Joseph Avenue Christmas is the story of one man's journey to the true meaning of Christmas. Not just the birth of the babe, but the salvation of the soul. Set on the wintry streets of Rochester, NY it is a visit to the heart of that city and the hearts of some of its best and bravest people. From their good example, and the simple lessons of their own lives and faith, a troubled man finds on a dark Christmas Eve an escape from an increasingly failed life.
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Stay home. That’s the magic phrase for America’s mothers.
Stay home and raise your babies. Don’t turn them over to cousins or grandmothers or nannies or ladies at the day care. It doesn’t work. You will regret it, and your children will pay for it.
Those are hard words to hear and hard words to say. But they are true. And our desire not to hurt one another’s feelings should not keep us from being honest enough to speak the truth.
Don’t get me wrong. I am condemning no one. And the only people who can know how to order a family are the mother and father who have created that family. Only they know their circumstance and priorities. They have to live with the consequences, so they have to make the decisions.
And I am not saying a word against mothers who have decided to go back to work. Particularly if they are single mothers, or are in families with dire financial need.
But the facts are the facts.
And the facts are that putting a child in day care substantially increases the chances that that child will have serious problems later in life. And that includes every type of day care that isn’t spending time with that child’s mother.
We’re not just talking about institutional day cares, with anonymous workers and crowds of children, we’re talking about every type of day care. Including babysitting by grandmothers and aunts. Including in-home nannies. It doesn’t matter. If it’s not mom, it’s not good enough.
And here’s how we know.
A report from the National Institutes of Health says that children with a day care background are three times as likely to have behavioral problems in school as are children who stayed at home with their moms. Three times.
And that isn’t some shakey made-up poll. This is a decade-long tracking study. And it was predictable as clockwork.
The more a child is in day care, the worse he will be. There seems to be an almost-direct correlation. It’s visible in kindergarten when day care kids – instead of having the increased socialization skills day care supporters promise – are more aggressive toward children and more defiant toward adults.
Again: The more child care, the worse the child is.
Those are all averages, of course, and there are exceptions, but the correlation is striking.
It doesn’t matter what’s happening at home, how loving that enviroment is, even the quality and nature of the day care. If an infant, toddler or pre-schooler is away from his mom, he develops behavioral problems.
What studies haven’t examined yet is how those problems feed the hysteria of attention deficit disorder and the growth of the Ritalin Generation, or how that heightened aggression and defiance affects the child as she ages.
But it can’t be good.
Though it can be avoided.
By having mom stay home. It’s the closest thing yet to a magic wand.
In an age of angry and alienated children, perhaps we’ve found what so far looks like the most likely cause. Our children are abandoning us because we have abandoned them.
Women who would gladly give up their lives for the children, will not give up their careers for them.
And yet to say any such thing, or to endorse the findings of this study, is to be seen as insensitive and judgemental. It is human nature to see oneself as justified in one’s actions. That is true of working mothers. And while many are truly justified, driven by circumstance away from their children, many are not.
And justified mothers respond to this study with broken hearts, while unjustified mothers respond with offended dignities. One cries, one rages.
And to keep from hurting one and offending the other we keep our mouthes shut.
And that’s no good.
Because silence in the defense of truth is traitorous.
So let me repeat.
Stay home and raise your children.
It is the easiest phrase and the hardest task. To surrender financial security and face social opposition and bear the heavy burden of the home is a herculean and angelic duty. It is life’s greatest work.
But it has rewards. As this study shows.
So stay home.
Please. For your children.