Saturday, June 4, 2011

Use, or Abuse, of 'the system' ?

Today I was told I have a 'choice' to either stay at home and be a mother to my children, or to go out to work to feed us all.

Actually, I don't have a choice. I HAVE to go to work.

Why? Because there is nobody to support us financially if I don't, and despite what some people seem to believe, man cannot live on love alone.

My kids need my love and nurturing, but they also need a roof over their heads and clothes to keep them warm. Sadly, these things do not come for free.

When I was left high and dry, and without two pennies to rub together, I was forced to go, begging bowl in hand, to the social services. Thank goodness for State support to help people out when they unexpectedly fall on hard times. I was truly grateful for the assistance we received. Without it we would have been sunk.

I talk a great deal in Renaissance about how I was subsequently treated by the Swiss 'system'. I was forced to hand my children over to strangers to go out and work for a living. I didn't feel ready to do it, and it's certainly not what I had planned to do when I made the decision to have children.

But the Swiss 'system' is designed to help those in dire need, and not as a mechanism for certain people to have their lifestyle choice subsidised by the hard work of others. In Switzerland, you are encouraged to work for your benefits, and to pay them back once you're back on your feet.

I was devastated to have to give my children up whilst they were still so young. I was, and remain, jealous of the child minder, for she gets to spend as much time with them as I do.

But on the flip-side, returning to work has given me something back which I thought I'd never regain; my self respect.

We are now in a situation where we don't have to rely on State support. I provide fully for my family, in every way. This makes me immensely proud, and it teaches my children a work ethic they might otherwise not have been taught so soon.

We treasure the time we have together. All our family time is pure 'quality' time, and the material possessions we have are all paid for with my honest wage. It's been a struggle, and I won't pretend it's easy. It's bloody hard work. But at the end of the day, it's necessary. There simply is no choice in the matter, at least that's how I see it.

If I were to choose to live off the State indefinitely, I don't think I could feel as proud as I do. I'm now grateful that the Swiss system got me back into the workplace when it did. It was a push in the right direction. I'm happy to pay into the system, and I was grateful to have it to fall back on in my hour of need. But I'm also glad that I'm not expected to fund other peoples lifestyle choices either. I believe if you're lucky enough to procreate and can support your family yourself, then it's absolutely fine to stay at home. But where's the self respect in staying at home and expecting others to fund you?

Is that not abusing the system?

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