It’s okay working mothers! You have no need to feel guilty: your children will thrive in childcare!
So screamed the headlines in various newspapers earlier this week. The root cause of this hullabaloo was an academic study carried out jointly by the London School of Economics (LSE) and Oxford University.
The research has a catchy title: The development and happiness of very young children and it looked at the development of two and three-year-old’s.
It focused on four particular areas: social skills, talking, movement and something dubiously referred to as ‘everyday skills’. That last one sounds a bit like having a GCSE in General Studies. If you have any idea what it means, please do let me know because I am flummoxed.
Anyway, the study concluded that children with stay at home parents fared worse in all four areas than those with working parents who spent time in childcare. I was alerted to this by a local radio station that asked me to give my opinions on air.
To be honest, my heart sank. It struck me this was yet more evidence to flagellate the hard done-by stay at home mother. Women do have my sympathy because they cannot win: go to work and you’re abandoning your child, stay at home and you’re letting down the sisterhood (and it is silly to suggest mothers haven’t always been economically active, they have since time immemorial).
This is a fringe benefit of being a stay at home dad. We’re a bit quirky, a bit trendy. It’s a bit feminist to be male and give up your career so the mother of your children can concentrate on hers. We don’t get judged in the same way.
Only thing is, the papers were only telling part of the story. In fairness to them, I think they were taking their lead from this post on the LSE website. It certainly left me with the impression that childcare was good for a child’s development.
The report’s authors, somewhat dismayed by the headlines their report had generated, took to the airwaves yesterday in a bid iron things out. The message they wished to get across: children will do just as well in a home environment if it is stimulating.
There is one other question I want answered. What of those kids like mine who have their father as main carer? Did the research consider this? I have approached the LSE and asked for clarification but at the time of writing, I’d had no response.
Anyway dearest reader, just do what you think it right for your kids and your situation. Whether you are a stay at home mum or dad, make home life stimulating and all will be fine.