Created To Be His Help Meet, pp. 184—185
We are still in Debi’s chapter on loving one’s children. Last week we got to the first part of the chapter that actually contained some actually good advice. This had to do with the importance of a mother working one on one with her children, and teaching them little things all through the day—what goes in soup, how to sound words out, and how to fold laundry. I really did like that Debi said a mother should work directly with an individual child even in a large family, though I felt she didn’t follow that up with helpful how-tos and risked leaving overwhelmed mothers of large families feeling only more overwhelmed.
In this section we get some more on the importance of teaching children things (again, good advice, albeit rather imperfectly stated), and we also get to the part we’ve all been waiting for—a discussion of daycare.
Mama, Why Am I So Dumb?
I have been around some real dumb kids. I ask them, “Did you see the eclipse last night?” Stare. “I heard your daddy is designing a new program for the flight school?” Stare. “Did your mom put whole wheat flour in these cookies?” Stare. Mama answers, “She doesn’t cook yet, and he doesn’t know his daddy works at the flight center. My husband and I both enjoyed the eclipse, but it was too cold for the children to come out, besides, they were watching a video.”
We visited a different family whose father also works at the flight center and spoke to a child who is two, almost three years old. “Donnie, did you see the eclipse last night?” “Yep, and the Milky Way too. We looked through a ‘telyyyscrope!’” “I heard your daddy is designing a new program for the flight school?” “Yep, my daddy is showing them how to build a better airlplain ’cause he is smart, and I am smart, and I can make an airplane with my leggos, but it cannot fly because . . . ” “Becuase, why?” I asked him, fully expecting an intelligent answer. After all, any two-year-old who can make an airplane out of legos has to be brilliant. He didn’t disappoint me. “It hasn’t got a motor,” he explained.
I decided to check out his knowledge of the kitchen, “Did your mom use whole wheat for those cookies?” Right on cue he responded, “Yep, they are sooooo healthy. Do you want to see my muscles? Mom let me mix up the cookies cause I’m strong.”
I’m glad Debi has branched out from domestic examples. While she does gender her questions about the flight center, I get the feeling she thinks children of both genders should be seeing the eclipse. I’m not surprised at that, honestly—when I was a child stargazing wasn’t something that was gendered, it was just a fun family activity. In our family legos, too, were a fun family activity—and I’m pretty sure Debi has before mentioned girls playing with legos in passing.
The bigger point here, for me at least, is how quick Debi is to jump to assumptions. Debi appears to assume that any child who doesn’t have knowledge in the specific areas she considers important is “dumb.” Look, when I was little I thought my dad worked at a printing press, because my mom told me he went to work to “make money.” And you know what? This didn’t mean I wasn’t also reading book after book, building innovative fort systems, and fascinated by learning about geography. As for the eclipse example, I don’t feel like we have enough information there to judge. I remember times when my parents took us older or middle ones out to watch a meteor shower while the littlest ones were left in their beds sleeping. Further, coming from my current perspective I wouldn’t force Sally to come out and see a meteor shower if she didn’t want to (though I would sure talk it up!). The fact that the parents don’t involve the children in seeing a meteor shower does not mean that they aren’t teaching those children plenty. And as for the cookies, my Sally doesn’t know whether there is whole wheat in the cookies either, but that doesn’t mean she isn’t involved in cooking and baking a variety of dishes.
Yes, parents (of both genders) should involve children in daily tasks and use every opportunity to teach them about the world around them. Fostering curiosity, asking and answering questions—all of these things are extremely important. And yes, some parents do this better than other parents. I guess I just feel like Debi could find less judgy ways to say this. I feel like everything she writes is laced with judgment. Or is that just me? Perhaps I am being too hard on Debi on this score.
But now we get to move on to discuss daycare, and here we get to see Debi heap the judgement on even higher than normal for her. I don’t know about the rest of you, but I knew this was coming eventually!
Will the REAL Mama Please Stand Up
Just because you happen to be the birth mother of a child does not make you THE mama of that child. If you hurriedly get up in the morning and rush your little one off for someone else to dry his tears, feed him lunch, and read him a book, please do not call yourself his mama. That child is being “adopted” out every day, with the added insult of being yanked around from one adopted mama to another. In order to bond properly and grow up emotional stable, a small child must spend the majority of his time with his one true, permanent mama, whom God has ordained to daily pour knowledge and love into that little life.
Debi may not realize this, but this whole thing with the mother being the sole childcare provider is historically abnormal. Historically, children have always had multiple childcare providers, including siblings, aunts, grandparents, neighbors, and hired help. Most children have multiple caregivers, even when they don’t go to daycare—there are still grandparents, babysitters, and other friends and relatives who have an impact on their lives. And this really shouldn’t need saying, but this is actually very healthy. Children benefit from having multiple adult caregivers in their lives, multiple adults they can look up to, emulate, and trust.
My Sally is in preschool and my Bobby is in daycare. My Sally started daycare years ago, when she was younger than Bobby now is. Neither Sean nor I attended daycare, and in fact we both grew up with a negative view of it. When we first put Sally in daycare, we were both nervous. But our experience has been so positive that Sean told me recently that if we were to have a third child at a time when one of us was working from home and capable of watching the child there, he would still want to put the child in daycare for the benefits we have seen it offer us, our children, and our family as a whole. I concur. Every family is different and has different needs and I am by no means saying every child ought to attend daycare. I am simply saying that Debi is so far off base here that she’s left town altogether.
Daddies are different from mamas in many ways. They provide security that is so vital to a child’s emotional health, but no dad can take the place or fill the need that the only the feminine personality can supply.
I was actually wondering about this—I mean, isn’t a father who goes to work and leaves his child all day thereby “adopting” that child out to another every day? Why is it so important for a child to be with her mother 24/7 but not important for a child to be with her father 24/7? And of course the answer is predictable—it’s because of the mother’s special woman hormones. I’m still confused, though. If a father is capable of maintaining an emotional connection with a child, and still being that child’s parent, even while being away from that child eight or nine hours each day (or more), then why is a mother incapable of doing so? Perhaps it’s daddies that actually have the special hormones.
A mother’s constant presences—the same comforting, nourishing breast, the same room, the same blanket, the same sippie cup, and the same toys—makes a child feel secure. You cannot jerk a child around from one baby-sitter to another and expect him to be secure and well balanced at four years old.
Children who attend daycare are not in some sort of default unstable state. Take my Bobby for instance. When I take him to daycare in the morning, he smiles as he walks into his classroom and sees his teachers and friends. He feels comfortable there. It’s his space, and he knows what to expect. Then, in the late afternoon, he smiles when I pick him up, and puts his little chubby arms around me. I take him home and he walks into our home with a smile, as it is also somewhere where he is comfortable, cared for, and happy. There is no “jerking” involved. He knows I’m his mama, he loves and trusts me, and he also has other caregivers in his life who also invest in him, and whom he also bonds with. This really isn’t all that complicated.
Can there be bad daycare experiences? Sure. But this is why parents generally spend a great deal of time researching daycares and trying to find one that works for them and their child. Putting a child in daycare isn’t the same thing as chucking them at the nearest stranger when you walk out the door.
But you can expect a child raised in that manner to not cherish his mother later when he is 8, 10, 15, or 25 years old, just when she begins to need some cherishing herself! If your child is to later cherish you, you must cherish him every day, every hour of his development.
I currently have a number friends who attended daycare as children and talk about it fondly, speaking appreciatively of their daycare caregivers, and yet are also incredibly devoted to their parents. So yeah, this is wrong. Also, nice scare tactics there, Debi.
For a moment, if we skip forward to the list of commands in Titus 2:5, we read that women are to “love their children” and to be “keepers at home.” There is a context in which we are to love our children to the max, and God says it is when we are keepers at home. Consider this fair warning. You cannot improve upon God’s deisgn. In life, there are a few things that must be done right hte first time around.
Do you want me to show you how context works? This is how context works. Debi has a very shallow and notion of idea of context.
Next week we finish out the chapter on loving one’s children with Debi’s advice on protecting one’s children from sexual abuse.