Cherishing Children

Do you want your children to succeed in life? Then let them run wild in the streets. At least that's what some child-care experts are telling parents these days. For decades mothers were told that staying at home with their kids was the ideal scenario, if they could afford to do so. But a recent article in Commentary magazine reports that today's mothers are being fed a radically different doctrine: that kids raised in day care fare better than kids raised by their own mothers . . . and even unsupervised latchkey kids may be better off than kids getting milk and cookies at home from mom. Mary Eberstadt, a scholar with the Institute for American Values, writes in Commentary that today's parents are being told that mothers who care for their kids may be "overly involved" with their children to the point of actually harming them. That if they really have their children's best interests at heart, they'll find a real job and plunk their kids in day care. Eberstadt quotes one mother who wrote in the New York Times, "The most damage I did to any of my kids was when I stayed home . . . with my first daughter." This woman asked, "Why are there no studies of the damage done to children by high-energy women who have no business staying at home?" Eberstadt also quotes Anita Shreve, author of the book Remaking Motherhood. Shreve writes, "A higher I.Q. is only one of the benefits that the children of working mothers may come to enjoy." Other advantages, she claims, are greater self-esteem, better social adjustment, better educational progress, and even more vocational options. All of this makes me wonder: If kids are so much better off in day care—or with no care at all—how long will it be before caring for your own kids is labeled child abuse? Of course the truth is that human experience through the ages proves that children with moms at home do thrive. It's the natural moral order of things. So why are so many so-called experts attempting to discredit the stay-at-home mom? It's because radical feminist dogma has taught women to find their true fulfillment in high-powered careers. But when these women become mothers, they then feel guilty about leaving their children in day care. According to Eberstadt, these mothers want to feel good about "putting their own wants and needs ahead of their children's." And so today's child-care experts are helping them do it. For example, in the latest edition of his famous child-care manual, Baby and Child Care, Dr. Benjamin Spock overrides decades of his own advice when he writes: "Parents who know that they need a career . . . for fulfillment should not give it up for the sake of their children," even when those children are infants. Notice that Spock isn't talking about mothers who must work, but women who want to work. Ironically this trend toward demonizing mothers is coming at a time when we're waking up to the tremendous importance of fathers in shaping well-adjusted children. In Christian teaching, both parents are to make their children their top priority. We ought not be taken in by feminists who say that nurturing our kids is a waste of time. We Christians need to set the example first, and then teach our secular neighbors that putting children first isn't a form of child abuse. It's the norm for all civilized societies.


Chuck Colson


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