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Children benefit from socialisation, and change can make
them resilient. But spending quality time with mum is also high on the
list for creating well-adjusted kids
They started in the 1950s. And they're still going now.
During WWII, women discovered a world of work outside the family
home. They had taken on traditional male dominated roles and many were
reluctant to relinquish this new-found liberation.
The past 60 years has seen a speedy increase in the number of working
women, and the argument is hotting up. Should mothers stay at home to
care for their children or should they let someone else care for their
children while they go to work? Wow, that's a big question indeed. The
most recent ideology thrust upon us in the form of expensive paid
parental leave suggests they should stay at home. Having access to
subsidies for increasingly expensive childcare acknowledges that many
women choose to work. But I feel I may provide a somewhat lukewarm
response. I will not inflame this debate any further by saying either
way is better.
Our society tends to vilify whatever choice we make. Working mothers
scoff at Mother Earth mothers staying at home, making kale chips and
demonstrating interpretive dance as part of their child's
home-schooling program. This reaction could be born out of jealousy
that they can't afford to make the same choice to stay home or that
they have worked hard to establish a career and refuse to let that
slip away. Some are just not made in the Mother Earth mould and would
rather poke their eyes out with burnt sticks than stay home baking
sprouted whole grain bread to the soundtrack of a crying infant.
Stay-at-home mothers lament the fact that working mothers leave their
poor child in the care of a third party. How could they choose to
leave that little bundle of joy, that grew inside them for nine
months, at a childcare centre when they're just six weeks old?
childhood teachers would remember conducting a survey during
their formal training. "Would you leave your child in care at six
weeks – five years of age?" The majority responded
"no". Isn't that a kick? The very people being trained to
care and educate the children of working mothers having such a
negative view of putting children into someone else's care.
Ironically, reality hit for each of these women once they became
mothers. Some worked, some didn't and the reasons why were diverse and varied.
Many working mothers have a huge mortgage, a huge career drive or
just need to enjoy a balance between parenting and keeping a sense of
self. Stay-at-home mums may make their choices based on religion,
philosophic beliefs, socio-economic constraints or marginalisation due
to mental health, unemployment or limited education. No one situation
is the same.
Research says that children benefit from socialisation, and change
can make them resilient. But spending quality time with mum is also
high on the list for creating well-adjusted kids. So how much time is
the right amount? Nothing can replace a loving home environment and no
mother should feel guilty for making either choice.
Perhaps I am fuelling this fire after all? Who am I to judge? And who
are you to judge? Go forth and enjoy your kids and stop worrying about
the bonfire being stoked by those who are least qualified to do so.