July 09, 2014

Mommy Wars:
Kids from lower-income homes fare well in daycare

This week, my very first boyfriend contacted me on Facebook. We were two years old when we met, and four years old when we started "dating". When we were five, he told my dad he was going to marry me someday. He took me on my very first date. We were ten years old. His mom drove us to McDonald's. We got to play on the playset. It was awesome.

We met in daycare. It is one of many fond (and also not so fond) memories of being in daycare. My mother returned to work as soon as possible--not only were we in need of the second income, but she has a passion for her work that I admire immensely.

I have to admit, I have always been slightly miffed by the number of studies that showed that daycare kids don't fare as well as kids with a stay-at-home parent. I don't feel like I lacked anything at all, and I feel like I gained some serious lifeskills from daycare.

So I was pleasantly pleased to see a recent study that told a different story. To sum it up:
"Kindergarteners from lower-income families who were babies when their mothers went to work outside the home far as well as or even better than children who had stay-at-home moms, according to new research by the American Psychological Association."
A variety of reasons are being tossed about for this change, which is in stark differentiation to prior longitudinal studies on the subject. Some popular ones include different cultural attitudes, childcare that is better quality and more readily available, and more participation by fathers in child-rearing. Essentially, as our society adapts to changing circumstances, we see new answers to old questions.

Mothers, I think, have a strong tendency to wish to "have it all". We beat ourselves up and constantly feel inadequate. If you are working, you are failing your children. If you are staying at home, you are failing yourself.

I truly hope that this new research will help us start to release some of that guilt that we all seem to possess.

If you're reading this as a mom that has felt inadequate, let me say: You are enough. If you love your children, you are enough. If you keep their best interests at heart, you are enough. Those are the only qualifiers I can think of, and if you meet them, I repeat. You.Are.Enough.

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