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April 19, 2001
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More hours in daycare makes bad kids. "'If more time in all sorts of (child care) arrangements is predicting disconcerting outcomes, then if you want to reduce the probability of those outcomes, you reduce the time in care,' said Belsky. 'Extend parental leave and part-time work.' One of the lead scientists on the study with Belsky, [Sarah Friedman of the National Institute of Child Health and Human Developmen] said, 'The easy solution is to cut the number of hours but that may have implications for the family that may not be beneficial for the development of the children in terms of economics.'" Or, to say that in English, if you want your kids to be cared for at home you have to short them on food, clothing and shelter.
posted by jfuller (98 comments total)

 
jfuller says the real problem is that due to whatever changes bad and good (switchover to "service-based" [read "lower-paying"] economy, exporting jobs to slave-wage countries, workforce expanding to include more segments of society like minorities/women, round up the usual suspects) it isn't possible for most people to run a family on one income any more, so both parents are gone all day, and this is a very bad thing.
posted by jfuller at 9:59 AM on April 19, 2001


Here's an idea: don't have kids if you can't afford them
posted by owillis at 10:02 AM on April 19, 2001


Or, to say that in English, if you want your kids to be cared for at home you have to short them on food, clothing and shelter.

It doesn't say anything of the sort. Going part-time or reducing your hours doesn't mean the wee bairns are shoeless, swollenbellied and shivering in a lean-to made of sticks. You lose a little disposable income, yes. You eat out less and take fewer or less expensive vacations, yes. But unless one just doesn't enjoy being home with the tot, it's certainly worth it.
posted by lileks at 10:04 AM on April 19, 2001


> Going part-time or reducing your hours doesn't mean the
> wee bairns are shoeless, swollenbellied and shivering in
> a lean-to made of sticks. You lose a little disposable
> income, yes.

Spoken like a person with disposable income. Tuppence to spend and tuppence to lend and tuppence to take home to your wife? Would that more prople were in your happy position.
posted by jfuller at 10:11 AM on April 19, 2001


it isn't possible for most people to run a family on one income any more, so both parents are gone all day

Why does working have to equal being away from home? Isn't some of the point behind all this new information technology stuff that you can work wherever, whenever? My dad did it back in the eighties, at least, and I find it hard to believe that it's any harder to do today.

Besides, owillis has a point. A good one, too.
posted by frednorman at 10:12 AM on April 19, 2001


Here's an idea: condescend to the poor as if they're fucking morons.
posted by Skot at 10:12 AM on April 19, 2001


ha! I'm with owillis on this one.
posted by tiaka at 10:12 AM on April 19, 2001


I'd love owillis' idea on who, then, can afford to have children anymore. Aside from those that inherit wealth, I don't see any easy way. Yes, working from home might be nice, but you can't work from home and care for a toddler at home -- just try it. And what if you're a schoolteacher? A telephone line technician? A doctor? Work from home?

Unless you're just happy that no one reproduces and we live in a child-free society (does anyone really want this?), we ought to figure out some real solutions instead of whiffing faint odors of smug in all directions.
posted by argybarg at 10:17 AM on April 19, 2001


Wait, are they trying to imply that children should be reared primarily by their parents?! That's insane, who ever heard of such a thing?
No doubt reactionaries are reading this report with glee since it confirms their belief that women should not work outside of the home. In my opinion the real problem is that women's liberation has not had anything like a commensurate effect on men. While male gender roles have been largely democratized, those which previously pertained to women have either remained "women's work" or been largely abandoned.
In other words. if women are going to work, men need to engage in child-rearing, housework etc.
Congratulations to anyone who's still awake after that core dump.

posted by Octaviuz at 10:31 AM on April 19, 2001


You can probably live on less than you think. Many parents have made the choice to live on one income and simplify. These are not rich people, they just have their priorities in order and do what they have to do.
posted by frykitty at 10:33 AM on April 19, 2001


Exactly Frykitty. My brother has three kids, he's an ordinary working class joe, and his wife works part time when he's at home. They both decided on a little more stress and doing without some things that I take for granted in order to give their kids a better life. It's all a question of where your priorities lay. If you love your kids, put them ahead of owning stuff. If that's not important enough, save us all a lot of trouble and don't have kids.
posted by DiplomaticImmunity at 10:38 AM on April 19, 2001


I'd like to see the details of the report which is not yet available. My initial feeling is that conclusions are being drawn without a complete understanding of the factors involved. Do they compare kids of similar economic and social backgrounds? How exactly is 'gets in lots of fights' etc... defined? Are these kids actually developing coping mechanisms for the realities of school and life?

"The easy solution is to cut the number of hours ..."
The easy solution is to talk with your kids about acceptable behavior.
posted by quirked at 10:42 AM on April 19, 2001


Agreed. Don't have kids if you can't structure your life around them. That's reasonable. But to say "don't have kids if you can't afford them" is to imply that having children ought to be a privilege of the wealthy, and that the rest of us ought to just focus on being productive. Ugh.
posted by argybarg at 10:44 AM on April 19, 2001


Spoken like a person with disposable income. Tuppence to spend and tuppence to lend and tuppence to take home to your wife?

That's backwards. You give up disposable income to stay home with the tot. You do with less. But it doesn't mean the children suffer, unless one defines "suffering" as not being able to have 97 different Baby Gap outfits to wear.

I'm not arguing that all women should instantly march back home and strap on aprons. Just that both parents should do whatever they can to be with their toddlers as much of the day as possible, and if that means one parent quits a job and you move into a smaller house, well, maybe that's what you do.
posted by lileks at 10:45 AM on April 19, 2001


we ought to figure out some real solutions instead of whiffing faint odors of smug in all directions

Well said, argy. Glib arguments do not address this in any helpful way.

Those of you who agree with owillis's statement, how would you determine who can "afford" to have children? What would be the threshhold -- $50,000 income, $100,000 income, $1,000,000 income? On what basis? Who's going to administrate the Department of Parent Assessment and Licensing that would be required to oversee that? And what if some braindead twit like Dubya rides into office and decides that the rules aren't the same anymore -- who's going to go to people's homes and take away the children because they don't meet the federal guidelines anymore? Or maybe you'd rather sterilize those lowlifes who don't meet the cutoff (pardon the pun) and prevent them from having kids in the first place.

"If they would rather die," said Scrooge, "they had better do it, and decrease the surplus population."
posted by briank at 10:53 AM on April 19, 2001


> "The easy solution is to cut the number of hours ..."
>
> The easy solution is to talk with your kids about
> acceptable behavior.

The only effective time to talk to kids about unacceptable bahavior at the age the study concerns (kindergarten and pre-k) is right when the unacceptable behavior occurs. Good luck talking to them when they're in daycare and you're at work.
posted by jfuller at 10:54 AM on April 19, 2001


I have a 4-year-old and work full-time. Strangely enough, I have still find time to talk with my daughter about acceptable behavior. It doesn't take that much time to set a few rules and go to a couple parent/teacher conferences.
posted by quirked at 10:59 AM on April 19, 2001


What I am saying is people need to be responsible for their actions. If you think you can adequately support another lifeform making only 20-30k/year go for it. But if you're making 20-30k and can't support yourself, much less a child - you should think twice about it.

Having a child is a great privelege and honor, but its not a right.
posted by owillis at 11:01 AM on April 19, 2001


I agree people shouldn't have kids if they are not able to support them, but like it or not, having kids is a right.
posted by quirked at 11:05 AM on April 19, 2001


Having a child is a right. Having the time and money to raise the child is not a right -- no one ought to provide them for you. (When raising a child well and making a living are incompatible goals for so many, however, social policy ought to address the issue.)

But it's hard to think of a right as basic as that of having children. Or is, say, forced sterilization in conquered territories -- a common and vile practice throughout history and today -- no problem for you? You wouldn't mind someone deciding who gets to have children and who doesn't? After all, privileges and honors can be handed out by governments at their discretion.
posted by argybarg at 11:09 AM on April 19, 2001


People who tell you not to have kids if you can't afford them usually mean that they don't want any of their tax money going to support someone else's kids.

Everyone has different circumstances. Simplicity and living on one income are great, but there are people who simply can't make it on one income but who can still make marvelous parents. Instead of telling those people that they're neither rich nor dedicated enough to have children, we should find ways to help them cope.

And if day care is causing adverse outcomes, perhaps we should work on making day care better because it can have enormous benefits. I stayed home with my kids for 2.5 years after my younger daughter was born. Then my wife and I decided to get a divorce, and there really wasn't any choice but to put the kids in day care. It was a hard thing to do, especially for me since I had been spending so much time with them, but we found good places for both girls, and they have done very well since. My younger daughter loves going to her pre-school and playing with her friends every day.

The problem is cost. My younger daughter's day care costs $800/month. That's simply beyond the reach of most families, who instead go with lower quality day care centers and home-based day care, where the quality is highly variable. If we subsidized day care centers, then children of parents who must work would be a lot better off, and so would the rest of us.
posted by anapestic at 11:10 AM on April 19, 2001


> I have a 4-year-old and work full-time. Strangely enough,
> I have still find time to talk with my daughter about
> acceptable behavior. It doesn't take that much time to
> set a few rules and go to a couple parent/teacher
> conferences.

If this is all it takes, and you're doing it successfully, is your theory concerning the linked study that 1) a large number of parents aren't putting out even this small effort, although they could, and that these are the parents most likely to dump their kids in daycare, so that daycare in itself isn't damaging anybody, it just attracts don't-give-a-damn parents? Or 2) the study is just false and wrong?
posted by jfuller at 11:13 AM on April 19, 2001


Why is it eugenics to believe that there should be minimum standards of competency for having kids? (it's a huge responsiblity. Come on, plumbers are licensed.)
posted by Octaviuz at 11:13 AM on April 19, 2001


argybarg, could you please not put words in my mouth? I never said any government should control people's desire to screw. What I am saying is people should critically think of the quality of life they can offer to a child before they unzip their pants.

I never said you had to be rich to have a child either, someone on the lower end of the income bracket can give a child a loving, wonderful home - as long as they're ready to make appropriate sacrifices (my mother did this very thing).

Having a child who's needs you know you can't meet and refuse to make scarifice to acheive is tantamount to child abuse, and it costs all of us in the long run.

I'm just asking people to think before they unzip.
posted by owillis at 11:15 AM on April 19, 2001


owillis saith:

> Here's an idea: don't have kids if you can't afford them

Hey, what a neat idea. That means upper-middle-class white people get to have most of the children, and a lot of our social problems disappear in a couple of generations. Why didn't I think of that one?
posted by jfuller at 11:16 AM on April 19, 2001


Octaviuz, why don't you try developing a set of standards for determining whether someone is competent to have children.

Now, come up with a way to administer those standards and an enforcement mechanism for people who try to have children anyway.

Now, try to make all of that work within the constraints of the Constitution.

Take your time; we'll all wait.
posted by anapestic at 11:16 AM on April 19, 2001


I'm aware that it's unimplementable (if that is a real word), I just want to know why people think it's a bad idea.
posted by Octaviuz at 11:18 AM on April 19, 2001


And who said anything about governmental intervention, blah, blah? Way to kneejerk.

All Oliver (and others) are saying - and I'm joining in - is that if you want to have a kid, you need to determine if you can afford it first. For yourself, you sit down and you figure it out - can you afford to commit yourself to do the best for that child?

Yes, this means that you actually have to do something. This means that you actually have to take responsibility. If you're going to be a parent, you should be responsible enough to manage making a budget and lifeplan before you undertake the care of another human being who will be completely dependent on you, your judgement and your caring attention for many years to come.

People who tell you not to have kids if you can't afford them usually mean that they don't want any of their tax money going to support someone else's kids.

Exactly. Your kids aren't my responsibility and if you have them knowing that you can't afford to do right by them, (or without bothering to even think about it) why should anyone else be on the hook to take up the slack - or deal with them later when they're ill-mannered little brats because they were kenneled in a day care instead of raised by a loving parent?
posted by Dreama at 11:20 AM on April 19, 2001


owillis: Sorry if I'm putting words in your mouth (keyboard?). My point about government-forced sterilization is not that that's what you're advocating, but that our (assumed) disapproval of it is what proves that having children is a right. Which it is.

Obviously, some people have children and shouldn't. Some people seem, all in themselves, like wastes of oxygen. But having children, like being alive, is a right, as much as it may irritate we (sniff) thinking few.

And your statement, when expanded, makes sense and I agree with it: Those that cannot care for children shouldn't have them. Amen! But your truncated statement -- "don't have kids if you can't afford them" -- stinks.
posted by argybarg at 11:24 AM on April 19, 2001


Dreama, I just love your rhetoric.

"Kenneled in a day care." They're children; they're not dogs just because their parents aren't as rich as you are. Some kids who are in day care are loving kids. And some kids who are raised at home grow up to be jerks because their parents were the sort of intolerant misanthropes who don't want to share responsibility for their fellow man.
posted by anapestic at 11:26 AM on April 19, 2001


> Why is it eugenics to believe that there should be
> minimum standards of competency for having kids? (it's
> a huge responsiblity. Come on, plumbers are licensed.)
>
> I'm aware that it's unimplementable (if that is a real
> word),I just want to know why people think it's a bad
> idea.

Because of quis costodet ipsos custodes. What body on Earth could possibly be trusted to make this decision for you?
posted by jfuller at 11:27 AM on April 19, 2001


I'm aware that it's unimplementable (if that is a real word), I just want to know why people think it's a bad idea.

Because it's unimplementable.
posted by argybarg at 11:28 AM on April 19, 2001


Belsky, a research psychologist who worked at Penn State University until two years ago, added that children who spend more than 30 hours a week in child care "scored higher on items like ... `talking too much,' ...

How does a child "talk too much"? Are there standards by which we can determine if a child is too verbose?
posted by milnak at 11:31 AM on April 19, 2001


(closing a tag before it gets out of hand)
posted by owillis at 11:35 AM on April 19, 2001


I too, like quirked, would like to see more details about the assumptions behind this survey, before I accept its conclusions. So many quantitative surveys by social scientists have hidden assumptions about income and class, etc, that the researchers themselves are often not very cognizant of.
Also, it should be pointed out that 'a parent needs to spend more time home with the kids' often means that the mother must spend more time home, not the father; despite 30 years of feminism we *still* don't have gender equality to a sufficient enough extent that staying home with the kids is equally shared.
posted by Rebis at 11:38 AM on April 19, 2001


> What I am saying is people should critically think of the
> quality of life they can offer to a child before they
> unzip their pants.

Well of course they should.. And they should think critically before they smoke crack and have crack babies. But somehow just saying "well, everybody should be rational and self-controlled" and letting it go at that doesn't seem an adequate response. If you see Vietnamese kids making shoes for pennies a day, or African kids working on cocoa plantations for nothing, and you say "Well, their parents shouldn't have had 'em," you'll have to forgive me for being, like, Well, is that all? Isn't there any more to this thought?
posted by jfuller at 11:43 AM on April 19, 2001


1) a large number of parents aren't putting out even this small effort, although they could, and that these are the parents most likely to dump their kids in daycare, so that daycare in itself isn't damaging anybody, it just attracts don't-give-a-damn parents? Or 2) the study is just false and wrong?

As I stated above, I question the conclusions everyone is drawing without seeing all of the details of the study. Listening to the news here at work, they make it sound like you should get your kids out of daycare right now because they turn into anti-social bullies. What exactly do they mean by "scored higher on items like `gets in lots of fights,' `cruelty,' `explosive behavior,' as well as `talking too much,' `argues a lot,' and `demands a lot of attention.' ?" How much higher? 'cruelty' is clearly bad, but 'talking too much'?

The fact is, some parents don't discuss acceptable behavior with there kids or don't know how. Some daycare centers suck. If your kid has a slightly greater chance to develop anti-social behavior at daycare, they people will have to keep that in mind as one factor in making the decision as to how to raise their children.
posted by quirked at 11:45 AM on April 19, 2001


Does this surprise anyone? I'm pretty sure evolution didn't come with a "go work while someone else takes care of my child 9-5." Sure, it was a community effort to raise children at some point, but not to this child care extent.

Young children are meant to be with their parents. And since that's usually not possible, a child should be with his or her mother or father when possible. If it's economically feasible, and one of the parents not working only detracts from the family's disposable income (ie: one parent can support the family's needs), then the other should take care of the child at least until school-age.

But then again, there are some families that must have two parents working--or don't even have two parents--to provide for their family's needs. And seeing how expensive child care is (in many states, it costs twice as much for child care as for a state university education), it's a constant struggle.
posted by gramcracker at 11:49 AM on April 19, 2001


And those that behave horribly in daycare centers get noticed more than those that behave horribly inside the home. And increased social contact means increased potential for antisocial behavior.

On a completely different note: for some parents, talking and asking questions is bad behavior.
posted by argybarg at 11:52 AM on April 19, 2001


Am I missing something, or did the study reach conclusions only about aggression? Aren't you guys reading more into it than is there? Personally, I think daycare is scary and a form of child neglect, but that's beyond the scope of the piece linked.
posted by ParisParamus at 11:53 AM on April 19, 2001


And if day care is causing adverse outcomes, perhaps we should work on making day care better because it can have enormous benefits

anapestic wins for being the first person to say this.

The reality is that people are forced by economic circumstances to opt for day care. My wife and I make a very comfortable living, but we just could not give up 40% of our income to stay home with the baby without dire consequences for our financial stability. That's not a question of being irresponsible or otherwise morally suspect, as Dreama suggests, nor is it a case of just giving up a few luxuries as lileks suggests. We are truly on the horns of a dilemma, and so are millions of other Americans.

It is facile and disingenous to suggest that people opt out of having children if they "can't afford it" because there is no way to determine what the level of affordability truly is.

Daycare is a fact of life for a lot of people, and that isn't about to change anytime soon. So what can we do to make daycare a better situation?
posted by briank at 11:55 AM on April 19, 2001


Just so I can get an idea who's playing what base on this, why not a quick mention of which posters in this thread have kids and which do not? I have a feeling we may come up with some interesting statistics on these opinions just by looking at that.

Who's unveiling?
posted by Perigee at 11:59 AM on April 19, 2001


people are forced by economic circumstances...40% of our income to stay home with the baby without dire consequences for our financial stability.

Actually, people are forced by a moronic, excessively free market system which attaches too little importance to certain human values and needs. Check out France, for comparison. How about just a little less money, more quality of life, please.
posted by ParisParamus at 12:01 PM on April 19, 2001


One on the way.
posted by briank at 12:02 PM on April 19, 2001


> Just so I can get an idea who's playing what base on this,
> why not a quick mention of which posters in this thread
> have kids and which do not?

Have. 1 stepson, 2 of my own.
posted by jfuller at 12:05 PM on April 19, 2001


No kids. Old enough and married enough to be up nights thinking about it.
posted by argybarg at 12:06 PM on April 19, 2001


No kids. I'm enough of a handful on my own.
posted by owillis at 12:09 PM on April 19, 2001


I am uncertain about the assumptions implicit in "if you want to have a kid, you need to determine if you can afford it first." In my case, my daughter's mom & I knew it would be a struggle and didn't whine. After all, it's your kid, you do the best that you can. But two facts are important here.

The first is that employers today expect more hours of their workers than ever before. Options such as working part-time, or telecommuting, are not realistic in many, many professions. And often when parents ask for these things, employers are tempted to pass over parents who leave at 5:00, and might instead grant for raises/advancement to those who spend more time in the office. So the thought "I can afford being a parent" may be based on one's childless (and hence time-flexible) experience. And that experience changes when you become a parent.

The second issue is that life changes in fundamentally unpredictable ways. What if you are laid off and have to take a lower-paying job? What if your spouse decides they want a divorce? In my case, both happened, and they changed my financial situation in ways I couldn't predict.
posted by Bootcut at 12:09 PM on April 19, 2001


As in most studies, one of the big problems here is the time frame offered to researchers due to monetary constraints.

This study is interesting, but what can I deduce from the results of a study that only follows children from daycare to kindergarten?

Other studies that have produced results that are misleading are those that show that less men are choosing to go to university, or that boys aren't doing as well in schools as girls.

That would make me angry, if I didn't know that Men still have better prospects later in life. That men earn a higher average wage, are less likely to do casual work, are more likely to get an apprenticeship. Fast forward ten years, to the age of thirty and men are still faring far better than women in the career, savings, and equal-earnings stakes.

Another thing that bothers me about this study is this quote:

"The longer young children spend in day care away from their mothers the more likely they are to be overly aggressive by the time they reached kindergarten."

Why aren't both parents included in this tidy summation? Despite the negativity of the comment, I find that offensive to both men and women.

When I went to school the kids from large families behaved (in general) pretty much like the kids from daycare who were studied in this result. More likely to be aggressive, competitive, and demanding. Perhaps just spending time with large groups of other kids causes this behavior? Is this bad? Did they continue to display this behavior later in life? No.

In any case, I don't think that too much can be deduced from a single behavioral study that has as its parameters a fairly limited time-span. The study could have just as easily been about the quality (or lack of it) of child-care, but that is not mentioned.

Sure it would be good for both parents and children if society was structured in such a way that everyone could choose to spend more time with their kids. In an imperfect world, we have to remember that quality is better than quantity. I'm sorry to sound so trite, but there is a lot of truth in that.

The reason that other people's kids (i.e., kid's from other socio-economic classes) are important is that they are human and we are human and of course, part of being human is having empathy. However if that is not there or if we are feeling numbed by the scale of the worlds problems, another compelling reason to care about what happens to other people's children is that eventually, they become adults. Unless one is ridiculously wealthy, wealthy to the degree that they can effectively choose to shut the majority of the world's problems out, then their world, their home, their children, their own selves, will inevitably be effected by these problems, whether they feel sympathy for them or not.
posted by lucien at 12:15 PM on April 19, 2001


One of the reasons that day care is often poor in the U.S. is the lack of standards and qualifications for the people working there... these jobs seldom pay more than minimum wage and do not attract people who are highly qualified to care for kids. The government in Singapore addresses this problem of course. (And due to the very low "Total Fertility Rate" there, the government offers a Baby Bonus (only to qualifying couples of course, lol.))
posted by Chairman_MaoXian at 12:18 PM on April 19, 2001


I was looking for a draft of the study at the web site of the Society for Research in Child Development (the conference organizers) and ran across this:

Unfortunately, we are unable to provide childcare during the SRCD 2001 Biennial Meeting.

Irony aside, this brief report about a report raises a lot of questions. Maybe parents who work aren't as aware of their child's "normal" behavior as parents who spend all day with their kids. (The news blurb mentions that reports were made by both parents and care providers.)

Does it make a difference if the care provider is caring for just one child or for many children?

Is the agression in the report something that might develop later in parent-cared children? In other words, are the child care children developmentally advanced in agression behavior as they are in language skills?

ObUnveiling: 1 child
posted by idiolect at 12:20 PM on April 19, 2001


"Kenneled in a day care." They're children; they're not dogs just because their parents aren't as rich as you are.

That's right, and they shouldn't be treated as though they are. But that's what we do, we leave them behind in institutional facilities for up to ten hours a day, in the care of a low-paid person who has no connection to them, and no pressing need (and often no available time or resources) to offer them anything more than the minimum of attention and care.

If I told you that you had to put your dog into a facility for fifty hours a week, fifty weeks a year, for the next five years, and while there he would have to conform to the facility's schedule, method of discipline (if any) choice of food, time of feedings, and content himself with being one of a dozen or more animals confined to a single room with a single person all day long, you'd blink before you did it.

But that's exactly what we do to children all the time. It's de rigeur, and it stinks. The only thing separating most day cares from kennels is the lack of cages. Hell, most daycares even have multi-kid leashes that they connect the kids to in order to take them for walks to the park.

And we continue to delude ourselves into thinking that this is somehow good for children. Not a chance.

ObUnveiling: I have five kids with more to come.
posted by Dreama at 12:45 PM on April 19, 2001


One question for the anti-daycare bunch: How many of you are going to home-school your kids. If you aren't, then you will also be sending your kids away for most of the day, just a little later. The issue becomes - at what age is it appropriate to send your kids to daycare/preschool/school?
posted by quirked at 1:01 PM on April 19, 2001


Count me in, quirked. I'm homeschooling, which has less to do with the age that it is appropriate to send them away with the quality of the education that they'll receive.
posted by Dreama at 1:09 PM on April 19, 2001


And we continue to delude ourselves into thinking that this is somehow good for children. Not a chance

I hold no illusions about this, but I also don't see a lot of practical alternatives. I've been reading up about Montessori schools, some of which will take children as young as two, but a kennel's a kennel, right?

If I told you that you had to put your dog into a facility for fifty hours a week...

And how is this different than the rest of the American educational system?

It's great for you that you can do it this way, Dreama -- no day care, homeschooling, and all. There just has to be something in between all the extremes here: don't have kids, have kids but stay at home economics-be-damned, send them off to baby prison.......
posted by briank at 1:14 PM on April 19, 2001


we leave them behind in institutional facilities for up to ten hours a day, in the care of a low-paid person who has no connection to them, and no pressing need (and often no available time or resources) to offer them anything more than the minimum of attention and care.

Oh, my heartstrings. This is right out of Dickens. "Institutional facilities" is a yikes! term that really just means "some building where there might be governmental or corporate involvement." A schoolyard or a city park or tennis court could all be described this way.

"Low-paid person" is, sadly, probably true. It's certainly true for my girlfriend, who is comparatively well-paid, thanks to the fact that she works at a pretty hoity-toity school--oops, institutional facility.

But here's where Dreama jumps the rails. "No connection" to them? No, these workers are not their parents, but I don't know any day-care workers who got their jobs without a frank and sincere love for children, and if you were to suggest to (again, say) my girlfriend that she had no connection with them or "pressing need" (what? Not only is it her job, she loves these kids) to give them care and attention, I don't know whether she'd laugh in your face or try and beat the stuffing out of you.

Comparing day care to kennels may make for good ink and a cutely over-the-top metaphor, but it's still a load. Especially when taken with doses of nonsense like this:

If I told you that you had to put your dog into a facility for fifty hours a week, fifty weeks a year, for the next five years, and while there he would have to conform to the facility's schedule, method of discipline (if any) choice of food, time of feedings, and content himself with being one of a dozen or more animals confined to a single room with a single person all day long, you'd blink before you did it.

Confined to a single room with a single person all day long? Is that what you think happens at day care? No wonder you're so weirded out. But anyway, given your scary, scary scenario about the poor hypothetical doggies, it's worth mentioning that most people leave their damn dogs locked up at home all day. Hey, there's an idea, kids! Don't break anything!
posted by Skot at 1:17 PM on April 19, 2001


I was told many years ago by a very asture guy that you can always judge a culture and society by what it does for its youngest. France provides a great deal of care and schooling by very well trained people. Is it possible that you can have two parents working and a decent place for the kid(s) to learn and grow? Or, if there is but one parent, not unusual these days, than no matter what the income of the single parent, someone else is going to have to spend time with the child.


For those who say don't have children if you can't afford them: this is the same group that often votes to make sure abortion and birth control not available to those most in need of it.
posted by Postroad at 1:18 PM on April 19, 2001


Great, Dreama, you're not saying that children in day care are dogs. You're saying that parents who put their kids in day care are treating their kids like dogs. Typically, you carp at the present situation without offering a solution. You want to criticize others but you want no responsibility for helping anyone out.

while there he would have to conform to the facility's schedule, method of discipline (if any) choice of food, time of feedings, and content himself with being one of a dozen or more animals confined to a single room with a single person all day long

So what are you saying here? You let your children choose when they eat and what they want to eat? And you let your children choose their own methods of discipline? When I was a stay-at-home dad, I set the schedule and determined the discipline.

A day care center sets policies. If I don't like the policies then I can talk to the center about them. My daughter eats the lunch I pack her, when it's the center's lunch time. That's what she'd do at home. And I think that in most cases, it's simply not legal for a daycare center to have a 12:1 student to teacher ratio. Certainly in Maryland, if a person wishes to get licensed as a daycare provider, he or she has to agree to take no more than 8 children, and the number is lower if the children are very young. My daughter is in a class room with about fifteen children and three teachers.

Not all kids are as lucky as my daughter. But it would sure be nice to hear some compassion and determination to make things better instead of a "this situation is awful and it's not my problem" approach.
posted by anapestic at 1:20 PM on April 19, 2001


This situation is awful and it's not my problem.
posted by sonofsamiam at 1:23 PM on April 19, 2001


having children is a right? where is that written?
posted by fuzzygeek at 1:29 PM on April 19, 2001


Two kids. First had great time in day care. Second in lousy place. We spotted this and took the child out. Put her in great spot. Now, years later, she takes trips back there cause she remains fond of the place. Like most things, there are good ones and there are bad ones. But for most of us, day care is needed. And most techers in kindergarden will tell you that the kids that have gone to decent daycare are further along in social skills than those without day care.
posted by Postroad at 1:30 PM on April 19, 2001


Postroad: broad strokes buddy. I vote pro-choice, and pro-birth control. I'm for people making informed decisions that affect their lives and ours.
posted by owillis at 1:30 PM on April 19, 2001


I have 4 boys, ages 7 to 17 (park the grocery truck over there please).
If we never had kids until we could afford them, we’d be extinct. When I had my 1st child, I was making $28k and my wife was working too. We figured we would make a life together, and if we were successful our income would go up. It has. However, we also knew it might not work out that way, and I think we were prepared to deal with that too.

Children change your priorities. It’s not about what you buy for them; it’s about what you’re prepared to sacrifice for them. Money does enter into it, but from the sacrifice perspective, not as an income threshold. Are you willing to give up your “free” time to earn the money to provide for them?

Not everyone has disposable income. If being with your kids means no dinner tonight because you didn’t take the time to earn the money to buy the groceries, then prioritization needs to occur. Nobody can make these decisions for the parent.

All 4 of my boys spent time in daycare, the first 2 because we had to, the second 2 because we wanted to.

From a practical perspective, daycare has several advantages. First there’s the additional income. Second, it helps them stay healthy. Why? They get exposed to all the germs and childhood diseases at an early age, build up their immune systems, and enjoy better health later in life. And, hopefully, they’re too young to even remember the suffering they had to endure with measles or chicken pox. Ever see an adult with chicken pox? Hell-on-earth. Third, there’s socialization. Kids learn to interact with other kids at an early age, which makes them less shy and more self-confident. Fourth, good ones often have structured learning programs that systematically expose kids to things I would never think of. Diversity of learning experiences is a powerful good thing.

Like everything else, it’s all about balance. I am certain, based on what I‘ve personally seen, that too much daycare does cause bad behavior patterns. But what’s too much? 4 hours a day for an infant might be too much, where 10 hours a day might be OK for some 10 year olds. And what’s OK for one kid may be too much for another. That’s why parents need to make these judgment calls; they know their children, and only they understand the full impact of the tradeoffs.

So you do what you can. Evaluate day cares and schools carefully. Study the curriculum; figure out how structured it is. Talk to the teachers or caretakers, more than once. Drop in for a visit unannounced. Get yourself educated about your options. There is a full range of childcare options from very expensive to heavily subsidized, and the quality-to-cost relationship is not linear. Learn about company daycare facilities, after-school programs, flex time and work-at-home options. And most importantly, talk to your kids every single day. Read to them when they’re young. Find out about their day. Stay plugged in. Anything else is bad parenting and there’s no excuse for that.
posted by JParker at 1:33 PM on April 19, 2001


having children is a right? where is that written?

Among other places:

"be fruitful and multiply"

"are endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights, among them life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness."

But you aren't seriously arguing that one has no right to procreate, are you?
posted by idiolect at 1:34 PM on April 19, 2001


Pretty much it's written in the DNA, there, fuzzygeek. In the end, take away the thought-processes, and we're essentially eatin' and baby-making machines.

Unless there is some coda that legally removes your ability - or right - to skinny dip in the gene pool, baby making is a deFacto 'right'. Call it 'God Given', if you like your bible stories...
posted by Perigee at 1:34 PM on April 19, 2001


For those who say don't have children if you can't afford them: this is the same group that often votes to make sure abortion and birth control not available to those most in need of it.

how's that for an inflammatory generalization?

as long as we're making generalizations: perhaps people who say "don't have children if you can't afford them" also generally hold the stance that abortion is wrong because they generally expect people to behave rationally and generally take responsiblity for their own general actions. if people did, the point would in general, generally be moot. generally.

and what do you mean by "those most in need of it"? are you talking about the 14 year old rape victim, or a college co-ed who just had "too much to drink?" clarify your generalizations, please :P

ftr: married, have one child (who did go to a Montessori kindergarten).
posted by fuzzygeek at 1:40 PM on April 19, 2001


Postroad: consider yourself slapped. Child-free (by choice), vote pro-choice, and I vote yes on every single school levy. Just because I don't have children doesn't mean I don't think they should receive the best care and schooling possible. In today's world that requires careful thought before introducing another life.

I have to admit, I don't understand why having children is a right. Just because you can do it and no one can stop you (via Octavius' system), doesn't mean you have the right. I can kill someone with my bare hands, and believe me, I've had the urge to do that a lot more often than I've had the urge to bear a child--but I realize that I don't have that right. It pains me, but I've learned to live with it.

Frankly, even if I were overwhelmed with the urge to have a child, I know that because I couldn't care for it in a satisfactory manner (I'm in Dreama's school), I don't have the right.
posted by frykitty at 1:42 PM on April 19, 2001


Fry, in the context it was first brought up, the word 'Right' appears to have had the meaning 'no legal impingement or beaurocratic involvement in the decision to'

Versus the semantic spin of right being used elsewhere, which seems to denote 'Moral Imperative'.

The next time you see a woman put in the slammer for having a kid without meeting someone else's predetermined conditions, you can then say that having children is no longer a 'right'.
posted by Perigee at 1:50 PM on April 19, 2001


If you're saying that having children is not a right, then you're saying that some or all people do not have the right to have children. Come on, people; let's nail down the concept of a "right" here. A right is something that, in an ethically sound society, the society as a whole cannot take away from the individual. By that standard, having children is a right.

Perhaps some are confused between "having children is a right" and "having children is right." It certainly is not always the latter; people make poor decisions. But it most certainly the former.

Past the primary right to procreate, what are we owed? Theoretically, not much; if we can live with a society where raising children is a godawful struggle with few happy outcomes (and apparently we can), then so be it. But does that mean that the rest of us are wrong to argue that our priorities as a society should change?
posted by argybarg at 1:56 PM on April 19, 2001


on "having children" being a "right":

But you aren't seriously arguing that one has no right to procreate, are you?

perhaps i'm unclear on the concept of what, exactly "rights" are (personally i think most of the united states is somewhat hazy on the concept -- americans (in general heh) seem to believe that their "rights" include anything they damn well please.).

i wouldn't argue that one has no "right" to procreate. but i certainly would not argue that one does have that right.

what about that guy over there? the one that's sterile. does he have the right to procreate? if he is unable to, does he get some kind of compensation? who administers and administrates the "right to procreate"?

but this is getting OT.

[on topic mode. Region: America]
the problem with subsidizing day care is the same as subsidizing schools. according to the 2001 Census, almost 30% of US households are "non-family." should those 30% be forced to subsidize daycare when they themselves will reap no direct benefit from it?

arguably they will reap plenty of indirect benefits. but then, as we all know, america is the land of instant gratification -- [cue announcer]if you're not gratified instantly, you can sue someone!

it's terrible that many families can not survive on a single provider's income. saying that such people should not bear children is glib and ultimately pointless. it is a horribly difficult situation that will require hard choices to be made and sacrifices for the Common Good. which is why nothing substantive will ever happen. the mob of america is too focused on getting its daily requirement of sex, drugs and rock n' roll to worry about someone else's problem, or a problem that requires more than two steps or five minutes to fix.

and while it may seem that i'm being extremely anti-american -- let me point out that i have great respect for America. it's its citizens that i have issues with ;)

and, of course, i'm just wrong.
posted by fuzzygeek at 2:01 PM on April 19, 2001


I think on-site daycare at the workplace is one way dual income parents can balance working and raising children. There's no driving time to factor in, and parents can make frequent visits to check on their children, as well as have lunch with them. This would also be useful for breast feeding mothers who want/have to go back to work.

Granted, this isn't a viable option for every company, but I would gladly trade some of the "team building" type benefits (parties and trips and lava lamps (long story)) in exchange for on-site daycare. I would also rather see my tax dollars channeled into a government subsidy of workplace day care than, oh I don't know, weapons or Congressional pay increases.

FTR: No kids, no intention of ever having them either. I have the money, but I don't want to give up the time. Plus I think having lots of kids, with our ever dwindling resources, is socially and environmentally irresponsible. I'm trying to balance out the scales so people who do want lots of kids can have them.

I do, however, thoroughly enjoy my "Auntie" status to one close friend's baby and look forward to my other friends having children, too.
posted by jennyb at 2:02 PM on April 19, 2001


what about that guy over there? the one that's sterile. does he have the right to procreate?

fuzzygeek, I think your concept of a right is, well, fuzzy. You're confusing an ability with a right.

I have the right to quit my job if I like. If I'm in debt and the job market is poor, I probably shouldn't. But, assuming no overt economic coercion is going on, no one has taken away my right.

But if the company I work for has claimed my property and put me in debt to them, they've infringed on my right to work for whoever will hire me.

If our culture is built such that parenting is a struggle, it's still not an infringement of the right to have children. I wouldn't argue that. But if the government punishes those who have children -- with exorbitant fines or sterilization, as in China -- a basic human right has been violated.

btw, your view of America's just a cliche.
posted by argybarg at 2:13 PM on April 19, 2001


ah, "human rights." in all honesty, i wonder where and how that entire concept was engendered.

and yes, i know my view of america is just a cliche. it sure explains a hell of a lot, tho.

and yes, i am still being facetious.
posted by fuzzygeek at 2:22 PM on April 19, 2001


Indirect benefits are still real benefits, fuzzygeek.

But more to the point, people who live in a society have responsibility for that society, just as that society has responsibility for them. Most of the people living in non-family households attended public schools when they were kids. Now they want to not pay for someone else to do the same. It just doesn't work that way.

And even if someone went to private school all the way through, he's enjoyed plenty of benefits by being a citizen of the U.S., and it's not unreasonable to expect him to contribute.

Of course, many people want to blindly accept the benefits of living here and not deal with the responsibilities. Nobody wants to die, but everybody wants to go to heaven.
posted by anapestic at 2:25 PM on April 19, 2001


Unbelievable.

I haven't seen this many across the board generalizations and snotty remarks since I was in high school.

Since when did "don't have kids if you can't afford it" take on the definition that requires a "family" (however it may be structured) have a net income in the neighbourhood of 100k? There are many, many ways in which we all pay for things; monetary offering is one example. I can't believe that even has to be said.

On the subject of day care, I know that quirked already said this, but: yes, some day cares completely suck. Other day cares are the best thing that could happen to any child, parents at home or not. "Day care" isn't about kenneling children, for crying out loud. A lot of day cares take action and start working on kids' reading and writing skills, socialization. And other day cares: don't.

And when considering the fact that everyone's situation is different in terms of the ability to afford and provide the kind of lifestyle that you want to provide, the bickering about whether child care is inherently good or bad seems rather foolish to me.

In case you're wondering: yes, I did go to day care. (ohno!) They taught us to speak French, oh it was awful. Yeah, mom having to drop me off at a place where I had boatloads of fun with so many different kinds of kids it's not funny. I'll stop with the sarcasm, now. I'm just shocked at how quippy and nasty people can get with subjects like this.
posted by sarajflemming at 2:39 PM on April 19, 2001


Ai, sarajflemming -- has this thread really been that bad? I thought lots of good thinking has been shared here. I'll apologize for my portion of the nastiness, though, if it really has been nasty.
posted by argybarg at 2:48 PM on April 19, 2001


A lot of good info has been put out there, but all that keeps catching my eye is the nasty biting remarks that seem to shout, "my way is better than yours! nyah!" Which sounds like a bunch of kids in a sandbox.

zing!

(:
posted by sarajflemming at 2:55 PM on April 19, 2001


One child, 15 year old boy. Happy, well adjusted straight A student. He started day care at 6 months of age. Did I feel guilty? Yes. But since I waited until 32 to have him I choose to continue my career. My husband also worked. We waited until we could "afford" to stop working, either of us, but made a choose not to quit. Did we miss a lot of his milestones? Yes, but we were there for some also. I believe that the behavior of a child is a reflection of the behavior of the adults in their lives. We where very lucky with the daycare provided to our son. Small town, everyone knows everyone. The workers at the daycare are caring people and as educators very good. I realize that not everyone is this lucky, but studies like the linked one only serve to make people feel guilty and gives the ones who need it something to blame if they have problems with their children. IMOO
posted by bjgeiger at 3:04 PM on April 19, 2001


If you don't love or like your children enough to look after them yourself, don't have any.

Stop expecting others to raise your children!!! PLEASE.
posted by Zool at 4:53 PM on April 19, 2001


Zool! Right! But a little more of a tax deduction might be nice....
posted by ParisParamus at 5:01 PM on April 19, 2001


In most cases -- I would, in fact, speculate 7 out of 10 pregnancies worldwide -- having a kid comes about largely by accident. When you factor in the omnipresent, prosletyizing nature of Western religion that condemns the idea of birth control and abortion, that in fact caters to this ridiculous notion of "family values," half of these accidents are forced to see the light of day, regardless of the economical consequences or early formative experience that is sidetracked in favor of this cut-to-the-chase obstinacy.

owillis's idea -- "don't have kids if you can't afford them" -- is largely redundant when you consider this factor. Working class parents are forced to adapt big-time, both in terms of time and money, if they are to be reasonably effective parents. If both parents work, which is very likely, they are forced to spend extraordinary amounts of money to keep their kid(s) in day care.

They are forced to take on a responsibility that is so enormous and so unrecognized by a government such as the United States that prides itself on these "family values" that, inevitably, there are consequences. And that's just fine as far as the government goes. Keep the population just under that pivotal threshold of intelligence. Keep them stupid through an ineffectual public education system. Keep the population a collection of back-breaking taxpayers who don't live up to their full potential because parents cannot afford to spend that complete quality time. And, whatever you do, don't offer subsidized child care services. Because that would mean a cognizant working class.

So we're faced with a situation in which working class parents are forced to severely adapt their regular lives and maintain the role of parent. It's remarkable that there are so many wonderful parents under the circumstances (as cited through the empirical evidence in this thread). One speculates at the possible potential that would be expanded if our government were to offer a legitimate subsidized child care service and listen to people like Jocelyn Elders about early sex education.
posted by ed at 5:14 PM on April 19, 2001


"don't have kids if you can't afford them"
Here's a list of some other things that people shouldn't do if they can't afford it: Eat, seek medical attention, receive legal aid, put their children through college, have a home, and wear clothing.
posted by Doug at 5:37 PM on April 19, 2001


Wading thru all this-I have one question.

What is in the best interest of the child? Period?
As an experienced mom (three teens) I can tell you that no one is going to care about passing on MY values better than my husband and I.....and now as a working mom I can tell you I would have been a CRAPPY one if I had worked outside the home for a full workweek when they were small....as a matter of fact I did work for awhile when they were little-I worked third shift so I would not have to use day care-and I could not have afforded a bad daycare much less a good one anyway.
I believe you can have it all-just not all at the same time......and by the way I did homeschool for four years too-until the oldest one was high school age.
What saddens me is how the entire culture devalues the importance of raising children-isn't it a bit ironic how we entrust our greatest treasure to lowpaid workers? We don't value the job no matter WHO does it.....and don't think for one minute that the kids don't pick up on that.
posted by bunnyfire at 5:53 PM on April 19, 2001


The report on ABC's nightly news -- which gets repeated on the BBC's News 24 channel -- pointed out that the US provides less statuatory support for parents than any other industrialised nation.

So you can rewrite the "if you can't afford kids, don't breed" argument another way: if the state wants the next generation to be socially functional, support the parents. Provide a decent level of maternity and paternity leave, or at least allow parents guaranteed unpaid leave. It's called "social investment".

And no, I don't really think another version of the "America is right, and the rest of the developed world is wrong" theme will do.
posted by holgate at 6:31 PM on April 19, 2001


I'm just old enough to have kids and care for them.

I'm not going to. I think I'll get an expensive sports car instead. I don't have to send it to college and I can leave it in the garage while I'm at work and it'll be perfectly happy.

It'll also be a lot cheaper than raising a kid.

I guess two stories, and the experiences I've had in school and as a volunteer after I got out of school have given me this perspective.

Story 1: The meth-addict I once knew who worked in the day care center. She'd spend the weekend at raves and stay up for 48 hours, and then she'd get high real quick on Monday morning so she could stay awake through work. And she worked in a high-class daycare center.

Story 2: The woman I knew who couldn't afford dental work so that her teeth didn't rot out of her head, but she's pregnant with another child so that she can move up to the next welfare bracket.

My experiences in schools: Even parents who spend time with their kids can be bad parents. If you let your kids run wild and don't pay any attention to their activities, friends, etc... they're going to turn out bad. It's even apparent as a young age. It's work.Unfortunately, the parents who are raising and having kids now (People who were teens in the 80's, I think...) don't want to put in the work it requires, for the most part. (Please note the generalization.) I know some parents with very well behaved kids. For the most part, though, the kids in my neighborhood, which IS an upper-middle-class neighborhood, run completely rampant and torture each other. The parents say, "Boys will be boys", or (gross exaggeration) "Oh look, he's tearing her hair out of her head! How cute! He sure is growing up to be a strong boy..." (Unfortunately, that's not that FAR from the truth.)

This is why I don't want to have kids. Who in their right mind would bring a child into a world with peers and caretakers like we've got right now?!

Besides, birth control is definately cheaper than a kid...
posted by SpecialK at 7:04 PM on April 19, 2001


Hey, how about they cut all of our taxes instead of giving preferential treatment to the childed?
posted by owillis at 7:06 PM on April 19, 2001


I don't know if anyone has mentioned this yet (I don't have time to read all 80+ messages but I did scan them) but I think the study sounds seriously flawed.

Kids who spend more time in daycare spend more time having behaviour monitored. This means there is a greater likelihood of those monitoring them observing undesirable behaviour. This sound very similar to things they used to say about patients in mental institutions. They would say patients were wacko because of things like masturbating in public. It sounds deviant until you realize that their entire lives are lived in public.

Since they rely on daycare supervisors to report their impressions of these childern they are more likely to have negative incidents to bring to mind which will colour their impression of the childern.
posted by srboisvert at 7:11 PM on April 19, 2001


Owillis, biologists have just discovered something pretty amazing...children are people too! So tax breaks aren't preferential treatment for the "childed", but rather an attempt to help children.
posted by Doug at 7:21 PM on April 19, 2001


The kids will be fine. They always figure it out in the end. If kids were really that fragile, the social stresses accompanying centuries of poverty and violence that constitute(d?) normal life for most of the human race would have killed us off long ago. But no: miserable childhood or not, nearly everyone works it out at some point on the way to adulthood.
posted by Mars Saxman at 7:35 PM on April 19, 2001


how about they cut all of our taxes instead of giving preferential treatment to the childed?

Because that kind of attitude leads to the situation in west Africa, perhaps?

Although I do think that srboisvert's point is pretty valid: the people doing the research, and the teachers and care providers they interview, are more likely to use the same technical criteria than parents. And Mars is right: there's definitely a media-driven climate of paranoia surrounding parenting these days.

ObRevelation: none, and watching my sister bringing up her three-year-old is quite a revelation.
posted by holgate at 10:32 PM on April 19, 2001


I think giving tax breaks to people with children and none to the rest of us says "hey, these people plopped out organisms - therefore their much more valuable than you just sitting there staring at your navel". Like I said - cut all our taxes (not cut out) and efficiently use our money (in education, social programs) and you'll make us all happy.
posted by owillis at 10:43 PM on April 19, 2001


A further comment, now that I have read the report more carefully. The study asserts that behavioral problems are increased any time the child spends time away from its mother... even if the child is under the care of its father. It seems to me that this in itself should be enough to get the study completely dismissed on the grounds of built-in gender bias.
posted by Rebis at 11:46 PM on April 19, 2001


owillis has so many mental blocks, he could build a whole brick wall. ;-j

ObRevelation: one child (1 1/2 years old and using daycare one day per week -- for the fun and activities provided, she loves it), maybe another next year.
posted by lagado at 12:45 AM on April 20, 2001


Some could say I could build the Parthenon, but then they would think otherwise and not resort to insults.
posted by owillis at 1:23 AM on April 20, 2001


It seems to me that this in itself should be enough to get the study completely dismissed on the grounds of built-in gender bias.

Only if you work from the presumption that the roles of the mother and father in a child's life are completely interchangeable, and frankly, that's hogwash. They're not. The style and form (note that I did not say quality) of the nurturing and care provided by mothers and fathers are different, because mothers and fathers are different.

There are some obvious conclusions that can be drawn from the fact that the study singles out time with mothers as the key factor with regard to the development of aggressive traits, but I won't pander to anyone's intelligence by spooling them all out.
posted by Dreama at 6:29 AM on April 20, 2001


I think giving tax breaks to people with children and none to the rest of us says "hey, these people plopped out organisms - therefore their [sic] much more valuable than you just sitting there staring at your navel".

Let's take two groups of people and put them on separate planets. Group A has and raises children. Group B doesn't. Which planet does better? In some ways, people who have children are more valuable than people who don't. (I'm not saying that we're better people.)

Parents are at a tremendous economic disadvantage compared to non-parents. The U.S. tax code takes some extremely modest steps to ameliorate this disadvantage (in the same way that it acts to promote home ownership). The rest of the developed world takes much larger steps to ease the economic distress of parents.

As far as the study goes, yes, it's flawed. Why didn't the study authors use some objective measure of attention span or other indicators? It doesn't look as if they studied the children at all. They studied the caregivers' perceptions of children. But I don't think the study itself is all that relevant. You don't need a study to know that families struggle mightily with these issues. And you have only to look to the rest of the world to find places where it's all handled much better.
posted by anapestic at 6:42 AM on April 20, 2001


Group A has and raises children. Group B doesn't. Which planet does better?

The planet with group B, of course, because its inhabitants die out after a generation and the planet can go back to whatever it was doing before, whereas the other planet continues being damaged by humans for generations until they use up all the planet's resources and die off in a last massive frenzy of consumption.

Well, you did ask which planet would do better...
posted by kindall at 9:29 AM on April 20, 2001


"FTR: No kids, no intention of ever having them either. I have the money, but I don't want to give up the time. Plus I think having lots of kids, with our ever dwindling resources, is socially and environmentally irresponsible. I'm trying to balance out the scales so people who do want lots of kids can have them."

I hear this from friends, and I don't care if other people don't have kids, but the problem (and I could be wrooooong) with this argument, in practice, is that most (I know there are exceptions) people who aren't having kids in order to share dwindling resources aren't exactly funneling their extra income into organizations or mechanisms for sharing the wealth. Of course, that doesn't stop them from berating people who sacrificed the new car or bigger house in order to have children. This could just be my personal experience, of course, and I could just be remotely taking shots at my self-righteous neo-liberal inlaws (as opposed to real liberals who walk their talk, who I respect immensely).
posted by mecran01 at 5:11 AM on April 27, 2001


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