Kids today are increasingly struggling with their weight, owing to more screen time, less physical activity and unhealthy food habits. Yes, this shift in the overweight category is disturbing, but a group of scientists have shockingly tied it to working moms in the UK. As if working mothers weren’t shouldering enough guilt, now they must also feel remorseful, if their child is struggling with being overweight.

SOME TAKEAWAY

  • A UK study has claimed that children with working mums are more likely to be obese.
  • People shouldn’t be interpreting this data to brand working mums as neglectful.
  • Is providing children with nutritious food and an active lifestyle a mother’s duty, solely?
  • Doesn’t this data also show that working women are struggling with motherhood duties and are in need of a helping hand?

Why are we looking at these figures as proof of working mothers neglecting their kids?

According to Mirror, research by the University College London found that children whose mothers work are more likely to have increased sedentary behaviour and poor dietary habits. While, dads’ working patterns don’t affect their kids’ weight. Also, children of working single moms are 25 per cent more likely to be overweight. My problem isn’t with the data, but how scientists and others are perceiving it. Why are we looking at these figures as proof of working mothers neglecting their kids? Couldn’t it also mean that due to an unfair division of parenting duties, the responsibility to provide kids with nutritious meals falls solely on the mothers, and they are struggling because they have little or no helping hand?

It is easy to pin the blame to working mothers’ and accuse them of neglect. Blame everything from increased screen time, lack of physical activity, reduced trips to the playground and unhealthy eating habits on them. Because isn’t it a mum’s responsibility to take care of all those things and much more? The way we are interpreting this data shows how we still see childcare as primarily a mother’s duty.

No one is asking how many dads, at the homes surveyed, were active parents.

No one is asking how many dads, at the homes surveyed, were active parents. Did they help out in cooking nutritious meals for the kids, or manage breakfast time while the mother took care of other household chores? Did they ask how many dads in such homes volunteered to take their wards to the park to play or ensured a strict and active routine? What percentage of household chores did these dads take care of, so that mommies could concentrate on rearing up the kids ‘properly’? Unless we have answers to all these questions, it seems unfair to solely blame working moms, if their kids are overweight.

It is the questions we are not asking that are more upsetting.

Our kids are becoming unhealthy, and instead of debating the contents of our food, lack of physical engagement, etc, we are busy criticising women for being terrible moms, because clearly they are neglecting their kids and going to work. Do people even know what these moms deal with on a day-to-day basis? If they aren’t available to take their kids to the playgrounds or hand them junk food for meals, it is a sign to maintain work-life balance. Do not see this as lazy parenting, but a cry for help.

It takes two to make a baby and it takes two to raise one too.

Parenting was never about one parent (read a mother), bringing up a healthy and happy kid. It takes two to make a baby and it takes two to raise one too. So instead of targeting one gender, which has long endured the consequences of the gendered obligation to make sacrifices to bring up children, let’s dig deeper and see what we can do as a community to help these mothers raise healthier kids.

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Yamini Pustake Bhalerao is a writer with the SheThePeople team, in the Opinions section. The views expressed are the author’s own.

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