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Responding to my hate mail from a stay at home Mum

Last weekend Rachel Browne featured an excellent summary in The Sun Herald of the many issues working families face in finding quality childcare – and why this issue is now hotting up as a major election decider. The report featured a number of startling statistics for parents and employers alike:

  • 40% of families report some difficulty with childcare
  • 25% of mothers say they are not working because they cannot afford childcare
  • 50% of all children under 3 are in formal childcare
  • 40% of parents say affordability is the biggest issue surrounding childcare
  • 37% of parents say availability is the biggest issue surrounding childcare
  • 69% of mothers say they would change their vote for a party that made childcare more affordable (I certainly fall into this category and have not forgotten about the childcare promises that were broken by the current government)

My experiences regarding the childcare challenges we’ve faced in our own family were included in this article by Rachel – the main point being difficulty in finding a place at a centre of your choice and the career distraction that parents and particularly mothers face when childcare plans begin to falter.

In response to my comments,I received this anonymous hate mail in my PO Box from someone who took exception to my commentary and as she asked me a question – but did not provide a name or contact address for a response – I am using my blog to answer it here.

This is a copy of her letter:

“Dear Ms Dalitz. Just one question – Why didn’t you stay home for that first vital year and look after your son yourself?

You could have had time to wait till a place came up at a reputable centre instead of racing back to work and leaving your tiny son to carers that were at most transient. 

All good mothers have to adjust your life style and career ego for their children.  It was your choice to have children not your child’s choice to have you.

It’s too late to change the childcare story for Ethan now, but don’t expect sympathy from a lot of mother sand people now for your story.

PS I am a mother of two children and I had to adjust my lifestyle and put my career plan and EGO on hold in order to know EXACTLY what surrounded and nurtured my child.”

Dear Ms Anonymous

My response to your question is as follows: my husband and I make parenting decisions based on what we believe to be the best outcomes for all of our family. 

Assuming that you are in fact a mother (of which I’m not entirely convinced as I’ve never experienced a mother being so venomous in her attitudes towards another mother) I have no doubt that you have done the same.

You make no mention of Ethan’s father in your letter.  I assure you that he has one, who is actively involved in parenting.  The decision to utilise childcare arrangements was made jointly by my husband and me and on the whole we have been very satisfied with our decision.  We certainly seek no sympathy from you or anyone else.

As Rachel’s article suggests, child care is about giving people options.  You have chosen to stay at home and care for your children yourself, and if that’s working for you then that’s all that matters.  If parents wish to combine parenting and a career then that choice should also be respected.  The point of Rachel’s article is that currently, choices are limited for many families and that is the nub of the child care issue.  I applaud her for raising these issues and getting the truth out there about public policy and election issues that are of great significance to a large number of families – not to mention Australian employers who lose out every time one of their skilled and experienced employees is unable to return to work due to the affordability and availability of childcare.

Attacking people for the choices they make is very unhelpful on a multitude of levels: for the childcare debate, for the welfare of mothers generally, and for the right for equality that so many have fought for.  Further, I find your implication that I am not a good mother simply because I have not made the same choices as you offensive. 

Those of you reading this who are parents, I am sure you too make decisions in the best interests of all of your family.  For employers of parents – attitudes and behaviours like those of the anonymous author of my hatemail contribute to work life conflict for your employees and therefore your ability to attract and retain the best staff.

As a final point I would add that my husband and I have the greatest respect for the staff at both centres we have utilised and while we have had some challenges, we’re very happy with Ethan’s current care arrangements.  Anyone who knows Ethan will attest that he is a happy, healthy little boy and is the centre of our world.  Simply because we have chosen to both continue our careers in no way implies we have not made lifestyle changes (or career concessions) upon becoming parents – as any parent knows, your suggestion that I have combined parenting, work and life without change is utter nonsense.


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