Smarta can’t help but echo a piece by business magazine Management Today, which points out a new study into the healthiness of children of working mums ‘seems both unhelpful and misleading’.
The research, by the Institute of Child Health at University College London, studied the behaviour of more than 12,500 children of single mothers and found they were ‘more likely to spend at least two hours a day in front of the TV or at a computer, and that they were more likely to be driven to school rather than walk or cycle’.
The research prompted a series of accusatory headlines, including one from the Daily Express which had overtones of tabloid scandal to it. “REVEALED,” it snarled. “WORKING MUMS RAISE UNHEALTHIER CHILDREN”
Management Today suggests it’s an economic thing: of the 60% of British women with a young child who have gone back to work, it says, ‘many haven’t done so purely for their own benefit; these days, lots of families rely on two salaries’.
It’s a good point, but research out earlier this month by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation which found ‘most families still hold on to the stereotype that a father’s job is to earn the money and protect the family’ (not to mention the, err, somewhat conservative attitudes displayed by some of the Daily Mail’s commenters) shows ‘traditional’ attitudes to gender roles still prevail.
Guilt-inducing studies into the behaviour of the working mums' children are unjustified. Mothers have the right to work as much as fathers: chaining them to their kitchen tables will only result in a lot of unhappy, unfulfilled women.
Anyway: Smarta hasn't seen any studies into the children of working fathers. In the interests of gender equality we suggest someone immediately commissions research looking at the correlation between the amount of time fathers spend at work and their offspring’s preferred Telly Tubby. We think you’ll be pleasantly surprised...