Buttner: A Death Blow for Day Care?

If your office is anything like mine, I'll bet you're talking about this at the water cooler and I'll bet the conversation — to be polite — will continue at the dinner table.

There’s a new government study that links day care to aggressive behavior in kids. That's right, it says the more hours spent in day care before school, the more defiant the child will be in kindergarten — the more he or she will act out, be a bully, demand attention and throw a temper tantrum.

At least those are the headlines and I can already hear the calls to action — get kids out of day care, get moms back in the home full-time.

Yes, there is plenty of fodder here for a big guilt trip to the parents who must, or choose to, use someone other than a mother for all their childcare.


There's a lot more here than the headlines suggest.  I talked to one of the chief investigators in the study and she told me that jumping to conclusions would be all too easy here.

Of course, parents have the primary role in how their children are raised. But the same government group behind this study has also shown that factors such as a family's income and a mom's psychological well-being have more of an influence on a child's social competence than does the day care arrangement.

This study is not a call for the end of day care, nor should it be.

Many of us working mothers have no choice. A dual income family is not an option, but a necessity for a lot of families. And for single parents, if the decision is welfare and staying home, or working and having day care — well, which would you choose?

Also, what about the positives for children in care: they're out there in the world, interacting with others and the independence that can foster?

Business could play a big role here. Maybe what we do need are more family-friendly policies, or to change the fact that most part-time parents don't get benefits and make a lot less than those who work full-time.

What we definitely don't need is more guilt for parents who can't get by without some form of day care.

- Brenda Buttner is the host of Bulls & Bears which airs Saturdays at 10 a.m. ET and Sundays at 9 a.m. ET on the Fox News Channel.