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Children's Society report that nearly 2/3rds of us aren't able to spend enough time with children because of pressure of life and work - what are your thoughts?

(183 Posts)
JustineMumsnet (MNHQ) Tue 17-Jul-07 12:43:16

Hi all,
We've been asked for the Mumsnet take on a new report by the Children's Society which say that family life is under threat because of the pressures of work.

From the Children?s Society:

FAMILY RELATIONSHIPS STRUGGLING REVEALS NEW SURVEY
Date: 17 July 2007

Family relationships appear to be under threat as parents across the UK struggle with the demands of work, raising concerns over how much time they can spend with their children, a new poll commissioned by The Children's Society highlights today.

From this survey of UK adults, 61% said that parents nowadays don't get enough time to spend with their children while almost half of those questioned (48%) said that they had to put their career first even if this affected their family life. These results reflect the growing dilemmas over childcare British parents can feel when trying to juggle the many demands of modern life in a country that already puts in some of the longest working hours in Western Europe.

The survey, conducted by GfK NOP, is the second in a series called reflections on childhood commissioned by The Children's Society as part of its Good Childhood Inquiry - the UK's first independent national inquiry into childhood.

When adults were asked if a pre-school child was likely to suffer if his or her mother worked, almost half of all participants (48%) disagreed, but a significant number (37%) agreed. Two thirds (67%) of respondents said they didn't believe that parents should stay together when they didn't get along, even when there are children in the family.

Children contributing to The Good Childhood Inquiry* however, saw a happy home life as one in which they spent time together as a family. Although several submissions from children spoke of parents being too busy to spend time with them, saying:

'When your parents are always arguing or have full time jobs they don't spend any time with you. You feel lonely with nobody to talk to and all you can do is play on the computer or watch TV.'

Overwhelmingly, both the GfK NOP survey and the submissions to the inquiry identified love as the most important component for a happy childhood - 67% of adults polled and 70% of children's submissions.

Bob Reitemeier, chief executive of The Children's Society said: 'Family is hugely important in the lives of all children yet modern society appears to be pulling them apart. Only by taking a closer look at how a child's need for family can be met in the context of the 21st century, can we ensure a good childhood for all children. Without this fresh perspective and a better understanding of how to support families, we risk damaging the successful growth and development of future generations.'


(Daily Mail report here)


Would love to know what you think?

KerryMumbledore Tue 17-Jul-07 12:44:24

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

eleusis Tue 17-Jul-07 12:49:09

Well, if Gordon would stop taking so much of my paycheque I wouldn't need to work 50 hours a week. The problem isn't the fact that I work, but rather that the cost of living is so high that I must work silly hours just to pay the bills (primarily childcare and rent).

So, unless the reslut of this conversation is that Gordon is going to subsidise my childcare or lower my taxes in some other fashion I don't see a solution.

HuwEdwards Tue 17-Jul-07 12:50:56

God, there are so many facets to this argument I don't know where to start!

1. Most working parents although not spending time with their kids, will make (usually good) provision for them during holidays or after school which don't equate to just watching tv or playing video games.

2. Not all, but I would suggest a sihgnificant proportion of parents choose to continue demanding careers after kids as the alternative is to downsize their living standards.

3. Our culture has changed - years ago we'd come home from school (primary) and play out till dusk. Now I organise (ocassionally) activities, kids over to play, days out etc. FAR more than my parents ever did for me.

Now, am off to don hard hat as I fear this will degenerate into a sahm vs wohm debate!

reikizen Tue 17-Jul-07 13:02:19

Of course they don't mean parents in this report, they mean MOTHERS. Dads have always been allowed to work long hours and nobody has pointed the finger at them. I'm wondering when this 'golden age' of family was? The Victorians when children went down mines and up chimneys? Or the 1980s perhaps when mass unemployment was making life horrendous for millions of families in the UK? Working class mothers have always worked outside the home and with much less satisfactory childcare arrangements than our OFSTED inspected nurseries I'll bet.
Anyway, I don't just work for the money - I work to keep myself sane! And I'm sick of 'experts' telling me how unhappy my children are!

EscapeFrom Tue 17-Jul-07 13:07:00

reikezan

it was June, 1957.

OrmIrian Tue 17-Jul-07 13:11:49

Specifically June 10th - about 9.20am

Of course it means 'mothers'. Doesn't it always? Dads at work are a given, naturally.

homemama Tue 17-Jul-07 13:49:00

The question about pre-school children is too vague. What does it mean? 3mth olds? 4yr olds? I know we consider pre-schoolers to be 3 &4 but was that clear to those of whom the question was asked?

Would 37% still agree if you said 4yr olds (ie the year before reception)?

Also, is it talking about working f/t? or 2 mornings a week?

I can't see very many people thinking a 3 or 4yr old suffers from spending 2 or 3 days in nursery whilst his or her mother works.

I'm also very at the statement that nearly half those questioned said they put career first even though they knew it affected their family life. I think very few people choose to do this. Many more have no choice.

It's just another publication to make working mums feel bad. Of course some choose to work and that's their right but many more are faced with the choice of working(and childcare) or not paying the bills. And I say this as a nearly SAHM.

Reallytired Tue 17-Jul-07 14:27:05

Children suffer if they are looked after by a parent suffering severe clinical depression.

My son loved day nursery and it was the right choice.

groggymama Tue 17-Jul-07 14:34:19

Why are all these reports attacking the way we bring up our kids in the headlines? It doesn't constitute news its just the government badgering us again

kittywits Tue 17-Jul-07 14:39:07

I would have thought with all the mod cons we have that our time is actually freed up now?
We don't have to spend hours cooking and washing as our mothers and grandmothers did.
I have always understood that parents spent less time fussing over their kids when I was a child ( 100 years ago). We didn't have clubs and all this extra curricular nonsense. I was able just to play out with my friends.

My mum didn't spend time doing stuff with me, although I wish she's done a little bit more han she did but that's another story

Anyway the Daily Mail is full of shit.

fishie Tue 17-Jul-07 14:42:43

i think that the children's society, like so many large charities these days, need to keep their profiles high so that they can raise enough money to keep themselves going.

Heathcliffscathy Tue 17-Jul-07 14:43:38

rather than this descending as it might into a slanging match between WOHM and SAHMs surely the big question raised by this is:

'HOW WILL THIS OR THE NEXT GOVERNMENT ENABLE PARENTS WHO ACTIVELY WISH TO SPEND MORE TIME AT HOME CARING FOR THEIR CHILDREN TO DO SO?'.

This given that the emphasis currently is all on enabling both parents to work.

How can parents be helped to work AND spend time at home with their children?

To me it seems obvious. Flexible/home based working should be enshrined in law where it is possible (and most jobs could have a substantial portion take place at home imo, given the transformation afforded by the internet and telecommunications.)

Heathcliffscathy Tue 17-Jul-07 14:45:07

point being kittywits that children can be with their parents whilst they are cooking/cleaning/gardening/doing admin stuff at home. the modern culture of non-stop playing is a nonsense. ds has a great time sitting with me whilst I cook and helping me more and more.

fedupwasherwoman Tue 17-Jul-07 14:46:56

Many women work part-time, I do and it means I am less stressed than if I worked full-time. My dh on the other hand would love to do this as we are fortunate to be able to afford it, but he would be laughed at and jeopardise his employability/career record by making such a request.

What about the men ?

It just isn't the norm in the UK (or perhaps anywhere in the world) for men to think about dropping to part-time hours, even if its just dropping one day a week to spend more time with their family. Their partners could maybe work that day so total family income needn't drop to zero for that day.

We need a radical shift in employment thinking. Why is it always women doing the part-time thing or job-sharing, why not both be part-time, reduce child-care costs and spend more time with the children ?

GB could tackle this problem affecting fathers/their families. Go on Gordon, think outside the box, legislate for it. Surely if some people can afford to drop a day a week, it frees up employment opportunities for others.

This is quite naive thinking on my part as some employers would say fine, cut pay by 1/5th for the day off but still expect the same work quota to be achieved in the reduced amount of hours. Some men would jump at the chance and then spend the day golfing/fishing/on the computer/playstation etc.

fedupwasherwoman Tue 17-Jul-07 14:46:58

Many women work part-time, I do and it means I am less stressed than if I worked full-time. My dh on the other hand would love to do this as we are fortunate to be able to afford it, but he would be laughed at and jeopardise his employability/career record by making such a request.

What about the men ?

It just isn't the norm in the UK (or perhaps anywhere in the world) for men to think about dropping to part-time hours, even if its just dropping one day a week to spend more time with their family. Their partners could maybe work that day so total family income needn't drop to zero for that day.

We need a radical shift in employment thinking. Why is it always women doing the part-time thing or job-sharing, why not both be part-time, reduce child-care costs and spend more time with the children ?

GB could tackle this problem affecting fathers/their families. Go on Gordon, think outside the box, legislate for it. Surely if some people can afford to drop a day a week, it frees up employment opportunities for others.

This is quite naive thinking on my part as some employers would say fine, cut pay by 1/5th for the day off but still expect the same work quota to be achieved in the reduced amount of hours. Some men would jump at the chance and then spend the day golfing/fishing/on the computer/playstation etc.

eleusis Tue 17-Jul-07 14:48:42

Yeah, good luck on that one, Sophable. I'm all for flexible working where practical, but business is obviously not for it -- judging from the number of stories I read on here about it being decline, in cluding my own story.

Actually, I think they should make it easier to go to work and to live on a normal salary.

I would like to work only 40 hours per week. But, I have an aging car and I really better do something about it before it dies and I'm left without a car to transport me to/from work.

fishie Tue 17-Jul-07 14:51:50

also the children's soc is a christian charity and as such is likely to pursue 'traditional' values, coupled with daily mail means that this is hardly likely to be a balanced view.

TheDullWitch Tue 17-Jul-07 14:53:32

I am so sick of shit like this report about how our children are the most miserable, fucked-up, lonely, lacking in family contact in the whole history of the planet. When you look everywhere, you see people doing stuff with their kids all weekend long, dads involved like never before, parents going to all manner of school events, sitting at the poolside watching their children have swimming lessons to encourage them unheard of in previous generations), child friendly restaurants so you can go out and eat with children, feast of family films you can all enjoy together.

It is a guilt-making crock so the Children's Society get some cheap and nasty headlines and everyone beats themselves up some more.

Children if asked (indeed prompted) will always go, poor us, our parents don't understand us. They will always want more, that is their biological imperative.

We are playing into the Daily Mail's hands. Yes, all women should stop their careers immediately, then our children will be saved!

bossykate Tue 17-Jul-07 14:54:33

We need a radical shift in employment thinking. Why is it always women doing the part-time thing or job-sharing, why not both be part-time, reduce child-care costs and spend more time with the children ?

simply put, because men don't ask for it.

TigerFeet Tue 17-Jul-07 15:03:54

I agree that men are less willing to ask for part time work, however our family dynamic is that if one of us were to cut hours/go part time it would be me. DH is happy with his work/life balance, I am not. Perhaps I am conforming to a stereotype - not that I care if I am. I wonder how many other women would say the same as me???

Meeely2 Tue 17-Jul-07 15:05:21

I work full time beacuse i have to, my children are therefore at nursery 5 days a week. They have been since they were 5 months old.

Slap the cuffs on me, drag me away and put my children in care, I am surely failing them as a mother!

OR do they have more fun, get more education and social skills by spending time with people who are paid to solely look after them and do nothing else. If I was home I would be washing, cooking, ironing, cleaning, would I really be sitting with my kids ALL DAY teaching them to read, play nicely, share, have manners etc etc?

I do not regret going back to work, BUT I do wish I had had a choice. I would like to be here because i wanted to be not because i have to be. However my kids are happy, well balanced, lovely little boys. So ner!

eleusis Tue 17-Jul-07 15:06:57

DH would probably be inclined to say I could cut my hours. I would protest the sexism of that. He knows I would protest. Hence, he wouldn't suggest it. So we both work work work...

One day not so far away full time free school will save me... and then I'm gonna go shopping shopping shopping....

Blu Tue 17-Jul-07 15:08:07

I agree with TheDullWitch. I know many many families where both parents (if applicable - or where single parents...)work full time, and none of them have children who use computers or TV for lenghty periods. In fact all the children I know beg to be allowed more computer / TV time and are urged off to the park or other activity!

I feel that I am under threat (stress, constant mega-multi-tasking, tiredness) in making sure that as a working parent I do spend time with my DS and take care of the important commitments at school etc, yes, i have suffered, but i absolutelky do not think this has been passed on to DS.

And for the strain on mothers like me - I agree with Bossykate.

Although in our family I work f/t and DP works .8 in order to do more school pick ups, and we have been lucky in negotiatig v flexible work hours.

homemama Tue 17-Jul-07 15:14:51

In all honesty, I think this SAHM Vs WOHM 'war' is a total myth whipped up by the media. I've never, personally, met any mother in either situation who spends any time worrying about the choices of the other.

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