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June 19, 2006

Daycare Decisions

James Mehring

I read the New York Times article "The Price of Daycare Can Be High" by David Leonhardt over the weekend. This article was mentioned in the blog entry "The Price of Daycare" by my colleague Cathy Arnst. Lyn and I leave our daughter with my mother-in-law each weekday morning. Neither of us feel the marriage is less satisfying or that we are depressed because of this decision. But we feel pangs of guilt each morning as we walk down the steps looking back at our daughter and waving goodbye for the day.

Unfortunately, we weren?? in a financial position that allowed Lyn to stay home. We realized this before our daughter was born and made a conscious decision to stay close to Lyn?? parents. Besides the expense of daycare, the thought of turning over our baby to a stranger was too upsetting for us.

In this day and age, relying on relatives to watch children seems less common, although Lyn and have two other friends who rely on grandparents to watch their children during the workweek. I also hear persons from earlier generations lament about the fragmentation of family. With siblings, parents, and grandparents scattered all over the country, the web of family support that was once common seems to be disappearing. I remember growing up within a few miles of my maternal grandmother, and several aunts and uncles.

It?? a shame considering how many families now have two working parents because of economic reasons. While my wife would love to stay home, we see how our daughter gets the individual attention and love from her grandmother that she really needs right now. We are fortunate to have such an arrangement. There may be many families that couldn?? rely on the setup that Lyn and I have for reasons other than geographic distance. At the same time, there must also be acceptable ways to encourage or incentivize more families to form the villages that children, and parents, need.

03:56 PM

Childcare

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You say: "we weren?? in a financial position that allowed Lyn to stay home."

I guess/hope what you meant was: "we weren?? in a financial position that allowed one of us to stay home."

As a father myself, I would love to spend more time with my kids when they are small, but am, like many other parents, not in a financial position where that is possible.

Posted by: Rambukk at June 19, 2006 04:26 PM

As a former colleague of yours, now decamped to Florida, I hear you. You'd be surprised at how vastly different the caregiving situation is outside of NY. We still live in a city, though it's suburbs are 2 miles away, not 20. But in many places outside NY, we've discovered, the child care possibilities are wonderful. Leaving our son with a stranger was scary, but after research and lots of time spent popping in, we found an incredible daycare with a super-low baby to caregiver ratio. We put ourselves on the waiting list (for $60 vs. $500 in NYC) and about a month later, we got the call. I think the important thing is knowing your child is loved. Whether it's a relative taking care of your child, or a very warm and loving daycare, it's that knowledge--that your child is loved and cared for and nurtured while you are at work--that brings peace of mind. I'm the main breadwinner, and it's possible my husband could have stayed home--he moved here with me and we could technically afford it--but it was important to him to further his career (yup, usually the mom decision in stereotypical real life). I feel guilty sometimes, but we've got it pretty good. We live 5 miles from where we work, our son is in a daycare along the two-road route to our downtown offices, and three or four days a week, I drive over to the daycare at lunchtime and am met with giant hugs from my son as we play on the mat or sit outside looking at the trees. When I leave to head back to the office, he barely notices I'm gone. He's off smiling and playing. What's unfortunate is that most people aren't so lucky as to have a family member or a really loving daycare or caregiver to trust. However, I'm not so sure that as our society has evolved, trying to incentivize family arrangements is either realistic or the best way to go.

Posted by: JenM at June 28, 2006 10:58 PM


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