Naughty New Mothers Stealing From the State…the 2015 Budget

Double Dipping
Double Dipping

More guilt for mums…What were Abbott and Hockey thinking using comments like double dipping and rorting the system?

It all felt very shifty. How shifty time will tell, but for now here’s my hypothesis.  I’m assuming they were attempting to cover a mistake made in the original policy. It either wasn’t clearly written, or there was an oversight. Rather than own their mistake, they shifted the blame to greedy, double dipping mothers.  What about their partners who are also beneficiaries, how come they aren’t labeled as greedy too? I would like to think most fathers to be would have, at some point, had a discussion about their financial situation and how they plan to financially navigate having a child.  No mention, that I heard, of fathers as accessaries to the crime.

But what worried me the most most was the shifting of blame from the confusion or oversight in their paid maternity leave policy, to the vulnerable pregnant woman.

This blaming of woman for the mistakes of men goes back a very long way. Whether it’s Adam blaming Eve for tempting him to eat an apple, or comments like a woman shouldn’t be out on her own, as if  by being out alone, even is she is going to work at 5am, she is in someway inviting sexual assault.  I believe this turning the focus on what the woman is doing is underpinned by the belief that men are helpless victims of women’s behaviour. This is embedded in every religion and gets more extreme the more fundamentalist someone becomes.

Rather than just apologise to families for the mistake or misunderstanding in the application of the policy, Abbott and Costello (oh no wrong man he was the one that said something like come on girls have one for the nation). 

I mean, of course, Abbott and Hockey – rather than an apology for jeopardising the family budget because of poor delivery of policy –  mothers get an emotional stoning.  You double dipping, rorting women. Whislt this is definintely an improvement on being stoned with real stones the action is driven from the same underlying premise.  It’s always the woman’s fault.

I feel incredibly disappointed that not one interviewer that I heard made this point. I sincerely hope they did and I just missed it.  Instead they all focused on the superficial use of language not the beliefs behind it.

It would be wonderful to see some of the fathers of these babies come forward with protests, protecting the integrity of their partners,  reminding politicians  that in the main, having a baby is a decision made by and funded by a couple.

It’s Mothers Day!


Introducing Claire

I love Mothers Day – celebrating mothering, spending time being acknowledged by my offspring, and yet, I feel irritable…..

I believe mothers of today are getting a dud deal. From the minute you conceive, not only is the baby growing, but also guilt and fear. This one day of honouring does not counter the 364 days of plying mothers with guilt and fear.

Mothering today is a fraught activity. I’m particularly referring to mothers with dependent children.  Now matter what you do, someone will happily make you feel fearful and guilty.  There are so many experts; they range from anyone who’s ever had anything to do with a child, through to those who claim to know what is right for you, even though they have no idea of your individual circumstances.

This is obviously a complex area, so lets just look at government attitudes to mothering – the bipartisan trend is to value productivity – defined as making money and paying tax.

Nurturing has no value.  The political message is breed but don’t nurture – you can outsource that! Ignore the fact that there aren’t enough childcare places and many grandparents are still working, (often victims of the same thinking) just get back to work the sooner the better.

The quality of how the next generation is being raised is irrelevant.  What counts is productivity in  terms of earning a taxable income.  Doing your best to produce relatively functional human beings is not prioritised until something goes wrong. Then the blame starts, and it’s usually mothers who cop it, especially the single mothers, or should we say father absent.

I struggle not to scream when I hear a news item reporting a misdemeanour of a young, usually male, person that includes. “Oh, and they have been brought up by a single mother.” More accurately they could report that they have been brought up in a father absent family, with a bi line something like: The young man who committed this offence was disserted by his father at 3 years of age. Since that time the youth’s father has paid no maintenance, and has promised to visit but has rarely done so.

The difference in traffic congestion on Mothers Day is a good indicator of the emotional of honouring mothers.  On fathers day it’s barely noticable. Just assessing this one variable of traffic flow (and chrysanthemum purchases) makes it feel safe to say that as a society we do value nurturing and what our mothers do for us. Unfortunately, just not enough to challenge the guilt and fear manufacturers.

Kindness and thoughtfulness delivered daily would go a long way to soothe the emotional and physical pressures of mothering. Instead, mothers are inundated with do’s and don’ts creating anxiety, and in the extreme, contaminating love.

If it takes a village to raise a child, what sort of village are we if we push our mothers back to work, and then offer rigid and expensive options for childcare? Alongside this sits discouraging fathers to make concessions to their work schedules.  In effect, limiting their contribution to money making machines, with tokenistic moments of connection with their children.

The family court has been one institution that has tried to acknowledge the significant contribution mothers make through the division of assets formulas.

But for nuclear families, wouldn’t it be a great mothers day gift if there was legislation ensuring that through the years that women are compromising their careers and earning capacity,  the father’s salary and superannunation was divided, so both mum and dad ended up with equal amounts.

A small token but a powerful symbolic gesture – acknowledging it doesn’t matter what happens to the marriage, both parents are committed to supporting nurturing over taxable productivity.

the obligatory chrysanthemum  for Mothers Day
the obligatory chrysanthemum
for Mothers Day

Happy Mothers Day – good luck with the 364 unmothers days!


Technology – bouncing us all about !

For my first blog it seems appropriate to write about the technology dilemma that parents often bring into counselling. This is so common, particularly with adolescence, it’s beginning to seem normal

I had a ‘news of difference’ moment in  the process of learning about blogging and consquently started to think about technology and it’s impact very differently.

So many parents complain about their teenager’s addiction to technology. Whether it’s gaming or social media, they all feel their adolescent is more attached to this than anything else.  The simple solution of restricting access doesn’t seem to work long term, or creates such conflict the whole household lives in misery.

Whilst playing around trying to get this blog out into the world, I had my first dose of technology obsession.  I just wanted to keep finding out how it all works, playing around, I felt cranky when clients turned up, or I had to do something like eat.

I suddenly realised the crazyness of the expectation that a 15 year old might actually be able to have the self discipline to voluntarily stop a game, or ignore the arrival of a message on social media.

As I thought about this more, I became aware that most adults don’t have the ability to ignore the ping announcing a text, or a call.

How are our kids going to learn to resist, when most adults can’t. This is a challenge for us all.

One way might be to ongoingly clarify the role we want technology to play in our lives. Obviously this shifts, but in general terms. Do we want to be bounced about with no control? Or do we want to allocate  set times and space, just as we would for most other activities?

The aim is to keep social media and gaming in a place were we have control, as opposed to it having control over us. This is a new skill for most of us.

Until we adults can do this, expecting our children to, is probably a little unfair.

Technology has given us many things of value but the down side is we now have many more sources of interruption and distraction. More than ever there is less opportunity to get lost in our own little world of thoughts, or an activity that  feeds our sense of wellbeing and so potenially stabilises us.

This is a major contributing factor to a general increase in irritability not only in our children but in us all.

It is a work in progress