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Socializing Your Children: Quality vs Quantity

answered 04:48 PM EST, Wed February 22, 2012
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My wife and I both come from families that with a lot of addiction and alcoholism. Neither she nor I drink alcohol or do drugs because of what we saw growing up. We now have 2 young children and the oldest one is about ready to start pre-kindergarten.

My wife was a legal assistant prior to taking maternity leave and eventually taking a few years of to be with the kids while they were very young. Money is tight for us and now that the kids are approaching school age we are discussing when, or if, she should go back to work. If she did, the kids would obviously spend a good part of the day at school and in daycare.

I am concerned and have read that when children begin spending a lot of time without their parents they become more socialized by their peers, rather than mentored by an adult. In a daycare situation, there are obviously adults present, but the level of supervision does not equal that found in a family home. I have read that children in such situations grow up to be more susceptible to things like addiction and to other behavioral problems.

I realize that without really knowing our situation it is difficult for you to comment on our particulars, but in general, would you say that there is any truth that having one parent remain in the home as a stay-at-home parent offers any long term protection against the problems that kids can run into when they become teenagers, like drinking, and drug use and promiscuity and criminal acts etc.? Although money would be tight if my wife or I chose to stay home, money is not the only or most important thing for us.

Dr. James Strawbridge Says...

Your concerns are important. One particular thought caught my attention: "I am concerned and have read that when children begin spending a lot of time without their parents they become more socialized by their peers, rather than mentored by an adult. In a daycare situation, there are obviously adults present, but the level of supervision does not equal that found in a family home. I have read that children in such situations grow up to be more susceptible to things like addiction and to other behavioral problems."

States often license daycare and local agencies provide occupational permits. Contact your state and local agencies. Asked questions. 

Re: socialization: This certainly includes day care centers, neighborhoods, peers, mass media, religion with the most important being the family.

How do parents socialize their children? This is done in two ways. The first is teaching through direct instruction reinforced by a combination of rewards and punishments for acceptable and unacceptable behavior. The second is teaching by example. Of the two, the latter is the more important since most complex human behavior is acquired through observation learning. You learned about addictions by watching your parents. You decided from those experiences that this would not be a part of your lives. Children are much more likely to do as a parent does than as a parent says. That is why parents who drink alcohol and abuse alcohol and drugs tend to raise children to do the same. You are the exception. Congratulation!

 

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