A selection of quotes from members of public sent to MAHM:
LIFE HAS SEASONS
I was delighted when I saw Lynne on Sky News and quickly looked up Mothers At Home Matter online. I’m passionate about this issue and believe it’s one of the central issues of our time.
Who is raising our children and what are the consequences of our choices in this area?
My children range in age from 20 years to under 1 year and I’ve experienced working outside the home full-time and being a full-time carer & homemaker. The difference is as clear as night and day in terms of the ability to:
– effectively nurture my children’s gifts & talent,
– be their mentor through the ups & downs of life,
– be their advocate in school,
– monitor their school, social and extra-curricular interactions; facilitating the good and nipping undesirables in the bud etc.
I believe that life has seasons and, if at all possible, we should dedicate time to raising our children and teaching them right from wrong, otherwise there is a danger that one day we will not recognise what they become. This is not scaremongering. We need to ask ourselves:
In any given day who does our child spend the most time with?
Does this person(s) share the same values as me?
Does this person care about my child’s well-being to a degree that’s acceptable to me?
Best wishes, Eva
CONCERNS ABOUT UNIVERSAL CREDIT AND MAHM POSITION STATEMENT:
A mother has written to us with her heartfelt concerns re the introduction of Universal Credit and how it will affect her family:
”I am very worried that the conditionality placed on families earning under the proposed income threshold will mean there will be no low waged families with a stay at home mother. I feel the lack of media awareness (publicity) about how UC will affect low-waged families is a deliberate strategy. Therefore, it’s all the more important for organisations that campaign about the value of ‘care’ and family time to provide links to the government white paper and clear articles explaining how Universal Credit will affect families.
At the moment many families manage with dad in full-time low paid work, and mum juggling part-time or perhaps a self-employed job (cleaning/childminding/craft based etc) and they claim tax credits to top up to a living family wage. The details in the white paper suggest this type of low-paid flexible self-employed work will be scrutinised by job centre staff with clear expectations that extra money must be earned to avoid sanctions. Once a child is (I believe) 11 years old the mother is expected to work full time, up to three hours commute daily. How are school holidays, illness, homework support etc etc meant to be managed?
An often overlooked point is that child tax credits are paid directly to the main carer. There is no provision for ensuring the main carer gets anything under universal credit.
Please help me raise awareness about this. It is beyond belief. Our welfare system is being changed in such a fundamental way, and yet the mothers it will affect don’t even know. ”
from M Coppin.
MAHM Statement: ”MAHM seeks reassurance from government that Universal Credit for taxpaying households are not applied in a way that mothers must be available for paid work to top up her partner’s low wages. Families have care responsibilities at home which make it very difficult for parents to juggle two jobs and childcare, regardless of the availability of affordable, quality nursery provision. Also we seek reassurance that there will be an ‘income disregard’ for the second earner (usually, but not always the mother) with small earnings, so that this does not adversely affect the overall amount of Universal Credit the household is entitled to. MAHM believes it’s important for all children to have the chance of being cared for at home by a parent when they are very young, and low-income hard-working families are no different. Caring for your baby at home should not be the preserve of the wealthy. We would like to see employees earning a fair wage for a fair day’s work and for the UK taxation system to factor in family responsibilities so parents keep more their hard-earned income, as is the case in other countries.”
We do our best to act on feedback from mothers as quickly as possible. Supporters of MAHM know that we campaign for all children to have the opportunity to be cared for at home by mum in the early years (or sometimes dad depending on circumstances and personal choice negotiated within families). We believe it’s the government’s responsibility to protect family life / family relationships- and not to intervene to separate children from their mothers any earlier than is necessary, particularly in the pre-school years. The benefits of supporting family life are well documented. Sadly, many working families struggle to keep their heads above water at the moment due to low wages and high cost of living, particularly the cost of housing and transport, and energy bills. In policy we need an end to unfair family taxation, more recognition of the value of care, and a system which acknowledges the important role of mothering. Part time working opportunities are important too – and a second parent who work just a few hours a week should not be penalised in benefits: the fact is they are usually juggling considerable care responsibilities and commitments at home, so asking the second earner to work longer hours is just not feasible – and the jobs aren’t there anyway. More childcare won’t help because many mothers aren’t ready to use childcare when children are still very young – and if they do, they often want to keep number of hours to a minimum. We’ll keep you posted about our efforts to highlight the issues – in this case our concerns about Universal Credit and its impact on mothers.
October 30th 2013
I found your website last night and just wanted to say what a really great thing you are doing. It’s about time people really did realise the important job stay at home mothers (and fathers) do. I am a stay at home mum and I have been to all my children. I think the government have got this idea totally wrong. There are enough people trying to look for work as it is, and to try and force mothers into the system as well is just wrong. My own choice is I wanted children to raise them – not to put them with people that I don’t know. I truly believe being at home for my child is the best way forward and if the government want to punish me for that then so be it. The thing is mothers have children and children grow up , get jobs and pay taxes. What if women decided not to have children – imagine 30 years later where would the government be then.
I am a Granny in my 60s, and was delighted to read in the newspaper this morning (shame it couldn’t be in a more prominent position in the paper!!) about “Mothers at Home Matter”.
I had my two children in the 70’s, and stayed at home with them during their entire childhood. I chose to do this as I believed that this would give them the best start in life, and I STILL BELIEVE THIS WAS THE RIGHT THING TO DO.
I found that this decision to “stay at home” was even at that time ridiculed by most of my friends, even though most of them could have afforded to stay at home too, but chose not to. My husband and I were comfortably off, and I did not need to work to keep food on the table, but my decision to stay at home meant we were always careful with our spending, always holidaying in the UK, and very happy holidays they were too, spending hours on the beach, cycling, walking (even in the rain!) playing games together, both inside and out, and all costing very little! We didn’t, and still don’t, go out to eat, and cooking became one of my favourite hobbies, along with reading, gardening, sports and many more, which we always participated together as a family. My husband worked very hard and long hours, but we still found time to spend many happy hours together with our children.
One of the benefits of my decision to stay at home, was that I found myself to be completely fulfilled by the role I chose, very much enjoyed helping my children with all manner of learning, had the free time to help run the PTA’s at my children’s schools, took part in village life, and generally contributed to our local community. This all sounds very “goody goody” but I don’t mean it to sound so. I really did ENJOY my life then, and still do – I am so very much enjoying my new role as a grandmother, although my husband and I don’t believe that our roles now should be as “child minders” as many of our friends seem to have to do, but as loving and contributing GRANDPARENTS.
My husband and I still play a very active and I hope helpful part in our children’s lives.
I have read all the comments on your website, and thoroughly agree with ALL of them, so will not repeat all their contents, but just wanted to give you MY thoughts.
A very happy and fulfilled mother and Grandmother.
I’ve heard about your cause and would like to say thank you!…. And how lovely it is to feel like I’m not the only full time mum out there! Society and government has made us feel like we’re not contributing to the system if we aren’t doing paid employment everyday! I get fed up hearing how wonderful nurseries are and the meals are fantastic etc etc……! The thought that I actually want to stay at home full time baffles most people. I’m either a millionnaire or in receipt of lots of benefits (neither is true, i hasten to add!)
I’m an intelligent, degree educated woman in her early 30’s with 2 young daughters at home (age 4 and 9 months respectively) and along with my husband, firmly believe that I’m doing the best thing for my children by being at home with them. They are both thriving….secure, confident, sociable children. And best of all I have the opportunity to spend lots of time with these two lovely little people and watch them learn and grow. This time is very precious and once its gone its gone, so I intend to make the most of it!
Let us not think that ‘old fashioned’ means ‘wrong’. As a society we have a tendency to lose sight of what’s important when you’re a parent. Its not a fancy job title, a tax code, earning lots of money, keeping up with the jones’s, having fancy holidays abroad, …..its the children that matter most. We must do all we can to create a secure, happy, balanced next generation and I hope that in some small way I am contributing to that by staying at home with my children.
Best Wishes and keep up the good work!
Mrs M S
From Denmark 1st October 2013
What is work? What is a hard -working family?
A supporter from Denmark wrote to say this:
” I support the mothers at home campaign. I am one myself! I have just listened to the debate on Newsnight (BBC2) tonight, and I am frustrated by the female Conservative politician who defended her line on air that ‘some mothers don’t have a choice to go to work outside the home’ by saying that those mothers who have to go to work need all the support they can get. Her bias is obvious. There was no acknowledgement that many mothers who work at home, looking after their children, have to make huge sacrifices and yet receive no support from the state. Her presumption is that many ‘choose to stay at home’ but that mothers who go out to work ‘have to’. Isn’t it the case that many mothers who go out to work also ‘choose to do so’? She also made a freudian slip by saying in one sentence ‘mothers who work….er ..stay ah home’ (in other words, she quickly corrected the word ‘work’ to ‘stay’ as if mothers don’t work when they look after their children! Most mothers I know can’t wait to go back to their jobs outside the home ‘to get a break’! ”
Another story from a mum at home:
‘Why force more and more parents to spend less and less time with their children?’
”My story is that I have two boys aged 4 and 2 and went back to work 2 days after my first as an insurance claims handler. When I had my second I decided to be a stay at home parent as I didn’t want to miss any of the early years. My husband earns under 30K so it was very tight. We couldn’t quite manage to break even, so I got an evening and weekend job in a supermarket when my youngest was a year old. This way I knew there would always be a parent looking after the children. Financially it has been very hard. We have cut down on so much, but I feel you need to make sacrifices for your children if you decide to have them.
Alongside my two jobs I decided to contribute some more to society and trained to become a community first responder which can be carried out around the children. My future aim, when the children are both at school, is to do more shifts in the day to help the ambulance service out, as they are very stretched some days. This voluntary work is so important and can literally save lives.
My main issue with the government is they appear to be forcing more parents to spend less and less time with their children. First they stop schools allowing term time holiday and now they are forcing more and more women back to work. The first three years of a child’s life is so important as that is what makes up the brain. I am also a a strong believer of attachment parenting and developing that closeness and security in the early years is so important. Whilst I know that there are some excellent childminders out there ( I found a fabulous one myself) I feel nothing really compares to the mother or father’s presence when they are young.
I feel the media is mistakingly portraying SAHP in two lights: firstly there are the parents who just ‘can’t be bothered to work and who have children just to calim benefits’ and secondly there are the parents who ‘can easily afford to stay at home as their partner is bringing in a big wage’. But what about the middle ground of parents who are staying at home for the benefit of their children? If they carried on living their lives like before they had children they would never be able to stay at home to provide care In other words sacrifices are made and they put their child’s needs before their own and raise children THEIR way and put all their effort into raising the next generation. To me this is the most important job in the world. The hardest job I have EVER done, but the MOST important.
I fear for the next generation as I do not think less and less family time is benefiting family life and society at all.
One other issue I would like to raise before I finish is the fact that there are very few term-time only jobs out there, so how is the government planning on providing the necessary jobs, so at least holidays can be spent with the children? Or will be holiday camps for children all year round?? In that case we may as well all send our children off to boarding school and be done with it!” Claire Jordan, Mum
”How can working women be feminists when they delegate all domestic responsibilities to less privileged women, in the same way that traditional male workers have done for centuries?”
‘I am a qualified solicitor who was a higher rate taxpayer for many years before I decided I wanted to take a career break to raise my sons – 2 and 7 months old. My husband has full supported my decision but, as a higher tax rate paying family, we now have our child benefit cut and are entitled to no benefits for the role I play in our family and society. Whilst I accept this is my choice and do not expect to be incentivised to stay at home, and also accept that the flip side of the coin is that mothers who do go to work (which no doubt is what the government wishes to encourage, given the current economic climate) do need help, …..I do feel like this is a policy decision that marginalises parents in my situation. I do not have the answers, but do want to be counted for the social, emotional and physical contribution I hopefully make to the wellbeing of my sons and by extension, society.’
‘I would like to support your cause. I think parents should have free choice, which means the right to stay at home as well as the right to work. It seems as though the former is being discouraged.
My daughter..says..she wants to return to work when she has a family, so she doesn’t waste all her training and acquired skills.
I pointed out to her how much she appreciated coming home after school and being at home in the holidays rather than being planted in an after-school club or with a childminder. This certainly made her stop and think!
Very little consideration is given to the needs of the child over the desires of the parents. The people who make the rules (politicians) and those who comment on them (journalists) have all decided to return to work, consequently they are biased. I wish you luck with this campaign.’
‘I have 2 children aged 12 and 7 and have been at home with them all their lives. I do feel that mothers and fathers who stay at home to care for their children are routinely looked down upon as being somehow less intelligent than their working contemporaries. I feel that our society is becoming a less caring place both for those at the beginning of life and towards the end of life. The only things that seem to be valued by those in power seem to be those things that will earn money and can ‘boost’ the economy. They fail to realise that what parents who care for their children at home are doing is invaluable both for the children themselves and society at large. We are undervalued and underrepresented in the media, so it has been good to learn about your work and see relevant articles in the paper over the last week or so. Thank you.’
‘We are a one wage family (my husband’s wage) and I am a full time degree student which fits in with school terms and hours most of the time. We made a commitment that we would bring up our children ourselves rather than hand over their care to strangers. We suffer financially because of this. I am unlikely to be able to work much even after my degree because one of our children has additional needs which means their school attendance due to illness and medical appointments is low.
As a family we pay a huge amount of tax for our income and we struggle financially. I am extremely disappointed at the government’s recent announcement of a new childcare tax allowance for families where both parents are working. I would like my husband to be able to use my tax allowance against his earnings to benefit us as a family. I fail to see why after years of claimed ‘improved rights’ for women, I have a worse deal for our family income than my mother did in the 1960s/1970s! Hardly progress!’
‘How many workers does it take to replace a stay at home mum? Childminder, taxi driver, chef, sous- chef, cleaner, personal shopper, laundry worker, afer-school activity co-ordinator, homework tutor, child psychologist, child psychiatrist, carer for the elderly, dog walker/doggy day care, gardener, property manager, P.A, health and safety inspector etc No wonder the government wants us back at work – so they can increase employment opportunities for others!’
It is the natural state of being since the evolution of mankind tens of thousands of years ago and for all mammals to care for their own young, usually with wider support of an extended family and community. How tragic that politicians are making the choice for mothers to give their children the best start in life economically impossible for most, especially when the family unit is becoming ever more isolated. I am determined to continue to mother my own children and not institutionalise them and I am horrified at the thought of so many vulnerable and tiny babies being farmed out away from their own mothers. However, the marginalisation and discrimination by the government through the tax system, removal of child benefit and now subsidisation of children for working mothers, makes the sacrifices for both myself, my husband and my children overwhelming. LIving on one income means that I have three children of both sexes sharing one bedroom, which is not even the case for those on welfare; it means all clothes and toys second hand; it means few extra-curricular activities; and it means we are lucky to have a week’s holiday in a tent. However, while we can still pay the bills and put (home-cooked) food on the table, to continue in adversity means content, happy, fulfilled, well-mannered, responsible, educated and articulate children. It is hard work but I will never regret the many hours spent caring for my children, the cuddles and stories on the sofa and in bed, and the time to sit and talk at mealtimes. I just wish society would value and support and not continually undermine and marginalise those of us doing the best thing for our children and ultimately for wider society. END
‘ I have spent 6 very happy years at home raising my three sons. I willingly left my job as a university academic after my first son was born and have no plans to return to work until all of my sons are well into their school years. I have breastfed each son well beyond the government advised 6 months. They are all healthy, happy children. Above all, we have together enjoyed countless hours reading, drawing, baking, singing, swimming and so on – the list is endless. I continue to be immensely proud of what I have done for each of my children. Why, then, am I increasingly made to feel that I am somehow not contributing? That I’m not ‘productive’ or ‘hardworking’? That I do not want to ‘get on’? I , like so many who believe in fairness and justice, am enraged by the measures this government has introduced (including but not confined to those affecting families). But the government’s approach to women who choose not to work (seen again in this week’s budget) is beginning to offend me particularly . I resent the suggestions, first, that my worth is judged according to my willingness to play a man’s game and secondly that it is judged by notions of productivity.’
And another quote:
‘Just wanted to say what a brilliant job you are doing by promoting stay at home mums. It is such an important job and children benefit so much rather than being in full-time childcare. My children are all teenagers now and I am so glad that I have seen them grow up. The Government should recognise he role of stay a home mums and celebrate it.’
‘ I have stayed at home for the duration of my children’s young lives (12 years). I have worked from home on our two businesses, but we have no doubt lost out financially because of my choices. We chose to go into certain lines of business because we believed that our family was the most important thing in our lives. Our children have grown up surrounded by love and care, and we have never once missed a school event or had to go to work and leave children on their own. They have never had to go to pre or after school clubs to be looked after, and we have never had a babysitter.’ She continues: ‘I know that my work looking after our children will eventually be acknowledged, because they are turning into very bright happy children and that will be my reward. But it is crazy that the recent governments have given me no help, morally or financially with their confused and chauvinistic policies.’
Quote from mum: ‘ I was, by choice , a stay at home mum in the 70s and 80s . We went without luxuries and never regretted a minute of the care and security that our children received. Teachers were always very complimentary about their behaviour and general confidence and their attitude to life. They have all grown into wonderful adults with children of their own and say they were the lucky ones. In was an era when mothers realised that they could go out to work and be freed from the supposed shackles of motherhood so consequently I was thought to be a ‘vegetable brain’ because I chose to stay at home! Keep up the good work – I applaud everything you say.’This mother also warned that although mums do ‘ one of the most worthwhile jobs’ and can ‘enjoy every minute of their development’ it’s vitally important , she warned, to keep an eye on pension provision for the future.
‘It is scandalous the way the government is ignoring single earner families who do the right thing by their children. This is one of the main reasons I will not be voting Tory again.’
‘I would like to see a statistical breakdown of the effects of stay at home mothers within society. The government has penalised mothers like myself who have given up a career to bring up children. The contribution I make will be reflected in the children I raise. I would imagine that the level of academic achievement has a direct correlation with children whose mothers have been at home, and conversely the correlation would be negative with those ending up with a criminal record. The fact is that most mothers who are able to stay at home are probably middle class and perhaps in a better position to weather the current economic climate, but the numbers of parents in this position will be dwindling. The long term prognosis is therefore not good. We need to argue the case for stay at home mothers with an irrefutable fact based standpoint.’
‘Like many stay at home Mothers, I feel as though the coalition government have completely turned their backs on the so called ‘big society’ and instead is penny pinching to the point of literally breaking society altogether.
The government tax the workers to death and then they have to find an alternative way to actually get the money back…Why on earth don’t they simply admit that 40% tax needs to begin at a much higher rate of earning and then we wouldn’t be in this situation to start with. With such scandalous rates of tax it is becoming evidently clear to me that it will never actually pay to work, it gives the wrong impression and soon there will be absolutely no incentive to achieve anything in life, it if is constantly taken away.
I look after my child at home and I wouldn’t want it any other way, however , I do agree that the role of the stay at home mum (or dad) is being constantly overlooked and undervalued. I would never want to be paid to look after my child so to speak but I do object to my husband being constantly sqeezed financially , the loss of child benefit to higher earners,and with a reward for two working parents on the horizon the government seem to have gotten this all wrong and lost their way. What about the child’s need in all of this?
I am deeply offended at George Osborne’s statement of ‘this is the budget for people that want to work hard to get on’. Well Mr Osborne I have worked hard all my life, I have contributed and paid my way and now I am being discriminated against for wanting to raise my child at home. Just because this country is in financial ruin don’t tell me that I have to neglect my child and go to work just to make your budget look better, and don’t insult me by insinuating that my choosing to remain at home makes me a freeloader or deadweight. I get nothing from you and I have never taken from you, I have given my working years and now my child comes first. I now think that the tables should be turned and that a single earning family should get some of the benefits that a single or lone parent family would get to make it a fairer system as it is evidently clear to me that more needs to be done to support the family.
David Cameron’s big society involves everyone, including stay at home mums, as much as the coalition hates this idea, however, if they do not understand the importance of stay at home mothers then not much is likely to change in the near future. But if the family is constantly neglected like this, make no mistake society will suffer and it could cost even more to fix.’