The BBC informs me that we must think of the children. Why, oh why, won’t we think of the children? Whose fault is it, you ask. Well, if you can possibly blame the working mothers, you do, don’t you? We all know the “mothers should be at home with the children” rhetoric, and if that’s what the article said I’d probably have ignored it. But it doesn’t say that.
"Most women now work and their new economic independence contributes to levels of family break-up which are higher in the UK than in any other Western European country."
Yeah, it’s not that we should be at home with the kids. It’s that women having money is causing divorce. If we really want to help the children, we will stop allowing women to have their own money. See, if women are reliant entirely on their husband’s income, then they will have no choice but to remain in unhappy, unhealthy relationships! Then the children will be alright!
I don’t know who comprised this “panel of independent experts”, but the Archbishop of Canterbury is listed as a contributor. Hmmm. These are, perhaps, not experts without an agenda. The thing is, I can understand people who believe that it’s detrimental to a child to have both parents working (usually phrased as “Mums should stay at home”, of course). I would like to stay at home with my hypothetical kids for a bit. I would also like my hypothetical partner to stay at home with the hypothetical kids for a bit. I totally, completely understand the thinking here. I learnt a lot from my parents in my early years (though probably not stuff that Rowan Williams would approve of – I asked my mother why I hadn’t been christened and she said: “that will be your decision to make when you’re older, Jennifer.”). If this panel has been stuffed with bishops and such, I can understand why they’re making such a big deal out of divorce, though I think people at the BBC would do well to bear in mind that correlation does not imply causation. But to say that women’s economic independence is causing divorce and hence harming the children? Can I get a “bullshit”?
The headline worried me, too. Selfish adults damage children. Clearly, they don’t mean selfish adults – they mean selfish mothers. And what does a mother have to do to be selfish? Not a lot. Want a career? Selfish. Part-time job? Selfish. Evening course? Back to school? Selfish, selfish. And god forbid you go out with friends. This is what we’re told. We’re given the impression that our child is so precious that he or she must be given all of our time. All of it. And then, when the child becomes a teenager and starts demanding independence, we are expected to adjust to that in a snap. If we get upset, or panic, we are yet again selfish. What this all comes down to is: women wish to be human. This wish is selfish. Men (of this type, at least) wish us to be quiet, perfect porcelain dolls with no needs of our own and an unlimited supply of unconditional love and nurturing, for which we demand nothing in return. This wish, we learn, is not selfish.
I am confused. I have gone right off the idea of having kids.