"I had my daughter 20 years ago and got nothing. So suck it up."

Why are women so bitter about other women getting a better deal?

“I had my daughter over 20 years ago and I got zip. So shut up and suck it up.”

“Yet most people seem to be able to afford disposable nappies? If people make selfish choices, then yup, the Government will need to step in.”

“I think it’s disgusting that stay-at-home mums think they have a right to put their kids in daycare so they can have a break.”

“If you can’t afford to have kids, STOP HAVING THEM.”

When the Government’s proposed changes to paid parental leave and childcare subsidies were revealed earlier this week, it was mum vs mum in online forums. Things got very nasty very quickly. While some women reacted with horror when they found out they were going to be worse off financially, other women almost seemed to be gloating. There was a theme that kept popping up in the comments: Why should you get more help with bringing up your kids than we did?

Kids. Cute but expensive.

It's funny how, in some ways, women are glad that the situation for younger working women has improved over the years. More opportunities for women to get promoted. Less tolerance of sexual harassment in the workplace. No one ever says, "Women should have to stick to being secretaries, like I did."

But when it comes to government benefits helping new mums, that's a different story. There's a surprising amount of bitterness out there. If we didn't get this kind of money, then you shouldn't either. Don't some of these mothers wish things had been a bit easier for them? Don't they wish they'd had a few less financial stresses? Don't they want a better deal for their friends, or their sisters, or their daughters?

This is an important issue. There are a lot of things to consider.

Sure, having children is a choice (most of the time) and it's a privilege and it's a joy and all that. But at the same time, it's a necessity for the country. Less babies would mean less people buying nappies and 4WDs and five-bedroom houses. Less kids would mean less jobs for teachers. Less adults would mean less taxes to fund pensions. And so on.


Obvious, I know, but the economy needs mums to keep producing kids. Having babies isn't just a crazy self-indulgence. It's not totally unreasonable to receive some kind of government support.

But it goes beyond that. Giving kids a good start  is hugely important. That's something that people have only recently come to fully understand. Getting those first few years right can set children up for the rest of their lives. That's why it's crucial that women shouldn't feel like they're being forced back to work if they don't feel that they (or their babies) are ready. That's why good-quality childcare should be accessible to everyone, especially children from disadvantaged backgrounds, who will benefit from early childhood education the most.

Here's Treasurer Joe Hockey being interviewed about the 2015 budget. Post continues after the video.

Parental leave and childcare are not simple economic issues. Policies shouldn't be solely driven by the push to get women back into the workforce.

So let's debate this in a calm and reasoned way. Let's talk about the fairest way to fund parental leave, the most effective way to help women return to paid employment, the best kind of childcare to give children. And let's try to leave the bitterness out of it.

What about you? Are you happy to see mums getter better support than you might have had access to?

Want more? Try this:

"A guide to the winners and losers in the 2015 Federal Budget."

"Raising a six- to 16-year-old is six million times more expensive than raising a six-month-old."

00:00 / ???