When parents work
full-time outside the home, they often send their child to a day
care center. Yet, eight to twelve hours a day, five days a week is a
long time for parents and children to be apart, and the separation
takes an emotional toll on parents. They miss their child,
particularly when he first begins a program, and they worry about
the care heís receiving. Is he happy? Safe? Are his teachers taking
an interest in him? Does he have friends?
Parents may feel guilty because they fear that day care will have a
negative effect on their child. If they see his behavior change,
they wonder if itís because of his program. They feel bad about not
spending enough time with him, and a mother, especially, may wonder
whether she should have gone to work full-time in the first place.
Even when parents and child are together in the evenings, the
effects of work and day care continue. Thereís never enough time
together at home and parents who want time for themselves feel
guilty about not paying enough attention to their child.
If youíre concerned about having your child in a full-time program,
your feelings are natural. There are things you can do to lessen
your guilt and worry and to solve some of the child care-related
problems you experience. The most important step is to reassure
yourself about your childís well-being by staying in close contact
with his teachers. Call the center periodically and find out how
heís doing. If the teachers agree (and they should), ask that he be
brought to the phone so you can talk to him. When you have a chance,
drop by the day care unannounced so you can observe him at play. You
will feel better if you see him happily involved.
If you suspect that heís not happy, donít ignore the problem, even
if you feel desperate about the need for child care. It takes a
great deal of effort and energy to become involved in your childís
day care situation; some parents avoid or deny all problems because
they donít have the time, desire, or energy to cope. Others are
afraid even to question their child about his day for fear heíll say
If youíre worried about your childís adjustment to day care, you
have to become involved enough to help him. Make sure the quality of
his program remains highódonít compromise. Spend as much time as
possible with him when youíre home in the evenings and on weekends.
Look to other parents for support and advice. Finally, reconsider
your need to work outside the home or to work full-time. You and
your child could benefit greatly if you were able to stay home with
him as much as possible during the few short years before elementary