How Much Does Infant Child Care Cost in Singapore?

Parents are usually divided between sending their infant to child care centers, independent caregivers or leaving the new baby under the care of family members or relatives. However, for younger mothers whose parents are still working, and the relatives are working too, their options become much more limited. Most of the time, they will resort to entrusting their bundle of joy under the care of institutionalised childminding services. But, what about the cost of sending an infant to child care centers, which are usually higher than the cost of independent caregivers like a babysitter or nanny?

Infant child care centers licensed by ECDA

In Singapore, licensed child care centers are regulated by ECDA or Early Childhood Development Agency. The total number of child care centers are more than 1500, however, only 615 such centres offer infant care services. Infant care is meant for children between 2 to 18 months old. For children above that age, they can join regular child care centers and preschool education.

It is quite competitive to obtain a place in these centres for your infant, so you must act early to secure an enrolment spot. As of the second quarter of 2019, total enrolment at such centres were more than 6,300. Most infants stay there full-day. So what about the cost? Be prepared to spend an average of $1,563 per month as this is the average full-day fees, with the median of $1,364 per month.

Fortunately, Singaporean government is very supportive of working mothers because parents can claim subsidy from the government. The subsidy rate is based on household income. After subsidy, the fee may be reduced between $300 to $400 at the most for each family. An affordable infant child care center to consider is My Little Campus’:

Private child care centers

Other than child care centers licensed by the government agency, parents can also opt for privately owned ones. Even though a bit higher on the cost scale, it is still very affordable for working parents. Private child care centers usually have their own methods and techniques incorporated into their daily activities with infants.

We can say that private child care centers can be divided into community-based centers and premium centers. Cost of sending an infant to community-based centers are lower, between $1,300 and $1,700.  Premium centres with international curriculum can range from $2,000 and $3,000.

Parents prefer child care centers because their children are looked after qualified caregivers and there is fixed routine blended with learning. The environment also supports infant learning.

Domestic helpers or live-in nannies

Other options for parents who prefer their children to grow within own surroundings, are to find a domestic helper or live-in nanny. However, there are many challenges to be wary about in such arrangements, especially with both parents working. Some says that this is more beneficial, including cost-wise, but if we burden the helper or nanny with too much house chores, their energy to look after an infant will be depleted and it negates the purpose of finding quality care for the children.

Hence, parents must consider every choice wisely because an infant deserves the best loving care from responsible adults. The caregivers can be any adults, but there is a non-negotiable standard called quality.

How to Find the Best Infant Child Care Center Near You

The search for your child’s education options and path is one that will take time and effort. Some might be well-equipped with research skills to look for the best infant child care for their soon-to-arrive bundle of joy. But some others are more restricted in their time and resources, hence the help they need in every step of the way. To ease things, this article tries to provide the most basic steps that every parent should do when they are finding the solution of infant child care when the baby finally arrives.

Step 1. Begin your search before or during the second trimester of pregnancy

Dads and moms, if the baby is in the second trimester, you are quite late but still have some valuable time left. Other parents out there start when… the baby is still with the stork. So now, you are at already at the threshold. Please prepare your pen and paper or open your laptop and a Word document.

Step 2. List down all infant child care center options nearest to home

On the paper, or the Word document, whichever one you prefer, make two big columns for infant child care centers and independent caregivers (nanny or babysitters). If you do not even care about the other one, do not strike it out just yet. It might prove to be useful in the end, when you are stuck one way or another.

Where is the resources you can refer to? Go straight to government websites easily found online where you can download a list of infant child care service providers based on the area where you live. You are very encouraged to look for near-to-home centers to avoid unnecessary challenges of commuting with an infant or toddler. You also do not want to tire them unnecessarily due to long hours of commute. Next, search for private infant child care centers, too. For this one, you can ask around from friends or other parents, or just hit the Internet and compare.

To find a babysitter or nanny, connect with other experienced mothers in your area. Since one out of ten infants stay in child care centers, it may mean that babysitters and nannies are still popular choice among parents. Take the babysitter or nanny’s contact details right away when you hear good word-of-mouth testimonials from other mothers.

Now both columns are filled with names and contact details. Be ready for the next journey.

Step 3. Visit each infant child care center based on priority

This can be any moms and dads’ most favourite step. Make time to visit each infant child care center and babysitter you shortlisted after Step No. 2. Maybe one or two each week until delivery of the baby, after you make a priority list. That way, if you do not have time to visit all of them, at least you have visited the most preferred.

You can also create some sort of private rating to give to these centres after each visit. Sort them out based on child care fee, types of activities, opening hours, caregivers and child ratio, meal options, distance from home, transportation service, etc. Then you can total up the rating points and make an informed decision.

Step 4. Make early reservations or registrations

Do not forget to make early reservations, especially if the child care center of your choice is highly sought after by other parents.

We hope that these steps will save you some time in the chaos of preparing for a new baby and a new chapter in life.

Activities for Development at Infant Child Care Centers

For parents who choose to send their children to nurturing infant child care centers, you may be interested to know what activities are provided for your infant while you are away working. Even though your precious one is still laying down all day and most of their awake times are only intervals between long naps, there are ways to stimulate them based on proven science. Once your infant turns into a toddler, their mobility may allow for more interesting activities.

Below are some insights into activities at several centers, without direct mention of the brands or institutions:

Stimulation of five senses

The five basic senses are sight, hearing, smell, taste and touch. Stimulation of these senses is achieved through many means. For touch sensation, it may involve fabric play, stroking sensation, hand painting, and messy play. Some centre also has sessions for the infants to hear classical music. This does not only stimulate the infant’s sense of hearing but believed to stimulate brain development as well. Some centers include sessions to play with bubbles and balls for older children, and learning from flash cards, which even though traditional but proven effective. Children is made ready for higher stage of learning in school only after all their five senses are exposed to adequate stimulation during preschool years. When children’s sensorial development is unfulfilled, they are set to hardship in primary schools. It will be difficult for them to learn as fast as their peers. Thus, it is important to be attentive about children’s basic senses.

Motor skills development

Nurturing environment is the best for infant and toddler between 2 to 18 months old because this is the most delicate time for their growth and development. Other than nutritious meals, they must also be allowed to move about and not confined to the crib or restricted fenced areas for the whole duration. During this period, an infant will learn how to roll over or sit, reach for toys, turns pages of book boards and begin to crawl and stand up. Without dedicated care by a caregiver, it is difficult to provide development-boosting activities for each infant. Paying extra is nothing compared to right ratio of caregivers and babies available in a well-supervised and well-regulated infant child care center.

Communication skills practice

From its environment and its interaction with caregivers, infants pick up sounds and voices, shares his or her first smile, babbles meaninglessly, imitates others, expresses feelings, seeks attention and does many communicative acts. Stimulating activities that encourage communications include singing rhymes together and dancing to music, learning about the sounds of animals, reading books together, introducing names of things and other children’s names, imitating gestures, educating them about routines and many more.

When you visit infant child care centers before deciding where to send your infant, make sure to ask the child care providers what activities are provided for the infants under their care. If they are serious about infant child care, you can detect it right away from their passion, the curriculum and their answers.

Convincing Reasons Why Expat Parents Should Send Children to an International School in Singapore

Did you recently move to Singapore? Are looking for a good school to enroll your kids? Are you finding it difficult choosing between an international and a local school? If you answered yes to these questions, you are not alone. You see, there are many expat parents like you that are facing the exact same challenge.

To scale through this challenge and decide that you won’t regret in the long run, you are going to need all the help you can get.

As a kind and loving parent, you are ready to do whatever it takes to give your child a head-start in life. One of the best ways you can do this is by enrolling your kid into a good school.

No doubts, you have the freedom to enroll your kids into any school you like, but if you want them to grow and reach their potential quicker, then you should send them to an international school.

In this article, we are going to be looking at some compelling reasons why you should consider sending your kids into any of the best international schools in Singapore.

Diverse student body

Unlike public or hybrid schools where more than half of the student population are locals, the student bodies of international school are made of kids from different parts of the world. So, when you send your kid to one, he is going to be exposed to new cultures and will have an opportunity to build his social skill and learn how to get along with other kids.

If you plan to send your kid to overseas for tertiary education, then it is wise you send him to an international school.

Student-teacher ratio

As you likely know, no two kids are completely the same. While there are some that have a flair for learning and the ability to understand complicated concepts easily, there are others that need extra help or one-on-one assistance from teachers. If your child falls into this category then you should send him to an international school as he will get all the attention he needs to master basic and complex subjects.

Presently, most public schools in Singapore have about 25 to 30 students per teacher. International schools, on the other hand, have about 10 to 20 students per teacher. Since the student-teacher ratio is good, you can be confident that your child will get all the attention and care he needs to thrive academically.


The curriculum of most international schools in Singapore is comprehensive, rich, and widely recognized for its emphasis on critical thinking and creativity. The curriculum literally prepares kids for course work they can expect in the university.

Final note

The benefits of sending your kids to an international school are endless. From improving their social skill to boosting their cognitive abilities, international schools have what it takes to help children reach their potential. Of course, they aren’t perfect but the benefits they offer far outweigh any disadvantages they may have.

3 Things You Must Do When Visiting an International School in Singapore

Finding a good international school in Singapore is getting more and more difficult. With so many new international schools springing up here and there, it is likely going to be difficult for you to narrow down a good one that will suit your child’s needs.

Of course, there are many approaches you can take to narrow down the best of the best international schools in Singapore, but many of them will not give you the result you seek and may even wear you out and leave you exhausted.

The best strategy for finding a good school is to visit them in person. Keep in mind that you don’t have to visit all the international schools in Singapore, only top-rated ones.

To ensure that your visit to any of these schools is fruitful, there are some important things you must do. In this article, we are going to be looking at some of them.

Prepare in Advance

Get in touch with the international school you plan to visit and tell them of your intentions. Your goal should be to spend as much time at the school as possible. During your visit, your child will have an opportunity to interact with other students and even join classes. Don’t forget to set a face-to-face appointment with the coordinator or headmaster and a few of the teachers. Prepare a list of questions you will like to ask them during your visit.

Below are some important questions you can ask:

  • How do you help a new student feel at home and settle -in quickly?
  • How do you deal with bullying?
  • What is the mission and vision of the school?
  • What support is there for kids with special educational needs? 

Feel free to add to the list and if more questions pop into your mind after your first visit, there is absolutely nothing wrong with arranging a second visit. If the staffs of the school are friendly and accommodating the first time, chances are they will be again.

Explore the Campus

During your visit, pay close attention to the condition of the common space and learning area to see if it is tidy and if it fosters an atmosphere of positivity.

Also, take note of the behavior of the students- do they seem comfortable? Do they stick around in groups of their own race and nationalities?

Don’t forget to visit the canteen to look at the available food options and if the children are supervised during lunch to ensure that they are eating properly. Do well to inspect other facilities like the libraries and computer room if you have the time.

Watch Your Child’s Reactions

This is likely the most important thing you must pay close attention to during your visit. Try not to ask your kids direct questions about what they think, as they may tell you what you need to hear, not what they are really feeling.

The best way to go about it is to watch their body language, the comments they make, their attitude during the visit, and how they respond to the other children there.


International schools prepare your children for a good world tour and a well-informed world citizen. There are so many awesome schools to choose from, and one of the most important criteria for this choice is the curriculum the school is learning. The British, British or English national curriculum is a highly structured, incredibly popular worldwide curriculum designed to provide a degree of unity primarily through a common framework mandated by the British Government. The rigorous curriculum is followed by a strict selection of teachers who teach it. Of course, only the best of the best can meet the educational standard.

The efficiency of both the curriculum and the teacher’s performance is regularly documented for each student and each topic using assessment forms, and the data collected is used to allow students to continue to thrive individually. The curriculum prepares students for GCSE and A-level degrees and the ultimate goal of first-rate UK higher education through compulsory courses taught at an age-appropriate level.

The global community, however, offers some flexibility. For example, British education is divided into key stages. However, this is sometimes lost on a global scale as many schools simultaneously offer or combine different curricula to provide a more comprehensive approach. Here is list of popular Singapore international schools with British curriculum.


Dulwich College was founded in London in 1619 by an actor affiliated with Shakespeare’s Globe Theater inherited by a Singaporean granddaughter, who is providing incredible artistic opportunities to students and using an expanded form of the English National Curriculum through Year 9 as students follow the Cambridge IGCSE curriculum. Their students show excellent results, with 29 of them in 2016/17 receiving a prize for the best in China or the best price for their IGCSE score. The school has announced that it would like to use 2018/2019 Evidence Based Education to develop a new, more efficient assessment system to ensure that no achievable progress is made!

Dulwich College, 71 Bukit Batok West Avenue 8, Singapore, 658966, +65 6890 1003,


The Winstedt School is backed by a community of interconnected specialists who provide their students with individual and multi-dimensional care and support. These caregivers, teachers, therapists, and counselors believe in the intuitive and intriguing nature of the learning experience. Their regular British curriculum is taught in very small groups through multisensory instruction, personalized teaching and integrated art.

The Winstedt School, 1208 Upper Boon Keng Road Singapore 387312, +65 6715 5373,


One World International School choose to mix things up a little bit and combine curricula to create a variant that works for them. They are a relatively small community, but they stay together to provide your child with a terminally secure education. They follow the IB curriculum at their elementary school, while their secondary school uses a British curriculum-based IGCSE program, which is also adapted to their international student organization. Their classes often include cross-curricular connections to strengthen a broader, global perspective.

One World International School 21 Jurong West Street 81, Singapore 649075, +65 6914 6700,


They are a non-selective, nonprofit school that constantly reflects on their own practice to make continuous progress. That’s why their students visit the best universities in the world. They have adapted their British education program to the specificities of the wider school environment without neglecting the main driving force that turns their students into global citizens and lifelong learning.

Tanglin Trust School, 95 Portsdown Road, Singapore 139299, +65 6778 0771,


Malaysia’s Marlborough College, near the border with Singapore, offers excellent contemporary day or entry level education by following the English national curriculum to find a good balance between breadth and specialization. The school has enriched the curriculum with numerous academic expansion and enrichment activities, and has provided students with attentive, specialized spaces to acquire the said knowledge.

Marlborough College Malaysia, Jalan Marlborough, Iskander Puteri 79250, Johor, Malaysia, +607 560 2200,


Since 1972, Dover Court International School in Singapore has been one of the leading inclusive British international schools in Southeast Asia. As part of the international education group North Anglia International, they offer their students daily access to international opportunities through their Global Campus. They provide unique opportunities through their collaboration with Julliard and MIT. Its curriculum is based on the English National Curriculum, but tailored to the needs of the global student!

Dover Court International School, 301 Dover Road, 139644, Singapore, +65 6775 7664,

A Guide To Learning Spanish

Learning a language is never easy. Even when you started learning your first language, it took years before you could finally speak fluently and master the language. Now if you try to learn another language, that again would take a lot of time and effort. Now in this article, we are going to talk about one specific language which is Spanish. We are going to give you some pieces of advice on how you could learn Spanish faster and easier.

If you are looking for a Spanish Language School Singapore, you should check out Berlitz Language School. They are one of the most established and oldest language schools in the world, and they offer a wide range of language courses and at varying proficiency levels. If you want to learn Spanish seriously, you should check out their site above.

In an article by Steve, we are going to read about some tricks and tips for learning Spanish.

All the Tricks and Tips for Learning Spanish You Need

As I’ve said so many times, the big thing in language learning is motivation. I keep on repeating it because it’s not about talent, it’s not about classes or teachers or methods, it’s primarily about motivation. The amount of time you spend on the task and noticing–noticing what’s going on in the language. I think the good language learners have become better at noticing. They’ve become more aware, more alert to what’s happening in the language.

In my opinion, Spanish is one of the most attractive languages to learn. We can all be motivated to learn a specific language, like Mongolian or Finnish because we have a friend or a particular interest. Maybe we want to learn Korean to be able to watch Korean dramas or Japanese for amine or business, all kinds of reasons. Spanish is different: there are a number of real big advantages to learning Spanish.

First of all, a lot of people speak Spanish. You have all of Latin America, except Brazil and Haiti, and of course Spain. All these countries are quite different. When I think of Spain, which I know much better than Latin America, I think about color and music. It’s a world where people have fun. Read more here.

According to the author of the article, learning Spanish is just easy. Another thing is that if you already know how to speak Spanish, learning other languages such as Portuguese, Italian, and French would already be a lot easier. Wouldn’t that be great? Now, for more tips and tricks, let us also read JOHN-ERIK JORDAN’s article below.

5 Tricks To Learn Spanish (Or Any Other Language)

Spanish is the most studied second language in the United States. Many Americans start learning it in middle school or high school, but most of us never reach a level where we can really communicate in Spanish. I studied Spanish for all four years of high school and have almost nothing to show for it besides, “Me llamo John-Erik. Yo nací en Los Angeles. Chicle en la basura, por favor.” As is painfully obvious from this thimbleful of Spanish I retained after high school, my relationship with the language never left the classroom and thus never really came to life. Where did I go wrong?

I needed expert advice so I consulted two guys with a lot to say about the Spanish language: Luca Lampariello, who hails from Italy and started teaching himself Spanish as a kid (he also speaks English, Russian, Mandarin, Japanese…), and Babbel’s polyglot-in-residence Matthew Youlden. Here are their tips for learning Spanish (or any language for that matter). Read more here.

One of the tricks mentioned above is that you should connect to the native speakers. Doing this could really be an effective way of learning. If you try to apply what you have learned by speaking to the native speakers, then you would be able to practice. Also, you would be able to learn more along the way.

No we are going to read about a specific trick in learning Spanish which is learning through movies. ALAN and VIVIANA will tell us about it.

9 Useful Tips for Learning Spanish with Movies

What’s the best unconventional way to learn Spanish?

If you need a break from going to class or reading a book, there’s nothing better than learning Spanish through movies.

Why Learn Spanish Through Movies and Films?

Here are three reasons:

  • Movies are just plain fun. You can reserve them for times when you’re just too tired to do anything else.
  • Movies tend to use natural conversational Spanish. This is different from other sources of Spanish like books or news. Read more here.

Learning through teacher lectures and reading books would sometimes be really tiring and boring. But you should not worry because one thing you can do about it is to watch Spanish movies. With that, you would be able to do two things at a time, learn Spanish while having a fun time. Learning something can really be difficult, but if you enjoy it, then learning would be a lot easier. It would just be like play.

Creativity, Unleashed With interior Design Students

How to Use an Aluminum Brake to Wrap a Door or WindowIf you’ve a few windows or even an exterior door to wrap in aluminum, it can be a fun do it yourself weekend project. Your theme won’t become dated. If you’re to look with interiors catalog, you may probably choose the organization that will offer that you simply good deal in terms of warranty and which you will benefit the advantages that may occur whenever needed. Your theme won’t become dated. Although it may seem interior designers spend their time in large houses with limitless budgets, a good designer can employ their tricks anywhere.

a whole color palette. It resembles a human tent and is also constructed of ‘heavy-duty polyester’ and contains ‘nylon zipper’. You can put in a valance or cornice box over it to soften the harsh edges. Lighting your kit can be considered a fun yet challenging time. by ArticleCity Blog.

Box is normally seen as a little shrub, although it can grow much taller There can be a (true) story of the garden, deserted for upwards of fifty years within the middle of your wood. That is why hand painted furniture is indeed desired, it adds class, uniqueness, and style. You can do this with purple curtains, a red sofa, or cool chairs. But, instead of on-site consultations, communication is via phone and email.

What a swimming Pool Designer will Do For You Personally By Leonor Lamb. They be aware of nuances of the trade too since the guidelines to keep the expenses down without necessarily compromising the artistry and quality of the design. In this case you’ll need a dominant color, a neutral color, plus an accent color. All customers possess a unique taste as well as the basic parameters of practicality also differ in lots of respects.

Obviously, hard work and dedication in the field of interior planning can be extremely rewarding and fulfilling. This is performed within the entire text with every borrowed phrase or quotation having its very own citation. Denver homeowners might remember fondly the distinctive blue flame that accustomed to come from older gas log sets, but which is now a feature of the past, because a bright, lifelike golden flame is achievable with new gas logs. He can also be known since the god of thunder. Why Artificial Grass Lawns are “Green” By Jim Karmie.

Eco-Friendliness: Dedication to commercial maintenance proves that a company cares in regards to the environment. There ought to be contrast in the colors, as with all the cypresses and olives. What is always that Flaky, White Powder on my Concrete?.

One of the most difficult areas of home design for living rooms is sticking to your budget. The latest reports reveal that output of the engine is on schedule and is going to be offered in the 2010 F-150 SVT Raptor. Best recognized for its functional and great looking sundecks, Hunterstruct showcases its best Vancouver decks around the Hunterstruct. The latest reports reveal that manufacture of the engine is on schedule and is going to be offered within the 2010 F-150 SVT Raptor. If you continue to take care of and appreciate it, its’ fairy-tale-like beauty will definitely shine through.

Moving to Singapore and Choosing a Private School

If you are expecting to move to Singapore in the near future, there are a few things you should consider when deciding on the suitable International School Singapore for your child. Parents want their children to attend schools that provide a good education and are engaging. Expat families typically choose to send their children to international schools for several reasons, but finding the right school takes time. The development of your child is of utmost priority as it can affect their growing up days. With so many important decisions surrounding your move, here is a list of considerations when looking at schools for your child:

Location – It is important that a school be easily accessible, and provide a campus that inspires learning in its students. Long commutes can create a sense of dread for both you and your child, and you ideally want to find a school that is close to home and work. Campuses that incorporate nature into their schools create a holistic environment that students and teachers appreciate.

Resources – Most international schools around Singapore have access to excellent facilities, not every school provides the same opportunities for their students. If your child is heavily involved in a sport or musical activity, it is important to see what resources the school has in order to continue their development. Nurturing a child’s talent from young will inculcate habit and discipline, thereby ensuring success and achievement in that activity. Otherwise, foreign language programs are also great supplement to core academics, and you should find schools with native speakers as teachers.

Community – The school’s community is very influential to the success of the students. International schools have students from all over the world, and the school manages how these students interact. It is important to find a school that has a genuine appreciation for diversity, and creates a stable learning environment for new ideas and cultures to share with one another. Ask potential schools how new families have successfully adjusted to living in Singapore, and see if your family would be a good match for the school.

Curriculum – Many schools offer different types of curriculum, and the type of education each school provides is dependent on the type of curriculum they teach. Some schools offer programs that teach the national curriculum of a home country. These types of schools are ideal for families that plan on returning home, and can provide a seamless transition for students. Families that expect to move again may prefer an international standard of curriculum, such as the International Baccalaureate program. Find schools that are accredited in the type of curriculum you want your child to learn, and ask questions to get a sense of how effective teachers are with the material. It’s also a good idea to learn about the amount of homework assigned to students on a daily and weekly basis. Reviewing school calendars can be a good indication of how the school organises the academic school year, and what they expect from students and their families.

Choosing the Right School – It is important to choose a private school that provides students with a safe environment to explore the world’s cultures in-depth. Many private schools in Singapore host students from around the world and they offer a unique atmosphere that allows students to develop in a holistic manner. Private schools can expose students to the wonders of the world, instilling a sense of learning, living, and giving. The dedicated educators at the best schools are able to provide individual attention to students because of our small class size, and this ensures that the students succeed in the challenging learning environment.

Right Wing Family Values and the World’s Greatest Freak Show

Do you remember when it first dawned on you that your relatives are all a bunch of crackpots and weirdos? Seems like I was around 8 or 9 — my mother worked all night in the casinos and slept most of the day, leaving me alone to protect my naïve older sister from the depraved advances of Mom’s alcoholic boyfriends and worry about my big brother’s drug addiction. I couldn’t count on my grandparents to help — they were too preoccupied with their own divorce, dating, and remarriage dramas.

“Holy sugar,” I thought to myself, “these people are seriously messed up!”

That’s about the time the fantasies began. My home, I imagined, was a three-ring circus — and my relatives were the freaks and the clowns. In my daydreams, I was not really one of them. No — surely, I was of aristocratic origin. My REAL family were royalty in a faraway Kingdom and I was born a beloved Princess in a fancy castle with many servants and my own Fairy Godmother. Somehow, I’d been separated from my blood kin as an infant — I was captured by gypsies and sold in a black market adoption — that’s how I ended up being raised by this group of crazies!


ABC’s Primetime Nightline recently aired a segment featuring the Gil & Kelly Bates family — a conservative, Evangelical mega-family of twenty. The Bates, who are close friends of JimBob & Michelle Duggar of TLC’s “19 and Counting” fame, hold to the extreme fundamentalist ideals of the growing “Quiverfull movement.”

During the one-hour special, Gil, Kelly, and their children explained the family’s lifestyle which, to all modern appearances, represents a throw back to the imaginary 60′s-style “Leave It to Beaver” family combined with strict, Victorian Era sexual mores and the atavistic gender roles of ancient goat-herders. The Bates eschew all forms of birth control and adhere to the marriage model of the biblical Patriarchs — with Gil as family leader and Kelly as submissive “help meet.” Kelly and the girls adorn themselves in modest, hand-sewn dresses, while Gil and his clean-cut sons teach bible study and participate in local Tea Party politics.

Aren’t they lovely? Don’tcha wanna be just like them?

I sure did! I left home at 15 and embarked on a quest to recreate my long-lost perfect, happy family — my REAL courtly family, where I truly belonged. After a false start involving marriage at 16, a baby at 19, and divorce after seven years of abuse rivaling the most astonishing freak show acts Mom’s circus family had ever performed — I remarried, found a “Bible-believing” church, and worked hard within the Quiverfull counterculture to implement the best of the best biblical family values into our home life. I had six more children. I homebirthed, homeschooled, and home-churched. I submitted to my husband and joyfully sacrificed my time, energy and talents to build him up and help him to succeed. I published a “pro-life, pro-family” Christian family newspaper to inform and encourage other Christians to defend “Traditional Family Values.”

In 2003, we were honored as Family of the Year at the Nebraska Family Council’s “Salt & Light” awards. I’d finally made it! I had built my own Magic Kingdom where my husband reigned as King and I was his Queen, the children were our loyal subjects and we could all live happily ever after …

Like the Bates family, we were the perfect picture of the “biblical family values” fantasy — an idealistic vision of big, happy families: devoted husband and wife surrounded by a passel of respectful, obedient children — we were all sweetness and smiles. It is this mesmerizing dream world which energizes and motivates Tea Party Republicans like Rick Perry and Michele Bachmann to work tirelessly to implement the “pro-family” theocratic agenda into every aspect of American society: not only in politics, but religion, family, media, education, business, and entertainment.

Fundamentalist Christians are convinced that contemporary American society is the World’s Most Spectacular Display of hideously mutated, diseased and anomalous freaks. ”Step right up folks!” the preacher yells, “and witness a grotesque parade of ho-mo-sex-uals, lesbians, Wiccans, radical feminists, godless liberals, secular humanists, and …” (congregation gasps!) “Muslim extremists!!”

Simultaneously fascinated and horrified, respectable religious parents scramble to shield their innocent children’s eyes and ears from the depravity and corruption of “The World.” They homeschool and form special Chastity and Creation Science clubs designed to insulate and isolate their vulnerable young from the miscreants and most depraved elements of popular culture.

It’s completely understandable and normal for preteens to create imaginary worlds — their own private, safe hideout where they can dream of nobility, of rising above and doing so much better than the clowns running the Big Top’s Museum of Mutantstrosities. The grown-ups watch in silent, knowing amusement as kids disavow their relatives as “psychos” and “bozos.”

But when otherwise responsible, Christian adults in recent years set out on a mission to create a radically distinct way of life-based on “biblical family values,” the resultant countercultural movement is known as “Quiverfull” has become an all-too-real Hall of Mirrors horror show.

In my own life, perpetual pregnancies destroyed my health, and my indiscriminate acquiescence to my husband’s every whim transformed him from a loving father into a tantrum-throwing tyrant. Burnout and disillusionment led to abuse, neglect, family disintegration and a particularly nasty divorce.

When the dust settled, I took a good look at myself in the mirror. I could no longer deny the strong family resemblance — I saw my mother in my own face staring back at me. After all those years of fighting and denial, I had to finally accept the fact that I really am one of them — I belong to these crazy people. I, too, am a conspicuous oddity — a bizarre spectacle and an embarrassment to my own noble children.

Funny thing is … these days, I don’t mind so much being associated with my misfit clan of circus freaks. Life experience has given me perspective and a deep appreciation for the inevitable realities and desperate circumstances which deformed and mutated Mom and the rest of us into shocking and extraordinary creatures worthy of society’s disquietude and awe.

Black market adoption fantasies and youthful idealism are important wayposts on the journey to adulthood. Rebellion against blatant injustice, hypocrisy, moral compromise and the myriad of other common grown-up failure is a healthy manifestation of a kid’s personal power and strong moral agency. Arrogant and annoying, yes — but in moments of truth we have to admit, the kid’s got a point.

Society sucks. Bigotry, racism, inequity, corruption, greed, depravity, malevolence, and all manner of evil abound. Let’s just face the fact that in many ways, the contemporary American social and political scene has devolved to become the World’s Greatest Freak Show.

No wonder Tea Party Patriot families like the Bates and the Duggars escape into their own personal fantasy-land.

Ironically, with maturity comes humility — along with a profound sense of connection and belonging to that wacky bunch of buffoons who share our DNA. We see our people with new eyes. Sure, Grandma’s got a beard and Uncle Stan is a charlatan — Aunt Betty’s such a lunatic, she may as well have two heads. But in the end, they’re all we’ve got. That perfect, royal family whom we imagined searched frantically for us for years and never gave up hope that one day we would return to our true home? They’re not real. Cousin Roger is real — never mind that he doesn’t have a lick of sense and the only thing he’s good for is shoveling elephant shit — he’s the one who truly understands you, knows all about you, and loves you anyway.

Tea Party family values are the fundamentalists’ desperate attempt to deny their own imperfections, vulnerability, and their inescapable mortality. Sure it hurts that they look down on us regular folk — those of us who make no pretense of actually having our acts together — they avoid being seen out in public with us, they disown us, and they shrink away in fear of catching our cooties.

But take heart — perhaps they’ll grow up.

I did. Not saying I don’t still sometimes get all starry-eyed and visionary over the possibility of influencing our society for the better — I’ve got a bit of spunk left in me and I’m doing what I can to stick it to The Man. But I no longer think of myself as qualitatively different or “other” than all the rest of my fellow human beings — my family. My freakish, crazy, wonderfully imperfect people.

I don’t believe in God anymore, but I still have faith. I have hope and I trust that collectively, we’re all gonna make it — we are learning from our mistakes and growing more compassionate. Our shared experiences make us wiser and I have confidence that better times are just ahead.