How has separation anxiety affected your life?
EDUCATION The child goes to daycare at the latest at the age of one. The family minister's crèche place guarantee cemented this as a social consensus. Many facilities, however, are mediocre or poor. Our author therefore refuses to reach a consensus. And feel the consequences
Kindergarten places should be available in the 2013/2014 daycare year according to the federal states. Source: Ministry of Family Affairs
Billions The federal government pays the municipalities in euros to support them with the expansion of the daycare center and to be able to guarantee enough places. Source: Ministry of Family Affairs
children A German kindergarten teacher supervised under three years of age on average in 2012 Source: Federal Statistical Office
percent of all mothers under the age of three stated in 2011 that they did not participate in working life because of the child. Source: Federal Statistical Office,
children under three years of age received external care as of March 1, 2013 - a good 37,000 more than in the previous year. Source: Federal Statistical Office
Billions In 2009, Germany spent on day care for small children: 0.7 percent of the gross domestic product. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development recommends 1 percent Source: OECD
BY JANA PETERSEN
(TEXT) AND HANNA PUTZ (PHOTO)
Actually, everything was planned differently. I wanted to take a year of parental leave, then the child would go to the crèche and I would go back to the office full-time - I had just gotten up and felt like taking on responsibility. And anyway, how should I stand it, a year at home, no colleagues, always just the child?
Then this baby came. I loved it, I wore it, nursed it, slept next to it. And the bigger my child got, the bigger my doubts got too.
Should I really put this fine being, which I often carried strapped to my stomach, into a manger? I had the feeling that it wasn't good, that it should stay with us, with his family. But maybe that feeling wasn't good either, because the hormones contaminated my mother's heart and made me unable to separate from my baby.
I probably had to rationalize these feelings somehow in order to make a sensible decision. I had to know more about myself, my child and this educational system.
The system. That was what bothered me most: subordinating my child to a system. It drank and slept and climbed on my lap whenever it wanted. It would have to work in a system for life. But not now, when it couldn't even speak and say what it wants and what it doesn't.
We started pragmatically. My boyfriend and I and our older sons each had parent-initiative children's stores behind us. Cleaning. Cook. Organize parties, lots of parenting offices. Well, we thought we could try a state daycare center. We both wanted to work full time. Holiday closing times, core opening times. Everything organized.
That was also the mood in Germany. The daycare space guarantee, introduced by a CDU family minister, begins on August 1st. I was part of a social consensus. If even the CDU sponsored daycare centers, it now seemed to be the way to do it. Anyone who did not send their child to daycare was either called Eva Herman or was in the CSU.
When I think back, I only met two mothers with small children who didn't start daycare after about a year. One of the two said to me: “I have the privilege to be able to stay at home with my son for two years.” At that time, six months ago, I thought: Huh? Privilege? What kind of trulla is that? The other mother said she would just leave her daughter at home for another year if she couldn't get a place in the daycare she wanted. I found that suspect.
So I looked at the daycare center, a prefabricated building in Berlin, just down the street, the little one was just four weeks old. I didn't have any questions at all because everything was so abstract. Eleven children, two educators? It had to be like that. No organic food? Not so bad. To sing? There is a CD player.
The baby had just been born and I should now choose to have care. As if you had to decide when falling in love: an open relationship or a wedding.
It depends on the quality of the care, which I am reading all over again these days. And that is obviously bad in Germany. Not even three percent of the early childhood care places in Germany are of good educational quality, the Nubbek study on behalf of the federal government has just found. Three percent. The needle in the haystack.
But what does quality actually mean?
From an emotional point of view, it's about a breakup. The first regular separation between a mother and her child. Or to put it another way: about bonding.
Karin and Klaus Grossmann are psychologists and attachment researchers. You coined the term “bond” in Germany. For 22 years, they have visited more than a hundred young people from the day they were born and examined how the quality of their bonds has affected their lives. A unique long-term study.
I call Karin Grossmann. How should we keep the cribs, Frau Grossmann?
“Research says: Half-day from 18 months is fine - if the child is well accustomed to the attachment theory that someone in the crèche has an extra eye on him and realizes: He's not doing well, it has to be a bit now cuddling. It is very important for the child that they find comfort at the moment when they need it. "
Why only after 18 months?
“It depends on the language and the understanding of time. At this age the children can understand: First you go to play and then I pick you up. If it is reliably picked up again and again, it knows that the time in the crib will eventually come to an end. But a maximum of half a day is really important. "
Their studies have shown that more than twenty hours of daycare per week can harm toddlers. The expansion of the crib, which Karin Grossmann considers to be rash, upsets her. “The psyche of the children is not taken into account! Why do politicians never even ask a scientist for advice? "
Well. From the Grossmanns point of view, quality means: a secure bond with an educator who must be able to react immediately to the child. But that only works if he doesn't have to look after too many children at the same time.
Most international and national experts and associations therefore recommend a personnel ratio of 1: 3 for children under three - one educator looks after three small children.
Actually logical: Anyone who has ever taken care of three small children under the age of three knows how exhausting and challenging it is. One is only happy when not everyone is screaming at the same time.
The personnel keys are a matter of the country. In Berlin, for example, the following applies: 5 to 9 children under three should be looked after by an educator, depending on how long they are cared for. In the East German day nurseries, one full-time employee looks after six full-time children.
A scandal that nobody complains about
It's about group sizes, the composition of the group. Fresh, healthy food, opportunities to exercise, suitable room furnishings. It is about individual satisfaction of needs during meals and sleep breaks, loving care when changing diapers, dressing and undressing.
But when I look at all of these requirements and then compare them with the personnel code, I ask myself: How should this work?
In the first two years of life, brain researchers assume, an empathy system develops in the child. Whether this succeeds, however, depends on whether the child's state of mind is adequately “mirrored” by his caregiver. In this early phase, day-care centers, warn researchers, find it difficult to replace what can only be achieved through constant two-way relationships - for example with parents.
Neurologists warn that studies have shown that too early, too long and too poor extra-family care leads to the constant release of the stress hormone cortisol in small children. What mental and physical health disorders could result. An increased risk of headaches, neurodermatitis, infections, increased aggressiveness, attachment disorders and depression, for example. Jeez
It all sounds like a scandal that nobody seems to complain about. Jesper Juul, a Danish educator, who some call a pope of education, has an explanation for this: Parents, he says, usually remain passive because their entire life depends on childcare services. So you'd rather not saw on the branch you are sitting on.
I am now sawing it. Out of separation anxiety?
The psychoanalyst Ann Kathrin Scheerer writes very clearly: "The early separation from their baby is also a great emotional burden for mothers, they too can fall into a depression of abandonment and feelings of guilt, which they, because the separation is 'sensible' for factual reasons. appears and is declared harmless by the zeitgeist, must suppress and rationalize. The fear of separation inherent in this early mother-child period, which was unchangeable in evolution, is quickly being reinterpreted today as a weakness of the mother who cannot let go. "
So I don't have to be afraid of my fear. She is normal.
On the other hand: I know the feeling of being both overwhelmed and underchallenged with a toddler. It's a dangerous mix that isn't good for a child. Being alone with a child - that doesn't help either adults or children. “What is really natural for mothers and children? To have a lot of help! ”, Says the anthropologist Sarah Blaffer-Hrdy. In all indigenous cultures there are a number of additional mothers such as aunts, neighbors, big siblings, relatives, friends. The mother who sits alone in an apartment with her child is therefore not evolutionarily envisaged.
There are also long-term studies, such as one from Norway, which show that children from daycare centers later earn more in their jobs and are better educated. Especially those from socially disadvantaged families.
My head is slowly spinning with all the studies. The number of hard evidence is rather small, studies like the Norwegian or the Grossmanns are rather rare.
Some psychologists, neurologists, and educators believe this, others that. But now I know: I don't want that. The little one is not yet in the crib.
On the day I canceled daycare, I sit by the lake in the evening. The baby is with me, my sister, her son. A warm June day. “And you will start in September?” Asks my sister. I look away. I was afraid of this question. Shake your head. "I canceled that today."
She looks away. I hold my boy in my arms. His hair is wet. They are stuck to his head. He's wearing a bathrobe, striped blue and white. I feel bad. I understand you. I want to comfort her. But how?
“Everyone said to me, you have to go through with this,” says my sister.
My sister is a single parent, she wanted to look after her child back then, she didn't want to be dependent. The boy started school. He was already one and a half, he only went part-time. But actually she would have liked to keep him at home. It was a fight. “I don't go to daycare,” he said when he was able to speak. “I have to go to work,” said my sister. "I'll come with you to your work." The boy is strong, she can no longer carry him. You have to have nerves like elephant legs to endure something like this.
Not only was it difficult for me to tell my sister about my decision. I also had a bad feeling with other mothers, even - or especially - with friends, telling them that the little one would stay at home for another year.
Why is that? Because there is a silent reproach in my decision? An attack at all?
It almost doesn't matter which specific decision it is about. Every decision calls into question another. And in this case it is one of the most essential things in a mother's life: what will become of my child?
But all of these questions have to do with very private feelings. Failure to communicate after short dialogues like the one with my sister is characterized by fear, projection, and envy. The feelings of one's own mother, child, partner. A silence that makes you naked.
I too stand there naked when someone asks me when the little one is going to the crib. With my doubts, my frustration, my impatience. The accusation of not being able to let go. With the sadness of your own missed opportunities. With the economic dependency. So that we actually can't afford it. Avoiding this situation, not behaving towards it, is impossible. If you leave consensus, you have to keep providing answers.
A few weeks later, one evening in July, I am sitting with my sister on a playground in Berlin, our sons are bustling around, we are almost alone. White wine and non-alcoholic beer. We talk about what it was like back then. Mama kindergarten teacher, Papa teacher, it was the eighties.
“What did mom say about cribs back then?” I ask. My sister can always remember everything, I can remember almost nothing.
“Well, she always refused! With disgust in my voice. 'No wonder, if they came to the crèche so early ... I still have that in my ear. "
"Are you mad at mom because she advised you to go to the crib?"
My sister hesitates. Perhaps she is thinking of the evening at the lake.
"No. It was the only option, even if I didn't want to. In the end, I think she wanted to make the inevitable a little easier for me. "
This is mom. Loving pragmatics. If she had to do a tracheotomy, she would choose the sharpest knife and just do it.
The next day, another playground. The phone rings. It is my girlfriend. At the last minute she registered her daughter in a top parenting initiative daycare center that spontaneously had a place for a girl. With a forest day, workshop, making music. With few children and many educators. A stroke of luck! So now she's on the phone.
“Because I am a single parent. They say that I wouldn't be able to manage parenting. They couldn't risk that. I said to her: 'Do you know what kind of nonsense you're talking about? It could well happen to you that you will also be a single parent tomorrow. And then?' "
That is the brutal truth: if you want the best for your children, you have to take care of them, you need time. That is also a financial question.
I'm speechless. What an injustice. Half of the 600,000 single mothers without a job are only inactive because they have nowhere to place their children during working hours. 300,000 single parents with children under the age of three receive basic security over a longer period of time. Now, with all the new daycare places, it will of course be easier.
But what does that mean now? That single parents have to make do with the urban daycare centers and those of the large providers? Which are often of inferior quality. That they cannot hope for solidarity where their parents are involved?
Is that the freedom of choice that Family Minister Kristina Schröder speaks of? Freedom of choice, that is the new declared goal of the Ministry of Family after “compatibility of family and work”. It also goes much better with the childcare allowance, which is also paid from August 1st.
However, this term is bordering on cynicism. In reality, freedom of choice does not mean that families can live with their small children as they see fit. It means: the upper and perhaps a part of the middle class can afford to stay at home longer - or, if both parents want to work, buy high-quality childcare. And the poor: have to choose between poor daycare - if they get a place at all - and Hartz IV. I can hardly imagine a more unfair family policy.
I'm going to my parents' house with my sons. My friend is working, someone has to take care of the children while I am writing. I also want to talk to my mother. What was it like with childcare when I was little? In my memory everything seems much more relaxed.
We slide on our knees across the lawn and pluck dandelions and plantain. The little one examines the watering can. Mom tells.
“Only real emergencies came to the crèche, when young girls became pregnant unintentionally, had no one, social problem cases. Nannies worked there. They only had a secondary school diploma and a two-year training course. Care was in the foreground there. We kindergarten teachers did a four-year training course and needed a secondary school certificate. Like today.Working with children under three was not an issue at all. "
The crèche evolved from homes that took in babies in need. The kindergarten has always seen itself as an educational institution. So historically a system of need stands in opposition to a system of support.
"Have you discussed whether you want to get back to work quickly?"
Anyone who did not send their child to daycare was either called Eva Herman or was in the CSU
"Yes. Then you would have had a nanny. But we agreed that I would stay at home. However, I said right away: Not for cleaning windows. Housework wasn't my thing. That's why I was out and about with you every day, in the children's group, crawling group, music group, doing children's sports. And when you were three and a half you went to kindergarten. "
Only later did she make a career as a boarding school director. She was at home with us for twelve years. My mother now receives an additional fifty euro pension a month for raising two children. She says she doesn't regret it.
Why is it so difficult for me today to just tell someone about my decision like that?
Maybe because I neither want to live my mother's life model nor the day-care center consensus. Probably also because women's political demands meet children's needs. That is not always compatible.
And economic ones. That makes it even more complicated.
A front-line dispute: Heimchen against Raven Mother
Fuckermothers, who ponders feminist perspectives on motherhood in a blog, writes: “The difference in income between men and women or the splitting of spouses means that in heterosexual couples it is usually the woman who does most of the parenting work. So in reality it is primarily the mother who is blamed for the criticized 'decision' to go to daycare. "
It used to be a front-line dispute. Eva Herman versus Alice Schwarzer. East against West. Crickets against mother ravens. A controversy about the image of women, a dispute over productivity, an ideological dispute. It doesn't matter which side you are on. Because neither one nor the other is true. Because women have worked at all times. And because most of the time they were well looked after: the tribe, the village, the extended family. Until industrialization. And we have to restore these conditions. In other words, if a toddler is cared for in the copy of a family, as our time demands, then this copy should be close to the original.
If I could suggest something to Kristina Schröder and all of her colleagues in the federal states, it would be: 18 months of parental allowance for mothers, plus two for fathers.
A quality law for daycare centers that is implemented as quickly as possible and guarantees urgently needed standards. Women are still often the economic losers in this crib conflict. It is also up to politics to change that.
In fact, it is unfortunately the case that the federal government is not planning quality monitoring until 2020. The municipalities are responsible for improving quality - and they often decide on the budget. And besides, people get used to everything.
As long as there is a very high demand for bad products, there will be. Even though quality is not negotiable in this context. If nobody boycotts anything, if nobody gets involved, if nobody demonstrates - then nothing will change. And that's very bad news.
For now, we, the parents, have to take care of ourselves. Regardless of whether or not you have a daycare center. We have to look for ways out of the discomfort. Develop visions. Questioning the consensus.
As absurd as the comparison may seem: Thirty years ago, organic farmers were laughed at or even viewed with suspicion by industrial agriculture. Organic farming laws are now being passed at EU level. Perhaps, I sometimes think, thirty years from now many of us will think completely differently about how we should grow up our toddlers.
We could go back to the "original model of baby care", as suggested by the Heidelberg pediatrician Herbert Renz-Polster. “Where is it actually written that a company has to be a child-free district?” He asks. If you work at home, like I do now, you can definitely try it. The attachment researcher Karin Grossmann has some practical advice: "When my children were little, I put my desk in the playpen."
We could make the professional world less hermetic. Corporate day nurseries, where mothers come to cuddle and breastfeed in between. Coworking spaces with integrated daycare for freelance parents. Four of my friends and I took turns with childcare and worked during the parenting year. A small parent-child office. While I was researching this text with my grandparents in Croatia, my son was playing with his cousins in the yard.
More and more parents let their children grow up "appropriately", as they call it. They support each other in looking after each other, imitating a “tribe”. Your children don't have strollers because they are being carried. No cots because they sleep in the parents' bed. No bottles because they are breastfed. Not tons of toys because they play with what's there. It's children who consume less. Who may become freer and more confident adults. Not subordinate to any system. Not even capitalism.
What are people willing to forego money for?
An apprenticeship, a study abroad, an internship. A house, a car, an apartment. I don't know anyone who has taken out a loan to have their toddler looked after for a shorter period of time and with better quality. People save on sabbaticals, on trips around the world or on Macbooks. But to stay at home for an extra year?
While I sit at my parents' terrace table and think, my parents sit in the back of the garden with my son in the sand. Familiar.
I think: if childcare were like this - or almost like that - then I would easily work six hours a day.
Only a few days ago I heard a song, It's called Paradise, from the 1970s. “Who will build the new world if not you and me”, sings Rio Reiser.
And then: “I woke up and saw where we come from, where we are going. And the long road that lies ahead of us leads step by step into paradise. ”That might sound strange now. But I cried.
■ Jana Petersen, 35, is the sonntaz editor on parental leave
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