The rise of ‘Motherism’ – prejudice against stay-at-home mums.

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Posted by: Sue Atkins

stay at home mum

I read with interest today about the rise in “Motherism” as new term to describe prejudice against stay at home mums!

Stay-at-home mothers are increasingly facing a damaging but unspoken prejudice   that assumes they are stupid, lazy and unattractive, a leading child  development expert has warned.

Dr Aric Sigman, a biologist and psychologist, said that what he called    “motherism” should be tackled as much as other prejudices such as racism.

He told a conference that the rise of derogatory attitudes towards   stay-at-home mothers had helped make it socially unacceptable in some   circles to argue that children benefit from “full-time” parenting.

Dr Sigman, a fellow of the Society of Biology and associate fellow of the   British Psychological Society, has argued in the past that evidence about   the long-term effects of sending very young children to full-time day care   is being ignored because of a political and economic agenda.

Addressing a conference organised by the Mothers At Home Matter group, he said   that evidence from biosciences showed that mothers provided “unrivalled   benefits” to young children that other people, including fathers, cannot.

Dr Sigman told the conference: “You should take on ‘motherism’ – the prejudice   against stay-at-home mothers – a prejudice that expresses itself in   derogatory clichés like: ‘You gain a baby and lose a brain’ and comments   that refer to ‘schoolgate mother mentality’, or to being ‘willingly   self-lobotomised’.

“The implication is that by being a full-time mother you are ‘subjugated and   servile’ and even sexually unattractive once you are a mother – a quality   only associated with women who return to work with their high heels and   clipboards.”

He added: “I have heard how full-time mothers are described. The tone seems to   be that they are not as interesting, that they have taken a step down both   socially and intellectually but also in terms of esteem.

“If you applied any other kind of minority group tag to that there would be an outcry.”

Read the article in The Telegraph

stay at home mum 3

I  was invited to attend the Home Renaissance Foundation International Conference on Excellence in the Home event in London where Dr Sergio Belardinelli from the University of Bologna  spoke about the importance of the Home in the lives of children, and asked why parents were embarrassed to say that they were housewives/ househusbands or stay at home parents.

I wrote an article called “So What Exactly Do You Do?”  where I write about the importance of being a Mum in all its forms.

So just ponder for a moment……..

So what does the word FAMILY mean to you?

What does being part of a family mean to you?

How has your family influenced you, nurtured you, encouraged you, damaged you?

You only have to ask yourself – who was there to pick you up from a late night party,  give you a bit of “extra” money when you’d run out, or sorted things out when you got into trouble or made mistakes.

Or who was there to get you over a broken -heart, a messy divorce or there encouraging you on the side lines on a frozen cold January morning when you were playing netball?

Who taught you to ride a bike, roller skate or drive a car?

And whose always there believing in you and encouraging you when life is overwhelming and challenging?

Your family.

Your family is your rock in a very fast -paced, hectic world of change – it’s your anchor in the stormy seas and choppy waters of growing up.

And that’s why for me it’s so important.

It’s from this centre that children thrive and go on to believe in their dreams and make a success of their lives – whatever that means for them.

It’s like a ripple in a pond – each generation building on the other.

So grab a cup of coffee and a pen and ponder ….

How do you bond with your children/

How do you encourage your children?

How do you praise your children?

How much time do you spend eating with them, talking with them, playing with them, listening to them and laughing with them every day?

What family traditions do you have – watching a film on a Friday night with a take – away and a bowl of popcorn, walking the dogs on a Saturday morning, riding bikes on Summer holidays and eating Sunday lunches together every week?

I’m a great believer in creating your own family traditions because they build memories that last a lifetime and they build the bonds of love, respect, self esteem and confidence in family life.

I’ve been watching Jamie Oliver’s Dream School with great interest as the students and young people appear to have fragmented family lives, poor parental role models and  they seem to lack positive, strong, influential family support.

Being part of a family means many things. and families come in all shapes and sizes, from “traditional families” step –families, one parent families, same sex families to grandparental families.

But what they all share is a profound and meaningful connection and a place where children can feel safe, secure, nurtured, loved and cared for as well as cherished. They can experience support and  unconditional love and family life is  the base from which children can flourish, grow and blossom.

I jotted down what a happy, nurturing home provides and the list is endless:

Safety

Trust

Nurturing

Cherishing

Respect

Unconditional love

Boundaries

Discipline

Support

Values

Aspirations

Expectations

Joy

Kindness

Hope

Tolerance

Guidance

Why don’t you do the same and see what it brings up for you.

On my Parenting Made Easy workshops I get parents to write  job description for being a Parent !

It’s amazing what you have to master from chief bottle washer, to money manager …..

It’s also a 24/7 job with very little recognition !

But the point of doing this is to help you realise just how important your role is.

Children who come from strong families do better at school, feel better about themselves and have better self esteem and they also grow up able to withstand Life’s ups and downs and challenges better. They also go on to create strong, happy families themselves – like a ripple in a pond.

So the next time someone asks you:

“So what do you do?”

Hopefully you will see that you are not just defined by your work – and that you have one of the most important jobs in the world !

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