Breaking news: yet another study says daycare is bad for kids and working mothers all over our great nation get a serious attack of the guilts, again. This time, the recent study is from the University of Adelaide’s School of Population Health, but the message is a recurring one: if you put your child in daycare, you are a bad, bad mummy.
I’m being highly sarcastic of course – many, many women (and men) have to work out of sheer economic necessity, so daycare isn’t a choice, it’s an essential. And even if you don’t work, but are juggling other small kids or – gasp – just want some kid-free time to yourself, you selfish heathen, you – daycare performs a vitally important role in our society.
In addition, if you’re lucky enough to a) find a good daycare centre you can afford and b) a good daycare centre that has vacancies to begin with – this in itself feels like a major miracle and something to be grateful and happy about.
But no – along comes another set of uni researchers who seem hell bent on making parents, particularly working mums, feel bad about their choices. Well, I’m calling bullshit on this study!
It claims a link between children in daycare centres and behavioural problems. The study revealed that in a study of 3200 children in all types of childcare, by the time the kids were four, the children were more likely to be hyperactive, disruptive and aggressive.
As to why this is, PhD student Angela Gialamas – who contributed to the study – has said it’s due to a lack of consistency of care as daycare kids are moved around from room-to-room as they get older.
This study received much press, so good work, University of Adelaide! Round of applause. And my fave quote goes to the aforementioned Angela Gialamas who said: “The last thing we want to do is make parents feel guilty about childcare”. Too bloody late, Angela?!
You see, what a lot of news outlets didn’t focus on was that the same study showed that when daycare kiddies eventually head off to school they were found to be happier, less clingy and less likely to be depressed. Win, win, win!
What’s more – child psychologists say the No.1 predictor of how a child turns out is parents. Not daycare, but parents – providing a safe, loving and nurturing environment for your child which allows him/her to thrive.
In addition, daycare unquestionably teaches kids good social skills and resilience, and how to adapt to structure and routines. From personal experience, our three-year-old daughter’s language skills and socialisation has improved greatly since she started attending daycare twice weekly from the age of two. And, even better, like a great, big soothing balm for my working mummy guilt, she bloody loves going to daycare and has made many firm friends there.
So, enough of these stupid, unhelpful studies – if university researchers really want to help kids, start with their stressed mothers! Why aren’t there more university studies hitting the headlines about how we as a society can better support new mothers? Or, what about one on why bringing up a baby always, always becomes a woman’s job? Or, better still, let’s get uni research boffins really scratching their heads over how best to support women returning to the workforce – gasp – after having had children?!
What do you think?
Main image via www.telegraph.co.uk and secondary image via absolutemommy.blogspot.com.