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Mommy Minute

Back To The Day Care Debate
Posted by Rachel Knuese on Mar 1, 2003 - 9:37:00 AM

UNITED STATES — Hello readers.  I'm coming out of my hiatus in response to an email I received recently. Last year, I wrote an article on why I chose not to put my children in day care. 

A day care center. Jenna Skarzenski / Canyon News
In January 2002, I had posted a message about my article on Yahoo message boards (under parenting) in an attempt to increase the hits to our site here. Well, little did I know the heated debate I would start. Some of the people got so enraged by my contention that day cares are not what's best for children if you have the choice to have them in or out.  The article was, as I responded many times, my opinion, but many behaved as though I was quoting the Bible itself. After a couple of weeks of being accused of this and that, I gave up going to the boards and responding. A year later, though, the thread is still receiving messages. One person actually emailed me at Canyon News because I hadn't responded to his post. In his email he assumed I would not put his message out to our readers. He was wrong. You'll find his email below along with my responses (in orange) to his points. 

Ms Greene:

As you choose to place information about your misleading column on  message boards and then do not respond to the corrections of those  falsehoods, I chose to send a copy of my response (from last year)  directly to you.

I am both a parent who chose to put my children in child care (my wife chose to work), and a child care administrator.  Thus, I know from whence I speak. I am certain these remarks will never be seen outside your office, which is a disservice to your readership, but so goes the First  Amendment.

Well, you are a bit too certain here, sir.  I will indeed post this letter and my responses in the March issue.  You can check for yourself after March 1 at (then click on Mommy Minute).

So this is what I wrote in response to your criticism of child care:

As a father of three (two of whom attended child care programs) I'd like to address your opinion article. This article is fraught with misinformation and misleading information intended to scare parents.

You state that "For day care teachers, it is a job." This is inaccurate. Teachers are in this profession because they are professionals. Granted, Teaching Assistants (TA) are frequently there for a "job." That depends upon the TA and the program in which they work. If the program is one of quality, it will be providing opportunity to educate the TA's toward degrees and becoming Teachers.

If I could be guaranteed that this was true at every day care, I would feel much better.  But, my observations both at the day cares and schools (I was eventually a middle school teacher) at which I worked, were that there are MANY teachers for whom it was a "job."

"For the most part, the teachers I observed were 'caring' but I would not go so far as to say that they were 'loving.'" As a parent, this is all I would want! I do not want the teacher or Assistant "loving" my child. She is there to care for, keep safe and provide activities for my child. I don't need a teacher getting overly attached to my child, when she knows he will leave. Do you expect school teachers to "love" your children?

I feel that a "loving" environment is best for a young child.  "Caring" is of course paramount in any setting that has children, but I was trying to say that I feel a "loving" environment at HOME is most beneficial to little ones (ideally up to the age of 3, at least).

"This is a significant point because a teacher can not care for a child as well as a parent can." A teacher cannot LOVE a child, but certainly can "care for" a child as well as a parent. The ability to care for children is a learned skill, it is neither innate nor genetic. Your addition that the "parent-child connection that occurs with each minute, daily activity cannot be reproduced" goes back to love and bonding, not caring for the child! Keep these straight.

I feel like there is a detachment involved if the child is only getting "caring" for the majority of his/her day...a child needs love too!   A loving parent can make a child's boo boo feel better with kisses and hugs and "I love yous" more than a caregiver can give by putting a bandaid on  the wound.

You then mislead your readers! You cite day care regulations of, "there are generally eight children for every one teacher and one assistant, at least those were the standards when I was working in day care." But later reveal that "The majority of my day care time was spent in the infant and toddler rooms." The regulations for infant and toddlers are NOT 8 to 1 in any state! In California, the regulation for infant care is one teacher for every four infants (reg.101416.5). The regulation for toddlers (101417) is 1 to 6. What you gave your readers may have been what your center had in its preschool program, starting at age three.

Again, I was writing from what I saw.  I was 20 years old (11 years ago) when I worked at day cares.  I knew nothing of regulations, etc.  This is what the situation was where I worked.

"What lesson does a 6-week-old need to learn other than that mommy and daddy will be there developing a trust and security so essential to get along in the real world later on?" Precisely! One major lesson the child will learn is to develop trust and security. That trust and security needs to be in adults, not simply mom and dad.

Of course children need to learn to trust other adults but must they learn it at 6-weeks-old?  My son, now almost 5, who never attended day care, is adjusting just fine to kindergarten and dealing with other adults, etc.  He did not need 4 years of day care to deal with the "real world" now.

"The only things young day care children share are germs. I knew of a child who had something like seven ear infections before he was even one year old." Ear infections are not infectious. Children often have multiple ear infections prior to age one, whether they attend day care or not. This is due to anatomy, the eustacian tube is aligned in such a way that it is prime for infection at this age.

"Inflammation often begins when infections that cause sore throats, colds, or other respiratory or breathing problems spread to the middle ear.  These can be viral or bacterial infections." (NIDCD) If a young child is  around other children, he/she is bound to pick up germs that will cause  colds, etc. which CAN lead to ear infections.  If a child's "anatomy" is such that he/she is more susceptible to ear infections, all the more reason to keep him/her OUT of day care.

You claim to have been in the infant and toddler rooms primarily, I question that those babies were not tired. They would be if you did activities with them in the morning. Or did you let them sit in their cribs unattended, uncared for, ignored?

I personally never "let them sit in their cribs unattended, uncared for, ignored," and I am offended by your accusation.  However, I saw teachers who did that sort of thing.  My point in the article with the napping, is that every child is different...has different needs,  different schedules. Maybe only 3 of the 8 children were hungry at 11 a.m., but the teacher put them ALL in high chairs to eat at the same time to make it easier than having 5 children running around, etc.

"A loving parent in a loving environment creates a loving child, and ultimately a more loving world," I will not argue with this statement. However, I will contend that a loving parent creates a loving child regardless of whether s/he has used a child care center in the child's early life. The child will receive the parents' love regardless.

I should certainly hope so.  BUT, for parents who have their children in day care from 7 a.m. until 6 p.m. and the child goes to bed at 7 p.m., when is he/she getting the parent's love?  I realize there's a matter of quality vs. quantity. If a parent spends an hour a day doting on the child as opposed to a parent who is maybe around the child all day but doesn't give love at all, there's a point. BUT, my article was talking about "good" parents (with kids in day care or not)--not people who should never have children in the first place.

It is not whether your children attend a child care center or stay at home with you that matters. What matters is what you put into your parenting and your children's lives that will decide what becomes of them.

True, true.  I'm just saying that my OPINION is that being at home with a loving parent is the best option for those who have the choice.

There are stay at home moms that truly screw-up their children! Your attitude is simplistic with arguments weak and backed with erroneous, emotion-laden information intended only to scare.

That is your OPINION.

End of post

Think about it as you are now looking at preschools!

Note: I've deleted the emailer's name as I did not ask permission if I could use it or not.


Cliffside Malibu




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