Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Bad mothers send their kids to daycare...and other jokes

Believe it or not, I've heard someone actually SAY that comment aloud.

Well then, I'm a 'bad' mother in her opinion. and am fine with that!

Screw societal expectations. Parenthood, especially motherhood, is hard enough as is, without people around you putting pressure and expectations to live up to some ridiculous ideal.

The Guardian columnist Oliver James once offered a hierarchy of substitution that runs:

"Daddy is better than Granny is better than Nanny is better than Minder is better than daycare."

which suggests that you are resorting to the lowest form of help available if you choose to send your kid to daycare. Of course, the mom is the default primary care provider in this case. 

Here in the U.S, especially, there is a tendency to over-debate and over-analyze everything related to parenting. I remembering growing up in India constantly listening to someone or the other saying, "It takes a village to raise a child". Then why do I have this nagging feeling in the bottom of my tummy that motherhood seems a terribly lonely, opinionated and paranoid business these days?

It's almost as though parents need to justify every decision they make. I have heard myself say this stuff out aloud to people:
"Oh I wanted to have a natural birth" (err...what the?! Other mammals have natural births)
"Oh I wanted my parents to come over and help the first three months" (instead of my neighbor's puppy?)
"Oh I wanted to quit my corporate job and spend more time with my brand new baby" (because I decide what to do with my time and life) 

I digress. 

So why all the controversy around daycare?
Here's what the grand internet lists as the top negatives of daycare:
- Aggressive kids. Put your kids in daycare and they will bite a puppy
- Lack of attachment to parents. Put your kids in daycare and they will forget your name and worse, call you by your first name
- Expensive. Work your butt off and send your salary to daycare

Since I have your eyeballs right now, I will go-ahead and recommend my corny 'go with the F-L-O-W' approach to decide what baby-care situation is right for you. I think I will apply this principle for every parenting decision the first few years. 

F-L-O-W stands for : 
Little One

- What's right for your family? 
Know your ambitions, your limitations. Are you and your spouse both extroverts? Do you derive energy from going to work and meeting and talking to multiple people? Do you want your child to 'socialize' from a very early age? Do you want to encourage independence from an early age in your kids?

- What's right for your little one?
Every kid is different. He or she isn't a subset of the parents' personality. Is she shy, sensitive? Is he gregarious and friendly from the start? Does she take time to socialize? Is he at the right age for a place outside home? Try a daycare situation for a week or two to figure out. Give it at least three days, please.
My wise doctor once said, 
"With kids, apply the three-day rule. Give anything new three consecutive days to decide whether it's right or not for her." 

- What's right for the mother? 
If mom ain't happy, ain't nobody happy. What does the mom want? Listen to her needs. If she wants a ridiculous combination of a babysitter, daycare as well as tons of hands-on parenting, like I do, go for it. 
Or, dear husbands everywhere, you're going to have one lousy year ahead! 
(Delightful husband A, are you reading this?!)

Of course, I'm not even raising my head above the home and considering the macro picture here. 
- The Government's stance on the issue
- Role of women in society
- Quality of day-cares in general in the country. I heard once from my friend AG that a Hyderabad-based daycare sent its kids out begging during the day!!! Naturally, there is paranoia around daycare in Hyderabad these days. 

Whatever you decide, THINK a ton, TALK to people who have seen both sides and have a TRIAL period before you decide. There! Those are my 3 Ts for this post. 

This is a pic from S's daycare, from when she was 11 months old. I peeped into the window because I was really curious about what the heck she does in there and saw her walking over to this little boy and giving him a toy! Precious!

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