MOTHER CARE/OTHER CARE by Sandra Scarr

MOTHER CARE/OTHER CARE

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Maybe children placed in daycare centers in infancy will grow up to be no less healthy, happy individuals than children raised chiefly at home, in the care of parents or surrogates: there is much current thinking to that effect. But neither Rubin (above) nor Scarr is a convincing spokesperson for the view. Scarr has personal experience as a working mother and professional credentials as a psychologist (Univ. of Virginia). She is also old enough to have encountered much personal and professional disapprobation of her dual role, and she often sounds defensive. In any case, her attestations are so broad as to cast doubt upon both her judgment and her knowledge: ""In my view, most parents function for better rather than for worse with their children. And so it is with most day care situations in the United States; they provide environments that are sufficient for children to reach their normal potentials of development."" Scarr, it must be said, believes parental care has been oversold, and so has ""good care"": ""You simply do not have that much power to alter your children's developmental pattern,"" and neither does ""good child care"" (pp. 33-34). ""Suppose the wrong kind of care is chosen for the child. Is that the end of his chance in life? Children are not as fragile as some experts would have us believe. Nor are the experiences of the first few years of life as important to later development as some earlier psychologists believed"" (p. 228). Group care, on the other hand, has been undersold. The content, then, consists of some distinctions (e.g., for ""younger babies and toddlers,"" as well as ""shy children,"" the advantages of day care may not be as great as the disadvantages) and some pointers (""children with better-trained caregivers scored better. . .""), along with lots of negative comment on stay-at-home psychology and social attitudes. (E.g., ""the concept of attachment comes to us from the study of presocial animals""--like apes?) For a concise and careful presentation of the pro-daycare position (based on quality care), see rather Alison Clarke-Stewart's Daycare (1982); for actual guidance and individual options, Bryna Siegal-Gorelick's The Working Parents' Guide to Child Care (1983).

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 1984
Publisher: Basic Books