What would make Scotland the best in the world to bring up children?

Anyone that says “you decided to have kids, you should pay for them” is a shortsighted moron. Whether or not you want to have children yourself it is absolutely critical that we give kids the best start in life, regardless of their socio-economic background. That’s not just about being all liberal and left-wing, if we want a buyount economy we need a well-rounded, well-educated workforce and confident, passionate entrpreneurs. That means supporting children and their parents along the way.

The Scottish Government National Parenting Strategy is launched this week and Parenting Across Scotland have been asking ‘What do you think would make Scotland the best place in the world to bring up children?’ – hence my ranty blog post.

Here’s my wishlist:

Affordable childcare

According to a survey by childcare charity the Daycare Trust, the cost of a nursery place for a two-year-old has increased more than twice the rate of inflation. Free or heavily subsidised isn’t just a selfish request from a parent – it means more people can enter the workforce or start their own business. Significantly it means more women can begin a career, making Scotland a more egalitarian country.

Free education

Free from Nursery School right up to University. Your access to education should not be determined by how much money your parents have. 

Flexible working

We’re still obsessed with Mon-Fri 9-5, how quaint. More part-time roles, at all levels, means more parents can look after their kids and have a career. Does it really have to be one or the other?

Free access to relationship counselling and family mediation

OK I do some work with the charity Relationships Scotland but that’s not my reason for this one. I genuinely believe that a modest investment in these types of family support services could save the Scottish Government millions, if not billions, of pounds a year in social work costs, policing, Legal Aid and the list goes on. Parents that can communicate with each other, whether together or separated, are much more likely to work together for their kids best interests throughout their lives.

Stop private companies profiteering from public transport

I’m not sure if this should be on the list or not but I hate the fact that public transport has become a luxury in this country. It’s time that public tranport was truly public – allowing for a more mobile workforce and giving families the chance to travel freely.

Stop villifying sections of society

Thankfully I’d don’t think we’re seeing as much of this in the Scottish press as we are south of the border but we really need to stop villifying vast swathes of society, blaming them for our financial and social ills. Single parents, asylum seekers, disabled people, young people…somehow it’s their fault we’re in this mess.

 

So what help do you think mums and dads need? What do you think would make Scotland the best place in the world to bring up children?

Leave your comments and/or tweet your thoughts using the #PAS12 hashtag over on Twitter.

  • Public transport is a biggie isn’t it? My special needs nephew will now have to get two buses to his work because they have axed some routes. He will be forced to spend up to 4 hours a day travelling, to go 10 miles there and back if something can’t be worked out. Support, transport and practical help are all the things people seem to be missing.

  • Hi Ross, Excellent list and thanks for the mention. Family mediation and counselling is a really good suggestion. I think it would help countless families to get through difficult times. I suppose it’s all about interventions that help before people hit crisis point.

  • Great list. Childcare comes up time and time again and is just so crucial. It really goes with the flexible working bit – if employers were more family friendly perhaps parents might need slightly less childcare.Relationship support is so importnat and something we’ve been plugging away at for a long time. So many relationships break up in the very early years of a child’s life when there’s so much stress on families, and the whole world changes for relationships. Maybe, just maybe, more relationship support could help keep some families intact.And public transport is major for many parents – especially poorer parents and those living in rural areas.Watch #pas12 tomorrow for news on what’s in the National Parenting Strategy.

  • Some great points there. Particularly agree with the childcare and flexible working. Instilling a love for playing outdoors and learning to appreciate and respect the countryside is a cornerstone of parenting for me, something which I hope will become second nature to my children. Although I admit that my one reservation about leaving London will be removing them from the cultural diversity that is inherent in any big city. I guess I’ll just have to make sure my children continue to understand that people come in all shapes, sizes, colours and varieties and that all are equal.

  • Absolutely and wholeheartedly agree with your sentiment – we should embrace a "it takes a village to raise a child" attitude. Childcare provision is abhorrently expensive. My wife’s job, which is professional, counts for nothing, income-wise, because it all gets spent on childcare. And we are one of the lucky ones. Many mothers don’t work because they can’t afford to, which means a lot of women aren’t using their qualifications and arent’ contributing to the economy – as much as they would want to. This needs to be changed, radically – and quickly.