Why Daycare Isn’t “Raising My Kids”


This post has been drafted in my head for awhile, but after reading a fantastic post last week from Breadwinning Mama on the worst thing you can say to a working mom, I felt like it was time to finally get it written. 

Sometimes, we’re a little over-sensitive and read too much into innocuous comments about daycare or working motherhood.  Other times, people make unintentionally hurtful comments coming from a genuinely well-intentioned but unaware place because they feel completely called to the homefront and couldn’t imagine life any other way.  And more often than not, miscommunication happens because both of the above scenarios happen at the same time.

Other people are just downright wrong about it.

These are the people who proclaim that women “throw their kids in daycare for someone else to raise.

Who else has a rage headache?

First, let’s start off with the language.  “Throw their kids in daycare” sounds like we’re carelessly tossing our kids into a cold, heartless facility, much like a piece of trash.  It sounds uncaring, unthoughtful, and unloving.  The idea that anyone would use language implying that a mother is somehow less loving or caring simply because they choose to work is unnecessary, judgmental, and making a whole lot of generalized assumptions.  While I certainly respect anyone’s right to disagree with the idea of daycare and working outside the home, it would be much more productive to use language that isn’t second-guessing my love for my children.

The fact of the matter is that I carefully, thoughtfully, and diligently searched for a childcare provider.  I interviewed countless centers and private caregivers.  I checked references.  I reviewed their licensing inspection documents and contacted their licensers.  I toured their facilities.  I kept a notebook.  I prayed over it.  And when that process was done, I chose someone.

I chose someone to provide care for my child while I was at work.  Please note, I did not choose some to raise them.

  • My childcare providers do not comfort my children in the wee hours of the morning, when they wake unexpectedly and need the love of a parent.  I do that.
  • My childcare providers did not nurse my first baby for 11 months and my second baby for 18.  I did that.
  • My childcare providers do not make healthy, home-cooked meals every evening, gather together around our family dinnertable, and bow their heads with us in a prayer of thankfulness.  My husband and I do that.
  • My childcare providers do not snuggle with my children every night, quietly read them bedtime stories in the still of the moment, kiss them goodnight, and whisper “I love you.  I’ll see you in the morning.”  I do that.
  • My childcare providers did not feel my children tumbling in my womb or pass hours crocheting together their special blanket, all the while dreaming of the moment when they were placed in my arms.  I did that.
  • My childcare providers do not brush their hair back from their faces when they are sick, do not weep with them in the moments their hearts are broken, and do not spend time planning how to give them the best possible future.  My husband and I do that.
  • My childcare providers did not stand in front of our church and commit to lovingly raising our children in a Christian homeMy husband and I did that.
  • My childcare providers do not take our children to church every Sunday.  My husband and I do that.
  • My childcare providers do not teach our children to love each other, protect each other, be kind to each other, and about the unshakeable love of a family.  My husband and I do that.
  • My childcare providers do not make every single decision in their lives heavily weighing the question, “What is best for our family and kids?”  My husband and I do that.

My childcare providers do not provide a substitute for a mother.  I am my children’s mother.  And my children have never been confused about that.

My husband taught our daughter where her nose, mouth, eyes, and ears are.

I taught my son how to write his name on paper and pump his legs on the swing.

I potty-trained my son.  His childcare provider reinforced the work we had done, once he was far enough along.

My husband and I have taught our child behavioral expectations and manners.  His childcare providers have reinforced our instruction.

When he was ready for preschool, we carefully selected a program that would provide teaching and values consistent with what he was learning at home.

My childcare providers provide care for my children.  They feed them the food that I prepare for them, ensure their safety, play with them, change their diapers, provide new learning experiences, and happen to do it in a loving, caring, gentle manner during the hours when I am at work.  How can allowing another person to love your child be wrong?

It’s funny; when a man goes to work nobody assumes that he is a less dedicated or loving parent because he is not parenting during working hours.  And nobody says that he is leaving the children at home with his wife to “raise the children” while implying that he is not playing a part in it himself.  Because she is not doing it alone.  If a woman is at home, she is caring for her children, which is truly a worthwhile endeavor for those who choose that path.  But the raising of the children – they are both doing that together.  Day in; day out.  Raising children is a team effort.  And it is one that must be done with purpose, intention, thoughtfulness, and commitment.

If that’s the way parents approach their partnership with their child’s care provider, then they are absolutely still parenting their children.  Full-time.

And that’s the reason why daycare isn’t raising my kids.



11 thoughts on “Why Daycare Isn’t “Raising My Kids”

  1. I don’t want to work at all. I, actually, would jump at the opportunity to be home with my kids, so when people have said thoughtless things to me, it REALLY makes my blood boil. And as I agonize over missing firsts, this was a great post to read. There is so much that I do just because I’m mom. I needed this 🙂

  2. Well, you know how I feel about this statement. 😉 Beautiful post. You so nicely captured all of the things we do as parents, as moms, when it comes to raising our kids, regardless if we work outside of the home or not.

  3. I always say the daycare providers that I have chosen for my daughter are HELPING me to raise her. Because they are. I don’t feel like I’m a bad mother for thinking this. They protect her, love her, nurture her, and teach her when I cannot. And I respect and admire them because they are able to give themselves, all of their love and support, to these little people who aren’t their own. Perhaps even at the price of being with their own little ones. It takes a village. 🙂

  4. Wonderful post, and I wholeheartedly agree with Caroline…it DOES take a village! So often today, moms (and dads) are expected to do it all, and on their own. As a working parent, my child’s daycare is part of our village. To know that he is loved and cared for in the hours I am away is a tremendous blessing.

    1. So true. Our culture of independence has done such a disservice to moms, hasn’t it? We used to live in true community and really raise our kids with a support network. Now it’s looked down upon – YOU MUST DO EVERYTHING YOURSELF. ALL OF IT. Or else you’re a failure as a mother and human, of course.

  5. Once again today, your blog had brought me to TEARS. I needed this today. I would give an arm to stay home with my son, but thanks to my husband being in law school, I still have several more years left of being the breadwinner… I’ve been working since I was 8 years old (no joke). I dreamed of the day I’d be a SAHM and then I fell in love with a musician who eventually decided to bail on his band and go to law school. It was a weighted decision for both of us, one of which is a daily struggle for us. But one day, it will pay off and I’ll be home with my kids when they get home from school at least.
    You’re so right.
    I’ve struggled with the idea of “someone else raising my kids” and you know what? They’re NOT! They’re a part of my whole, not my replacement. They aren’t up nursing a 19 month old, boob addicted baby. They aren’t the person he runs to for everything (good and bad). They’re just there while I’m at work to HELP me… not to BE me.
    Thank you. Your words are perfect.

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