Get real, Kirsty – Stay At Home Mums are NOT child-centric

Jan 5 • Featured • 650 Views • 18 Comments on Get real, Kirsty – Stay At Home Mums are NOT child-centric

I quite like Kirsty Young but my goodness she's talking a lot of tosh in today's Telegraph. She claims that mothers see children as an 'extension of their success', attempting to turn them into 'baby Einsteins', and that those who 'give up work' to 'do children' have to justify their decision. 'We've become much more child-centric as a society, it's a kind of badge of honour to say your life revolves around your children,' she says.

I'm not sure who Kirsty has been mixing with – the kind of parents who buy their children 'seven pairs of shoes', apparently – but most of the mothers I know who gave up work to raise their kids did so because they felt it was a) better for their children to be at home, at least until they went to school and b) it wasn't financially viable, once they'd fathomed in the cost of childcare, for them to return to work.

And ALL the mums I know – including the SAHMs and the WAHMs – have their own identities, separate from their roles as mothers. Yes of course they're devoted to their kids (isn't that kind of what being a mother is all about?!) but they also enjoy doing their own thing, too.

To add insult to injury, Kirsty claims that 'most women don't have careers. They have jobs that they have to do to pay the electricity bill or buy school shoes.' But I don't believe the two are mutually exclusive, actually.

*What do you think – is Kirsty right?

written by Liz Jarvis

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18 Responses to Get real, Kirsty – Stay At Home Mums are NOT child-centric

  1. sam says:

    I have just read the artlcle and I dont think Kirsty was being awkward, i think she was being realistic – women cant have everything (unfortunately) – it is left up to them to manage family life as well as everything else they would like to do and it is the mothers who end up having to sacrifice something they would like to do – but not necessarily prefer to do – most mothers love being Mums and so choosing between career or not, going out or staying in, holidaying with or with out the kids etc .. the choice is clear – be with the children. It is a choice but a desired one. Kirsty is actually saying life is toucher now than it has been – there are more opportunities therefore there will be more choices. Mums at home are choosing to made careers out of bring up their children – ie being there for them and possibly spoiling them – therefore although life may be full it may not be the best for our kids who are becoming too reliate and less independent ‘ what do you want for breakfast’ rather than ‘here is breakfast.!’

  2. angelsandurchinsblog says:

    And I’ve always liked Kirsty! What’s rattled her cage? Perhaps she’s been passed over to a juicy job because of children? Does she have children? All mother’s lives revolve around their children, whether they work or not. And nothing wrong with that.

  3. Sarah says:

    I completely agree with you Liz. Very well said. As a mum of two little boys, I’m sick and tired of being knocked, picked on, criticised, carped at and complained about. Especially by those who really aren’t in the same category as most of us mere mortal mums. Kirsty Young is married to some multi-milionaire and really has no idea how it really is. The days of the cupcake yummy mummies giving up work to swathe their children in Cath Kitson and shimmy along to Gym Tots have long gone. And to be honest, so what if that’s what they wanted to do. Good on ’em. As another mum just said on here, our lives revolve around our kids working or not, and rightly so. Surely that does not mean we’re spoiling them!

  4. Vic @ Glowstars.net says:

    Having just started maternity leave, I’m still getting my head around the idea of me being a SAHM for the next few months at least. That said, even when I was at home last time round, I never felt the need to justify my decision. Going back to work was easy for me – I either did it or lost my sanity, simple as that. Now my job isn’t what I’d call a career, more of a means to pay the bills, but that’s my decision. I could climb the ranks in the company, but seeing the grief those who have done so get, it’s just not worth it. I was never career minded before kids and see no reason why I should be now.

  5. notsupermum says:

    I have to admit that I think Kirsty has a point. I think a lot of people (mums?) put all of their energies into their children, to the detriment of themselves. We are probably all guilty of making sure our children have playdates, after school clubs to go to, friends over for sleepovers,, etc yet we don’t give much thought to ‘me time’ for ourselves. And we all know how competitive mums can be when comparing their children with others, e.g. "oh, I had little Johnny potty trained at 4 months!" I’m not criticising SAHMs, far from it, but the point she made about society being too child centric is valid. I think I’m waffling a bit now so I’ll stop! I gave up my own ‘career’ when I became a single parent, and took on a low paid job just because it gave me the flexibility to be with my girls more – and it was the right decision for us.

  6. MOIxx says:

    Nothing like a sweeping generalisation to insult people – Kirsty seems to have done just that! the only statement of Kirsty’s that I agree with is that I want my little one to come home from nursery covered with paint having had a good time. The best thing that you can do for little ones is to play with them and communicate – and that is just fun for all involved. Is that being over child focused? If it is, it keeps our family happy.

  7. Loonylis says:

    Kirsty’s comments have made me want to cry. It seems us Mums can’t do wrong for doing right. If we go to work we are made to feel guilty for not being at home with our children, and if we stay at home we’re being too child centered and spoiling our children. We just can’t win.

  8. nappyvalleygirl says:

    I agree with her about nurseries, and competitive mothers, but that is a whole separate issue from that of SAH mothers. Some of the most competitive mothers I have met are career mothers, and I know some SAH mothers who do nothing with their children and barely leave the house. You just can’t generalise like that about other women, and even attempting to do it is a slap in the face for feminism.

  9. geekymummy.blogspot.com says:

    My take on this: I feel that society pressures women to choose between career and kids. If a woman with children says that she wants to continue to pursue a career for her own satisfaction, not just because she needs the money, or if it actually costs her money factoring in childcare it is still frowned upon. Perhaps some of these ex career mums turned at home mums who are devoting all that type A energy they used to use at work on molding their kids would be better off back in their workplace but are pressured by society to choose otherwise.

  10. Alison says:

    I too quite like Kirsty Young but this article did rile me. There are so many issues here and they’re all fudged up together – working mums versus SAHMS, the importance of play, the kind of hothousing parenting that does exist but is quite specific. I don’t think she does herself any favours by lumping mothers together like this and making so many generalisations plus some unfortunate turns of phrase (‘do’ children) for example and saying women don’t have careers but are earning pin money. How insulting. I’ll still listen to her on Desert Island Discs though.

  11. pauline wallin says:

    How on earth can Kirsty Young consider herself as a spokeswoman for mums? She is married to a multi millionaire in addition to having a high paid salary of her very own. She lives in a completely different world to the rest of us. Her children are likely to be privately educated and I can’t imagine she gives a second thought to the amount of money she spends on her family. She is lucky to have the kind of career which allows the flexibility to combine spending time with her kids in addition to remaining high profile. Most ordinary women need to work to help contribute to the family budget as well as continuing with hard won jobs they enjoy and give them a sense of self worth above and beyond the important function of being the family lynch-pin. Get real, Kirsty, you haven’t a clue about what it means to be an mum in the sense the role means to most of us.

  12. grit says:

    i fit totally in kirsty’s frame; being with my children is a full-time job. we chose this lifestyle because it’s happy for me, my husband and our children. our day is a joint family decision everyday. we live like this because we simply enjoy doing our own thing; living the life we want means living boldly and with imagination. our choices have led to off-the-path, off-template parenting: kirsty shows her lack of imagination that these states are then only judged in the same tired old ‘sahm’ language. parents and women who choose independently need to create their own language and expression to celebrate what they do …fortunately these days we have blogs in which to do that.

  13. Brit In Bosnia says:

    UK society is far more child centric than many other places. The focus is often on the child, occasionally at the detriment of the family. In Bosnia the child is expected to muck in with the family, they do everything together from eating, to the chores, to socialising. The child has to work out its place within the family unit and is not held up as the core around which everything revolves. That said, there are many more family members usually living in the same house who can help out with childcare and keep the mothers sane. The flip side is that there are very few child focussed activities and the kids are often just tagging along, not really enjoying themselves. The playgrounds are awful (nails sticking out of swings awful) or non-existent and during the winter there is nothing to do but be inside with the kids. The key, as ever, is about finding a balance that works for the child, mother and family as a whole. Easier said than done. And Kirsty does herself no favours by assuming that all women are one and the same.

  14. London City Mum says:

    Am disappointed in KY’s generic take about mums and that ‘most women don’t have careers. They have jobs that they have to do to pay the electricity bill or buy school shoes.’ I have a career – not always necessarily on track – and I enjoy working. I certainly see that my own kids have a terrific time at school and in the wraparound care services provided (especially as it entails being with all their friends out of school hours), certainly better than I could deliver on my own day in/day out. But that is possibly just me and the stark realisation that much as I love the cherubs, I am not SAHM material. I do however HAVE to work as we could not live on my husband’s salary alone. Or rather, we could, but with substantial lifestyle changes all round. An interesting, if slightly dated, article here, with valid points about pushy parents and potential damage further down the line (just another thing to worry about, eh?): http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/comment/columnists/carol_midgley/article3731897.ece

  15. New Mummy says:

    Yay mums get a bashing again!! We can’t seem to win I couldn’t go back to work full time as the childcare costs where too high and I’m currently looking for p/time to help with the bills but that doesn’t bother me and I don’t feel the need to push my child because I don’t have a career I don’t believe that being a SAHM makes you more of a pushy parent. I love being at home with BG, we do go to a music class once a week but thats more for me to get outr of the house to meet other mums and BG gets to interact with other children, All mothers lifes revolve to some extent around their children and why shoudn’t it be that way? and if your a SAHM like me with a young child that isn’t in daycare etc then my days are obviously going to be taken up by my child. and finally I know plenty of mums that have ‘carreers’, I would like to see Kirsty Young tell my OH Regional Manager and Regional HR Managers that they don’t have a Career! Wonder what we’ll do wrong next week

  16. Vegemitevix says:

    Interesting comment Brit in Bosnia, I’ve discovered that the UK is more child-centric than I’m used to as well. Whilst NZ is a great place to bring up kids we tend to be a little less hands-on and encourage the kids to eat a lot more dirt. I’ve been both SAHM and WAHM and workatwork mum. I’ve felt guilty whatever work capacity I’ve been in. Guilty if I leave the kids to work outside the home, guilty if I’m not earning to support the family, and if I’m a SAHM – guilty that my kids aren’t getting the best of me, or that my clients are getting the best of me. You can’t win!

  17. sharon says:

    Once again an out of touch celebrity believes their opinion on everything is correct! It is easy to have a career or not – if you are married to a multi-millionaire, just as it is easy to choose what work you would like to do. I had a very wellpaid career, pre-children, but could not continue as it meant working away from home Mon – Thurs each week (the NAHM- never at home mum just didn’t appeal, even if I could’ve got childcare) – so I’m now a SAHM and yes my life does revolve around my 2 children as not only are they my job, they are my home-life too! Get a grip on reality Kirsty!

  18. Sam says:

    Couldn’t have said it better Liz – Tosh is precisely the word for it. I had a good job BC, but I wanted to be there to pick them up from school, take them to school and care for them when they were ill – unfortunately the two (job and children) didn’t allow for that, but I know many women with a career AND children and the two combine perfectly…

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