On Day Care

“So the children were taken away,” Mrs. Bowman concluded. “But the best part was that the woman worked at a day-care center.”

“Yes, I read that story,” Mr. Magundi said. “And it may be that the mother and the father are awful people. But I’m not sure about that. The fact remains that something is broken, and we don’t know how to fix it. Why was this woman going away to work and leaving her children home alone? Obviously because she needed the money, or they would all starve to death. It was the only way she could fulfill her duty as a mother to take care of them. Why she couldn’t take her children with her to a day-care center I don’t know, but no one who has ever had a low-paying dead-end job will be surprised to hear that it’s also inflexible. She could quit and go on welfare, but we’d take welfare away from her if she didn’t find another low-paying dead-end job. So what else could she do? She tried to arrange with the children’s father to take care of them, but the father is unreliable, and she knew it, and provided the children with everything she could to keep them safe, including a 911-only cell phone. The children used it and saved themselves.

“So who’s to blame here? Is it an inflexible legal system that punishes people for not going out to work, and punishes them for leaving their children alone when they do find work? Is it a broken social order that assumes marriages are disposable, and encourages parents—especially fathers—to put their own ‘fulfillment’ above their children’s needs? Is it a selfish father who doesn’t care about his own children? Is it a stupid woman who trusted a worthless layabout and is still paying the price? I don’t know, and I wouldn’t know even if I were intimately acquainted with this whole family. The only thing I know for certain is that the children will not be better off in the care of the state.”

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