Should mothers work?

“Working mothers risk damaging their child’s prospects” is the latest offering from the Daily Mail Online, fuelled by findings from the Institute for Social and Economical Research.  Will the debate over whether mothers should work never abate?  More over, what will it take to dissolve the ‘them and us’ divide between stay at home mums and working mothers?

The findings conflict with the Government’s stance of cutting tax breaks and reducing benefit entitlements for stay at home mums, and endorse the mother’s who do sacrifice their careers to devoting time to raise their children.  However, as desirable as the latter option is to so many, financially, it is not always the most viable choice.  Perhaps this is what part-contributes to the rising figures reported by the Office for National Statistics whereby the number of women with dependent children has risen by almost a fifth since the mid 1990’s

Whether mothers should work has long been a source of debate, but when living in a society of increasing financial pressure, it becomes less of a debate and more of a necessity.  Unfortunately, soaring childcare prices trap many into a confusing mindset of never knowing whether they have made the right decision.

It seems that either way, mother’s are not relieved from guilt; if they go to work they may risk causing long-term psychological and academic damage to their child.  If they don’t go to work they miss out on Government-led financial incentives that makes the decision easier to live with.  For many, it is compounded by colleagues and employers judging mothers for leaving work promptly to collect their child from childcare, as reported by a quarter of working mothers surveyed by Mumsnet.

Perhaps Licia Ronzullu (pictured), Italy’s Member of the European Parliament has got it right.

Photo: Reuters
Photo: Reuters

When she first appeared with her baby in a sling in the European Parliament, it attracted a lot of attention.  Although she denied it being a political stunt, she did call for discussions around the life of working mothers shortly afterwards.  Perhaps not all political stunts are bad.

As utopian as her demonstrated solution appears, it is not a practical one for many – as a teacher, I can’t imagine holding a toddler on my lap while teaching a rowdy group of fourteen year old students.  However, having been paranoid about remotely hinting at any long-term plans to have a family in job interviews, in case it is seen as a lack of commitment, Licia Ronzullu does remind me that it is okay to have an overlap between work and family.  And perhaps this poster girl for working mothers may just pioneer a different meaning to the term.

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