Parenting is a job in itself, however it is one of the most highly scrutinized and poorly judged areas that can make the job of raising a child something to want to hide from the public eye. Parents are judged on crying babies, mis-matched clothes, dummies, bottles- anything and everything that a parent does for a child can be taken in a negative way. Society is good at labeling ‘bad mothers’ especially; those among us who have children that seem to feel the need to fill every second of their day with screaming. This flows from the streets straight into a doctors office, where problems with babies and infants are often overlooked as the problem has already been decided to be the parents themselves. In a society driven by money and lack of available support (unless carrying a loaded wallet), are our judgments purely unfair?
We have all seen the typical new-age mother out and about, make-up done, hair done, matching clothes and accessories, and her darling baby sitting quietly in the pram taking in the world around it. Then, we have all seen the mother pushing her screaming infant in the pram while brushing her unwashed un-done hair from her bleak face that hovers above her mismatched clothes that are patterned with baby vomit and the leftovers of dear babies breakfast that morning. Society looks at these mothers and assumes that they must not be good parents and quite often strangers will give mothers advice such as “perhaps you should feed that baby”, or as a medical practitioner said as she stuck her face in the pram of my screaming baby, “doesn’t your mother know what she is doing darling?” Quite often these babies have a medical problem that lacks proper diagnosis.
With reactions like this, people like to judge rather than to help. Until you have an child with a problem, it can be easy to fall into the trap of seeing parents as doing the wrong thing, when they merely may not have the means financially to get the help that their child needs. Doctors are trained in General Practice, and often will admit that they do not know too much about pediatrics, which is often un-welcomed news for a parent with an issue that they need fixed imminently. All a GP will do is write off a referral to a pediatrician- a child specialist. This sounds simple enough, until the parent rings to make that appointment. Waiting lists are long, and costs are high. 2012 saw me trying every pediatrician in town to get my young one in for an appointment. Losing weight and refusing to eat, I was told that as the pediatricians are scheduled for a holiday my appointment would take 6 months to get. The advice for the meantime? Let my child deteriorate until hospitalization was necessary. As I had worked day and night for three months simply trying to keep my child alive, I was not willing to go backwards at any level. This was my first time at realizing the poor state of availability for care for infants in our society.
Apart from the waiting lists, there is high costs involved that make it even harder- even if there was an availability within the pediatrics office. First consultation was to be in excess of $300- money I sure as heck do not have laying around, and most families living of one income do not have. I begged and pleaded with these offices to let me make a payment arrangement, but no such luck. This got me to wondering about all of these mothers, their screaming babies, and the cry out from Governments all over the world to stop childhood neglect. A parent not getting proper care for their infant or child is in fact noted as neglect. However a Government not creating an avenue where these families can get specialized help without missing a rent payment or grocery shop, is efficient governing?
I would like to know how many doctors, government workers and other high paid people have had to endure months on end of infant vomiting, screaming for 9-10hours solid, failing to gain weight and being in pain before someone took notice? I would vote, probably none, and therefore it is not possible to pose an issue of importance to these people. How on earth can governments stipulate what neglect is, when they seem so unaware themselves? We have help for low income earners, elderly people, those who are overweight, those suffering with mental illness- just about anything there is some availability around for extra help when needed. So what about the children? What about the young, innocent, defenseless infants that deserve the most help out of everyone? Governments can do things such as provide clean needles, provided to drug addicts for free, so why can’t they subsidize the cost of specialist care for infants and children? Even a little effort would make a world of difference. It certainly would help them save money in the long run, as these children could get treated before they provide a need to utilize a hospital bed, and hospital staff, medication etc all provided by the state. It is time to put money into the key areas- those who literally do not have a voice to tell the problem to someone.
Granted, there are definitely a large number of parents who do not do the job correctly and the general idea from society is that those parents should not get help to pay for children’s appointments, but possibly give up a few of their habits for a week or so. I fully agree in this instance, however we all know that is unlikely to happen with some people and need to see situations for what they really are. Regardless of the parents actions, habits, or lifestyle, ALL children should be seen as equally important and those who care for their children in generally acceptable ways should not look down at these children. I would much rather know that a children with a medical problem has a way to get the medical help needed regardless of the actions of their parents, than to know that they are suffering daily without help. Unwell babies are not easy to cope with for any family member. If we had easy access to proper care then we can help entire family units get back on track and enjoy their new member. Personally, we had to make a decision that was bittersweet. We had to pack up our belongings and move into families homes as we needed our rent money for formula- formula that was costing $70 every two days. Once we saw a pediatrician this was reduced to $3 every two days. Makes sense that the government helps, so that families require less assistance further down the track. We are not the only ones who have been in this situation, but I would like to know that other people can one day have options that make it possible to not have to be in these positions. Parents all have a voice. It is time to use them in positive ways, and let the masses know about the failures in society so that there is some hope that one day important changes can be implemented.