Monday, March 26, 2007

Survey Says -- Dads Are Child Care Not Parents

Today CNN was reporting on the latest survey results a longitudinal NIH study on the effects of child care. ("Child Care Linked to Later Behavioral Issues,). The full article was published in the most recent issue of Child Development. The article authors are quick to point out that:

The authors emphasized that the children's behavior was within a normal range and that it would be impossible to go into a classroom, and with no additional information, pick out those who had been in child care.

What just makes me crazy about this whole study is the definition of "child care."

In the study, child care was defined as care by anyone other than the child's mother who was regularly scheduled for at least 10 hours per week.

Think about that. Anyone other than the child's mother. That includes dad. Families who do split shifts where one parent works days and one parent works nights would be using child care according to the study. Families where dad works during the week and mom works on Saturday or Sunday and a few other hours a week would be considered to use child care according to the study. Families that bring grandma in for 2 hours Monday through Friday would be using child care according to the study. Any mother who regularly planned to be away from her child for more than 1.5 of the 24 hours a day throughout the week would be considered to use child care. That a parent, a male parent, having sole responsibility for his child 1.5 hours every day of the week, would be classified as child care just boggles my mind. How much money is going into fatherhood initiatives and the NIH says that is child care? Not parenting but child care. Steam is coming out my ears.


Daddy Democrat said...

I'm a pretty engaged dad, so you can imagine how I feel about my designation.

ACM said...

is it the same study discussed here? because Echidne says that it was about daycare centers, and misrepresented in the popular summaries...

Duke said...

As a work from home dad (by choice and good fortune), you can imagine how I feel about this designation as well.

Thanks for posting.

AboveAvgJane said...

Thanks everyone for the comments, and welcome Duke, visiting from

I tracked down the full study and think their methodology has more than a few questionable assumptions. The most obnoxious being the one that care by fathers is equal to care by nannies or child care centers. Later on they do break down the data into care by relatives and nonrelatives but even so.... a parent is a parent not a relative. It's just so bizarre.