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Child care and the damage myth

About two months ago, a very important piece of child development research was published with little fanfare.

The research examined whether the amount of time a child spends in child care has an impact on their development.

To say that this is a polarising topic is to understate the feelings that child care can conjure in some people. Eye-bulging, vein-popping, Jerry Springer-style arguments are known to break out when a working mother dares to utter those two forbidden ‘c’ words. But more on that later.

The study

This study investigated 75,000 children from Norway. Mothers were asked to report how often their children went to child care at 18 months of age, and then again at 36 months of age. Mothers also completed a questionnaire regarding their child’s behaviour. The researchers were particularly interested in what are known as ‘externalising problems’, which are those behaviours that we typically associate with a child ‘acting out’ (e.g., attention and aggression problems).

To cut to the chase, no matter which way the researchers examined the amount of time that children spent in child care, there was very little evidence that this caused behavioural problems. This is by far the largest and perhaps also the most rigorous study that has been conducted in this area, and I believe the findings are of huge importance to all parents.

Here’s why:

The idea that child care may be ‘bad’ for children first gained prominence in the 1980s. The view was based on studies conducted in the US, which found that more than 20 hours per week of non-parental child care may pose a risk for infant-parent bonding, and for the psychological and behavioural adjustment of the developing child.

Subsequent research conducted predominantly in the US found similar results, which lead to a string of headlines that quite understandably scared the living daylights out of parents.

What this Norwegian study adds into the mix is a vastly different socio-political context to the US. Consider just two Norwegian policies:

  1. Near universal access to child centre care
  2. Regulated child-care quality standards;

The key ingredient here is the quality of child care. There is a world of difference between good and bad day care. And just like poor teaching and lousy parenting, low-quality child care can absolutely lead to behavioural problems among children. There’s no question about that.

However, the Norwegian policies not only ensure that high-quality child care is the norm, but also that these standards of care are available to all parents – both wealthy and poor. Good child care - the kind that can provide a wonderful play and learning environment for children - is available to almost every parent.

Interestingly, Australia’s policies are slowly catching up to the Norwegian standards, and studies of Australian children have also found no association between hours spent in child-care and behavioural problems.

When we compare Norway and Australia to the US - a country in which there is no guarantee of access to high-quality child care - we can see why there are differences in the findings of studies between these countries.

What is the debate really about?

High-quality child care does not lead to behavioural problems in children - this much I believe we can conclude. Yet the debate over whether child-care is harmful still rages on. Why?

Without question, some of this debate boils down to how a society views workforce participation of mothers. The researchers of the Norwegian study write:

’Whereas child care in US policy is generally treated as an unintended or unfortunate consequence of workforce participation among women, child care in the Norwegian corporatist economy is part of a broader family policy to promote maternal workforce participation and employment rights … as well as universal access to high-quality environments for learning and development beginning in the second year of life.’

Is it possible that when people say that ‘child care is bad for children’, they are really meaning that ‘mothers should not be in the work force, but at home with their children’?

If this is the case, then opponents of child care must step out from the mirage that ‘science says’ that all child care causes behavioural problems in children. This is incorrect. High quality child care can be a wonderful environment for children.

The argument that ‘mothers should be at home with their children’ is a judgement that smothers its targets with remorseless guilt.

People can continue this emotional blackmail if they must. But please don’t do it under the smokescreen that all child care damages children. It just simply does not.


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59 Comments sorted by

  1. Dale Bloom

    Analyst

    It does bring into question what is “quality childcare”.

    Cots and little beds lined up in rows, eating tables lined up in rows, little toilets lined up in rows?

    Interesting that the Norwegian studies asked the mother only.

    This seems to be very common in Australia also.

    The father was considered superfluous, but eventually, the mother becomes superfluous also.

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  2. Stephen Ralph

    carer at n/a

    hi andrew

    thanks for the article - interesting material.

    for better or for worse, the situation where many mothers are working (part or full time) is a reality.

    gone are the days of the 50s and 60s where most mums stayed at home.

    the mental and physical health of the kids is an important consideration in this debate, but so is the mental and physical health of the mother (and father). no good having a stay-at-home mother if she feels resentful that her children have taken her life away…

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    1. Dale Bloom

      Analyst

      In reply to Stephen Ralph

      So who is going to fund it?

      We have an aging population that has to be funded, and workers paying tax now have to fund the younger generation also.

      The workers are mostly men, as the women work minimal hours and pay minimal tax.

      Big pressures on men to earn money and pay tax, pay their child support, pay high mortgage costs, pay for their current families, and pay for someone else’s children.

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    2. Steve Phillips

      Nurse Practitioner

      In reply to Dale Bloom

      It is worth remebering that Norweigens pay the highest taxes in the world. Their marginal tax rates are far higher than ours. The majority pay in excess of 35% and for a good proportion >40%.
      They accept this a s the price they pay for better Govt services.

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    3. Dale Bloom

      Analyst

      In reply to Steve Phillips

      I am not convinced Government services will be better.

      I have actually been a cleaner in a publicly funded daycare center, and quite frankly, I would not want my children in such as facility.

      Luckily they never were.

      The Norwegians may pay the highest taxes, but they also appear very feminist.

      They do not consider the father to be a parent, and do not include him in surveys it seems.

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    4. Sarah James

      Psychologist

      In reply to Dale Bloom

      This is actually a debate about child care Dale, not how terrible the lot of men is. Interesting that you only consider paid work to count. Perhaps if men paid women $30 an hour to look after their children we might be all better off.

      The reality of course is that the majority of couples both work, which is why we need quality and affordable child care. Child care has been more positive than negative for my child. Just as society's other institutions like school and work tend to be more positive on the balance of things.

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    5. Kim Darcy

      Analyst

      In reply to Sarah James

      "Perhaps if men paid women $30 an hour to look after their children we might be all better off."
      How so? And how much are they currently paid?

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    6. Dale Bloom

      Analyst

      In reply to Sarah James

      Average usual time with children (emp) Father 11.51 (0.39) Mother 24.20 (0.77)
      Average usual working hours Father 50.61 (0.44) Mother 22.69 (0.41)

      http://melbourneinstitute.com/downloads/working_paper_series/wp2004n01.pdf

      Total time Father 62.12
      Total time Mother 46.89

      The mother should be paying the father, but personally I have never heard that occurring.

      I believe it should happen much more often, and women should show much more appreciation for what men do for women, which is just about everything.

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    7. rachael watkins

      Nurse

      In reply to Dale Bloom

      Hi Dale,
      The link is from an outdated source.Its nearly 10yrs ago. A more recent article would be more relevant and interesting.
      Over the last 20yrs my own observation has been that men are becoming more involved in their childrens lives. At school pick ups and drop offs, at birthday parties, at the park and school assembleys and plays etc there are more men present now than i saw even 10yrs ago.
      Unfortunately, as the average earning capacity for a male is higher than for females…

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    8. Kim Darcy

      Analyst

      In reply to rachael watkins

      Rachel, while your observations on the increased sharing of parenting match my own, I don't agree with this:
      "Unfortunately, as the average earning capacity for a male is higher than for females, most families choose the male to continue with the full time job and the female to cut back and work around the male, sacrificing her career for the good of the family."
      The average earning capacity is equal for both men and women. The reason their is a current gap is because of the CHOICE made by most…

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    9. Kim Darcy

      Analyst

      In reply to rachael watkins

      "It seems when men work it is just expected the house will be cleaned by the woman. I know this isnt the case for everybody, and i am sure there are families that are the opposite, but it is common."
      This is shown out again and again in the research data, and our own experiences. But the reality has a few very fascinating wrinkles in it. And really weirdly, it is even greater in Australia than the US. Why? Think stereotypical 50s set-up. Gender roles are pretty clear. Man goes to work, does no…

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    10. rachael watkins

      Nurse

      In reply to Kim Darcy

      Hey Kim,
      I knew what i said would touch some nerves.
      But just think, all jobs that women predominantly have are paid a lot less than men. It is only since women have started to get employment in male dominant jobs that its starting to even out. But we are forgetting the women that want to stay in these predominantly female dominated jobs. Childcare for example. Somebody that is looking after the well being of your child is being payed less than the person laying the tar on the road. The…

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    11. rachael watkins

      Nurse

      In reply to Dale Bloom

      Not that i would wish it upon anybody, but just remember this conversation if you ever require a female nurse to give you life saving treatment.
      "women cant do the tasks" well you may have to ask for a man in your dying breaths
      "when they do not have the skills required by that industry, and no interest in acquiring those skills" I hope we do have the skills otherwise alot of people are going to die tonight.
      Not sure what profession you are talking about but nurses are required to up date annually and in addition do at least 25hrs of extra education each year which is audited.
      Ok in addition, what would you have me do instead of putting my children in care? What is your solution? Dont get me wrong, I hate putting my child in care, so i am actually open to suggestions.

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    12. Beck Boyd

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Kim Darcy

      In Childcare the lowest qualification is paid $17-$18 an hour. That is only $1 - $2 over how much my husband makes as a cleaner.
      A casual Diploma earns $27 an hour whilst a full time Manager earns $28 - $29 an hour
      A full time Diploma earns $21 an hour whilst a full time 2IC earns $24 an hour
      A Bachelor trained Kindergarten teacher in a childcare environment earns around the same as a Full time Diploma.
      And yet the amount of work expected of us is considerable. If we aren't taking work home we're putting in extra hours to get it done whilst we're at work, and forget being paid for the overtime. It doesn't work like that, because we have no choice but to have the work done and it's got to get done somehow. We're allocated 2 hours a week to plan an educational program and update personal educational journey files for each individual child. In my centre for some staff that means up to 50-60 children attending in their room over the course of the week.

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    13. Beck Boyd

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Kim Darcy

      That's fantastic but some of us cant afford to hire a team of house cleaners, even just for 2 hours a week, so we're stuck "pushing that mop around".

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  3. Sean Lamb

    Science Denier

    It is worth pointing out that they all found it made no difference when using their "most sophisticated" model, when they used crude, parvenu models they did find negative effects.

    Personally, I don't have a dog in this fight but since this is such a politically contested area it is tempting to speculate that their definition of "most sophisticated model" was the model that showed no difference.

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    1. Robin Bell

      Research Academic Public Health, at University of Newcastle

      In reply to Sean Lamb

      Have to agree with you Sean. More sophisticated invariably means more manipulated (for good or bad reasons) and evokes a higher sence of suspicion, especially when results flip from stats sig to not stats sig.
      There is also the subjective outcome of mothers reporting child behaviour. How many mothers would on one hand place their children in child care and on the other hand accurately report harms arising from that parental decision.
      I'm not convinced.

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    2. In reply to Robin Bell

      Comment removed by moderator.

  4. Carol Daly

    Director

    Thanks for this article and your stress on quality child care.
    This is why the Gillard government has bought in the childcare quality standards and more highly trained child care workers. They also addressed the low wages in the sector with both the Fair Work Australia community sector wage case and through increasing payments to parents who use child care.
    All this is at risk under the Tony Abbot push for nannies to be subsidised as the idea is that they will be untrained au pair workers on lowest wages. This is to keep down the cost of child care through low wages for low skilled carers.

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    1. Judith Olney

      Ms

      In reply to Carol Daly

      Child care quality standards are not a lot of use to parents that cannot access any child care, particularly before and after school care, or care for older children during school holidays.

      The Gillard government has forced single parents onto Newstart, which has seen all single parents punished by reducing their income, including those that already work.

      In the town I live in, there are no available child care places, and no after and before school child care at all. There is no child care…

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    2. Beck Boyd

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Judith Olney

      What childcare is available in your town will be strictly governed by the Quality standards. The fact that there are no currently available places is beside the point.

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    3. Judith Olney

      Ms

      In reply to Beck Boyd

      No Beck, it is precisely the point I was making. I doesn't matter how good the standard is, or not, if child care places are non existent then the standard of care is a moot point.

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  5. Judith Olney

    Ms

    The debate in Australia has moved on from the "child care is bad for kids" view, in my opinion. I don't hear this debate among the parents of young children any more, it is expected that both parents must work, and single parents should be forced to work, so the debate is less about whether child care is good or bad, and more focussed on the situation we currently have with the lack of child care places.

    This is particularly evident when talking about single parents. Government policy forces the…

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    1. Robin Bell

      Research Academic Public Health, at University of Newcastle

      In reply to Judith Olney

      Hi Judith,
      No issue with most of your comments here, but it is not illegal to leave a child at home alone. The only laws that apply are civil laws (i.e. if your child sues you for damages incurred when they were not reasonably supervised), or child protection laws which require reasonable care of children; i.e. clothing, feeding, health care, and might also include supervision, but not continuous parental or adult supervision.

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    2. Judith Olney

      Ms

      In reply to Robin Bell

      Thank you Robin, you are correct, but it is up to the court to decide if a child is left in a dangerous situation, and leaving young children alone in a house, while a parent works, sometimes for hours at a time, is dangerous.

      "In Australia there’s a legal obligation for parents to make sure their children are properly looked after. They’re expected to provide their children with food, clothing, a place to live, safety and supervision."
      http://raisingchildren.net.au/articles/home_alone_-_cyh.html/context/1010

      According to this website, and others, safety and supervision do come under the legal obligations of the parent/s.

      Most parents would not want to leave a young child alone for extended periods of time, but this is what their choice is, if they are a single parent without access to suitable child care, and are forced to work, or suffer extreme poverty.

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    3. Jack Arnold

      Polymath

      In reply to Robin Bell

      Hi Robin ... what an unthinking, insensitive, outrageous response!!

      It appears that you would have all single parents, either mothers or fathers, maintaining a latch key neighbourhood for the benefit of corporate profits.

      It may not be illegal to leave toddler kids alone at home while the parents go off on drunken escapades or other adventures, but it is certainly very unwise. The movie Home Alone shows some of the possible misadventures without the accompanying sad consequences.

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    4. Beck Boyd

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Jack Arnold

      Many children have grown up in a latch key environment and although I don't necessarily condone it (especially for children below the age of 14 or 15), for some it is merely no other option and I think what Robin is trying to do is simply take some of the guilt away from parents who do have no other option by pointing out that they are not breaking the law as long as their child is old enough and responsible enough to do the right things when being left alone.

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  6. Mat Hardy

    Lecturer in Middle East Studies at Deakin University

    I absolutely agree that much of the media coverage of child care in Australia is of a negative and sensationalist type. "Look what happens when you put your kids in child care!" seems to be the main theme. Even this morning it was reported that child care centres in Victoria had racked up 30,000 or so "breaches" of standards and we were treated to a handful of the most grievous (kids escaping from care, a kid hit by a toppling bit of furniture and so on). No mention of what the other 29,995 breaches were. But then if you put your kid in care, you probably deserve ill fortune....

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  7. rachael watkins

    Nurse

    I could either loose my house or work and put my child in whatever childcare centre i could find that opened before an early shift.Thank goodness the childcare centre my child went to from 10mths was of average quality.At times i would cry leaving him there, but with no support from his father i could see no other option. He seems to be well adjusted. Some of the children that were in there every day all day would look withdrawn with black rings under their eyes. I felt sorry for them. It doesnt…

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    1. Kate Rowan-Robinson

      Registered Nurse/Sexology Student

      In reply to rachael watkins

      I hear you, Rachael!

      I struggle being a nurse on shifts with a young child. When I was a single mum I used to hope and pray that a day care centre would open at 0630 so I could make a 0700 shift. Which meant that I could only work morning shifts during the week, which meant a very basic income, whilst still having to pay for childcare. I have since married, but my husband travels for business, which again makes shift work difficult. I tried practice nursing last year, but the pay is so poor I couldn't keep doing it - the only type of nursing that can provide good hours and a decent pay rate is corporate agency work, which is sporadic. I want to work full time, doing what I am trained to do (and love doing), but sadly I struggle with getting the hours because of childcare issues.

      I was excited to read that 24 hour family daycare is being trialled in some states for shift workers soon (not my state, unfortunately).

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    2. Robin Bell

      Research Academic Public Health, at University of Newcastle

      In reply to Kate Rowan-Robinson

      I know the problem well Rachael. As a registerred nurse for over 30 years with 6 kids balancing child responsibilities was a nightmare, with or without a partner. Shift work and agency work are rarely predictable so even regular placements in child care rarely provide a fix. Unless children are in daycare 7 days a week (I hated one day a week but I know it was good for socialisation and peer group relationship skills).
      The stress was so bad balancing kids and rosters I gave up nursing in ICUs and did law. I worked in family law for several years then gave that up as the inhuman hours interferred with home life too much.
      One of the more irritating problems was that as one of the fathers left out of all these research projects (you are right there Dale, all the research out of scandinavia of heavily biased) many of my employers didn't believe I needed leave occassionaly for the kids.

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    3. rachael watkins

      Nurse

      In reply to Kate Rowan-Robinson

      Thanks Kate,
      Yeah 24hr care is exciting, but i must admit a little scarey too. My child going to school, sleeping there and then back to class in the morning. I could obviously spend quality time from after school until bed, then i would go to work. I suppose i fear what is new. Its almost like boarding school. I wonder if it will be a success.

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  8. rachael watkins

    Nurse

    In addition, i had no idea that legally i can leave my 6yr old at home by themselves for an 8hr shift. Maybe this is an option.(kidding) Im sure child neglect and having your child taken away from you is a worse punishment than police putting u in a cell for the night.

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  9. Jack Arnold

    Polymath

    Hi Andrew, thanks for the interesting article. However, I think you may have overlooked the main pragmatic point that dogged my kids and our family over 30 years ago, and that is tax relief for child care.

    Since about 1975 politicians have been able to claim child care as a tax deduction whereas other workers regardless of their industry have been denied this tax break. Sure there is an inadequate government child care supplement but employers have generally been allowed to escape the cost of on-site facilities while they benefit from relief of not having to train more skilled workers.

    With child care costs continuing to soar while wages remain relatively frozen there is little net value for any two parent family to become a two income family. The financial and social consequences of this result are legion.

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    1. Olivia Hibbitt

      Medical Writer

      In reply to Jack Arnold

      You can get childcare rebate which is 50% of childcare costs up to $7500 per year. Not much when you are paying 40k a year in childcare for twins...AND we are STILL waiting because #)%)@#^ centre link makes you jump though so many #)$&#$ hoops you feel like a circus animal.

      I am a little outraged that politicians get to claim the lot back... I think I might have to write a strongly worded letter!

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  10. Olivia Hibbitt

    Medical Writer

    Thanks for an excellent article! It's so refreshing to see this subject written about without the usual sensationalist bollocks about how childcare will turn children into psychopaths (which should be read - women should not be allowed outside the home).

    The biggest thing I think Australia should take from this is that full workforce participation from mothers and fathers can be achieved if you actually invest in it and make it just that little bit easier for both parties!

    Dale...I thought you were spending all hours of the day and night doing all the busy work needed to keep us mooching females in shoes and clothes. It's admirable that you find time in your busy schedule to school us in your own special brand of old school sexism! Keep up the good work!

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  11. Meg Thornton

    Dilletante

    One thing I think comes out of this is the question of whether studies performed in the USA (with its drastically different public systems - welfare, health, education etc) can reasonably be generalised to the Australian situation. I'd be arguing they can't - the differences are just too great, and we're comparing apples with oranges (or possibly plums against grapefruit).

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  12. Kim Darcy

    Analyst

    Andrew, unfortunately, nothing you have written here has anything whatsoever to do with 'science'. You set up a number of straw arguments and hit them with warm lettce
    "The idea that child care may be ‘bad’ for children first gained prominence in the 1980s."
    No it didn't. It started in WWII, with men off to war, women took over the men in factories, and so on, leaving their 'latchkey children' to their own devices after school. The 1980s studies you link to aimed "to determine if experience of…

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    1. Jack Arnold

      Polymath

      In reply to Kim Darcy

      Oh dear Kim ... now that you have aired your ill-informed and misogynistic rant, go and take your blood pressure pills.

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    2. Kim Darcy

      Analyst

      In reply to Jack Arnold

      Jack, please show where I have been "ill-informed"; especially as my own argument is that Dr. Andrew has not used 'science' himself. And then, I'd love to see the 'misogynist' bits.

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  13. Raine S Ferdinands

    Education at Education

    Perhaps our current government may need to heed the following; ".... the Norwegian policies not only ensure that high-quality child care is the norm, but also that these standards of care are available to all parents – both wealthy and poor." Over here, Gillard is waging 'class-war', 'gender war' and is ever so keen to pit one suburb against another. Children, irrespective of their parents' status, are essentially children; the most valuable resource of any nation. While we tax Australians along income levels, we must, however, provide quality child care and quality education to ALL children. On a global scale Norwegian literacy and numeracy standards are exceptional. We must learn from the Norwegian example in relation to both child care and education.

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    1. Stephen Ralph

      carer at n/a

      In reply to Raine S Ferdinands

      hi raine

      well and good for norway, but personally for someone who lives in toorak or portsea or brighton (victoria), and has a house worth $5 - $10 million and drive cars worth around $250k - $400k,
      then they can damn well pay for child care..

      we hear the stories of single mothers in this column who are under great stress to work and struggle to pay not only for child care, but for mnay other commodities.

      newstart is a pitiful amount to feed a dog, let alone a family.

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    2. Raine S Ferdinands

      Education at Education

      In reply to Stephen Ralph

      Thanks for your point of view on this Stephen. I am so used to hearing statements from people whose main aim in life is to decry those who have the guts, tenacity and will to be entrepreneurial and create jobs and spur on the economy of a nation. Most wealthy people do pay higher taxes than those on lower wages. That is the beauty of this country. I am certain that a handful of the rich and famous get away with paying less. However, even they do create jobs and payroll tax (killing) and super, etc…

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    3. Stephen Ralph

      carer at n/a

      In reply to Raine S Ferdinands

      i hear what you say raine......but i still believe that wealthy people get a lot of advantages out of the system thru good lawyers, tax deductions etc. those expensive cars are probably leased and tax deductable.

      i am not blaming or marginalising the wealthy, but these are often people who will spend $250 at a restaurant or $150 for a massage and facial, or a pair of sunglasses or watch for $300 - $1000.

      they can afford to pay for child care.

      dont get me wrong, i am not envious or jealous of their wealth and possessions, but when people on $20,000 or even $50,000 struggle to meet child care payments, it is a sad day.

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  14. Marion Brook

    BA, Grad Dip Ed (student)

    From the perspective of an industry insider who has seen the good, the bad, and the very, very, ugly; I can attest that quality counts - at least in the short term experiences and well-being of infants and toddlers in care. I also know that, in Australia, high quality care (as opposed to good, average or poor quality) is hard to find for this age group. Going beyond personal anecdotes though, it seems my experience is supported by longitudinal studies from, not only the US but also the UK and AUS…

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  15. Rattan Gould

    logged in via LinkedIn

    Great article. Being a working mother of an 8 month old, I am made to feel guilty, almost on a weekly basis, about having my child in childcare for 4 days a week. To be completely honest, it tends to be from mothers who have had the opporutnity to stay at home or husbands who have their wife at home.

    I am quiet sure that most working mothers would love to stay at home with their little ones, to share each and every memory together. Unfortunately we live in a society where both parents have to…

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    1. Kim Darcy

      Analyst

      In reply to Rattan Gould

      Hi Rattan, thanks for sharing so openly. I am hearing a number of things here, I have heard all over the country, including my own home. Your points actually seem to suggest you disagree with the author. But some seem to conflict, so just to clarify:
      1. WHO makes you feel guilty?
      2. What do they claim you are doing wrong?
      3. When you say "mothers who have had the opporutnity to stay at home", what do you mean by "opportunity"? Did you have this "opportunity"?
      4. Now, the author of this article…

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    2. rachael watkins

      Nurse

      In reply to Kim Darcy

      hmm some of your ideas Kim are interesting. Judgement is purely on the person. You can not get past people either judging you because you put your kids in care or if they never get the extra interaction. What matters is what is right for you and what you can deal with. If you feel people are judging you then maybe you are really judging yourself. People can be cruel, but do you know what! We are the most cruel to our selves.

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    3. Kim Darcy

      Analyst

      In reply to rachael watkins

      Rachael the reason I am interested in your answer is that Andrew has based his whole argument on an allegedly huge number of Australian mothers using childcare, who have been targeted - for at least 20 years - by persons/forces he does not identify, giving working mums an earful that ‘1980s US science says’ that all child care causes behavioural problems in children.'
      Andrew is now on Cloud Nine coz he thinks he has found a Norwegian study that shows the unidentified anti-mummy-working brigade is…

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    4. Kim Darcy

      Analyst

      In reply to rachael watkins

      I get the idea the mano-womano-kid thing did not treat Dale very well at all, and he's still pissed off about it. A lot of what he says often could stand (or fall) on its own merits, but he too often taints it with his own bad personal experience. This just contaminates most of those kind of posts as "angry at own family situation, not so much the issue we are discussing here'.

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    5. rachael watkins

      Nurse

      In reply to Kim Darcy

      :)
      I can see that mothers probably have been made to feel more guilty about leaving their children in care to go to work, more so than fathers. And they reflect their guilt and ideals imposed on them from generations of tradition, onto those around them. The fathers on the other hand also have "norms" of "traditional roles" that he has been exposed to and reflects that in judgements on those around him, including his partner. Obviously this is becoming less as i have said.But it will take many more…

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  16. Dawson Cooke

    Psychologist at FamilyWorks

    This debate should focus on what is best for our children. Mother guilt, gender roles and working mother issues are important, but the contentious issue surrounding child care is the wellbeing of our children.
    Whitehouse refers to the Zachrisson study on mother reports of problem behaviour of children at 18 and 36 months. Mums and Dads need to know what this study does NOT say about child care.
    It says NOTHING about children in care under the age of 18 months; NOTHING about what is BEST for children…

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  17. Tom Hennessy

    Retired

    I was speaking about this with a man and his wife and they said their brothers' kids were being looked after , and I was arguing your kid will become who they are raised by , if raised by someone else , their personality will resemble those people. They 'brightened up' and said , "their kids speak Spanish" .. meaning they weren't Spanish but the peoples' children were being raised by the help in the Southern States , and I rested my case. They may not be behaviorial nightmares but they aren't your kids no more either.

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  18. Lee Emmett

    Guest House Manager

    After WW11 many women (who had been in the workforce whilethousands men were on overseas military service) were encouraged to 'go back home' and women's magazines of the time reflect their mass exodus from the workforce. Barefoot and pregnant' was a catchcry. In this era, the 'basic wage' (earned by the male breadwinner) was considered sufficient to cater for the needs of his 'dependants' (ie. family). Women often lost their jobs when they married. With the advent of the 'pill' and greater control…

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