- Anna Brix Thomsen
Children Systematically Traumatized by being Left in the Arms of Strangers – And What You can
Every single day I read stories from mothers who desperately seek support with how to handle he painstaking process of having to leave their child in the care of someone else, because they have to go back to work. Every single day I read about how that process goes horribly wrong, and how happy, cheerful children become withdrawn, aggressive and apathetic. Every single day I see these mothers desperately trying to find a solution, most often without luck, having to do something that everything inside them screams is not right, to leave their child in the arms of strangers.
Here in Scandinavia this usually involves placing the child either at a public preschool/kindergarten which is more common or a private daycare which is less common, when the child is between 7 months – 1.5 years old, with most being somewhere there in between. (In other countries such as the U.S, it is not uncommon to have to leave your child in a daycare 6 weeks after giving birth, so obviously in Scandinavia we have the total ‘Rolls Royce luxury version’ when it comes to childcare. BUT at the same time, it is not optimal, not by a long shot.)
The child most often has to be left in care at time where it is very vulnerable in its development. It has just started discovering its own independence and is slowly but surely started venturing away from its safe base; its home and its parents. In most cases, when the parents have to go back to work, the child is transferred to a totally new environment, and more or less yanked out of their arms, in an extremely rushed process, where their entire life is turned upside down. Unfortunately in many cases, this is required by the preschool staff for them to make their business run effectively. They cannot spend weeks or months integrating a new little one, which is actually what would have been required for many children to integrate in the new environment in a supportive way.
So the child is systematically traumatized – and yes, this is by design.
We have created a system that requires a docile, complacent working force (because it is essentially unnatural and illogical that we have to PAY to live) and so we trade the value of our lives, for mediocre entertainment and unhealthy consumption, and we call that ’life’. The child in many cases learns that it is abandoned by its mother, as it screams and cries for her not to go, and she goes anyways, which pushes it into the arms of the system, and into an inner state of silent misery, suppression and apathy. Please do not be fooled into thinking the preschools and daycare centers exist for the children’s sake because they need to go to such a place to learn what they need to learn in life. I’ve worked in more than 30 preschools, and the stories I could share would make you weep. Nothing in this system is created to support life to grow or flourish. That is why everything is slowly but surely devolving.
This is not to say that ALL children are traumatized by going to daycare or preschool. Many, especially older children, enjoy being around other kids. But for the youngest it can be a very brutal transition. And for many older kids, it is not ideal either.
So – how do we solve it?
This is what I am busy looking at and seeing if I can come up with a prototype for a model that could be implemented at least in a Scandinavian context that would secure mother’s financial situations while still allow them to be around and take care of their children. I simply cannot sit still and keep my mouth shut, when I every day see and hear these mother’s stories about how their hearts are breaking because they have to leave a child into the hands of strangers, strangers who in most cases, have little resources to actually care for that child in an appropriate manner, and therefore are forced to brutally detach the child from its mother. It is simply unacceptable.
The solutions I have found thus far, involve creating either a private daycare or a family cooperative where several mothers (or fathers) can join forces and either care for each others children or hire someone like me to do it. Luckily there are more and more of these places being created around the world (I visited one such amazing place recently in Kalmar which you can see on my Instagram), and more and more mothers and fathers whose inner voice of common sense has become so strong that it can no longer be suppressed or pushed down, and so they work tirelessly to come up with solutions that ensure that their children are given the most optimal care, either by them, or by someone they trust. I for example read about a mother who had come up with a solution where she would go to work at 4 am and then go to sleep with her child at 6 pm. The husband was quite satisfied as it meant he got a quiet evening at home after coming home from work.
I mean, whatever works! And yes, it has to work for the whole family, because a martyred and exhausted mother or father is not an optimal choice either. And there are obviously parents (especially single mothers) who have no choice but to leave their child at some daycare or preschool, or who for various reasons cannot personally care for their child in the home. It is for them, and for all the parents who write and ask for support, and for the children, and for Lora and for our family that I am working to come up with a solution. I don’t know what it is yet, but I know I have to find it, that it must be possible to solve this. Because I simply cannot accept this to continue.
If you do have no choice but to leave your child, please don’t feel guilty or think you are a horrible parent. As I mentioned, this is created by design. There ways to screen daycare or preschool facilities as well so you don’t have to settle for the first one that you get into, and if you find that it is not ok at a later stage, please don’t hesitate to move your child if needed. Some places are really not a place for kids to be. And if you are a parent who simply are not comfortable being at home with your child (which is also not optimal in many ways as I can attest to), or you feel incompetent or stressed because you feel like you’re not a good enough parent to your child, or simply feel it is boring to be around them, please do also not feel guilty. It IS possible to create communities where we can work together and learn together – you are not alone.
And if you do see that leaving your child at a daycare facility is not what is best for your child or for you, please do consider finding a solution to making it happen, even if your family or friends thinks you’re fussy or oversensitive. Dare to stand up for your child, even though everyone around you thinks you’re crazy. You do not have to accept the current way the system works or take if for granted, unless you absolutely have no choice. For many of us, there ARE alternatives, there are other options. There are groups on Facebook for stay at home parents that you can seek advice in and find communities in your local area. And I am here, even though I may be in a different country and at the other end of an electrical current and data stream. I am here.
If you agree with me and have ideas or suggestions, please do leave a comment. If you have questions you’d like to ask me or get my perspective on, also please do not hesitate to contact me. You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or contact me via messenger on Facebook.