Tuesday 25 February 2014

'It takes a village to raise a child'

In 1960 Australia most working women were in low paid positions. The relatively few who were professional were required by law to leave their jobs once they were married. This is something that is hard to believe today, our expectations and experience have changed. In fact the single most significant development in the second part of the twentieth century has been changes to gendered roles; though as we all know, once a baby comes along, it's a whole new ball-game. We haven't reached the 'brave new gender equal world' that we might have thought possible.

Indicators of the Transition to Parenthood (TtoP) are changes to relationships (partner, friends and family); changes to life course; changes to sense of self; negotiating more housework and finding a line between self and baby and the research shows high levels of depression, high levels of marital dissatisfaction, a spike in domestic violence and legendary issues related to identity for new mothers. While at the same time we are developing the most amazing and sometimes challenging relationship with our baby or toddler.

Across the research on depression there is a recognition of the need for social support during the early years after the birth and yet the health and welfare services are patchy and remain primarily concerned with infant/child outcomes.

How can the services and we as a community move closer to the village that we know families need to survive and prosper?