Michael Morpungo, former laureate criticised working mothers for not spending enough time with their children during the important early years of life, arguing one in ten young people are suffering from mental health problems, anorexia and sleep disorders.
Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme he was astounded to find mothers sent their children to school at four or five years of age.
“We pack our children off to care groups or even to school, but many countries in Europe do not send their children until they are seven,” he said. “They live in the bosom of their family. That is where they are nurtured – within the nest. That is where they can grow their wings, they can learn to fly.”
Mr Morpungo who received an OBE in the Queen’s New Year Honour’s List for his services to literature said: “It is utterly extraordinary now how many children grow up without their mothers around them. You have got 50 per cent of mothers these days of children under five who are employed outside the home. Well, you are cutting off something there, whether you like it or not, and it may be an uncomfortable thing to recognise.”
Research by Professor Michael Lamb supports these claims. He determined nurseries disrupted children’s happiness and well-being causing unwanted distress after finding levels of the stress hormone doubled during the first nine days in child care without a mother present and continued to increase for five months after in comparison to those that stayed at home.
I have to say that I am fortunate to be able to stay at home with my son. Before I got pregnant, I thought that a year off with my baby would be enough and I would want to go back to work. That has all changed. I could not imagine anyone else experiencing all of his wonderful firsts.
We are very lucky in Canada to get a full year off for maternity leave. The United States has got to increase their maternity leave for new moms. It is just not fair to these women who have barely had enough time to recover from childbirth to go back after 12 weeks. I would have had a nervous breakdown if I had to leave him with a daycare provider at such a young age.