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How Child-Friendly Is Germany?

How child-friendly is Germany really?

Do we live in a child-friendly country, as is often claimed? Or is there a subliminal anti-child atmosphere? Opinions on this are divided. We show the status quo. Plus: What has to change and why it doesn’t work without the fathers

Family first? Not in Germany! At least that is the opinion of the journalist and blogger Nathalie Klüvert. In her new book ” Germany, a child-hostile country?” she writes that Germany only presents itself as a family and child-friendly country at first glance — but in reality, in most cases, parents are on their own. In an interview, the author reveals why this is the case and what needs to change.

The adjective “child-friendly” is advertised a lot and often: Can you define child-friendliness?

Child-friendliness is a climate and environment where attention is paid to the needs of children and not just to the comfort of adults. This includes approaching things at eye level and not looking down, as adults like to do. Children with all their typically childish idiosyncrasies are welcome in a child-friendly environment — and one of these idiosyncrasies is that children generally have a greater urge to move than adults, and sometimes talk and laugh louder.

Is Germany itself a child-friendly country?

no “Germany is a country weaned of children,” former family minister Renate Schmidt once said. And that’s pretty much it. Families have been pushed out of public space — so much so that children and their needs have been forgotten in many places. Much in our society, the public space, is designed for the needs of adults.

In which everyday situations is child hostility felt?

Right from the start, parents have the feeling that they are disturbing their children or that they are being noticed in an unpleasant way. Many begin apologizing before the children have even done anything, or are overly considerate of others, such as only dining out at times when no one else is eating. One notices this latent child hostility in many small everyday situations. In waiting areas without play opportunities, in the raised eyebrows when children are a bit louder, in exaggerated sighs or reproachful “Can’t you control your child” when the toddler rolls on the floor in a fit of rage. But also because of the children’s lack of opportunities to have a say: if, for example, the schoolyard is redesigned without asking the students what they want. And: On the discrimination of families in tax law or pension law. Why, for example, are diapers subject to 19 percent VAT, but truffles or coffee only 7 percent? Why can’t school materials be deducted from taxes in the same way as textbooks for work?

What do families suffer most from in Germany?

Families not only suffer from the raised eyebrows described above, the lack of play opportunities for children, but also from the financial disadvantages. Everything costs more with children. We parents raise the children, who will one day finance the pensions of those without children. So, if you like, we are making a double contribution to the contract between generations: we are paying the pensions of the current seniors. And pay for the future payers, the current generation of workers. There is clearly no financial balance here.

Is “child hostility” the same as “parent hostility”?

Child hostility is not parent hostility per se, but family hostility. Childophobia encompasses more than parentophobia. But of course, parental hostility is also a problem in Germany. This is particularly evident in the world of work, where unfortunately parents are still very much discriminated against — for example, when mothers are sorted out when they apply for jobs because they could get sick. Or when meetings are scheduled for the afternoon hours, when part-time workers are usually already at home. And parental hostility is expressed in the aforementioned structural disadvantages in pension law.

What would have to change to make Germany a more child-friendly country?

We need noticeable financial relief for families, combined with stronger efforts to combat child poverty. Then we need family suffrage or at least universal suffrage from 16 to shift the age of voters, which currently has a clear majority of older people. As a result, politicians would have to decide more in favor of young people and families in their decisions and programs. We need children’s rights to be anchored in the Basic Law. Because then all political decisions have to be checked for their impact on children and children have to be more involved in decisions, which strengthens participation and makes it mandatory. And there is an urgent need for a better work-life balance more family-friendly working conditions and better childcare options. This helps in the fight against child poverty and strengthens the mothers.

What contribution can fathers in particular make to make Germany more child-friendly?

Be more present in upbringing and family life. Get involved in compatibility and make families visible in working life. The more fathers get involved in bringing up children and family life, the more children will be involved in decisions. Children should not only be a mother’s business, but also a father’s business. If it goes without saying that fathers take parental leave or look after the sick child, then mothers are no longer so disadvantaged in working life.

Which country is particularly child-friendly?

As far as child-friendliness, family-friendliness and agreement are concerned, we should take the Scandinavian countries as a model. There is well-developed childcare here, which means that there are significantly more women in management positions and children are much more present and welcome in everyday life.

What would be the advantages if Germany were more child-friendly?

We all benefit from a child-friendly society. A more child-friendly society is characterized by a better work-life balance because private life is upgraded and given more space. A child-friendly public space is greener, more pedestrian-friendly, and improves the quality of stay. Child-friendly communities attract families, preventing entire towns from dying out, maintaining infrastructure, and keeping towns alive. And: If politics consistently includes the well-being of children in all decisions by anchoring children’s rights, then politics cannot be limited to the next legislative period, but must look further into the future and thus also tackle problems such as climate change or the pension and social security system. You can also turn it around: A sustainable, modern society must be child-friendly. And: A child-friendly society is geared toward the well-being of the weaker. This ensures more justice and consideration for each other. Ultimately, we all benefit from this, including the elderly.

Conclusion: Children are our future

Children are our future — so we should also create a child-friendly environment. The Scandinavian countries attach great importance to this, no wonder that they are among the most livable countries in the world. As Nathalie Klüvert aptly puts it: “A sustainable, modern society must be child-friendly.” And we are all in control!

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