Realist, not conformist analysis of the latest financial, business and political news

Why Isn’t Granny Daycare A Long Term Solution? It’s What Grannies Evolved For

The great complaint about the financial crisis – one that doesn’t actually stand up but still – was about the socialisation of losses and costs, the privatisation of benefits and profits. Which is exactly what is being demanded here over childcare, that it should be the rest of society which picks up the costs and losses, the individual gaining the benefits who gets to keep the profits. Plus there seems to be a certain confusion here about how grandmothers actually evolved.

The correct response is thus the Anglo Saxon Wave:

[perfectpullquote align=”full” bordertop=”false” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]’Granny daycare’ is not a long-term solution to Britain’s childcare crisis[/perfectpullquote]

Obviously true in one sense, for this generation’s grannies are going to be the next’s headstone supports but as these things work out there’ll be another set along soon enough to take over.

[perfectpullquote align=”full” bordertop=”false” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””] “When I go back to work, will you help look after the children?” It seems innocuous enough, when your daughter-in-law, pregnant with your first grandchild, pops the questions over a mood-softening cup of tea. It could be a nice way to spend quality time with your new grandchild. Plus it will help your children save a bit of money. A few years later, there’s another dear grandchild, your son and daughter-in-law are back at work and you are on the hook for three days a week of solid childcare for a toddler and a baby, with all the craziness, emotion and heavy lifting that you remember from the first time around. [/perfectpullquote]

Yes, looking after children is expensive in terms of time. But, then, so what? And specifically, they’re your grandchildren, why shouldn’t you be the one looking after them?

To evolution – humans are weird. Other than perhaps whales we alone have the menopause. Near all animals remain fertile until death – or, perhaps, die as they become infertile. The reasoning being, looking backwards as we always must with this evolution stuff, that the aim of life is to generate descendants, the longer you’re fertile the more you will. Among certain large mammal species it appears that this descendant generation is maximised by having a period of infertility toward the end of life. That’s how it arose of course. Those who did lose their fertility had more living descendants who went on to have such and it spread through the population.

The as to the why, the speculation is that this wasn’t so that – despite the geologic time they seem to take to pass – oldsters could go on Saga cruises. Instead, granny, unburdened by another generation of children, could take care of the grandkiddies. That is, the reason for the existence of infertile grannies is to be that long term childcare solution.

And yes, average human lifetimes, once we adjust for child mortality, were long enough that granny on average would be around.

And look at what we’ve already stated. The aim is to have descendants. That’s the profit, the benefit from life. A demand that the parent, or granny, doesn’t have to care for them is that insistence that the profit should be privatised while the cost, the care, should be socialised. Which is something we’re rather against these days, isn’t it?

So, yes, grannies should be doing the childcare. After all, that’s what you’re for.

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5 years ago

Note also how weak the case is for the latest “crisis” – “you’re asked to help with the grandchildren”. If it reaches the point that you don’t want to do it anymore, tell them they have to make other arrangements.

That you don’t have the backbone to say no to any request does not mean there is a societal problem justifying billions of new spending and bureaucracy.

As has been noted in other contexts, if we’re talking about this we must have solver all the real problems.

Jonathan Harston
Jonathan Harston
5 years ago
Reply to  Esteban

And the vast majority have another set of grandparents on hand.

Jonathan Harston
Jonathan Harston
5 years ago

The complaint usually is “I’ve just finished looking after my own kids, why should I now start looking after my grandkids?”. Well, if you’d been doing it right, you *wouldn’t* have just finished looking after your own kids, you’d have just finished having *your* *mother* looking after your kids (her grandchildren), so *now* it’s *your* turn to start looking after *your* grandchildren.

Matt Ryan
Matt Ryan
5 years ago

Another alternative is for mum to stay at home and look after the kids. Does mean that the slush fund for the executive slave box and low end Beemer is depleted but it’s not that long ago that this was the norm.

Or put it another way, the extra money earned by mum going to work is now being spunked on overpriced housing and imported German motors.

That doesn’t sound like an improvement to me.

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