to Karl Zinsmeister, children fare better when they are raised by their
parents at home instead of by strangers in day care. He contends that
parents and children need frequent, affectionate contact with each other
to maintain strong family bonds. Zinsmeister maintains that parents should
restructure their lives so that their children’s needs come before their
own careers and financial goals. Karl Zinsmeister is the editor-in-chief
of the American Enterprise, a national magazine of politics,
business, and culture.
By Karl Zinsmeister
In a perfect world, there would be an abundance of
intelligent, well-balanced, devoted individuals willing to attend lavishly and
patiently to the demands of strangers’ children—enough so that every family
who wanted could have their own full-time loving surrogate. These dream workers
would all be willing to provide their services so cheaply that there would be
little or no strain on family finances. And they would remain with the same
family year after year, meshing perfectly with child, parents, and surroundings.
How do parents react to the disappointing standards of most
hired care? Very often, by lowering their expectations. I was struck by a
conversation my wife and I once had with three of our Washington, D.C. neighbors
who used significant amounts of substitute care for their children. We asked
them how they liked their current sitters. "This one’s good with
children," replied the first. "She’s always proselytizing for the
Jehovah’s Witnesses, though, and sometimes that annoys me." Another
volunteered about her sitter: "She’s great. Except that she’s really
incredibly lazy." "——— is nice, and we’re happy with
her," answered the third, "but she smokes all the time, and never has
the TV off."
Day care-using parents make minor compromises like these by
A fairly typical visit at a daycare:
The teacher watching the children tried her hardest,
ad-libbing her way from one activity to the next. She put on a record and
started to dance. One little blond boy started dancing along with her. A few
others joined the group. Five or six gathered by some swinging cabinet doors
that formed the partition between the play area and the rest of the room. One
little girl sat by herself, crying softly in the corner. The rest wandered
Here as at other centers I visited, you could almost feel
the morning driving itself toward the grand finale—lunch.
"We typically saw scenes
like this," the Dreskins write:
Carl’s mother arrives at 6:00 p.m., tired and frazzled.
Carl tries to show her a picture he has painted. ‘Show me later. Get your
lunch box. Come on.’ She is already halfway out the door. Carl trails after
her, crying at the rebuff and at the effort of trying to balance his painting,
his lunch box, his fire engine, and the cup of fruit salad he made in a
cooking project that afternoon. We can tell from his mother’s mood what sort
of evening Carl will have. So much for the precious two hours he will get to
spend with his mother between leaving day care and going to bed.
"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."
--Parents who push their children out into the world
before they are ready do them no favors--
I remember one two-year-old in Washington, D.C., for
instance, who would shake and whimper, frantically clutch her stuffed
animal, and finally curl herself on the floor in a tight crouch,
refusing to be comforted, on many mornings when she was dropped off.
In groundbreaking mid-1950s research, Yale
professors Sally Provence and Rose Lipton examined infants who spent a
considerable part of their first year in superior institutions. They
found that these youngsters suffered incapacities in all areas of
physical and mental development compared to home-reared children, and
their deficits did not disappear when they were moved into home
settings by age one. Follow-up work showed that these parent-deprived
children never fully overcame their physical, cognitive, and emotional
impairments. When it became clear how much these youngsters had
withered, most of the group homes were shut down.
Along these same lines, a different article I wrote on day
care for the Washington Post produced a response from an intelligent
33-year-old mother of two living in Falls Church, Virginia. "I am a home
day care provider," she began.
I care for a 19-month-old girl, the daughter of close
friends of mine, who I’ve cared for since she was four months old. I
normally have her four days a week, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.... For many months
this child cried and held her arms out to me every time her mother came to
pick her up. I know her parents very well and feel certain that nothing
resembling abuse or neglect was going on. After ruling that out it seemed that
the child had made a conscious choice and preferred me to her mother. This has
been difficult for both me and my friend.... This baby, unlike a child at home
full time with his mother, was given another option and chose not to bond with
her mother, to instead bond with me. I think this is an awful situation to put
an infant in. To deprive a baby of the close, intense relationship with one
caring, loving person, which I believe is critical in infancy, both for the
child and the adult, negates the very basis from which emotional security
I can tell you that before my year in day
care work was over, my co-workers and I were able to convince five of the 12
mothers whose children we cared for that they would be happier, and that their
parent-child relationships would be healthier, if they would quit their jobs
and would stay at home with their children. Our "babies" are five
years old now, and we still stay in touch with their parents. That early
bonding—unfortunately between us and the babies, instead of between the
babies and their parents—is such a powerful human emotion that it never goes
away, no matter how many years pass or how circumstances change. No parent or
child should miss out on that experience.
The Washington Post has quoted Jeree Pawl, director of
the infant-parent program at the University of California-San Francisco, saying,
"in most day cares, it’s a pecking order; it’s like a bunch of wild
chickens in a hen yard."
Dorothy Conniff, the Wisconsin day care chief, did some
calculations back in 1988 of how much time it took to provide an infant with
just the barest maintenance. She then translated that into the very best day
Consider the amount of physical care and attention a baby
needs—20 minutes for feeding every three hours or so, and ten minutes for
diapering every two hours or so, and time for the caregiver to wash her hands
thoroughly and sanitize the area after changing each baby. In an 81/2 hour
day, then, a caregiver working under the most stringent regulation—the 4:1
ratio—will have 16 diapers to change and 12 feedings to give.
Four diaper-changes and three feedings apiece is not an
inordinate amount of care over a long day from the baby’s point of view.
But think about the caregiver’s day: Four hours to feed
the babies, two hours and 40 minutes to change them. If you allow an extra
two-and-a-half minutes at each changing to put them down, clean up the area,
and thoroughly wash your hands...that makes seven hours and 20 minutes of the
day spent just on physical care—if you’re lucky and the infants stay
conveniently on schedule.
Since feeding and diaper-changing are necessarily one-on-one
activities, each infant is bound to be largely unattended during the five-plus
hours that the other three babies are being attended to. So if there’s to be
any stimulation at all for the child, the caregiver had better chat and play
up a storm while she’s feeding and changing.
"Anyone who has spent time in a day care center knows
that it is not a place where children can ‘do their own thing,’"
"It means separation
from the day-to-day world of home and neighborhood, it means the loss of the
opportunity to do what you want when you want to do it, including sometimes just
doing nothing at all. And it means the loss of privacy and solitude."
This is Ashley’s day:
She gets up very early and is driven
by her mother from Oakland, N.J. to the train station in Ramsey. They park. They
board the 6:22 a.m. local to Hoboken. In Hoboken they jump a Trans-Hudson
subway. From the top of the subway stairs they stroller several blocks to
Ashley’s day care center. She stays there all day, then reverses her commute.
All told, Ashley’s "workday" is 12 hours long.
Welcome to the baby rat race, Ashley.
is the scary side of NOT staying at home. A wonderful mom found a way to
stay home! follow this link to her short story showing you how a home based
more by going to The
Problem with Day Care
I hope you can make the wise choice
of being with your child, who loves you so much!
I can say I have successfully stayed
home with my child. My daughter just started FIRST GRADE and I did
not miss any of her awesome milestones. The Lord has blessed us with
many blessings, including but not limited to a decent place to live
that we now own, two cars, a healthy family, a ton of Christian
friends, hand-me-downs for my daughter to wear, an incredible gift
of quilting and be able to make them and give them out.... just by
trusting in Him!
can too Find out how Find the answer Read