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Fionnuala O'Leary: Working parents have enough guilt without this


The Giraffe Childcare creche in Stepaside

The Giraffe Childcare creche in Stepaside

The Giraffe Childcare creche in Stepaside

IT was the bit about the child's head being pushed down at nap time that did it for me.

Of all the allegations about the quality of care in creches which have emerged over the past few days, this was the one that made me feel queasy.

Perhaps it was because I had visions of my spirited little three-year-old daughter being subjected to the same kind of treatment.

The image of an energetic little tot popping their cute little head back up to ask another question or to mischievously attempt to catch the eye of a pal is normal in creches, I'd assume.

The thought of a childcare professional forcing the same child's head back down on its pillow is just so rough and uncaring that it makes you feel sick.

I must admit, there was a definite moment this morning as I sat at my desk that I had to refrain from grabbing my bag and my coat and heading straight for the creche.

I feel like a terrible mother most days, but today there was an extra sharp piercing of guilt thrown in for good measure.

I wanted to rescue my daughter and her nine-month-old brother, bring them home and close the door on the world.

The brutal story about the beheading in London should have been the most unsettling news story on my mind.

Instead I was completely wrapped up in whether my baby was being tied in a high chair for hours or my three- year-old was having expletives screamed at her.

Every morning that my two children are left at the creche I'm aware I am completely handing over trust to someone else.

This is a galling reality which many working parents have to face.

Thankfully, I completely trust the creche my children attend.

But then again, I assume the parents of children in the creches mentioned felt the same.

I really feel for the thousands of women who work in creches up and down this country who'll be devastated by these findings.

Most parents who visit these facilities twice a day will attest that the women who work there display unparalleled levels of patience and energy.

The sheer costs associated with running a creche means this is not a career choice if financial gain is your main objective.

Women – and it is women in the main – are drawn to this job because they enjoy caring for children.

They know what soft toy your child likes to sleep with or the strange angle your baby likes to tilt his head to drink his bottle.

And the thoughts that parents are now mistrusting them will deeply hurt the majority of caring individuals involved in this sector.

'Prime Time' should be commended for lifting the lid on this kind of awful behaviour.

But working mothers and fathers have to refrain from piling extra guilt on themselves.

We're under enough pressure from know-it-alls who find subtle ways to tell us we're causing our kids all kinds of long-term damage.

Hopefully if you're conscientiously doing your best for your kids, then the chances are things will work out fine.

That is if the parental guilt doesn't chew you up from the inside out in the meantime.

Irish Independent