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Charging Daycares For Flooding Parks With Kids Is Only A Band-Aid Solution

mother on swing with son
Image CreditGordon / Flickr / cropped, CC By-SA 2.0

My kids and I don’t enjoy being in a park, indoor garden, or play space with teeming mobs of largely unsupervised young children.


A Boston suburb might charge preschools and daycares $3,000 to $5,000 a year for permits to use city parks, Aaron Renn noted Friday. A local CBS affiliate explains:

In a commission meeting from 2023, Parks and Recreation claims to have received numerous complaints from residents about overuse of the space, and that the extra usage was leading to more wear and tear costs for the city. Connelly says the fees will only apply to schools that use the park space regularly, not for occasional use.

I’m not sure charging preschools is the best way to handle this, but it seems reasonable to require people who impose dramatically more wear and tear on public places to make up for that in some way. It’s yet another reminder that socially engineering mothers to abandon their children degrades society.

When I take my kids to public family places, we leave if a preschool or school group comes in. It’s because when poorly supervised masses of children use public places, they do so differently than small, family-based groups.

Preschools and daycares bring the children of something like 30-50 families into a venue at one time. In bigger cities, it’s more. That level of occupation almost never happens when parents take their kids to venues.

It oversaturates play areas, exhibits, personnel, walking areas, and equipment. It dramatically increases the noise and occupancy, which increases overstimulation. Little kids and people with sensitive personalities (or those who are tired, like most moms are) are especially affected by this. It makes people cranky and distracted and takes away their learning and connecting opportunities.

It’s this bad just for bystanders. But also consider that the kids creating it are placed in this situation eight hours a day, five days a week. Daycare environments create chronic stress in small children that on average results in worse health, mental well-being, and behavior well into adulthood — and likely their entire lives.

One Adult Can’t Care for Eight Toddlers

Full-time “preschools” are really just daycare. Government regulations for both typically require a ratio of adults to children of 1 to 8 at the lowest, and often 1 to 12 or 1 to 16. In families, the adult-to-child ratio is typically 1 to 2 or 1 to 3. Even very large families like mine, which are rare, bring two to three times as many adults to children as “school” groups do.

This means daycare and preschool groups involve disproportionately little adult oversight of very young children. Yet young children need a lot of constant attention. It’s in their nature. It’s why God doesn’t usually give parents more than two or three little kids at a time. It’s hard to handle any more than that even for a very competent adult.

Simply the ratio of adults to children in mass settings ensures that children brought up in daycare are far less regulated than children parented by their own mothers and fathers. It’s impossible to monitor, coach, train, and converse with eight to 16 preschoolers as much as you can with one or two. All you can do with 16 is keep them alive — if that! Yet conversations are how children learn and receive love.

Lots of Nonparent Care Distresses Little Kids

My kids and I don’t enjoy being in a park, indoor garden, or play space with teeming mobs of largely unsupervised young children. They attack my kids, scream and fight, snatch toys, and generally make the experience extremely unpleasant. We go somewhere else or come back later when there’s not a toddler mob around. It’s another way in which urging mothers to work more than very part-time outside the home when their children are young is completely antisocial.

Tons of studies show that children separated from their parents before age 6 in daycare and “preschool” settings are more aggressive, loud, dysregulated, upset, and rude than children who develop a close bond with their mothers while young. This dynamic is visible to anyone paying half attention to kids in public. It’s visible in other signs, too.

Babies who go to daycare are sick more often because little kids pass around germs like candy. If a kid got ear tubes, he is far more likely to have spent time in daycare. Kids nowadays get vaccines to reduce disease spread from daycares, such as hepatitis. Babies are deeply attuned to and calmed by their mothers’ voices above all other voices in the world. No mother’s voice near baby all day, and baby bathes in chronic stress hormones that make him sadder and sicker.

Should babies be sick and achingly lonely more often so their mothers can work full-time out of their reach? Is it fair to ask babies to be miserable more often so women can pretend they’re men, or men can pretend they’re not responsible for making their children’s lives better?

Should we force mothers to work to obtain health insurance that’s so bleeping expensive because the government forces it to socialize the costs of elective or doomed attempts at old-age remediation? Is it right to ask babies to suffer their entire lives so that STDs and diabetes meds and heart transplants for very old people are “covered” by insurance, Medicaid, and Medicare?

We’re forcing families into tradeoffs like these that nobody wants to talk about. That doesn’t mean they don’t exist and that they’re not hurting people. The answer is not subsidizing more family separation, it’s figuring out how to reintegrate families again.

Daycare Hurts Everyone, Not Just the Kids

Mothers and daycares are not interchangeable at all. We hear constantly about “affordable child care,” but what about sustainable child care? The only truly sustainable childcare is the child’s mother and father, ideally supported by extended family. Everybody knows that, deep down. So what about what’s best for children and society in the long run?

It’s very telling that the discussion is never about trying to get as much of what’s best for kids as possible. Yet it’s not good, let alone mature or responsible, to put adult comfort over children’s best interests. When we do that, not only do we hurt the kids, we hurt our communities and country.

Individual parents’ failure to provide for their children — starting with marrying before making children — strips others of the fruits of their labor, good neighbors, and clean and pleasant public places. Parents who don’t parent their kids impose angry, rude, slovenly, ignorant, and undisciplined yahoos on everyone else. They deserve public shame for that, and strong encouragement to fix their family life, not increased subsidies for dysfunction.

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