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Support for Working Women and Families

* In their Aug. 22 commentary, Caryl Rivers and Rosalind C. Barnett point out the lack of substance behind the “family values” election rhetoric. However, they have an agenda which is deeply disturbing. Instead of advocating for a child’s right to be raised in a loving home by two parents, they stop well before this ideal child-rearing environment and focus on more and better day care as their goal, ignoring the obvious and profound need an infant or young child has to be with his/her parents.

That they address the difficulties of working parents but don’t acknowledge what is best for the child leads me to the conclusion that their agenda is to make sure that nothing prevents mothers, even of newborns, from focusing on their career first and families second. While appearing to fight the glass ceiling of the “mommy track,” the long-term consequences are actually harmful to women.

The best way to support women is for parents to care for young girls (and the boys who will be their playmates, co-workers and spouses) by giving them the time, energy and loving attention they need. Raising secure, confident and well-adjusted young women and men is the only way we will transcend the societal ills that truly harm both sexes, including domestic violence, child abuse and neglect, and the inability to sustain meaningful relationships.

LESLIE GODWIN, Exec. Dir.

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Parent Support Services

Calabasas

* Rivers and Barnett are so right in saying good child care is an important first step in improving the health of families. I know: I worked in health care for 50 years, during which time I raised four children.

Entry-level wages in the health-care industry ensured that the women I worked with were constantly under maximum stress. They were never in a position to bargain with their employers for better, family-friendly hours or flexible schedules. Most of the child care was substandard, improvised and unreliable. There were frequent crises--sick children, no-show baby sitters, etc., and em- ployers who were less than responsive to employees’ distress.

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Organizing day care is extremely difficult and involves many different fields of expertise--legal, health, facility design, accounting. Costs are high, even while child-care employees are grossly underpaid.

It would be great to see a national task force at work on this problem. We working women and our children have been studied to death. We need a courageous, energetic czar who can impose some solutions and produce a network of care centers worthy of our “most precious resource.” Hillary? Elizabeth?

JOYCE F. BARRIER

Riverside

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