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Brit Chicks Want More Time With Children

by Christopher Chantrill
June 28, 2006 at 11:01 pm

IN THE US THERE is a swelling movement of women who are wondering if career and children are a sensible combination, indeed whether, as Carolyn Graglia puts it, “market production” has any moral or economic advantage over “domestic production.”

Now British working mothers are beginning to wonder too. Writes Camilla Cavendish: “For me, the desire to be with my children is physical, like an elastic band stretching. I can’t be away for too long.”

And now there’s a poll to back her up.

This week, a YouGov poll of 1,736 mothers in First magazine demonstrates how profoundly unhappy many mothers are with living this way. More than half feel guilty about time spent away from their children. Two thirds think that mothers should stay at home with their babies and toddlers during the first few years — though nationally, less than half do. A third would like to reduce their working hours, and more than a third say they would give up work altogether if they could.

How did we get to this point, where mothers have been tossed into the workplace and told that it is good to leave their children to a childminder? And where they are exhausting themselves—for what?

Here we have the most prosperous society the world has ever seen, and mothers are running themselves ragged?

There seem to be two trends on a collision course. The National Center for Health Statistics says that in 1995 6.6 percent of couples were “childfree,” up from 2.4 percent in the 1980s But wealthy hedge fund managers are going for four and five children, and many people are saying that “three is the new two.”

Writes Cavendish:

We live at a time of greater opportunities for women, of greater job flexibility, of higher average incomes, than at any period in history. Yet we increasingly talk as though we have no control over our lives. We are the first generation to feel that we cannot afford to bring up our own children.

Yes, what is that all about? In the richest society we say we cannot afford to bring up our own children? Who are we kidding?

There is this to think about. When women are at work, governments get revenue from their market production. And they get more control over the nation’s children. It’s all about power, as the postmodernists say.

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Christopher Chantrill blogs at www.roadtothemiddleclass.com.  His Road to the Middle Class is forthcoming.


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©2007 Christopher Chantrill