From the New Zealanders are overwhelmingly against pushing sole parents back to work before their children go to school, a Herald-DigiPoll survey has found. The poll found only 10 per cent support for a proposal by the Government’s welfare working group that sole parents should look for part-time work when their youngest children turn 3 – the age at which they become eligible for 20 hours a week of “free” childcare. The vast majority believe sole parents should have to look for work only when their youngest children turn either 5 (32 per cent), when they can start school, or 6 (54 per cent).
The previous Labour government patted itself on the back for allowing 14 weeks paid parental leave – that’s 14 weeks for mum to bond with baby, recover from pregnancy and childbirth, and establish a breastfeeding and daily routine (the Ministry of Health recommends six months breastfeeding), ready to go back to work while baby goes into childcare.
A Department of Labour study found that 70-75% of mums want at least 12 months paid parental leave. Most mums are going back to work after 6 months, not because they want to, but because of financial necessity.
Yet countries like the Czech Republic, Estonia, France and Germany offer three years paid parental leave. In some Nordic counties, there is even paid paternity leave.
The Ministry of Social Development found that a third of all working couples say they are unhappy they both have to work. And almost 60% of mums with children under the age of three are rejecting work and are choosing to be fulltime mums.
A Massey University study found that only 2% approved of women working full-time when they had pre-schoolers, and half of those surveyed said that both the pre-schooler and the family suffered when a mum worked even part-time.
And kiwi parents’ resistance to being forced into the workforce and depending on childcare is shared by other mums around the world.
Of 1,500 women questioned in the Young Women’s Lifestyle Survey of Great Britain 2005, only one in 10 said they wanted to work full time and put their child into nursery care. Almost two-thirds said they expected to have to work part-time because of financial demands. Two-thirds of young women felt a man should be the main provider for his family if possible.
In American research, researchers at the University of Minnesota and the University of Montana surveyed 2000 mothers with at least one child under 18 and found that more than 41% were employed full-time, but only 16% ideally wanted to be. One-third wanted to work part-time and one-third preferred to work for pay from home.
According to a national poll conducted in 2000 by the Manhattan-based market research firm, Youth Intelligence, 68% of women between the ages of 18 and 34 say they would prefer to stay at home and raise their children to working outside the home. Cosmopolitan magazine, which commissioned the poll, proclaimed this 68% “the new housewife wannabes.”