When it comes to the crucial age of being a new little person on the face of the earth, not even the best center-based day care can provide children with what they really need. Kids require one-on-one, loving care that responds to them individually. Spending hours away from home prevents little children and parents from establishing the intimate and emotional bonds necessary for both the parent-child relationship and the child’s overall development.
I consider day care to be neglect and child abandonment. There has been sufficient research over the years demonstrating the negative impact of day care on children. Here are just a few negative facts about day care from a website called “Daycares Don’t Care.” () I have promoted it many times because the creators are very scientific in their research:
* “Kids do not learn social skills through interacting with other kids any more than children learn to play the piano through interacting with other musically illiterate children. Children learn social skills through observing and emulating adult behavior”.
* “The typical day care center provides the stimulation and educational opportunity of a day in prison — and spreads far more infection and communicable disease than the county jail.”
* “Saying, ‘My kids went to day care, and they turned out OK,’ is like saying, ‘Some kids went to orphanages, and they turned out OK.’ But who would want to deliberately put their kids through that?!”
* “A religious institution’s day care (Bible Day Care) is no better. Whether it’s in a church, synagogue, mosque, or temple, it’s still a day care! Even worse, many states exempt religious child-care programs from inspections and regulations that other day-care programs are subject to. (By the way, are you sure the day care is really part of your church, or is your church just renting space to your day care?)”
It doesn’t even really matter if the day care is licensed or state approved:
“Child abusers can easily craft neatly-typed resumes with impressive-sounding references…Even for facilities that are licensed and inspected, breaking the rules usually means little more than a slap on the wrist. The unfortunate truth is that even demonstratably bad day-care centers are unlikely to be shut down. Though criminal-background checks are required of workers at licensed or subsidized child-care facilities, even a jury’s conviction doesn’t necessarily put someone out of the child-care business. Child-care inspectors…bend over backward to give day-care providers a chance to correct a problem – sometimes they bend too far – but it is very hard to take someone’s license away once it is granted.”
I once saw a video of a licensed day care in Detroit where a 9-year-old boy was beating the crap out of toddlers and kicking them like a ninja. And what was the day-care supervisor doing? She was just standing there, doing nothing. She was arrested, of course, but that won’t be able to fix the damage done to those traumatized little kids.
Sometimes people argue that kids from very poor families benefit from being put in day care early on. However, research shows that the “benefit” has nothing to do with any inherent merits of day care. For these children, day care may have a positive effect on their language and cognitive skills because they are not experiencing that development at home. If the child comes from a stable home with caring parents, then he or she receives no benefit from day care.
Now, it would be mean to blame parents who want the best for their kids and truly have absolutely no alternative but to send them to day care. In fact, I have recommended day care if you know that you are a sucky mother. However, whether you’re doing it out of necessity or not, it doesn’t change the fact that day care is not a good thing for kids. I have tremendous compassion for mothers who don’t have options, but you can’t say, “It’s a good thing for kids,” simply because you don’t have options. It may be unpopular or frustrating for parents to hear because they are struggling with finances, feeling worried about their careers, or simply having a difficult time raising their kids, but that doesn’t make it right.
As it turns out, most women who are stay-at-home moms are from modest-income homes. This debunks the argument made by a lot of women who say they “have” to work out of economic necessity. Statistically, more women whose husbands earn less than the median income are stay-at-home moms. Therefore, what it really comes down to is a question of values, and taking care of children simply doesn’t seem to be a value of upper class or upper-middle class families.
Essentially, parents think they can do whatever they want and their kids will be fine. However, we know that’s not true. Having your infant or toddler at home being cared for by either a loving parent or grandparent is the ideal. Whether that’s possible for you or not, it’s still the ideal. We shouldn’t disparage it simply because people feel like they don’t have options or feel guilty about it, especially when, more often than not, it is possible. It just takes proper planning and sacrifice.
For more information about how day cares don’t care, click here.
There appears to be a growing disregard for actual eyeball-to-eyeball hands-on parenting.
Christine, a new stay-at-home parent to a two-month-old daughter, emailed me immediately when she saw an article from Parenting magazine by Melissa Balmain posted on CNN.com about the deaths of infants forgotten in cars. I read the article and share her disgust.
The main story is about two people, married, with a comfortable house in Virginia, and two well-paying full-time jobs. On top of that, they decided to adopt two babies from Guatemala. According to this report, “..the end of August and start of September, 2007 had been stressful. Twenty-three-month old Juan and his four-year-old brother had been sick on and off. The mother’s days and been blurs of work, day care, doctors, business trips, visits with relatives and anxiety.”
The story then goes on that the older boy was home with the dad and the mother was supposed to drop an ill younger child off in day care. She went to work, had a “normal day,” talked with her supervisor, ate lunch at her desk, drove to the supermarket and shopped for dinner and continued on to the day care center to pick the younger boy up. That’s when the child was found dead in the back seat, having literally cooked to death in the heat of the locked car.
Now, I don’t have sympathy for the parents. I just don’t. I don’t agree with the article that whitewashes these incidents by saying it is normal to forget things when you’re in your habit rhythm – a lapse in memory that you’re a parent only occurs when being a parent is an accessory rather than the main deal. Let’s look at her stressful month of September: business trips, day care, work, visits with relatives and anxiety. How many of those factors would have been eliminated if she was a stay-at-home mom? Answer: ALL OF THEM, and the child would likely be alive.
I wonder if it is accidental that all the stories I’ve read about babies cooking to death in the back of their parents’ car are the result of parents forgetting to drop them off at day care on the way to work. Fobbing off one’s sacred responsibility of child-rearing and protecting to hired help tends to make one not have focus on that child. Just sayin’.
The article talks about the “reptilian” or most ancient part of the brain which directs our habits, and habits dominate over short-term plans which are ordered by the more advanced brain regions. If that excuse is so, then parents should put their reptilian brain into parenting and not business trips, work, and day care drops and pick ups.
The article ends up giving suggestions so you won’t forget your kid to die in your back seat while you are busy with what is more important.
1. Put something that really matters to you – like your cell phone – in the back seat with the child. Do you realize that means that your cell phone is more important than your child?
2. Keep a teddy bear in the baby car seat. When you put your kid in the seat, put the teddy in front, so you’ll see it and remember you have a child. After all, you’re a “busy employee.”
3. Ask your child’s child-care provider to call you on your cell phone if your kid doesn’t get there. Oh, so now the day care, minimum-wage worker is more responsible for your kid than you are?
4. Put visual cues in your office and home reminding you to check the car seat. Gee, I thought parental love and bonding did that. Guess not.
My bottom line? Don’t have ‘em if you won’t raise ‘em.
If I were in charge of adoptions, no one without a spouse at home would be allowed to adopt a child. Children are not accessories. They should be the main deal.TrackBack URI
I consider day care (outside of emergency backup) a form of child neglect, and definitely one of society’s ills, as mothers are being universally reinforced to turn their babies, toddlers, and small children over to institutionalization instead of loving parental contact for most of the day.
One of you emailed to me a link to a website called Daycares Don’t Care…How Can A Daycare Love? It’s at www.daycaresdontcare.org. Here’s a sample of what’s on their homepage:
“Everyone knows it’s true, but almost everyone is afraid to say it: day care institutions don’t care about or love your child like you do. For years, many experts have been warning us about the detrimental consequences for children placed in day care. This website contains an extensive index of publications about the problems with day care from well-known child development authorities, psychologist, psychiatrists, pediatricians, public policy analysts, sociologists, day care providers, and others.
This collection of day care information seeks to counterbalance the relentless pressure placed upon parents to abandon their children to these impersonal institutions.
These findings show no amount of legislation, government funding, money, early childhood training, regulations or inspections can make a day care LOVE your child.
Additionally, this website is intended to encourage and affirm those parents who have made the choice to avoid day care and care for their own children – a choice that too often has been criticized and devalued by many in our society.”
Did you see Toy Story 3, about a group of toys escaping from the hellish “Sunnyside Day Care?” One of the toys says “Day care is a sad place.”
This website is wonderful, and filled with important information you need to know for your own well-being as well as your child’s. We’ve heard enough of media complaining about a “day care crisis” instead of a “home care crisis,” and enough of politicians pushing for more government day care subsidies versus tax breaks for at-home parenting. We’ve had enough of people extolling the benefits of institutionalized child care while disdaining at-home parental involvement. Enough!
Do check out www.daycaresdontcare.org, and help yourself and the next mom out there who could benefit from your pro-family activities by feeling supported in doing what should come naturally: loving your child versus watching them on a nannycam.TrackBack URI
“Stupid is as stupid does.” Those are sage words from the fictional Forrest Gump.
And stupid does some interesting things in America. Here are two great recent examples of stupidity:
Before I tell you the first story, I want to preface it with a memory from my middle school years. We Long Island neighborhood children took the bus to school. I walked two blocks to the bus stop. In the winter, it was freezing, but fortunately, one of the kids I went to school with lived in that corner house right where the bus picked us up. The mom would leave the garage door open (the cars were already gone) so we could all huddle out of the wind and chill until the bus came. It was very kind of her.
Now, to today’s story: A mom in Michigan allows the kids from three families to hang out before school at her house for about 1 hour before the school bus comes. She’s not getting paid, although I sure hope she’s getting appreciation from the families who have to go to work before they can get their kids off to school.
Believe it or not, she receives a letter from the Michigan Department of Human Services warning her that if she continues, she’d be violating a law aimed at the operation of unlicensed day-care centers. She’s not getting paid!! And she’s doing the neighbors a favor!!
This law says no one may care for unrelated children in their home for more than four weeks each calendar year unless they are licensed day-care providers. The Department of Human Services warned her without even finding out the facts. This is stupid. Never mind that these kids, if left by themselves for an hour without adult supervision could be food for predators. It seems also that this stupid stretch would preclude regular baby-sitting when parents go out to dinner and the movies.
There is good news here, though. After the news media got hold of this story (and embarrassed the heck out of the state of Michigan), Governor Jennifer Granholm instructed the agency’s director to work with the state legislature to change the law.
Since when is simply being a good neighbor a criminal activity? Some neighbor (and we’ve all had this kind of neighbor) made a complaint, and started this non-common sense ball rolling.
The second stupid story is from Saratoga Springs. Adam Marino, a 12 year old in seventh grade, and his mother are defying Saratoga Springs school policy by biking to Maple Avenue Middle School. The school has a rule that kids can’t walk or ride a bike to school. Adam’s mom and other parents want their kids to be less sedentary and to get exercise by walking or riding to school as a fitness activity.
After Adam’s mom thought she had an understanding with the school board on this issue, she rode a bike with her kid to school, only to be met by a state trooper and school administrators. You’d think she had been beating her kid or helping him play hooky. Sheesh!
In reaction to this, other parents joined them in riding and walking their kids to school. Once again, this got the attention of the news media, and the Board of Education is going to vote to amend this policy this week.
These arbitrary rules are just stupid, and frankly, ignoring the bigger picture of neighborhood safety and exercise for children. Fortunately, however, thanks to the media spotlight, it’s all going to change.TrackBack URI
I’ve railed against day care for children for years, calling those centers “day orphanages,” which brings out the claws from those who disagree with me. I got an email recently from a child care worker who makes the case quite eloquently for raising your own kids and not leaving them in the hands of others.
Or watch other videos at youtube.com/DrLaura.
Read transcript here.TrackBack URI
This letter is from a listener who wishes to remain anonymous:
I totally agree with you about how bad day care is, and how damaging it is for children. Recently, I saw a mother who had just picked up her 18-month-old daughter from day care at 6 o’clock! That’s basically what time my kids go to bed! The baby was crying, grabbing at the mother’s skirt, and refusing to let go. The mother was getting annoyed, and kept saying, “Why are you acting like this? What’s wrong?”
I felt so upset. What a dumb question! You neglected your baby for the entire day, she missed you, and is exhausted and stressed, and you’re surprised that she’s acting that way?
I would think that a mother who has her child in day care the entire day would be the one crying and showering love and attention on her baby instead of getting mad at her. The baby should be mad at the parent, not the other way around.
And then, because parents don’t see their baby all day, they put them to bed too late, which makes them more stressed and makes it even harder for them to cope with their emotions in day care. When we, as parents, are tired, it’s hard not to be fussy. Well, imagine what it’s like for a baby! It’s MUCH harder for them to handle being tired. Parents need to do what’s best for their children, not what’s best for themselves, and if they don’t want to, or if they think their children shouldn’t stand in the way of their doing what they want, then don’t have them!
Why bring children into the world to give them to others to raise? Why bring children into the world if you are giving them the message that your job and your life are more important than them? For those that say “Well, I’m just not the type to be home with my kids,” or “I can’t handle being with kids,” then don’t have them!
I know of far too many babies that get attached to their nannies, and spend more time with them than with their own parents. These babies wonder why their “parent” (that is, the nanny) is leaving them for the night. Not only do they not have their real parents during most of the day, but then they don’t have their “nanny parent” either.
Sometimes, people say “I want my kids to have the best – the best car, the best house, the best toys.” Believe me, things are not what makes a baby happy. Love and attention and kindness are what makes them happy.
And then people wonder why children are so troubled, and why they “act out,”and why they would do anything for attention. If a mother MUST work to feed her family, I understand, but the attitude shouldn’t be that day care is the first choice. The attitude needs to be “how sad that she cannot care for her baby.”
I think it’s nuts that people think it’s sad that my baby is home with me. She is definitely happier than all the crying babies in the playground, but all the working mothers will never know that their babies are crying, falling, or are just plain exhausted.TrackBack URI
I know I have made myself quite a controversial subject by my insistence that children be loved, cared for and raised by their mommies and daddies instead of hired help and institutionalized child care. As I have said many times, children evolve each and every day…and those minutes need to be influenced by and experienced with the people who matter the most. This is why I am thrilled about the one-sided effect of the current economic problems in America.
According to a recent report in USA Today, parents nationwide are telling day care providers that “they must scale back or abandon their services. Instead, they keep kids at home with grandparents or up-end their work-life balance because gas and food prices have become prohibitive and average child care costs outpace rent and mortgage payments – even for those drawing salaries.”
Of course, the day care industry is scurrying around trying to come up with a plan to save itself. Many are offering all kinds of hours and financial deals. The USA Today article, after noting that the 2005 U.S. Census Bureau data (the most recent available) indicated that 2.65 million preschoolers attended day care, and that current statistics of un-enrollment were not available, called the situation “distressing.”
Sure it’s distressing for an industry that has been so effective in its marketing, that parents who actually raise their own children are made to feel guilty for doing so. But it is not distressing for the children, who will now be in the arms of people who love them and are there to teach, nurture, support, and experience life with them.
Sure it’s distressing for parents who have to reconsider and reconfigure their lives to accommodate raising their children. But, they will find surprising rewards in the true experience of family.
The hysteria from the child care industry has included dire warnings that parents will leave their kids home alone, in cars, or with strangers who might hurt them. That sort of child neglect and endangerment goes on in spite of filled-up day care establishments and should be dealt with through social services (to help families make better adjustments in their priorities) or through the legal system (where children are removed to live with safer relatives or foster care).
If it is true that every cloud has a silver lining, then the “shine” is there for many children of parents who can no longer pay the $3,000 to over $10,000 a year for day care, because mommy or daddy is coming home to you.TrackBack URI
As long as you keep sending me stories like these, I’ll continue to post them on this blog. Today’s email came from Lori:
This is long overdue. I started listening to your program 20 years ago, when I was in my twenties, newly married, and focused on my career. I was in the middle of a graduate program that I had worked very hard to get into, when I got pregnant with my son. I always thought your ideas that a parent should stay home with their child were ridiculous – I thought it was a crazy, backward notion. That is what day care was for!!
Then I had my son.
He was six weeks old when I left him with a day care provider to continue my graduate program. That was also the last time he was with a day care provider. I physically and mentally could not stand to think that someone else was spending the day and providing for my son – something I should be doing and wanted to do. After all, who could do it better? My husband felt the same, so I quit graduate school and all my career plans went out the door so I could stay with my son full time. While at first it wasn’t easy, I can say without a doubt what a great decision that was!
When my son and I went to the park or took a walk, I arranged it so I could listen to your radio program at the same time. While I was sure about my decision, I had VERY LITTLE support from many others. I got many comments or “put-downs” about what a waste of my life this was. I felt like you were one of the few who supported me. You were my advocate, and when I would feel especially down and question my decision, I would listen to you and it would lift me up, and I knew I was right.
So, a belated thank you for what you gave me, my wonderfully supportive husband, and my son – who is now a smart, kind, funny, well-adjusted 16 year old. Keep speaking up for us stay-at-home moms. I can look back at that time of my life and say I absolutely have no regrets.