So the NYT posts a piece today titled “Poor Behavior is Linked to Time in Daycare.”   I already knew what it was going to say.  Parents Mothers who put their kids in daycare are dooming their children to a horrible life, etc., etc.

For example,

A much-anticipated report from the largest and longest-running study of American child care has found that keeping a preschooler in a day care center for a year or more increased the likelihood that the child would become disruptive in class — and that the effect persisted through the sixth grade.

Disruptive kids, all due to those horrible parents moms who stick their kids in daycare.  To be fair, the article does in fact refer to parents, not just moms, deciding to put their kids in daycare, although it refers back to the daycare wars of the 80s:

The debate reached a high pitch in the late 1980s, during the so-called day care wars, when social scientists questioned whether it was better for mothers to work or stay home. Day care workers and their clients, mostly working parents, argued that it was the quality of the care that mattered, not the setting. But the new report affirms similar results from several smaller studies in the past decade suggesting that setting does matter.

What’s interesting to me is that the press release relating to the study states that the study, which was started in 1991, began looking at childcare in general, defined as follows:

Child care was defined as care by anyone other than the child’s mother that was regularly scheduled for at least 10 hours per week. This included care by fathers, grandparents and other relatives. 

Emphasis mine.  Now the part of the study looking at daycare did distinguish between “center based care” and other forms of childcare, but the structure of the study is curious.  I guess what moms do isn’t childcare, its just being a mom?

But what the press release and the article both mention is that parenting quality was a far more significant factor than the type, quality or duration of daycare.   So why is that fact buried several paragraphs in?  To me, a working parent, I read that as yes, perhaps daycare* has some potential issues, but that as long as I can focus on being a good parent, I can probably overcome that, but that’s not the message of the headline on either the press release or the article.

And worse, you know that this study is going to start off another round of guilty attacks on mothers who work outside the home.  I can’t seem to find the underlying study online, and my statistics knowledge is shaky enough that I don’t think I could do it justice – I’m hoping someone more skilled than I in the femisphere will find the holes.

But what if there aren’t holes, what then?  Again, the likely result will be to guilt the mothers as opposed to looking at the lack of support for working parents: the lack of flex time, the lack of part-time, all that stuff that would help parents who do want to work outside the home still manage to spend more time with their kids.

On the plus side, the study also found that center-based care gave kids a larger vocabulary.  I guess when they’re being disruptive they’re using SAT words?

UPDATE: Echidne has more.

*In the interest of full disclosure, my kids are not in fact in daycare, but they are in pre-school 15-25 hours a week.  The rest of the time they have a sitter. (This is partly why I updated an earlier post that discussed daycare (by deleting my statements about it), because I felt I didn’t have enough info to comment in the way I did).

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