Shared parental leave, toddlers biting each other in nurseries and locking up pre-schoolers for nearly 12 hours a day, oh Brave New World that has such wondrous events in it. Behind all these stories is one golden thread – the war on mothers and their relationship with their children.
It comes as no surprise that the new fandangled shared parental leave (SPL) policy has only a one per cent take up. For now, at least, it is the still the norm that mothers care for their babies, and it is new born babies and infants we are talking about here, not toddlers or school-aged children.
All day on Tuesday the airwaves were filled with the idea that mothers “should no longer be seen as the primary care givers.” Yet this is what the majority want – 55 per cent of mothers said they did not want to share any of their maternity leave. Yes, mothers should be the primary carers to their newborns. The mother-child relationship is unique, deserves nurturing and is the basis for a caring, stable society. What those who have declared war on motherhood are trying to do, is to reshape reality itself.
Mothers have carried their babies for nine months – what kind of society tries to interrupt this most intimate of relationships before it has barely begun? We know, through thousands of years of civilisation, that mothers are best suited to care for infants, yet now this is coming under attack – something unthinkable even a few years ago.
Fathers can be primary carers for baby if necessary but usually they should support new mothers and not replace them. I have explained elsewhere how it is quite a feminist about-turn to now hear how important fathers are to their children.
Until very recently, the liberals told us that fathers hardly mattered. Now that it suits their agenda of getting mothers back to work straight from the overcrowded maternity ward, amazingly, fathers are now back in vogue. What a surprise.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I have been there and I know it can be difficult, challenging and isolating being a new mother. However, the answer is not to browbeat mothers back to the safety of the office as soon as possible but to support them and their newborn babies as much as possible. Exploiting a mother’s vulnerability is despicable – but something this Government is intent on doing.
Then we have the story of toddlers biting and being excluded from nurseries. The truth is we must accept that toddlers who are separated from their mothers can act up. Some may become introverted, and some can lash out by biting. In fact many toddlers at home will bite and hit, but the difference is an attentive mother who is there can control it and deal with it in a sensitive and loving way.
If toddlers are away from their mothers for prolonged periods of time in institutional settings, not only will this cause them to lash out, but when they they do so it may not be handled appropriately. A nurturing yet firm response to a tantruming child is lost if they are exposed to institutional care too early and for too long.
Which brings us on to the idea of pre-schoolers being in childcare for 12 hours a day. This is intolerable and against statutory guidance. What kind of government thinks such a policy is a good idea? There is no evidence whatsoever that this is beneficial for children but plenty of evidence that it is harmful.
It is time to call a halt to this war on maternal care. Most mothers who care for their children at home (while their partners are working) are providing sensitive and attentive care for their children and saving the State the cost of subsidising their care in nurseries. This Government only cares about GDP figures and tax revenues so the more mothers it can push into paid work, the better. It takes a nasty bunch of politicians to maintain such a war on family life. Sadly, many of them can be found in the Conservative Party.