A Conspiracy of Silence

  Should children be raised by their parents -- or by "experts" who know what they're doing? Anna Freud, the daughter of Sigmund Freud, was a child analyst who thought that well-trained professionals could do a much better job of rearing children than parents. During World War II, she got a chance to prove it -- and discovered just how wrong she was. In the 1940s, London was full of children left homeless by the German blitz. Anna Freud opened the Hampstead Nurseries to care of these children. Only the best-qualified people were allowed to work there. The nurseries were run according to the latest theories in child psychology. The result? As Brian Robertson writes in his book, There's No Place Like Work, "In these controlled conditions -- about as favorable as could be imagined -- the children fared [far] worse... than those raised in average families." The children lagged behind on speech skills, were more aggressive, and less cooperative than their counterparts raised within a family setting. According to Robertson, Freud considered the nurseries "definitive proof that there was no adequate substitute for maternal care." Subsequent studies overwhelmingly confirm what Freud experienced. Robertson notes that children raised in daycare "exhibit some of the same debilitating emotional... cognitive, and even physical problems" displayed by orphans. Now, consider: We've known for nearly 60 years that children are much better off at home than within the walls of even the best-run daycare. So why are people still trying to prove that daycare is just as good or even better than maternal care? The reason, Robertson writes, is because the evidence goes against "the reigning feminist orthodoxy regarding child care." This orthodoxy has led to a "conspiracy of silence" regarding the importance of maternal care. Radical feminists and academics make it nearly impossible to talk about how damaging non-maternal care can be. As noted baby expert Penelope Leach candidly puts it, "There is a cover-up going on." Leach says the evidence that children are far better off in the care of their mothers is suppressed for "fear of upsetting the parents who don't provide it." Instead, women's magazines breezily assure new moms that their kids will do just fine in daycare. To put it bluntly, that's a lie. All those studies revealing the importance of maternal care should not surprise Christians. Some of the most evocative images in Scripture reveal how important child-nurturing is. In Isaiah 66, we read: "As a mother comforts her child, so I will comfort you." If feminists really cared about kids, they'd make sure every new mother thinking of going back to work knows how harmful daycare can be. And they'd support policy changes that would allow more families to make it on just one income, or for moms to work from their homes. Christians need to get out the truth about the superiority of mother-care over daycare. The Church must do something else, as well: We must be as supportive as possible to mothers whose circumstances make it difficult, or impossible, to give up daycare.


Chuck Colson


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