Majority of mothers 'do not want to take a job'

TWO OUT of three mothers would choose to stay at home with their children and not work if they could afford to do so. But 40 per cent went back to work within three months of their baby being born.

According to a survey yesterday, a third of working mothers feel guilty about being away from home and 60 per cent say that child benefit payments are 'very important' - 9 per cent more than a survey found last year.

The 1992 Farley Report, on mother's attitudes and experiences, produced by Gallup, is the fifth to be published. It questioned 401 mothers aged 16 to 35 and older with babies less than 18 months old. Nearly half had one child, 44 per cent had two and 12 per cent had three children.

Overall, 76 per cent of the women were married although in the 16 to 24 age group this was 50 per cent. In this group, 15 per cent were living as married.

Replies showed that the average capital cost of a new baby is pounds 869 for items like prams and cots with running costs at pounds 74.97 a month, an increase of pounds 4.77 over last year.

Even though a large number of women said they would rather be at home, half of the mothers who worked believed their ability to be a parent was enhanced by the change in environment, mental stimulation and social contact.

Only 15 per cent of mothers were 'very keen' to return to work, 40 per cent 'quite keen', 24 per cent 'not very keen' and 20 per cent 'not at all' keen.

Nearly half, 47 per cent, smack their children.

The survey found that one in five mothers received no help from fathers in baby care tasks with 18 per cent of fathers never changing nappies, 34 per cent never bathing the baby, 26 per cent never doingthe shopping and 22 per cent never feeding the baby.

Fathers' main role was financial, with 88 per cent of mothers saying that fathers helped a lot or quite a lot with money. But they did not mind playing with the baby - 81 per cent played a lot or quite a lot with their infants.

The favourite times for women to tell their partners that they were pregnant were during the morning and in the early evening. The living room was the most favoured setting. However, 6 per cent told their partners in the bathroom and 3 per cent in a park.

Most mothers, 80 per cent, do not believe that a woman has to have a child to feel fulfilled; nearly half approve of women choosing to have a child outside a stable relationship; and 30 per cent approve of menopausal women having medical treatment to become pregnant.

Mothers do not believe that a religious unbringing is important: 60 per cent had no intention of bringing up their child in a religion and only half felt a christening was important.

1992 Farley Report, Snakes and Ladders - what price motherhood?; Lyons Wardle; 071 839 1144.