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Jing

Steve Biddulph 's new book on childcare

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Jing

Hello,

Just wondering if anyone has read the weekend newspaper (Sydney Moring Herald) on Steve Biddulph's new book "Raising Babies: Should Under 3s Go to Nursery?". It claims that long daycare for babies under 3 could be damaging their mental stability and development. Quite a depressing read, really. I am just about to return to work after 7 months maternity leave after my 1st baby. If what Steve claims is true, does it mean we mothers should be staying at home for the 1st 3 years (and possibly longer if 2nd or 3rd ones come along)? What are your thoughts on this? Interesting that the book won't be published in Australia yet...

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melanieb530

I've read a number of Steve Biddulph's books and generally like them. I've also worked in child care, in various roles over many years.

 

I've chosen to put my daughter in child care part time and I feel that she is really benefiting from the exposure to child care.

 

I think a lot depends on the quality of care, group sizes, maturity/experience of the carers and low staff/carer turnover.

 

Personally I wouldn't choose to put my child in care full time, long days for 5 days a week. However I feel that most children really benefit from attending a good quality FDC or centre based care a few days a week.

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heidistar

Hello,

 

I'm a FDCarer and i feel that this view might be a little narrow. Where did this guy come up with this theroy & how did he test it?

 

Basically i feel day care is necessary for a lot of children as their parents have to work for finacial reasons.

 

I have two boys who come five days a week and they seem to be doing just fine (both under 3 yrs).

 

Although I had a boy last year (4&1/2 yrs) before going to school. He had been in care since he was quiet little for 5 days per week (8am-6pm). He was always playing up & misbehaving, always saying that he wants to stay home with mummy (although she was working). I think his main problem was that he was basically being raised by his carers & not his mother. All he wanted was for his mother to take care of him!

 

So i guess it depends on the child & the carers. I would try to put my child in care for maybe 3 days max & if need be 2 days with grandma or aunty.

 

Hope i've helped :happy:

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gummy

Hi

Personally, it made total sense to me when i read it and it backed up exactly what my instincts told me - that my one year old ds is absolutely too young to basically start 'school' and that what he really needs is to be at home, getting masses of attention, love, affection, stimulation from someone who really loves him - his mother!

 

I am also in education, have worked from nursery all the way to secondary schools (in the UK). To be honest I think even the best nurseries (and there ain't that many - i'm talking QUALITY, inspirational, loving staff) is no-where near as good for a child as his/her primary care giver.

 

This is gonna p*ss some people off - but i think its always an option for you to look after your own child (if you have a partner who can work)- you may be worse off but you can do it if looking after your child is your priority

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workingmum

Hi

 

Well, I have a 4.5yr old, and a 2.5yr old who have attended childcare since they were between 4 - 6 weeks of age - fulltime, five days a week, 7am to 5pm.

 

They are happy, independant and loving children. They play well, have good manners etc etc. DS is now in Pre-Primary, and doing very well both in and out of the classroom. He goes on the childcare bus each day, before and after school, and loves it.

 

We also do lots of outside activities after work, and on weekends - DS does Tennis, Acrobats, Dancing and Football, and DD does Kinderdance twice a week at childcare, along with ballet on the weekend.

 

I haven't felt that childcare has caused any issues (development or emotional) at all.

 

Rach.

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ENOK

I read the article with unease. I've never been happy with my kids being in full time care but like Canberra Chick said the reality in Sydney where I am is that we simply couldn't afford a place to live, food to eat, clothes to wear without 2 incomes. It was only on the weekend that we realised that our jobs which once were lucrative are now far behind some of today's lucrative careers. Ditto again to Canberra Chick, my job just doesn't come in a PT package so what do I do, go and work somewhere disatisfying, bring home less $$ than I could in my own role, have to give up a reasonable, not affluent by any means, lifestyle to scrape by.

 

Sure we could live in a different city but that is alot easier said than done, in our case anyway.

 

I think that family day care or a single carer in the early years is preferable to a large centre. This is how both my daughters care has been constructed.

 

I do not disagree that there are long term negative outcomes however, to a child being in care from an early age and perhaps if you haven't seen this in your child it may still yet rear its ugly head. My older daughter suffers security issues, in her own unique way, and seems to demonstrate a strong need for individual attention. Some would say the attention seeking behaviour may simply fall into the category of being 1st child syndrome.

 

I categorically believe that children are better off at home with their parents as primary carers.

 

DD1 again as an example began waking at night again shortly after being put in full time care. This situation was described in another psychologists book as being the child seeking attention from its mother and this was absolutely right. She suddenly wanted either a breastfeed or later on to tell me that she loved me.

 

Most children don't have a psychologists 'ideal' raring anyway, in some shape or form. So I figure its better for them to have the best that parents can offer rather than second best, financially or otherwise.

 

There's enough motherguilt about without people like Biddulph making categorical statements that are not reflective of today's society or financial realities.

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Radler

I think it is good that people like Stephen Biddulph are now raising these issues.

 

Another recently published (and excellent) book on the same topic is Anne Manne's "Motherhood: how should we care for our children".

 

For a long time it has been politically incorrect to raise issues about the negative impact of childcare on young children, because it has been seen as encouraging women to stay home with their children (which is not PC).

 

But I think the research (good and bad) should be more available to parents so that they can make an informed choice about whether or not to send their kids to childcare.

 

I researched the issue thoroughly before making a decision, and to me it is clear: childcare for the under 2s is generally not a good idea (although of course, there will always be instances where children will cope well and, indeed, thrive in a quality environment).

 

There were two standout issues for me: how can a carer look after 5 babies adequately, when I am struggling to look after 2, AND how can my children form strong bonds with other adults when it is a different carer each time they go?

 

I have returned to work 2.5 days a week (Wed, Sat, and Tues pm). MY DH cares for our girls on Wed and Sat, and on Tues we have a babysitter/nanny, whom our girls now love like she is part of the family.

 

We have decided, based on the evidence available, that our children will not attend a childcare environment until they are at least 2, probably closer to 3.

 

I am very content with our decision, and I am so glad that I don't have to wrestle with all the childcare issues (separation anxiety, illness etc).

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Shoshoi

You know, I didn't take Biddulph's books to be prescriptive at all.

 

He makes no bones about his belief that early institutionalised care is not the best situation (ie. ideal) for the developing infant...

 

and that he feels that as a society we need to make much more of an effort to nurture a growing boys emotional nature than we do (we tend to expect boys to cope/toughen up more easily than girls)...

 

But at the same time, he acknowledges that modern families have changed in structure and that the nature of our communities have changed...

 

To that end, he's clear that we need to look for alternative ways of creating predictable and loving communities around our children, and acknowledges that regular caring contact with a daycarer can provide that essential need.

 

I didn't take away the idea from his books that he was totally against placing your child in care. He even suggetst that having a break from our children is an important respite as much for *their* sakes as ours...

 

But I did read a very persuasive argument about why certain forms of care are preferable to others.

 

I think you'll find a lot of his approach mirrors the beliefs behind FDC. Certainly, I know a lot of larger child care centres have taken on his (and others approach) when designing the physical layout, daily structure and key programmes of their centres - ie. to keep children in small groups, have regular carers, build strong community links with parents etc.

 

As for Biddulph's attitute to whether girls are favoured more than boys in our educational system - that's another kettle of fish. It's the case that a lot of educational theorists and advocates have a very reactive stance to the women's movement, and feel it's "about time" something was done for boys too. Some suggest the support systems in schools that focus on emancipating girls should be dissolved in favour of creating ones for boys - that feminism's job is done.

 

I'd be suprised if Biddulph belonged to that camp, but I imagine the fact that he acknowledges essential differences between boys and girls in their psychological makeup and development could be easily be used to back up the views of these kinds of lobby groups. And that in contrast it would tick off the more postmodern viewpoint that gender is an entirely learnt behaviour.

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gummy

Canberra Chic - I hear what you are saying about the cost of living - i never said its easy, but it IS possible. I read a post by another eb'er the other day - she decided it was better for her child to be with her, than at CC - so they sold their house, rented somewhere cheaper...etc - their priority was their child's early years, so they made these massive sacrifices to do what they felt was best - they made it happen.

 

Working mum - I don't know why you had children. I am sure they are doing well at school, have good manners, are happy and independent - but I wonder how much happier, more loved etc - they would be if they had been with you when they needed you - a baby needs a mother/or father.

 

I think a child would choose some quality time with his/her parents over acrobats and tennis any day.

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ENOK

Shoshoi, I would agree that the books available currently in Australia are not prescriptive and that he is genuinely realistic and practicle in his point of view.

 

This post however relates to a new book/research that will not be available in Australia and is prescriptive.

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ENOK

gummy I think your comment to working mum is totally out of line. Ever heard the phrase if you can't say something nice don't say anything at all.

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workingmum

Gummy - How dare you!

 

For your information both Tennis and Acrobats are parent and child activities, in that you get down on the mat or the court and participate at all times.

 

Just because you stay at home, does not make you a better mother! We all make our choices, and our children are generally happy if their home environment is happy.

 

We laugh, dance, play, have picnics etc etc, we just do it outside of work hours.

 

My 4.5yr DS already has a very strong concept of money and work, careers etc, and I'm proud that I've created that thought process.

 

Perhaps you should think before you write next time.

 

Rach.

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Shoshoi
Shoshoi, I would agree that the books available currently in Australia are not prescriptive...This post however relates to a new book/research that will not be available in Australia and is prescriptive.
Good point, I should have saved myself a big post, hey! :tongue: Would like to get my hands on this book when it comes out (postgrad interlibrary loan ;) )to check it out.

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Gin and Tonic

I am so sick of "experts" telling us things are ok for our kids, then changing their minds and then telling us they are bad without offering a viable solution. It really isnt fair to just tell parents that what they are doing will harm their kids, when it was considered ok a week ago, without offering assistance of some kind to help them be the best parents they can be. I dont necessarily mean monetary assistance by the way.

 

Personally I dont have my kids in a CCC as I have the luxury of being able to afford a nanny. So many people I know just dont have that choice and I hate the fact that they are just trying to do the best they can with the circumstances they are given and experts change the rules on them. Government benefits support the CCC option- I would get assistance if my kids went to a CCC and I chose to pay a nanny considerably more and get no support. If the research is truly worthy of publication then the government should be giving some expanation as to how they will help parents in this regard so that if they want to head down a different path to a CCC that they will be supported in this choice.

 

Of course we all need to know the current research, but it is the delivery of the message that makes my blood boil.

 

this is a bit of a rant, and apologies if it isnt very coherent. I've got a screaming baby in the background but I just had to get this off my chest

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ENOK

G&T I can't agree with you more.

 

Not only should they offer strategies for assisting people to be able to get the best care available, such as a nanny, but they should be looking to offer strategies and techniques to support children and their families in situations where they are cared for outside of the family home. Techniques we can apply to help reduce the potential negative outcomes brought about by outside carers.

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Gin and Tonic

sorry my second rant for the day:

 

To Gummy- I think your comments to working mum are just plain mean. You dont know her circumstances based on one post. I truly believe that parents do the best that they can in their particular circumstances. If her circumstances were different she might chose a different path, who knows. It is not just about money either. For eg I was at home with my 2 kids last year and with my PND I would say I was probably the most disengaged SAHM on earth. My kids are both much happier now I am back at work.

 

We are from all walks of life on EB and we should all be supporting each other as much as we can.

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akabanna

This is a very sensitive issue, and I too feel that we should not be attacking each other for our choices.

 

I chose to work part time, and have a 2 YO in day care. She loves it, and is so independent and happy. I am so glad we took that option. I don't feel I would ever be able to trust a nanny in my home each day to give 100% all the time to someone elses child. At daycare she has a mix of loving carers, and a great program.

 

I too was a bit down being at home full time with a toddler, and having no family support around. I feel we are both a lot happier now.

 

I also feel full time care is a bit hard on the kids, simply because they get so tired.I'm sure some of his observations about 'unhappy' kids may have been tired kids!

 

I also made a few economic sacrifices to stay home for a year, and work part time. I have had lots of contract work, and was not entitled to mat leave. try job hunting with a baby around! we are now moving interstate to live in a cheaper city, and be closer to family. i did not have family around to help, hence day care was the only affordable option for us.

 

sometimes I hear of familes spending a hugh amount on 'activities' outside of the home and school, and think it they cut these out prehaps they would not need to work such long hours.

 

in general, every child and every family is different. I can't believe they would publish such a negative book, and make such generalisations about children. I have never seen really unhappy kids at my daycare. and surely a parent would know if a kid was really unhappy or negatively affected, and so something about changing the situation, howver hard that may be.

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akabanna

Another thing that always annoys me about this debate, and I've seen it quoted in the paper too, is people say 5 babies to one carer is not quality care.

 

At my centre, there are AT LEAST one carer for 5 kids, they are on split shifts, so at busy times there may be up to 4 carers in the room (12-15 kids) at any one time. this allows them to go on breaks, start late, work late ect. not every day is a full 15 kids, there are spaces, most days one or two kids are sick or away on hols. Mondays there are only 10 kids.

 

Babies is actually the easiest group, as they still sleep two sleeps a day, up to 4 or 5 hours, and they have time playing on the floor, sitting in a rocker or eating in the highchair. they can't run away!

 

it is not like a carer has to be with them every single moment of every day! how is it different from putting them on a playmat or rocker at home while you do housework, work on the computer, or attend to siblings?

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melindaj

Wow, Gummy, I believe you are way out of line. Personal attacks achieve nothing, particularly when you have no background on personal circumstances as a PP said. These areas on EB (day-care/nannies/working life) are very important to a lot of working parents and you are very disrespectful coming into these forums and insulting a person you don't know in such a way because their opinion differs to yours.

 

There are many ways to express your views but to berate people personally does not, in my opinion, add to your argument.

 

melinda

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gummy

Really appreciate all your comments. Sorry it was harsh, and not said very kindly at all. I meant it more as a general comment - i can't understand why someone who chose to have children, would start them in childcare from 4 weeks of age. I didn't mean to be out of order- making it sound personal, I wrote on impulse. Its something i feel passionately about - even before i had any kids.

 

But this forum is for opinions and honesty, right? Personally, I don't come on this site to feel like a great mum - i come on here to learn how to be a better mum in all sorts of ways, and i have enjoyed lots of feedback- and i appreciated that because it made me think.

 

So, would many of you happily put your child in full time childcare from 4 weeks old? I would be very interested to know what kind of situation you are in that would warrant that? Am i being totally naive feeling shocked by this? Feel free to criticize!!

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gillybeans

gummy - I don't think you should make judgements about anyone's situation. There are various reasons why someone would go back to work and we don't know individual circumstances . Of course, we all want what is best for our children but with so many conflicting reports about childcare, it's hard to know what is best or not.

 

Personally, I do feel a bit stressed about research saying it's not good for under 3's. I do worry about my son who is 1 and recently started in childcare but there is no alternative. With our first child, we didn't feel she was ready to start childcare at 1,so I didn't return to my job, we sold our house in Sydney and moved to Canberra to be near my husband's family. We survived on one wage as long as we could but money is getting low so I have returned to work 4 days a week. Renting would be just about as expensive as our mortgage payments anyway.

 

Even if we could afford for me to stay home, I'm not sure that I would want to. I wouldn't call myself a fantastic stay-at-home mum and at times I have felt quite depressed being stuck at home every day. But we do try to reduce the hours per day that they are there by me starting a bit late and DH coming home early. We spend quality time with our kids at night (reading books, playing etc) to ensure they get enough attention.

 

All I know is that since my DD started childcare at 20 months, she has done a lot better with speech and has more confidence. She loves having her little friends there to play with and doesn't seem to be negatively affected.

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Gin and Tonic

Gummy- I appreciate your honesty in coming back and facing the negative comments on here about what you said to working mum.

 

Frankly I couldnt leave my 4 week old, or for that matter a 3yo at a childcare centre, but that is a personal thing and I in no way judge anyone who has to or wants to. I dont live their lives, and we all do what we have to do to get through the day as best we can.

 

So even if you have the same opinion as me, I think it is very mean to get so personal on this particular issue. It isnt easy for workingmum (or any mum for that matter) to leave their kids in any sort of care. I was heartbroken the other day when my 20 month old cried because he didnt want me to leave him with his nanny, and he did the same the week before with his grandmother. The kids can make you feel guilty enough as it is- the last thing we working mums need is a guilt trip laid on us by our fellow mothers.

 

BTW- the tears were all show, he was fine the second I was out of the picture but the pain and guilt I felt was with me for the rest of the day.

 

I know that EB has a tendency to get very nasty sometimes, and I think that it is a real shame.

 

ok- off my soapbox

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jotoole

I think Gummy was trying to highlight the fact that it is lot more acceptable for people to put young babies into childcare fulltime from 7am to 6pm without actually trying to make a few financial sacrifices to stay at home with them instead - at least for the first 12 months.

 

If you do have children why would you want to place them with someone else from the majority of their waking hours - if you could possibly make a few financial sacrifices and look after them yourself? Our parents did it and we got by on a lot less.

 

I'm not criticisng all parents who do this. I know some have to merely to survive. But surely with a bit of financial planning (banks do allow mortgage holidays) most people could at least stay home on maternity leave for 6 - 12 months. Once again I know every situation is different and that life was cheaper in years gone by!

 

We struggled through my husband starting his own business and I was able to stay home for 6 months with all mine before returning part-time. I was lucky that my parents are willing and able to mind our three kids, otherwise I would have been prepared to sacrifice financially for a bit longer.

 

I know people will see this as judgemental - but we are a more "ME" generation than ever before and maybe we should accept some responsibility for that and accept that maybe Steve Biddulph's findings have some truth! We can bury our heads in the sand and say no-one shouldmake us guilty - but who is that benefiting? Us or our kids?

 

Just some thoughts :smile:

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miaandme

I haven't read the article or the book, but if the main drift is that childcare is not the *most* suitable place for under 3's then I would have to agree. However, I think it depends on the temperament of the child and their emotional readiness to be separated and the quality of the care.

 

I literally feel sick everytime I leave my child at childcare. I hate it - and that is the truth. She hasn't been going that long and cries when I leave and is sometimes unsettled during the whole day....but like everyone else we need to eat!

 

Personally, I don't understand why people leave their child in childcare from such an early age, i.e. six weeks (emotionally, I could not do it). I just don't see the point in having a child if you can't enjoy them for a little while (IMO)

 

I do understand that it is a necessity for some people (financially), and just because you can't afford not to go back to work it doesn't mean that people who are financially worse off should miss out on the opportunity to have children either - IFYWIM.

 

I do feel quilty about putting my child in childcare, it just doesn't feel right to me. But maybe its not about the quality of childcare, but more about how I feel as a mother in leaving my child.

 

Before I had a baby, I thought oh yeah when she is one she will go to childcare, shes not a baby anymore. Thats totally wrong, a one year is still a baby. Most stuff I ready (and I have read a lot) says that most children are not ready to separate from their mothers until 2 and in some cases 3. Separation is the worst for children between 9 and 18months....

 

I dunno, its such a hard choice....and sometimes there is no other choice. But whether you put your child in childcare from 6 weeks or from 2 years, I think as mothers we all understand the feelings of loss.

 

Love M and M

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Shoshoi
If the research is truly worthy of publication then the government should be giving some expanation as to how they will help parents in this regard so that if they want to head down a different path to a CCC that they will be supported in this choice.

 

Here Here!!! I agree wholeheartedly!!! I had no idea that nannies were not part of the government's Family Tax rebate etc. That *is* ridiculous, especially given that it is such a wonderful alternative for mums who return to work early, who want their child to remain in the home environment, or who work at home etc etc. Now I'm mad too!!!

 

Unfortunately it is NOT economically expedient for the government to support alternatives to institutionalised care. CC is big business in Australia and this government is not one to discourage private investment, even if it means turning a blind eye to better ways of doing things. It's a "parent's choice after all" :rolleyes:

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