When I had my first son, I was a typical newbie parent. I also was and am in a unique situation because my husband and I both work at home. So, initially, I didn’t know if I would use the wonderful utopia that is daycare. At that time, I didn’t know much about daycare, except that it was pretty much a necessity for full-time working parents.
While that is true, there are many other reasons to use daycare. First and foremost, a parent is allowed to use daycare because they damn well please. There is something that gets my panties in a bunch about a parent, who is doing their best to raise their kid and provide for them, being told the “best” way to care for their child.
What I am saying is this: Staying at home with your children is a wonderfully viable option, if it works for you. However, many families cannot afford to have one parent stay at home. Or, in many cases, a mom may choose to work for personal fulfillment or to stay on the career track. Staying at home or working is perfectly fine; if both parents choose to or need to work, daycare then is a necessity.
In other situations, like mine, the lines are blurred. I suppose many people can say that I did not “need” to work full-time from home, but I want to, and I provide for my family, and that is my choice. The same could be said of my husband, who also works full-time from home. So, we decided to use a half-day daycare program as the best option for our family.
Right now, I really like our setup because both of our young children (a two-and-a-half year old and a one-year-old) get out of the house until noon and have social stimulation and interaction. After that, I pick them up, and they come home for a long afternoon nap, while my husband and I continue to work. When they wake up at about two or three, I spend time deeply gazing into their eyes and lavishing my love on them for the rest of the afternoon.
KIDDING. Mostly, I try to minimize tantrums, throw snacks at them while they watch Sesame Street like zombies, and attempt to block out intermittent high-pitched screaming all afternoon long. As hellish as it sounds, I still enjoy spending this time with my kids every afternoon when I’m done with work. But if I was working full-time, I wouldn’t hesitate to use full-time daycare.
As with any hot topic in the parenting community, there are always people (ahem, Dr. Laura) who disagree:
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.
2. Starting Them Too Early.
Don't feel pressured to get your child into a preschool before he's ready. It's my belief, although there's no research to support it, that one of the great preschool myths is that your child may be academically disadvantaged if he doesn't attend a preschool. When parents who aren't keen on putting their kids in preschool ask me for my thoughts, I tell them the only things children are likely to get at preschool that they won't at home are bad habits and an increase in their exposure to germs. That said, there are situations, such as a parent returning to work, when not going to preschool is not an option.
Dr. William Sears
3. Children Are Too Young To Be Separated From Parents.
"For two years we watched day care children respond to the stresses of eight to ten hours a day of separation from their parents with tears, anger, withdrawal, or profound sadness," the Dreskins write, "and we found, to our dismay, that nothing in our own affection and caring for these children would erase this sense of loss and abandonment." They found themselves in a dilemma: "The problem was not with our facility.... It was obvious that there was a problem inherent in day care itself, a problem that hung like a dark storm over 'good' and 'bad' day care centers alike. The children were too young to be spending so much time away from their parents. They were like young birds being forced out of the nest and abandoned by their parents before they could fly, their wings undeveloped, unready to carry them out into the world." "We were so distressed by our observations," the Dreskins conclude, "that we closed the center."
4. SAHMs Are Luckier.
Personally, I am very thankful that I have gotten to stay home with my son his first two - two and half years of life. I feel I have gotten to invest a lot of time and energy into him. To me he's brilliant. He's not even two and he knows all the ABC's (not just repeating them back but has letter recognition). He also knows all his primary colors, and he knows 1-9. Not everyone is lucky enough to get to be their child's "first" teacher.
5. You Can't Trust Anyone With Your Children.
I'm happy i stay home as well. Mostly because no one can be trusted with your children like you can...
All I have to say is that is pretty fucking harsh, Dr. Laura. I personally chose part-time daycare for my kids because it benefits them socially, according to research, and because I need some time to get work done in daytime hours. Win-win.
As with most debates in the “mommy wars,” this is one battle that will probably never end. I would never criticize a woman who decides to stay home with her kids for personal or financial reasons, and I would expect the same respect as a working mother. Daycare is an excellent option for your kids if you want to or need to use it.