Monthly Archives: September 2009

Please accept my apologies for being a bad mother

Surveys. Don’t you love them? One week there is a scientific piece of research that tells us a glass of red wine three times a week is good for the heart.

Fast forward a fortnight and there is a contradictory “evidence”: drinking three glasses of red wine a week can increase incidences of “certain types of” cancer.

I do try to take them with a pinch of salt (not too much, because I don’t want a stroke. Perhaps I should take them with a pinch of low sodium substitute), but there are occasions when, in the name of science, anthropology or just sheer mischief making that studies make me want to scream (primal scream therapy is alleged to help with emotional problems).

This week – for there are these pieces of research popping up weekly – is the “news” that working mothers are breeding obese, TV-addicted children who never eat fruit and vegetables.

According to research carried out by Centre for Paediatric Epidemiology and Biostatistics at the Institute of Child Health, University College London full-time working mothers were bringing up the unhealthiest children in the country.

This was followed by women who work part-time. Women who stayed at home had the healthiest children were “stay at home” mothers.

The figures in the report appear to be impressive in that the researchers involved 12,000 children born between 2000 and 2002 who were part of the Millennium Cohort Study.

Mothers were questioned about their working hours, their children’s food intake activity and exercise levels, as well as how much TV they watched or computer access they had.

The findings? Children of working mothers were more likely to have fizzy drinks, eat fewer portions of fruit and vegetables  and watch more TV – and do less exercise.

It is this kind of “research” that just makes me fume. Surely it is parenting skills – not whether or not the mother works – that makes a difference.

Women do not usually have the luxury of choice when it comes to returning to work – most have to work to help pay the mortgage/rent, the bills and put food on the table (whether that’s a bag of chips or a full Sunday lunch).

If they do have the choice and they decide to stay at home – that is fine. It is also fine for a woman to go to work.

Yes, we might feel torn in two when leaving the children when we put on the working suit and leave the vomit-stained jumper at home, but that doesn’t mean we forget what vegetables look like.

Bringing up children has nothing to do with whether or not a woman goes out to work. Basic parenting is a learned skill, but we need vegetables and fruit, too. That doesn’t go out of the window when we go to work.

Most of us have the knowledge, but probably need a bit of support when it comes to time management skills. What we don’t need is castigation and snide finger-pointing.

I know this research came out yesterday – but I didn’t have chance to blog about it then. I was busy being a bad mother: out working ALL day (yes –  from 9.30am until 5pm).

I could have written this yesterday evening, but I’m afraid I was too busy making my family a vegetable and wholewheat pasta bake (making my own tomato sauce, thank you), collecting son from his Beavers group and tidying the kitchen before falling into bed at 10pm.

So, please accept my humblest apologies for being a bad mother.