In a new New York Times magazine article, Judith Warner talks to three women—two white and one black—who were privileged high achievers before having children. Warner’s article is a follow-up to Lisa Belkin’s 2003 piece, “The Opt-Out Revolution,” in which Belkin talked to high-achieving women who had deliberately decided to step out of the workforce to focus on raising their children. At the time, the women interviewed expressed the feelings that they were being pulled in too many directions and were finding their jobs the least fulfilling parts of their lives. Since they had the option (because of high-earning spouses) to leave the workforce, they were choosing to focus on their children. This new article revisits these women a decade later. After several thousand words in which Warner bemoans the perfectly ordinary life struggles of her subjects (one divorce, one career renaissance but marriage trouble, one unemployment causing marital tension), she makes an attempt at a thesis: The women she interviewed were foolish to opt out back in 2000. She writes, “Beyond the personal losses — the changes in the dynamic of a marriage or the cumulative financial effects of many years of not working — there is the collective impact to consider.” Had they been less deluded, Warner implies, things would be different now for these women, our brightest and best. The focus on opting out only tells part of the story, which is that it’s hard to survive and keep a marriage together, even for educated, privileged mostly-white people.
Blaming struggles of a limited group on personal choice is bad social science.
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QUESTION ONE (POSED BY YOUR DAD): You see that Papa John’s guy? I’m telling you: Obamacare is going to ruin this country. I know Jeff [your 22-year-old brother who is currently insured on your family’s health plan as a direct result of Obamacare] went knocking on doors for our “president” because he’s never had a real job and doesn’t know what it’s like to pay taxes just so a bunch of people can get a free ride. But I’m not mad, because he’ll figure it out, once he gets out into the world, and sees what it’s like to make payroll or buy a house after the government’s gotten through with you.
ANSWER: Here’s what I think about Skyfall. It was an awesome movie — and, wow, Sam Mendes totally brought it — but it wasn’t a Bond movie, you know? It was so cool and Bardem was ah-may-zing but seeing where James Bond grew up? That’s more Batman, right? What do you think, cousin Sam?
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We live in a world in which some of the people we are closest to are often not near us at all.
When we document our day-to-day existence in photographs and Instagrams, these people are absent. Their presence in our lives is missing from our digital memories.
Photographer John Clang’s series Being Together seeks to correct this. Using Skype and projectors, he captures families visually as they are virtually.
"In these images," Clang told me over email, "I am marking the time for these families, enabling them to remember these strange moments of togetherness with the technology presently available. The picture doesn’t stop here, it lingers on in their memory. It embraces the intimacy and closeness of a family, no matter how far apart they are."
Read more. [Images: John Clang]
Radically unschooled children are allowed to live each day in freedom, being exactly who and what they are at that moment. They have no bedtime, no mandatory foods, no off-limit words. If your child is tender-headed and shrieks like a parrot when her hair is brushed, the Radical would suggest you not brush her hair. If she prefers to let it mass into a giant dreadlock that collects food and gnats, well, it’s really not your problem, is it? After all, it’s not your hair; it’s hers. The basic operating principle is that you should not treat a child any differently than you would treat another adult, which is to say without guilt, coercion or threats.
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It might not look it to the casual outside observer, but stay-at-home dads are a tough breed. Behind all of the dangling diaper-bags, strollers, children’s songs, and dried-up drool is a very capable man. A man who can transfer two snoozing children, one on each arm, from the mini-van through the heat of the day — unlocking the door to the house and slipping them into their respective beds without waking them up. A man who, on little to no sleep, must plan for any and every situation, magnificent or mundane. A man who must learn not to panic through bouts of uncontrollable backseat tears and screams while driving in bumper-to-bumper rush hour traffic. A man who truly knows the value of taking a long, deep breath.
Stay-at-home mothers feel these same stresses. But the ways men deal with them are another matter entirely. As proud and contented as I feel with my children, and as comfortable as I am with the choices my wife and I have made, there are definitely times when I find myself desperately needing to do something specific to assert my manhood. I daydream about spending weekends with a few buddies in the mountains, throwing a hatchet into a tree, or finding the time to grab a paddle and spend hours of solitude on a river in a canoe.
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…parenting should thrive in an age of austerity, says Bryan Caplan, an economics professor at George Mason University, and author of the new book Selfish Reasons to Have More Kids: Why Being a Parent Is Less Work and More Fun Than You Think.
The secret joy of being a parent, Caplan argues, comes from understanding the limited liability of parenting. Studies have found that child-rearing is, if you can believe it, a little overrated. In surveys of twins raised together and apart, behavioral scientists consistently found that nature overpowered nurture in almost all categories, from character and intelligence to happiness and health. Once you accept that bad parenting won’t always keep your kids from being great (and good parenting might not make a difference!), it’s easier to relax and enjoy the state of being a parent.
If the seeds of a good person are sown in a child’s DNA, it follows that parents are probably paying too much to improve their children. Caplan suggests that parenting doesn’t have to be so expensive. Kids don’t need the latest gizmos or the ceaseless, and expensive, attention we provide them. You can easily raise a great kid on a modest budget.
Caplan suggests marginal improvements in four areas — sleep, discipline, activities, and supervision - would ease the emotional and financial costs of parenting. Parents typically lose “three years of sleep per child,” Caplan says.
Read the rest of the story at The Atlantic.