Family versus Nursery: Taking care of Children
Historically, children have been brought up by their parents, that is, by their mothers and fathers. During the twentieth century, millions of women joined their husbands at work. As a result, millions of children started to be taken care of by special nurseries. In many cases, the child as old as a few months would be sent to such a nursery or care-giving center where he or she is brought up for a few years before joining school. Arguments arose in relation to whether this was an appropriate manner in which children could be brought up or not. While many argued that a child growing up in a nursery would not suffer from any problems, other claimed that a child’s natural place was at home with his parents. I agree that children should be brought up at home with their parents. This study provides important information about family versus nursery and the care for children.
As soon as a child is born, he or she develops what is known as parent attachment, a relationship that mostly occurs between the child and his mother. The reason that child attachment is strongest towards the mother is that the child is so helpless that it can only focus its emotions onto one person, that is, the person who mostly takes care of him, who feeds him, and who touches him all the time. When sent to a nursery, the child is taken care of by a large caregivers and hence is confused as on which person his emotion should be focused (Ehrensaft, 1987, p.185).
It is argued that a child at a nursery or at home will always be able to focus his emotional attachment onto someone. For example, at the nursery, when the child is frequently taken care of by a specific person, he would be eventually able to become attached to this person. Therefore, it is not right to argue that children brought up in a nursery suffer from emotional problems and unstable attachment.
However, even if such an attention is finally focused on one person, eventually, this caregiver might leave the nursery and be replaced by someone else. For a child, losing the person on which attachment is focused is very similar to the death of the mother or losing her through divorce. Hence, the child in a nursery is exposed to a serious emotional shock and risk (Ehrensaft, 1987, p.185).
In addition to the emotional attachment problems that requires the bringing up of children in the family, there is the problem of unbearable behavior. In the early years, and as the child’s personality begins to develop, the child behaves in unbearable manner. He might act as a dictator, or might simply express his anger in an unacceptable manner. One reason for such behaviors is that the child develops “ambivalent feelings towards his surroundings” (Josselyn, 1955, p.11). Inside the family, the mother often plays an essential role in accepting these feelings and eventually adjusting them. Obviously, if the child is not growing with his parents and peers, his unbearable behaviors may be negatively received and this will affect the way in which he develops his social personality (Josselyn, 1955, p. 11). In Ibsen’s Ghosts, this problem is addressed and Mrs. Alving tries to help her son by showing him that she can treat him better than the real world, especially when she tells him, “I shall be patient and undemanding” (Ibsen, 1997, p. 69).
It is true that the child behaves in an unbearable manner, especially in the first few years of life, but the fact is in a nursery, caregivers are very well trained and specialized in dealing with children who have all kinds of problems. A specialized caregiver is very tolerant and can help the child adjust his behavior with time. After all, the duty of a caregiver is not only to give attention to the child but also to help him socialize with others.
A Nursery Caregiver:
A nursery caregiver will definitely try to understand the child and to provide him with help whenever necessary. The problem, however, is that in a nursery, the child rarely have the opportunity to establish intimate relations as those that can be established at home. It is true that a caregiver will be able to tolerate the behavior of the child, but the problem is that caregivers can rarely replace the mother on the long run, especially that their tolerance has a limit. The mother tolerates her child’s behavior out of love whereas the caregiver tolerates the child’s anger and aggressiveness out of duty (Josselyn, 1955, p.11).
Although emotional attachment and proper socialization are very important factors that necessitate the growing up of a child with his family, another reason is the emotional security of the child. When the child grows up at home with his family, he gets used to the surroundings. He also gets used to the people around him. Eventually, the child becomes safe and is capable of feeling secure and self-confident. Children who grow up in nurseries have a problem in this respect because their surroundings continuously change. They meet strange faces all the time, and when the caregivers are changed they also suffer similar insecurities. As a result, it is not likely that the child will be able to develop a clear sense of security and self-confidence when growing in a nursery (Zanden, 1993, p.213).
It is true that a child learns how to feel secure with others at home, but nurseries are also capable of helping children to develop self-confidence. By meeting strangers continuously, children get used to being with others and eventually, they earn a lot of self-confidence. They also become mature as they deal in society and this can be very helpful for them when they become adults.
Consequences of insecurity and growing away from family
The consequences of insecurity and growing away from the family can be for example depicted in the behavior of Oswald who is not secure in his life and who cannot even return home to stay with his mother for whom he no longer feels anything special. In fact, Mrs. Alving is no longer even capable of taking away these fears from the heart and mind of her son who grew up in anxiety among strangers, so she asks him, “Have I freed you from all your anxiety and self-reproach now?” (Ibsen, 1997, p. 69). Ironically, the mother is no longer capable to play her role, and the son who has gotten used to growing up as a stranger among strangers is totally helpless when he replies, “But who will take away the fear?” (Ibsen, 1997, p. 69). Thus, although Oswald was left to grow up with strangers when he was a child, this did not do him any good. On the contrary, it hurt him emotionally a lot. This can be best seen in his behavior towards Regina whom he tries to seduce, and towards his mother whom he cannot understand or help. The point, therefore is that growing among strangers is a very cold experience that does not help the child develop in a normal manner.
In conclusion, the controversy over the growth of a child in a nursery or at home is very clear. A child can grow anywhere, but the issue is not about physical wellbeing, but rather, it is about emotional wellbeing. Children who grow up among their families are mentally and emotionally sound. Those who grow up in nurseries are exposed to many emotional and personal risks. First of all, they do not get enough attention and security. Secondly, they do not feel well at all, especially when they are not allowed to feel attached in the normal manner that children growing with their parents would. It is true that there are situations when a nursery is inevitable, such as when the child is an orphan or when his parents are alcoholic, but it is certainly preferable that if the child can be brought up among the members of his natural family, then this choice be taken. Growing up in a natural family, the child will not suffer from the emotional, personal and social problems that he would encounter if he grows up in a nursery. The child’s natural habitat is therefore at home, and it is necessary that parents try to provide their children with all the emotional and social feelings of attachment, security and satisfaction that they can.
Ehrensaft, Diane. (1987). Parenting Together. New York: The Free Press.
Ibsen, Henrik. (1997). Ghosts. Beirut: Librarie du Liban.
Josselyn, Irene Milliken. (1955). The Happy Child. New York: Random House.
Zanden, James Vander. (1993). Human Development. Fifth Edition. New York: