Media Release 8 February 2012
A new report examining daycare says that New Zealand should undergo a timely and long overdue re-evaluation of motherhood.
The report “WHO CARES? Mothers, Daycare and Child Wellbeing in New Zealand” was commissioned by Family First NZ, and prepared by UK psychologist Dr Aric Sigman. Dr Sigman is a Fellow of the Society of Biology, and an Associate Fellow of the British Psychological Society.
“There is growing evidence of profound beneficial neurobiological effects a mother’s physical presence has on her young child that cannot be achieved by anyone else including paid childcare workers,” says Dr Sigman. “Mothers have been undervalued. NZ should undergo a timely and long overdue re-evaluation of motherhood.”
Dr Sigman argues that the impression given is that mothers who do stay at home for the first few years of their child’s life confer no benefits or advantages on their child when compared to equivalent time spent in non-parental care.
“Parental and non-parental care are presented as equal alternatives entailing nothing more than a discretionary lifestyle choice involving mere stylistic differences. In short, this means that the many mothers who have spent years at home with their children in the belief that this conferred significant benefits to them have wasted their time. Yet the uncomfortable but nagging question remains: which is generally better for a young child during weekdays – the biological mother or a paid carer at an institution? To suggest that motherhood is special is seen by some as in some way demeaning, even insulting, to women,” says Dr Sigman.
Dr Sigman believes that New Zealand, like many other countries, does not enjoy a healthy climate of open discussion about the effects of daycare on children.
“Why has motherhood not been viewed as an incomparable responsibility carried out by a gender with awe-inspiring qualities? If we are so concerned about sexism and being sensitive to women’s feelings about their choices, why must the negative feelings – the guilt – of some working mothers take precedence over supporting the feelings of stay-at-home mothers?” asks Dr Sigman.
“This report provides compelling evidence that the political and policy focus has been on the needs of the economy and the subsequent demands on mothers, rather than on the welfare of children and the vital role of mums and Call for parents,” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ.
The Full Report can be downloaded from www.familyfirst.org.nz