Do We Really Love Children?


Sir, - Angela McNamara (November 12th) questions whether children's needs are being met, especially by mothers. Unfortunately, the media image of the full-time mother is usually one of an overburdened drudge, whereas the career woman/mother is portrayed as progressive and glamorous. Almost all public role models for girls are high-flying career women/mothers. School textbooks represent full-time motherhood as burdensome and something to be avoided at all costs. One current Junior Cert textbook tells us that "when a woman works outside the home her family look up to her more." Is it any wonder that motherhood is under siege?

One rarely hears reports of the joys of child-rearing. More and more one reads of "child care" facilities which are supposedly essential for the socialisation of children. Research suggests otherwise. Penelope Leach, in her book Children First, says: "A British study showed that under-threes talk, and are talked to, far less in a group than in a domestic situation."

Recently Marks and Spencer stopped selling battery-produced eggs. If pecking around the farmyard produces happy hens and tastier eggs is it not obvious that children reared freely by mothers in their own home, neighbourhood and environs are at a distinct advantage to those who are cooped up all day in sanitised day-care centres?

At present Ireland has the highest percentage of stay-at-home mothers in Europe. We should be proud of this figure. The Government focus on state child-care is a response to a very vocal minority. The best care for a child is his or her own mother. Child-rearing is a full-time job and no price could be put on its value to society. Mothers need the support of the Government and society at large in the most important job of forming the future citizens of this country. - Yours, etc.,

Monica Barber,

Sandford Road, Dublin 6.