Working in child care in various forms since I was a teenager has taught me many things about children. One topic that I would like to share with you today is one that most childcare professionals will not tell you, even the best ones. That topic, moms and dads, is that sending your child to daycare is a really bad idea.
Having a home daycare a few years ago allowed me the great privilege to care for six children that became very much like my own. Most of these children came to me within the first months of their life and I was honored to be able to raise them during working hours, along with my children. I treated them with much love and kindness and thought of them as my own during the time their parents were away. However, something about these children was very different from mine.
I noticed it more and more as they grow into their toddler years. The children would experience anxiety both when being dropped off then again when being picked up. They didn’t have the ability to get comfortable in their environment and with their primary caregiver because it was constantly changing. They were having to continuously adjust to a different setting with different schedules, different rules, and different faces. It was confusing for young children who were trying to learn about boundaries, relationships and most importantly, love.
I can only draw one conclusion, child care may not be the best for children. Children need stability and so they to know who their primary caregiver is. They need to feel that their needs are going to be fulfilled by one person so they can trust and not worry about being properly cared for. Passing children back and forth will only give them a feeling of insecurity and delaying the all important bonding process from beginning.
Over the years, I found myself having to treat the parents more like a babysitter, leaving instructions for the child’s weekend care as if I were leaving the children with them. Their weekend stories would include all of the fun adult things they were doing while their weekend babysitter or grandparent cared for the child. The truth is, the parents recruited family members and occasional babysitters to care for their children on the weekends because they either didn’t want to or really didn’t know how to care for their own children.
When I started watching children it was with an 8 hour day and by the time I got out of the home daycare business, my day had been extended to 12 hours. All of the parents worked locally and and some got off work at 3:30 pm but were not picking their children up until 6 pm. They were going shopping, visiting friends, staying at work to chat, or God knows what, but the last thing on their mind was picking up their children to spend time with them. I even had babysitters picking up children to watch them on a regular basis.
Obviously, the second issue that arises from full time child care is parents become dependent on their child care provider to be primary responsible for their children. Where a parent should naturally know their child best, they don’t. I was asked to give feeding and napping schedules for weekends, lists of approved foods to feed their child, and medical advice as when their child was in need of a doctor visit. They raved about the structured schedule I kept their children on but complained that on the weekends their lifestyles were impeded on because of naps and feedings keeping them home.
I’m not even going to get into the issue of some of the bigger child care providers treating children like numbers and providing a serious lack of love and attention that is so important at this young age. My point is, parents need to be with their children. It is the only way to form the necessary bonds with a child and provide a child a stable environment that they need to mentally develop. There is plenty of time to make money and do fun adult things. The time for caring for the next generation takes the ultimate priority over big houses and expensive things and we all need to start thinking about that when we decide to have children.