Host: At what age is it more important for a mom to be at home with her children?
Dr. Diana Zuckerman: There are different ways to think about the age of the child. Certainly, young children need a lot of attention. Very young infants are sleeping most of the day and so some mom say, "I stayed at home for the first three months and my baby was sleeping constantly. Then I went back to work and my baby started being more active and I wish I had stayed home when my baby was actually awake and more active than when she was sleeping during the first three or six months.
" So, you have to think about what you are going to be doing with your child. Now, one of the reasons to stay home during the first three months or during the first six months is that the mom is also exhausted. So you are not only staying home because the child needs you, but because the mom needs to rest, wants that time to get to know her baby and that's important too.
As your children get older, they will be more aware of who the mother is or the father of course, and so sometimes you might want to try to arrange it so that you can spend more time at home when your children really recognize who you are and really appreciate the fact that you are with them. But a lot of people don't have that flexibility and then of course, there are times when with teenagers then you might feel like they are the ones that really need you at home to make sure that they are not getting into any trouble. So it really does vary, but for little children, that's when brain development takes place and you want to make sure that during those first three years of life that, that child is getting really good stimulation and whether that child is getting that really good stimulation from mom or dad or grandma who is babysitting or a daycare center or a babysitter who is not related. However, they are getting that stimulation; you want to make sure that they are getting it.