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Donna Hartnett is right, staying home with your kids shouldn't be a luxury

The situation of Cork mother-of-two Donna Hartnett is no mistake.

It's not because of the recession and it's not because of water charges.

We planned it. We planned it when we had money in our pockets.

Ireland was to be a place where Mam and Dad worked full-time and the kids were in creches.

This was progress. Everyone who mattered, including the EU and the OECD, agreed.

Anyone who asked if full-time creche care was best for kids was a Neanderthal.

And a woman who said she was giving up her job to care for her kids was an idle b***h heaping guilt on her working sisters.

I got it in the neck from the Sisterhood when I gave up my full-time job to care for my kids over a decade ago.

But I always knew the truth would out.

Donna Hartnett has spoken it.

Her letter to the Irish Independent this week spelled out that working two full-time jobs while your kids are tiny is a nightmare which doesn't come to an end if you have a great creche on your road.

The hours in group care are too long for the kids. You miss them.

You know the most exciting moments of your life are passing you by.

You want them home when they're sick. You want to snuggle into the duvet with them and put Netflix on.

Every cell in your body yearns to be with them. And you can't be.

The mothers who have full-time high-flying careers have nannies or stay-home partners or grannies or aunties who want to help.

banks

But the mothers who are just marking time in work are doing it because they have to.

Because we decided that liberation was working full-time. And the banks colluded to make keeping a roof over your family a two-income challenge.

To hell with the kids, said the banks.

To hell with elderly parents and community solidarity.

By the time families woke up the trap had sprung. And it's not too bad in there when everything is hunky dory.

But it never stays that way because people aren't machines. They get sick, they get sad, stuff happens.

The second income goes south and the family goes under.

Did you know that having children is the single biggest predictor of bankruptcy in the US?

But we're not in the US, we're in holy Ireland. We have a Constitution in place here which protects mothers from going out to work because they need the cash.

De Valera put that bit in after reading about American women forced to leave infants at home while they worked long hours in factories.

He should have aimed to protect parents, not just mothers, but ultimately he was a man of his time.

What matters is that the financial attack on young mothers and their children has happened.

And Donna Hartnett, a mother of two tiny children from Cork, has stood up and said "enough."

childhood She has given up her job because she says she wants to "give my children back their childhood."

She says she wants them "to enjoy the security of a home life that should be an option afforded to every child."

She's right. The shameless attacks on family life, such as depriving a parent in the home of a tax allowance - which can make the family up to €7,000 worse off in a year than two-income families - should be reversed.

The Government's disgusting drive to stop the One Parent Family payment when a child is seven years old has to be seen for the attack on parenting that it is.

The reduction in pension entitlements for stay-home mothers because, as Joan Burton said in the Dail, "those who pay more benefit more" has to be exposed as a gross insult to mothers.

Raising a family is the most important job in society. And if a mother of two like Donna Hartnett has to break the law to do that job it's because the law has to change.


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