February 20, 2012 by Melissa
I don’t know about you but I really dislike when health studies are reported on in the news without any sort of in depth questioning of methods used or other possibilities for the results. For instance, I recently read about a study done by the University of Texas at Austin that said that high quality day care was better for kids in the long run than either low quality day care (duh) or staying at home with a caregiver. They found that parents were more involved with their kids’ teachers and schools and that the kids were more prepared for school when they got there. Well, great. Apparently I’m setting my kids up for a lifetime of mediocrity and substandard test scores. But then my college training in statistics and research methods kicked in and I started questioning. Most high quality day care is expensive so these families who could afford that also could afford, among other things, higher quality healthcare, higher quality food, there’s probably less overall stress in the home, they probably live in quality communities with great services, and on and on. Beyond all that what do these researchers consider to be high quality?
I know I can’t get too worked up about this. There’s a million studies like this reported on every year and many are conflicting. I know that these particular researchers are trying to show that subsidizing quality day care for needy families will be beneficial in the long run for the families and the communities they live in which is admirable. And I now know that I’ll have to be really diligent in communicating with my daughters’ teachers and schools when they’re enrolled but I anticipated that already. I also think that this study shows how unprepared a lot of us are that stay home with our kids. It takes a lot of work to be diligent in educating them, showing them how to be productive citizens when you also have a household to run and yourself to take care of. Each day I wonder what I could be doing better, what resources I could be utilizing, what I should be teaching my kids, if I made the right choice in staying home. This is, after all, my job and I treat it that way-always looking to be better, to earn my position because not everyone is so lucky to have a choice. Why isn’t there training for this? I know there are ECFE groups that can be fantastic and parenting centers (like our friends at Amma) that are a great source of support but not everyone has access to them, or knows about them.
I guess my point here is to not take research reported on in the news at face value and try not to let it degrade your confidence until you really look at all the research. It is hard to not take it personally, after all-it’s your foundation as a parent that may be shaken. But sometimes that’s a good thing-questioning your skills and seeking answers makes you better in any field. Now can anyone tell me how to get my 4 month old to not be so wide-eyed and bushy-tailed at 4:30 in the flippin’ morning?