Day Care in Our Living Room?

by Wendy Copley on April 1, 2007

Earlier this week, a study was released linking child care to children acting out in school in the fifth and sixth grades. Based on what I’ve read, this link as it’s been presented in the media is pretty tenuous and it’s just another statistic for the anti-daycare folks to twist around to fit their theories and throw at all of us working moms and dads. The description of the study results irritated me as a whole, but what really got me going was this sentence:

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.
[emphasis is mine]

Wyatt goes to day care two days per week. Zach, his dad, cares for him the other three week days. So according to this study, the hours our son spends with his father qualify as day care. You can tell how I feel about this assertion by looking at my reckless use of bold and italics. I’m incensed as a mother, but I’m even more incensed on my husband’s behalf.

Why is there an assumption that mothers are solely responsible for a child’s care? Why do people think fathers are incapable of taking care of their kids? Why is it that when Zach takes Wyatt to the park alone or stays home with him while I go out with a friend, people ask if he’s “babysitting”? Um, no — he’s parenting. Has any mother, alone with her child, ever been asked if she was babysitting? I highly doubt it.

I’m constantly surprised by how much flack we take as a family for our work/child care choices. I get a bit of the “what kind of mother would choose to leave her child” stuff now and then, but it’s nothing compared to the rude things people say to Zach about his choice to be a stay-at-home-dad (SAHD). Or as he prefers to be called a maximum-at-home-dad. People say he’s lazy. They question his masculinity. They wonder what sort of man would want to spend so much time with his kid. The best kind, if you ask me.

And no, he’s not a day care provider.

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