Flexible Parenting

14 03 2008

Remember the uproar caused by my last post about parental leave? I’m still somewhat proud of that, I must admit, after all, my goal has always been to be controversial and thus spark interesting discussion and debate. Anyone can blithely recite facts, as so many lesser blogs do, but here at Textual Relations we aim a little higher than that. Not much higher, though (see last Friday).

Well I’m about to enter the lion’s den once more and say I wholeheartedly agree with the proposals put forward by the Conservative Party (this should come as no shock, given I’m a Conservative voter). Noticeably, given the discussion Stella and I had over the effects of pregnancy on the female body, the first 14 weeks of parental leave would only be able to be exercised by the mother, which I definitely agree with.

Whilst I’m not sure it was entirely necessary to set it in stone like that, because any man wanting to use those first 14 weeks may quickly find himself without his lovely wife and baby, it does show that a great deal of thought went into these proposals. The remaining 38 weeks can be split as couples want, to better suit their actual parenting arrangement, and also remove a major incentive to discriminate against women.

Couples should be free to raise their children how they wish, that, I think, is the key here. On a more philosophical level the structure of these proposals emphasises the idea that parenting is a shared responsibility, hence the fact leave is shared whilst also recognising that the physical toll taken on the mother cannot be underestimated.

Rather than simply giving men the same leave as women, which would imply that their roles are equal (something which is patently untrue), these proposals simply allow women the choice. From what I can gather the leave would technically be hers to share (or not) as she wishes. If she wants to go back to work, she can. It’s good for the law to recognise that some women are the primary breadwinners in their households.

Small businesses will always complain about the pinch of these sorts of proposals, and whilst I do feel some sympathy for them, I believe that they, along with the rest of society, will ultimately reap the benefits of children raised in this sort of society.


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