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Time for Parenting...

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

September 1999 Newsletter

From The Chair; Mothers feel undervalued; Educare = Daycare + Education; Back to work at 12 months; Full Time Mothers AGM and Open Meeting; "Supporting Families": the response; New members write .....; Farewell to the Family?; Your letters

Your letters

All the letters which appear on the letters page are the views of the individual and do not necessarily reflect the views and aims of FTM.

In our last issue, Antia Lines and Roisin O'Connell- Hussey expressed strong reservations about the implications of mothers registering as 'carers' in order to claim beneflts. Not all our members share their view; here are more comments. Letters on this topic are still welcome

Why not register?

Dear Full Time Mothers, I am in the'process of being registered as a childminder and would be delighted if I could also register as a full-time mother and claim the relevant benefits (article and letter, September newsletter). The changes which I must make include basic health and safety ones (sharp knives may not just be out of reach but locked up, a stairgate must be installed at the bottom as well as the top of the stairs) which I am happy to comply with; and, yes, 'politically correct' changes such as dolls of different races and 'boys' and 'girls' toys being available to both sexes.

I cannot see why this would pose a problem to any reasonable adult. If we as mothers wish to register as childmindcrs in order to claim' benefits, I think we will have to be willing to undergo government checks. If we fail these checks I hardly think social services will remove our children from us; more likely we will simply lose childminder status. While this may be annoying to those of us who feel we are good parents, it will at least stop incompetent or abusive parents wasting public money and will in fact become a useful means of checking up on such parents, even encouraging them to improve their parenting skills.

Imogen Howson, Kent

Motherhood as work

Dear Full Time Mothers, I feel we should definitely negotiate recognition of motherhood as 'work'. I think that only once mothers have the same status as other workers will our voices be heard. Transferable tax allowances would be an excellent start. A much greater increase in child benefit (without taxation) and maternity leave of 1 year, as in Scandinavian countries, would also help in the recognition of motherhood as a serious business!

Barbara Tansey, Alton, Hants

What about fostering?

I am writing to urge other FTM members to consider becoming foster-carers. I have been a fulltime mother since the birth of my elder daughter 12 years ago. Since she was 4, we have fostered children of all ages.

Most local authorites are very short of foster carers, and although it is challenging work, it can be very rewarding and can fit in with caring for your children. We feel our daughters have gained in compassion, flexibility and the ability to relate to a wide variety of other people, This far outweighs any loss in terms of sharing their lives, home and parents with others.

So I would like to encourage other full-time mums to consider extending their commitment to children whose parents are unable to do so - and give those children a better start in life.

Susan Jeary, Chelmsford

Silent majority

I feel that many women's voices need to be heard to correct what has become acceptable in childrearing and welfare. We know that our social ecology is creak-inp, and many parents and children are suffering mental distress.

FTM speak for the too-often silent majority. Much of that silence is because parents are too busy to lobby. You all seem a highly capable group, and despite the narrowness of the FTM title, do keep up the good work. (It may be wise to press upon a narrow front because 'family policy' can be stretched to include almost anything!) It is frustrating to see successive governments ignoring evidence of the most powerful predictor for human well-being: secure attachments from childhood.

Professor Richard Whitfield, Dorset

Fulfilling career

I am stunned by the attitude of most people when I tell them I gave up my job as an IT systems administrator to become a full-time mum. At work, I was . bringing in nearly 50% of the family income. But a child is worth the sacrifices that have to be made.

When our daughter looks back on her childhood she won't remember (or care) that she didn't have the best label clothing or newest toys. She will remember that it was her mum who took her to and from school, helped her with her homework and held her hand in the dentist's chair. The time when they are young cannot be replaced once it is gone.

There is work that can be done from home to bring in extra money, yet this option is barely discussed in all the pregnancy, mother and baby magazines. In 30 back--issues of these, I failed to find one article on the advantages of full-time motherhood.

People assume that if you stay at home you are either lazy or rich. But I have chosen it because I believe my daughter's needs for a mother outweigh my needs for material comfort or a 'fulfilling career'. I have a fulfilling career. I am a fulltime mother.

Kathy Calvert, Cleveland