Anti-mother Discrimination And Reluctant Parenting: A Solution?
A recent survey suggests young people prefer material benefits to babies. But maybe hesitation about starting a family is more about uncertainty whether one’s parenting will be good enough, than in wanting ‘more’ materially. And there is hope for the future of young families, not least in the support which Sure Start programmes are now beginning to deliver across the country.
The Guardian / ICM poll on attitudes to having children, reported today (2.5.06), demands careful reading.
The Guardian editorial on this important survey identifies some critical issues about contemporary attitudes to families and parenting. Now that young women and men feel equally free to pursue serious careers it is unsurprising that both should be cautious about producing babies; though this does not self-evidently suggest that babies are not valued of themselves. Perhaps rather it’s concern about whether potential parents can provide ‘good enough’ care for their intended offspring which holds them back….. That, and the certainty that mothers still can’t win when it comes to combining work and parenthood.
It is true that, as the Guardian leader says, there is a role here for government in supporting families and parenting, but it’s less than accurate in suggest that this nettle has not been grasped. Amongst a range of initiatives is the national Sure Start programme, now developing across the country.
Sure Start programmes support parenting
Local Sure Start programmes in many places are working on the issues which underlie current concerns of parents and potential parents. By 2008-10 there will be Children’s Centres all around the country, catering not ‘just’ (as Sure Start programmes currently do) for less advantaged young families, but for everyone. They will aim to accommodate the crucial fact that, as one parent commented, it ‘costs a lot’ financially and personally to go out to work when one has children.
Sure Start and the anticipated Children’s Centres still face many challenges, but they are genuinely good news….. look out for National Sure Start Month, in June.
Ironically, because Sure Start and Children’s Centres have so far focused on less advantaged families, they have not yet reached the chattering classes; so no-one’s noticing them. Soon however these programmes will be at a place near you, and to everyone’s benefit.
Acknowledge it or lose it?
It would be a sad irony if, in having started where it matters most of all, the government were not now to be given the credit for what will be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity really to make a difference to the prospects of families of every sort – including those of hardworking professionals of both genders – right across the nation.