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Getting Rid of Mommy:

by Michael Wagner
Daycare and the War Against
the Family
Originally published in the January
2002 issue of Reformed Perspective.
T
he traditional family has been
under attack in Canada and
other Western countries for
years. One of the main opponents of the
traditional family has been, and con-
tinues to be, the feminist movement.
Feminists want women to be equal
with men in basically every area of soci-
ety. In their view, whenever women are
not represented in a particular job or
activity in the same proportion as men,
discrimination must be taking place.
For example, the fact that most police
ocers, reghters, and soldiers are
men is clear evidence of discrimination
against women. Te Canadian Armed
Forces, which has apparently fallen for
this ideological nonsense, is working
particularly hard to recruit women to
correct the imbalance.
One of the major obstacles to the
feminist agenda is the biological dier-
ence between men and women. Tis is
most obvious in the area of reproduc-
tion: women bear children and men
dont. To the feminists, this gives men
an unfair advantage because men
can pursue their careers without inter-
ruptions for pregnancy and the care of
young children. Te feminists are there-
fore strong advocates of daycare; that is,
they want women to drop their children
o at daycare centers each day so these
mothers will be able to pursue their ca-
reers unhindered by their children.
Liberating mommy
Children are viewed as hindrances to
their mothers personal success, but
35 Counsel of Chalcedon Issue 4 2010
Getting Rid of Mommy: Daycare vs. the Family
daycare provides a way for mothers to
avoid most of the daily care of their
children and thus be able to spend their
time on what is most important (in the
feminists view), personal fulllment
and achievement.
Dont let the care of your children
get in your way. First things rst, you
know. Tis selsh appeal is one of the
most powerful assaults against the tra-
ditional family.
Considerable research has been
conducted into the eects of daycare
on children over the last 30 years or so.
Much of this research has been surveyed
by British sociologist Patricia Morgan in
her book Who Needs Parents? Te Eects
of Childcare and Early Education on
Children in Britain and the USA (Lon-
don, England: Institute of Economic
Aairs Health and Welfare Unit, 1996).
While there are naturally some conict-
ing results from such a large body of re-
search, the weight of the evidence leads
Morgan to conclude, Overall, daycare is
inferior to parental care (p. 108).
Te debate over the benets and
drawbacks of daycare needs to be
placed in its proper social and political
context. A few decades ago, when the
traditional family was basically an ac-
cepted norm, the need for daycare was
much smaller than today. Te rise in the
prominence of daycare has gone hand-
in-hand with the collapse of the tradi-
tional family. Tis is not a coincidence.
Daycare, as previously mentioned, is a
major tool for liberating women from
the traditional family.
Oppressed?
Te conservative ideal of the mother
as the primary caregiver for children
is rejected by feminists and left-wing
academics. Te traditional motherhood
role is basically seen as a form of slav-
ery. Feminist researchers continually
emphasize how the maternal role is a
fundamental element in womens op-
pression because it underpins womens
economic dependence on men. Male
breadwinning undermines the capacity
of women to compete and serves as jus-
tication for male control over women
and children (p. 10). So mothers who
stay home to raise their own children
are oppressed.
But even if they are oppressed, arent
they at least making an important con-
tribution to society? Apparently not.
Modern historians and sociologists like
to see housewives, past and present, as
engaged in demeaning, monotonous and
pointless work that produces nothing of
intrinsic value (p 120).
Te solution for this oppression
and apparent waste of womens lives
is, of course, for women to obtain paid
work and pursue careers. Tus children
need to be shunted o to daycare so
that mothers can have productive and
meaningful lives. Demands for daycare
to facilitate female employment are
inseparable from the assumption that
occupational achievement alone deter-
Counsel of Chalcedon Issue 4 2010
36
Getting Rid of Mommy: Daycare vs. the Family
mines the individuals status, sense of
fullment and meaning in life (p. 5).
From Russia with love
It is important to note, then, that the mo-
tivation for daycare is not primarily for
the benet of the children; the primary
motivation is to change the role of moth-
ers in society. And this itself is all part of a
larger agenda of social change. Many pro-
ponents of daycare see it in terms of the
promotion of social change by altering
value systems, family behaviour, attitudes
and perceptions of sexual identity. Te
development of the child is subsidiary to
these concerns (p. 57). In some respects,
this basic pattern of social change has
been seen before. Changes in family law
and welfare policy currently being pro-
moted in the West are much the same as
those enacted soon after the 1917 Russian
revolution by the Bolsheviks in order to
dismantle the family: easy divorce, aboli-
tion of the distinction between legitimate
and illegitimate births, and collectivized
child rearing (p. 126).
But what if daycare is benecial for
children? What if daycare centers are
able to produce better behaved and more
academically advanced children than or-
dinary mothers can? Well, they cant.
First of all, the Scriptural pattern
for family life is the traditional fam-
ily. We know that the Bible presents
us with guidelines for every area of life,
and these guidelines point us to the
family arrangements most conducive to
human well-being. Te fact that the Bi-
ble stipulates that parents should raise
their own children, rather than having
them raised collectively in other insti-
tutions designed for that task, is deci-
sive. However, various studies conduct-
ed over the last few years also provide
some empirical evidence supporting
the view that the best environment for
raising children is in their own homes
with their own mothers.
Daycare doesnt
compare
One area of research has compared
the behavior of children in daycare
with children raised at home. A study
of children in Bermuda found that at
the age of two group-care infants were
more apathetic, less attentive, less so-
cially responsive, less verbally expres-
sive, and more maladjusted generally.
Tose children who spent the longest
hours in care were the least well adjust-
ed (p. 40). An American study found
that children in daycare centres had
more fears, were more active, were less
compliant with their mothers and far
more inclined to intense tempers (p.
41). A related study found that daycare
children were more likely to hit, kick
and push; bully, threaten, swear and ar-
gue; not to use strategies like discussion
or walking away to deal with dicul-
ties and to be rated by teachers as hav-
ing aggressiveness as a serious decit
of social behaviour (p. 41). Tis is just
a small sample of studies in this area.
Morgan cites many more studies and
37 Counsel of Chalcedon Issue 4 2010
Getting Rid of Mommy: Daycare vs. the Family
states that daycare children have been
shown to be generally and signicantly
more aggressive, more non-compliant
and more prone to behavioural prob-
lems on starting school (p.41).
Children raised at home by their
mothers also do better academically,
generally speaking. In a large Ameri-
can sample of children from primary
age to 16, from the High School arid
Beyond Study involving a random
sample of 15,579 students, maternal
employment was consistently linked to
lower math and reading scores for white
children from two-parent families. Te
more the mother worked, the stronger
the eects (p. 104). Te British Nation-
al Child Development Study showed a
similar pattern.
Seven-year-old children whose
mothers had worked full-time had
poorer reading and arithmetic scores
at this age than children of mothers
who had not been employed or who had
part-time jobs. Te highest scores on vo-
cabulary tests were achieved by children
of at-home mothers and the lowest by
children of mothers in full-time manual
work, followed by children of mothers in
part-time manual work (p. 104).
Again, this is just a sampling of a
larger number of studies, and Morgan
uses additional studies to make the
same point: generally speaking, chil-
dren raised at home by their mothers
tend to do better academically than
children who spend much of their time
in daycare. Exceptions to this pattern
usually involve studies of children in
bad homes who are neglected by irre-
sponsible parents. In such cases, edu-
cational programs in daycare centres
can help these children to do better
academically, as one would expect.
Mothers know best
Due to the political and social power
of feminism, traditional motherhood
is commonly viewed unfavorably in
many segments of our society. Full-
time mothers can be made to feel as if
their role is less important than that of
women who pursue careers. But their
time as mothers at home is much better
spent than in formal paid employment.
Tose years at home with their children
will have a long-term benecial eect
on their children (and hence future
generations), and that is certainly more
important than any other job.
Te traditional family is not an
institution for subjugating women and
children, but is instead the best institu-
tional arrangement for the well-being
of each member--mother, father, and
children. Tere may indeed be cases
where surrogate care for children, such
as daycare, is unavoidably necessary
due to unfortunate circumstances such
as the death or illness of a parent. But
this is very dierent from the feminist-
inspired attempts to degrade mother-
hood and the raising children. Te
current drive for the widespread use of
daycare is one more thrust in the larger
war against the traditional family and
the Christian foundation of our society.
Michael Wagner