No place like home for kids

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The Article

The proof is in the pudding. Unfortunately, the federal Liberals just aren’t biting. Yet another study confirms what most of us instinctively know: Kids do best when raised by a stay-at-home mother.

In what’s being described as the “most in-depth study of the subject to date,” British researchers conclude children raised by stay-at-home mothers are more socially and emotionally advanced than those cared for by nannies or grandparents. Kids placed in daycare fared worst when it came to developmental tests.

Children who weren’t lucky enough to have a stay-at-home mom tended to show higher levels of aggression or found themselves at the other end of the spectrum, being more withdrawn, compliant and sad.

Before working moms get all bent out of shape, let me point out one positive about daycare or nannies. If mom is suffering from depression, then the study shows (not surprisingly) that the kids do better in someone else’s care.

Obviously, mothers who have no choice but to work should never feel guilty for their decision. Those mothers who choose to work full-time, however, might want to re-examine their priorities.

Many working moms defend their decision by claiming daycare is good for kids because it provides them with plenty of social interaction. According to this study, that just isn’t the case.

Moreover, it has always baffled me as to why some people assume kids with stay-at-home moms aren’t properly socialized. Do they really believe stay-at-home moms keep their kids locked in isolation, away from other children?

The stay-at-home moms I know take their kids for regular outings where they are surrounded by other youngsters. They visit the park, participate in organized sports or play groups, and take part in various educational programs. Their children are not loners. They know how to interact with other kids.

Some working moms insist daycare gives children more confidence. Nice theory, but the research just doesn’t back it up.

A recent study out of Cambridge University shows the stress levels of toddlers soar when they first begin daycare. Daycare kids suffer great anxiety and their stress levels remain high five months later, despite the fact they may outwardly appear more settled.

Do these sound like happy kids to you?

For the record, I have nothing against daycare workers. Most of them work extremely hard for very little money. But despite their training and good intentions, most can’t hold a candle to a loving mother or father. Especially when they have several children in their charge.

I also don’t believe women should sacrifice any and all career goals. Some moms may choose to leave the workforce for several years while their children are young and return once their kids are older. Others may opt to work part-time so they’re still the child’s primary caregiver. Of course, if dad wants to stay home instead, that’s great too.

Bottom line: Full-time daycare should be a last resort.

That said, do we really want more tax money poured into a national daycare program when it’s clear daycare is far from the best option for most kids?

What Canadians really need is a tax break for single-income families. It’s time the government and society accept the research and recognize the contribution made by stay-at-home parents.

Instead, the government pretends to be doing something wonderful for Canada’s children by making daycare more accessible. Either the Liberals are stupid and fail to comprehend the scientific studies regarding child care, or they’re greedy and want as much income tax money as possible even if it comes at the expense of a child’s well-being.

Sadly, I think the Liberals are guilty on both counts.

Lydia Lovric is a freelance writer and broadcaster.

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