Parents, especially mothers, are expected to do an impossible job in today's world. They are asked to raise children, fit them into an uncertain society, act as their mediator with that society as well as their advocate in that society, and walk the fine line between under- and overinvolvement with their children - all this with little or no training and little or no support from relatives, friends, or the community in which they live.
Some trends in our present-day society compound this "impossible job."
1. Approximately one half of our nation's mothers work outside the home.
2. Most parents do not have relatives, close friends, or other supportive people sharing the responsibility of child rearing within the family group.
3. Families are no longer integrated into the community and are, for the most part, minimally active in the community.
4. Many women feel unfulfilled and are looking for the kind of role alternatives available to men and want to follow these alternatives without feeling guilty or depressed.
Parent support services and education for parenting are urgent needs today. Parents need to have available to them appropriate child-care services - appropriate for them and for their children. This is not to imply that all parents will or should rush out and enroll their children in the nearest day-care center. Some parents find appropriate support services within their own family and neighborhood or community. Some find a part-time play group or nursery school the answer. Some find that a "cooperative" arrangement with other parents in their community, possibly through a cooperative nursery school, is a better answer for them. Some find day care within a family preferable to group day care.
The following article should be helpful to all physicians and family counselors called on to counsel parents in the area of day care and parenting.