Motherhood is a day job too

Francis Phillips – MercatorNet
21 September 2007
Review of Mothering: A Spiritual and Practical Approach – by Anna Melchior
That grand old war-horse, Sir Winston Churchill, once said, “There is no doubt that it is around the family and the home that all the greatest virtues, the most dominating virtues of human society, are created, strengthened and maintained.” Despite these wise words of an elder statesman, it has been the aim of the Labour government in the UK during the ten years of Tony Blair’s premiership to get as many mothers as possible into full-time paid work, lured by promises of cr?ches for babies, nursery places for toddlers and ‘wrap-around care’ for schoolchildren.
So when will government ministers grasp the obvious, and recognise that society benefits from healthy, stable families and that families benefit when mothers raise their own children, especially when they are young? Anna Melchior’s thoughtful book is not a political programme, though it has huge political implications; it is a well-argued defence of the most important work that mothers engage in: raising happy, well-balanced children on whose adult emotional maturity society depends. As the author remarks: motherhood is “awesome”.
Challenging feminists with their own terminology, she describes as “radical feminism” the decision to spend unhurried time (rather than carefully structured “quality” time) with the children you love. To those women who have been led to believe that staying at home is boring and does not stretch them, she replies that motherhood is not wasting one’s genius, it is about “using your genius” in “loving, educating and managing” your children and household. It is mothers, not child-minders or state nannies, that transmit the consistent security and love without which children cannot develop into well-adjusted adults.

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