I live in rural America, so it’s easy for me to find pictures of animals that would appall you. Because you are not used to seeing how people really treat their animals. You’d think people would hide their animals when they treat them poorly, but in fact, people convince themselves that what they are doing is ethically and morally fine. So it’s all out in the open.
This photo, in fact, is from our County Fair. The local kids work really hard all year to raise animals to show at the fair. But the way the animals are treated at the fair would blow your mind. These rabbits, for example, can’t move. And it’s a really hot day. When four pigs died from heat exhaustion during the fair I forgot to take photos. I was in shock.
People who live near me would think what I’m writing is controversial. They would tell you I don’t see the whole picture, I’m a black-and-white thinker. How there is no evidence that bunnies don’t like cages. Really.
My point here is that it’s easy to see when someone is violating your ethics as long as it’s convenient. As soon as it become inconvenient, cognitive dissonance kicks in. We have this mental defense mechanimsm for how we take care of animals and we have this for how we take care of children.
And we start adjusting our thinking to accommodate what we want to accept even for our own children soon after their birth.
Here’s how: 80% of babies spend time with an adult who is not their parent. Yet childcare is a largely unregulated industry.
We know a lot about early childhood through incredible amounts of data. Learning how to calm down after a setback or how to focus on a problem long enough to solve it is learned behavior that requires individual attention. Kids who grow up without that kind of attention tend to lack impulse control and have more emotional outbursts–it’s a big disadvantage.
We also know that according to a survey by the National Institute of Child Health Development only 10% of day care centers are providing good care.
It’s extremely unlikely that your day care center is providing good care. But we handle that just like we do for schools: Everyone tells themselves that their situation is the exception to the rule. Of course, it’s statistically impossible that everyone has a good day care provider. And also, it’s likely that most of the top 10% of day cares are extremely expensive, and if you are paying that much for day care you know it.
So face it: you need to start taking care of your kid on your own from the day your kid is born. You either take care of the kid yourself, in your home, or you pay someone to do it in your home. Or you can lie to yourself like most other people do.
And then you continue when they get older. You either take care of your school-age child in your home yourself. Or you pay someone else to do it in your home. Or you lie to yourself like most other people do.
It’s all about being inconvenienced. Taking care of a kid is not convenient. If we got in our heads that sending kids to crappy child care as babies is not okay, then we would think much harder about sending school-aged kids to crappy child care.
But what happens is that before we can bond with kids, they are off to daycare, and then we practice, every day, justifying our decision. And we end up with school, no matter how wasteful of a child’s time, seeming acceptable, even normal.