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Mothers want more support

Media release
embargoed until Friday 10 November

Mothers want more support

Mothers who took part in a new study on parenting and paid work said they wanted the Government to provide more childcare subsidies, longer and better-paid parental leave and more support from employers.

The study, New Zealand cultural norms of parenting and childcare and how these relate to labour force participation decisions and requirements, funded by the Families Commission Blue Skies Fund, was carried out by Mervyl McPherson of Social, Demographic and Evaluation Research and Massey University.

The researcher interviewed 40 mothers to explore their views on balancing paid work with parenting. This included discussions about social norms of parenting, childcare, and the roles of government and employers in supporting working parents. The study involved largely women in full-time work and in middle to upper-income groups, and one of its recommendations was that more research be done involving other ethnic and income groupings.

The women in this study thought that society no longer felt that a good mother necessarily stayed home full time. Instead, they felt society today expected mothers to work, but not full-time, and did not value stay-at-home mothers.
Mervyl McPherson says “The women felt that government and employers should support the cultural norms and preferences of parenting by providing financial assistance, childcare and flexible workplaces.”

“While there have been initiatives in the right direction from government and employers, this study indicates there is a need for more,” she said.

The women felt that more should be done by government so that mothers have the choice to stay at home and care for their children, rather than only be offered assistance with childcare. Most also felt that the first year was an important time for mothers, rather than fathers, to be with their children for bonding and breastfeeding.

They also felt that more men needed more flexibility in their workplaces to allow them to share the parenting role. While the women felt that part-time work for mothers was preferable to full-time work, only one believed that fathers should also work part-time.

After school and school holiday care was one of the major difficulties identified for mothers in paid work. Their comments suggested there were not enough services, they were not conveniently located, not regulated, too expensive, and there was a lack of information on what is available.

Families Commission Chief Commissioner Rajen Prasad said the comments on out of school care were reflected in the Commission’s recent public consultation on this issue which will be used as part of the Ministry of Social Development’s draft action plan to improve these services.

He says the findings around work-life balance support the Commission’s advocacy for improvements to paid parental leave provisions and flexible work arrangements.


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