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Debate: compulsory national childcare service for teenagers

(29 Posts)
Tortington Tue 02-Sep-03 23:38:56

i like a good debate and most people can debate well without taking offence - anyway mumsnet is full of advice and probles at the mo, and i want some adult conversation other than "how have the kids been today" this is my suggestion for a debate today. i wanted to steer clear of the usual politics, class, religeon stuff and think of something more off the wall so hows this.

it occured to me that we seem to have somewhat of a problem in this country with teenage pregnancies and we have a problem with high cost childcare- now without going into a holy cow about poverty in this country - i cant actually believe teenagers really *want* babies.

so heres my solution
remember national service - where everyone was called up? - how about all teenagers at the age of 15-16 have to take 6 months out to look after someones children for ^6^ months - easing their childcare problems?

Tortington Tue 02-Sep-03 23:40:17

the theory being of course that 6 months of nappies and crying babies and toddlers screaming and peeing on the floor and housework and chores - should put them off - BOYS and GIRLS alike

misdee Tue 02-Sep-03 23:42:50

i wouldnt trust most 16 year olds with my kids. sorry.

samACon Tue 02-Sep-03 23:45:42

maybe in a supervised creche/nursery situation?

I don't think they want kids that young either, they just think it won't happen to them

FairyMum Wed 03-Sep-03 07:40:36

I won't trust a teenager with my kids. Why not give them those little lifelike baby dolls who do all the stuff real babies do. Haven't they tried that in certain high schools in America with some success?

tigermoth Wed 03-Sep-03 07:56:45

I wouldn't want anyone coming into my house to look after my children unless they really wanted to be there. I'd worry that an uninterested teenager would spend their time texting, messing around or watching TV and my children would at best be neglected and at worse be put in real danger.

However, teenagers having 6 months out in a supervised environment like a nursery *might* be a different kettle of fish. And yet...... if they hate the idea, don't like children, see the six months childcare stint as a total waste of time (like many saw national service I believe) I still think it's a wrong move for the teenager,the children and the parents.

There Custardo - another opinion for you

lucy123 Wed 03-Sep-03 08:04:29

Custardo, you are right but as tigermoth says, I don't think it's fair that children and their parents should be subjected to such a schmeme. Not without real changes in attitudes about responsibility for children accross society anyway.

What's needed is an extension of the scheme my friend's dd took part in: all kids (14/15 yrs) were given a mechanical "baby" to take home for the weekend. The babies cried every 3 hours or so all day and night and recorded details of how and when they were "fed", "changed" etc. Any rough treatment was also recorded. Brilliant!

misdee Wed 03-Sep-03 08:55:50

sorry i wa so blunt last night. my sister is a nursery nurse, and she did placement training as a childminder, and helped in daycare when she was training. she is great with kids, as are a lot of people on the course, but they choose to do that as their career. i was a teenage mum, so was my older sister (mieow), ok they were unplanned but my kids are dearly wanted and loved. i do the best i can for them, we're not on the breadline, never have been, i worked up untill i was pregnant with my 2nd dd, but had left my job previously the month b4 as i was moving to a totally new area. i did actually apply for several jobs but didnt get any. i know some teenage mums are irresponsible but then so are so older mums. some teenagers love being mums, they feel it is one thing they are good at. i dont agree with everyone getting things habding to them on a plate, and i do agree we need more affordable childcare in this country, in fact we need more schools as well but thats another issue.
one thing that struck me at school, was for gcse u had to make a choice about what sunjects to take, child devolpement classes were an option (didnt have to take them), maybe if these were made compulsory it would be better.

Batters Wed 03-Sep-03 12:24:19

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

LIZS Wed 03-Sep-03 12:53:21

Slightly off thread, but the local international school follows the International Bacclaureatte syllabus which incorporates an element of community service. I'm not sure how much they do but one of the ways in which it can be done is babysitting. The kids (14/15 +) take a Red Cross certificate to qualify and are used as a pool to babysit at school meetings, adult education classes etc. Even so, although I left my two kids (then 3.5 and 6 weeks ) with them whilst I took a language course the standard of care was variable to say the least (ie. one afternoon dd was left in a long dirty nappy, obviously unhappy). I hasten to add this was supervised by a teacher and on school premises. I am reluctant to use this system again as I think they would find a 2 year old too much of a handful.

I think there would be value in the UK system offering some similar community service but the kids need to have a choice of ways in which to do it. Also I think the earlier the concept is introduced to the children the more effective it is likely to be. We are living in a country, Switzerland, where National Service (military or community) is still the norm and therefore that may make it easier to implement.

Tortington Wed 03-Sep-03 21:17:25

i agree its a rubbish idea kids know when they are not wanted. maybe teenagers could just be chined up and given a sledge hammer to break big rocks

Linnet Wed 03-Sep-03 21:40:07

My friends daughter got the crying baby from her school for a weekend when she was in her last year of school and was quite looking forward to getting it. She knew it would be hard work and my friend was also looking forward to having this little *baby* in the house as it had been so long since she'd had a baby crying in the house. Honestly that was what she said she was looking forward to it crying.

By the end of the weekend my friend was glad to see the back of it. Whenever it cried through the night her daughter slept through and she had to keep getting up to go and wake her to make it stop crying. And her daughter has decided that she never wants to have children ever!

Of course that may change when she's older but at the moment she's quite happy not to have any children.

I think the idea of getting the crying baby home for the weekend would be better than putting teenagers into nurseries, unless they really wanted to go into nurseries to help out I don't think it would work.

judetheobscure Wed 03-Sep-03 22:22:26

Actually I disagree with your comment - lots of teenagers *do* want babies. Most of the ones I knew that got pregnant fully intended it and were delighted. The other girls were in awe of them too. There's a big "cool" factor to it at that age and if you've got nothing else going for you (which was the case with 90% of them) what better way of getting a bit of attention?

tigermoth Thu 04-Sep-03 08:05:00

But is wanting to have a baby and wanting to look after one for ever and ever, the same thing? I don't think so.

Though, I'm sure some teenagers make great mothers and really feel happy to have a baby to look after. If you went back 100 years or so, having a baby at age 15/16 (or just a year or so older) was, for many, simply what you did when you were married.

CAM Thu 04-Sep-03 13:21:55

I must say it always depends on the individual, I was more sensible at 16/17 than a lot of mums I have met in their 30's. Just as well as I got married and had a baby young.

wobblymum Thu 04-Sep-03 13:38:55

What about giving kids the choice of when they get to GCSE stage instead of doing a subject like CDT or Home Ec, they can choose to do childcare, which they still get a GCSE for, graded by how much they know about general child care stuff and how much effort they put in eg, turning up on time, being well prepared etc. They could get taken by a HV or someone to a new mum's house to act like a mother's help. The HV could identify mum's who would be best for the scheme, ie who haven't got any other help, who are generally nice etc etc. Then the teenager could get experience of looking after a baby and the work involved without being forced to, without putting any kids at possible danger, and helping mums at the same time.

It could also be carried through as a full A-level, with some classroom work and some on the job stuff. That would be good preparation for a childcare degree too.

I think it would take a lot of care to set up but would be excellent in the long run.

lucy123 Thu 04-Sep-03 13:47:06

wobblymum - there is a childcare GCSE, or at least there used to be as my sister did it. Only thing was, you had to find your practice "subject" yourself. Was good and practical though

wobblymum Thu 04-Sep-03 14:57:49

lucy - that's what I mean, you have to find someone yourself and not everyone can do that. If you were assigned someone, the person matching you up could make sure you were a 'good fit' and also give you someone with a child exactly the right age and someone who really needs help, rather than having you intruding.

judetheobscure Thu 04-Sep-03 18:58:43

Agreed tigermoth - "wanting a baby" and being faced with the reality are entirely different things and many teenagers, in common with older mothers just have no idea of what awaits them ....

Tortington Thu 04-Sep-03 19:22:48

yeah they want the babies til they get them then realise that maybe it wasnt the best decision ever made. the teenage mums without exception i have worked with - all say that it wasnt the best informed decision, the wisest thing to do, they were too young, they wished they had done some partying put a litle more worldly experience intot heir lives etc. doesnt mean they are rubbish mums

singingmum Thu 04-Sep-03 19:22:54

Custardo, had to add as was 16 when I became pregnant.I had loads of experience with babies as mum suffered deppression and I had to help.Also I have numerous cousins and family friends with little ones as I grew up(I could change nappies at 2yrs old).Went to an ante-natal class and never went back as the so called more adult parents to be were absolute idiots they didn't even know how the baby came out properly.The other parents were aged between about 25 and 40.It was ridiculous.I am still with partner after 10 yrs(next month)and we have a 3yr old daughter and a 9 yr old son and we home educate as the education system is a farce.We started after being told our son was 'backward'(teachers word)at 3 yrs old.We were also told by our son, after many hours asking why he wouldn't read to us as we knew he could as we taught him to do both that and write,that his teacher had told him that children his age shouldn't be doing either.That followed by what she said was enough to put us off and we removed him.I know some teenage p's are horrendous but I also know that many older mothers are as bad some even worse.I also gained some confidence and did some things that I never would have done otherwise so being a teenage parent isn't all bad.Those which are talked about aren't the majority but the minority.

misdee Thu 04-Sep-03 19:50:32

us teenage mums arent that bad u know! i was on the older end of the teenage mum (was 19), but i'm not a bad mum cos i'm young. i still had to learn everything every other 1st time mum had to.
child devoloemnt are only an option at gcse, which is a pain as i wanted to do art and childcare, couldnt do both so choose art. our sex ed lessons were virtually nonexsistant. i rememebr watching a old video with michelle fowler off eastenders on it, telling us coke was not a contraception (??!!!???). maybe if schools and parents focused more on the problem there wouldnt be a problem on a latge scale.
but in defence of teenage mums, i have to say, i havent actually met a bad one yet!!!

Tortington Thu 04-Sep-03 23:33:09

me neither
i was one too.
just becuase the teenagers i have worked with admit that it wasnt how they thought it would be - and although they love their kids more than anything - they realise that they didnt know what they were letting themselves in for. none of them are "bad" mothers (whatever that means - however that is defined?) most just miss the irrisponsability of youth - they see their friends with money and getting all dolled up on a friday and saturday night ready to go out on the pull - have a few beers dance to some tacky music - be young, and admit they are jealous.
i havent met a teenager who wanted a baby, then relished motherhood. most had no idea what they werw letting themselves in for, some wanted something to love them, some were not educated to choices available to them after a bad education - the reasons are diverse, but i didnt meet a girl who wanted to be a mum and then was happy with her life decision and proud of her decision

but then did any of usreally know what we were letting ourselves in for?

i am enjoying life in a way a lot of my peers are not. i am in career mode - intend to have no more children - my children are older, my social life has picked up. whereas a lot of my peers are in the just got a baby mode, struggling with life after kids and all the problems posted daily on mumsnet

ofcourse there are exceptions to the rule especially when citing individual stories. however, my personal experience is that my peers at the moment who planned children later in life, have achieved a certain amount of what they wanted to. They plan their family, and therefore have security for that planned family. these are things usually not afforded to the teenagers whom i work with.

therefore, would teenagers not chose differently if properly educated in the life choices before them?
if so
how best do we educate them?

Tinker Thu 04-Sep-03 23:44:49

I wonder how many boys would take a childcare GCSE? If the uptake is 50%, very good, Somehow I doubt it and think it is simply likely to reinforce stereotypes. It needs a name change.

ScummyMummy Thu 04-Sep-03 23:46:09

Swings and roundabouts, innit? Ok you lose the opportunity to do the irresponsible youth thing but the teenage mums I've met have tended to be conscientious, patient, loving parents with bellies that snapped back into shape after childbirth much quicker than average. As long as they don't opt for serial yearly babies they'll be free by the time they're 35 or so- young enough to misspend their middle age- even more fun than misspending youth, I'd have thought. As a snappy old sow with a saggy belly and the prospect of kids on me hands for years I can only be envious!

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