OPINION: by Anne LastmanNews Weekly
Daycare impacts on infants' bonding and attachment
, July 5, 2014
I know that there are situations where daycare is a necessity rather than a choice, but having to put a child into daycare from shortly after birth, followed by formal schooling, will spell difficulties for that child for the future.
Today we live in a transient society where family bonds are not as strong as in the past. Then, if both parents had to work or a single parent had to work to provide the income, other members of the family would step in to help fill the gap.
Today this is often impossible; so, for many reasons, daycare facilities and paid strangers become the answer. Hence the saying that “it takes a village to raise a child” falls far short of the truth. Indeed, when Mum has to work, the “village” most often is the daycare facility.
I am not maligning carers or daycare facilities, which are set up according to practices deemed beneficial for all the children who will be attending.
There will be regimented play time, sleep time, good-behaviour time and naughty-corner time: all the things that Mum would do at home.
However, what there won’t be is huge-hug time, million-kisses time, “love you, Mummy” time, “love you, darling” time — or, in more sophisticated terminology, bonding-and-secure-attachment time.
There won’t be Mum who sees and photographs the first steps, the first of anything which will be recorded for posterity and to be shown at the child’s 21st birthday party by doting parents.
Even if these are recorded by others, Mum and Dad won’t be in the images.
The above are huge losses. However, there are more than these losses. Bill Muehlenberg has cited from various studies the difficulties that these children will experience in all areas of future emotional development, security and belongingness, and areas of learning (“Daycare vs homecare: the experts’ verdict”, News Weekly, May 24, 2014).
For me in particular, I am concerned for their bonding and attachment, which are so important for the future self-esteem of the child, and later of the adult.
Recently, a friend told to me that her little daughter is left in daycare because she (the mother) needs time for herself.
She believes that, as a result, she is a better mother, and that the time she has with her child is “quality time”. (How I hate that phrase “quality time”. It’s another example like “gay”, or “clinic” for an abortion facility, etc., where meanings of words have been greatly changed).
I gently replied to my friend, “But a little one doesn’t understand “quality time”; a little one wants Mum time, all the time. A child wants Mum for cuddles, and comfort, and to be fed, and to play and laugh and know that her Mum is there.”
My friend responded by assuring me that her daughter apparently “loved” playing with the other kids. I had to refrain from saying that 2-year-olds as a rule do not “play with other kids”. They might sit next to another child, side by side, or try to take a toy from the other child; but they do not know how to share and engage and play with another child, because at this stage they are egocentric — everything belongs to them and is about them, and sitting next to another child might simply mean that she was put there by the carer.
I further refrained from reminding my dear friend that children are vulnerable to all sorts of infections, and perhaps that is why her daughter constantly had a running nose, coughs and fevers.
On a more serious note: when a child is placed into daycare almost from birth to the beginning of formal schooling, how will that child learn manners, right and wrong, boundaries, especially as in daycare facilities the carers are responsible for supervising many children of different ages and stages?
Who is able to take the child aside and say, “No, darling, don’t do this because...”. Who is that child’s voice of authority?
A child reared at home by loving parents knows and hears the same voice praising, correcting and encouraging, and so is instilled with knowledge and firmness and yet love.
The voice of Mum or Dad saying “No” means “no”. And so the child grows with knowledge of “no” and “yes”. The voice is remembered.
Irrespective of what social engineers would like us to believe, children have a need for boundaries right from the beginning in order to feel safe. These same boundaries will be a protection for them in future situations where that voice of authority will come to the fore.
For a daycare child, whose voice of authority will be that point of reference? It is my belief that we have a generation of children who are angry because the voice of authority was absent from their early life, leaving them stranded and to subject to self-harm.
Nightly we watch news reports of young people acting in self-destructive ways, which reveal that they lack self-control or self-modulation.
Many seem to have no knowledge of right or wrong. They lack empathy with others. Why? Is it because they have learned alone-ness, even when sitting next to another little one?
The voices of daycare staff have long been forgotten, so whose voice of authority echoes within them to say, “No, darling, that’s wrong”? It is a tragedy if mothers can’t be mothers so that their children can be children and grow into healthy adults.
I began this article saying that there are circumstances where daycare is the only option and this we look upon with compassion. But what might have been a better option for the future well-being of children is if we could find a way whereby Mum (best if possible) can be with her child till he goes off to school and be present for her child at all times of his early development.
This is the best gift a parent can give to a child — the solid knowledge that Mummy is always there.
This instils security, strong bonding, strong attachment and a sense of self-worth. Daycare cannot do this.
However good it may be, daycare is a string of long-term babysitters .
Anne Lastman is a qualified psychologist who has worked as a post-abortion grief counsellor for nearly 12 years. She is founder of the Victorian-based organisation, Victims of Abortion, and author of the book, Redeeming Grief: Abortion and Its Pain, published by, and available from, Freedom Publishing.
Having a baby will simplify your life
Want to be more efficient, motivated and assertive? Don’t bother getting a life coach — just have a baby.
The truth is that a baby is a fantastic life-simplifying device. We’re constantly being told to pare down, to be in the moment, to identify and pursue our goals. Lifestyle experts make wads of cash claiming they can help us: coaches, organisers, motivational speakers, declutterers, assertiveness trainers.…
Your baby will be your life coach. Here’s how.
It will tell you what to do, all the time. Dealing with the entry and exit points of its food will take up 96 per cent of your day. You will spend the remaining 4 per cent figuring out how to make money to pay for food and nappies.
Time management will not be a problem. You won’t need an alarm.
You won’t need a diary. You’re not going anywhere. If you do, sheer anticipation of the strange event will render the date unforgettable.
You will declutter. Lack of time will cause draining “friends” and engagements to evaporate from your life.
The idea of owning clothing beyond loungewear that tumble dries will be anathema, which is fine because you will also be freed from the desire to be cool and to travel.
Extract from Lauren Laverne, The Observer (UK), June 22, 2014.