I read the New York Times article "The Price of Daycare Can Be High" by David Leonhardt over the weekend. This article was mentioned in the blog entry "The Price of Daycare" by my colleague Cathy Arnst. Lyn and I leave our daughter with my mother-in-law each weekday morning. Neither of us feel the marriage is less satisfying or that we are depressed because of this decision. But we feel pangs of guilt each morning as we walk down the steps looking back at our daughter and waving goodbye for the day.
Unfortunately, we weren’t in a financial position that allowed Lyn to stay home. We realized this before our daughter was born and made a conscious decision to stay close to Lyn’s parents. Besides the expense of daycare, the thought of turning over our baby to a stranger was too upsetting for us.
In this day and age, relying on relatives to watch children seems less common, although Lyn and have two other friends who rely on grandparents to watch their children during the workweek. I also hear persons from earlier generations lament about the fragmentation of family. With siblings, parents, and grandparents scattered all over the country, the web of family support that was once common seems to be disappearing. I remember growing up within a few miles of my maternal grandmother, and several aunts and uncles.
It’s a shame considering how many families now have two working parents because of economic reasons. While my wife would love to stay home, we see how our daughter gets the individual attention and love from her grandmother that she really needs right now. We are fortunate to have such an arrangement. There may be many families that couldn’t rely on the setup that Lyn and I have for reasons other than geographic distance. At the same time, there must also be acceptable ways to encourage or incentivize more families to form the villages that children, and parents, need.