Penelope Leach’s 2014 book, “Family Breakdown” received a great deal of criticism due to her claim that there was “undisputed evidence” that sleepovers with those not the child’s primary caregiver, including divorced fathers, could cause emotional damage in comparisons to regular nuclear families.
Leach’s work has been hugely popular (and therefor needs to be included here on the bookshelf) but her work on infant and baby care has been generating controversy for years. Penelope Leach stance has been described as “child-centered feminism“ by Robert Manne, in that she recognized and acknowledged the difficulties women face when trying to combine motherhood with a career. However, her opinion that child, infant and baby care provided by family members was superior to that of paid professionals in a day care setting proved to be unpopular with working mothers, many of whom did not have the luxury of making that choice. Many feminists believed that her views hurt the cause of equal rights for women by inducing guilt in working mothers.
After graduating with honors from Newnham College in 1959, Penelope Leach earned her PhD in psychology from the London School of Economics in 1964. In addition to having held several prestigious positions in her field, she founded more than one organization herself, including The Association of Infant Mental Health and EPOCH, (End Physical Punishment of Children). Her philosophy regarding infant and baby care during and after divorce became a source of continuing public controversy.