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Time for Parenting...

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

May 2003 Newsletter

New members write; What the papers say; What the surveys say; Who cares?; Parental involvement in pre-school education

Who cares?

Young Mothers say they want to stay at home, said an article in the SUNDAY TIMES (it was perhaps misleading to refer to these mothers as 'young' - in fact they were referring to mothers under 35). The article refers to research carried out at Bristol University for the report 'Winners and Losers', funded by the Economic and Social Research Council, published in March. A summary of the research reads:

A surprising proportion - over half - of young women expressed 'traditional' attitudes towards work and family. Most accept that women with young children should not work full-time.

Apparently over two thirds of women under 35 would rather stay at home when they become mothers or work part-time. Professor Harriet Bradley, co-author of the study, is quoted as saying, 'What we are saying is that it is very difficult to have a career and bring up small children. People maybe in the past minimised that difficulty and thought it might be possible. Now they are having to rethink.' She also says that any social stigma attached to women who quit their jobs to look after children has now 'definitely gone', adding that many women are having children later and may have already proved themselves professionally and are ready for a new phase in their lives.

Great news! How disappointing, then, to be led to read the TIMES REVIEW, where India Knight had written an article entitled 'Keep on working, mum'. Apparently stay at home mums do their children no favours and are 'boring', and the 'selflessness' of full time mothering just leads to an obsession with the minutiae of our children's lives even when they're adult and married!

She quotes a study published in SCIENCE MAGAZINE showing that children from disadvantaged backgrounds do better when their mothers work - that their levels of anxiety decrease and that there's an decrease in teenage behavioural problems, drug and alcohol abuse. Apparently children are not troubled by having to get their own tea - they thrive on it. A contented and stimulated mother (a working mother) makes for a contented and stimulated child. And so it goes on...

Yet again, an article suggesting mums may want to stay at home to care for their children has lead to another article condemning the non-working brigade for making working mums feel guilty - 'ease up on the guilt' says India Knight.

FTM comment: I'm fed up with the assumption that we full time mothers are critical of our working friends/sisters/mothers/neighbours, writes Marie Peacock. It has nothing to do with what working mums do - we are not 'in competition'. We simply want a level playing field in which recognition is given to the needs of mothers who wish to stay at home to care for their own children. We all understand that many mothers have to work to make ends meet - or simply because it really does suit their lives better (many are lucky enough to have grandmothers or dads or other family members who care for their children - perfect if you can manage it and if that's what your own mum/partner is happy to do). But incentivising non-parental childcare - which is what the present government does, thus putting mums at home at a significant disadvantage - is simply not acceptable.