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.