Nick Clegg has been accused of unfairly targeting "stay-at-home mums" by a caller to his weekly radio phone-in.Laura, from south London, said the government was "discriminating" against traditional families with its new childcare scheme.
"You probably think what I do is a worthless job," the caller, who did not give her surname, told Mr Clegg.
Mr Clegg said the government's aim was to help parents who wanted to work but felt childcare costs were too hefty.
Only single parents and those families where both parents are in work will benefit from the new childcare voucher scheme announced by the government on Tuesday.
Parents will be able to claim back up to 20% of childcare costs every year - up to £1,200 for each child - when the scheme starts in autumn 2015.
The caller to Mr Clegg's LBC radio show, who has two children, claimed there was "absolutely no provision in the tax system for families like myself".
She told Mr Clegg child benefit had been "a fair way of recognising everybody's legitimate choice" either to go out to work or to "work inside the home".
"You've essentially abolished that for families like me and replaced it in some way with this which applies only to mums who go out to work," she added.
Mr Clegg replied: "Like everybody, I massively admire your choice.
"You should be entirely free and proud of the choices you make in your own life to look after your own children in the way that you want. I hope no politician would ever seek to judge you for that.
"This is all about what we can do in government to give people the greatest choice that they want and need in their own lives."
Mr Clegg also defended Wednesday's Budget, saying those who wanted to work and provide for their families were being helped most by the coalition.
He pointed out that petrol would be cheaper, basic rate taxpayers were benefiting from the £10,000 starting rate from next year and that employers would get a National Insurance break.
Mr Clegg claimed that the top 10% of earners were paying more as a result of the chancellor's decisions.
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