Two brilliant scholars teamed up for an essay published in the journal National Affairs titled “The Uncomfortable Truth about Daycare.” The authors of the essay are Carrie Lukas, the mother of five children, who earned degrees from both Princeton and Harvard. She works for the Independent Women’s Forum. Her coauthor is Dr. Steven Rhoads, a professor at the University of Virginia for over 30 years.
While carefully trying to avoid laying guilt trips on the 75 percent of American mothers who work full time despite the fact that they have toddlers, the authors clearly delineate that not all is well with America’s tradition of sending young children off to daycare, especially on a full-time basis. Specifically, they expose the public policy bias in America that has buried the facts concerning the inability of young children to cope with the trials and tribulations of daycare. In essence, being part of a herd of youngsters and strangers in what has been best described as a modern-day, guilt-free, part-time orphanage isn’t helping our children develop as they should.
The highlight of their analysis is a report from Quebec which, nearly 20 years ago, went all in with heavily subsidized daycare and full-day kindergarten for 5-year-olds. The results? In a study that was considered the most important written contribution in all of Canadian policy research in 2009, the authors reported striking evidence that children’s outcomes had worsened and that families in general had become more stressed. Further, the major shift to daycare and full-time kindergarten manifested in increased aggressiveness and anxiety for the children, more hostile, less consistent parenting for the adults, and worse adult mental health and relationship satisfaction.
Ms. Lukas and Mr. Rhoads warn of the dangers here in America, in the home and the arena of public policy, of conveniently ignoring this vital study by all parties concerned. Further, subsequent studies have confirmed that children robbed of the nurturing skills of their parents in the home experience significantly larger impacts on motor-social development, self-reported health and behavioral difficulties, including physical aggression and emotional anxiety.
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The bottom line? In an effort to get our children off to school while some are still wearing diapers, we have raised a generation of Americans who may have learned to read and write at an early age while failing to learn how to handle the stress of interacting with others. The authors relate the results of numerous biological studies which indicate that biologically, our daycare kids have abnormally higher levels of the stress hormone cortisol coursing through their brains, which can deleteriously affect their development skills in regards to their ability to handle fear, anxiety and stress reactivity.
In my opinion, all these studies serve to explain how and why young men and women on college campuses are acting out, with the equivalent of toddler-type tantrums, pent-up anger and hostility left over from their childhood. They are demanding to be respected and protected — more precisely, coddled from insults, slights and hurts both actual and perceived.
Now that they have come of age, they are demanding that institutions of higher learning protect them from microaggressions in this day of a hypersensitivity empowerment movement which caters to their feelings no matter how ridiculous. These young adults lack the emotional fortitude or the internalized foundation of composure and self-confidence to do otherwise because the same was not inculcated during their formative years by their mothers and fathers who would have otherwise served as nurturer, defender, comforter, trainer and counselor.
As a society, we are simply reaping what we sowed by our having abdicated our parental responsibilities.
First published at the Santa Barbara News-Press
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