Here on The Juggle, there's no place for mum-shaming, guilt-trips or any such thing at any time of the year. But right now? In the half-term, back-to-school, Halloween, bonfire night, Christmas quarter? It's especially unwelcome. So to read Conservative MP Miriam Cates's comments about the correlation between working mothers and children starting school in nappies, was a particular punch in the gut this morning.
The Telegraphthis morning reports that MP Miriam Cates - who herself has been a teacher - blames the rise in children starting school in nappies on the increase of working women. Not working parents, of course! But women. She also added in a nice little dig at anyone trying some gentle parenting too...
The Telegraph reports that Cates was talking at the Alliance for Responsible Citizenships conference where she made the comments. Cates is part of the New Conservatives and has previously spoken on the falling birth rates in the UK and is outspoken on her beliefs as to why that is.
Speaking yesterday, she said: 'Nowhere have the disastrous results of this distorted pursuit of freedom, prosperity and happiness been more evident than in the damage being done to our children. To use a very practical illustration, consider the rising number of young children who start schooling in the UK still wearing nappies.
'A child who has not been trained in this most rudimentary of skills by the age of five has little chance of being trained in all of the other essential skills and virtues required for a successful life.'
She added: 'How does this happen? Well, toilet training is difficult... It’s not a pleasant experience for parent or child, but it’s necessary.
'For parents it requires the sacrifice of individual autonomy to stay physically close to your child at all times. Potty training can take weeks of dedication to the task.
'This is increasingly impossible when our GDP-obsessed economic system demands that even mothers of small children leave their infants in daycare to return to the workplace.'
But Cates didn't stop at aiming blame at working mothers working, but also their parenting styles.
'And successful potty training requires a firm belief that a child’s emotional discomfort is sometimes necessary in the short term, or his or her long-term best interests,' she continued. 'But our understanding of happiness has become so distorted that many parents now believe they should do whatever it takes to shield their child from discomfort.'
The Telegraph adds she said that parents wanting to shield children from discomfort also was leading to a rise in obesity, smartphone addiction and gender changes.
There have, of course, been lots of studies into why some children are starting school not yet potty-trained. Some cite covid lockdowns, some have campaigned for increased training and availability of health workers. The issue is likely not helped by the criminal lack of help for parents of children with SEND issues.
But why investigate and look into statistics around what is, of course, a serious issue in our early education system? It's always easier to blame the mums - especially if they work, isn't it?