Over the last generation, parents have felt increasingly intimidated by child care “experts” and surrendered their role as the primary educators of their children. Brian Robertson believes that this development has proved detrimental to parents and children alike. Theories of development, often colored by ideological positions on the family and its role in society, should take a back seat to the instinctive understanding parents have about what rearing children requires. Parenting is for parents, he believes, not for child development experts and especially not for day care “professionals.”
The central issue of day care is often framed in a way that pits conservatives against liberals, working moms against stay-at-home moms, and feminists against traditional families. But the real conflict, as Robertson shows in “Day care Deception,” is between all parents and the burgeoning day care establishment itself—a multimillion dollar lobby with a vested interest in the expansion of subsidized day care services.
Robertson shows how this establishment works to expand its power and silence its critics. Despite the fact that most reliable studies show that commercial day care has a negative effect on the emotional, psychological and even physical development of children, for instance, researchers calling attention to the correlation between aggression among children and too much non-maternal care have seen their work vilified. Scholars have been brought forth to dispute what until now has been obvious to expert and lay person alike—the crucial role of a mother’s attention in early childhood development. Studies proving the importance of early parental care have been twisted to bolster the case for day care on the grounds that day care equals “school” and parents’ desire to care for their children selfishly deprives them of a “head start.” Every year, as Robertson shows, the day care lobby pours more and more money into state and national elections, which is why politicians are beginning to provide more public subsidies for commercial day care while parents are increasingly calling for policy options that would help them stay home to raise their children.
The story of day care in America is a complex and daunting one and Brian Robertson has told it with intelligence and insight. Day Care Deception is a brave and thoughtful book about contentious debate whose outcome will have profound consequences for our children and our social future.