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Joyfilled Mothering: Empowering Women for the Future Sake of Humanity's Survival

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  • Cumulative Effect of Daycare. The quantity of time spent in daycare in infancy and preschool years was linked to children's subsequent school performance and behavior. Children who had more extensive child care experience since infancy were rated by teachers and parents as having poorer work habits, peer relationships, and emotional health, and as being more difficult to discipline.

  • Daycare and Children's Health. Center-based daycare is related to children's health problems. Compared with peers who were cared for at home, preschoolers who attended daycare centers used health-care services more often.

  • Muehlenberg cites work of people like John Bowlby, Shildren. Thelma Fraiberg, Robert Karen, Jay Belsky, Ronald Haskins and Mary Ainsworth, as well as others, which has shown a clear connection between extended periods of maternal absence, and lengthy stays in daycare (as little as 10 hours a week) for infants, and later developmental problems.

    Not only is the important role of instilling values, purpose and responsibility best met by a child's biological parents at an early age, but so too is the cultivation of a sense of security and well-being.  Indeed, as Meuhlenberg states, the attachment relationship that a young child forges with his mother "forms the foundation stone of personality." Regular and prolonged detachment from the mother can demonstrably impair a child's intellectual and emotional development, and affect a child throughout his or her life.

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    Muehlenberg further cites studies in bonding and attachment theory that have shown a child's emotional and mental well-being are inexorably tied up with continuous, sustained, stable physical and emotional contact between mother and child. Taking the child away from its mother during this critical period can result in a number of harmful results: "Children deprived of parental care in early childhood are likely to be withdrawn, disruptive, insecure, or even intellectually stunted. In addition, research suggests that the depression resulting from separation anxiety in early childhood can cause a permanent impairment of the immune system making these children prone to physical illness throughout their lives."

    Or as family expert Steve Biddulph writes, "It now appears that mother-baby interaction, in the first year especially, is the very foundation of human emotions and intelligence. In the most essential terms, love grows the brain. The capacities for what make us most human -- empathy, co-operation, intimacy, the fine timing and sensitivity that makes a human being charismatic, loving, and self-assured -- are passed from mother to baby, especially if that mother is herself possessed of these qualities, and supported and cared for, so that she can bring herself to enjoy and focus on the task." (Muehlenberg, 2009).

    Thus, it appears that for us to grow healthy children, we need healthy moms (especially for the early years) as well as dads.

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    A parent's absence or inaccessibility, either physical or emotional, can have a profound effect on a child's emotional health. Harvard psychiatrist Armand Nicholi has observed that individuals who suffer from severe nonorganic emotional illness have one thing in common: they all have experienced the "absence of a parent through death, divorce, a time demanding job or other reasons". (Muehlenberg, 2009).

    For example, a study from Norway found that children experiencing less maternal care than others had higher levels of behavior problems. It was also found that learning can be impaired. Ernest Foyer, former U.S. commissioner of education, and president of the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, has said that children in day care suffer in terms of language skills development. A recent American study of 4000 children found that mothers who return to work soon after giving birth may harm their child's school performance. The study showed that children of mothers who work full-time struggled academically compared with those whose mothers stayed at home. Other studies have even found that children who spend a lot of time in child care are more likely to join gangs as surrogate families (Muehlenberg, 2009).

    Could it also be that family is replaced by corporate owned school systems that teach children to be good little employees and consumers? Is the taking of moms and dads out of the home one of the ways the corporation was able to get more control over the children through standardized educational settings and corporate owned daycare (e.g., Children of America http://childcarecorp.com/)?

    A recent 10-year study involving 1,300 American children found that the more hours toddlers spend in child care, the more likely they are to turn out aggressive, disobedient and defiant. The researchers said the correlation held true regardless of whether the children came from rich or poor homes.

    More recent American studies bear this out. The largest long term study, which began in 1991, conducted by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development found that the longer the hours a child stays in day care, the more aggressive, disobedient and difficult to get along with they become. And the Institute of Child Development of the University of Minnesota found similar problems of aggression and anxiety among young children who spend long hours in day care.

    It appears the institutionalized care of our children is not healthy for children, or for a healthy culture. Yet, from the standpoint of the corporate powers, this diminishing parental powers means the children are more easy to manipulate into unhealthy consumerism and brainwashing through major media such as television and internet sites. Thus in place of parental contact there are I Pods and the sensual pleasures of on-line sexual relationships.

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    An American study published in 2003 found that babies in childcare are more likely to show behavioral problems and low self-control later in life. The study of 17,000 children found that those who had the most problems were those who were in care for more than 30 hours a week and who were in day care before the age of one.

    A more recent long-term study conducted by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development in the US found that "spending a year or more in a long-daycare center increases the likelihood that a child will be disruptive at school". The effect can last until the child is 11 or 12. The study said that the child's gender, family's income level and quality of daycare made no difference to its conclusions.

    Educational psychologist Burton White, director of the Harvard Preschool Project, has written extensively on the subject of nonparental care. This is how he summarizes his experience (cited by Muehlenberg, 2009): "After more than 20 years research on how children develop well, I would not think of putting a child of my own into any substitute care program on a full-time basis, especially a center-based program."

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    Burl is an avid writer and publishes to OpEd News. He is author of "Sophia's Web: A Passionate Call to Heal Our Wounded Nature." As of this writing, Burl is planning to self-publish the book. Alongside his wife, Burl co-hosts an on line radio (more...)

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