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The Trouble with Day Care — A Surprising Source

The issue of day care for children has been hotly debated for
decades, with only a few dedicated souls brave enough to speak the
truth. A stable, loving home environment with a caring mother is best
for children. Where this is not the case — even where this is not
possible — it serves no honest purpose to deny the truth.

Concern about day care now comes from a rather unexpected source. The May-June 2005 issue of Psychology Today
features an article entitled, “The Trouble With Day Care,” written by
Heide Lang. [The article is not yet available on-line, but the magazine
is still on the newsstands.]

“The raging debates around maternal guilt, work/family balance,
money and childrearing often drown out scientific insights into the
developmental impactof day care,” Lang warns. “But the latest findings,
from a huge, long-term government study, are worrisome. They show that
kids who spend long hours in day care have behavior problems that
persist well into elementary school.” Consider this: “Developmental
psychologists are sweeping this information under the rug, hoping
studies will churn out better data soon, argues Jay Belsky, a child
development researcher at London’s Birbeck College and a longtime
critic of his fellow scientists. He contends that the field of
developmental psychology is monopolized by women with a ‘liberal
progressive feminist’ bias. ‘Their concern is to not make mothers feel
bad,’ he says.”

That is quite a charge, and it represents a brave argument for these
times. There’s more: “The more time in child care of any kind or
quality, the more aggressive the child, according to results published
in Child Development. Children in full-time day care were
close to three times more likely to show behavior problems than those
cared for by their mothers at home.”

More from the article: “Belsky contends that the current results
clearly show children benefit from fewer hours in childcare, especially
at a very young age, and parents should be advised to limit the hours
their young children spend there. . . . The real question is whether
parents can afford to wait years for more answers. What if, Belsky
asks, ‘kids experiencing long hours in day care are more likely to use
drugs, are less ambitious and have trouble with relationships? Parents
will say, How come no one warned me? It is our scientific
responsibility to tell people what they may not want to know.”