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October 02, 2010

Thought for the Day

From the author of a longitudinal study of the long term effects of early child care:

"In America today, it is normative for children to start childcare at some point in the first year of life and stay there until they start school. This is the case for over 50% of children," he says.

He continues: "Let's imagine these are small effects. But let's imagine a reception class of 30 children in which two-thirds of them have small effects that make them a little bit more aggressive and disobedient ... versus another class of 30 in which only 10% of them do. Are those teachers going to be doing more time managing and less time teaching? Are those playgrounds going to be less friendly? Are those neighbourhoods going to be affected?

"No one single car pollutes central London or central LA. It's all the cars that do it. People are so ideologically opposed to these findings that instead of being thoughtful about them, they respond as if there is only one way to think about them – small, don't matter, ignore," he says.

He is resigned to the way that parents, policy-makers and fellow academics recoil from his findings. "Anybody who speaks ill of childcare is the enemy – end of story. The guy who first linked Aids with homosexuality back in the early 1980s was accused of being a homophobe. The same kind of idiotic, kneejerk, ideological reaction occurred here. People think I'm against daycare. What I say is, if the weather man says it is going to rain tomorrow, is that because he is against sunshine? People feel very defensive about this area."

I think this "small effects" idea explains a lot of the continuing arguments about the effect of various policies on human behavior (especially with contentious social issues where people adamantly insist that if public policy X were adopted, Y would be certain to/would no longer occur, despite copious examples where X was in fact adopted and Y did not occur/was not abolished), or in cases where the potential harm arising from Y is being debated.

It's amusing, in a way, to see the very same arguments being arrayed against Science that have been used for centuries to argue against Religion. In both cases, essential truths about human nature are too often discarded because they can't be proved beyond the shadow of a doubt.

The odd thing is that that standard of proof (that a proposition must be unfailingly true) is rarely if ever applied by the doubters to their own propositions. Skepticism (even when skepticism based on belief in some alternative proposition) apparently requires far less evidence to establish than the proposition it seeks to discredit.

Update: Welcome, Instapundit readers :)

Posted by Cassandra at October 2, 2010 09:09 AM

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Comments

"In America today, it is normative for children to start childcare..."

Odd. And here I'd always thought that it was *normal* for them...

Posted by: BillT at October 2, 2010 10:27 AM

I think the use of the word makes sense here, though.

It's not just normal (in the sense of "what usually happens") but normative (in the sense of "what society deems ought to happen"). If you keep your child out of daycare, there's a sense that you're depriving him/her.

Posted by: Cassandra at October 2, 2010 10:31 AM

That's what jarred. "Normative" carries a heavier dose of subjectivity rather than objectivity.

Which, now that I think of it, reinforces your point.

Posted by: BillT at October 2, 2010 12:59 PM

Given the number of folks who keep asking when I'm going get Kit into daycare and go back to work (never mind that we have only one vehicle, the field I was in generally has mandatory overtime or that I don't trust most daycare employees I know personally, let alone those in an entirely new area) I'd say "normative" is a good word for it.

Everyone expects that's what will happen.

Posted by: Foxfier at October 2, 2010 03:25 PM

Well, I do have an option on the managing vs. teaching. Yeah, when you have enough difficult kids in a group, you spend A LOT more time managing the bad behavior (keeping in mind there is only so much a teacher can do to a defiant child these days, moreso as a student teacher or sub) than you do truly engaging the kids in the subject matter. I know I had a very difficult-to-manage class for my student teaching, and also my fair share of difficult classes to manage as a sub. But, also through my subbing, I've been able to observe student teachers who have WONDERFUL classes to work with. All I can think is, they're in for a very rude awakening if they end up with a class like I had for student teaching once they get their own classroom.

Posted by: Miss Ladybug at October 2, 2010 08:32 PM

I know I had a very difficult-to-manage class for my student teaching, and also my fair share of difficult classes to manage as a sub.

I have never had trouble managing a class.

After I introduce myself to each new group of cadets, I tell them, "If you don't pay attention to the lessons, you will die."

Works like a charm.

But I foresee Miss L having some difficulty conveying that concept without having hordes of irate parents descending on her...

Posted by: BillT at October 3, 2010 04:24 AM

"But let's imagine a reception class of 30 children in which two-thirds of them have small effects that make them a little bit more aggressive and disobedient ... versus another class of 30 in which only 10% of them do"...actually, you only need *one* aggressive and disruptive child to make the class chaotic for everyone...IF teachers are prohibited from taking effective action against the disruptor. I've called this the "penny-in-the-fusebox" principle: back in the days when there were fuses instead of circuit breakers, you could save yourself a trip to the store by putting a penny where the fuse was supposed to go. The only problem was, instead of just the lights or whatever was on that circuit being out, you now stand a very good chance of burning the whole house down. Much of modern "progressive" ideology consists of penny-in-the-fusebox type approaches.

Posted by: david foster at October 3, 2010 04:14 PM

Posted by: david foster at October 3, 2010 05:05 PM

David is right. Is doesn't take 2/3 of the class to make it unmanageable. If the one is bad enough, that's all it will take. My cooperating teacher, who had been teaching about 25 years that semester I student taught (and said this was the most difficult class she'd ever had...) said you can usually keep a lid on things so long as you don't get to 1/3 of the class being difficult. Yeah, guess what? That class was at the 1/3 mark...

Posted by: Miss Ladybug at October 4, 2010 12:21 AM

Bill~

I'm guess that for the most part, your students WANT to be in your class. Teachers - especially in public schools - don't always have that. I'm torn about "pay for performance" for teachers because of things like that. You can be the best teacher in the world, but there will always be those students who don't give a shit and won't do the work. Until the attitude about making STUDENTS AND PARENTS accountable, too, changes, holding teachers accountable isn't a complete solution, because bad teachers are only part of the problem.

Posted by: Miss Ladybug at October 4, 2010 12:29 AM

I'm guess that for the most part, your students WANT to be in your class.

The previous IqAF mentality mirrored the one the USAF instilled in it -- the cream of the crop fly fighters, the mediocre ones fly transports, and the dregs fly helicopters -- and the Iraqis treat their jet pilots like rock stars. My first two classes consisted of the sons of highly-decorated senior officers who had dreamed of flying their fathers' aircraft, and had suddenly been bottom-runged. Major ego-slam to be told, "You're not good enough to fly what your father flew."

I knew I'd never get them to perform if I didn't change their mindsets -- and that's what I built my classes around, and that's what I kept hammering at them.

"When an F-16 pilot gets shot down, who does he pray that God will send him -- another F-16 pilot or a helicopter pilot? Who cares what they say about you now? You're going to go where *they* got shot down, and they'll be wondering if *they* would be brave enough to do that."

It worked, eventually. A while later, we took the Flight School commander and the support squadron commander up for some hands-on. Two hours later, they told us, "We need to change the way we assign cadets..."

But you're right -- now they *do* want to be in my class.

Posted by: BillT at October 4, 2010 07:23 AM

Where is the "standard of proof" that childcare is "normative" and that children from childcare are more disruptive?

My experience was opposite in both accounts. I was criticized for sending my kids to a daycare center. When my sons started kindergarten, we chose a full day program. Almost all of the children in their classes (different years) had been daycare children. Across the hall were the traditional half-day classes with far fewer daycare children. The full-day class was much better behaved. The daycare children remained together for a 1-2 multi-age class -- again, the class was much better behaved. My oldest son is now in 10th grade and the list of high-honors students is dominated by those very same daycare kids.

Yes, this is anecdotal. Yes, there is the question of the role of genetics (many of these daycare kids have high achieving parents, hence our desire to maintain our career.)

But is our experience any more anecdotal than the grandiose beliefs that daycare children are problem students later?

Posted by: OhioGirl at October 4, 2010 08:13 AM

"Skepticism (even when skepticism based on belief in some alternative proposition) apparently requires far less evidence to establish than the proposition it seeks to discredit."

What is wrong with that? Unless I am forwarding an alternate proposition (and try to convince you of the validity of my proposition), I don't need to provide as rigorous proof/evidence to be a skeptic.

Take an example: if you want to peddle global warming theory, I want to you to show me clear evidence. I don't have to show you the same amount of evidence to be skeptical.
For the most part, skeptic is the default position in science.

Posted by: Skeptic at October 4, 2010 08:30 AM

I really don't think there's any one-size-fits-all for daycare vs. non-daycare. Each family is different. Heck, each child within a family is different. Each *parent* is different, and I suspect that just sending a child to daycare or not is probably a minimal factor vs. what else is going on in the family.

My experience with daycare: My mother worked when I was a kid, and I was in daycare after school until I was eight years old. I hated it. I'm an extreme introvert, and was even back then; I hated being forced out of my comfort zone, away from my books and toys, and forced to interact with other children. After she had my sister, my mother quit working to stay home and care for the kids, and I was thrilled.

However, I was also *eight years old,* and I didn't have the maturity to understand what was really going on in the family and with my mother at the time. When I look at the overall, disastrous trajectory of my mother's life, it's very clear to me that quitting her job was exactly the wrong thing to do (as well being as more than a little dishonest--long story), and that both she and we as a family would have been much better off in the long run if she had kept working. Ironically, my sister, my mother's professed reason for quitting her job, turned out to be as extroverted as I was introverted and probably would have thrived in daycare. I *do* know that she had some adjustment problems when it was time for her to leave Mom and start school (I remember my parents being called in for conferences about her, and I think Mom actually had to sit in on her classes for a while because she had such a hard time being away from Mom).

Like OhioGirl, I also don't really have the sense that sending a child to daycare is seen as "normative" in our society. My perception is that there's still the ideal that one parent (usually the mother) *should* stay home with the kids if at all possible. My personal opinion is that this isn't always ideal, either financially or "parentally" (if that's a word), and that each family must figure out on an individual basis what works best for them.

Posted by: colagirl at October 4, 2010 08:42 AM

As more and more women have children out of wedlock, this issue becomes moot.

Posted by: LHF at October 4, 2010 08:48 AM

... if you want to peddle global warming theory, I want to you to show me clear evidence. I don't have to show you the same amount of evidence to be skeptical. For the most part, skeptic is the default position in science.

Are you seriously arguing that the scientific community has applied the "less evidence required for skepticism" standard to skeptics of global warming?

Because that's not what I've seen at all. :p

Posted by: Cassandra at October 4, 2010 08:51 AM

My perception is that there's still the ideal that one parent (usually the mother) *should* stay home with the kids if at all possible.

That wasn't my experience even back when I was raising my boys. I used to dread the look that crossed most women's faces when I answered the question, "What do you do?" with "I am a full time homemaker and mother."

Similar reaction to admitting your children are homeschooled. I used to quite enjoy pointing out that my sons were several years ahead of grade level and had active social lives despite the horrid deprivation we exposed them to :p

Posted by: Cassandra at October 4, 2010 08:54 AM

Where is the "standard of proof" that childcare is "normative" and that children from childcare are more disruptive?

Where? Or What?

I think the "where" was in the longitudinal study of 1000 children in the linked article.

As far as day care being normative, the term is used slightly differently depending upon whether it's applied to hypothetical or actual behavior.

The fact that over 50% of American kids go into day care in the first year of life and stay there until kindergarten pretty well establishes that day care for very young children is a cultural norm (the "actual" application).

Whether they ought to as a matter of fact or philosophy is a different matter.

Posted by: Cassandra at October 4, 2010 09:02 AM

There may be some vague ideal in society that a parent should stay home with the kids unless you actually try to do it. Then you are met with a constant stream of questions about when you are starting daycare, preschool, activities, or whatever. That a child should stay with a parent and siblings is seen as quite abnormal and perhaps damaging.

Posted by: Jenny at October 4, 2010 09:26 AM

That was definitely my experience, though I understand that Moms who use daycare also face disapproval - sometimes it seems as though Moms are criticized no matter what we do! :)

The comment that used to mystify me the most was, "But you're so... SMART - staying at home is such a waste of your ability."

I can recall thinking to myself (because thinking to others is still a stretch even for one of my obvious smartitude), "OK... so what you're saying is that only dumb women should stay at home with their children?"

I was an in home day care provider myself for 3 1/2 years, so I'm not necessarily anti- day care. Caring for other people's children allowed me to afford private school for my own children while staying home with them. My point here was more that scientists don't seem to be immune to the human foibles that afflict us all. The scientific method protects somewhat against bias but since it tends to be administered by fallible (and emotional) humans, it's not perfect either!

Posted by: Cassandra at October 4, 2010 09:34 AM

Are you seriously arguing that the scientific community has applied the "less evidence required for skepticism" standard to skeptics of global warming?
Because that's not what I've seen at all.

The *politicized* community is demanding evidence that global warming is just natural variation -- the *scientific* community already realizes it.

Posted by: BillT at October 4, 2010 09:50 AM

Back when my son was born, I decided to stay home with him for several reasons. #1 - I had been a child abuse investigator for several years after college. Probably 1/2 of abuse and neglect cases stemmed from children in a daycare situation.
#2. My son had horrible colic, I figured that anyone who did not love him would probably kill him.
#3. My heart could not leave him. It was natural for me to want to care for and be with my child.

Now he is grown and has his own son. I'm thrilled that my daughter-in-law is staying home with my grandson. They don't have much money, but they sure seem pretty happy, especially my grandson.

It was hard staying home 25 years ago - other women treated me like I was a total idiot. Other women assumed I was available to watch their children if their kids were too sick to go to daycare. Other women would brag about the designer clothes their daycare children wore - I think it made them feel less guilty about abandoning their children for most of their children's waking hours.

And yes, I said abandoning. I'm mean that way.


Posted by: Beth Donovan at October 4, 2010 09:50 AM

Not sure what kind of pikers you folks have been hanging 'round with....

But "normative" for young children among the "top-notch" parents of my crowd is home-schooling -- or, more recently, the 2-day-a-week University Model Schooling thing is "hot."

Private school is an acceptable alternative if both parents simply HAVE to work, but since it's so much more expensive and may not be much better quality than the public schools, it's viewed as either an "iffy" proposition, or, if you get your kid into a great school, it's good, but "only for the rich."

As for government-run schools and programs...! "Tantamount to child abuse" for young children. (I have to admit, I mostly agree with that part. Seriously, who would want their kid so poorly socialized as they're likely to be immersed in THAT kind of environment? Let alone so poorly educated.)

The tough bit for me is: If you send your kid to day care daily, rather than at most a couple of days a week for "Mom's day out" stuff, you get a look that says, "Oooh, what a shame you're stuck doing that."

I guess this development is healthy for society overall: It moves us away from the public school/government day-care process, which has been a truly nasty thing for decades now: A formative process inspired by Pink Floyd's vision of childhood education.

But it's tough on those of us who can't quite do the optimum, you know? Quite apart from income issues, not everyone has the personality and organization to homeschool. (And I admit, our family's second income is mostly offset by the daycare cost and private-school cost: So it's mostly about sanity in the house.)

Still, even if I mostly agree with the new "ideal," I resent it being imposed as a social "norm." It just isn't practical in every house. It may have been a 100 years ago, but today?

Posted by: Wistful Non-Homeschooler at October 4, 2010 10:02 AM

Cassandra,

If you consider the article with a reference to the Belsky study of 1000 children to be a "standard of proof", then I would hesitate to use the adjective SMART to describe you, as you claim others do.

Belsky has a chip on his shoulder. Belsky's original work was in 1986. Either it was NOT longitudinal, or it began in 1970 when childcare was notably different. He left the U.S. for the U.K. with a goal to prove himself right.

Multiple other studies are mentioned. Including the Sylva study of 3000 children. Among her many statements are, "Children's development is shaped by many, many different factors. If the child is a healthy child, in a family that is supportive and caring and goes to a high-quality childcare setting, the evidence is that the child is not at risk." I love common sense! She also notes that daycare children have higher cognitive skills.

Finally, near the end of the article it is briefly alluded to what increased aggression might mean. The children who are more outspoken or argumentative are deemed more aggressive. Is that genetics or environment? I have always been outspoken -- perhaps that is part of my character that has helped me succeed in my career and therefore part of why I chose to maintain my career. My children also happen to be outspoken. They were also very confident as elementary school children, partially due to their daycare experience. Is that aggressive? Is that daycare or genetics at play?

As "colagirl" says, there is no one-size-fits-all. You are welcome to stay at home with your children and you may take pride in your choice to do so. I am not criticizing your choice. At the same time, I stand by my original statement, there is no "standard of proof" that daycare is damaging. I stand by my choice and belief that daycare was the proper choice for my well-behaved, high achieving children.

Posted by: OhioGirl at October 4, 2010 10:08 AM

"In America today, it is normative for children to start childcare..."

Odd. And here I'd always thought that it was *normal* for them...

Among statisticians, "normal" has a specific definition related to variable in question following the Gaussian distribution. "Normative" does not and in this context just means "typical."

For statisticians reading this. If you use "normative" to mean "typical," just write "typical" or "usual". Normative has multiple meanings across different disciplines and is not a word in common use. Your work is hard enough for people to understand without using bad word choices to obfuscate it.

Posted by: Jeff the Baptist at October 4, 2010 10:10 AM

Ohiogirl and Colagirl--defensive, much? You are proving the scientist's point. He's got proof of a point that you don't like, so you are are offering anecdotes and calling names ("grandiose beliefs").

As for Ohiogirl's sons' daycare classes being better behaved: daycare teaches kids school-desired behaviors like standing in line and raising your hand. A class full of Kindergarten or first grade kids who've mostly not been to daycare may seem like chaos when compared to a class full who did. However, it won't take the teachers long to teach the kids those things.

Just because a class looks well-behaved, though, doesn't mean it is. The undesirable behaviors that daycare teaches may not be obvious from observation.

Posted by: Karen at October 4, 2010 10:19 AM

I think the word "socialization" is rather meaningless when discussing young children under the age of 5. You socialize puppies and kittens. A strong parental bond is not something that needs to be broken so children are 'socialized' with their peers - more likely to bow to peer pressure as adolescents because the parental bond has been dismissed as unnecessary and even harmful by some social scientists and social workers.

Kindergarten is early enough for children to be "socialized" with large groups of children.

Posted by: Beth Donovan at October 4, 2010 10:23 AM

If you consider the article with a reference to the Belsky study of 1000 children to be a "standard of proof", then I would hesitate to use the adjective SMART to describe you, as you claim others do.

... and it's Monday, with a vengeance :)

I don't believe I claimed that Belsky's study was the be-all and end-all on the question of whether day care is a good thing or not, Ohio Girl. The linked article mentions several other studies that reached similar conclusions. Again, my point was that dismissing a study because you don't care for the answer (or because it doesn't match your anecdotal experience) doesn't strike me as good science.

Not sure why you think I am criticizing your choice, but that's an inference that isn't justified by anything I've said.

I think there might be several good standards wrt whether students are "disruptive" or not. One would be how often they have to be removed from the classroom. Another might be how many fights they get into, fights generally being disruptive in a classroom environment. A third would be parental reports of discipline problems and a fourth would be risk taking behavior (drugs/alcohol/sex) in teens.

Being "disruptive" doesn't mean a child is doomed or is a horrible person, but it's hard to argue that if a child is constantly being sent to the principal or keeps getting into trouble, that is disruptive to both family life and the classroom.

I doubt there are any perfect measures but I also doubt that the phenomenon is impossible to measure.

Posted by: Cassandra at October 4, 2010 10:49 AM

These sorts of studies on daycare are inherently biased. Why do they think homecare kids are normal and daycare kids are aggressive and disobedient? Maybe daycare kids are normal and homecare kids are wimpy and passive.

It's not like being at home just with mom and a sibling and occasionally seeing other kids at a park or playdate is remotely normal. In times past many kids would be raised in much larger groups (many more siblings) and pretty soon would be roaming the neighborhood in packs (or put to work on the farm, etc.). It's a very recent modern and western notion that homecare is so normal and baseline.

Posted by: Brent Michael Krupp at October 4, 2010 11:03 AM

Brent- I'm pretty sure I have never seen pre-school children running in packs in neighborhoods.

My parents waited until I was 5 before allowing me to run in the neighborhood pack.

Posted by: Beth Donovan at October 4, 2010 12:42 PM

Brent- I'm pretty sure I have never seen pre-school children running in packs in neighborhoods.

Now Beth, don't be silly. Who among us does not have fond memories of being charmed by wild packs of aggressive and disobedient toddlers?

Posted by: Reign of Toddlers at October 4, 2010 12:52 PM

The comment that used to mystify me the most was, "But you're so... SMART - staying at home is such a waste of your ability."

Thank goodness someone else has seen this.... Sometimes I think if one more person is shocked that I'm taking care of my own infant daughter, I'm going to scream.

Posted by: Foxfier at October 4, 2010 01:21 PM

Who among us does not have fond memories of being charmed by wild packs of aggressive and disobedient toddlers?

I know you're being silly, but I do actually have memories of packs of disobedient little kids running around just about any time there's a "family friendly" event, especially if it's a religious sort. Nothing quite like having a not-in-school-yet kid grab things off your plate, lick stuff and put it back on the potluck table or run shrieking through a crowd.

Posted by: Foxfier at October 4, 2010 01:24 PM

Nothing quite like having a not-in-school-yet kid grab things off your plate, lick stuff and put it back on the potluck table or run shrieking through a crowd.

My fave was always the old "dip the chip in the dip, lick it off, then put the soggy chip back in the chip bowl".

And the weird thing is that the parent is generally standing right there watching the entire thing.

Posted by: Reign of Toddlers at October 4, 2010 01:34 PM

Yeah. The essential truths of religion. Don't mix milk and meat. Don't mix fibers. If you have sex with a guy (and you are a guy) we will kill you. If you have sex with a guy not your husband we will kill you.

In fact that seems to be the essential truth of religion as practiced. "We will kill you." And given the current rise of the Islamic nutters we forget the essential truth of religion at our peril.

Posted by: M. Simon at October 4, 2010 01:46 PM

...that seems to be the essential truth of religion as practiced. "We will kill you."

Dang. Now if that isn't just *prescient*. Why, I was saying the exact same thing to my fellow murderers just the other night when my peeps down at Our Lady of St. Mattress-upon-Springs were lynching blacks, gays, adulterers, eaters of gravy and clueless commenters.

Posted by: Cassandra at October 4, 2010 01:51 PM

And that just came out of left field...

Posted by: Miss Ladybug at October 4, 2010 02:00 PM

SILENCE! I WILL KILL YOU!

Posted by: Achmed the Dead Hare Krishna at October 4, 2010 02:11 PM

I ask where is the "Standard of Proof"?

Cassandra says, "I think the "where" was in the longitudinal study of 1000 children in the linked article."

Then Cassandra says, "I don't believe I claimed that Belsky's study was the be-all and end-all on the question of whether day care is a good thing or not, Ohio Girl."

Yes, yes, it appears you did claim that was the standard of proof.

Regarding the other research in the linked article, they do not all agree with Belsky -- the source of the quote to start the article. Our experience, and my sister's experience, and my brother's experience (yes, we all sent our children to daycare!) is much more in line with Sylva's research -- no adverse effect if a supportive family and high-quality daycare, and advanced cognitive skills. So we are back to this so-called "standard of proof" which doesn't seem to exist but is cited as a criticism for doubters.

As far as being defensive -- read the majority of the comments on this article. Being defensive when supported by facts beats being righteous in my book. I did not criticize stay-at-home moms. The same can not be said for their attitude towards the career women.

Again -- I stand by my original posts and by my choices.

Posted by: OhioGirl at October 4, 2010 02:34 PM

...it appears you did claim that was the standard of proof.

No, that is not what I said. You asked WHERE the standard of proof was and I said "Where? or What?"

And then I said that the answer to WHERE the standard of proof might be was in the linked article. That is entirely a different question from WHAT the standard of proof is, or whether I - or you - ought to consider it convincing or even whether it is the ONLY standard of proof that matters (in case you're wondering, I doubt it is).

You asked WHERE the standard was (by which I think you may have meant you don't find Belsky's standard sufficient, not that you didn't know where it was - hence my question). I didn't actually address the WHAT question - only WHERE the standard was, in response to your question regarding its location.

I'm just curious: who do you think is trying to get you NOT to stand by your choices?

Aye, chihuahua....

You can rest easy, Ohio Girl. Hard as it may be to believe, I lack the power (much less the desire) to travel to Ohio and make you say you think your choices were the wrong ones. In fact, you can stand by your life choices with my unstinting blessing and wholehearted approval. You go, girl! :)

Posted by: Cassandra at October 4, 2010 02:58 PM

"Why, I was saying the exact same thing to my fellow murderers just the other night when my peeps down at Our Lady of St. Mattress-upon-Springs were lynching blacks, gays, adulterers, eaters of gravy and clueless commenters."

*snnniff*
Man!! You didn't invite me.
*snnniff snnniff*
*puts giant gravy bowl back into cupboard*
I guess I'll just go back to my corner now.....
0>;~{

Posted by: DL Sly at October 4, 2010 05:54 PM

Another thought about all those children being raised in large families with lots of siblings - unless the Mom was something like the Octomom, the siblings were not the same age as the child.

In daycare, the kids are segregated by age - 14 two-year-old toddlers in one classroom has never been a standard for raising children.

You really can't compare a typical daycare setting to large families.

Posted by: Beth Donovan at October 4, 2010 06:21 PM

Ohiogirl and Colagirl--defensive, much? You are proving the scientist's point. He's got proof of a point that you don't like, so you are are offering anecdotes and calling names ("grandiose beliefs").

Actually, I'm not defensive at all. I don't have children and have no plans to have kids for some time, if at all; if/when I and my husband do, we will decide our child care arrangements at that time. Most likely, one of us, probably me, will take some time off work to stay home for the first few years of the child's life, but that will depend on various factors and we'll figure it out as it happens. I stated this in my initial post and now I will repeat it: I think there is no "one size fits all" approach to childrearing that is best for all parents and all children, and I get *extremely* tired and irritated at people who insist that there must be.

I will also state that I don't appreciate my personal experience being dismissed as a "grandiose tale." Believe me when I say that I have spent many, *many* long hours pondering all the factors of my mother's decline, and when I state that *in our case,* both she personally and we as a family would have been much better off if she had continued to work, I have considered it thoroughly and from all angles. Am I therefore saying that being an SAHM is inherently bad? No. As I said above, I don't believe there is any "one-size-fits-all" approach to childrearing. However, given my mother's personality and psychological state, as well as our family's financial state, in *our* case, her quitting her job and devoting herself to full-time mothering was the wrong choice *for* *us*.

Now that I've delivered far too much personal information, I'm going to forebear from the rest of the discussion. I apologize to Cassandra for wanking on her blog.

Posted by: colagirl at October 4, 2010 06:23 PM

Please don't apologize.

I tried to say, here, that I understand there's emotion on both sides:

I understand that Moms who use daycare also face disapproval - sometimes it seems as though Moms are criticized no matter what we do! :)

I have strong opinions about day care, but I also know that not every situation is the same and not all day care is the same either. Individual situations always involve individual tradeoffs, and no one is better able to weigh the options than the people whose lives are actually affected.

Posted by: Cassandra at October 4, 2010 08:04 PM

I don't believe in science, period.

Posted by: Ymarsakar at October 5, 2010 09:20 AM

I will also state that I don't appreciate my personal experience being dismissed as a "grandiose tale."

That reminds me of what Leftists and narcissists, specifically Craig here, likes to do. They once said that a story told about a WWII veteran that was a Communist member was "fake".

Turned out what was fake was the Left's ability stated claim to be able to perceive truth.

Posted by: Ymarsakar at October 5, 2010 09:27 AM

Very interesting piece.

My Java programmer wife is planning to take off a year or two when we have kids (plan is for procreation to begin next year; I'm test-marketing the appellation options "Jessica Rand" and "Alexander Hayek" with her right now). It's a somewhat difficult choice because we give up some $70K-90K a year in household income. We're hoping her employer will let her telecommute starting in the 2nd year as her company loves her from the VP down.

Posted by: TallDave at October 5, 2010 11:11 AM

It's a somewhat difficult choice because we give up some $70K-90K a year in household income.

I hear ya. I was a SAHM for nearly 20 years and there's no question that you forego a lot of extras.

The thing is, I also saved us piles of money during the years I stayed home. Running our home and raising our sons was my job, and I was very good at it.

It would be hard for us to give up my salary now, but the truth is that we piffle a lot of it away on convenience products I wouldn't need to buy if I were not working. Plus, I got to spend all those wonderful years watching the boys grow up.

My oldest son's wife quit her lucrative career to be a FT wife and mother. Eventually she'll go back to work when the kids are a bit older.

She's working at night over the Internet now - gives her some extra money and I think it's good for her.

You all will work it out :)

Posted by: Cassandra at October 5, 2010 04:19 PM

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