Raising a child is one of the most primal and instinctive urges and tasks that most people are likely to encounter. However, despite all this, it isn’t always as obvious an undertaking as some may like. While some things come instinctively, there’s something of a gap between an instinct and knowing how to respond.
Likewise, much about children must be learned, as with any other skill. This, naturally, gives way to poor ideas about child care that have perpetuated themselves despite their uselessness or even danger.
Knowing old myths about child care and how to avoid them is a very good step expectant parents-to-be should take. One part of knowing what to do is to figure out what not to do as well, especially as we turn to the internet and other people for advice or ideas. This will not be a comprehensive shopping list of child care tips, nor can we cover every piece of bad advice you’re likely to come across. But we hope that it may enlighten you towards some of the more common myths that can be encountered, and equip you to better deal with them.
Nothing can Substitute the Parent in Child Care
It is true that it can be very beneficial for the parents to spend a lot of time with the child early on during its development. It builds bonds between the different family members, creates a stable and loving environment for the child to grow up in, and ensures that the child’s needs are being met.
However, it would be mistaken to say that there’s no room for other people in the child’s care or that the child needs to be with the mother 24/7.
The fact remains that taking care of a child is an exhausting and difficult business, and parents should not operate under the assumption that they must do so alone. Allowing close relatives, such as grandparents or uncles and aunts, or even friends and neighbours to take a role in a child’s care is both healthy and positive. Likewise, by the child’s third year, leaving the child in non-maternal day care centers can also be healthy for the child to experience.
Parents Always Know Best
Remember what we said about parenting being a learned skill? This means that, on occasion, parents can pick up “false-positives” while rearing their child. As such, do not fall prey to the temptation that just because someone is a parent they somehow know more about parenting than other people, especially child care specialists, doctors or pediatricians. Just because you spend time in a garden doesn’t make you an expert on plant biology, and just because you watch the History Channel doesn’t make you a historian (although it might well make you an alien conspiracy theorist). Likewise, just because you have a child doesn’t make you an expert in child care.
In general you shouldn’t just accept advice off-hand. Always look for a second opinion. If a friend who is also a parent recommends an unusual remedy (“I always give my kids a little X to help them with Y, and it works great!”) double-check with a pediatrician first to make sure it’s on the level.
We’re going to be fair: some of these are actually effective, based on trial-and-error observation conducted by parents in the past. For example, rubbing a slice of lemon on a wasp sting does help soothe the irritation, as the acids help balance the alkaline within the sting. However not all work, and are based on the sort of false-positive we mentioned earlier. Butter, for example, will not help a burn. If anything, it’ll make it worse by trapping the heat.
Only use grandmother remedies in your child care if you don’t have anything better, and you know it will work. Never try it without verifying the effects first, and never use them instead of actual medicine. Remember that these remedies work because of naturally occurring chemicals found within them – medicine purchased at a pharmacy deliver those chemicals in more efficient and concentrated forms.
Absolutely never substitute any such remedy for emergency care. Medical sciences developed for a reason — familiarize yourself with local urgent care centers like Night Lite Pediatrics in case you should need it.
Child Care Centers Erode Family Values
A family is only as strong as the people within it. There has for many years been an assumption that placing children in child care centers will somehow damage the bonds between parent and child through traumatising and forced separation. This isn’t strictly speaking true.
Children can be greatly unnerved and frightened by sudden changes in environment and being left in strange places with strange people. However, this quickly passes once those places and people become familiar. As long as you reassure the child that you will come get them again afterward, they should be fine (but remember every child is different). After that, the chance to experience new things, benefit from toys and facilities that child care can offer, and meet with new children around their age, can be greatly beneficial both in the moment as well as in their long-term development.
The only way child care centers can be damaging to the child’s relationship with their parents is if a child care center is used as a substitute for actual parenting. Remember: you are that child’s parent.
Child care centers should only be used as a supplement to what you are already providing, not as a surrogate. You must ensure you are giving the child what it needs whenever it is at home.
Parents Should Pay For Their Own Children
Your children are not a private commodity. They are not only your benefit: they are a long term investment to your community. Remember: all children grow up. You will be responsible for the sort of grown up they become, and the sort of grown up they become will influence how they affect the community they grow into. As such, there is no reason you cannot benefit from public funding towards child care. Good child care makes your children into better citizens and better members of society, so if you must benefit from public child care schemes to ensure their good future, do not be ashamed to make use of them.
Your children deserve the best start in life that they can have. So you have a duty as a parent to ensure they can benefit from any advantage you can afford them, or can be provided with by the local government.
Christian Mills is a freelance writer and family man who contributes articles and insights on various issues affecting home and family life.