Policymakers don’t believe that motherhood and decent family time makes a difference to children’s wellbeing. Or at least not until we provide ”evidence-based” proof!
Politicians want us to do a cost-benefit analysis on motherhood and the time spent away from the paid workforce doing ‘family stuff’. They want us to prove it makes a difference to people’s wellbeing in measurable ways, using £ signs. Can motherhood really be a valid contribution worthy of their support?
Would more family care mean more manageable costs for the NHS for example, or reduce spending on early intervention schemes? Can we promise fewer teenage mental health issues perhaps? Or, fewer attachment problems for children and happier, healthier, less stressed children and parents?
Could investment in family life lead to better quality of life and improved long-term health when people aren’t trying to ‘do it all, all at once’ ?
They want to know if we can promise better university degrees and career paths for our young people. Might there be fewer young people with poor exam results? Better communication and language skills and more resilience? More home ownership?
More scientists? More creativity? More women in the board room?
They want to know if we can deliver those measurable outcomes – so UK competes on international league tables of growth as measured by higher GDP – then perhaps they might invest in motherhood.
Can we promise to deliver young people into better and more highly paid jobs, higher productivity, and more stable lives, thereby saving the state money?
As mothers we have to prove we can deliver a highly skilled workforce and does it really make a difference when someone is at home doing the unpaid stuff, holding the fort?
They want us to prove our claim (£ signs again) that it makes a stronger society when someone special – a family member – be it mum or dad – is available to spend time with a young child, talk to a teenager, a vulnerable person or an elderly relative. They want figures on a balance sheet.
In a nutshell, they want us to measure Time, Love and Care.
How does all that ‘soft stuff’ contribute to GDP?
We need to find a magic formula and prove love and time matters on the balance sheet, even when it’s not a commercial transaction.
But MAHM asks this:
What are the costs today in terms of higher mental health issues (fact, not opinion), addiction, family breakdown, the anxiety of unaffordable housing, stagnant pay, inequality, loss of community care? Why are CAMHS services (Child and Adolescent Mental Health) struggling to keep up?
Can our elected politicians prove to us that the current economic model is working for everyone – and sustainable for the next generation ?
We will do our best for our children – but can you promise you will do your bit and enable families to provide for their children, feed them , clothe them, and have secure family accommodation, affordable on average incomes, with a safety net for families managing on lower incomes?
Will you build houses, invest in social housing, more jobs, better pay, improved maternity provision, protection for child benefit, decent schools and apprenticeships for young people, investment in community schemes, value caregiving, introduce fairer family taxation based on household responsibilities? Will you acknowledge that gender equality is about more than the size of someone’s pay packet at the end of the month and that ‘caregiving’ is a vitally important role, as important as any other?
We need to be hopeful and to believe that we can build a strong future. But for this we need you to promise that families will have time to care for their children, to meet their needs for love and family time. We need to give our children stability and firm foundations at home and the best possible start in life, but for this to happen we need a socio-economic system that truly values family life and parenting.
8th May 2015