OPINION: Telling a B.C. child care official women should stay home with kids is sexist and smarmy

Burnaby NOW


This week I was especially horrified by a response received on Twitter by Burnaby-Lougheed MLA Katrina Chen, who is also the minister of state for child care.

Chen has been announcing a series of new child-care spaces, including 2,300 in Vancouver Thursday, July 4.

Burnaby Lougheed MLA Katrina Chen, the minister of state for child care, and B.C. Finance Minister Carole James play with kids at the Morley Child Care Centre at Morley Elementary School. Photo by Cornelia Naylor/Burnaby NOW

Instead of joining the conversation with a nuanced take, somebody (Chen retweeted a screenshot with the name blacked out) lobbed out this gem: “How about staying home to raise your young children?”

Gee, why didn’t anyone think of that? It’s so simple? (Eye roll…)

Now, I respect anyone who stays at home to raise their children – it’s what I would consider an often-thankless full-time job. But that’s usually a person’s choice and it doesn’t make you any better of a parent than anyone else. The key word here is “choice” because not a lot of people are able to make that choice due to financial considerations.

Raising a family in Metro Vancouver on one income is really hard to do. Two people working and paying for child care is no picnic either. Some parents also have no choice but to stay at home because child care more expensive than what they can get working full time.

There are so many variables at play, so for somebody to just wade into this with such a smarmy, condescending take is ridiculous and offensive.

“That’s such a lazy argument in defence of the lack of affordable, accessible childcare. Every family has a different situation and choices they make. None is better than another,” tweeted Kim Coleman.

The tweet was also tinged with some rampant sexism aimed at Chen – implying that she should just stay at home with her children.

At least some people took it that way.

There was also this straight-fire tweet from North Vancouver City Councillor Jessica McIloy:

One response to Chen’s tweet that also upset me mentioned that “you do without the vacations and dinners out and raise the child yourself.”

I hear this a lot. That parents who stay home full time with their children are somehow better people because they apparently have “sacrificed” more than others – as though the rest of us are just blowing our paycheques on foie gras at Hawksworth.

Child, please.

You’re embarrassing yourself.

One final note is about the assumption that a child being at daycare means somebody else is “raising” your kids or should be considered some sort of negative.

My daughter benefited greatly from daycare. She loved her teachers, she loved the friends she made – friends she still has today. For us, it truly was an early childhood education.

But that was, of course, our choice.

You are free to make yours – just don’t be condescending about it.