Wednesday, December 06, 2006

When you disagree about Childcare Issues, Advice from a Mother

By Christina VanGinkel

Sometime in the magnitude of raising baby, the issue of childcare can be an issue. If you have a significant other, whether it is a spouse, an involved grandparent, etc., you may find that you both have differing views on the subject.

You may want to stay home and raise your baby, believing that since you gave birth to him or her, that no one is better able to care for them than you are. You might also be on the other side of the issue, and feel that daycare is not only viable; it is an excellent choice for your infant or toddler. You might even fall somewhere in between the two and still be at odds with the other person who has just as much say as you do on the subject. This is where communication skills can really be put to use.

If possible, discuss this subject before baby arrives. However, whenever you do take it to the table, be sure that you consider all the possible scenarios so that all parties have a clear understanding of what the other not only wants and expects, but also what they are willing to do to make whatever is decided upon happen. Be very honest. If you have fears, say so. Only if you speak up will the other person be able to understand where you are coming from. When you each have a clear understanding of what the other is thinking, will you be able to make a qualified decision on what childcare options you are both willing to consider.

For example, if you want to stay home with baby, ask yourself if you mean short term, or long term, then tell the other person exactly what you are thinking. This simple clarification can make a huge difference to the other person you might be in disagreement with. When a good friend told her husband that she wanted to stay home with their new baby, she just left it at that. He agreed reluctantly, but then went on to make comments to many of us (third party friends and family) that while he wanted the same thing; he was worried about their future living standards, once her income was removed from their goals they had put together a few years before baby. When this came back to her, also third party, she was stunned. She assumed he knew that she meant for a few extra months, beyond their initial three months that they had planned for. Once out in the open, and they discussed it more clearly, it became a non-issue all together. She ended up staying home until their baby was about nine months old and weaned from the breast. Had she meant long-term, that would have been OK, but it still would have been something they needed to discuss, not leaving the period in question hanging between them, with no clear boundaries.

When baby is ready to go to day care, even more disagreements can arise. Be to the point on such things as who is going to choose a daycare provider (one or the other, or both together), who will bring baby, and pick him or her up, and who will pay. By paying, this might be as simple as who is going to make sure the check is mailed or dropped off, or who is going to be paying from whose pocket. It is often these issues, which bring about disagreements just as much as whether or not one or the other adults want the child in daycare.

Even after you have made a decision, such as whether to stay home with your child or place them in daycare, disagreements might still come up. Treat them all as if they were as important as the initial decision. Maybe you have chosen to stay home, but after your baby becomes one, or two years old, you think you might want to go back into the workforce, or take a few college classes. Just stewing on the idea of change will get you nowhere. Talk it out with the other adult in your life. Only by keeping communication as open as you can, will you be able to overcome any disagreements that might arise about the issue of daycare for your child.

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