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Yvette Coopers comments on Question Time 4 Dec 2014

(20 Posts)
Berlin3 Fri 05-Dec-14 13:47:21

Was anyone else incensed by Yvette Coopers comments on QuestionTime yesterday. I quote "We need to support more free childcare so parents can manage more hours in work...". I do not in any way judge other women who work or choose to stay at home as we all have our own choices to make and I have done both. I do however worry about a society in which being a parent is devalued to the extent that it is the cultural norm to outsource the bringing up of the next generation to paid workers in order to allow us parents to work more. I know many a teacher, policeman, and mental health worker who blame many of the troubles facing our children today on the lack of sufficient parental involvement in their care. Surely we should be building a society in which children can have the fulltime support of a parent should the parents choose to make that choice, rather than a society in which we all have to work in order to keep our families afloat.

Schoolaroundthecorner Fri 05-Dec-14 13:55:15

Why would you be incensed by the comment? I'd agree with her with the qualifier that I'd like to see more options for both sides. Parents who want to stay home should have that option but equally parents who want to, or have to, work should be supported I'm that choice also.

For many parents who have to work childcare is an enormous expense, comparable to a mortgage payment for some. I'm torn in that I want to spend time with my children when they are young but equally if I don't work we wouldn't be able to keep our house. I would also suffer from a lack of career progression and this is important to our future. Children grow up and parents, particularly mothers, who return to the workforce when the kids are in school can face an uphill battle to progress if they've taken a lot of time out.

It's a multi-faceted issue but certainly facilitating more choices for parents in various ways is the way I think we should be going.

flowery Fri 05-Dec-14 14:42:55

How is helping parents who need/wish to work "devaluing" being a parent? confused

You know what I get incensed by? People who either genuinely think those who use paid childcare are "outsourcing" bringing up their children, or who use such ridiculous and inflammatory comments in an attempt to stir up indignation.

Berlin3 Fri 05-Dec-14 15:57:40

Flowery, I think you have misunderstood my point, or not taken it in the spirit is was meant. I am not criticising those who work as I have done so myself since I have had children, and am looking to again. I just feel it is a shame that we are moving towards a society where it is becoming financially unviable for parents who choose not to work, and therefore we are actually denying parents the choice. I am certainly not trying to stir up indignation, but am concerned that the rights of children to good quality parental time is, I feel, being undermined by the cultural shift towards us all working more and more hours. I suppose I would be in favour of more emphasis on flexible working for both parents if they choose, and more fair taxation that doesn't penalise families where one parent has chosen not to work. Policies such as couples being taxed as a unit rather than individuals, and more opportunity for flexible working would do more for parental choice and equality of opportunity for women than a focus on encouraging us all to simply work more hours.

I guess I was incensed by the emphasis on "working more hours" and the solution to us doing that is "more free childcare". How about an emphasis on fairer working practices and work life balance so parents can be more, not less, involved in the lives of their children.

Lulu3108 Fri 05-Dec-14 16:05:08

I lose faith in politics as they are completely out of touch with the system. They can afford private schools and nannies... Nursery for a part time mother on a average salary is hard. X

LinesThatICouldntChange Fri 05-Dec-14 16:11:08

I agree with flowery.
To even think of using the term 'outsourcing bringing up children' displays a really rather horrible, judgemental mindset. We outsourced some of the day to day aspects of childcare. We never outsourced the bringing up of our children. Raising children is about imparting values and being the key influence in shaping our children's lives.

It's up to families to decide how to run things, whether they want a SAHP, 2 WOHP or whatever combination. But given that childcare costs are ridiculously high in this country, and indeed far higher than in comparable countries, I'm all for policies which make life a little easier for working parents

LinesThatICouldntChange Fri 05-Dec-14 16:16:02

Ps if you look at how policies have developed over the last couple of decades, it's pretty clear that there have been massive shifts towards making things more family friendly. Maternity leave is 4 x longer than when I had my first dd, in the 1980s. Parental leave will soon be transferable, enabling fathers to spend more time with their little ones. There is a right to request flexible working.
All these policies are enormous positives - it's hardly a case of mums being chased back into the workplace as soon as they've given birth!

Berlin3 Fri 05-Dec-14 17:08:07

I do absolutely agree with the comment above that "Raising children is about imparting values and being the key influence in shaping our children's lives." I do not mean to imply that it is not possible to work and still do this. As I did say in my previous posts, this is what I am trying to do myself. I just know too many families where parents are working so many hours struggling to keep on top of everyday life, that they are struggling to be the key influence on their childrens lives. I stand by my point that simply making it easier for parents to work even more hours is not the anwer to any of our or societies problems.

I did try to make clear in my first post that I am not judging anyone whether they work or not. I come from a family of full-time working women (which incidentally has not always proved to benefit the children with hindsight), and I have done both. We all want the best for our children and have to make our own choices, but surely the answer can't simply be to work more and give our children less time, and I feel it is a shame that it is becoming harder and harder for people to feel they have a choice.

Rangirl Fri 05-Dec-14 17:24:21

Women fought for decades for separate taxation. It is not a right I would support being taken away even tho at times it would have been financially beneficial to me

Out sourcing bringing up children is a phrase that I really dislike

Lulu3108 Fri 05-Dec-14 22:58:22

It goes along with society now that is changing. Not really a 'convential' one anymore.

LinesThatICouldntChange Fri 05-Dec-14 23:19:30

But the major changes in maternity rights and parental leave over the last 20 years do enable mums - and equally importantly dads - to spend more time with their children.
It also seems a bit strange to talk in terms of fewer choices nowadays hmm Try looking back a few decades to when there were genuinely very few choices for women (or men) and when regulated childcare was non existent. Finally, I totally disagree with the suggestion that couples should be taxed as one unit. I work, I am taxed as an individual and am not an appendage to my husband

MovingOnUpMovingOnOut Fri 05-Dec-14 23:28:52

Eh? Childcare is £80 a day for one child where I live and very little is state funded and that which is is obviously massively over subscribed.

If I paid £40 a day that would mean I make a profit from going to work some days. It makes no difference to how valued I feel as a parent. Actually it might make me feel slightly more valued because the state is accepting that the responsibility for raising children and the costs that no with that aren't just parents' responsibility.

If I paid £40 per day I'd book an extra day and expand my business. That's got to be good for everyone: more tax and more cash in the economy and my dc stil get more than 60 hours a week of waking time with one or other parent caring for them.

Bowchickawowow Sat 06-Dec-14 09:21:12

There is a lot more available help now. When my mum had children, in the 80s, there were no before/after school clubs, no free hours, it seemed like much fewer childminders and fewer nurseries which were only affordable if you had a fairly well paid job (no tax credits either). As my parents had to work, it was a combination of working shifts, family and friends covering and it was an absolute nightmare for my mum. And her career took a back seat as she went for flexible shift work type roles. I honestly believe we would all have been better off nowadays where she might have worked slightly more hours but would have had a lot more consistency and options.

LinesThatICouldntChange Sat 06-Dec-14 10:50:00

Exactly bowchickawowwow. My first dc was born at the end of the 80s.
There were no tax credits, no subsidised childcare and very limited childcare options. It was a case of 12 weeks maternity leave and ringing up the local council for a list of childminders in the region. It wasn't until I had dc2 that a day nursery opened within striking distance. As for wrap around care for school - forget it! We juggled with with younger dcs at nursery and eldest being dropped and collected from school by a cm and eventually dh and I were the driven force in setting up a before/ after school club in our children's primary school. That was a lot of work, securing lottery and other funding, sussing out employment law... All while working in our own jobs! And of course all this was against a backdrop of sky high mortgage interest rates and no tax credits- so there was no option for one parent to stop work and then get topped up by tax credits because of the household income being lowered.

I'm sure many mums of my generation would chew their arm off for the improved parental rights and childcare help available now...It makes me smile wryly when people hark back to the "good old days" , which in reality were a long period of time of hardly any choices for women, followed by a period of very basic maternity rights. There is still room for further improvement though, and I certainly don't begrudge support systems which enable parents to work more easily, and ultimately to be more likely to support their own family independently

LinesThatICouldntChange Sat 06-Dec-14 10:51:29

driving force

Chunderella Sat 06-Dec-14 13:59:56

There isn't enough work for all the people who want it anyway. So while I don't think Cooper's is a moot point exactly, it doesn't address the bigger picture.

Snapespotions Sun 07-Dec-14 00:58:41

OP, I don't believe you when you say that you do not judge. It is very clear from your post that you do.

Pico2 Sun 07-Dec-14 01:07:45

I think you are wrong about choice. We don't live in a golden age where parents have a choice at the moment. I know plenty of women who are SAHM not through choice, but because they can't afford nursery fees for their DC. At £50 a day near here, more in some areas, it isn't surprising that try can't afford to work, particularly with 2 small children. I know others who have gone back to work after DC1, but are delaying DC2 until DC1 goes to school as it is the only way that they can afford to continue to work.

More free childcare could give these families a genuine choice. They might well choose to stick with their current arrangement, but it would be a choice.

springalong Sun 07-Dec-14 01:15:22

Berlin3 - I get the points you are making and I think you are making them very eloquently. Posters nitpicking about language just derails the debate. The choices for women who believe that their children would be better off being looked after by a parent or family member, rather than being put in paid-for childcare, are increasingly being limited. One particular area is the position of single parents (after divorce perhaps rather than single parents by choice). The family courts are now starting to take a line that women should return to work. Many children from divorced families are quite traumatised and need good strong support. This focus on work for women at all costs is very damaging I believe.

Primaryteach87 Sun 07-Dec-14 01:18:14

Totally agree OP. Most parents probably would like (even if the love their work) to be able to spend MORE time with their children not less all things being equal. By which I mean if they could afford it, it didn't interfere with career prospects etc etc. so what governments should be doing (but won't because happiness doesn't help GDP) is remove those barriers as much as possible by making housing and cost of living more affordable and working flexibly/part time more desirable/acceptable. What we don't need is more stressed, anxious parents with stressed anxious children ending up in school. Not good for anyone (except GDP and therefore the chancellor).

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