Are Daycares Safe? When the News Tries to Shame Your Childcare Choices

So many news stories make us wonder, are daycares safe? Am I hurting my child by sending her to childcare? Here's why you should NOT feel bad about daycare.

My various blog networks were abuzz this week about the news of a recent study showing children who go to daycare are more likely to have behavioral problems in grade school.

As soon as I read it, I could hear the collective wail from working moms everywhere. Indeed, a couple of the ones whose journals I follow on a regular basis were downright depressed. I even felt like crap. “That’s just great,” I thought. “I really don’t have a whole lot of choice about putting my daughter in daycare, at least a few days a week. I guess we could NOT EAT for a couple of nights if it means she’ll behave better in sixth grade.”

What I wanted to say, however, was “Shut up!”

Seriously. Whenever one of these studies comes out calling into question “Are daycares safe?” or “Does childcare screw up your kid?”, I want to tell both the researchers and the journalists to can it. You’re not helping. Especially not with a story like this, which follows an alarming headline with a bunch of wishy washy garbage about how more study is needed, and it’s probably not that big a deal, blah blah blah…

I mean, I can understand if you’ve uncovered irrefutable evidence that 80 percent of kids in daycare grow up to be axe murderers or raving lunatics. That’s something we probably should know about.

But even then, what are we supposed to do? I’m being facetious when I say we couldn’t eat if I didn’t work. We would eat, but we would be hurting. There are women, however, who truly could not afford basic necessities if they didn’t have a job.
Even for those of us who aren’t in dire straits, it’s easy to feel like we have little real choice when the mortgage is due, the car needs repair, and it’s time to buy a season’s worth of new clothes for a kid who outgrows things before the store tags are off. We put our children in daycare because we need to. We do our best to find quality care, but many of us still feel conflicted about it. And when somebody does a study like this, it makes us feel more guilty. And helpless. And we don’t need it, thanks.
So, all you researchers, I’m sure the work you do is valuable. And journalists, I know you’re just doing your job writing about the latest health buzz. But I don’t have to like it. On behalf of the other working moms who got heartburn after reading this latest story, I’d just like to say, “SHUT UP!!”

Want more encouraging news about kids who go to daycare?

We’ve written lots of great posts about children in daycare and childcare situations—from a much more positive, inspiring perspective. Here are some of our favorites:

So many news stories make us wonder, are daycares safe? Am I hurting my child by sending her to childcare? Here's why you should NOT feel bad about daycare.

15 thoughts on “Are Daycares Safe? When the News Tries to Shame Your Childcare Choices

  1. Anonymous says:

    THANK YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    I have enough guilt about leaving my babies with someone else – even though I am a great believer in daycare (socialization skills, getting a head start on learning, etc.). As mothers we ALL have a lot of guilt – am I being too harsh, too lenient, giving my kids too much, too little, will they grow up to be good people? Because, in our society, how they grow up and what they become is a direct reflection on the parents (and especially the mom).

    So, let me add my own comment to yours – CUT IT OUT!


  2. Well said Sara!

    Enough is enough. Why don’t those same researchers (and those funding them) spend that money creating a country where mothers have more choices. Research why it takes two incomes to maintain just a basic existence, and research ways to help single moms who have no choice at all. Research improving the factors that force us to choose daycare and then maybe we won’t have to lament on the results of daycare!

  3. Anonymous says:

    I felt guilty for about 27 seconds after reading about the study. Then I remembered something important: Next week or next month there’ll be another study that says day care is the best thing to happen to children since vaccinations. Just like they used to say when I lived in Chicago–if you don’t like the whether, just wait a few hours, it’ll change (except in the dead of winter, of course).

  4. selfmademom says:

    I think we all concur!! Enough!

  5. I especially love this part:

    In the study, child care was defined as care by anyone other than the child’s mother who was regularly scheduled for at least 10 hours per week.

    So, if my mom watched O one day a week for a particularly long work day…

  6. Marketing Mommy says:

    Slate’s got a good response to this over-hyped story. Check it out at

    The whole hoopla pisses me off so much I can’t even bear to blog about it. Can the media please stop pitting moms against each other and making us second guess our every decision?

  7. Modern Mama says:

    Why do we even have to make excpetions and say oh we need to work so we will be well off. What if we want to work? What if we want to use our college education and our brain? I love my baby so much, but I know he is in good hands when he is with his daycare provider who adores childen enough to dedicate her life to them. What harm does it do to him to have another adult in his life giving him love and attention? I’m sick of acting like I only go to work because I must. Maybe I believe I deserve this part of my life too and that it shouldn’t be reserved for my husband!

  8. It seems like a similar study gets trotted out and paraded around every couple of years like the misshapen sideshow it is, just often enough to freak us out.

    There was a similar one when my son, who is about to turn a glowing, thriving, fabulous six, was an infant and I also freaked out for about five minutes.

    Ford has been in daycare since he was four months old (and I know I was lucky I got to stay home with him that long). Since he’s growing up as an only, I was worried about sharing, shyness, socialization skills…and I’m happy to say good daycare I’ve been fortunate enough to have, has helped him be a confident, outgoing, friendly, secure, and generous kid. OK, I might be a bit biased, but you get the point.

    Articles that pit working moms and stay at home moms against each other, and/or make us doubt our choices or situations *enrage* me. We’re doing the best we can, and it’s good enough and then some. We need support and cheerleading, thanks, not stupid, ratings-driven drivel that makes us feel like crawling under the bed.

  9. Karmela Johnson says:

    As someone who has seen true poverty in 3rd world nations, I can honestly say that I don’t feel any guilt about leaving my kids in the care of other people. They have so, so, so much more than 90% of the world’s other children that even if they don’t get to spend “enough” time with me (whatever “enough” means), hey, they have toys! A house! Clean clothes! Food!

    It goes without saying that I love them and that we do all sorts of fun things together. Developmentally, my kids are on par with other kids their age. It’s just that this guilt? An indulgence. Guilt=overcompensation with your children, be it with too many toys or the inability to say no because you feel guilty that you’re not spending enough time with them. Guilt is a terrible emotion and has no place in strong parenting.

  10. Bravo, Sara! What a great post! You said everything I would have liked to say, had I been braver, smarter, and faster. 🙂

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