Government efforts to get more parents into work risks sending the message
that childcare and other unpaid domestic duties are unimportant, a report
The study, by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, argues that parents of both
sexes are involved in bringing up children and that stereotyped images of
child-centred mothers and work-focused fathers are increasingly seen as
It finds that parents trying to balance work and family responsibilities
would welcome government intervention to reduce the demand for working weekends
and long hours.
Assessing the key findings from 19 separate research studies, the report
concludes that the Government’s efforts to tackle family poverty by persuading
more parents to find work risks sending an unwelcome signal devaluing caring
for children and other unpaid work.
It warns policymakers that the implication that paid childcare is somehow
‘better’ than parental care runs contrary to the instincts of many parents.
Concluding analysis by Professor Shirley Dex reports the research found
evidence of widespread dissatisfaction.
"The research programme found a lot of tired parents, a large amount of
dissatisfaction, and a desire to cut down working hours, or even give up paid
work altogether. Clearly the preferences expressed by many mothers run counter
to the direction of the Government’s ‘welfare to work’ policies since they
would prefer to do less, not more work while their children are young."