BreakPoint: Why Mommies Matter

Being Present in the First Three Years

What would you do to enhance your baby’s mental and emotional well-being?

Erica Komisar, a New York psychoanalyst, says she is in the business of making people uncomfortable. She succeeded brilliantly with the publication of her new book—which has made a lot of people not just uncomfortable, but downright angry.

The book is titled “Being There: Why Prioritizing Motherhood in the First Three Years Matters.” Komisar wrote it after noticing a disturbing trend: A huge increase in the number of kids being diagnosed at an earlier age with mental disorders and emotional problems.

For instance, Komisar writes, in just one year—from 2011 to 2012—the number of children “diagnosed with psychiatric disorders rose to a staggering 19 percent”—nearly a fifth of all children. And the number of kids hospitalized for eating disorders “has increased 119 percent in the last decade,” she notes.

Komisar points to the shocking prediction of the U.S. Census from 2015: Approximately one fourth of all American kids “will be diagnosed with a mental disorder before the age of 18.”

Komisar’s 27 years of practice and research led her to an inescapable conclusion: Children are at a higher risk for these problems when, she says, “the essential presence of a mother is missing.”

Komisar massively documents her assertions: Decades of research “confirms the more time a woman can devote to the joy and job of mothering a child in the first three years,” she says, “the better the chance her child will be emotionally secure and healthy throughout his life.”

And now you know why the heads of feminists and liberals are exploding. They think Komisar (who, by the way is a feminist and a liberal herself) is attempting to take women at warp speed back to the 1950s.

It’s not surprising that today’s mothers think their babies won’t miss them if they grab their briefcases and go back to a full-time job six weeks after giving birth. They believe what our culture taught them—that they can easily juggle career and motherhood; that babies thrive just as well in daycare as at home with their moms; that mothers and fathers are fungible; that when it comes to motherhood, it’s all about “quality time”—even if it comes at the end of a long workday when mothers are exhausted.

Stay-at-home moms can also fail to be “present” for their babies if they ignore them while talking on the phone, checking emails-or volunteering for too many church events.

In short, women all too often careen into motherhood with absolutely no idea of how much their babies need them.

This is why young people should consider the research about the needs of babies if they expect to have children one day, and begin planning for parenthood even before they’ve met a future spouse. For instance, are wives prepared to make career sacrifices, if necessary, to care for the kids for a few years? Are couples willing to settle for a smaller home, fewer vacations and less income during the years mom is nurturing the babies?

Thinking about those awful mental health statistics, I hope and pray they will be. As Komisar points out, “Your baby does not care if she has a bigger room or a Florida vacation; what she wants is you and the safety and security of being in your presence.”

Of course, many moms MUST work for economic reasons, and we should support them all we can. And if you read “Being There,” you’ll find advice on how working moms can maximize their time with their kids.

So, I suggest we ignore the angry catcalls from the left (which I always do anyway), and embrace Komisar’s arguments. If enough people do, America will end up with happier, healthier children.


Why Mommies Matter: Being Present in the First Three Years

To read more about Erica Komisar’s research and conclusions on the importance of a mother being there for her child during the first three years, check out the links in our Resources section.



Q&A with Erica Komisar
  • | March 29, 2017
The Politicization of Motherhood (note: May be behind paywall)
  • James Taranto | Wall Street Journal | October 27, 2017

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  • Phoenix1977

    “For instance, are wives prepared to make career sacrifices, if necessary, to care for the kids for a few years? Are couples willing to settle for a smaller home, fewer vacations and less income during the years mom is nurturing the babies?”

    Let me ask you another question: is society willing to invest in women who decide to become (fulltime) mothers when the time comes?
    For example, the training of a medical resident into a specialist costs between $100.000,- and $125.000,- a year, for a period of 6 to 7 years, not taking salary into account. And that money is being paid by the government. So any medical resident will cost society over half a million dollar. According to recent surveys 60-70% of the students in medical school are female. If all those women are going to be fulltime mothers after their residency society will lose quite some value of it’s investment. Not to mention the hospitals will be severly understaffed due to all those women who simply drop out for a period of time. And once those female doctors are ready to return to their profession they will find a lot of their knowledge and skills are outdated or gone completely.
    And the same argument can be made for nurses, police officers, soldiers, teachers and so many other professions. So the question shouldn’t be if people are willing to settle for less but whether or not society is willing. And I doubt that answer will be positive.

    • Tyler

      That’s actually a very interesting question Phoenix! I would question how you got to the conclusion that the government is on the hook for a medical residency, I always thought the student paid for that through loans, but I’m always glad to learn something new. I would actually be curious to survey stay at home moms about whether they think they ought to be paid. Never thought about that before, my gut says most would say no, but not being one myself, again, open to learning something new.

      • Phoenix1977

        Students pay tuition for going to college and medical school in order to become doctors. However, for a basic doctor to become a surgeon or an OB/GYN or any other type of specialist they need to complete a residency program: a training program that will teach them skills and knowledge while they work. Those programs are controlled and paid for by the government.
        And before you say not all doctors become specialists: they actually do. All doctors, both in hospitals of small clinics or even family doctors have to complete a residency program in order to be allowed to work independently.

        • IndigoBlue

          So we used to live at poverty level, and I know several single parent or two parent families still struggling at that level. As a SAHM, a thousand yeses to “do they think they need to be paid.” For us living on the lower income side, we are caught in a catch-22, and some of us make it work one way, and some another.
          Basically, living on one income leaves us short on monthly expenses. Not eating out or seeing movies or other cuttable expenses, but actual bills.

          Catch-22 happens when the SAHPartner needs to get a second job to help out, but the cost for child care basically takes the entire second paycheck. This would be less of a problem if child care was standardized, and you could be sure of what you were signing up for. But child care is all over the place, and so is the cost. So you might end have to choose between: 1, child care that makes you cringe/pray for the health of your child but leaves you with the extra you need to make ends meet, 2, child care you don’t have to worry about, but basically leaves you working to pay someone to watch your child and still behind, 3, or staying at home and constantly behind.

          The issue is even worse when you have a child with special needs or you work unconventional hours, because the majority of child care is not trained or available in those circumstances. And if you win the lottery of either/both of those conditions AND being a single parent…

          Also, some child care places charge you if you’re late picking up your kids. Since very little child care (honestly I don’t know of any, but of course I don’t know all) is minimum wage paid, and the education requirements aren’t that high, you may as well set a a program to certify and pay those who choose to stay at home since they’re doing the exact same things -or more- around the clock.

          OR making a living minimum wage, so parents -single or not- don’t have to spin the wheel of “Eat, shelter, car, or child care this month?”

          Sorry, I should clarify that child care in the USA is not standardized, as citzens of other countries may not be aware of that.

          I think it’s great to see research that seems objective. Since she is a liberal and a feminist, she had no agenda to push by saying “oh hey, kids need mommy so stay home.” Which makes me more interested to find out what she has to say. Thoughts from those who’ve read her book? Esp. strategies for single parents?

          • Phoenix1977

            Wasn’t that exactly the point I tried to make?

        • Steve

          They may be paid for by the government in your country, the Netherlands, but that is not completely true in the U.S. Hospitals that offer residency programs are often paid at a higher rate than non-teaching hospitals; however the residencies are not controlled by the government nor paid for by it.

          • Phoenix1977

            And where do you think that money comes from?

        • Incorrect. Any of the doctors will explain that the residents actually work for peanuts and MORE than adequately compensate and add a much greater value than they receive, as they gain further training.

          • Phoenix1977

            Of course residents works for peanuts. However, the specialists training them do not. In fact, specialists training residents get compensated for that training on top of their other salary. Money coming for several government funds.

        • Tyler

          I wasn’t going to say that 🙂

    • Jason Taylor

      A better raised generation that requires fewer police officers and creates less need for nurses by being better behaved, makes better soldiers, and has a good substitute for teaching in Prussianistic factory schools might be a fair investment. But that is not to the point. What is, is the implication so often made that being a mother is not an honorable occupation. Compared to, say, a lawyer or a politician.

      • Phoenix1977

        “What is, is the implication so often made that being a mother is not an honorable occupation. Compared to, say, a lawyer or a politician.”
        Being a mother is a very honorable “occupation”. However, not one that pays the bills. And with the costs of simply living being higher than the average paycheck (especially for those without a higher education in the US) it’s simply not a path people can chose anymore. Recently I spoke to a man from Jersey City who had to travel to Manhattan daily for work. His expenses, combined with his rent for a 2 bed room apartment, were 1.5 times his monthly paycheck. So his wife also has a full time job and their 7 year old son was home alone pretty much every day until 7 pm or later. Because money for a babysitter was also not available.

        • You start with a set of invalid principles and assumptions, then you use them to justify your conclusions as if these assumptions elimiinate all other choices.

          I lived in NJ and commuted to NY for years. I then lived in NY for 20 years. I then moved to FL, as JC man could do likewise. Like you, he ignores alternatives and constrains his choices so that his current lifestyle is justified and unchanged.

          All of life is a combination of choices and sacrifices. JC man can live and work in an area where rents are low and pay is sufficient. There are lower cost apartments within 5 miles of JC, and much lower in other cities and states where incomes are more in line. He can also apply himself to grow in skills and earn enough to cover their costs.

          While you make the untrue statement that ‘it is simply not a path that people can choose’. Untrue. Eric is right (as usual), parents’ values and principles and choices should START with what is essential to their children. You take the opposite view, that those choices are not even available, hence you dismiss this ‘proven’ impact of your beliefs and choices upon children.

          • Phoenix1977

            “Eric is right (as usual), parents’ values and principles and choices should START with what is essential to their children”
            I agree. Which is one of the reasons I don’t have children.

  • Just One Voice

    Heh, I can’t help but chuckle at how trends create new problems, which then create more trends and more problems! In this case, families having to financially adapt to the rising cost of living, creating less parents at home, which then creates all these confused & unstable children, which then creates worried parents who then feed drug-happy doctors who label & diagnose our kids! (I fully recognize some drugs are helpful & necessary.
    But I think we could do without most if we would look within ourselves & solve the problem from there.)

    Another example: my sister is in the medical field and she came across some correlation on how SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome) created the trend of making babies sleep on their back more, which then created a flattening of the back side of the head!

    *shakes head* Society has long outsmarted its common sense. It seems we keep looking for solutions “out there” when the solution is right at home in our heart, family, etc. Stephen Covey says, “If I really want to improve my situation, I can work on the one thing over which I have control – myself.”

    • Sid Whiting

      These are some good observations. The trend today is to have two career earners in the house, claiming it’s “necessary.” I call Baloney Slices (B.S.)! My wife and I have been a single income household since shortly after she had out twin sons in 2006. Since then we’ve added a daughter. It can be tight at times, but we still have fun and all three of our kids are well-adjusted, play well with other kids, are physically healthy, speak respectfully to adults, look for opportunities to help others, and are very strong in the Christian faith we’ve raised them to know. I don’t take all the credit, nor does my wife–to God be the glory–but I think the choices we’ve made to have fewer material things and to live financially more conservatives lives has resulted in our kids frequently receiving positive comments and compliments from their teachers, our relatives, and their church family.

      • Phoenix1977

        I have no idea how or where you live, or what kind of work you do, but some people simply don’t have the luxury to make such decisions.
        Looking at my own situation as a doctor I’m forced to live within a 20 minute range of my hospital (legal requirement). Since my hospital in in the center of the city that means I have little choice by to live in the center as well, because traffic jams make it impossible to live anywhere else and meet the legal requirement of being able to make it to the hospital in time. And where do you think the prices of housing are the highest? And I can go on about all kinds of legal requirements there are for my job I have to meet, which cost me money.
        You said you had twin boys in 2006. So next year they will attend high school. I have no idea about high schools in the US but in Europe students at high schools are required to buy a laptop with specific specifications and specific software packages. My neighbor now has 4 children in the same high school, meaning 4 laptops with specs which are hardly relevant for normal computer usage. But when they tried to send their youngest to school with a laptop with lesser specifications he was sent home with a note basically saying “don’t bother coming back until you have a laptop with the correct specifications”. Also, their school communicates with students through iMessage only. But iMessage is from Apple and only works on iPhone. So all 4 of their children had to have iPhones. Any idea what an iPhone costs? The cheapest one available in Europe at the moment is the iPhone 6S, costing you about 600 dollars. Oh, and remember the software package I mentioned for the laptops? Microsoft Office 365 professional (no idea why a high school student needs programs like Access, Excel or PowerPoint), Adobe Photoshop and several other programs with a total cost of more than 1200 dollar a year per child.
        So, although people might want to live simpler and with lesser things society simply no longer accepts that and will force you to spend money. And therefor force you to to take a second job (or a second mortgage). There is little you can do about it.

        • gladys1071

          I think that their is this idea that all you have to do is sacrifice enough and that is enough to make it happen. Life has to many variables and in the best of circumstances sometimes still both parents have to work. Life is not 2 +2 equal 4.

          I will give the case of my mom, my father died when i was 14, i had a sister that was 2 years old. My mom was left a widow and had to work 2 jobs to support us. My sister was raised by me and with babysitters. My mom had no other choices, she did the best she could raising the both of us.

          Life can throw curves at us and our neat little plans go out the window, life never turns out like we would like it most of the time.

          • Just One Voice

            I couldn’t agree more about plans going out the window. That is the main reason I’ve let go of trying to control my future. Yet it’s amazing how much freedom I’ve found! I don’t just slack off of course and let life happen. Rather, I’m always trying to be more obedient to what Jesus said in Matthew 6:25-34


            Every way of a man is right in his own eyes,
            but the LORD weighs the heart. Proverbs 21:2

            There is a way that seems right to a man,
            but its end is the way to death. Proverbs 14:12

        • Marco

          Phoenix1977 – “I have no idea how or where you live, or what kind of work you do, but
          some people simply don’t have the luxury to make such decisions.” My wife and I live in Calgary, Canada. While the cost of living is not nearly as high as say London, Paris, or NY City it is well within the top ten of North America. The rising cost of living has hit people hard in our city (between 2005 and 2007 average housing cost rose 120%!, since then it continues to grow by more than 12% annually) as often does in growing economies. all that to say, we have been a single income family from the time our first child was born until the present. We are now in a new stage of life (actually most expensive stage) we
          have one married daughter with 1 grandchild and one on the way, and two
          children in college still living at home. In that time my career has oscillated between full time not-for-profit roles and construction management. On this lower middle class single income we have been able to send our children to a top rated private school, drive 2 cars, and live in a decent neighborhood in the city within 20 min from the business district. We have lots of tech (and software and apps) in our house and help support an aging parent in who lives on the other side of the country. our children have always dressed well, with creative work from my wife (she can make a dollar stretch like its made of elastic band). in short we do not feel we lack in the life style category. IT CAN BE DONE! I’m not saying there have not been sacrifices (our children could not go on expensive school trips to Europe back in grade 8). We drive used domestic cars while my doctor friends drive new BMWs and Lexus. Our house is small and we live more simply, but in the end our children are better off and now my grandchildren are better off – my daughter is also choosing to be a stay at home Mother while my son-in-law has an entry level (and entry level salary) engineering position.

        • Just One Voice

          Wow, I greatly fear the day when the U.S. will arrive at this kind of government. Talk about taking our freedoms away. I wish I could do more to stop it.

          Alas, at the end of the day, I have only 24 hours, I’m only one person, and I have other things which I’m much more affectionate about.

  • gladys1071

    The problem is the rising cost of housing and everything does not allow for 1 income household anymore. Also what about single mom’s, they don’t have a choice?

    Their is no easy solution to this problem, both parents have to work in this day and age for the most part. I chose not to have children, so i don’t have to choose.

    It a conondrum to say the least.

    • Debbie Jongkind Dehart

      “The problem is the rising cost of housing and everything does not allow for 1 income household anymore” -that depends. We sacrificed greatly, during our first ten years of parenthood, for me to be at home with our four young ones. It was not easy. We lived in a town where very few of our friends would have been willing to live, because it was the only place where we could afford a house. I sewed most of the kids’ clothes and got the rest at resale stores. “Family Vacation”, for the most part, meant traveling to places where we had family and friends who were willing to let us stay with them. We then chose to move to a less expensive place to live. I know lots of young families who have chosen to make sacrifices so the mom can be at home with the kids. It can be done…I know
      that there are those who literally do have to work, but I believe many choose to work rather than make hard choices.

    • Sid Whiting

      True in some markets, not in others. My advice is if housing costs are pulling you away from your family consistently, move to a less expensive market. I know it’s a pain, but the results are worth it.
      Sacrifice isn’t easy, but it can be done. My wife has been a stay at home mom since we had our twin sons in 2006, followed by a little girl in 2010. We still live in the same “starter” house we bought back in 2001 and will have it paid off by next year (Oct 2018). Today, we could sell it and buy a house twice as expensive and start up the years of payments all over but we have chosen to be content with what we have. We also drive cars that are going on 15 years old and show their age but are still mechanically sound. Vacations over the past 12 years are limited to a 3-hour drive to the city to explore inexpensive places like the zoo and art museums and then the drive back…except one trip to San Antonio this year. We don’t eat out much, and when we do it’s more likely to be Little Caesars pizza vs. a trendy new place that runs $15 a plate. Lots of home-cooked meals. Limited extra-curricular activities (1 per kid). We find this not only keeps our budget from busting, it also provides both of us a great quantity of quality time.
      We can always blame this or that various problem … they are never ending and there will always be new one. But what we have found works better is we dig our heels in and say, “We’re gonna be there for our kids…” and then find the ways to make it happen. To date, that level of determination has helped guide us into making the right choices about what are wants vs. needs. Best wishes as you make your choices!

      • gladys1071

        I don’t have that dilemma, My husband and i chose not have kids, but i know many families do have that dilemma of choosing work or staying home. Thank you for you advice though.

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  • Beth Cohen

    so glad i had the opportunity “to be there”for my children. Theyre all successful now, mostly because of it.