Friday, April 10, 2020
Home News Tania Sullivan: Family life pays the price of having it all

Tania Sullivan: Family life pays the price of having it all

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For decades now women have been told they can have it all. The feminist movement told us how we no longer had to be restricted to the confines of our homes and families. There was a whole world out there, no longer just for the men, and we women could have it all.

We didn’t need to forgo having children completely. We could simply delay motherhood until we felt the time was right. Or we could turn to childcare for the children we already have. We call the shots now, don’t you know. And we, dear sisters, could have it all.

We fell for the seduction of having it all hook, line and sinker. What we didn’t notice is that there was a hierarchy of importance within the have-it-all realm, and in our quest to prove that we could indeed have it all, we belittled the true value of motherhood.

We reduced the role of the stay-at-home mother as something unimportant and to be frowned upon. How could you possibly want to limit yourself so greatly when there is so much more out there? You can have it all!

What we failed to realise is that, as the movement was encouraging us out into the workforce with the promise that we could prove ourselves to be so much more than ‘just a mum’, we were unwittingly compromising and sacrificing the one thing that ought to have remained important – being a hands on Mum.

As time moved on, a woman’s choice to work has increasingly become replaced by a financial necessity to work. No longer are single earners able to support their families.

Spiralling housing costs, increasing utility bills, escalating fuel costs – even the day to day groceries are ever escalating. The cost of living has far outweighed the earnings for many households, who now depend on both parents working to bring in a wage simply to make ends meet.

Women who want to remain at home, raising their children, nurturing their family and running their homes, cannot afford to.

All of the main political parties plan childcare expansion making it available for younger ages – toddlers and babes in arms still – and for longer periods.

There is even talk about allowing schools to host ‘sleepovers’ in order to allow parents to work more and for longer. Whilst they may be helping the percentage of parents who both want to work through choice, they are making it even harder for those who wish to raise their children themselves to do so.

Yet, no political party has stepped up to state how they will help enable parents to stay at home to raise their own children – or at least that they will stop penalising them.

Until there is an alternative choice presented to parents, there is no choice at all.  To simply say: ‘It’s okay guys, we’ve got your childcare covered.  Off you go now!’ is not giving parents a choice.

It’s making them work harder for longer, without giving their children the parental guidance or foundation that children so desperately need.

Parental care is something that third party carers frankly cannot provide, regardless of how efficient or box-tickingly competent they are.

If we continue on this downward spiral of farming out our children’s care through every waking hour, how will future generations ever know what a strong family unit actually is without having experienced one for themselves?

The myth of having it all has resulted in there no longer being a choice for many mothers and their families. For them, having it all is anything but – and the family pays the price.

We need to stop pressuring women with this fallacy. Having it all does not exist – it is merely a matter of choices, decisions and sacrifices, and when we are sacrificing one thing for another, we aren’t having it all.

Find out more about Larger Family Life here

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Tania Sullivan
Tania campaigns for Larger Family Life, the UK's biggest resource for large families

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