"These are the times that try men's souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands by it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman."
It seems that the drive for women to have a more equal chance in their careers as men, and the political efforts to ensure this is the case, has been over accentuated at the cost of a more important cause. Although it is undoubtedly right that women should be given equal chances with men to rise to the very top, it seems that for many working mothers – the issue is whether they should be working at all? Recent research has shown a number of outcomes: 88% of working mothers feel guilty for not spending more time with their children; that part-time work is preferable to full-time in the pre-school years – for mothers; but children do better if their mothers delay returning to work for as long as possible.
It is opportunity coupled to social acceptability, for mothers with children of any age to work that has created the problem. Stay at home mothers were the norm after WW2, however, as technology improved and household duties were significantly eased, the possibility for mothers to work increased. Initially it was the child’s grandparents that were most likely to take over. However, as families have broken down and grandparents, now more affluent, are less willing to take on this role – this can no longer be the solution for many and some form of child minding service is the only option. It is whether these services come close to being an adequate substitute that must be questioned.
Now that the economy is in such a poor state, jobs are scarce and there is a downwards pressure on wages, the chances of working mother either giving up work or reducing their hours becomes even less likely – in fact any chance of extra hours is probably grabbed with both hands – increasing the already high levels of stress and reducing the time spent with their children. Something is likely to snap as the austerity measures bite deeper, leading to more cases of the ‘forgotten baby syndrome‘, which can occur when mothers put, or are obliged to put, worldly matters above the responsibilities of motherhood!
We seem have lost sight of the fact that for the young of most species, certainly primates, to lose certain and early contact with their mother when danger threatens, will lead the instinctive emotions felt by these silent witnesses is that of the terror of death – unless this contact can be quickly re-established. They have no capacity to rationalise this trauma and when it happens, an underlying insecurity forms in their unconscious minds, along with the attached emotions, that will, for the vast majority, remain with them – significantly reducing their chance of a happy or rewarding life.
Apart from the richest, who can afford full-time nannies, and those with family members prepared to provide care, the risk of children being robbed of this essential devotion is too great to be trusted to ‘profit motivated’ services.
Surely, a way can be found to start to remove working mothers, at least of pre-school children from the work place. If the unemployed are to gain work experience, let them help these mother’s with their work in order to give these children a secure foundation for life in their early years. At least work of this type would be advantaging young children and their mothers, rather than increasing the profits of giant corporations.
Wouldn’t it be better for the Labour Party to advance this cause rather than focussing on getting more women into top positions, which will clearly come in time to those women with the necessary talent. In the main, these career women will not be Labour supporters, in contrast to the most hard pressed working mother, who would wish to spend as much time with their newborn before they started school.
If there is some money available for redistribution in the budget – let it be targeted directly at mothers of pre-school children – for there is no better cause than taking proper care of the nation’s future – its children!
Born February 9, 1737 - bones lost!
Author, pamphleteer, radical, inventor, intellectual, revolutionary, and one of the Founding Fathers of the United States.
Corsetmaker by trade, a journalist by profession, and a propagandist by inclination.