When should mums return to work?

Click here for this BBC radio item, featuring Anna Lines, FTM’s chair.

The answer to the question above is, “When they want to – not swayed by tax-payer subsidised non-parental childcare”.

3 Responses to “When should mums return to work?”

  1. Bo C Pettersson Says:

    Perfect answer! A child-care policy based on the principle that parents are allowed to keep the resources they need either to look after their own children by themselves or to buy in child-care services from outside is far superior to the usual taxes-in, benefits-out system!

  2. Angela Says:

    I have just listened to the radio interview. Heartfelt thanks to Anna Lines for being brave enough to sit in the studio and balance what would clearly have been presented as a one-sided conclusion if she hadn’t been there! I started off thinking that you were being too dogmatic about mothers staying at home, Anna, but by the end of the brief item I can see the “media savvy” that leads you to take this approach, and just felt very sorry that the last word was given to the “other side”!

    Why, oh why do the media insist on presenting a picture that is black or white and never grey? (Or even black AND white?!)

    The problem (for FTM) with research findings like this is that it will be used as grist to the mill to introduce yet more policy proposals in support of the MINORITY of mothers who want to work (full-time or otherwise) putting more social pressure on those who prefer to opt out of the “traditional” (male) labour market in order to put the lion’s share of their time (and energy) into bringing up their own children.

    The researcher herself admitted (in rather a disparaging tone, I felt) when prompted by one of Anna’s comments, that even those mothers (in “[our] country”!!) who did want to work (in the first year) would actually prefer part-time rather than full-time jobs. How does she see the way she is presenting her research as supporting this?

    Anna’s figure that only about 25% of mothers actually want to work surely relates to mothers of children over 1 year old – the researcher was talking about the effects of mothers using nursery care in the FIRST YEAR which I am positive would be the wish of a VERY small minority of mothers. (After all, with the standard allowance for parental leave it is now possible for parents to cover the first year of a child’s life.)

    As opposed to Jane Waldfogel’s claim that results such as hers are uncommon, I was under the impression that such pro-work findings were actually MORE commonly reported in the early days of research into child-care, according to Jay Belsky at the FTM AGM in 2008? Maybe the pendulum swung the other way and is now swinging back. Heaven help us, and our grand-children!

  3. Anna Lines Says:

    To those of you who watched/listened, please let me explain the following. I had not seen these findings in writing at all nor the way in which they had been arrived at. Somebody kindly sent me a link to an article in the Observer on Sunday evening (where the comments were running into the hundreds). There was a link to the research findings, but that only took me as far as an American pay-wall, so that was not a great deal of use. So, here I was sitting on the BBC breakfast sofa with 4 minutes to share between Jane Waldfogel and myself and, not having seen the report, it would not have been wise to attack its methodology.
    Frankly, this team had been “making it up”. It was as if they had added pears in order to make up the weight of the apples, and then mashed them all together.

    The claims that “a mother’s mental health improves if she goes to work” may be true in some cases but not in others. So, that’s no more than a supposition. “It improves the family’s finances”. Again, that may be true, but I don’t think that babies care about that a great deal. And “better childcare could be afforded”. Who says that a mother’s care necessarily falls short of the standards in nurseries?

    And another thing that I found out only after the interview was that all manner and timing of “working” had been lumped together, i.e. mothers who went back to work just before the child’s first birthday were ranked together with those who had skipped off as early as 6 weeks and part-time and full-time were all lumped together as well.

    It all reminded me a bit of those “added value” marks that are allocated to school results. The academic results (that may be lousy) are obscured by extra curricular activities. the pastoral care etc. Yes, add these together and you come up with a pleasant enough school, but it was the academic results that you wanted to know about….

    Oh well, it is the silly season at the moment.

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