Mary Szoch is Director of the Center for Human Dignity at Family Research Council. This article appeared in The Federalist on May 8, 2021.
During some pregnancies, moms experience morning sickness; with others, none. Some babies immediately sleep through the night; others are awake every ten minutes. Some three-year-olds teach themselves how to read; others struggle to memorize the alphabet. The list could go on and on.
Every kid is different. Every mom is different. Every family is different. It appears, however, that when President Biden came up with his “American Families Plan,” he did not receive input from American moms — or at least, he failed to receive feedback from the very lower and middle-class mothers his plan purports to help.
President Biden’s plan calls for forcing taxpayers to spend $225 billion on childcare subsidies. He notes, “When a parent drops out of the workforce, reduces hours, or takes a lower-paying job early in their careers — even temporarily — there are lifetime consequences.” On this point the administration is right.
Physically and emotionally, children need their moms. A mother’s heartbeat and voice help a baby grow; a mother’s touch helps a baby put on weight; and because of the substantial benefits to the child, the World Health Organization recommends breastfeeding from one hour after birth until age two. A mother’s smell and touch help a child deal with stress — which helps prevent autoimmune diseases in adulthood. And a strong attachment to the mother in the first year sets the groundwork for optimal child development all the way up to age 10.
Unsurprisingly, children need fathers as well, who serve their own invaluable role in development. When children have close relationships with their fathers, they tend to avoid high-risk behaviors, are more likely to have high-paying jobs and healthy stable relationships when they grow up, are less aggressive, and tend to score higher on cognitive development tests by age one.
The lifelong consequences of parents adapting to family life as they have children are often, well, what every parent wants: a healthy child, who is well prepared for the future knowing that his parents love him.
Yet the American Families Plan is a one-size-fits-all plan that replaces parents with employees at what the government deems “high quality” child-care organizations, offering no flexibility for parents who recognize this option is not best for their family. This plan, which will be paid for by U.S. taxpayers writ large, is simply out of touch with what the majority of American families want and need.
For instance, results from a 2021 survey conducted by American Compass reveal only 14 percent of lower-income families, 14 percent of working-class families, and 24 percent of middle-class families prefer both parents working full-time outside the home and using full-time child care. The survey showed the greatest support for policies promoting both parents working full-time outside the home and using paid child care is from upper-class men and women who do not have children.
Ultimately, what the majority of American parents want and need is the flexibility to do what is best for their family. Certainly, some families may decide to place their child in child care. Others may prefer having a relative provide care, while others may determine having one parent at home full-time is what is best for their children. Parents know their children best, and as such, parents — not the government — should determine how their children are raised and who does the raising.
President Biden frequently says he’s pro-choice. Unfortunately, the only issue he is “pro-choice” on is whether a woman should abort her child. On issues where parents should have a choice — like determining what type of child care, education, or work environment fits their family — President Biden needs to talk to American moms who will undoubtedly tell him the same truth: Every family is unique.