Posted by: Chasy | 06/05/2011

Teen mums are not the enemy

I was going to opine about the recent Labor government proposal to quarantine the Parenting Payments of teenaged mothers if they do not return to work or study within 6 months of giving birth, but this article does a much better job, so I won’t bother.

I will point out this very important point, however:

There are few services for children under two, and tertiary courses often assume that students are available at times that all too often clash with their children’s needs. There are some successful TAFE and school-based programs but these are rare and often not funded on an ongoing basis. Why doesn’t the government start by offering funding for a national education for young mothers program?

Yes, yes, and YES. If they government are so concerned with the welfare of teenaged mothers and their offspring, and want to break the cycle of welfare dependence, why, instead of a Baby Bonus, is there not an Education Bonus? Instead of punishing teenage girls for getting pregnant, support them in making the best life possible for their child. If an educated population is a stimulant for middle-weight economy, surely that makes more sense than stripping them of their means of support?

I will also point out the obvious in that it clashes with the point of the Baby Bonus and Paid Parental Leave – if the idea of these payment is supposed to help women stay home with their children, why are they doing the oppposite for teenaged girls, who need the most support in forming attachments with their baby? The first 1000 days of a child’s life are critical in forming who they are psychologically. If they have an emotionally immature mother who is also forced to endure the stress of work and/or study just so there is food on the table, the chances of them forming a strong bond are slim. Babies who do not form secure attachments are more likely to become disaffected members of society, so why is the government giving the green light for this relationship to become more tenuous?

When speaking to other mothers, single, coupled, teenaged or mature, there is one barrier we all agree on when it comes to finding work – and that is the stigma of being a working mother. Companies seem to not want to hire mothers when there is a childless woman to do the job. For some reason, a childless woman is seen as more reliable – possibly because there is a belief that a woman who could so callously leave her child behind at day care could not be relied upon to do a job properly. I don’t really know, I’m just speculating. All I know is that it is so much harder now to get a job when my employer knows I have a child, than it was before giving birth, and every other mother I’ve spoken to says the same thing.

Oh, look. I’ve gone and opined anyway.



  1. Spot on. Was wondering same thing myself

  2. Excellent post. Great point about the contradiction in trying to make other mums stay at home while forcing teenage girls to go to work.

    Labor are really disappointing over this issue (regardless of the fact they’ve been disappointing in general, but this really takes the cake).

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