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w July 18, 2002

Mother guilt

Recently an article appeared citing a study that purported to find that children of mothers who returned to work within the first nine months lagged behind on school readiness tests at 3 years. Now, I am all for anything that will help prepare children for academic success, but I take a little umbrage with this article simply because it adds to the already enormous pile of guilt that most, if not all, working mothers face.

Admittedly, the article does mention that children of working mothers appear to have comparable emotional and/or intellectual development--but then again, is school readiness being completely divorced from emotional and intellectual development? As a teacher, that seems spurious at best. Not to mention the fact that standardized tests are pretty much useless in determining a child's life success, and frankly, waste a huge amount of time and effort during the school year. More on this rant later, I'm sure. Once I go back to work and neglect my child.

All right, enough humor. High-quality childcare and maternal "sensitivity" to the child's needs appear to narrow the gap for these poor benighted children. Having a stay-at-home dad probably benefits these kids even more, but apparently not enough is known about the long-term benefits of these professional dads. Why not? Why aren't studies being done to find out about this supposed benefit? Is it because it might let mothers off the hook a little for the entirety of their children's success, prosperity, future relationships, contributions to society...and on and on and on?

The thing of it is, I'm mad personally, sure, but I can afford to stay at home if I chose to, and I know that I'm bloody damn lucky to be in that situation. There are way too many mothers--and fathers---out there who aren't in this enviable position, and can't afford to get mad because they're too busy putting food on the table and clothes on their kids' backs.

What I'd really love to see is a committment from all levels of government to quality childcare for all who need it. Or want it, for that matter, because sometimes going to work and having a life apart from your children makes you a better parent in the long run. I guess on some level my socialist Canadian upbringing hasn't been entirely erased, but it will be a frosty day in hell before we see something of this nature, I'm afraid.

These findings are very much NOT a huzzah, whether they're true or not.

by at July 18, 2002 1:55 PM | TrackBack Comments
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