Daycare Is Not A Choice For Most People, So Stop Acting Like It Is

kids-painting-at-daycareOh, the daycare wars. When will they ever end? Not today, it looks like. — the official site for stay-at-home moms (yes, that’s a real thing) — recently published a post listing seven reasons the author will never take her kids to daycare ever again, and it’s exactly as maddening as you’d expect.

See, the author used to send her child to daycare, but then one day she pulled up to her son’s daycare and saw firetrucks and panicked so hard she immediately became a stay-at-home mom and started vomiting out lists of reasons why you should do it too.

The very next day, after a lot of research and a long talk with my husband, I told my job that I needed to push back my hours so that I could stay home and not put my son in daycare. You see that moment of utmost fear made me look into the pros and cons of daycare like I never had before and what I found was quite shocking. At that point, the decision was easy and I withdrew my son the next day.

Her list of arguments against the evils of daycare is unconvincing, to say the least. She mentions the go-to excuses like expenses, getting more one-on-one time, and the fact that the toddler years are ‘the most important years of their lives.’ She also includes such gems as ‘I don’t want a stranger influencing my child for the worse’ and ‘I want to prevent potential psychological problems.’

She backs up her arguments about psychological problems using a study from 1964 that found infants who are left with strangers for long periods of time develop insecure attachments to their mothers and are at risk for unspecified future mental problems. I’m sure a study from 1964 wasn’t at all interested in trying to get women back into the home. Note my sarcasm, please.

Her reasons, while absurd, are neither here nor there. The real problem, for me, is her assertion that it’s such an easy choice and her willingness to deride something that millions of people rely on. In her closing, she writes:

In all, I realize that not sending my baby to daycare is a privilege that not everyone can have. However, I am eternally thankful that it was something I was able to do for my family and for my son. We are much happier, safer and more flexible with this choice.

That’s the problem with these discussions. Privilege and the notion of choice are throw-aways, saved for the last paragraph as some kind of face-saving measure to prove that yes, the author did consider other people for three whole sentences.

Nearly 11 million children under age five in the United States were in some sort of childcare arrangement in 2014, according to the Childcare In America report, which is compiled annually and used by policymakers and program administrators to make decisions about care programs and costs. These discussions about childcare aren’t just involving a few dozen people. They’re involving millions of people, many of whom don’t have the option of staying home or easily cutting back their hours, and some who wouldn’t want to even if they could.

There’s nothing wrong with putting a child in daycare, and if you truly think it’s such an awful place, then do something to change it. Start fighting for more paid leave for parents, better care options, and higher safety standards to protect these kids you’re supposedly so worried about. Don’t write sanctimonious articles about how easy it was for you to walk out on your job and how much free time you have now. Not everyone wants that, not everyone can have that, and frankly, we’re all too busy making our own choices to watch you spend 20 paragraphs patting yourself on the back for yours.

(Photo: Shutterstock)

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