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Time for Parenting...

...because raising children is a full-time job

Letters to Editors

Writing letters to editors is a key part of campaigning work. Here are some examples to give you ideas:

Problems addressed by full-time parenting

Nov 08 - Click here for this letter in the Swindon Advertiser.

Women's limited options

April 2008 - "Their options, in many cases, are becoming as limited as they were 30 years ago, only now they are trapped in work instead of the home." Click here for this letter to The Times

November 2007: after this, members contributed the following:

A child's first five years... provide a foundation for its future: a springboard from which to maximise potential, and face the opportunities and challenges of life ahead. Weak foundations have severe consequences. A good foundation requires emotional security, a sense of self worth, and a desire to learn, which then foster confidence and independence. These are best achieved not through sums and punctuation, but through mum's unconditional love and presence in the child's early years.

Not only is it very detrimental to young children, it undermines the professional informed judgements of peoole who know what is best for children ie teachers, childminders and most fundamentally of all PARENTS too and yes, parents can be professiomal and experts with regard to their own children, as Montessori pointed out. She identified the benefit of an expert mother to the child ie a mother who observes her child and provides what he needs to grow as he needs it. This is possibly the most frightening attack on civil liberties yet that this administration have mounted but it comes in the midst of other measures seeking to undermine parental authority and therefore healthy child development and the intergrity of the family. I have just registred as a childminder. No child in my care is going to be subjected to this; they will have the time to learn what they need to when they need to in the way they need .

November 2007: after this, the FTM chair wrote this (second letter).

September 2007: In response to this, a member wrote this.

August 2007: In response to this, an FTM supporter wrote:

Will you please let me know your references to support your comments in The Daily Telegraph of 29th August about the effects of childcare as below. As far as I am aware from more than a decade's study there has never been a study proving conclusively that fulltime daycare is beneficial for most children. Rather, the opposite appears to be the case.

  1. Most children find it a very positive experience - where did you find this?
  2. Recent research has shown achievement increased in proportion to the number of months in pre-school - what research and how old were the children when they started pre-school?
  3. 5-year olds in pre-school were 4-6 months ahead - what study?

Please note with regard to the references given in your defence of daycare that the 1958 study was very vague as there were few, if any, day nurseries in the UK, so it was a very limited study indeed. Professor Heather Joshi of IoE confirmed this to me some time ago.

The EPPE study showed definite signs of aggression in children who started fulltime daycare as babies and the cognitive gains were mostly in children who were toddlers attending part-time when they started. Professor Bengt Eric Andersson of Sweden confirmed to me that his studies involved two-thirds toddlers and only one-third babies.

Since the developmental changes in small children are so huge between infancy and 3-years it is totally wrong to take averages from studies where all ages have been thrown together; it gives a very misleading picture. I repeat, there is no study showing most babies benefit from fulltime daycare.

A letter in the Evening Standard, April 2007, from Sue Palmer, author of Toxic Childhood.

Childcare isn't just babysitting Last week, another official report linked long hours in day nurseries with increased anxiety and aggression in babies and toddlers, adding to concerns already expressed by among others, the US National Institute of Child Health and Human Development study and the UK's Effective Provision of Pre-School Education project. But the Department of Education and Skills has still played the findings down.

We can't ignore the evidence any longer. These childcare studies are now catching up with evidence from psychology and neuroscience that shows, to grow up happy and resilient, the under-twos need consistent, one-on-one love and care. The time and attention of a loving adult is also essential to develop early language skills, the bedrock of later learning.

This kind of personal attention is almost impossible to administer in a large day nursery, not least because regulations keep staff so busy jumping through bureaucratic hoops and chasing "educational" targets that there's hardly any time left over for the children. Since childcare is very low-paid work, staff are often young and poorly qualified - many simply don't know how to interact warmly with a young child.

In the rush to get parents into work, the Government has confused childcare with babysitting. Until we realise that child-rearing is a serious, socially important job, and that love matters, we'll continue storing up problems for the future.

In a local paper, March 2007

Letter in the Evening Standard 6th March 2007

David Cameron wishes to reach out to families by bringing in a tax change acknowledging the social and economic value of parents who live on one shared income, an arrangement many couples in the UK aspire to.

The transferable personal tax allowance proposed by the Tories as long ago as 1986 is just a first step towards a fairer tax system for one-earner married couples, but it’s a proposal no party has acted on so far. The Conservatives’ latest plans would be restricted – according to what little they have explained so far – to one-earner families with children under five living in a legally recognised relationship, something very different from re-introducing the former married couple’s allowance to all and sundry.

For the sake of Cameron’s credibility it is time for shadow ministers to set out what their policies in this area amount to. Nonetheless, the mere mention of this idea after so many years is like a first green shoot in a barren landscape.

Chivvying every mother back into paid work may bring about some short term personal and fiscal gain, but there are no indications so far that this is improving children’s wellbeing.

Anna Lines, chair, Full Time Mothers

In response to this in the Times:

Sir, Although childcare costs are high and rising (“Soaring childcare fees hit parents”, Jan 30), the costs are highest for a mother who gives up her job, and therefore her entire salary, to care for her children full-time.

Therefore, if there is an argument on the ground of cost for increasing state subsidy to those who choose to employ external childcare, there is also a compelling case for providing state subsidy to mothers who choose to forgo their own salary.

 

Sir, Tax concessions in support of marriage (now only available to those born before 1935) may mean little to those at the bottom of the social heap who live impoverished, state subsidised lives. Nor may they mean much to well-off, middle-aged, double-earner couples with assets to their names whom the fiscal system already treats kindly.

But there is another layer of the population that the politicians take for granted, but that would be assisted, both financially and morally, by such concessions. These are young couples that would like to care for a family in the way that their own parents once cared for them. It's a receding prospect in a world where family life means being stuck in a small flat paid for by an interest only mortgage. A world where unweaned babies are delivered to all day nurseries and children go straight from their beds to breakfast clubs; where the Chancellor's beloved "hard-working families" either raise their children on the margins of employment or raise them on one heavily taxed income without recourse to the subsidies that come with third party care. It is love and consistency that shape children's lives. They can be in short supply in a political and social climate that no longer affords young couples the financial slack that is necessary to raise the next generation satisfactorily and we should therefore not be surprised if families buckle under the strain and join the dependency class.

A fair family taxation policy that encourages the formation of the kind of families that are known to serve children and society well should be looked at just as seriously as education, lending and housing policies that do not deliver the full measure either.

In reponse to the Times' Phoebe’s made the right choice (Jan '06) a member wrote:

Costs of Childcare:

Unfortunately for children, encouraging mothers back into the workplace is too often seen as the only politically correct, socially acceptable way forward. Wraparound care is here to stay because childcare is seen as a one-stop solution to inadequate parenting and dual income absenteeism.

The adverse effect on children of long hours in childcare will cost society dearly and is the inevitable consequence of consistently failing to reward common-sense parenting, that is where mum or dad works, while the other forfeits a salary to invest time in the children.

The government is going to create a parenting academy. But what's the use of teaching parenting skills if both parents are absent? Being a parent involves time with the children, passing on family values and housekeeping skills, sharing mealtimes.

The government could consider more favourable fiscal arrangements for families.

Letter to the Times Dec '04 regarding tax breaks for nannies

Why should the government pay for nannies?

We have four children and we're fortunate to have a qualified and experienced childcarer. She's flexible and provides stability and continuity for our children. She looks after them when they're sick and helps them with homework. She's a taxi-service, a listening ear, an all-round entertainer.

It's a really good idea for the government to recognise that some people prefer their children to be cared for in the home. We're particularly fortunate as she adores the children and they love her to bits. Unfortunately we can't afford to pay her the going-rate for childcare - yet she still costs us more than we can afford so we might have to dispense with her services soon. It will be a terrible wrench for everybody.

She will be impossible to replace. Unfortunately we are one of those families who won't be able to claim any government help for the childcare we use. Why? Because we earn more than 59,000 pounds a year ? No! We won't be able to claim anything because 'nanny' is me. Good old full-time mum!!

I'm too expensive to maintain and no-one thinks what I do is worthy of recognition or payment. Tax breaks for childcare is incentivising non-parental care at the expense of mums at home. I would rather the tax we pay as a family was spent on improving schools for children over five and hospitals for the sick.