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Parenting notes of the moment

2010-07-07 19:49:58.073627+00 by Dan Lyke 6 comments

New York Magazine: Why Parents Hate Parenting:

... As we gained in prosperity, childhood came increasingly to be viewed as a protected, privileged time, and once college degrees became essential to getting ahead, children became not only a great expense but subjects to be sculpted, stimulated, instructed, groomed. (The Princeton sociologist Viviana Zelizer describes this transformation of a child’s value in five ruthless words: “Economically worthless but emotionally priceless.”) ...

I think that came from Lyn Via Kottke. Relatedly, Shawn's Being A A Parent Is A Choice has been sitting in an opened tab, partly because I wanted to dig a little bit deeper into controversy surrounding Dr. Maria New's use of dexamethasone, but also because I've been reminded several times recently that a little more acknowledgement that kids are a hell of a lot of work, and that the payoff can be rewarding, a cultural acknowledgement that kids aren't necessarily the life-fulfilling bundles of joy that we sometimes portray them as would have saved a number of people I know, especially some lower-income single moms, a hell of a lot of pain and suffering.

[ related topics: Children and growing up Sociology ]

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comments in descending chronological order (reverse):

#Comment Re: made: 2010-07-08 18:24:37.828512+00 by: petronius

Part of the problem is in seeing the child not as a generally natural experience of adulthood, but rather as a sort of accesory that must be maintained properly, with the correct clothes, nursery school college, etc. in order to get the most out of it. The distraught parent becomes so because life didn't adhere to the plan. Its not the kid that's the problem; its the rather selfish need that the kid constantly provide explicit support to all your decisions.

As to the Dex, this sounds like another easy solution that will turn out to be a big problem for some people. What we are discovering is that human behavior is way, way more complex than we thought. The all-encompassing freudianism of the 50s was as much a grotesque over-simplication as the all-chemical approach today. Add on the issue of political correctness and it becomes a minefield. For example, what if the study said that boy babies getting some dex would be less likely to be rapists, or if that is too much, less likely to cheat on their spouse? Would opinions on the treatment change? I've long suspected that one of these days we are going to look at gender reassignment as a colossal mistake, discovering that all these people needed was more vitamin B or something. Yet an entire medical machine geared up to remold human genitalia seems somewhat more drastic than a few dex pills.

#Comment Re: made: 2010-07-08 16:28:58.07479+00 by: Dan Lyke

Oddly, as you point out, I guess I do see sex as more like knitting than breathing and eating. But that lack of drive to procreate is probably also why I haven't felt the urge for biological offspring.

#Comment Re: made: 2010-07-08 13:56:50.914524+00 by: Medley

It depends, I think, on whether you think sex is more like breathing and eating (both of which are "choices" I guess), or more like, oh, knitting.

It surprises me that I may be more inclined toward the former POV than you. (Not that it matters; it just surprises me. :) )

And I am speaking about the aggregate state of the species; obviously there are individuals who choose celibacy, temporary fasting, and ... diving w/o an oxygen tank(?).

#Comment Re: made: 2010-07-08 00:19:18.104042+00 by: Dan Lyke

I hope Shawn will pop in here, but I think one could argue that either way: It takes an action to have a child, although the biological instinct to take that action is very very strong, and the ability to allow that action while preventing conception is technically moderately recent, and socially extremely recent.

And, yeah, I probably saw the original article from a number of sources.

#Comment Re: made: 2010-07-07 23:50:22.157509+00 by: Medley

I would also quibble with the claim in one of the linked articles, "the state of not having children is the default."

Umm, no, I don't think so. Humans being humans, absent intervention or malfunction, the default is reproduction.

#Comment Re: made: 2010-07-07 23:46:32.393266+00 by: Medley

Well, I did tweet it, too. :-) I have a lot I could blog/opine about this and other such articles.. if only I weren't spending all my spare time... parenting. Haha.