Observer: Unpublished letter

Posted in: MAHM Campaign - Letters

One of the biggest challenges is to tackle the ‘gatekeepers of information’ .  How can we ensure that articles like the one in the Observer last week are properly challenged and honestly debated?

We urge MAHM supporters and anyone interested in challenging policy, supporting the parent-child relationship and protecting family time to write in to the papers.  It may not always be published, but some will get through.   Unfortunately this excellent letter didn’t make it into print. 

Dear Letters Editor,

It shouldn’t be assumed that the so-called “critics… lobbying for stay-at-home-mothers”, referred to in “Why we should all pay towards the cost of childcare”  (last week’s article) , are right-wing “family values” reactionaries; many are on the progressive left.

Amongst your feature’s many erroneous arguments, two deserve particular attention. First, there’s the claim that the childcare drive is substantially about early education (EE), and “the boost it provides”. Here we see England’s historically anachronistic early school-starting age driving everything else, with our obsession with “getting children ready” for institutional schooling at 4 (as opposed to getting schools ready for children) being catastrophic, as young children are thrust into inappropriately accelerating learning environments that are unnecessary and harmful.

The toxic EE discourse also gets conflated with the “life-chances” issue. While a small minority of very deprived children will benefit from EE, for the majority it’s simply unnecessary, disrupting the unhurried development of quality early attachment relationships vital for long-term emotional well-being. Neither can EE remotely address society’s massive structural inequalities – indeed, politicians commonly use it as a distraction from them. Far better to spend scarce resources on helping parent-nurturers to stay at home who wish to, rather than (absurdly) driving new parents into stressful (low-paid) jobs and then paying a pittance to those who institutionally care for their children!

The fashionable EE ideology suits all manner of vested interests (not least, ‘the needs of the economy’ and quasi-narcissistic parenting mentalities) – and it criminally places the developmental needs of young children last on the priority-list. Please don’t assume that this childcare question is a shoo-in for the “progressive” proponents of “universal” institutional childcare; it most certainly isn’t.

Yours truly,

Dr Richard House, CPsychol

Child Development Advisor, “Mothers At Home Matter”


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