Mothers are the great glue which binds society together. They organise, they volunteer, they nurture. And, when they are not around, you notice it. Look at any of those etiolated “communities” where every woman is a worker and you will see what I mean.
But the bigger (and bitter) argument for stay-at-home mothers concerns children. In Britain, in recent years, the debate has been closing down. Through tax and benefit changes, successive governments have made it ever harder for a woman to absent herself from the workforce to bring up her own children.
Whitehall would much rather encourage the creation of an army of childminders and nursery workers (which it can, inter alia, not only conscript but heavily regulate).
Some of these women do sterling work. Others, perhaps a majority, are young women with limited prospects. The authorities recognise this. That is one reason the way our pre-school children are looked after is increasingly the stuff of highly-prescribed curricula.
Our legislators may have decided that society is better served by clever women entering the workplace, rather than staying at home to raise children, but every now and then a spanner falls into the works.
The latest challenge to the prevailing orthodoxy comes, not for the first time, from Scandanavia – a part of the world where, for all its nanny-state associations, it is still possible to question the moral and practical superiority of the working mum without being labelled a neanderthal.
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