Day Care Study

August 5, 1999

Dads don't matter, and moms don't matter either. At least that's what you would think if you read the latest psychological literature. As I reported a week ago, researchers writing in a recent issue of the American Psychologist state that fathers are not essential to the well-being of a child.

But it isn't that dads don't matter. According to some psychologists, moms don't matter either. A few months ago a major study on day care was published in Developmental Psychology which supposedly found no difference in the development of "children whose mothers were employed versus children whose mothers were not employed."

When I wrote a commentary on this a few months ago, I received some e-mail messages pointing out that my critique of the study by Elizabeth Harvey was not very rigorous and mostly anecdotal. That is probably true, but now that researchers have looked at the study, some of those initial concerns and impressions turn out to be true.

For example, Ms. Harvey found that at the age of 12 some of the children with working mothers still lagged behind their peers, yet she dismisses the disadvantages as insignificant. The study also noted that the children of mothers working part-time were better off than those whose mothers worked full-time. But then she lumps all of these children together. Also, Ms. Harvey did not evaluate the kinds of care the children were receiving, thus making no distinction between children cared for by grandmothers versus institutionalized care.

Ms. Harvey said, "Working mothers have a lot of guilt. I hope this study will alleviate some of that guilt." The study probably did alleviate some guilt, but did it really demonstrate there was no difference in children whose mothers were employed versus children whose mothers were not employed? I don't think so.

I'm Kerby Anderson of Probe Ministries, and that's my opinion.