Online Book Club Chapter Thirteen: Daycare Delusions

January 13, 2010 | Annemarie

Welcome back to the Online Book Club after a little Christmas Break!
This week, we’ll discuss Chapter Thirteen that takes a detailed look at the result of women in the workforce — the need for child care. Carrie Lukas points out that women don’t simply enter the workforce they leave the home:

“Women with children don’t just enter the workforce. They also leave home and, in doing so, must find alternative arrangements for caring for their children.”

Research shows that children with parents as the primary caregiver are better off than those in full-time daycare:

“Feminists recoil at research suggesting that children with parents as primary caregivers are better off than those in full-time daycare. They may not like it, but we need to have an open and honest discussion about the effects of daycare on children. And while it isn’t politically correct to say so, the weight of the evidence shows that children cared for by their parents tend to be slightly better off, in terms of behavior and attachment than their peers in daycare — particularly when the quality of that care is low.”

While feminists would prefer government subsidized daycare, American parents still prefer to entrust their children to a parent or immediate family:

“According to the Survey of Income and Program Participation in 1993 — the most recent data available — nearly half of the almost ten million children under age five were being cared for by relatives while their mothers worked. Most of those children were under the care of either grandparents or their fathers. Twenty-one percent were cared for by “non-relatives,” including family daycare providers or in-home baby centers. Just 30 percent were in organized daycare facilities, or what is sometimes referred to as institutional care.”

Perhaps daycare isn’t entirely to blame for the increase in behavioral disorders and emotional challenges, perhaps the problem also stems from the increased absence of the parents:

“In Home-Alone America: The Hidden Toll of Day Care, Behavioral Drugs, and other Parent Substitutes, Mary Eberstadt argues that there could be a link between the increase in maternal absence and growth of social pathologies in American children and teenagers, such as mental problems, behavioral problems, and sexually transmitted diseases.”

Carrie Lukas closes the chapter with this final thought:

“Parents need to be aware of existing research as they weigh whether and how much to work. Awareness of these issues may encourage some mothers to take different jobs that allow more time at home, even if they provide lower pay. For other women, awareness of these issues won’t change their decisions to work, but may make them more vigilant about looking for warning signs in their children for problem behaviors.”
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