Working mother? Stay at home mother? Rejoice!

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It’s okay working mothers! You have no need to feel guilty: your children will thrive in childcare!

working mother, mother, stay at home mother, stay at home father, stay at home mum
A working mother! According to new research having a working mother is good for your offspring. Or is it?

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.



6 thoughts on “Working mother? Stay at home mother? Rejoice!”

  1. Depending on how you to choose to look at it, we were (un)fortunate that it was economically nonviable for my wife to work until all our kids were at school full time. The cost of a mixture of childminders, after school clubs and holiday clubs round this way would have meant that a gross salary of circa £50,000 was the break even point to cover the child care costs. Partly the price we pay for having 3 kids in 6 years, partly the exorbitant cost of child care round here.

    Regardless, this sort of headline doesn’t look into the socio-economic reasons that might be the real reason behind the results. Be interested to hear if you get a response from the LSE.

    1. I love this response. Your true number crunching side shines through Alex. I totally see what you mean about childcare costs. They do dictate the position of many families and remove the choice of staying at home or not.

  2. I had to work while mine were little – at one point in a full time job outside of the home and then later, self-employed at home – and I didn’t give this crap a second thought. When it comes to the effect on the kids, the way I figure it: better to be a working parent than a homeless one.

    1. Yeah, it’s a good point. I did go through with the radio interview and I made the point that some kids are raised in single parent families where the mum / dad have no choice.

  3. I have all of this to look forward to. I should rejoice in the fact that although my partner starts back to work next month, it will only be 2 and a half days a week. We’re also fortunate as we have a grandparent available for those days. Child care costs in Northern Ireland would be around £160 a week so I really do feel for people with no other options.
    I had a look at the article myself and it seems to be quite incomplete in their research, no stay at home dads considered in this day and age. Poor research on their part

    1. Interesting observation regarding the lack of stay at home dads that took part in the research. Good luck when your other half starts back next month. Do visit again, I do have a soft spot for Ulster.

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