haunt sooner than later. 

To spot Daycare Adults at work or in any social setting, look for the adult who seeks attention most. They love to show off their trinkets and their superior minds which their parents for years have explicitly taught them they possess. Daycare adults are never wrong even when they are. Another learned expression of parental mindset. In the worst case scenario, some Daycare Adults are so riddled with anger, they do lash out and attempt to bully others. Their internal rage and anger has consequences. But, Daycare Adults were never taught consequences..only rewards for their stellar patience with their parents who valued everything but the time and attention their children desperately needed.

One of the unforeseen consequences with today’s Daycare Adults is their own children. It may have escaped their stream of consciousness to realize that children do not always obey like a trained puppy. Rather, they become carbon copies of their parents who too often set bad examples of what adulthood really should be. 

Daycare Adults like to tell themselves that state-of-the-art cell phone or luxury vehicle is a “necessity.” While they are preoccupied with materialism, their children are developing into young adults who have been provided with a skewed set of values. In the end, for these younger daycare generation kids, money doesn’t buy their true happiness.

By Eleanore Ferranti Whitaker

This article is republished from Hubpages.

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