I suppose in some ways it covers my undercurrent feelings about the whole issue of bringing up children.
I believe that all children deserve to have the love and commitment that only family can provide and that children can really achieve their full potential in that kind of environment. This is not to say that I disparage working mothers, my own mother worked full time as I was growing up, (and still does!) yet I have a close relationship with her and relate to my parents much better than many of my friends and acquaintances. However, when I was a child, neither of my grandmothers worked, and thus I always had family around to look after me. The same goes for my partner, though the child of a single working mother, he was cared for by his grandmother. But now, our parents are in their late 40s/early 50s and still working. They'll probably be working until retirement, they don't have any other option. So what can our generation do, if they have to work, but put the children in childcare?
Nevertheless, it feels terrible to me that some children are being brought up full time in nurseries, where the ratio for child to carer ranges from 3:1 for children under 2, to 8:1 for children 3 to 8. Even with all the facilities and activities they will have available, what sort of loving, nurturing environment can the children be experiencing? What terrible habits will they be learning behind the busy carer's back?! (I really don't know!)
However even with my dislike of childcare and desire to keep my daughter at home, I don't accept the stance on 'working mothers' suggested by this report, take a couple of quotes for example:
'It also suggests that having many more working mothers has contributed to the damage done to children.
"Most women now work and their new economic independence contributes to levels of family break-up which are higher in the UK than in any other Western European country."'
Firstly, what is this damage? The article directly quotes:
"Children with separate, single or step parents are 50% more likely to fail at school, have low esteem, be unpopular with other children and have behavioural difficulties, anxiety or depression,"
OK, so the original report states that broken families cause the 'damage' and that the working mother 'contributes' to the break-ups. The BBC has decided to restate this as as assumption that it is working mothers that cause damage to children, not broken families.
There is no mention of men bringing up children, it completely side steps this issue in favour of a sly attack on career women, a strategy which manages to subtly reinforce the theme in society that it is wrong for men to stay at home and wrong for women to work. Way to go with progress.
And how about this quote for some lovely 'old fashioned values:'
"Most women now work and their new economic independence contributes to levels of family break-up"
So, how exactly does female economic independence contribute to family break-ups? What is the correlation here? What about cheating partners? What about irreconcilable differences? What about 'we just don't love one another any more'? Is it the case that in the past women were trapped in the family situation because of having no money of their own? IS THIS MORE DESIRABLE?!?!
I am completely in agreement that parents should take more personal responsibility for raising children, and also agree with some of the measures suggested: free parenting classes available around the time of birth, free psychological and family support if relationships struggle and rules making it easier for parents to stay at home to rear their children. However, what I can't stand is the pervasive sexism inherent in the argument, the ideology is so entrenched that you can't even see it if you're not looking for it.