Claire Young - Kiddicare Inspirational Parent

“Don’t miss the baby boat”. Is Kirstie Allsopp right?

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“No” says Kiddicare ambassador and Apprentice finalist Claire Young. She argues that Kirstie Allsopp is wrong – very wrong – to suggest women should ditch university and wait til 27 to have babies.

Claire writes: “This week celebrity Kirstie Allsopp of Location Location Location fame has ruffled feminist feathers with her latest interview which described her advice to a hypothetical daughter: “Darling, do you know what? Don’t go to university. Start work straight after school. Stay at home, save up your deposit … then we can find you a nice boyfriend and you can have a baby by the time you’re 27.”

My jaw dropped open in shock reading these words. Kirsty Allsopp is a savvy business woman and has a strong career. Being in the public eye she is an influential role model to many teens and young women.  Did she really believe the words she was saying?? Will she advise her sons to do the same and find a nice girl friend and have a baby by the time they’re 27? I think not.

I don’t believe her words are genuine and authentic. She may encapsulate the traits of a traditional stay at home Mum – baking, home cooking, craftwork – but don’t be fooled. She is a wolf in sheep’s clothing, a clearly very smart and focussed ‘go-getter’. Would she sit around at home waiting for Mr Right to drop from the skies? No way!

For years women have been battling for education, equal rights and gender equality in the workplace. Today in the 21st century if a girl wants to have a career the option is there, it is a level playing field with opportunities to grab. The old stereotype of a woman’s solo role – being brought up to believe they should stay at home and ‘keep house’ are over – dead and buried with the dinosaurs.

Teachers and parents work every day to inspire girls, encouraging them to think of their career dreams.  Ultimately they take small steps of action which create change for the future of women. Aspiration for many is beyond what Kirstie has suggested and so it should be. It’s frustrating to see people’s mind-sets being shaped by what genitals they have been born with.  Life can be multidimensional; women can have a career and a family. Her words have been deemed patronising, completely out of date – and most worryingly – damaging.

In her interview she goes onto mention that ‘”Nature is not a feminist. Do whatever you want, but be aware of the fertility window. Make your choices in an informed way”. She does have a very good point about the fertility window dropping past 35 years old. However, many women now safely have children in their 30s, 40s. Some consciously focus on their careers & personal goals in their 20s before starting a family. This is what I did; I had my daughter, Eva, when I was 33. I am glad that I studied, worked hard, travelled, thinking of only myself before I became a mother. I also appreciate that this path isn’t what everyone would chose to do.

There is no set blueprint to what makes a successful woman. We are all different and the perfect life isn’t as simple as setting a to-do list and ticking boxes. I don’t think it is right for celebrities to be telling women the optimum age to be having babies. In an age of feminism I would like to think women have an array of choices and can live their life they wish to without other females being judgemental. Now that really would be something to celebrate and the ultimate in girl power.

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30 Comments

  1. I have GCSEs, A’ levels, a Bachelors degree, a Masters degree, a mortgage on my second home, a brilliant and hardworking husband and a successful career…which I’m about to return to after a year’s maternity leave following the arrival of my gorgeous and amazing daughter (who I gave birth to at Kirstie Allsopp’s ‘recommended’ age of 27!)…in your face Kirstie – women can has it all before they’re thirty, and you should be ashamed of yourself for discouraging the future generation of hardworking mums from dreaming that they can have it all, too!

    Claire
    Reply
    • Thanks Rachel. Interesting to read that it’s only now that you’re a little older that you feel ready to pursue furthering your education. Very valid point. We wish you every success x

      Kiddicare
      Reply
    • “In your face Kirstie”!!!????

      Perhaps I have totally misconstrued her comments, however I don’t read it as a message of drop your working aspirations and be a stay at home mum. I understood Kirstie to be saying that University isn’t the ticket to a great career that it once was, she said go to work and build a career but stay at home (your parents) and save a deposit to get on the housing ladder and then start a family in plenty of time.

      That isn’t bad advice, and even if you think it is we are all entitled to a point of view aren’t we! I have a degree, I own a home and had my first child at 29. I understand her points entirely, if you are successful and fertile then you are lucky enough to pooh pooh her comments without a second thought, but I know too many people who are struggling. Most organizations have shrunk, there are few opportunities to progress a career, housing is scarce and so expensive…and you are extremely foolish if you think you can put off having a child and it will all be fine because the statistics say there are more older mothers these days. I have a number of friends who have suffered multiple miscarriages, fertility problems etc including a friend in her early 30s who has already endured 5 unsuccessful years of fertility treatment; I also have a friend who easily had her first child at 40 and second at 42, tge point is you can’t take it for granted and modern medicine won’t necessarily deliver your dreams swiftly and maybe not at all.

      She is saying think carefully about what you want and when, there isn’t anything wrong with that . Kirstie Alsopp is no Katie Hopkins (thank heavens!) so don’t brush off her comments as anti feminist crap before you actually stop and think about what she is saying.

      Goggsy
      Reply
    • Hello,

      That wasn’t supposed to be a personal reply to you, I was trying to post a comment after yours. Not posted anything before

      Goggsy
      Reply
  2. I don’t think Kirstie was doing anything other than voicing her own opinion and I do think she raises a valid point that men need to be held accountable more as well. Through various circumstances I ended up dropping out of college and living a care free life until I had my son (at 27 and married). He starts school in September and suddenly I have found myself wondering what the heck I am going to do once that happens. So I investigated furthering my education and have applied to Open Universtity for an Access course.

    When I was younger I didn’t have the discipline or drive to continue my education. Now I have my son, I am more driven and realise I have a lot more ambition and want to be someone my son will look up to and provide a better future for.

    All that said, I do think she raises an extremely valid point about the perceived choices women have. Ultimately it IS women who have to make sacrifices and that needs to be changed in our society.

    Rachel
    Reply
  3. As a headteacher of an all girls school I have read this post with interest. I will be taking it back into school to discuss with the senior leadership team. We encourage all our students to strive for a fulfilled future and often this includes further education, work and family. Personal choice and having the confidence, and opportunities, to follow your dreams.

    Mrs Gill
    Reply
    • It’s a wonderful thing that Kirstie’s words are sparking wider debate with such considered responses. Thank you Mrs Gill for taking the time to comment – we appreciate it.

      Kiddicare
      Reply
  4. Really interesting blog Claire. It was also interesting to see Kirstie on ITV’s ‘This Morning’ today back-tracking on some of her statements. Most of us women are aware of the fertility window and the older we get, the more we worry about the balance of life, work/career, money and relationships – what I didn’t need was someone reminding me that my window is nearly shut! (thanks Kirstie). I just wonder what some people think about the men in our lives… at 27 are they mature and ready to have a baby? I wasn’t ready at 27 and I’m glad I didn’t have a baby with the guy I was with at 27 – he was worse than looking after a child.

    Life is about choices, opportunity and individuality. Everybody has a different opinion on what success is, what a good life is, and what a good age to have a baby is, some aren’t lucky enough to make a choice about education or having children. I feel Claire has made a balanced argument.

    Sarah
    Reply
    • Thank you Sarah. A valid point you make re the age – both literal and mental – of the guy!

      Kiddicare
      Reply
  5. I went to Uni at 19 after having my first baby & made the completely WRONG decision. Because I thought I had to go to Uni early to have any chance of a career I ended up doing the wrong course for me & in a successful job that I hated! I then went on to have my second at 31 & couldn’t bear to go back to that career. If I had of had both babies together early then by the time is chosen to go to Uni & would’ve had more of an idea of which direction I wanted my career to go in. Instead I felt under pressure to ‘have it all’. I agree with what Kirstie said, and she is fully entitled to her opinion, as are you writing this article!

    Toni
    Reply
  6. What a great article Claire! I think Kirstie may regret some of her comments…! I think it is important that girls have different role models who are empowering them to dream big and be all that they can be and want to be! Life is about choices and happiness, it’s not about ‘achieving’ a tick list to what Kirstie (society) deem ‘appropriate’ or class as ‘the norm’! I am nearer 30 now and not yet ‘achieved’ what I thought I would; I’m not married and I don’t have children but I am happy and have a great career snd have achieved so much! Comments like this can not only disempower young girls but can also make women feel ‘inadequate’ for not settling down and having children! For me, I wouldnt say I have consciously chosen not to… it just hasn’t happened yet! Life has it’s ups, downs and some roundabouts… I believe that in a country where we have fought for equality – it is now time to go forwards not backwards. We (male and female) should be lifting each other up, encouraging individuality and celebrating what girls and women have achieved already and what potentially we could achieve next! Dream BIG! :)

    Jo
    Reply
  7. I’ve been a family/divorce lawyer for nearly 20 years. One of the things which troubled me most about Kirsty’s article was the complete failure to recognise the difference between acquiring a boyfriend and a husband. The fact is that more often than not it is women who take the career break to raise children and lose out on the promotion prospects and pension contributions. On Kirsty’s advice, they could even lose out on getting suitable qualifications in the first place.

    If the woman marries the father of her children, the law can adjust their finances on separation to accommodate the disadvantage as far as practicalities allow. However, if all the mother has acquired is a “nice boyfriend” and they separate, there’s no compensatory mechanism at all. In that respect at least, Kirsty’s advice could arguably be as bad as it gets.

    Jonathan James
    Reply
  8. Education education education! To suggest girls miss out on further education to find a nice boyfriend is ridiculous. We are all aware of the fertility window and how we plan pur lives around that is down to each individual. A good blog Kiddicare.

    Marian
    Reply
  9. Lovely to read a balanced, pragmatic response. Many women are all too quick to criticise, rather than support each other’s choices, so I thoroughly support the core sentiment in Claire’s commentary.
    There are many true superwomen out there. At the same time, everyone, irrespective of gender should remember that as brilliant as you may be, life can also present you with challenges, the outcome of which you can’t control.
    I had a hysterectomy at 39, following a cancer diagnosis and can’t tell you how blessed I felt to have already had my two beautiful children. In the grand scheme of my cancer treatment, having a hysterectomy was an easy choice to make – without having had my children beforehand, it might have been excruciating.

    Becks Sherwood
    Reply
  10. Life sometimes takes us down different paths. If my overarching opinions on this furore are anything, it’s that there is no blueprint, and if society creates one, we need our girls to realise that life simply isn’t that rigid. I’ve had the biggest curveball of my life sustained over the past 4 years. It’s left me as sole earner for all of us, which I’ve managed to do whilst self employed. This certainly wasn’t in the plan..

    I’ll also never forget being sat at a conferance where the old ‘ABC1′ classification was being discussed.
    As I sat there, married and pregnant at 23, I was technically something like a E3 – completely off the mark.

    There is no ‘one size fits all’ and life is not black or white.

    Kellie Whitehead
    Reply
  11. I agree 100% with Claire. After reading much about Kirstie’s interview this week on the internet (and on This Morning) I think this blog is the most sensible, well balanced piece out there! Some very good points are made.

    Amanda Jones
    Reply
  12. It’s not that clear cut an argument, I went to uni, did a degree and a masters, didn’t get the job I really wanted, but did meet my husband at uni. 8 years after leaving uni I hated my job, and changed career throwing myself into a new business of my own. Aged 37 we decided to start a family (it was just never the ‘right’ time) and we struggled, two miscarriages and 4 years later, we are very lucky to have just had our beautiful daughter. Now I’m 41, I read Kirsty Allsop’s article with interest, it makes sense to have our children younger, I wish someone had explained to me at a younger age, the perils of fertility after 35. I’d never tell anyone not to go to uni, but with students now leaving with the debt of a small country, I’d really have to question if its worth it, unless studying for a career such as a dr, architect etc, but even then it’s a gamble to take on that kind of debt and save for a home and a family.

    Donna Taylor
    Reply
  13. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, Kirsty Allsopp is looking at this from her point in life now, she may well have not felt the same when she was 27, how many of us did? I was married at 25 and would have started a family at 27 if life was that simple. I was infact almost 34 when my daughter was born and it has taken me 5 more years to complete my family with a newborn baby boy currently screaming at me! How different my life would have been had I not started trying until a decade later? I wont rule out further study, as said by an earlier poster I feel more committed to it now i’m older anyway. It took 10 cycles of IVF to get me where I am & luckily my husband and I had worked hard enough to fund these, neither of us have a degree to enable this mind you. The way retirement rates are going I shall likely be nearing 70 before I get a state pension, therefore I still have over 30 years to pursue a career, but there is no career on this planet that would have made up for not being a mommy. Kirsty Allsopp was an older mother too, she has publicly confirmed she would like more children but is facing the reality of her age. She is not wrong, she is talking priorities & everyone these days needs to accept that you cannot always have it all, if you do, you are lucky, but you must decide your own priorities & give yourself the best chance of achieving your goals, for some that will mean side footing university, for others not. claire Young is clearly one of the lucky ones, but she shouldnt preach that everyone can have it all, as this is simply not always the case, no matter how hard you work.

    Karen
    Reply
  14. I’m 22 and pregnant with my first child, I have all my GCSE grades, A levels a Hnd and a ba Hons degree. Granted I would have liked to go out and work but finding out about my little surprise in my last few weeks of Uni is the best news I could receive, but I’m still glad I went to Uni! Otherwise I wouldn’t have met the father who I am happily living with now.

    Emily
    Reply
  15. I must admit I sit in the middle on this one, I’m 29, I’m married and I have two children, a gorgeous boy whose 6 and a little girl who is 3. I have two degrees in Medicine and Surgery and I’m a qualified doctor, I achieved straight As at A-level and GCSE. But it came at a cost, I finished my degree last year and I worked myself into the ground to the point I had to go into hospital with severe depression. Luckily my supportive husband who is a GP was incredibly supportive. I’m proud of what I achieved but it came a great cost to me and my family, if I was to do it again…well I’m not sure I would. Luckily I’m hall now working in a different capacity and hoping for baby number 3. I agree Kirstie too has achieved so much through her career, but I think it’s when you stop and look back that you reflect. I must also say…my friends that ploughed through their medical careers, I’ve watched three friends go through fertility treatment. It’s ok for men…the majority are fertile into their 70s! My advice to my children will be try your best in all you do, we’ll always be here to support you and the most important thing in life is happiness and I would support them whatever that may be.

    Victoria
    Reply
  16. Donna, I agree. I’ve worked hard all my life I don’t have a degree as that never interested me, but after 10 years of trying for a baby and 4 rounds of fertility treatment we now have a beautiful little girl. I think what kirsty is say is be aware there is a fertility window!! I personally could live with not having a perfect career but the pain of being told you will never be a mummy broke my heart:-( but we got lucky on the 4th attempt. Xxx

    Rachel Heddington
    Reply
  17. I read Kirstie’s comments with interest. I am 38 & pregnant with my first child. I have a degree & have built up a successful career in teaching over the last 16 years. Most of my friends had their children 10 years ago when we were in our late 20s. I, however, was either single or in relationships that never seemed to last the distance. I would have happily put my career on hold & welcomed having a child in my 20s or early 30s. I often felt frustrated, fearful & downright desolate when told ‘don’t leave it too late’. Was I supposed to find a suitable sperm donor & raise a child alone or take my chances & wait for Mr Right? Happily I met my husband 4 years ago & instead of rushing into getting pregnant straight away out of fear, we have built up a strong relationship & I believe a good foundation for becoming parents. We consider ourselves very lucky to have this chance to bring a child into the world. Everyone is different & life does not always pan out how you expect it to. As long as you are doing what feels right for you, enjoy the moment you’re in & try not to live someone else’s life.

    Karen
    Reply
  18. I am 30 and gave birth to my daughter 6 months ago. Although I would never advise my daughter to give up on her dreams I totally understand where Kirstie is coming from. I have a joint honours degree in French and Spanish and my current situation means I have to give up on a dream career as I am unable to work full time as a mother and don’t have help with childcare. Being the breadwinner means my husband’s salary cannot support us and maternity pay is not enough to live on, I have no option but to work part time in future, meaning my career is no more. It is a Man’s world still and I don’t believe you can have a career and be the kind of mother I would want to be. I chose my daughter everytime she is my world but I won’t pretend that women have equal opportunities as they do not. Society dictates your situation. If you don’t have parents who can look after your baby and you work just to pay your childcare fees then you do not have the same opportunities for promotion. Your child is your future then and not your career.

    Melissa Jones-Manning
    Reply
  19. I am starting university whilst having my first baby at 24 and my partner is just starting his phd at 27, we have no money and are currently renting a flat in Oxford. Despite all the horrified looks I receive when people discover our plans I am glad I have chosen to have my baby at this age, I think it puts unnecessary risks on unborn babies and mothers to wait to have children. I am also glad I decided to wait to go to Uni until this age as I am more focused, switched on and mentally stable. Also I feel as women we are born to have children, not work in a capitalist society. (Ramblings from a biologist not anti feminist)

    Kelly
    Reply
  20. Perhaps Kirstie’s comments were clumsily put but she has an excellent point, and I very much agree with the comment left earlier by Gossy. Therefore rather than attacking someone who is a strong role model (which I do feel Claire’s article does), look behind what her motivation is for doing so.

    Approximately 2 % of live births in the UK are now from IVF. Although this sounds low, it’s an elephant in the room that is hiding how many women struggle to conceive. Also it’s an option that’s not open to everyone – I have known friends that have sunk 30-40 k into IVF treatment. It’s an immense financial, and emotional commitment. I didn’t have to have IVF so I wont appear in that 2% statistic but that doesn’t mean it’s been easy.

    I was also raised to go university; get a career; don’t marry early; be independent. I love my parents for it but think they left out an important part that was maybe assumed for them and not for our generation. That was the importance of being in a position to love, care for and nurture a family.

    I am a healthy, average weight non smoker with no history of anything that should affect fertility. But it took me 6 years and fertility treatment (IUI, for those that haven’t heard of it it’s like a half-way between natural conception and IVF) to finally conceive. I am now 30 weeks and over the moon. But for 5 years I had growing stress as to why it wasn’t working. It affected sex, I almost walked out on my relationship and I felt the whole time my life was on hold. In the end I left a great job as I wasn’t able to make the fertility appointments (there are many), so am doing this without maternity pay or benefits and when the time comes I know I will struggle to get a job in the same field working part time.

    I’m one of the lucky ones – we could afford the treatment costs (about 3k including drugs) and most importantly it’s worked. I started trying at 33, not particularly late compared to many women but still too late for NHS fertility treatment in our region.

    One case doesn’t prove a point but when I was going through it I realised how many struggle to conceive. Almost every one of my close friends have a similar story, although for over half of them treatment hasn’t worked. A lot of them are older and now have given up any hope of conceiving.

    It’s incredibly difficult to have it all and I think we need to be more open about how difficult it can be to conceive, with chances decreasing every year so postponing having children can mean making the decision not to have them. So when people point to later pregnancies please don’t forget they are often hiding years of stress and a whole load of women who are on the other side of the statistic.

    Amanda
    Reply
  21. With regards to her comments I have just had my second child aged 39 I have worked hard since leaving university and have a very successful career. At the age of 27 I was in a relationship but realised that there was no future and didn’t meet my Husband until I was 33 . Also as a person I didn’t feel I was ready for that responsibility at 27. My Husband and I both wanted children and as I was getting older I did feel a pressure to try sooner rather than later in case it didn’t happen. Luckily after 10 months of trying and hoping we fell pregnant. No one can prepare you for the amazing impact they have on your lives. I was lucky I met the right man who is a wonderful husband and great father to our 2 gorgeous children . I would also sacrifice my career to ensure that I am there when my children wake up in a morning and get to put them to bed at night . Time with them is so precious as my little boy is now nearly three and it has gone so quick.

    Caroline
    Reply

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