February 16, 2010
I recently engaged in a debate via the Washington Post. What caught my eye was the title, “Caring for a Newborn Doesn’t Have to Hurt Your Career.” I don’t know why I did it, just a masochist I guess. Boy, did I get flamed. If you don’t have time (or the digestion) to read the thread here’s the gist: A young mother decided six weeks after giving birth, to go back to her job for her “sanity”. She could not stay home with the newborn. The husband wrote in for advice, claiming that he stepped in to care for the infant, even though his wife had agreed to stay home for a year. He further stated that he was being passed over for promotions, that he made more money, and that telecommuting from home wasn’t going to cut it. The wife won’t relent, apparently. The poster responded by saying that he should just put the baby in day care, that he’d be just fine.
All I did was state my opinion that very small babies and young children should, if at all feasible, be home with their mothers. NOT in childcare. I then stated that I had read a study that claimed that the vast majority of daycare were not good for children/babies. Then the flaming began! Everything from how could I possibly believe any study but empirical evidence, that as long as the child comes home to his parents (at the end of 12 hours probably) then children turn out just fine. People popped out of nowhere to chime in, saying that children turned out just fine, thank you very much, and how dare I say that their $8.00 day care providers did not love them? They really ripped me for using a dollar amount. I admit, it was not good logic, but I was angry.
Basically, they defended the use of day care, and the idea that I am dispensable as a mother. My son (who is four) will turn out the same whether he is home with me or with people who get paid to “love” him.
Here’s one particular poster’s response to me:
“I do not believe that it is anywhere near the “vast majority” of them [that are harmful], and that the vast majority of them can be as good as you are for your child, especially as long as your child has you to come home to.”
Our society historically blames mothers when they produce serial killers, and conversely states that we are dispensable.
Here is the original letter from the husband in the Post:
After six weeks with our newborn, my wife informed me that she could not follow through with our one-year maternity-leave plan and had to go back to work. I know we’re a team in this, so I rearranged my whole career to stay home with the baby. However, it quickly became clear that I’m not going to get very far telecommuting indefinitely. I have already been passed up for a promotion and am missing out on many important elements of the office culture.
Not to trivialize my wife’s job, but even she says it’s not a “career” and it pays very little. If she needs to be out of the house for her sanity, I understand that, but I have to succeed at work for our family to survive. However, I feel that insisting that she reconsider this arrangement would be oppressive or borderline abusive. Please help.
Carolyn Hax, the Post writer, responds by telling the husband to speak with his wife calmly. Both of them should relax. Neither parent is really need to raise a child. She writes:
So, open your mind to other ideas, hear your wife out and offer your ideas. Having a fixed notion of The Way Children Should Be Raised, and then forcing everyone to conform to it, is a great way to create unhappy families. Start with the circumstances and needs of the individuals involved, and build from there.
Notice Hax’s wording. There are people “forcing everyone to conform” to a child-rearing model. Hax also advises the husband to get a screening for his wife for postpartum depression. More likely, this woman has a case of the narcissistic mania that afflicts a woman when she becomes a mother and suddenly realizes that everything she has ever been told about adulthood is a lie. She is more prepared to fly to the moon or become a NASCAR champ than raise a single child.
The comments Kathleen describes in the ensuing discussion are more evidence of this disorder. Some of the women participating are probably at least slightly unbalanced. They are in the belly of the beast, confronting the massive deceptions of feminism, including the idea that to be alone in a house, well fed and cared for, with a newborn is a test of mental endurance similar to solitary confinement behind bars. So fevered are feminist depictions of new motherhood that some impressionable women with newborns actually view themselves as akin to political prisoners. It’s very difficult for to weather the initial adjustment to an infant, which does present real challenges, amidst all these feminist delusions of oppression.
Day care is not just one more option for raising children. It is dangerous. Numerous studies have shown the ill effects of more than 20 hours a week of day care on the physical and psychological health of infants and very young children. According to Brian Robertson, author of the excellent book Day Care Deception, a young child in day care “is eighteen times more likely to become ill compared with children at home, four times more likely to be hospitalized, and at 50 to 100 percent increased risk for contracting a fatal or maiming disease for each year in day care.” And, according to government studies, he “has a three times greater risk of developing serious behavior problems like noncompliance, talking too much, arguing a lot, temper tantrums, demanding a lot of attention, disrupting class discipline, cruelty, meanness, bullying, explosive behavior, and getting in lots of fights.”
Full-time day care creates aggression in some, detachment and passive withdrawal in others, disorders similar to those found in children who have grown up orphanages. Robertson calls the day care industry “a ticking time bomb for our society.”
All of us subsidize this ticking time bomb. Tax credits for parents who use commercial day care are a collective gift to the multi-billion dollar day care industry. These tax credits exist even though polls show parents overwhelmingly prefer that their children be in private homes, ideally with one parent, and consider commercial day care the least attractive option.
I feel for the husband who wrote to the Post. He actually considers it “oppressive or borderline abusive” to point out to his wife that she has real duties to him and her child. He’s in for a heck of a ride.
— Comments —
Jim B. writes:
This guy sounds like a candidate for Roissy’s “Beta of the Month” competition. Seriously, his wife breaks their agreement, goes off to her hobby job and endangers both his infant son’s health and his career, and he worries that pointing this out will be “oppressive”? My God, what have the men of this sick, twisted society turned into?
Agreed. He’s a hopeless wimp. He will twist and turn in the gusts of his wife’s emotions. But what power does he have? She could put her child in day care, leave him, and take half of his income with her. He could end up supporting her while she lives with another man who thinks day care is just fine.
Ultimately, it is he who is oppressed. And the child, who has a little girl for a mother. Despite the risks of divorce for him, he should tell his wife that if she isn’t going to raise his child, then he doesn’t need her, doesn’t respect her and doesn’t want her.
There is a very common misconception which you repeating about how a man will be affected financially in a divorce. While it is true that he could be taken to the cleaners in a divorce if he attempted to maintain his high-earning position, he also has choices.
For example, he could take a different job which allows him more easily and successfully to care for his child. In a divorce, asset and support divisions usually occur on the basis of income. As long as he is earning no more than her, he is actually not that vulnerable. He could even quit his job totally to stay home to take care of the baby. That way, it would be she who was actually in danger of exploitation by the divorce process.
A husband can’t force a wife to stay home with the kids, but she can’t force him to work either. They may be better off, financially and psychologically, if he were to quit his job entirely. The main problem as I can see it is that the man is highly ambitious. The wife is clearly damaged, but he has a number of options that should be considered. If the child ends up in daycare, the fault is as much his own as hers.
Many people don’t realize that it just might be better to be poor while raising young children than to be making a middle income. According to an analysis I did a couple years back, What is the Optimal Family Income, a single wage earner making $9.92 an hour can support a family of four, earning the equivalent $16.52 an hour. Incredibly, if the second parent goes back to work and earns less than $28,000, the family would actually end up poorer.
Could he just stay home with the baby during the day? You betcha! Clearly, their lifestyle would have to be downsized. Would she divorce him because he would rather stay home with the kid than support their materialistic lifestyle? Then she only loved him “as a provider,” i.e. as a paycheck, anyway! If she truly loves him as a man and a father, she will be willing to downsize their lifestyle so that everyone in their family can be happy: her out of the home earning the money and him taking care of the child.
Most likely, she would not be happy with this option. She probably married him partly because of his work, not just for the money he earns but for his aura of accomplishment. I don’t think he is overly ambitious for wanting to succeed in his job; his ambition was probably attractive to her in the first place.
Not everyone is comfortable living on food stamps and housing vouchers. Why should I as a taxpayer pay for this family’s survival?
Thirdly, the roles of mother and father are not easily interchangeable. Often this emotional crisis after a baby arrives is temporary. A woman is simply not used to the change. He could firmly encourage her to try to stay home for another six months and see how it goes.
Jim B. writes:
You correspondent obviously hasn’t heard about the divorce industry’s wonderful innovation of imputed income. It’s right up there with requiring him to pay for his child’s college education (something for which a married parent is under no obligation.)
[Jim B. describes himself as a man who “isn’t divorced, but loved his wife enough to walk into marrying her knowing about what could happen.”]
For clarification, “imputed income” does not permit a man to be underemployed for long.
Just for the record, I am quite aware of imputed income, and I am completely opposed to it. However, it is mainly used to go after people who intentionally reduce their income to avoid a court ordered payment. If the husband in question demonstrates that he is the baby’s primary caregiver, he is largely protecting himself from imputed income demands. In fact, he would be establishing himself as primary custodian, which the courts would probably recognize in custody procedings. That’s the thing about family courts today, they don’t care about genders of the caregiver or breadwinner. My main point is, this guy has options, which no one else seems to be talking about, and the idea that family courts are automatically anti-male is just not true.
On a secondary note, do you really think it is bad for intelligent conservative whites to use government subsidies to help subsidize their families? I see the below-replacement white fertility rate as one of the major problems facing this country. As long as our country has a welfare system that helps poor people have kids, I see nothing wrong with whites taking advantage of it.
What we see here is a cultural attitude (disdain of welfare and aversion to having kids while poor) that is actually harmful to the white race in America. Children of intelligent conservative whites are not going to suddenly do poorly in school, get on drugs, and get pregnant as teenagers simply because their parents utitilzed the available welfare system when they were young. Quite the opposite, really. These children will have a lot more parental influence and guidance than the latch-key kids of the dual-employed.
Don’t get me wrong. If I were made king, the welfare system would be gone tomorrow. But while it exists, for whites not to take advantage of it when they can, is folly.
This subject of whether traditional families should use welfare to survive has come up here before, specifically in discussions of single mothers and Orthodox Jewish families who may rely on government assistance.
If a family meets the poverty guidelines, they should use government assistance to survive if they have no other option. However, I think it is wrong for a couple to deliberately remain unmarried or for a man to deliberately work less to qualify. Not only do government subsidies ultimately harm family and community, they affect character and initiative over time.
Let’s return to the couple involved in the Post discussion. We’re not talking about a family that cannot survive on its own. The idea that the government should pay for this family’s survival simply because the woman is grumpy and unsatisfied at home is outrageous. If her unhappiness is so extreme, he can stay home and she can work harder so they can survive. But, they are probably capable of supporting themselves either way.
Posted by Laura Wood in Day Care