Women and work-life balance: work wins and life is in the balance

Another solution for the working mother

Christine Armstrong, author of The Mother of all Jobs: How to Have Children and a Career and Stay Sane(ish), complains that mothers are feeling the strain of looking after children and having a career, and that what is needed is the “expectation that businesses support the whole workforce, not just the half without a uterus.”

Ms Armstrong wants: “Affordable childcare for all. Flexible work by design. Paid parental leave that can be taken by both parents.” However, as she points out, even when children are of school age, the school day ends at 3.15 pm, “with plenty of inset days (teacher training when the school is closed), events and performances that your child begs you to attend – plus the holidays that are three times the length of your annual leave.” (“We live in a new age. It’s time to rewrite the rules on balancing work and family life,”, Telegraph, August 31, 2019).

She omits to mention children getting sick – not, unfortunately, always timed to harmonise with working hours – and even with vaccinations to rule out measles, mumps and rubella, nurseries and primary schools are rife with colds, coughs, tummy bugs, head lice and other childhood delights.

She claims that mothers and fathers both want to simultaneously support their families and work, but acknowledges that “often” both “have to” work full time. With houses “at around six times the average pay packet … many families need two incomes simply to pay the rent or mortgage and the bills.”

But many women do not have a “career,” and many regularly express the desire to spend time with their own children when they are not sick or asleep – sentiments which, however, have been ignored by governments in the rush to get all mothers out to work.

As an example of the strain felt by working mothers, Ms Armstrong mentions Ruth Davidson who, citing domestic cares, has stepped down as leader of the Scottish Conservatives. But according to diversity campaigners Ms Davidson’s same-sex marriage is the perfect arrangement for bringing up children, since they will have two mothers.

Apparently, however, science trumps ideology in telling us that no child can have two mothers, and the real mother is the one who cannot bear to leave the child with anyone else. You cannot solve the problem of combining work and children by doubling it.

Most significantly, Ms Armstrong has nothing to say about the effects on children of their needs being made to conform to the needs of the workplace: being dragged hither and thither at unearthly hours of the morning and dumped in childcare or pre-school when they would rather be at home – or, when older, coming home to an empty house.

The same commodification of children has delivered the right to dispose of a child after conception if they do not fit in with busy lives; and, despite the strain felt by working couples, who can at least share the burden, single women now demand to have IVF on the NHS, arguing that they do not have to be in a partnership to bring up a child.

The feminist theory is that if the mothers of little girls go out to work it will give them a good example, demonstrating that there is something more important than being a mother. Certainly, all children have absorbed the message that there is something more important than looking after them, although how this is supposed to raise their self-esteem and nurture their all-important mental health remains a mystery.

The even more deadly theory is to make children so burdensome that women will not want them; the simple answer to childcare problems is not to have children. This has the welcome double effect of population control, now proclaimed quite openly by green campaigners who, ignoring the burden they themselves place on the Planet, insist that small babies who consume nothing but milk are responsible for global warming.

Following the feminist lead, Ms Armstrong claims that making the special provisions she advocates for mothers in the workplace will actually be good for the economy: “The benefits of such changes have already been proven: the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development reports that in Nordic countries with such policies, GDP has gone up by between 10 and 20 per cent by liberating the talents of women like Davidson.”

But yesterday it was reported that the average family doctor now works fewer than three and a half days a week. “GP leaders claim that the job has become so intense that full-time working has become ‘untenable’, with many doctors having to fulfil up to 40 patients consultations a day.” (‘GPs’ salaries go up as number of doctors goes down’, Telegraph, August 30, 2019) Increasing difficulty in booking these consultations cannot be unconnected with the fact that large numbers of older male doctors are retiring, to be replaced by younger females with families. Paying for large numbers of workers not to work can hardly help boost GDP.

Forcing companies to make special arrangements to accommodate all the women who do not want to work normal hours will simply beggar the economy, reduce the birth rate even more disastrously and raise the cost of housing even higher. It will also make women miserable. Feminists trumpet the right to choose, but apparently the only choice women must not be given is the choice to have children and to look after them – because they might just take it. 

Women who want to work have always found ways of doing so, and have made a valuable contribution to society – but so have full-time mothers, and although it never figures on anyone’s balance sheet, they have already found the right work-life balance. Why take it away from them, just to satisfy the failed ideology of an unrepresentative minority?

Ann Farmer lives in the UK. She is the author of By Their Fruits: Eugenics, Population Control, and the Abortion Campaign (CUAP, 2008); The Language of Life: Christians Facing the Abortion Challenge (St Pauls, 1995), and Prophets & Priests: the Hidden Face of the Birth Control Movement (St Austin Press, 2002).


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