Culturally it is not okay to say that all children should be with a primary caregiver for the first 18 months. We have enormous data to prove that this is true, but parents don’t like to be told that childcare is not okay. So the media doesn’t say it.
How can you breastfeed exclusively for six months if you are not home with the kid most of the day? No sane woman would pump twelve feedings a day. It’s not worth it. The pump is slow. You may as well just have the baby with you. The American Medical Association recommends exclusive breastfeeding, but we don’t talk about it. Because parents are going against medical evidence all the time.
This paves the way to pretend that childcare mistakes don’t matter, which really lowers the bar for how hard you have to try to replace yourself as a parent. A couple hired a 22 year old to take care of their baby. The babysitter, it turns out, was abusing the kid. The media covered the story because the dog saved the day. Who doesn’t love a good dog story? People love pictures of dogs.
But the real story is the lasting damage that beating a kid up for five months in a row has on the kid. We know it has lasting damage. We can do an MRI and look at the brain development during that time. Of course it has lasting damage. But then there wouldn’t be a fun dog story, so the media says, “The Jordans told WSCS that their child is doing fine and shows no lingering effects of the abuse.”
Of course the parents say that. They would feel too guilty if they didn’t say that. And of course the parents are not trained on seeing the long-term affects of abuse. It’s why American parents go to orphanages and bring home totally damaged kids who look fine when they meet them.
My point here is that culturally we accept the idea that kids go into terrible childcare situations but the kids are fine. It’s BS. But we tell ourselves that because media doesn’t want to be the bad guys telling parents that it’s wrong to have both parents leaving the house all day and leaving the kid with someone else.
This sets us up perfectly for school. School systematically shuts down a kid’s curiosity, natural energy, chattiness – all the things we use as data points to check if a child is developing correctly. School shuts it all down to keep 30 kids quiet in a classroom for eight hours a day.
And we tell ourselves it’s fine. Because daycare is fine. We tell ourselves no one will criticize us for going against medical advice and putting our kids in daycare – often unregulated, by the way. Parents don’t have enough money to pay for childcare that would be up to the standards that they themselves would give. So the minute they put their kid into a child care situation they establish the standard for their family where sending their kids to adults who don’t take care of the kids as well as a parent is acceptable.
Parents working all day in order to pay for child care that is not that great becomes fine. It starts when kids are babies, and by the time kids go to kindergarten it’s a welcome relief to get childcare that’s even better because it’s regulated and free.
The barrier to having this conversation is setting cultural norms. Right now I’m saying something that is totally true, but goes against everything the feminists fought for – choices for parents. I am saying the only choice is your parenting or substandard parenting.
The big losers in the industrial revolution were kids – they went from spending their days with parents to going to factories, and then to school.
The big losers in the feminist revolution were kids – now they leave their parents earlier than ever before.
Mainstream media can’t touch this story. No one is willing to go out on a limb and say childcare is pathetic and unregulated and not working. And it’s breaking families apart. Who would like hearing that? No one, really. And that’s not good for business.