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Jewish World Review /Jan. 18, 1999 /29 Teves, 5759

Dr. Laura

Dr. Laura Day care no substitute for love of mom and dad

(JWR) --- (http://www.jewishworldreview.com) I RECEIVED AN IRATE FAX FROM JOAN IN SHOREVIEW, MINN., with a copy of the side of a grocery bag from a large chain store in her area. At first I wondered what all the fuss was about. The picture on the bag shows an adorable 2-year-old girl in a frilly dress, sitting cross-legged on the floor. She is grinning widely and her little fists, up at her chin, are playfully emphasizing her ample, red cheeks. So far, just cuteness!

The headline doesn't give me much to work on to understand Joan's fury. It says: "Promise Me Forever -- Parents and caregivers, please make these four promises to kids 0 - 5."

I, of course, as "My Kid's Mom," was immediately curious as to what these magical four points would be. My mind raced ahead to what I imagined would (or should) be included in this fateful four.

Substitute mommy?
Here's what came to mind:

1. Maintaining the stability, health, lovingness and happiness of our marriage, ensuring our children the physical safety, emotional security, psychological well-being, consistency, stability, warmth and positive role-modeling they need to stay focused on their business of growing up.

2. Emphasize, by our words and actions, the values, ethics, morals and principles of correct, decent, legal and holy behaviors necessary for a life of value and meaning, as well as an avoidance of unnecessary risks leading to chaos and pain to ourselves and others.

3. Dedicating the time to play, talk, tickle, read, walk, snooze, cuddle, hang out, learn and generally experience each other. This means that the notion of quality time will not be used as an excuse to absolve responsibility for the quantity time necessary to foster a true quality parent-child relationship and family unity.

4. A shared commitment to a religious life. This includes observance, worship, prayer, study and the practical applications of service, sacrifice, abstention from "vices," and a point of view that recognizes God in ourselves and our actions.

So many other thoughts came to mind, such as accepting responsibility for personal physical and mental health, which includes avoiding excessive, inappropriate or illegal acts such as drinking, drugs and gambling.

Additionally, we might add not engaging in risky behaviors and sports when one has family responsibilities. Self-involvement to the exclusion of family time should also be a no-no.

Finally, after indulging my imagination, I could wait no longer. What was THE list on the side of this grocery bag that made Joan so angry?

Couldn't be No. 1: "I will take good care of my prenatal health and that of my young child." This sounds responsible enough.

Perhaps No. 2? Oops. Well, I'll come back to that one.

No. 3 reads, "I will help teach my child to read."

And the final of THE four promises this message feels are essential for parents (oh, yes, and caregivers): "I will control my child's television watching."

Now, back to No. 2, which is exactly what set off Joan -- and me: "I will seek high-quality day care for my child."


That's a promise every parent SHOULD make? Every parent should promise every child that hired help will raise them for the most important, sensitive and formative years of their lives? No wonder Joan, shrieking in her kitchen, wrote, "What ever happened to MOM providing high-quality day care?"

There was a time when day care was the regrettable fallback position for families with emergencies. We've come a long way, baby. We've come from loving and nurturing our children to treating them like pets and houseplants, hiring the appropriate professionals to tend to their requirements. This, of course, frees us up for the more important aspects of life. Which are ...?

Tom, from Honeoye Falls, N.Y., sent me an ad for a day-care center. The headline reminds: "For the most important years of your child's life ..." For its qualifications, it lists spectacular facilities, full-day care, college-degreed teachers, convenient downtown business location, outdoor playground, nutritious meals and a warm, loving and creative atmosphere.

When we adults pay people to "make love to us," they're called prostitutes.

When we pay people to "love" our children -- what are they called? Certainly not Mommy and Daddy.


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12/24/98: How can we teach ethics without defining morals?
12/18/98: Parents afraid of firm values leave their children adrift
12/11/98: Spread righteousness by refusing to accept the 'code'

©1998,Universal Press Syndicate