One struggle that South Asian American working women face is lack of community and family support for paid childcare. A lot of us are the first in our families to place our children in paid childcare. Many women in the older generation of Desis were stay at home moms. Others sent children away to live with relatives in South Asia or had relatives serve as live-in caregivers until the children were school-aged.
But from my anecdotal evidence, few placed their children with a paid nanny or in daycare. So there can be a lot of negativity or just general misinformation about our generation of women’s decision to place our children in paid childcare.
Here are 6 tips for dealing with your extended families and your childcare decisions.
1. Do Your Homework
Research your childcare options thoroughly. Before you choose one, visit the childcare center, home daycare, or nanny at different times of day. Talk to other parents who have used or currently use that childcare provider. Read up on state licensing violations. Once you have all of this information, select the provider you and your partner are most comfortable with.
2. Trust Yourself
You’ve done the research, you’ve transitioned into sending your child to the childcare provider, and things are going smoothly. But unsupportive comments are making you question yourself. You go to a family party, and someone asks, “In daycare at such a young age?” or you are at a wedding, and a relative says, “your baby is going to think the nanny her mommy.” At these moments, you may question your decision, but don’t. You’ve done the research and know your child. Trust that you’ve made the best decision for your little family unit.
3. Educate the Family
Some of the extended family’s comments come from a simple lack of knowledge about paid childcare. Many in Indian American Dad’s and my families asked about the setup of the daycare center and the classrooms. We showed them pictures of the childcare center itself and talked about the typical daily schedules and activities. If you have a nanny, you could introduce him or her to the extended family. Some childcare providers will send photos of your child to you throughout the day. Send these on to your extended family so they can see what little pookie is up to all day. Just helping family understand what goes on in paid childcare can help alleviate their concerns.
4. Share Successes
Share how your child has benefited from his or her childcare setting. For example, Indian American Toddler is extremely outgoing and dexterous. This is partly because he has been going to a group daycare center where he interacts with lots of people every day. He also has learned skills such as eating with a spoon, painting, and gluing. Show the family projects that your child has made or point out things that he or she has learned from the childcare center. Our families have been impressed by what Indian American Toddler has learned in daycare.
5. Choose Confidantes Wisely
Working parenthood and paid childcare have significant challenges. It’s healthy to discuss these to work through them and to relieve ourselves of their emotional burdens. But if you vent to an unsupportive family member, his or her anti-paid childcare stance might just make you feel worse. For me, it is helpful to vent to my friends who also use paid childcare and have some tips and tricks. There are also online messageboards, listservs, and blogs where you can ask for advice and commiserate with other parents struggling with the same issues.
6. Selective Listening
With big families, it’s useful to develop a selective ear and just tune out some things. People are going to make insensitive comments that will ruffle your mom-feathers. While at times it is worth correcting people or simply defending your choices, at other times it is better to just let things go. Not everyone will approve of your parenting decisions, and for the sake of your own happiness, you just have to accept that.
Do you have any tips for dealing with family pressure about childcare?
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