Corona has hurt children to enter into relationships – how do we change that

When it comes to the question of whether, when and how their children are cared for by third parties, author Nora Imlaw says, parents should listen to their gut feeling.Photo: getty Images/liderina

an interview

Julia Janachek

Nora Imlaw is one of the most famous educational counselors for children. In her new book, In Good Hands: How We Build a Network of Strong Bonds for Our Children, the journalist, author, and mother of four addresses the question of what kind of care and relationships our children need and how parents can feel good.

In an interview with Watson, she told how Corona shaped children, what parents now need from society and why you can simply borrow grandparents.

Nora Emlaw is a mother of four and author of Needs Based Education.

Nora Emlaw is a mother of four and author of Needs Based Education.Photo: Nessi Jasman

Watson: Mrs. Imlaw, in your new book gives advice on choosing the right daycare center, among other things. Doesn’t this fact miss a bit? In big cities especially, people are lucky if they ever find a free daycare center.

Nora Imlaw: There is actually a chapter in the book about that. So it’s important to realize that care can go on just fine, because we can also have a certain amount of confidence in daycares. We don’t need a perfect daycare center for our kids, just as kids don’t need perfect parents. One of the other shortcomings is perfectly tolerated by children, as long as the basic attitude is correct and teachers treat children in a friendly and caring manner. This is all and the end of it all.

What is important then?

Then it is important to discuss the basics with the facility in advance that are particularly important to you. I wrote in the book, and I want to repeat it now, that most daycares are good, even if not perfect.

“If I don’t have a choice, I have a 90% chance that my child will be cared for super to the best.”

Nora Imlaw

Where do you trust that your child is in safe hands in the nursery?

We know from the so-called Nubek study – the largest quality study on the subject of day care centers in Germany – that about ten percent of all facilities in Germany provide excellent quality of care. 80 percent is somewhere in the middle and 10 percent of all daycares are so bad that they should close immediately because they are in conditions that are really dangerous for children. And if I had no choice, I had a 90 percent chance that my child would be taken care of from best to best.

Ten percent of daycares are bad — but that doesn’t necessarily sound like a little.

There is also a 10 percent chance that the child is in a bad day care center. I know it’s hard to be cared for when you’re under a lot of stress: but especially when I don’t have a choice, I have to be especially careful during the settling period and the first day in nursery. If my child ends up in a really bad daycare, I can’t close my eyes.

A daycare center doesn't need a Waldorf or Montessori concept to be good.

A daycare center doesn’t need a Waldorf or Montessori concept to be good.Photo: Getty Images

Young children cannot speak well. How do you even know that?

It is important to be open minded during the settlement process and not just look at the way people talk to me or my child. But: How do other children behave in nursery school? Do they move freely and confidently? If the children seem too shy and introverted and the children do not dare to contact the teachers: these will be warning signs. Adults may do their best when there are other adults in the room, but children behave in the nursery the way they feel in the nursery.

In your book, you describe the importance of attachments for children. Because of Corona, many nurseries have been closed for a long time. How did that affect retention?

Interestingly, there is a study from Canada that reports that the relationship between parents and children has actually improved during the lockdown. But at the same time it can be shown that the network of family links has become very small during connection restrictions. Many of the children have almost only seen their parents, and some have not been in the daycare for weeks, even though they are already acclimated. This is very unsuitable for building a bond if you keep starting from scratch. Many parents told me that it took longer to get used to and that it was very difficult for the children to settle down. The parents themselves also had a feeling that they were hard to let go of because they didn’t really connect with the teachers themselves.

“For me, it is specifically about calling out to fathers and children: you don’t have to do everything together on your own.”

Nora Imlaw

How did that affect the children?

Many children today suffer from more social anxiety and difficulty communicating with others outside of their immediate core family. Because Corona children and young children are not aware of these accidental interactions in the supermarket or on the playground.

Could this permanently damage the ability to form relationships?

Links can always be fixed. Such a bond is not a constant thing that happens once and then is good or bad and stays that way forever. Interdependence arises from countless interactions, from many experiences. Fortunately in a child’s development, it’s not that the time window for building a network of bonding closes again after a year or two.

Ideally, children enjoy going to nursery school or school.

Ideally, children enjoy going to nursery school or school.Photo: Getty Images

You write that a “bonding village” should be created to take care of children because it is difficult for parents to do everything on their own. But what if friends and grandparents are not interested in the child?

This thread or thread village shouldn’t be another pressure point on your to-do list. What I specifically want to do is say to parents and children: You don’t have to do everything together alone. It is very different from what this network of communications might look like. Big or small, these are all equal options. But I think it’s important to ask ourselves, as parents, the question: What kind of attachment network would I be ideal for, and what really gives me strength? Then I have to evaluate. If I don’t have grandparents, there are, for example, intended grandparents, where single or older individuals who still have resources support the family. Very valuable relationships can grow from it.

It said Time and time again, children and families are the losers of the pandemic. What do you think can be done to improve family overcrowding?

In terms of family policy, I think the most logical course of action is to switch to the working time calculation model. Men and women can accumulate hours and then both only work 50 or 60 percent while caring for young children, for example. And later, when the kids are out, they work more again. The term for this is “Breath CV”. Why is it really expected in our society that we consistently work 40 hours a week, regardless of whether we are 28 or 58? And it doesn’t matter whether we have young children to take care of, or whether we take care of the parents, or whether we have a lot of space and strength at the moment?

So, so to speak, preparatory work for a time when you have less time due to family or care work?

It would be ideal if the weekly working time was reduced, especially for parents in the family stage, and the families still had an income from which they could live. In my view, that would be the biggest comfort of all in terms of family politics: that families would have more time together. It is important for society as a whole to draw attention to the fact that family and children are not special pleasures. But as a society we also share responsibility for the future generation.

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