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Are we REALLY still discussing whether women should work or not?

I was watching BBC Breakfast on Monday morning and there was a debate on between two working mothers about whether women should feel guilty about working. The two mums were expressing different views on the subject.

My immediate thought was ?Are we REALLY still discussing this subject in 2013??

My reaction reminded me of the episode in Scandinavian drama Borgen when Denmark's female Prime Minister has taken time off work because her daughter is seriously sick. Predictably, the Danish media starts raising questions such are "Can a woman be a Prime Minister?" , "Can a woman juggle home life and work life?" and "Should a woman be in politics?"

In answer, the Prime Minister delivers a brilliant speech to her Parliament reminding them about Denmark's first four female MPs who were elected in 1918 when the debate on female politicians ended. She then goes on to say ?And if anyone wants to discuss whether women should be in politics or not, then you are 100 years too late?.

I've always been a working mother and that's for two reasons: I love my job and, frankly, my family need the income. I also know that, given my personality, I would not be happy as a stay-at-home mum. That's not to say that I don't agree with those who are - it's simply not for me.

My Mum didn't work, she was always ?physically? there for me and she was a great mum. But I don't think that she was a better mum than I am. She did what was right for her and I do what is right for me and, hopefully, we are both good mothers.

And isn't that the point? If we want to or need to work ? great. If we don't want to or don't have to work ? that's fine too. But why on earth is the topic of whether women should feel guilty for working still up for discussion? Is it the fault of a lazy unimaginative media or do many people still find the issue pertinent? Do let me know your thoughts via the comments.


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    From Lucy Quick
    Thanks for your interesting response. I really appreciate you getting back to me. With best wishes, Lucy
    From J Davies
    Lucy, well put. I did quite a lot of research on this when I had my girls. As you say, the other (very relevant) socio-economic factors are not highlighted in most studies. From what I could tell, there seemed to be some benefit from giving a newborn colostrum (and not to the exclusion of formula) and some correlation with lower eventual ovarian cancer rates in the mother (again, socio-economic factors not highlighted). Most senior medical professionals I spoke to would not opine whether it can be said that there are clear medical benefits to breastfeeding for the baby beyond the first few days after birth. WHO statistics are aimed at the developing world. Given this, I found it surprising that large national organisations (NHS midwives/NCT) happily propagate their view that it is "better" to breastfeed as "fact". I can only suppose this is because there is some feeling that the section of the population that would not bother with correct sterilisation are better off if indoctrinated to breastfeed. Pretty medieval, hey? If you move to California, there is perhaps a higher risk that your children could eventually die in an earthquake but I am not sure many mothers would consider themselves "bad" mothers for making such a move when all other surrounding factors are considered.....Luckily, blogs like this can help today's intelligent women make an informed choice!
    From Jacquee Ferre
    Hi Lucy - completely agree. You have combined the best of mothering with being an example in choosing a career to many mothers and their children. The skills you possess you are passing on not just to your own children but many others.
    My Mum worked so that we could have the extra enrichment in our childhood; piano lessons, swimming lessons, horse-riding lessons, ballet and tap dancing etc and go on all the school trips.
    As our parents equipped us and educated us - so we need to use this talent in the world
    and set up company's like Perform and Swimming Nature that fit in with our families lives and allow us to work and do all the childcare and much more!
    I agree - why indeed are we still discussing this?
    From Lucy Quick
    Thanks so much for your comments Alexia and for taking the time to respond. I'm really glad you enjoyed reading it.
    From Alexia Harrison
    I wholeheartedly agree Lucy, and the example you gave of 'Borgen' is an excellent one. These days most Mothers including myself who want to give their children the best possible start in life financially - homes, cars and higher education are becoming increasingly expensive - have little option but to work. Aside from this is the desire to do so which I share with you. I hope that when older my children will respect me for my decision rather than feel that they missed out. Then I will know that I did my job 'right.' I also would hate for my husband to feel that the whole burden of generating income falls on his shoulders alone. We are a partnership and we both feel a need to contribute to the "family pot."

    Plus, our kids would like to partake in the extras - tennis, swimming, gymnastics, and clubs such as Perform which they thoroughly enjoy and benefit from HUGELY in terms of confidence and enjoyment.

    That's a resounding "hurrah" for working Mums from me!
    From Lucy Quick
    I know. It's madness isn't it? 2013!
    From abigail Rosser
    Well said Lucy! This argument drives me insane. My brother and his wife live in Sweden and childcare is considered the parents responsibility, not the mothers. How we still live in a society that judges the choices of individual women is beyond me. The best mother is a happy one and therefore she must find what works for her and her family and makes her happy. Lots of love X
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