The Daycare Dilemma

By Jan Hunt, founder/director of The Natural Child Project,

Jan HuntIt’s always a dilemma for me to know just how to address the subject of substitute care, because there is such a gap in our culture between the ideal and the possible. Ideally, there would be little need to use substitute care, nor would any mother feel a strong personal need or desire to do so. The reality, of course, is that parenting — the most important job a woman can have — is not valued sufficiently.

No one should ever feel that she is “only a mother” — motherhood should be more highly valued than any other profession. No other job is as critically important; no other job has the potential for improving our world by nurturing the capacity to love and trust others. As Canadian psychiatrist Elliott Barker wrote: “We have to change a lot of established patterns or ways we do things — our priorities — so that nothing gets in the way of attachment in the earliest years. The capacities for trust, empathy, and affection are in fact the central core of what it means to be human, and are indispensable for adults to be able to form lasting, mutually satisfying cooperative relationships with others.”

Our culture not only minimizes the importance of motherhood, it maximizes the desire to consume commercial products, defining success always in economic, rarely in humane or social, terms. There is no question that a mother with a professional career who uses daycare for her children receives far more recognition and respect than the mother who has left a professional job to stay at home with her children — despite the fact that the at-home mom is in a position to contribute far more to society in the long term. If motherhood was valued as highly as it should be, more mothers would choose to stay at home, and more pressure would be put on governments to help provide the means by which this could be done.

Creative solutions can only come about through a deeply-felt need. If everyone understood the critical importance of mothering, there would be fewer daycares and more and better alternative solutions that keep mother and child together. There would be more family centers where mothers with infants and young children could get together with other parents, watching the children as they play together. Families would be given sufficient financial support by the government, and this support would be seen not as a “handout” with all the stigma that welfare has now, but as a wise and critical investment in our future. Everyone would know that motherhood is the single most important profession there is, one that deserves the highest esteem and the highest pay. What kind of society do we have where athletes, movie stars, and CEOs get the highest pay? What kind of society do we have when the professional woman with her children away from her all day enjoys higher esteem than the stay-at-home mother who has the opportunity to nurture a human being, whose personal qualities, positive or negative, will affect all future relationships? Which is the more critical job?

Our vision is too narrow, too immediate, too limited. We see only the present contribution of the professional woman and are blind to the even greater potential contribution of the mother at home. We need to value these mothers now — or our future will look no different than it does at present, with our myriad social problems.

If we really understood the importance of the mother-child bond, we would find those solutions that now seem so elusive and difficult. We would recognize that a young child who has bonded with a particular caregiver, who then disappears from the child’s world, can internalize feelings of rejection and disappointment. We would be committed to finding ways to keep mothers, babies, and young children together. We would provide whatever financial support is needed, and give extensive parenting education to all. We would give greater prestige and sufficient financial support to dedicated stay-at-home mothers. Most of all, we would recognize that repeated separations from the mother can damage the mother-child relationship and create a tragic reluctance in the child to love and trust others in the future. Close bonds of love and trust take time to develop; they take time to maintain.

We would recognize the critical importance of providing paid maternity leave. We would understand that parental care has the most stability. We would build a healthier population and fewer hospitals and prisons. We would strive to learn more about the father-child bond, and give fathers an opportunity to bond early with their child, and to support the mother in the earliest years. We would enjoy a very different and vastly improved society, where compassion and connection were valued and desired more than any other goal or commodity, where a small house filled with love, trust and joy would be valued far higher than the biggest mansion.

What do you think? Weigh in on this Attachment Parenting International poll on the Value of Motherhood

31 thoughts on “The Daycare Dilemma”

  1. This article really irritates me. Right from the beginning, the tone is all wrong.

    “There is no question that a mother with a professional career who uses daycare for her children receives far more recognition and respect than the mother who has left a professional job to stay at home with her children — despite the fact that the at-home mom is in a position to contribute far more to society in the long term.”

    Maybe it depends on which area of the country you live in, or who you hang out with, but in my corner of CT, leaving work when you have children is very common. Actually, I feel like working moms are looked down on by many people. So, there IS a question that “a professional mother who uses daycare”- that clinically described mother is me- gets more respect than a mother who stays home.

    As a teacher, I also resent the last part of the sentence quoted above. I feel like I am doing a lot for the future. Would I rather spend that 8 hours of energy on my own kid? Sure, if I had married a different person whose job provided as much stability as mine. I made my choices, and they work for me. What works best for one family might not work best for another, and that applies to the children too. My child needs ME- not just his dad- to work to be able to pay for our necessities like heat and medical care.

    The article should have focused less on how much more important it is to stay home with your kids and more on its actual point: that there are things our government can do to help people afford to stay home with their kids. That got mentioned several times, but for me, the strength of that message got lost because of statements like this:

    “What kind of society do we have when the professional woman with her children away from her all day enjoys higher esteem than the stay-at-home mother who has the opportunity to nurture a human being, whose personal qualities, positive or negative, will affect all future relationships? Which is the more critical job?”

    “The professional woman with children”- not “working mother”- the word “mother” got left out. I guess because I’m not with my child all day, I’m not even a mother. I’d like to assume the author didn’t mean to say I’m less of a mother, but I’m not fully sure of that.

    And to answer the question, one job is not more critical than another. You can actually nurture a kid AND work. I nurture him when I’m with him, and the staff at daycare nurture him when they are with him. We have a great daycare where he’s hugged and loved and kissed. I used to have a stereotype of daycare as an inattentive place staffed by clueless people, but ours is not like that. Stereotypes and blanket statements are often inaccurate. This article is full of blanket statements and needs some revision to clarify its message.

  2. Love this article, yet wholeheartedly disagree with the idea that government needs to make this possible. As an at-home attached mother I don’t have time to sit on the computer and argue this case but let’s open our minds to the idea of taking ownership for our own lives, our own families and our own kids. My husband would rather work 2 jobs then accept government money. Where do we think all this money is coming from anyway? The rich upper class that somehow owe it to us because they found a way to thrive financially? That’s a whole separate issue 🙂 If my husband did have to work to jobs to make ends meet I wouldn’t want that anyway, would rather cut the budget… Grow our own food and preserve it, make our own clothes, drive cars without payments, it really opens up a lot of options to consider not living the materialistic life, as the article also mentioned. Really though taking money from gov? If charitable organizations and churches all had this same focus then when there was a real need we wouldn’t have to think like that.

  3. While I wholeheartedly agree that stay at home moms are undervalued and under-appreciated by society at large, I think that the bigger problem may be lack of choice. A mother should be respected and valued for choosing to stay at home AND also for choosing to work outside of the home. I am a stay at home mom. While I often wish that I was paid to stay home, part of being a stay at home mom should be waiting to have kids until you can financially stay home if you want to. If the government were to pay for all moms to stay home there would be many consequences to that. Some moms that aren’t necessarily ‘designed’ to be SAHMs would have child after child just for the financial gain. I agree with the heart of this article but I think the focus should be on having quality time in the time you have, not just having time all the time.

  4. Why is parenting the most important job a woman can have? Why is it not the most important job a person can have? Does that mean that fathers are not as valuable as mothers?

  5. This is a terrible article that says absolutely nothing positive about mothers who work or daycare. Shame on you AP!

    I’m the mother of a wonderfully attached, joyful 3 year old girl – and (gasp!) I work full time. She attends a small daycare with loving caregivers and sweet friends. She nursed until she was 26 months, I wore her until she was 16 months (and then she refused to be worn any more), and we coslept until just a few months ago.

    There are many advantages to great daycares. Some women (again, gasp) don’t want to stay home full time! I certainly don’t. For me, part-time would be perfect, but we can’t afford me to work only part-time. In addition, my daughter has wonderful friends and she looks forward to seeing them every morning. When we pick her up, she doesn’t want to leave. In additon, day care allows children to extend their knowledge through co-construction of experiences.

    Finally, your attack on women who work misses the most important point. 50% of all marriages end in divorce. A woman who has kept her work contacts and skills up to date will survive much better than a stay at home mom. She also will accumulate much more in retirement. I consider staying at home a serious financial risk, not just for me, but also for my daughter. I’m not saying that women who can and choose to shouldn’t stay at home – not in the least. But you’ve got to acknowledge that there are serious costs, and frankly, you’ve got to remember that a woman is more than a mother. Some day her children will be all grown up, and she’s still have to pay bills and find some way to retire when they’re gone.

    All in all, a big thumbs down for a moralistic blog with thinly disgused contempt for working moms.

  6. This is the answer of a politician, you have not really addressed the issue at hand. Ok, a paragraph about your utopian view of what our society should be like would suffice. Then you could get on to addressing the topic at hand. How do mothers and mothers to be in todays society make an informed choice about substitue care?
    I’ll share my decision, which was enabled by some of the things on your wishlist, as they are more common here in the UK. When my first son was born I opted to take 6 months maternity leave. This was paid by my employer @ 90% of my annual salary. I could have taken more at a vastly reduced rate up to one year. I am an american and as such I was so amazed at this opportunity to take 6 months paid that I never considered taking longer (sad, isn’t it?). I then went back to work part time for an additional 5 months and resumed full time work after that. I used what we in the UK call a childminder. This is a caregiver who provides care in their home. It is regulated by the government and the carers are inspected regularly. They are rated on their care provision and this information is made available to parents so you can assess the provider on a number of levels before making a choice. I think this is a great option for children as they have a single person with whom to create an attachment. My son is no longer with this minder as he is in preschool and I am on maternity leave with my second child but we visit her about twice a month because he asks to see her. He loves her and has formed another healthy attachment which will enrich his life!

  7. I think the article relies on several assumptions that are part of the AP world, but leaves in-depth discussion/mention out.

    A Mom, if life and circumstances are kind to her, can nurse her child as long as the child needs it. For COMFORT, NUTRITION, and ATTITUDE ADJUSTMENT (sorry can’t think of a better single word for that at 5 AM!) there is no better way to connect. That goes WELL beyond the 2 years recommended MINIMUM by WHO. It’s not about cutting them off to send them off.

    Not seeking to turn this into a formula debate,because really the issue is BEING THERE. Not initiating that moment ever in a child’s life where their heart beats faster and they are not just sad, but devastated that Mom did not come back.

    Leaving a child with anyone other than primary care giver (and that starts in the wee days of a babe – all the primary care givers that feed a child, formula or otherwise) causes that DISCONNECT that so few people recognize as the beginning of the child’s need to WORK to regain that place in their parent’s life, and always falling short because they REMEMBER being left, even if they can’t put it into words, feelings that adults can recognize.

    It isn’t to dump on working moms. It isn’t asking for government MONIES outright – just recognition that SAHM’s are so much more efficient than working moms at achieving what is needed for a productive society – and it is something that is so diverse and yet so critical that it is immeasurable other than realizing the effect on the child later in life.

    Without understanding AP it is so easy to say ‘but I do make a difference’. Yes, you do. You could do so, so very much MORE of a difference if you stayed home. And the media giving laud to working moms as ‘quintessential’ (overall, not 100%!) to society’s getting along out there is SUCH A LIE.

    There’s a difference between – I had to get a job to sustain our family – we needed food and a roof and clothes – and having a job to support the purchases that go with Christmas, birthdays, anniversaries, celebrations, school (yes, school sucks up a lot of time and money!) And that difference is what the author is getting at.

    Maybe short is what people want to read, but short does not get the need for/essence/essentialness/productivity of the job of SAHM across.

    AP gives a child what they need – not SO MUCH MORE. It isn’t extra. It is necessary for a child to be well-rounded.

  8. This article was disappointing. I, as well, agree that mothers are undervalued in society. This should include all mothers: working and stay at home.

    Before I had my son, I was in school to finish my Master of Nursing. I was working hard to become a Nurse Practitioner. This was another way for me to care for and nurture other people in need. When my son was born, I gravitated toward AP. It felt natural. I spent 10 months at home with my son, building a strong bond.

    When I went back to work, I did it gradually. My husband, my mother, and myself took turns caring for my son at home. Things have changed recently for my husband’s job and we now will require child care several days a week. This decision has been incredibly hard for me. I have fluctuated between feelings of inadequacy and guilt and the strong desire to continue to build my practice.

    Reading Dr. Sears’ book on discipline has been most helpful to balance work and family life. I don’t want to stop working. I have skills and knowledge to share with my colleagues and my patients. Women have a place in the workforce. We offer a unique and much-needed perspective.

    My career gives me balance; I contribute to society both as a professional and as an attached mother raising an amazing little boy. AP gives me the tools I need to reconnect after a day at work: we co-sleep, baby wear, sign, snuggle, and renew our relationship every day.

    We can do both and should not be made to feel like we are sacrificing our children for our career.

  9. I am in the process of planning for substitute care once my maternity leave is over, a very heart wrenching process indeed. I thought I would find some validation and maybe some practical advice in this article, but was disappointed only to find further confirmation that I’m not doing what’s best for my child – being the full time caregiver. I know that no one will take as good care of my child as I will, and I dread the day I have to turn him over to the care of someone who isn’t attached to him. Yes, there is more our country can do to elevate the value of mother-as-primary-caregiver, but let’s not just bemoan what we do not have yet. Any ideas as to how to get us closer to our ideals?

  10. dear AF,
    I am writing from istanbul turkey.
    I just read the article now, during my lunch-break, I am terrified. I do not have time to explain in detail why i feel so, but can give some information about my life, and hope you will get an idea.
    I am a plastic surgery resident about to finish my 6 year residency. I was educated in one of the finest highschools in my country, in the end being able to speak english and german fluently. I decided to study medicine, thinking about specialising in surgery as a specialty right from the beginning. plastic, reconstructive and aesthetic surgery turned out to be my favourite. I worked so very hard for getting into the residency program, and even harder after entering it. I do not regret any of my desicions, never did, not at any single moment. I love what I do and I love my patients. I never can imagine to stay at home for longer than 5-6 months, as I will be -this may seem odd to you but- missing seeing blood!
    my husband does not have any financial concerns whatsoever, nor does my father.
    I have a 2,5 yo daughter! we are co sleeping and still nursing!
    So if mothering is the best job a woman can have maybe after high school, young women should be sent to ” faculty of mothering” and other kinds of education should be discouraged.
    could it be that the mom actually likes to “work”?
    maybe the best job for someone is the job that they like most? be it surgery or mothering…

  11. Thank You so much for this article. I am a stay at home mom and yes I do agree with the article. I like how you say that the government should help. I see that there is stigma about those that do receive help as well. It takes a village to raise a child and weither it is money laws or time the government would have to change a lot of things.
    I love how you see that woman that work do get more recognition and while some may want to believe that giving birth to a wonderful miracle and then dropping them off to a complete stranger all day makes you are parent it only makes you a part time parent. Foster parents do and are the same thing and sometimes they even get to spend more time because the government is paying them. It is a right a lot of women are robbed of with this your no one if you don’t make x amount of dollars.
    Do you know what your child wants or needs ? How do you play with them ? How attached can one be that only see’s their child for maybe 4-6 hours in a day. You see your boss more. I mean think about it you get up at 6:00 am or earlier get them up dressed and fed or maybe not they may eat at day care I’d say be dropped of by 8am then when you get off at 5:00pm then pick them up by 6:00pm depending on how far away they are and then get home either make dinner or pick it up. Do homework either before or after dinner let’s say that maybe about 7:30pm then it’s bathtime and then bed. I guess that is what the weekend is for depending on if you are not shopping or busy cleaning or prepareing for the week you really are tired everyday and for what. So that almost 50-70% of you job’s earnings can to the daycare. Child need quality time spent what time does she really have in a day.
    Being a mother or a father is the most important job because like you said it nurtures, builds on, and creates a person into who they will be one day. I am a very proud stay at home mom and while I have no nanny or babysitter to help me with this for 8 hours or more a day I find the satisfaction in knowing that my husband and I are the two people in the world he loves and feels safe with.
    There are many children around the world who would just wish for one moment my son gets to have with in a stable enviornmet. Daycare is so emotionally damaging a new stranger all the time barely see you what does that show well I have to make money or I had a life before you and I’m going to keep it that way. I don’t care what daycare it is it is not you. You are there mother and they will not stay little forever. When you are at work you miss their first word their first babble their first step. Daycare is made up of random people and random values. I maybe not be able to buy a gucci purse or get my hair done every week, but I treasure the beauty I have in myself and my son. When he looks to me to say mommy I need this I need that. He knows I will be right there, and that is worth more to me than the 8-10 hours I can spend with all the no ones who don’t care about me than to be able to learn what real love is like.
    Children are wonderful and motherhood is something that not every woman gets to do and I am for sure going to take it and hold on to those precious moments. People die I wouldn’t want to be at work and get a call that says he’s gone. Then all that money and time will have been a waste. Every woman deserves that right to stay home it just too important to pass up. The money and the career are still out there but your son or daughter are only little for today tomorrow they are just steps away from college. Time is fast and sometimes very short and i’m not going to waste it,

  12. What an elitist, classist piece of crap this article is! SUch alienating stereotypes and assumptions about the values, ideals, and the very hearts of working mothers. Shame!

  13. This whole article is horrible – shame on you AP is right!
    This passage is the one that gets my goat: “Most of all, we would recognize that repeated separations from the mother can damage the mother-child relationship and create a tragic reluctance in the child to love and trust others in the future. Close bonds of love and trust take time to develop; they take time to maintain.”
    A TRAGIC reluctance in the child to love and trust others? So, my child who has been in care since she was a babe will grow, no matter what I do, to have a reluctance trust or love others? Come on AP.
    I’m a dedicated AP momma simply because, before I even heard the term, it’s just what felt right. I’m an older single mother by choice and through adoption — my path to motherhood surely not the most conventional but amazing in its journey. My child is now heading towards Kindergarten, still sharing a family bed, and could not be more compassionate, caring, trusting – downright amazing. To say that she is doomed to fail since I went back to work is just full of malarkey (I did not return to work to make myself feel better as a career woman – to simply support my family).
    I hoped better from AP – maybe something that united all of us versus drawing that utopian line in the sand nobody can quite measure up to.

  14. I am so angered, annoyed and flabbergasted by this ridiculous piece of elitist, anti-woman drivel. There are many jobs that are more important and help society more or as much as being a SAHM: teachers, nurses, researchers, etc. I agree with the commented above, women need to have skills, connections and experience in the world so that they are able to care for and support their children and themselves, if the necessity arises. This article does mothers a great disservice and sets expectations that are unrealistic and harmful. All mothers do the best they can for their family. Keep your gross generalizations and inaccurate assumptions to yourself.

  15. I’m sure the intent of this article is not to make women who have to work to provide for their children feel like failures, but it does. I have to return to work part time, and my daughter will be in the care of her grandma on the days I work. I hardly think I’m creating rejection and abandonment issues by doing so. The notion of the government making it possible for all women to stay home is really unrealistic, I’m afraid. Articles like this make AP look extreme and unrealistic. Please help real families – those whose mothers can stay at home full time and those whose mothers can’t – figure out how to attachment parent effectively in their actual circumstances.

  16. It’s all about choices. I see professional women every day that choose to work 5 days a week to they can live in top neighborhoods, have a big house, drive SUVs, go on vacations. I am also a physician in the exact same boat as these women and I choose to work 2 days per week and spend 5 at home. My husband works 3, stays home 4. We don’t have a tv, a microwave, video games, new clothes, or anything “extra.” But we have time with our children. In many cases, it can be done, if that choice is made.

  17. I agree with the first comment and found this article rather off-base and at times offensive. There are actually a few stay-at-home dads where I live, and there are loving, dedicated mothers who need the intellectual stimulation of work outside the home to stay emotionally healthy. That in turns benefits her child.

    So…yes, I certainly think society should value and support the role of parenting more, but I think this commentary neglects to recognize that there is more than one right way to be a good parent or parents…it is not only the full-time stay-at-home moms who can and do raise healthy, happy children. Indeed, in the 1950’s and 60’s most moms did stay-at-home, and it was a given that a woman should choose to do so when she had children. Did that rigid sex-role expectation benefit children across the board?? I don’t think so.

    Perhaps there were just too many blanket statements and generalizations in this article that did not ring true to me, except for the idea that society as a does indeed need to place a greater value on parenting. However, I don’ t really see that happening in the near future, unfortunately.

  18. I completely agree with this article. I think those who commented feel insecure about their decision to go back to work. Yes, staying home to raise your children is possible if YOU make it work.

  19. I stay at home despite being more educated than my husband. And while we are falling behind financially than some of our peers I would not go back to work, YET. There will be a time for work but just not YET. My kids are 1 and 3, maybe in 2 or 3 years I will work. But families with both parents with top jobs is crazy! If you financially can stay home for a few years then do it! But those are the couples who send the kid to daycare and forgo the attachment from early. Then they don’t know what they are missing by parenting part time. Because 4-5 hours a day is part time. I have no problem with working mums who really have no choice because having no money is not an option. And going back to work after 3 years is really not all that bad.

  20. I am so grateful for this article. As a psychotherapist, I see the affects of attachment (or lack there of) in the early years. I am also new mother and stay-at-home mother. The work of the stay-at-home is constant and mostly unnoticed. It is nice to be reminded of the importance of the choice I made to stay home. We made significant financial sacrifices for me to do so, but we don’t regret it. Thank you for the reminder that this is the most important thing I have ever (or will ever do)!

  21. I agree that mothering is often under valued, and the importance of the mother-baby relationship is almost always under valued. From a biological perspective, I think babies under 1 year should have access to their mothers throughout the day to nurse. I stay home with my children and have never so much as hired a babysitter. All the people who provide occasional care for my children are people that we have non-financial relationships with. Friends. Family.

    This article was poorly written. There is no need to judge who is better. All that does is create a divide, a battle. Aren’t we as attachment parents trying to teach our children NOT to do that?! I find very few situations in which I feel compelled to pass judgment. Maybe others can do the same and we can have a more peaceful world.

  22. Wow, this article is really appalling. I’m currently a SAHM and I can’t believe how this article disparages working moms and the value of dads! So a woman’s highest calling is to be a mother??!!!! This is horrible, horrible 1950s crap recycled as AP. I agree that our society needs to support mothers more and understand the value of the bond, but expecting moms to all uniformly stay home is setting us back and devaluing women as anything other than mothers. No, it’s not just about consumerism, it’s about recognizing that women have brains and something to contribute to society other than wiping baby spitup off the furniture!!!! Really angry…

  23. I am cancelling my membership to API. I didn’t know they were against women’s choices. If you are going to attack working women, can you provide any research or evidence to support your points? A recent meta study showed that children with moms who work part-time are better off than women who stay at home full time. They also found that children with stay at home moms watch much more TV than children in day care. They also found that moms who go to work full time within the first year can mitigate possible effects of daycare by being sensitive and seeking high-quality day care. The fact is, your anti-working women post is not supported by research.

    API should support all moms who want to practice attachment parenting, whether they work or not. If API is trying to say that only stay at home moms can practice attachment parenting, they should just say so. I will get my advice on attachment parenting and positive discipline elsewhere from now on.

  24. This is a terrible article and one that makes a lot of untrue, unjust and stereo-typical assumptions. While I understand the author’s message, I think it was written with a very closed mind and heart.

  25. As a working mother, who would much rather be home with my children but have no choice but to work so that we can pay our mortgage and afford the mere basics in life without slipping into debt, I found the tone of this article and frankly some of the commentary offensive and unnecessarily disdainful towards working moms. Very disappointing.

  26. What a horrible, judgmenatl and discriminatory article. No mention whatsoever of the benefits to children of good daycare experiences. Left me with a very bitter taste in my mouth. I felt the author was basically saying if you are a working mother your children will suffer.

  27. What a load of crap. AND it’s refuted by science. The NICHD study of Early Child Care and Youth Development has proven over and over that children who are in high quality non-parent care do not show any developmental differences than those who are in full-time maternal care. The important thing is the positive attachment to caregivers.

    Women work for income outside “the home” EVERYWHERE in the world. And they ALWAYS HAVE. There is no detriment to parent or child from using non-maternal care when that care is of high quality from a consistent caregiver.

    Also, motherhood is a woman’s most important job? Really? More important than, say, developing a vaccine that saves millions of lives? More important than defending in court those who can’t afford to hire a lawyer? More important than making money to provide food, clothing, and shelter to that child? How do you define “motherhood?”

    What about women who cannot or don’t have children? Have they missed out on the “MOST IMPORTANT JOB A WOMAN CAN HAVE”? Are they somehow inferior as women and less important because of their childlessness? Bullshit.

    Your article is a load of crap with no basis in science and very poorly argued.

    Basically, STFU.

  28. I agree with other comments–this piece was a missed opportunity to help working parents make better choices for their children as far as childcare. I am also opposed to the term “substitute care”, as my daughter’s childcare providers have expanded her world (and mine) through lessons on the environment and the solar system, teaching her (and therefore me) new songs, and by keeping her with her cohort of friends through the infant and toddler classrooms to name just a few.

    Sure, I felt guilty about sending her to daycare initially, but now at age 2, I see a marvelously independent kiddo who navigates easily through social situations, is potty trained, and loves the structure and opportunities to explore that her daycare provides to her days. These developments were all a pleasant surprise to a mom that had never before stepped foot into a daycare setting.

    I’m grateful for the opportunities that daycare has afforded me to pay back my ridiculous medical school debt while further honing my professional skills–in fact, I have become “the breastfeeding person” in our family medicine office, being contacted by colleagues and residents and medical students and immunity lactation consultants (!) to help moms and babies. I have saved a few breastfeeding relationships through the knowledge I’ve acquired at conferences (some of which I’ve taken my daughters to) and the experience I have been accruing, and I love helping to empower parents to use their intuition in caring for their children by having open minded discussions about vaccines and sleeping arrangements. All of these interactions to promote healthy families have happened while my daughter has been at daycare learning how to express herself firmly yet nonviolently as she explores her independence. To me, this is a win-win.

  29. I feel like crying.

    I am about to return to work 4 days a week. Not because I need to but because I believe it is most right for my life (future security and continued life development). It is my dream job…the job I have wanted for 6 years and I just believe in my bones that it is the right thing to do. But I am sooooo scared that making this decision will impact my beautiful son in ways I might not be able to see….and if that is the case there IS NO WAY I WOULD TAKE THE ROLE.

    I am sooooo torn and thought I might find advice that could help me mitigate the impact on him. We have hired a beautiful, caring and artistic nanny who I would be happy for my son to emulate. I still breastfeeding on demand and we co-sleep.

    I always find such truth in your articles….and if this is true too (and I just can’t see it because of my own desires and closures) then I am a horrid mother.

    My son is 16 months…

    Oh god should I not return to work?

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