Dealing With Child Care and Guilt

Reviewed Nov 8, 2019

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Summary

  • Know the positive effects of child care.
  • Understand that there is no one “right” solution for everybody.
  • Remember that guilt is a useless, taxing emotion.

Some families have no choice financially but to return to work immediately after the birth of a child. Others may let commitment or personal satisfaction guide their decision. Either way, many parents—particularly mothers—make the difficult decision to place their children in child care outside the home. Although this decision causes many parents to feel guilty, women should know they’re doing the right thing for themselves and their families.

Child care research

Many parents remain concerned about how child care measures up to the care provided by a parent at home. You may feel particularly concerned about placing a young infant in day care. But those children develop much the same as children raised at home, according to research.

Studies also show that working mothers are particularly vulnerable to feelings of guilt despite the fact that working outside the home is not a predictor of a child's well being. In fact, the heightened self-confidence common among working mothers can increase a child’s self-esteem.

Positive effects of child care

While no form of child care can or should ever replace parenting, quality child care can actually enhance a child’s cooperative play skills, ability to solve social problems, self-control, and language skills. Further, high-quality day care for preschoolers can have a positive effect on the basic skills of children and their eventual continuation of post secondary education, according to a landmark study by the U.S. Department of Education.

Avoiding guilt

It is important to understand that there is no one “right” solution for everybody. Take the time to make the decision that's  right for your family and respect the choices that others make. Try these strategies for avoiding guilt:

  • Choose employment that provides personal satisfaction and allows you to feel that you contribute to the financial stability of the family. When a mother’s employment is intellectually, emotionally, or financially rewarding, her children benefit.
  • Discuss the decision to pursue employment and child care with your spouse or partner. When both partners agree, your children will pick up on a family sense of pride and a feeling that "we are all in this together." 
  • Look into alternative work arrangements, such as job sharing, part-time work, telecommuting, and consulting.
  • Build a network of friends and relatives who can help out or provide backup care when work demands interfere with child care schedules.
  • Find some balance in your choice. Attempting to be a super-achiever can increase feelings of guilt, so prioritize events and activities and recognize that you have limits.
  • Try to remember that guilt is a useless, taxing emotion that can easily consume you. Instead of feeling guilty, use the energy to do constructive things with your children or set aside time to relax and have fun with your kids.
  • Hang in there. Children who are loved and nurtured grow up to become healthy loving adults. 
Source: Frede, Ellen C. “The Role of Program Quality in Producing Early Childhood Program Benefits.” Future of Children; v5n3 115-32, 1995; Galinsky, Ellen “How Do Child Care and Maternal Employment Affect Children?” Child Care Information Exchange. March 1986; Garey, Anita Ilta, and Theresa Arendell. “Children, Work and Family: Some Thoughts on Mother Blame.” Center for Working Families, University of California Berkeley. April 1999; Patten, Peggy. “Child Care: Is it Good for Children?” Parent News, National Parent Information Network, May-June 1999; Thomas, Robin. “Parenting and Professionalism: The Myth of Having it All.” Zero to Three Bulletin, December 1990.

Summary

  • Know the positive effects of child care.
  • Understand that there is no one “right” solution for everybody.
  • Remember that guilt is a useless, taxing emotion.

Some families have no choice financially but to return to work immediately after the birth of a child. Others may let commitment or personal satisfaction guide their decision. Either way, many parents—particularly mothers—make the difficult decision to place their children in child care outside the home. Although this decision causes many parents to feel guilty, women should know they’re doing the right thing for themselves and their families.

Child care research

Many parents remain concerned about how child care measures up to the care provided by a parent at home. You may feel particularly concerned about placing a young infant in day care. But those children develop much the same as children raised at home, according to research.

Studies also show that working mothers are particularly vulnerable to feelings of guilt despite the fact that working outside the home is not a predictor of a child's well being. In fact, the heightened self-confidence common among working mothers can increase a child’s self-esteem.

Positive effects of child care

While no form of child care can or should ever replace parenting, quality child care can actually enhance a child’s cooperative play skills, ability to solve social problems, self-control, and language skills. Further, high-quality day care for preschoolers can have a positive effect on the basic skills of children and their eventual continuation of post secondary education, according to a landmark study by the U.S. Department of Education.

Avoiding guilt

It is important to understand that there is no one “right” solution for everybody. Take the time to make the decision that's  right for your family and respect the choices that others make. Try these strategies for avoiding guilt:

  • Choose employment that provides personal satisfaction and allows you to feel that you contribute to the financial stability of the family. When a mother’s employment is intellectually, emotionally, or financially rewarding, her children benefit.
  • Discuss the decision to pursue employment and child care with your spouse or partner. When both partners agree, your children will pick up on a family sense of pride and a feeling that "we are all in this together." 
  • Look into alternative work arrangements, such as job sharing, part-time work, telecommuting, and consulting.
  • Build a network of friends and relatives who can help out or provide backup care when work demands interfere with child care schedules.
  • Find some balance in your choice. Attempting to be a super-achiever can increase feelings of guilt, so prioritize events and activities and recognize that you have limits.
  • Try to remember that guilt is a useless, taxing emotion that can easily consume you. Instead of feeling guilty, use the energy to do constructive things with your children or set aside time to relax and have fun with your kids.
  • Hang in there. Children who are loved and nurtured grow up to become healthy loving adults. 
Source: Frede, Ellen C. “The Role of Program Quality in Producing Early Childhood Program Benefits.” Future of Children; v5n3 115-32, 1995; Galinsky, Ellen “How Do Child Care and Maternal Employment Affect Children?” Child Care Information Exchange. March 1986; Garey, Anita Ilta, and Theresa Arendell. “Children, Work and Family: Some Thoughts on Mother Blame.” Center for Working Families, University of California Berkeley. April 1999; Patten, Peggy. “Child Care: Is it Good for Children?” Parent News, National Parent Information Network, May-June 1999; Thomas, Robin. “Parenting and Professionalism: The Myth of Having it All.” Zero to Three Bulletin, December 1990.

Summary

  • Know the positive effects of child care.
  • Understand that there is no one “right” solution for everybody.
  • Remember that guilt is a useless, taxing emotion.

Some families have no choice financially but to return to work immediately after the birth of a child. Others may let commitment or personal satisfaction guide their decision. Either way, many parents—particularly mothers—make the difficult decision to place their children in child care outside the home. Although this decision causes many parents to feel guilty, women should know they’re doing the right thing for themselves and their families.

Child care research

Many parents remain concerned about how child care measures up to the care provided by a parent at home. You may feel particularly concerned about placing a young infant in day care. But those children develop much the same as children raised at home, according to research.

Studies also show that working mothers are particularly vulnerable to feelings of guilt despite the fact that working outside the home is not a predictor of a child's well being. In fact, the heightened self-confidence common among working mothers can increase a child’s self-esteem.

Positive effects of child care

While no form of child care can or should ever replace parenting, quality child care can actually enhance a child’s cooperative play skills, ability to solve social problems, self-control, and language skills. Further, high-quality day care for preschoolers can have a positive effect on the basic skills of children and their eventual continuation of post secondary education, according to a landmark study by the U.S. Department of Education.

Avoiding guilt

It is important to understand that there is no one “right” solution for everybody. Take the time to make the decision that's  right for your family and respect the choices that others make. Try these strategies for avoiding guilt:

  • Choose employment that provides personal satisfaction and allows you to feel that you contribute to the financial stability of the family. When a mother’s employment is intellectually, emotionally, or financially rewarding, her children benefit.
  • Discuss the decision to pursue employment and child care with your spouse or partner. When both partners agree, your children will pick up on a family sense of pride and a feeling that "we are all in this together." 
  • Look into alternative work arrangements, such as job sharing, part-time work, telecommuting, and consulting.
  • Build a network of friends and relatives who can help out or provide backup care when work demands interfere with child care schedules.
  • Find some balance in your choice. Attempting to be a super-achiever can increase feelings of guilt, so prioritize events and activities and recognize that you have limits.
  • Try to remember that guilt is a useless, taxing emotion that can easily consume you. Instead of feeling guilty, use the energy to do constructive things with your children or set aside time to relax and have fun with your kids.
  • Hang in there. Children who are loved and nurtured grow up to become healthy loving adults. 
Source: Frede, Ellen C. “The Role of Program Quality in Producing Early Childhood Program Benefits.” Future of Children; v5n3 115-32, 1995; Galinsky, Ellen “How Do Child Care and Maternal Employment Affect Children?” Child Care Information Exchange. March 1986; Garey, Anita Ilta, and Theresa Arendell. “Children, Work and Family: Some Thoughts on Mother Blame.” Center for Working Families, University of California Berkeley. April 1999; Patten, Peggy. “Child Care: Is it Good for Children?” Parent News, National Parent Information Network, May-June 1999; Thomas, Robin. “Parenting and Professionalism: The Myth of Having it All.” Zero to Three Bulletin, December 1990.

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