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.
We all know the costs of moms not staying at home with their kids. But did you know it literally costs more for moms to work?
After factoring in the rising costs of child care, gas, wear and tear on the car, parking, and other work-related expenses (clothes, food, etc.), a growing number of mothers are figuring out it doesn’t pay to have a job.
In a CNN article, a third-grade teacher making about $48,000 a year in the Fairfax, Virginia public school system was shadowed. Out of the $48,000 she earned, she brought home about $30,000 after taxes, health insurance, and retirement contributions. Even though she lives in Virginia, where child care costs are among the lowest in the country, care for the child would have cost $12,000 a year – nearly half of her before-tax income.
She says, “It wasn’t worth $18,000 for us to let somebody else raise our son.” So I thought, “Well what amount of money would make it worth it to have somebody else raise your kid?”
The Pew Research Center also conducted a study on the public attitude about stay-at-home moms. According to it, when motherhood and children are brought into the debate, there is an ongoing ambivalence about what is best for society. Oh my gosh! Imagine thinking of the greater good. Only 21 percent of adults think the trend toward mothers of young children working outside the home has been a good thing for society. Personally, I’m sad that the response was as large as 21 percent, but it’s still small. On the other hand, 37 percent of the people surveyed said being a working mom is a bad thing, and 38 percent were not sure it makes a difference.
The study goes on to say, most working mothers (62%) prefer to only work part time, and only 37% say they prefer full-time work. That’s scary…a third of those children have mothers who would rather be away from them all day. And finally, only one-in-ten moms say having a mother who works full time is the ideal situation for a child. Do you realize they took ten mothers and asked each of them, “If you work full time, is that ideal for your kid?” And one of them actually said, “Yeah.” I wonder what motivated that, because I’ve always said not everybody’s a great mom. If you’re not a good mom the kid might be better off with somebody else. It is possible.
But then I asked my listeners to describe “Aha!” moments they had about being stay-at-home moms. Here are just three of the responses…
“My ‘Aha!’ moment happened rather quickly when I became a mom for the first time. I was open to returning to work and didn’t know how I was going to feel after giving birth. But when they put my daughter in my arms for the very first time, I looked at her, felt her tiny little body against mine, and said to my husband, ‘I’m never going back to work!’ Within those first few seconds of holding my daughter, a rush of future moments overwhelmed all my senses. I didn’t want anyone besides this beautiful baby’s mommy and daddy to care for her. I didn’t want a nanny to call me when she took her first steps. I didn’t want a text from someone other than her daddy telling me she ate carrots for the first time. I didn’t want to learn via email my child could swing all by herself at the park. I didn’t want a video sent to my cell phone watching her speak her first words or hear her first real giggles. I didn’t want a Picture Mail of my child’s first smile after losing her first tooth. No, I wanted to be there for every possible moment in her life. What job or amount of money would be worth missing all of that? I’m happy to say after 6 years with two children and a grateful husband who not only loves my choice but also respects my choice (as so few do) of staying at home to raise our children, I still stay at home! Thank God I had my ‘Aha!’ moment so quickly. Otherwise I would have missed out on the one thing that matters most in life: being a real and present mother who has enough videos and pictures to fill a thousand albums that were all taken by me! We all have regrets in our lives on what we should have or wished we would have done. I thank God that not being there for my children each and every day is not one of them.”
“When I started staying home with my children, I was surprised to find out how much I didn’t value my position as a mother. I found out I only get to be mommy once and time was valuable. I learned I could live on a lot less than I originally believed. I learned I like teaching (as they were my first students). I learned I only get one shot at being an awesome mom. I learned how to love and appreciate myself as a woman with an important job. I learned how to budget and sacrifice, and I began to connect with and honor other mothers. I have learned how to be creative, work, and study from home, and I have learned how to organize and plan. I know the bond we have created will never be broken. And I learned as long as I put God first, He will lead and direct me down the correct path and continue to make me an awesome mom and wife.”
“I have my stay-at-home parent ‘Aha!’ moment almost daily when I pick my daughters up from school. I see the other kids who come out from their classes to emerge into the quad or parking lot area only to look for their ‘after school program’ bus/van, and they have this look of sadness when they see children like mine, who have their mom there to greet them with a hug, kiss, and a smile once they come running out of their classroom. It would break my heart if I was not able to be there like I am for my girls. Yes, we don’t have the luxuries like the other kids do of going to Disneyland once a year, video game systems, or designer clothes/shoes, but we are happy with what we have and what we can do. I love my two girls, and I wouldn’t change being a stay-at-home mom for anything!”
Or view other videos at: youtube.com/drlauraTrackBack URI
We all hear and do too much complaining about our circumstances and how we MUST compromise our values and the well-being of our families in order to survive.
Truthfully? That’s rarely true, if at all. But it requires a commitment to a goal and a commitment to family that will not be compromised. That means another way HAS to be found.
I’ve recently gotten “hot and heavy” into polymer clay work. I love it. There are so many techniques and possibilities that I am seriously enthralled. I like the look of cameos – those raised pictures on a stone surface. I’ve been looking around for cute little molds that would be easy to use with minimal or non-existent failure rate.
I found a website, http://www.bestflexiblemolds.com/, and purchased a bunch of molds with faces, flowers, bugs, and more. I placed my order and got an email from the owner, parts of which I’ve excerpted below. This is a mom-and-pop business – my favorite kind of business:
Dear Dr. Laura:
Thank you so much for your order. Our little mold business started in 1981 because I wanted to be a stay-at-home mom. I just had to write to tell you how tickled I am that you have ordered our products. How they came about is right up your alley.
In 1981, we were transferred to Oklahoma. In our previous home, I had been a stay-at-home mom…raising our kids and loving it.
My mother had to work from the time I was 3, as our father and mother had divorced. Times were extremely tough….Mom struggled to keep us fed and warm, but her parents and an aunt helped to raise my sister and myself. As you can tell, so many of the stories I hear on your radio show…ring true to me….From the time I became a mom, I was determined to stay home with my kids and I did.
When we moved to Oklahoma, it was a tough time for the economy. Houses were expensive, loans had double digit interest, and my husband had to take a cut in pay to keep his job. We did all we could to allow me to stay home.
In a miniature club meeting [that year], I found polymer clay and fell in love with it. Turns out, I could sculpt! Who knew?
A few months later, I signed up for a small, local craft show, to try to sell my hand-crafted miniatures to earn enough for new winter coats. To my surprise, I made $700! You could have knocked me over with a feather. The kids had warm coats and we paid some bills. It seemed that I was in business.
For the next seven years, I stayed at home with my kids while making miniatures, sculpting doll house dolls, and [creating] a signature line of tiny teddy bears called PenniBears. I taught polymer clay classes in my home, at conventions (the kids went with us), local stores, and eventually had a few dealers who sold my miniatures and PenniBears all over the country. Soon our kids were back in Christian school and I had a decent car.
[Then] my skill as a miniaturist came to the attention of [a design firm], and I was offered a position of designer/sculptor with their company. Since my husband worked nights and I would be working days, there would always be someone home with the kids when they came home from school for the next two years, when they would be grown and gone. For the next 15 years, I was a master sculptor designing giftware…home décor, and animal figurines for home and garden. Eventually, the company was sold and moved out of Oklahoma, so I started a design studio in my home.
After retiring, we decided to market our line of rubber molds. I sculpt, design the project, write the tutorials, measure the clay and make the pictures. Hubby Joe makes the molds, creates and maintains the website and ships the orders. We are having a great time, staying busy and enjoying life.
And it all started with me trying to find a way to stay home with my children. Ain’t life grand?
Penni Jo CouchTrackBack URI
Some Moms get resentful when they see their friends and acquaintances “living the celebrity mom lifestyle,” where they have time to go to the gym and get their nails done, because they have some paid help with the kids. Don’t fall into the trap of believing that having more time for yourself necessarily gives your kids (and you) a better family life:
Or watch other videos at youtube.com/DrLaura.
Read transcript here.TrackBack URI
From a listener after hearing another caller on my radio program:
I grew up listening to you as my own stay-at-home mother bussed [sic] my three siblings and me home after school. Listening to you teach the moms that would call in, I remember thinking that if I ever had kids, I would be “my kid’s mom.” I saw Mom spend over 10 years at home with us, and the investment and dedication [she] modeled stuck with me. Now I am a 24 year-old stay-at-home mom to a bright 13-month-old son.
I just finished listening to a caller who was wondering about taking some yoga classes to get her certification. I knew exactly where she was coming from, because recently, I also was debating starting grad classes or taking up a part-time job.
The past week, I have been feeling like a hamster in a wheel – no goals, [no] direction, not really getting anywhere. I’ve been comparing myself to my “friends” who are in grad school, building their careers, globe-trotting, but also “family – less.” I felt like maybe I needed to keep up. I thought you were being too hard on [the caller] until you said something that led me to tears.
You told her she had the most important job in the world right now, [and] that there will be time to take the yoga classes later. I’ve heard you say things like that before, but this time, you were speaking directly to me.
Thank you for that encouragement and truth. All these years, you were telling everyone else, but I’ve finally made it my own. I do have the most important job in the world. It’s challenging, character-building, but full of blessings. This little boy is growing up very fast.
The rat race can wait…I am MY kid’s mom!TrackBack URI
Today, I’ve got a guest blog today from Olivia:
Hi, Dr. Laura:
I am a 25 year old married mother of two small boys. Minutes ago, I just finished
reading your book “Stupid Things Parents Do To Mess Up Their Kids.” This is why [my reading this] is so timely:
A year ago, some family crisis propelled me into quitting my part-time, yet demanding, job. In many ways, it was a dream job – part-time, flexible, good pay (or so I thought), and fantastic for my resume. My family began to deteriorate rather quickly in spite of our kids not being in day care. My job went to my head, and I spent horrible amounts of time on things that had nothing to do with my family, and even harmed my family relationships. I was being selfish, stupid, and immature as I sought out personal satisfaction and success.
After a major and deserving blow from life, I quit my job, in spite of my board wanting me to stay. In the last year, I have been focusing on my family more, but have been dabbling in a small business. Lately, business has been slow, and I have been praying for it to pick up, or to open my eyes to what God would have me do instead. Stupid, I know, as I have two beautiful sons staring me in the face every day.
A couple of days ago, when I was in the library with my kids, I had this sudden desire to grab a parenting book (no idea what kind), but in a rush I went to the section, perused quickly and grabbed your book. You loudly and clearly stating things I knew in my heart, but hadn’t allowed to be voiced in my head. I really believe this was a divine intervention.
I know that I am not in the season of life to devote lots of time and energy to anything or anyone other than my family. You are completely right about everything you said in your book. Shame on the “so-called” (love how you made fun of that) professionals who tease, shame, and humiliate young, educated women who choose family over career. And shame on we self-proclaimed “strong” women who allow ourselves to be cowed from taking full-time responsibility for our children, family and home life if we are able.
I used to feel embarrassed or apologetic when admitting I was a married mother of two at my age. Now I feel grateful for the path I have chosen, and my joy is full as I recognize the deep personal growth and learning my divinely appointed “job” grants me each and every day as I sacrifice, love, and nurture my family.
Thanks, Dr. Laura. We need more women to speak out the way you do.TrackBack URI
Not long ago, I posted a video on my YouTube Channel addressing whether it was ever too late to be a stay-at-home mom. I got the following response to that video from a listener, and she’s my “guest blogger” for today, especially because this is the week a lot of parents send their kids back to school:
Dear Dr. Laura:
I have always been at home with my kids, who are now 11, 14, and 16. I am so thankful that I am still home with them, and feel it’s just as important now as it was when they were little.
Since I am home, all the kids come over here. I have the benefit of knowing my kids’ friends and their parents well, and knowing where my kids are and who they are with. This has been especially important during the summer, when many kids spend long hours unsupervised. I knew my 16 year old was not out drinking or getting in trouble, because he was right here. We went swimming together one day, and talked about his plans for college and how he felt about the upcoming school year-another one of those precious and important conversations I would have missed if I wasn’t here.
During the school year, it’s during the first 15 minutes after they get home that I hear all about their day, their troubles and their triumphs. I would miss that if I were at work. I am the mom who can pick up friends, work in the classroom, bake last minute cookies, and make a costume for drama, because I am home.
The older they get, the more I realize how short our time is with them, and the more thankful I am for every minute. I enjoy my teens much more now than I did when they were little, and I am grateful every day that I will not miss their last year as children. And yes, you better believe that both I and the kids thank my wonderful husband that Mom is able to be at home during this critical time.
Thanks for standing up for those of us who are at home doing “nothing” all day with our older kids.