Tag Archives: children

If Nanny Bloomberg were your dad

The New York Post recently reported that Mayor Michael Bloomberg is going to be a first-time grandpa when his 30-year-old unmarried, equestrian daughter Georgiana gives birth this coming winter. The mayor’s spokesman told Page Six that Bloomberg “is thrilled and can’t wait to meet his first grandchild.” Nice that he’s so eager, but if your dad was the Nanny of New York City who’d spent the past decade banning “bad” habits and mandating “healthy” behavior, you might have a bit different perspective.  Imagine a conversation between daddy and daughter regarding the pregnancy. It might go something like this:

Dad: Hi Georgie. How are you feeling?

Georgiana: Fine Daddy, thanks.

D: What have you been eating?

G: I’m trying to keep it healthy, dad. Breakfast was vanilla yogurt, granola and berries. I’ve stopped drinking coffee. I’m only drinking water and juice.

D: I know you take care of yourself, but haven’t you been following my effort to stop New Yorkers from eating too much sugar? Fruit juice, yogurt, granola? You know how much added sugar those things have? Recent studies have shown that sugar is so “toxic” you might give birth to a baby prone to obesity if you don’t watch out.

G: OK, dad.

D: Remember what I said at the press conference when that stupid judge overturned my soda ban? “I’ve gotta defend my children, and you, and everybody else and do what’s right to save lives…Obesity kills.” Lay off the sugar, ok?

G: OK, Dad.

D: What about other meals?

G: I’ve stopped eating fish because of the mercury. So I’m eating hamburgers and steak for the red meat and lots of hard, pasteurized cheeses.

D: That’s too much salt, darling. Don’t you remember my former department of health chief Thomas “sourpuss” Frieden? He’s now director of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention and he says that almost a million people a year die from heart attacks and strokes due to overindulging in salt. They don’t actually have proof that salt is directly responsible for all those deaths, of course, but it is obviously really, really bad to eat too much salt.

G: OK, Dad.

D:  Georgie, the news says you aren’t taking any time off from horseback riding for the baby.

G: Yes, dad.

D: Well, if you aren’t going to take time off, how will you exclusively breastfeed? I’ve been working very hard to force mothers into breastfeeding by putting formula under lock and key at city hospitals. I’m doing that because breast is best! Just like my Latch-On NYC campaign says, mothers can save their newborns from diabetes, obesity, ear infections and protect their immune system with breast-milk. Formula is basically poison.

G: OK, dad.

D: OK.

G: I do have a question for you?

D: Shoot.

G: I know you and mom are divorced but you were married when Emma and I were born and I’m just wondering whether you think it would be better for the baby if I were married to the baby’s father [my boyfriend, fellow equestrian, Argentinian-born] Ramiro [Quintana]?

D: Sweetheart, you know that I love and support you no matter what you do right?

G: Yes, dad.

D: But really I can’t tell you what to do.

G: Uh, thanks Dad.

Great Scot! This ‘state-sponsored parent’ law takes the cake

Scotland is debating the mother of all nanny-state laws: Whether every child in the land should have a “named-person” (aka a ‘state-sponsored parent’) to “promote, support or safeguard the well-being of the child or young person.”

The idea is to provide every child with their own government bureaucrat to act as an arbiter of the child’s well-being. The “named-person” is someone other than the child’s parent.

According to the Scottish government this law will:

  • Place a duty on NHS (National Health Service) Boards to allocate every child with a named person from birth to school age
  • Place a duty on local authorities to allocate every child with a named person until they are 18 or leave school, whichever is later.
  • Oblige all relevant authorities to share information with the named person if it is necessary to safeguard, support and promote the well-being of the child.

As current Scotish Minister for Children and Young People, Aileen Campbell puts it:  “We want Scotland to be the best place in the world for them to grow up. A place where rights are respected and where children can access all the opportunities and support they need, when they need it.”

But what Campbell means when she says “rights” is the rights of the children, as defined by the government, not the rights of the parents to raise their own children as they see fit and without government interference.

According to a report in the Scottish Express there is plenty of opposition and concern about the surveillance and information gathering nature of this legislation: “For children under five, the state guardian will usually be a health visitor, while for school-age children it will usually be the headteacher or deputy…They will have to record “routine information” about their charges, which is then stored in a vast database, and can raise concerns about a child’s wellbeing that could ultimately result in them being taken into [government] care.” And as a home-schooling advocate argued “I wouldn’t rule out a legal challenge to these specific aspects,” said Alison Preuss Secretary of the Schoolhouse Home Education Association.

Of course there are already people functioning as “state-sponsored parents” who are absolutely thrilled with the task. Marion Samson, headteacher at Westquarter Primary and Nursery in Falkirk, is a ‘Named Person’ who says her role is to “challenge” families who are not bringing up their children properly.But where does the idea that a school teacher is somehow better able to raise a child than the kid’s parent? And as one observer has noted, the legislation does little solve a problem, and instead is just reinforcing a failed system. As Scotland Herald columnist Ian Bell wisely wrote against the legislation: “The number of children coming into public care is rising year on year. But instead of looking to why this is the case, and prioritising (sic.) measures that would reduce the harm of broken families, the Bill is concerned with mitigating the failure of prevention.”
It might seem like from a distance in the US, we can look down on this sort of Big Brother parenting. And happily, the American system isn’t quite at the this stage of government interference with parents rights. But that doesn’t mean that we’re so far removed from this level of government nannying either.
I recently received a survey from the Pennsylvania office of Child Development and Early Learning to assess the state-licensed daycare that my children attend. Some of the questions had to do with the quality of care and programming at the facility. But not all. In addition to those evaluative queries, the survey asks me to judge how well the daycare is bringing available government welfare programs to my attention. The reason for asking seems to be based on the notion that a day care should be in the business of pushing parents to take advantage of government welfare services. This is not why I’m sending my kid to daycare, mind you. But it is part of the state’s agenda for its own definition of “caring for children.”
We aren’t Scotland yet, but we ought to be careful about how complacent we get about allowing non-elected bureaucrats from getting into our private family business.