30 September 2009

Working mums are bad mums

Welcome to this week's first cautionary tale.

Headlines are blazing upon the announcement of data from a UK study declaring "Working mothers' children unfit". What do they mean? Oh well, that apparently women who work more than 20 hours per week end up with fat, lonely and basically maladjusted 5 year olds.

And they didn't even bother to look at the male partners because they decided that the women's working hours fluctuated more. Professor Catherine Law, who led the study, is careful to state that this study does not mean that women should not work, rather parents need to be better supported. But seriously. This is the same research group that found that children are more likely to be overweight by the age of 3 if their mothers work. These results will inevitably be used against women in some form or another.

Sally Russell, a spokesman for Netmums, said: "The stress and guilt associated with being a working mum is something we are all too well aware of. This report adds to that guilt.

"With many more mums having no choice but to work these days and with government policy actively encouraging it, it is difficult to know how mums can do better. "

We should be applauding mothers for returning to work and managing their households and not 1) not punishing them for working out of desire or necessity or 2) pitting women who work and women who do not work in paid employment against one another. This research, whether it was intented or not, only fuels already entrenched debates about motherhood and who is a 'good' mum and who is a 'bad' mum.

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The Baby Bump Project by Meredith Nash is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.