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Dear Dr. Yael,

I am aware of your expertise on the topic of parenting and I was wondering if you could address a certain issue in your column. I have a two-year-old granddaughter who my daughter is thinking of sending to a playgroup. I am very against this as I think that parents should stay home and care for their children until they are of age to enter grade school (for example, the youngest grade that a yeshiva offers).

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I think it’s preposterous that this younger generation of today’s mothers adapted this phenomenon of sending their kids off to school as soon as they start walking. Mothers should treasure and hold onto every moment with their young toddlers, not give them away to a stranger in a strange house and leave them crying for their mothers! These “playgroups” aren’t even registered schools and many are illegally set up in people’s basements. Is that somewhere to put your beautiful children, in a cold basement that has one exit?

I put every painstaking effort into raising my children myself without outside help and it really bothers me that my daughter thinks it’s the “new way” to send her kids off to a babysitter’s group so that she could do her “own thing!”

What did she have children for if not to personally and lovingly raise her precious jewels? Young parents of this generation are less likely to leave their diamond ring and gold jewelry with a stranger than they are to leave their real jewels, their children!

Please address this issue in one of your articles, as I am interested to know the perspective of someone in your profession, as well as a woman who is of my generation.

Thank you in advance for addressing this issue.

M.B.

 

Dear M.B.,

I agree with you that parents should cherish their children and value their children more than anything in the world. If a parent brings a child into this world it is both the father and mother’s obligation to see that the child is loved and taken care of physically, emotionally and spiritually.

In this case, I happen not to think that a mother sending her child to playgroup shows a lack of love for the mother to the child. If anything, I am an avid promoter of children’s playgroups. Granted, I don’t think a mother should leave their two-year-old child in school from 9 in the morning to 5 in the afternoon, but most playgroups are only for a few hours a day, and if it is a playgroup where the teacher is a loving and warm person, these three hours will probably only have a positive influence on the child.

It is important for children to begin social relationships at a young age. These relationships help give the child confidence and ultimately help them build positive social relationships (with their peers) at an earlier age. Many children have a hard time spending all of their time home alone, with only their mother to play with. I know of a child whose mother felt that she must spend all her time with the child; the child practically couldn’t leave the house! The child began to expend all his extra energy by ripping books, throwing out all the pots and pans in the house, coloring on the walls, etc. The mother was so nervous from her child’s “unbelievably horrible” behavior, that she brought him for psychological counseling. Really the cause of the child’s problems was the fact that he needed a place to vent his energy. After two weeks of the child’s enrollment in playgroup, he stopped coloring on the walls and started coloring yom kippur slippers! This was not only a great solution for the child, but it was a great solution for the mother as well.

A mother, in order to be a loving and positive mother, sometimes needs a small break from her children to rejuvenate herself. It is integral for all mothers to sometimes “take a breather” and relax when the children are getting too stressful. If a mother doesn’t recognize this as an issue, she is likely to lose herself and blow up at her children for little petty things. This, in the long run, might harm the child’s self-esteem more than if the mother sometimes took little breaks away from her children in order to help her “de-stress.” This method will invariably help her become a better mother in the long run.

I feel that instead of being hard on your daughter for wanting to send her child to playgroup, you should understand her decision and help her find a playgroup that has a warm and loving atmosphere.

You must also understand that your daughter is a grown woman and her decisions about child rearing must be respected. Upon raising your daughter, you gave her roots to grow. Now you must give her wings to fly and realize that she is mature and old enough to make proper decisions regarding the child rearing of her own children.

I wish you much hatzlocha and you should be zocheh to only see nachas from your grandchildren in the future!

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Dr. Yael Respler is a psychotherapist in private practice who provides marital, dating and family counseling. Dr. Respler also deals with problems relating to marital intimacy. Letters may be emailed to deardryael@aol.com. To schedule an appointment, please call 917-751-4887. Dr. Orit Respler-Herman, a child psychologist, co-authors this column and is now in private practice providing complete pychological evaluations as well as child and adolescent therapy. She can be reached at 917-679-1612. Previous columns can be viewed at www.jewishpress.com and archives of Dr. Respler’s radio shows can be found at www.dryaelrespler.com.