In 2007, 10 years later after the 1997 studies, another study drew strong criticism from the two-working-parent families. The National Institute of Child Health and Development’s “Study of Early Child Care and Youth Development” followed 1300 children since 1991. Their conclusion: keeping children in day care for a year or more increased the likelihood that they would later become disruptive in class.
That same year a bishop in Germany discouraged daycare for little ones under three years of age. Bishop Walter Mixa of Augsburg, Germany reacted to the government proposal to expand day-care centers to allow for the care of 750,000 children under the age of 3. He said it encourages mothers to rush back to work and discourages them from raising their own children. “Nothing can substitute love and physical contact with the mother which the newborn needs.” Another cardinal, Cardinal Joachim Meisner, came to Mixa’s defense, saying daycare should only be used as a necessity in an emergency or for exceptional situations. (Catholic World Report, April 2007, page 15)
I’ll conclude with a quote from a couple who once provided full-time daycare for young children. In their book, The Day Care Decision, they wrote about their experiences:
“Full-time day care, particularly group care, is especially harmful for children under the age of three. For two years we watched day care children in our preschool/day care center respond to the stresses of 8 to 10 hours a day of separation from their parents with tears, anger, withdrawal, or profound sadness, and we found, to our dismay, that nothing in our own affection and caring for these children would erase this sense of loss and abandonment. We came to realize that the amount of separation—the number of hours a day spent away from the parents—is a critical factor.” (William and Wendy Dreskin)
A mother’s care during the early years of a child’s life is not only important but crucial for that child’s optimal development. Unfortunately this topic does not get enough treatment in our society. Too often women are told they can have it all at once: motherhood and a career outside the home. However, it is very difficult to do both well.
Pope John Paul II in The Gospel of Life praised mothers who dedicated themselves to the daily task of raising their own children. Sacrifices by both mom and dad are often made so that the mother can remain with her baby and can keep up the breastfeeding. Such a mother is giving her baby the best “head start” for her baby. Besides the physical benefits to both, more importantly the mother and baby normally thrive emotionally as well.
A Happy Father’s Day to all dads and especially to Dr. Bill Sears from Chinese parents all over the world.
Breastfeeding and Catholic Motherhood
The Seven Standards of Ecological Breastfeeding
The Crucial First Three Years