(Note : Exchange "mum" with "primary care giver" if you want to be politically correct)
Lately there have been numerous schemes released that seem to show the government is really trying to support mums - well if you work that is.
First is the change from baby bonus to maternity pay which essentially gives more money to mums who had a job than those who didn't. Then they tweaked the maternity leave scheme to give even less to those who hadn't worked in the year prior and more to those who had, qld has released grants to mums trying to start home businesses and now they are trying to allow working mums to keep their benefits even if they work.
The politicians seem to be trying really hard to help us return to work - so hard really that it makes me feel that there is an ulterior motive... What possibly could it be? Our sanity? Self esteem? Or maybe the dismal looking economy?
I believe the huge push for mothers to return to work is an economy boosting strategy that would make the Australian GDP look a bit better and is not really about us at all.
GDP stands for Gross Domestic Product - it is a number that reflects the amount of money that is "made" in a country.. The sum of everyone getting paid minus benefits and subsidies...The best situation for a high GDP is to have lots of people selling lots and getting taxed lots without getting many subsidies...
So essentially when a woman stays at home and looks after her children she doesn't sell anything, earn anything or get taxed - she therefore is not seen to produce or contribute anything. If she receives a subsidiary than that makes a negative GDP. Her work is not recognised. When women go to work they get paid, and pay tax - they also often put their children in daycare where workers get paid and pay tax. Services are bought and sold - GST is paid. This system increases our countries GDP even though the work (raising children) doesn't change. There is simply no column on the spreadsheet for work that gets done without an exchange of money...
Why is GDP important you ask? Well the larger the GDP figure the more debt a country is able to service because technically they have lots of potential workers (slaves) who can pay tax in order to pay debt back in the future. More workers = more debt = more investment = more money (this money is meant to filter back to the workers in theory but in practice generally not much of this money filters down but gets squirrelled into offshore accounts, used to buy up investments properties (which forces house prices up) or wasted on luxury items like drugs, travel and fashion). So essentially investors invest and the rich get richer.
Years ago our feminist Grandmothers fought for "equality". But we, as a society, have misinterpreted the meaning of equality. Equality is not about treating people the same it is about treating people with fair respect and recognition. Our grandmothers wanted the ability to choose to work and the type of work they were allowed to do. They also wanted adequate recognition for the work they did.
Now I fully support full time working mums, support part-time working mums, stay at home mums, work from home mums, shift work mums, Fifo mums and any other combination of working mum scenarios as long as those mums are choosing work over their children because they want to. If women would rather work than raise their children because it makes her happy great! That is true choice.
What I don't support is using family benefits and political manipulation not for the good of families, but as a political pawn in order to control society for no better reason than to increase a number that helps in the game of investment for the rich.
If women would rather raise their children because that is what makes them happy they should not be financially punished for this. Surely raising children yourself is worth dare I say it - minimum wage. (Especially when there are award wages to adhere to if the same woman was to care for other people's children as a paid job).
And it doesn't end there! Everyday we are sold lies from above investors that buying things will make us happy. Having this car or that toy makes us a better mother. Our success as a person is measured by how much money we have or how great a job we have. The government encouraging us to be contributing members of society by returning to work to get more money to support our families is consolidating this view. When was the last time a mum got the recognition for having brought up a really smart, kind, well mannered kid? People are quick to blame children nowadays for being rude, scoring low in NAPLAN or being obese. But seriously what can you expect from kids who are being brought up by multiple strangers and a mum who is tired or distracted.
What I hear them saying is we want you to contribute to raising our GDP and in order to make it look as though you made your own choice we are going to make it financially unviable, uninviting or impossible for one parent not to work.
Consequently many mums (usually those with husbands in the middle-low earning bracket) are being denied the ability or choice to raise their own children. All this is being presented to people under an illusion of choice. It is manipulative. And in this case it is trying to manipulate us into making the choice to outsource our children for the sake of more money and a better economy.
So why are we allowing this to happen. For those of us that don't want to outsource parenting duties - why are we allowing ourselves to be bullied into feeling as though we aren't contributing to society? Why are we allowing our choice to raise our children ourselves (one of the most important choices there is!) to be influenced?
The answer is that our value system is based on money - The more money something commands the more value it has. We have grown accustomed to valuing money and not valuing our people (unless the have lots of money). The decision above helps consolidate that view - mums that earn money are valuable and mums that don't earn money aren't valuable. Businesses are valuable, children aren't. Your spending and earning power is valuable, you aren't
We need to get angry. We need to insist that there are such better conditions presented for mums with children under school age that none of us need to go back to work unless we want to. That there is no mother out there that is forced to choose a outside the home job over her small children.
Unfortunately at the heart of this matter exists the same old problem: Being a mother is not adequately recognised as a proper job! Politicians, some husbands and the media can keep saying that they think motherhood is a hard job and that it is important and that they value it - but what they are saying is full of crap because if they truly believed what they were saying they would not suggest that we needed to return to work because WE ARE ALREADY WORKING!!!!!
I personally refuse to be bullied into trading in bringing up my children to contribute to some economy boosting, investor encouraging, election promise fulfilment scheme!
I agree that women shouldn't have more children than they can support however I know many mummas with 1 or 2 children facing these issues. How many children do you think is too many? How many children do you have? I would live you to share your story as it might help other mums. Thanks for stopping in as it is great to hear both people in agreement and disagreement. Healthy, respectful discussion is the key to solving many problems. :)
I only have one Jane. "Too many" depends on economic situation, time availability, and level of dedication of BOTH partners. Even if there is plenty of money, but the husband only cares about his work and is not interested in the children, then ONE is too many. Having children merely to satisfy some maternal instinct is a big mistake, and very selfish. That contributes significantly to drug taking and suicide amongst the young. Unless both parents have resources and absolute dedication, then NONE is the answer.
Thank you so much for writing this Jane! I knew I couldn't be the only one who saw this. It makes me so mad to see support going to mums to get them back to work, but very little is given to those who wish to raise their children themselves. Thankfully, I have so far been blessed to be able to stay home with my son - although I am studying and he attends daycare three days a week. Unfortunately, my husband has just got a new job, and it will be up to me to supplement his income. People say that it is fine; put the kid into daycare five days. After all, "everyone else is doing it" - but he is my son. I should be able to raise him myself, shouldn't it? Even if it is only for the first five years before he heads off to school.
I'm glad you found my article helpful. I would love to see some more creative gov policies that facilitate the choice for people to raise their own children at least until school age. There are things such as income splitting for tax purposes that would really help families be single income families but I haven't heard any political party policies trying to implement such measures. I hope you are able to find a good balance between how much time you need to work and how much time your children need you. Good luck and thank you for commenting :)
I don't think the heart of the matter is the value of motherhood as a job. It's that many people could have settled for having only ONE child instead of 4, then maybe they could afford to have a stay-at-home parent. We are accountable for our own decisions. It is nonsense that "mums (usually those with husbands in the middle-low earning bracket) are being denied the ability or choice to raise their own children". Such people should not have had children at all if they couldn't afford to. Having children is a privilege, not a right.
I appreciate your comment Leemr. I agree that people should not intentionally try to have more children than they can afford. I also know that not having children as well as having children can be tricky business.. As is the tricky twisting and turning game of hard work and luck we call life.
I prefer to see having children as a biological process essential for reproduction and thus the survival of a species. Child rearing and parenting is the social process by which a species passes on information, culture and knowledge. I feel that by looking at motherhood as a privledge it discredits the enormous responsibility that parents undertake in raising children and also undervalues the very importance of children.
I am glad that you feel adequately recognised as a mother and have managed not to get caught in a financial system that often doesn't support mothers past the first 6 months of parental leave.
On the contrary, regarding children as a privilege more highly values the very importance of children. Bringing another person into existence is a very serious matter. It is a privilege to be in the presence of a new human being you have created at all times. In my opinion, any parent who has ever called their child "the baby" never deserved to have one.