“Working Mothers’ Children Unfit”

So sayeth the BBC. A study

found that five-year-olds whose mothers worked part-time or full-time were more likely to primarily consume sweetened drinks between meals. They used their computers or watched television for at least two hours a day compared to the children of “stay at home” mothers who spent less than two hours on these activities. They were also more likely to be driven to school compared to the children of “stay at home” mothers who tended to walk or cycle.

The study’s author, Professor Catherine Law says:

they had not looked at fathers in this study because fathers employment levels had not changed whereas the numbers of working mothers had increased dramatically. [Further,] “Time constraints may limit parents’ capacity to provide their children with healthy foods and opportunities for physical activity. Our results do not imply that mothers should not work. Rather they highlight the need for policies and programmes to help support parents.”

Imagine if the BBC had framed their article to reflect that: “Better after-school care needed”, for example. But no, they’ve opted for the very catchy mother-blaming option. And one that completely absolves fathers of responsibility for childcare. (Thanks, Jender-Parents!)

12 thoughts on ““Working Mothers’ Children Unfit”

  1. This might be a minor nitpick, but the sloppiness in language of the report, “used their computers or watched television for at least two hours a day,” bothers me. What does it mean? Maybe every one of the children watched TV (an average of) two hours a day? Doesn’t strike me as plausible with any reasonable sample size. It can’t mean that the mean amount of TV-watching is two hours a day (then “at least” makes no sense). I don’t have time to go look at the study itself.

    Probably this lack of clarity isn’t particularly important here, but the annoying thing is I don’t know if it’s important, since I don’t know what the facts are.

    And yeah, of course the really important point is yours, about the framing.

  2. David C, I’ve pulled your good comment from the spam dump. WordPress seems to have it in for you. I did spend some time checking on what can be done about that. The official word is: nothing.

    At least we are not alone in having valuable commentators gets caught in the spam filter.

  3. I never knew that being driven to school had such a detrimental impact on kids.
    Also, isn’t it a bit last century to say that watching TV is bad and the more of it the worse?

  4. Hi, DavidC, I’m glad I looked in spam to see if you had responded. You had and it was there.
    Thanks for asking if you could do something. No one seems to know why some people get sent to spam. I think it is either your address or your URL. Some people use fake addresses and get by, so you might try that. Maybe something like “JohnJ@gmail.com.

    I just realized that if that doesn’t work, I can put your URL on a list of people whose comments have to be approved first. If that works, at least you end up in the regular comment box.

  5. Here, I’m trying my other email address. I guess I had thought at first that the one from my university would less likely be taken as spam.

  6. Well, DavidC, I am genuinely dismayed to say that none of that worked. I just got your message out of spam. This is not good. I’ll try putting your URL’s on the “needs approval list.” If that works, then you will at least show up on the message list.

    I hope you won’t give up on us. I’ve really liked your comments, which you know are at a slightly unusual angle.

  7. If only the government would properly subsidise adequate childcare and childminding facilities, working mothers wouldn’t cop as much blame as they do. Alas, here in Oz, things seem to be the same as the UK

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