Media Release 19 March 2018
Family First NZ is rubbishing TV3 AM Show host Mark Richardson’s comments that motherhood should not be considered a job, labelling the comments as disrespectful and potentially harmful, and ignoring the research.
“Mothers have been undervalued. Yet 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. It’s significant that a childcare worker is treated as having a “job” but a full-time mother isn’t,” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ.
Family First released a report in 2012 “WHO CARES? Mothers, Daycare and Child Wellbeing in New Zealand” prepared by UK psychologist Dr Aric Sigman, an Associate Fellow of the British Psychological Society. 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.
“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.
NZ’s Brainwave Trust which was formed as a response to new scientific evidence on the impact that experiences in the first 3 years have on the brain development of a child, says on its website, “The early attachment between parents and their baby creates a foundation for that child’s future relationships with others. Smiling, singing, touching and cuddling as part of attuned, responsive care is necessary to develop this part of the brain. Close, loving physical touch is crucially important. These things allow the child to develop the brain connections needed to feel empathy and care for others – an important prerequisite for healthy functioning as an adult.”
“With respect, Mark Richardson needs to do a bit more homework,” says Mr McCoskrie.