Preschools and day-cares provide a necessary service to families where both parents must work outside the home. In most cases, preschool staffers are dedicated and caring individuals who hold a child’s best interest at heart. We have friends around the country who operate wonderful day-care centers, where love abounds and understanding of unique needs brings satisfaction and a sense of relief to parents who otherwise would choose to be home with their child.
In these cases, the possibility of placing a toddler in an organized educational setting is good because it meets the immediate need of a working couple. It might be a better idea to find a likeminded relative or friend to care for your child in a home setting. Best, we believe, finds Mom home with her children. Why do we believe this? Because aside from dads, there is not another pair of hands more perfectly fitted to the heart of your child than your own.
While we acknowledge that the ideal is preferable, we also recognize it is not possible in all cases. Thus, we wish to approach the topic of children, socialization, and preschool strictly from a developmental perspective. Our commentary should not be construed as a social statement on the rightness or wrongness of preschools. We are writing on this topic because every family is different and the variables of each family will not allow for cookie-cutter solutions when it comes to the necessity of child-care.
At the same time we must work with the reality of each situation. For example, the mom who works outside the home will face different challenges in parenting at the end of the day than a stay-at-home mom. Some of her parenting goals will not be achieved quite as fast. But when it comes to who is the ‘better mom’, between the two scenarios, the good news is this: the venue in which your child spends his day, whether at home or at school, is not a true measurement of your parenting.
Remember back to Preparation for Parenting when you were confronted with the breast or bottle-feeding decision? Descriptive terms such as ‘more caring’ or ‘better’ could not be attributed to one over the other in that case. The same is true of working parents. As authors our duty is not to pass judgment on those who have no other option but day-care. Rather, it is to provide understanding to those who do have an option and to help couples understand that “good” is not “better” and “better” is not “best”.
Taken from the archives of Growing Families International. Used with permission.