Wednesday, October 12, 2005

British Study Results: Best Care Given by the Mother

This hit the news in England last week and seemed to be the biggest story going around. I haven't heard this in the American media at all. Unbelievable. I found it only because one story mentioned homeschooling so it came up under my Google News Alert email for the keyword "homeschooling". Here are some articles.

Source: Christian Wire Service (USA)
Author: Press Release
Article Title: Mothers Provide Best Care says New Study
Date Oct. 10, 2005

The quote from the above article sums it up better than I can:

A new study by leading British childcare expert, Penelope Leach concludes that the social and emotional development of children cared for by someone other than their mother "is definitely less good." This study is one of the longest and most detailed studies of childcare in the UK and it has concluded that young children who are looked after by their mothers do significantly better on development tests. The study found that babies and toddlers fared worst when they were given group nursery care. Those cared for by friends or grandparents or other relatives did a little better while those looked after by nannies or childminders were rated second only to those cared for by mothers.


This story talks about the media's release of this study as causing working mothers to feel guilty.

Source: Children Now, Back Page: Hound (UK)
Article Title: Between the Lines in Last Week's Media
Author: Not stated
Date: October 12, 2005


Here is an opinion essay.

Source: The Guardian (UK)
Article Title: A stick to beat women: Frightening mothers about nursery care is utterly pointless in a work-to-survive society
Author: Zoe Williams
Date: October 4, 2005

Her point is that women have no choice but to work so studies on the effects of being raised by non-mothers are pointless and should not be done; to release study results which show children are different if raised by non-mothers is pointless in a society in which women must work to survive.

She also asks why studies are not done that look into different types of non-mother childcare-givers. Well, there are studies about it. They are summarized and organized into a book called "Day Care Deception: What the Child Care Establishment Isn’'t Telling Us" by Brian C. Robertson.

I am going to email her to let her know about Robertson's book.

Source: Sunday Tasmanian (Australia)
Article Title: Daycare kids suffering, study finds
Author: Robyn Riley and Kane Young
Date: October 9, 2005

WORKING mothers are harming the development of their children, a controversial new study has found.

The study, by British childcare guru Penelope Leach, warns that children under three in day care are more likely to be stressed, sad and socially and emotionally disadvantaged.


You get the picture.

People have a choice about who cares for their children, in a free society. I can only hope that parents are making informed choices. If parents make the second-best or third or fourth best choice and it is an informed choice then that is their prerogative and it is not my place to judge them. If they don't know the information about which type of child care is the best vs. worst, I feel they have a responsibility to educate themselves. It isn't hard and it doesn't take much time to do it. Those who intentionally keep their heads in the sand because they don't want to know the information should question their motives. We each should do the best that we can when raising our children, whether that means giving up our careers to be mothers at home or whether that means choosing one type of child caregiver over a different type of child care giver.


Lucille said...

I think the problem is that though there are women who choose their careers over caring for their children themselves, there are FAR FAR MORE women in this great country of ours that truly do have no choice. There are women who are just scraping by and have to work and don't have the financial means to choose the next best thing and must rely on what is probably substandard care in daycares and preschools. My heart goes out to these people. I personally must work but I have the kind of job that allows me to work from home and I have made the sacrifice to do this because I know it is the better choice. HOWEVER, I have the choice to do this. I have a job that can be done at home. If I was a teacher or a nurse or a cashier at Walmart or a sweatshop worker... and I had no choice but to keep those jobs so that I could feed my children and keep a roof over their heads, then I couldn't work from home... And if I was a cashier at Walmart or a sweatshop worker, then maybe my kids would end up in a poor preschool... Instead of questioning mothers or judging them or NOT judging them but still discussing these studies which, let's face it, are meant to make people feel guilty, I think we all should use our intelligence and political power to try to get our country to meet the needs of the kids that have no choice but to be in those places. These kids that are getting substandard care are going to be the adults of tomrrow, they're going to be leading the country we live in when we are senior citizens... We are all going to suffer from the fact that our country is so behind that we don't give women truly better options----other countries let women be on leave from their jobs for over a year... Other countries have standards by which all childcare is evaluated and governed...

I know I read those same articles and I feel heartened that I am doing the 'best thing'... But that does not make me feel any better. Because I know I have been blessed that I can do the 'best thing'. Not everyone is as lucky.

I think we living in Fairfield County can think about all those suburban women in their McMansions who don't work that pop their kids in daycare and judge them ever so slightly... But they are not the norm... Most kids in daycare are not coming from that background... and are suffering for no fault of their mother's selfishness. Their mothers are just trying to survive..

Lucille said...

I'm not trying to be argumentative, C, but I just feel bad for the women who WILL feel guilty from these articles who have no real choices. You know???

christinemm said...

Lucille I disagree that the studies are done in order to make women feel guilty.

The real question is does it matter if the child is raised by the mother at home? Some people really think that there are no benefits to a mother raising a child.

The other question is what are the effects of a child spending most of their time in group daycare situations? Are there pro's and con's?

My point in my last paragraph is about INFORMED CHOICES about TYPE of childcare. I don't know many people who know the results of studies about TYPES of childcare and how they are not all equal. The assumption seems to be that if school-aged children are fine in groups of children in classes then groups of children in childcare situations are equally fine.

Some people I know even think that the daycare employees are doing something better than a 'regular' mom at home could do, with babies, toddlers, and preschool aged children.

Regardless if a woman has to work or chooses to work for whatever reason she has, every family has a choice of the TYPE of childcare. For example choosing to put a child in an 'in home' childcare situation where one person cares for 5 kids in their own home.

I have a problem with financial incentives being made for ONLY one kind of daycare situation and the fact that studies show that it is the worst kind of care for a child of all the various choices.

The book "Day Care Deception" reviews over 30 years of research and summarizes the conclustions. The book is not based on just one study.

My blog entry never got into the debate of whether a woman should work or not, it just talked about the use of TYPES of day care providers.

christinemm said...

I received this comment by email from one of my blog readers.

I like your heads-up that they have finally discovered, after several thousand years of human existance, that mothers are best at raising their children. How much money exactly did they spend on that study???