Up to the middle of the twentieth century the woman’s place was always at home caring for children, her husband and the house. With emancipation and increasing education and career possibilities for women the world has suddenly turned around with more and more women taking over management positions that were in the past only considered to be suitable for men.
Even though women in high position jobs are not necessarily as well paid as men they are certainly taking advantage of the new opportunities that are offered to them. As a result women are having babies later in life, as they want to concentrate on climbing up the career ladder. They do not usually have babies before they are thirty and when they do they face a tough decision of either giving up their career and look after their children or to continue working and find a suitable childcare.
Twelve years ago when I was in my twenties I was expecting my first child. At that time I lived in the Czech Republic working for a company importing food products in Prague. When I was 6 months pregnant I moved to England; would I have stayed in Prague I would have benefited from a three years maternity pay which the government actually increased to 4 years the year my son was born. What’s more the mother’s employer was by law obliged to keep the mother’s job for this amount of time.
When I moved to England and started attending antenatal classes I was very shocked to learn that instead of the 3-4 years of financial support that mothers receive in the Czech Republic all English mothers get is just 3-4 months maternity pay.
I always wanted to have my children before anything else even though at times the choice was not easy. I always performed brilliantly at school and everybody expected me to go to University and possibly join the many high performing women in the marketplace. I am certainly glad I chose to stay at home with my children even though the fact that I belong only to a very small minority of mothers who stay at home and dedicate themselves to looking after their children makes me often feel worthless. I feel that nobody is giving full time mothers any respect and nobody really cares about the wellbeing or values of future generations.
It is up to parents to decide what is best for their children. I believe that society as well as giving incentives to mothers to go back to work should also be giving incentives to mothers to look after their children should they wish to. The picture looks good when our economies are boosting and a lot of working mothers certainly make their great contributions. But will such a picture pay off in the long term? What is overlooked is that such mothers are experiencing nervous breakdowns, family break ups and with children not only being looked up by several childcare providers but often having to live in more than one house, young people are growing up feeling more insecure.