The new old trend

Economists often refer to a “reversion to the mean” where trends go back to the previous course, usually applying to the bent of the economy or prices of common shares. Nowadays it can be applied to social direction, where the deviation from previous shifts ends and go back to their previous development.

What is happening is a return to the old trend of the stay-at-home mothers that once again is becoming fashionable. Many housewives struggle with the question about activities. Should their life consist of making beds, shopping for groceries, chauffeuring children and that is it? As a concomitant, should children no longer remain at home when they reach four years of age?

For the past few decades, governments in Canada have decided to opt for early kindergarten so children can get ready for full-time schooling and then their careers. Junior kindergarten and even regular kindergarten have been slowly replacing their stay-at-home youngsters, a change bad for all concerned.

In the 1960s the share of mothers who did not work outside the home stood at around 50 per cent. They usually remained primarily as mothers teaching their children about their values and concepts of family life. In the succeeding decades that number of mothers who opted to remain primarily as mothers dropped to just 25%. Many believe that this number would continue to decline as woman sought to have it all, and that youngsters, say around four years of age, would benefit if their days were spent in a school setting.

Ontario, for example, instituted all-day, junior kindergarten for four-year-old children. That cost the province about $1 billion annually, but it was supposed to assist these children to develop earlier and be better prepared for a regular school. That was the theory.

In kindergarten, as part of this trend, play is being cancelled in the best interests to advance academic progress, all the while taking these children out of their mother’s home environment. Such things as being at their mother’s side is replaced by a school environment.

It is often stated that those who remain at home outside of paid work are wasting their talents. Yet, currently many women believe that they do not need a so-called status job to define their identity. They slowly realize that nurturing the next generation is by far the most worthwhile career choice. Later, of course, when their children are older, a working career could be more desirable and women then would feel fulfilled, it is becoming clear that denigrating the home environment does not help youngsters’ progress or social maturity. Once again, the new trend is the old one, a reversion to the mean.


Bruce Whitestone