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The Big Answer


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Day Care Deception

a book by Brian C. Robertson

(our site's book review)

Robertson correctly assesses the weaknesses of the day care industry, where children are in the care of strangers who have no blood ties or long-term commitment to them and there is a lot of turnover. In citing the growth of daycare in this country in spite of its inadequacies, he feels the need for a better alternative that is better for the kids. So do we, although most current daycare settings are not really qualitatively different from mom-only care—according to extensive research studies, in spite of his regressive “traditionalist” views. In truth, his “solution” to the weaknesses of the day care industry is nothing but sexist nostalgia for an obsolete caregiving model: mom alone caregiving, cooking, and cleaning.

Every mom with two or more kids at home is subjecting them to a 'group setting'—which Robertson dislikes
Every mom with two or more kids at home is subjecting them to a 'group setting'—which Robertson dislikes

Robertson says he dislikes group settings for childcare. However, every mom with two or more kids at home is subjecting them to a “group setting.” She housecleans, cooks, watches TV, gabs with friends, spends an hour “disciplining” one while another is needing her and crying about it, and in between all this takes care of the needs of the kids when these needs arise—that is, she sometimes takes care of them. Obviously, many needs are never filled or even acknowledged (even with only one kid) as mom can only be in one place at one time, but since mom is HOME, conservatives say that this is “good enough.” (Good enough for whom? Not the kids, surely.)

Even if mom has only one child, the above-mentioned house needs and mom needs are often what she makes time for since she’d be devastated if she missed her favorite soap opera, and how can her daily chores and long talk with Agnes simply be put off? If there was a small “group” at home (at very least 2 people, so there are options for the kids), such as other relatives or trusted neighbors or friends or the father, the kids could at least go to the one that wasn’t busy and needs could still be adequately filled. (Think MCs.)

How can mom's daily chores and long talk with Agnes simply be put off?
How can mom's daily chores and long talk with Agnes simply be put off?

As centuries of caregivers learned long ago, this group setting is far superior to mom alone even when mom is NOT one of the caregivers in the group AS LONG AS THE CAREGIVERS TRULY LOVE THESE KIDS AND KNOW THEM WELL AND ARE WILLING TO SEE THAT THEIR NEEDS GET FILLED. (Think MCs.) But, normally, other relatives or trusted neighbors or friends don’t necessarily fit this description. Neither, too often, does the father. Nor does the daycare center or the homecare center. And sometimes, unfortunately, neither does the mother.

Okay, there's a huge childcare problem in the U.S. with no help in sight from the government or elsewhere, so how do we help ourselves? The answer is surely not a nostalgic return to the 1950s, as Robertson contends. The answer, at first, is to use babysitting co-ops to alleviate some of these issues. After all, if poorer families need 1/5 of their income for childcare, won't it give them more time with their kids if they get free childcare by being in a co-op? Another temporary help is Creating a Village.

Registering for MC search and match
Registering for MC search and match

But only MCs (microcommunities) can get anywhere near a total solution to the optimal childcare we all want for our kids. See Why Register for an MC?.

An MC with a Japanese Garden as the site for the childcare hub
An MC with a Japanese Garden as the site for the childcare hub

As mentioned, Robertson correctly assesses the weaknesses of the day care industry, where children are in the care of strangers who have no blood ties or long-term commitment to them and there is a lot of turnover.

Conservatives hate to acknowledge it, but the historical norm has usually been multiple caregivers where mothers often share caregiving with relatives or, sometimes, other mothers who have known the children for much of their lives. And for more affluent mothers, nannies or their like were sometimes used. Exclusive mother-care is not really a twentieth-century creation. But the isolated nuclear family, with its disconnectedness and steep-gradient nurturance, and the mother as the only resource for children—this is new and it is based upon recent unintentional experiments that were actually side effects of industrialization and mobility. The American value of heroic individualism is also an important factor.

The American value of heroic individualism is also an important factor in the evolution of the isolated nuclear family
The American value of heroic individualism is also an important factor in the evolution of the isolated nuclear family

The flat-gradient-nurturance-based family tradition (multiple caregiving) has been and is the custom of choice in a majority of cultures, past and present, according to sociologists like George Peter Murdock and Margaret Mead and Stanford-educated anthropologist, Ronald P. Rohner. Families for thousands of years used not only mother and relatives but close connections with other nearby families as their resource pool.

A normal 1950s nuclear family
A normal 1950s nuclear family

In the 1950s the Ozzie and Harriet model assumed that both mom and kids would be fine if mom’s life was nothing but caregiving, cleaning, cooking, and shopping. They weren’t. Since then, moms have done their best to add resources to a desperately resource-poor mix, using relatives, nannies, babysitters, neighbors, and (more recently) daycare centers to help out and allow them to have fuller lives. This is our society trying to go back to the historical norm since the supermom idea (a convenient male invention) was not good for anyone. Countless moms have discovered that if their lives are nothing but caregiving, cleaning, cooking, and shopping, they get rather depressed and are not the best caregivers for their kids—or even for themselves! So their creation of a support network is a win-win solution for the kids, themselves, and the others in the network.

The Ozzie and Harriet model foolishly assumed that both mom and kids would be fine if mom’s life was nothing but caregiving, cleaning, cooking, and shopping
The Ozzie and Harriet model foolishly assumed that both mom and kids would be fine if mom’s life was nothing but caregiving, cleaning, cooking, and shopping


Countless moms have discovered that if their lives are nothing but caregiving, cleaning, cooking, and shopping, they get rather depressed and are not the best caregivers for their kids
Countless moms have discovered that if their lives are nothing but caregiving, cleaning, cooking, and shopping, they get rather depressed and are not the best caregivers for their kids

Again, Robertson is correct to dislike the centers where children are in the care of strangers who have no blood ties or long-term commitment to them. Many situations where relatives, babysitters or neighbors do caregiving are similarly weak, ineffective, and lacking in true nurturing—it’s so easy and effortless to let TV sets babysit! But most moms have been guilty of TV-as-babysitter too—sometimes using it a LOT, either because they are too busy or too tired (because most moms work) to devote attention to their kids. Some are just lazy. Others are simply bad at mothering. Obviously there needs to be more parenting classes in high schools so ignorance does not so often prevail in caregiving.

Our young are babysitted by TV sets, and this explains their shallow values
Our young are babysitted by TV sets, and this explains their shallow values

From the kids point of view, getting their needs filled, and consistently, and by people that love them—that is what matters, not whether “supermom” (a less consistent need filler when alone) is always present.

Getting their needs filled consistently by people that love them—that is what matters to kids, not whether 'supermom' is always present
Getting their needs filled consistently by people that love them—that is what matters to kids, not whether 'supermom' is always present

The problem with daycare has nothing to do with its “group setting” aspect, as Robertson implies, and everything to do with the fact that it often does not meet the two essential criteria we cited above of (1) care by people who truly love them and (2) care by people who know them well. “Group setting”—seen as negative by conservatives—is negative when the group is people who are caregiving for money and not loving the kids, and positive when the group is people who are caregiving because they really care about the kids. That does not mean no daycare worker has ever learned to know a kid well and love the kid. But that would be the exception, not the rule.

The trends in childcare quality are not encouraging: From the 1970s to the 1990s good/excellent quality care went from 38% to 12% in childcare homes and 26% to 13% in centers. See What We Know About Childcare.

The huge, gaping hole in conservative logic about childcare revolves around the violence they are willing to do to the word “tradition.” They’ve been trying to get Ozzie and Harriet models to be seen as “traditional” for many decades—as if such models were the historical norm. Every time a scientist, researcher, sociologist, or anthropologist protests how wrong that “isolated mom-alone-caregiving nuclear family” model is, and he trots out indisputable evidence and facts supporting his assertion that neither “isolated mom-alone-caregiving” nor “nuclear family” are, in fact, how most societies have been set up in the past or present, including in the United States, so this model is NOT traditional, conservatives do one of three things: (1) change the subject, (2) redefine “traditional,” or (3) find some “researchers” who are willing to gather only the scant evidence supporting the “Ozzie and Harriet is the traditional model” silliness and trot it out as their “proof.”

Is Robertson trying to get us to believe that males who do any caregiving are sissies?!
Is Robertson trying to get us to believe that males who do any caregiving are sissies?!

It may make conservative males feel more “manly” and conservative females feel more “loyal to their husbands” to try to get women permanently glued to the kitchen and men heroically slaying dragons in the work jungle, but it’s too bad they are so willing to distort reality so drastically to support such a regressive position, at once insulting womankind and resenting progress, knowledge, and science. Would they have us believe that males who do any caregiving are sissies?!

Conservative males want women permanently glued to the kitchen and men being heroic in the work jungle
Conservative males want women permanently glued to the kitchen and men being heroic in the work jungle

In the first 3 to 6 months of life, infants need to bond with an extremely attentive and loving person, and if dad fills the bill better than mom, then it should be him, and if a grandparent fills the bill better than mom, then it should be him/her. If mom fills the bill better than others, then it should be her. Even a nanny that bonds with the infant right away and loves the infant deeply enough can fill the bill, and if the mother is not good at mothering or is not interested in doing any mothering, then a loving nanny sometimes is the best choice. The infant’s welfare should guide this decision, not convenience or money.

Not all moms are good at mothering—that fact is well established, and it has studies to prove it but anyone who has been around moms has already learned this fact for themselves. But in the Culture War, mom is by definition an omnipowerful superbeing whose solitary presence in the home cures all ills and fills all needs. As long as she is, as the Right Wing says, IN HER PROPER PLACE (home), then the childcare is always great (fat chance), and conservatives define this as “good enough.”

Ozzie and Harriet
Ozzie and Harriet

But since mom has the same self-actualization needs as all other humans, moms of the 1950s suffered greatly stuck in the Ozzie and Harriet model and depression was rampant—as were prescriptions for Valium. The women who were not content to be ONLY mothers but who also worked or did other activities outside the home were looked down upon by most men and many women (who were envious, naturally). And the kids in that period were often parented by moms who resented them and made them feel guilty, who were bad need fillers when depressed, and who found TV or romance novels or phone gabbing as a blessed relief from the home-alone-mothering tedium. So the kids this resourceless situation created were often neurotic, and sometimes abused or neglected.

Depression rate in the U.S. in 2011
Depression rate in the U.S. in 2011

This author, Robertson, contends that “Parents are the most reliable child devel­opment experts.” This is equivalent to saying that science and knowledge in this area is useless and should be ignored—not unlike saying that evolution is all a fraud since it is not mentioned in the Bible. What this conservative REALLY means, of course, by such a radical statement, is as telling as it is obvious: The actual science, facts, evidence, and findings in this area almost totally reject the authoritarian way of raising kids as wrong, cruel, and counterproductive, and conservatives and much of the Right Wing, rather than admitting their error and switching to the incredibly well-proven method called authoritative parenting, either reject science itself, re-label their authoritarian parenting style as authoritative, or find Bible passages that seem to support their method and commence using scripture passages as their new and improved child-raising manual.

An authoritarian mother foolishly using the Bible as a childraising manual
An authoritarian mother foolishly using the Bible as a childraising manual

Their contention that parents should trust their “instincts,” not science, is an insult to human knowledge itself, since there are so many things that young parents inevitably do wrong following this folk wisdom. Other than the instinct to procreate, the instinct to breastfeed, and the instinct to nurture babies, much else that “instincts” seem to tell young, unknowledgeable parents to do is flawed, however well-intentioned, and inevitably leads to parents making the same mistakes their parents made with them.

Other than instincts like the instinct to breastfeed, much else that instincts seem to tell young parents to do is wrong
Other than instincts like the instinct to breastfeed, much else that instincts seem to tell young parents to do is wrong

The inconvenient truths that expose authoritarian parenting as a grievous error have upset conservatives so much that their attitudes tend to all be like Robertson’s, who states that “Parenting is for parents, not child develop­ment experts or day care professionals." This transparent verbal sleight-of-hand fools few, since who can argue with “parents should parent”? What the sentence obviously means is that Robertson and other conservatives have no intention of ever listening to or learning from anyone who fails to support their authoritarian position. They only believe in the “science facts” that support their beliefs. They seem to believe that the very purpose of science is to give them ammunition with which to proselytize their beliefs. Perhaps they haven’t yet heard of the scientific method, of objective scientific research, and of getting people to engage in science so that we may learn new information from their results. How is human progress even possible if we simply refuse to ever learn new things, admit past errors, and let the new facts add to our wisdom?

In the 1950s and 1960s, a case could be made for the science of parenting being so young that its conclusions were uncertain, tenuous, and not to be trusted. The case in 2015 is anything but that! The jury is in, the well-accepted facts are now available for parents, sociologists, scientists, counselors, clergymen, reporters, editors, etc. and they all reject authoritarian discipline. At the bottom of this website page Why Register for an MC? is a list of books outlining the best scientifically proven parenting methods that exist on this planet. There are 16 different “flavors” of authoritative parenting to choose from. These methods are PROVEN to produce the healthiest and happiest and most well-nurtured children as well as the happiest parents.

Sexist father ignores his daughter, feeling that childcare in his wife's problem
Sexist father ignores his daughter, feeling that childcare in his wife's problem

Robertson makes a good case for autonomy development in saying “it is the more ‘protected’ environment of the home or a neigh­borhood setting with parental supervision that allows for greater autonomy and less regimentation in a child's devel­opment.” This MC page (and other pages on the website thebiganswer.info) illustrates the most well-thought-out scenario of autonomy development in the home and neighborhood context ever conceived. For more details about it, see MCs—Frequently Asked Questions.

He also makes good points about Sandra Scarr proposing such radical women-centered views and policies that they treat kids as hardly more than annoyances to be dealt with. Both women and men need to arrange childcare that considers filling the needs of kids as the primary consideration. It may seem impossible with the various economic pressures in the 21st century and the need for two-earner families, not to mention the valid points of feminists that both women and men deserve equal chances of having a full life. But there is a way, described in the articles here MC Articles and all over this website.

Additionally, he makes valid points about the health risks in day care centers and that the vast majority of parents are not happy with the daycare situation in general and their low quality in particular.

Finally, his point is well taken that the media, the shrinks, book authors, and many others have been reluctant to express their true feelings about the inadequacies of day care centers with regards to filling the needs of children and nurturing healthy psychological growth. Unfortunately, he fails to admit that way too often the very same inadequacies exist in mother-alone care as well. This flies in the face of his conservative beliefs that unfortunately were not altered one whit when the evidence about these inadequacies were presented. Again, only the evidence supporting his beliefs is ever acknowledged—he seems blind to all else (this is a defining Culture War characteristic of right-wing zealots). There is none so blind as he who will not see.

Evidence supporting Robertson's beliefs is acknowledged—he seems blind and deaf to all else
Evidence supporting Robertson's beliefs is acknowledged—he seems blind and deaf to all else

In his defense, it is easy to understand how he feels: In citing the growth of daycare in this country in spite of its inadequacies, he feels the need for a better alternative that is better for the kids. He sees mother-only care as best, with relative care (including father), nannies, family-based and neighborhood-based care by neighbors or babysitters as next best, and day care centers as the worst. The facts tend to show that none of these caregiving methods deserves any prizes, even though Robertson’s beliefs will apparently never allow him to face this fact as it applies to mother-only care. The evidence clearly indicates that a better alternative that is better for the kids is needed.

One of the reasons so many conservatives are certain to keep grasping their beliefs about mother-only care so tightly—perhaps even desperately—is that they know of nothing better. They do not want to feel hopeless about the matter, so they grasp the method they feel has the most hope and dare anyone to prove them wrong. And until now, no one had done so, since there clearly are serious problems with ALL those childcare methods, and the statistics he cites to prove that our kids are in big trouble are simply not just an indictment of the daycare industry but of the collectivity of all the methods combined. His unrelenting tendency to regress to the Ozzie and Harriet model is an understandably desperate move to avoid simply giving up.

The bad news is that no amount of regressing to the 1950s and denial of the well-proven facts about the effects of that childcare model on kids is going to help improve childcare for our children any time soon. The very best centers are often actually better for kids than what they’d get at home or in their neighborhood, although he denies this. But the very best centers with the very best people are few and far between, so his points about their weaknesses are well taken.

The very best centers with the very best people are few and far between
The very best centers with the very best people are few and far between

The good news, however, is that for anyone who really cares about the nurturing of their children to the degree they are willing to take the steps necessary to acquire the childcare and lifestyle answers they’ve been looking for, the Big Answer is here: thebiganswer.info and all over this website.

Brian C. Robertson is a Kohler Fellow at Howard Center for Family, Religion and Society, one of the conservative think-tanks of the Right Wing. The Howard Center is a nonprofit organization that promotes research that attempts to demonstrate the alleged importance of a mother and father with a family consisting of their own biological children as the basic unit of society. Day Care Deception is dedicated to promoting that belief, which they get from Biblical scriptures, which explains the extreme hostility to all things daycare. He is a pro-lifer, authoritarian, research fellow at the Family Research Council's Center for Marriage and Family, where he also serves as editor of the Family Policy Review. The Family Research Council exists to provide educational materials to the general public concerning traditional Judeo-Christian family values and ethics, and information concerning legislative and judicial developments affecting family life and values. It is a Conservative, Right-wing Christian group and lobbying organization formed in the United States in 1981 by James Dobson. Dobson first became well-known with the publication of Dare to Discipline, which encouraged parents to use corporal punishment in disciplining their children. It’s ironic that Robertson seems so interested in children’s welfare and yet he associates himself with a right-wing extremist who wants us to BEAT children “until they cry” (his words) but if they cry too long, beat them again!