The Government should value mums who choose to stay at home to look after their children, Conservative MPs have said.
Former Cabinet member George Eustice and backbencher Miriam Cates questioned whether the budget announcement extending free childcare to encourage mothers back into work was family-friendly.
Last week, Chancellor Jeremy Hunt pledged free childcare “for eligible working parents of children from 9 months until they start school”.
‘Best start in life’
Speaking in Parliament, Mrs Cates said: “The Treasury thinks the answer to our financial challenges is to send more mothers to work.”
no one replaces mummy
But, the 40-year-old mother-of-three countered, “It is heartbreaking when mothers feel they have no choice but to leave their babies in childcare from a very young age because of the financial imperative.”
Cates, the MP for Penistone and Stocksbridge, argued that the “bond between mother and child is probably the strongest human relationship there is”, adding: “There are many great people in the childcare sector, but no one replaces mummy.”
She concluded: “I commend the amount of money being spent on the early years, but please can it be used to offer parents a choice and babies the best start in life?”
Mr Eustice agreed, telling The Guardian: “‘Stay-at-home mother’ is now almost used as a derogatory term”. He added: “We should respect the choice that women make.”
We shouldn’t belittle it, we should value it.
He also said: “Many women do want to spend those first few years with their child.
“It’s a short period in life where they can perform that natural nurturing role. We shouldn’t belittle it, we should value it.”