Our society must learn to value childcare
I found your article (31 October) under the heading, “One million mothers can’t afford to work”, to be unbalanced. Several facts and attitudes were ignored.
Paid childcare is needed only where both parents go out to work, yet articles such as yours persist in the out-dated assumption that it is only when a mother works that childcare is needed.
Looking after babies and children is a major job in itself.The carer needs to give it their full attention, and must meet the needs for warmth, food, safety and human social contact if nothing else. In evolutionary terms it is the most important job that humans do.
Our society appears to undervalue this by allowing professional child minders and nannies to be paid peanuts, assuming that staying at home to look after children is less worthwhile than going out to work for a wage.
There is some progress towards paying childminders a decent wage.
For a parent using nursery and after-school facilities there are overheads and sometimes extra travel costs to meet on top of paying for the staff.
Thus it is that there is little money remaining from the day’s wages once childcare has been paid for.
Being a two-salary family makes good financial sense if both parents are well paid, or if there is “free” child minding available from a willing grandparent.
Increasingly, in many families the income gain in a two-salary family is negligible.
Going out to work can be healthy, satisfying, sociable and conducive to greater independence. Staying at home to look after children can be fulfilling, satisfying, enjoyable and helpful to those children in countless ways.
It just seems a pity only the rich or those with handy grandparents have the luxury of being able to choose between the two options.
Falcon Road West
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