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Who's Raising Your Kids: The Social Travesty of Daycare

Updated on October 7, 2021
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M. D. Jackson has studied psychology since 1989. While her specialty is family relations, she also loves neuroscience and behaviorism.

Chicken Protecting Chicks
Chicken Protecting Chicks | Source

Changes in Society

Society and societal pressure play an important part in how we view the acceptability of behavior. An example of society changing would be the attitudes that people have toward tattoos. Forty years ago seeing a woman with a tattoo was unheard of, today it is common for a woman to have more than one tattoo.

The changes in societal attitudes have also dramatically impacted the roll of mothers and fathers. Forty years ago many of the mothers were still stay at home moms. While women were in the work place throughout US history , working women were normally single or without children (there were exceptions).

One of the largest cultural shifts of the 80's-90's was the change in attitude about divorce. When I was a kid divorce was still rare. You only heard about divorces when someone was abusive. In the late 80's early 90's divorce became a socially acceptable option to being unhappy in a marriage. This cultural shift allowed for what I would categorize as "Casual Marriages". These are relationships where the commitment was loosely established and did not last.

During World War II women were almost 36% of the workforce. According to the Department of Labor, today women are 47% of the workforce. The option to be an at home mom, has been removed for most women. "Seventy Percent of mothers with children under 18 participate in the labor force, with over 75 percent employed full-time" (Department of Labor, 2019). Women have become this generations labor force.

When you hold your baby in your arms the first time, and you think of all the things you can say and do to influence him, it's a tremendous responsibility. What you do with him can influence not only him, but everyone he meets and not for a day or a month or a year but for time and eternity.

— Rose Kennedy

Daycare as Parents

The battle between stay at home moms and working moms has spurred animosity from both sides. Few people have actually brought in science and psychology to back their side of the argument. The impassioned pleas of both sides have become nothing more than a hair pulling contest in which both sides lose. Science and psychology have studied the implications of long term daycare. The results of studies are unpopular in our current political climate and thus have been ignored by main stream media.

Daycare facilities are a part of every day life in the United States. In 2016 a reported 8.76 million children were enrolled in daycare. A 2006 study reported that over 5,000 daycare providers were found to be abusing children in terms of neglect, physical, emotional, or sexual abuse. Parents line up dropping off little Billy and Suzy with people they hardly know for eight to ten hours a day. Sadly most people screen their dog sitters better than the people who watch their children.

In 2005, George Washington University's, Stanley Greenspan claimed a record 12 million children spent 40 hours of more in daycare. Greenspan goes on to discuss a government study that showed 26 percent of children in long term daycare developed serious behavioral problems by the time they started kindergarten. Government studies show children left in daycare develop aggressive behaviors. But why does this happen?

Harry Harlow performed what is now debated as one of the cruelest experiments in psychology history. He used Rhesus Monkeys (one of the closest biologically to humans) and separated the babies from their mothers giving them only a feeding apparatus. Eventually Harlow tried to reintroduce the monkeys to a family group. These baby monkeys were so socially distraught that they exhibited behaviors such as hiding, rocking back and forth, screaming in terror, and attacking the other monkeys (Harlow, 1957). These monkeys were socially inept and experienced such anxiety that they could never be reintegrated with the group. Most of the monkeys had to be caged separately for the rest of their lives.

It may seem like an extreme analogy however, consider for a moment the infant who is left at daycare for nine hours a day. Nine hours where that baby is not loved, and does not have its parent. The reality is that daycare workers are prohibited from hugging children (for obvious reasons).

In psychology, child development is viewed in stages and although the ideas vary, most psychologists agree that the first five years of a child’s life are crucial. During the first five years a child develops social skills, learns to walk, talk,and learns behavior patterns. Harlow’s experiment shows that children also learn compassion and how to love. If a Rhesus monkey cannot develop without a mother, what makes humans think ta baby can develop without a mother?

Harry Harlow's Monkeys

Moms vs Working Moms

Twenty years ago the Working moms vs at home moms debate began to get brutal. Women who were tired of housework and longed for an external purpose went out into the workforce even though money wasn't their main motivation. Since the housing market crash many women no longer have a choice. Women are expected to work. While at home mom's still exist, they are few and far between. Today if you search effects of at home mom's, all the articles are about depression. No one seems to care if it is good for children to be in daycare.

The argument about a mothers roll is a mute point. Children need their mothers and Fathers. Women will say they have a right to have a career, to that I say “then don’t have children”. Having children is not like buying a car, it’s not an accessory of life. Children are people and they require proper care to become good people. It is selfish to leave children simply for a career. The decision to keep a child is the decision to raise that child properly, not abandon that child to strangers.

Some of you will say that men can stay home with the kids. I don't have a statistic that backs or goes against an at home dad situation. I would say this has to do with your individual career goals, family plan, and your temperament. Historically, women are nurturers and have more patience with children than men. That is not to say that the reverse is true in some relationships. The important part is that young children are given loving care and guidance on a daily basis.

Children Who Fall Through the Cracks

Here is a statistic that will shock you, 85% of prison inmates were raised in single parent homes. All but, one of the school shooters under 30, was raised in a single parent home. Of the violent crimes committed 77% of those people are under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Kids are twice as likely to develop drug and alcohol problems if they are from a single person home. "75 percent of examined adolescent murderers were from fatherless homes" (Ambrose, J. 2018). We are now 20 years into the single parent homes where kids no longer have a mom at home. Unfortunately the statistics do not lie.

Single parent homes often become "No parent homes". An estimated 3 million children between the ages of 6 and 13 experience a lack of adult supervision as part of their daily routine (Rajalakshmi, J. & Thanasekaran, P. 2015). In single parent homes the shift is often to survive rather than create a healthy environment for a child. When monetary constraints prevent external day care, children are left to their own devices. Programs such as the boys and Girls club have made attempts to fill in parenting gaps however, these programs are limited. Here again we see an issue where children grow up without guidance.

The Quality Time Myth

The term "Quality Time" seemed to arise out of the mist as women marched off to work. It is a term misrepresented and misunderstood in our society. People think "quality time" comes from creating time to spend with your child one on one. Parents are parents 24/7 not just between the hours of 5:30pm and 9pm, not just on weekends, not just on holidays. Children need parents as role models, for guidance, and nurturing. The truth is real quality time happens when you are available for your child when they need you, such as when they are experiencing a personal crisis. When a parent fails to be present during critical moments in a child's development, the child becomes alienated. Children rely on their parents to provide understanding, structure, love, and protection in their environment. When the parent is not present to provide these critical elements, children withdraw and react negatively to their environment.

Children learn how to behave in their environment from adults within that environment. When a child is in daycare the parent cannot choose the structure, information, and experiences they are provided. The reality is that no one is a substitute for a mother.

Daycare activities and supervision are not an adequate substitute for a loving parent. The worst part about sending a child to daycare is that it creates a disconnect in the bond between the mother and child. Most mothers have felt it at some point when they realize their children no longer care about pleasing them (listening) and seem to disregard them.

Studies have shown that children are sensitive to abandonment. The problem is that many children are abandoned every day at daycare. Many children act out and even throw temper tantrums when they are left by the parent. Over time parents ignore the behavior and the child may even discontinue the behavior, however that does not mean that the child stops feeling abandoned, it just means the child has gotten use to the feelings and is no longer reactive.

"Most of our legacy in the world is left through how we raise our children, it should not be an afterthought to our daily lives. Raising our children should be the focus of our decisions from the time they are born until we see them to productive adulthood"

— M.D. Jackson

Daycare Pros and Cons (Mostly Cons)

Sending your child to daycare causes the following negative outcomes:

1. You child will be sick a lot. This has to do with parents dropping off kids who are sick either knowingly or accidentally. Daycare is full of germs.

2. Your child will pick up the bad habits of other kids such as biting, hitting, cussing, nose picking, nudity (yep there's a kid at day care who won't keep their clothes on), and teasing.

3. Your child will most likely not get the attention they need.

4. Basic needs such as hunger may not be met when needed.

5. A study of 1,350 US children revealed long term behavioral problems as a result of daycare. Maybe this is why teachers today are pulling their hair out?

6. Daycare is a high stress environment for a child.

7. anything a day care can teach your child, you can teach your child.


1. Your child is likely to have a greater vocabulary by age ten

2. Depending on the daycare your child may learn peer manners such as sharing and taking turns.

To be fair in 2018, A study was conducted in France concerning over 1,400 toddlers in day care. According to the results the children in childcare were better academically then they were with parents. The first and most obvious issue with the study is that it was done in France. Societal norms are not the same for french children as they are for American children. Also, this study is almost completely contradictory to similar US studies. Lastly, French daycare function under different laws and social ideas than American daycare. The study does not account for any emotional stability in these children. In other words the study was simply on academics.

Real World Solutions

As previously discussed there are times when people become single parents through no fault of their own. These parents struggle to survive let alone parent. However, two parent homes should consider the options for avoiding daycare. These option may include one parent working from home, reducing debt to make an at home parent an option, alternating shifts, or choosing a simpler life style to afford more time with the child. When parents factor in the cost of daycare, it may not even be a significant benefit for both parents to work.

If an at home situation cannot be an option for a child, use your due diligence to investigate any daycare situation.

Take the following steps:

1. Tour the facility make sure lines of sight are good throughout the facility. Rooms without internal windows allow care workers privacy to abuse children.

2. If an on sight camera system is available for you to view by phone, utilize that system.

3. MAKE SURE THE FACILITY EMPLOYS ONLY PEOPLE WHO HAVE PASSED A BACKGROUND CHECK. Also meet the workers. If you get a weird feeling about someone, do not ignore it.

4. Use online reviews and word of mouth. Look up the address of the daycare. We had a daycare in town that lost their license and simply changed their name and reapplied through a family member.

5. Avoid at home nannies unless you have a camera system. Just searching nanny cams on the internet will scare you to death over some of the things people have recorded.

6. Make sure your provider is state licensed.

7. Watch your child's behavior, if your child starts acting up or exhibits strange behavior after starting daycare, stop using that daycare.

Many of you know I have three biological children and six children we adopted. All of my kids are over 18 now. When our children were little my husband and I worked opposite shifts. I worked nights and he worked day shift. We were exhausted, I'm not going to lie. Some days I get tired again thinking about it. However, our children were with us. We didn't have fancy cars or go on extravagant vacations. Finally the decision was made that I would stay home with my children. My husband searched for employment that would provide enough money for our family to allow me to stay home until the children were all in kindergarten. It was one of the greatest decisions we ever made.

Today, all of our children are well adjusted responsible adults. People who have known us all our lives tend to comment on what good people our children turned out to be. The reality is that you get one shot at raising your kids. While all parents make mistakes, one of the worst mistakes is not showing up to be a parent in the first place.

Current Social Epidemic

Right now in our country we are facing a social epidemic of poorly raised young adults living with their parents or homeless well into their 30's. To date I have communicated with over 500 parents of dysfunctional adult children. These parents are stressed and tired of bailing their adult children out of jail. While this is an extreme, it has become so common that people will actually approach me publicly about their adult children. Don't let your children become one of these adults who doesn't care for themselves. Raising good people takes effort. If you put the time in to raise them right, when they are growing up, they turn out to be good people as adults.You will have no greater regret, in your life, than failing your children.


Ambrose, J.

J. Rajalakshmi, P. Thanasekaran. The Effects and Behaviours of Home Alone Situation by Latchkey Children. American Journal of Nursing Science. Vol. 4, No. 4, 2015, pp. 207-211. doi: 10.11648/j.ajns.20150404.19

© 2011 MD Jackson MSIOP


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