Guilt about Child Being in Daycare
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Guilt about Child Being in Daycare
I would love to hear from parents who have older children (Age
5 and up through young adult) who put their children in full
time daycare when their children were infants and/or toddlers.
I have been on medical leave from work for the better part of a
year and am going back full-time in August. I will be putting
my one-year old and two-year old in full-time (7 1/2 hours a
day) home based daycare. They have both gone on and off part-
time for the past 4 months and the older one went full-time
from age 4 months through 1 year. The home daycare I have is
very warm and nurturing and came highly recommended. I'm just
curious if any parents who've had babies in full-time daycare
noticed anything about their children's development,
personalities, relationship with parents that may have been a
negative result of daycare. I realize that young children (age
0-2) are better off with mom or dad at home for bonding
purposes. Of course that makes sense, but how bad is it when
you put them in daycare full-time? I can't afford a nanny and
am not sure I'd prefer that option anyway. I've considered the
pros and cons of working versus not working and staying home
with my babies. But I can't account for how damaging the
missing bonding time might be for them and me. I realize every
child is different and every family has different circumstances
that weigh in. I'm just looking for some insight. Thanks for
any help, advice!
concerned and guilty feeling mom
Perhaps it is your opinion that children from birth to two should
stay home with a parent, but for many families that is not an
option. Besides, I would lose it if I stayed home full time with
my two young children. They are well adjusted and I am completely
happy with their home daycare situation. I am so tired of the
polarizing debate over staying home with your kids versus working
outside the home. Do what works for your family (or in many cases
do what is economically necessary) and respect the choices of
others who may choose differently.
A Huge Fan of Quality Daycare
My just turned 5 year old son has been in daycare full time since he was
old. To be honest with you, I don't have any negatives to report. My son
well-adjusted, and was highly socialized from an early age. He doesn't
siblings, and he has always loved spending his days playing with other
fact, the only possible downside is that he finds being home alone
and always wants to be with others. This is sometimes mildly annoying,
learn to read soon enough and that problem will take care of itself ;-)
I remember those feelings of guilt, but daycare has been a wonderful
us. We have moved *twice* since he was a baby, so he has been in a total
different places and he has always made new friends easily. Yes, it is
hard to leave
them at first, but soon enough they can't wait to get there and they
don't want to
leave when you pick them up. He is perfectly well attached to me and my
He is comfortable expressing himself and asking for what he needs.
In other words, your guilt will go away very quickly when you see how
are. I love my job and I don't worry about my son at all during the day.
He is happy
and so are we.
Choosing work doesn't make you a bad parent.
I'm sure you'll get lots of first hand accounts, but I wanted to share
with you an abstract from a reputable peer-reviewed journal
to add to the mix. If you want the full study, go to a Univ's library
and find this citation: Bornstein & Chun-Shin. Infant childcare
settings and the development of gender-specific adaptive behaviors.
Early Child Development and Care. Vol 177(1), Jan 2007, pp.
In this study, we defined three distinct groups based on the infant's
principal childcare experience: infants reared exclusively at home by
their mothers, infants reared in their own homes but by a non-familial
childcare provider, and infants reared in non-familial homes in group
care. At 4.5 years of age, we compared mothers' and teachers'
independent views of the communication, daily living, socialization and
motor adaptive behaviors of girls and boys with these different infant
childcare histories, after taking multiple family selection factors into
consideration. Boys who had other-home-group-care in infancy expressed
lower levels of overall adaptive functioning, as well as communication,
daily living and socialization skills, than girls [note that the finding
is lower than GIRLS, not lower than boys at home with mom]. Girls with
other-home-group-care in infancy had better adaptive daily living and
socialization skills than girls who had maternal care. Different infant
childcare experiences appear to predict different adaptive behaviors in
boys and girls.
So, according to this study anyway, there's reason to think the commonly
held idea that ''at-home-with-mom is always best'' may not necessarily
-Appreciator of scientific studies
I have a 7-year-old who was in home-based daycare 9:00 - 4:00, 4 days a
from 15 months to 3, and in full time preschool from ages 3 - 5. Both
preschool were highly recommended, and really wonderful places. And
can't really see anything negative that might have come from daycare --
but I do
see a lot of positive things. Some examples:
He plays extremely well with other kids, he loves to be around kids of a
range (he's played successfully with kids from 3 to 12). He will walk
up to a kid in a
park that he does not know, and ask politely: ''Is it OK if I play with
you?'' If the kid
says no, he'll just shrug and go on to something else. He's got lots of
school. And he seems to be really empathetic, thinks a lot about other
He's really attached to both his parents. But he is also very calm with
Babysitters, after-school enrichment providers, and teachers all think
When a babysitter comes, he happily hugs and says goodbye to his parents
off to play with the sitter.
Some of this is just his laid-back nature. But some of it is that he
had such good
experiences playing with other kids, and other adults, in daycare and
himself remembers both with extreme fondness. He still tells me ''I
love Laura'' (his
daycare provider), and talks about how much he loved preschool.
I've had both of my kids in full-time daycare since they were 4
months and 6 months of age. They are both entirely socialized,
happy people, who have very outgoing and strong personalities. If
you find the right caregiver and home/center/school, group day
care can be a rich and amazing situation for your children: they
learn to develop trust in another adult aside from you; they
learn to sleep through crying and fall asleep on their own; they
make friends and look forward to seeing them; they learn from the
older kids, model for the younger; potty train earlier (monkey
see-monkey do); and the list goes on. The only negative I have to
say, is they do get sick more often, so be prepared for more
doctor visits and spending sick days with them at home (which, if
you are a full-time working mom, can be a nice break, but also a
Good luck with your decision,
Positive Day Care Mama
I don't actually believe that children are necessarily ''better
off'' with a stay-at-home parent for the first two years, so you
can take my opinion for whatever it's worth to you. But babies
and toddlers are NEVER harmed by having MORE people who love and
care for them.
In our modern culture, where we are often so isolated from
extended family and community networks, daycare providers are
part of the ''village'' that it proverbially takes to raise a
child. Babies do need to form a secure attachment to a loving
parent -- but they can only benefit from also having contact
with other consistent, loving caregivers.
I'm pretty sure my own son's experience with a shared nanny
bears this out...but of course, there's no way to compare
directly what his personality or our relationship would be like
if his daycare situation had been different than what it was.
You won't find anyone who can directly compare the development
of a child at home vs. a child in daycare, because all parents
must choose one or the other for each child, and the effects on
any given child will differ depending on that child's
temperament as well as the type and quality of the daycare.
Social scientists have demonstrated that there's a tendency
for ''daycare kids'' to be a little more social, a little more
verbal, and a little more aggressive by their early school
years -- all of which basically makes sense -- and have some
medical risks that at-home kids don't (e.g., they're less likely
to be breastfed), and these effects are more noticeable for kids
who are in full time daycare starting very early in life than
for kids in part time daycare starting later on. But daycare
does NOT, in and of itself, affect how well the children are
bonded with their parents.
I think you should make a decision based on what works for you
and your family rather than based on ''outside'' information that
might in the end not work for you.
My son is 2.5 and I was a stay at home mom for 2 years. I now
work a few hours (12) a week and he goes to daycare. I can't
say that i think kids do better in one setting or another. Some
of my friends work full-time, some part time, some not and i
think how well the kids are doing is more based on how their
parents feel than anything else. I think stability is the key.
Changing daycare should be, in my opinion, avoided as much as
possible. If you love working and you quit because you think
it's better for your child, you will be miserable and your kid
will suffer. An unhappy mom is not a good mom.
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