Is Childcare A 'Woman's Issue?'

Great article in the March 12 issue of The Nation, The Care Crisis.

Although we have shelves full of books that address work/family problems, we still have not named the burdens that affect most of American's working families...a profound "care deficit"...Three decades after Congress passed comprehensive childcare legislation in 1971 -- Nixon vetoed it -- childcare has simply dropped off the national agenda...the political atmosphere has only grown more hostile to the idea of using federal funds to subsidize the lives of working families...It is as though Americans are trapped in a time warp, still convinced that women should and will care for children, the elderly, homes and communities.

Every working woman I speak with, especially those with more than one child, suffers from never-ending worries about childcare. How much it costs, whether her caregivers are nurturing her children and keeping them safe, whether her life will fall apart tomorrow when her caregiver quits or falls ill or her day-care center closes or raises its rates. One woman I met recently at a conference for women returning to work reported that she recently landed a job in her field after an absence of six years. "My husband was so excited for me," she said. "And then he said: But you better get cracking to find childcare. To him, it was 100 percent my responsiblity."

No man has ever mentioned childcare to me as a concern in his life or an obstacle to his career.

And herein lies the problem. Most men in corporate, political, judicial and non-profit positions of power -- Democrats, Republicans, independents, apoliticals -- don't have childcare as a national problem anywhere on their radar screens. It's a "woman's issue." A special interest group concern. Their wives' problem. Despite the fact that , obviously, men have something to do with creating children. Despite the 21 million women who live below the poverty line in America and are especially dependent upon childcare in order to work and provide for their families. Regardless of the fact that 70 percent of moms with children under 18 work and that a recent study by Harvard and McGill universities rank the U.S. at the bottom of the world's nations in terms of providing a safety net for moms and children.

Why is it so difficult for even our country's smartest, most thoughtful, most ambitious leaders to comprehend that childcare is not "just" a woman's issue? What do we need to do to persuade the men in our families, our governments and our companies that childcare affects us all?

By Leslie Morgan Steiner |  March 5, 2007; 7:00 AM ET  | Category:  Childcare
Previous: The Path to Better Child Care | Next: Looking for Balance in All the Wrong Places


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I think that, as with most of what are considered "women's issues," it's going to take a lot of social change before men will stop thinking of child care as a woman's responsibility. And I'm talking on the micro level -- women refusing to take on the duty themselves without at least discussing why it is they, and not their husbands, who are responsible for it.

Of course, I'm one to talk. We recently went through a patch of time where we really could have used childcare for my daughter -- I needed to study for the bar, and DH wanted to go sailing on the weekends. He kept telling me "we should find a babysitter," until I called him on it, pointing out that what he really meant is "you should find a babysitter." Still, I was the one who ultimately spent my time schmoozing the neighborhood moms of teens, looking for a kid whose schedule would permit babysitting.

Posted by: NewSAHM | March 5, 2007 7:31 AM

Another thought is that the reason politicians don't think much about child care is their age. By the time your old enough to be a politician, I think you passed that phase in your life of raising kids. It is easy to forget or minimize the issues of the day to day tasks of raising kids after you personally passed that phase. I really don't see child care as being anything but a women's issue, till it changes in homes across the US. Until ordinary men get forced to deal with the issue, it won't change on the macro level. I know in my own family, I was the one out there investigating day cares and sitters. I am the one making connections and finding unique solutions to our child care needs. Heck, I am the one on this blog. I really can't see DH actively participating unless I force him. I have to tell him to make an appointment or tell him where and when to pick up DD. I just think a lot of men do not take ownership in the child care duties. Most are willing to do anything you ask of them. But they just don't take charge of the job themselves.

Posted by: foamgnome | March 5, 2007 7:40 AM

Leslie:

"What do we need to do to persuade the men in our families, our governments and our companies that childcare affects us all?"

If I recall, this was well-discussed when the child tax credit was proposed and passed in 2003 [not that long ago]. The arguments, however, included the one that you seemed to dismiss: the idea of a parent choosing to stay at home full-time. The reason for instituting a tax credit to be applied to all parents [below an income cap] was that parents could then choose whether to apply that to the cost of outside-the-home child care or they could apply it to the cost of one parent staying home.

The fundamental question that many lawmakers asked was whether the USG should take a position of encouraging both parents to work outside the home [through exclusively subsidizing outside-the-home childcare]. The fact that this care already receives a tax subsidy [the childcare deduction] suggests that we've gone partially down that path -- the question is how much further we wish to go.

Is increasing the child tax credit a reasonable solution to address this funding issue?

Posted by: A Dad | March 5, 2007 7:49 AM

I grew up in a home where my father was the primary caregiver. Didn't seem odd to me until I was in 3rd or 4th grade and my mom came to pick us up from the community center and the lady who ran it being very skeptical about this stranger asking for us. Dad was the one who went to all the parent/teacher conferences, drove for field trips and even went camping with my 6th grade class and brownie troop.

My sister is now pregnant with her first, and the first grandchild. Her husband is the one who is going to stay home. Luckily they live near the rest of the family and my brother, who is a firefighter and has a very open schedule is slated to help out.

Politicians lose sight of the need for child-care b/c when their kids were little, many of them were already on the campaign trails, in state congress, or even here in DC. With very little time at home, it fell to their wife/other family members to make sure the kids were seen to.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 5, 2007 7:50 AM

Why is it that women don't generally abandon their children in the way that many men do? Is it possible that we women have a different connection to our children, a different sense of responsibility to them? Could it be that in carrying them in our bodies we have a bond with them that is different than that of a father? Because we carry the burden or blessing (depending on your experience) of actually creating the child we do have a higher responsibilty for its care. I'm so completely bored of the women here complaining about the things the men that THEY picked don't do. Like they do everything perfectly. Please, if you want a man who is involved and equal and supportive then discuss that before you have his children - geeze. All it ever is here is: We're so misunderstood, we need more (insert benefit that someone else must give) yadda, yadda, yadda.

There's lots of cool things about being a woman - stop complaining about it. We get to make children (most of us), we can have almost any job we like. You can be a ballerina or an astronaut. You can be a SAHM and then Speaker of the House. What is so terrible - upset because society expects you to take care of your children - really, how terribly unreasonable of them.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 5, 2007 7:51 AM

I'm not sure it's helpful to aggregate individual level and group-level political behavior. In other words, the fact that there is currently no active interest group pressuring Congress for childcare is a separate issue from whether or not your husband handled finding a babysitter for Saturday night.

And the fact is that interest groups organize around special interests -- the people affected by that legislation will be the ones that organize and push it through. In other words, there will never be a national outpouring of support for more subsidized childcare as the next Great Society movement. What's needed is a strong lobby/interest group.

I think some type of organization might take a lesson from, for example, AARP in recruiting FAMILIES (not women) to join an organization which provides benefits to those who support their agenda. (I'm thinking of the way everybody in America gets a letter from AARP on their fiftieth birthday -- what if there was an organization which contacted everyone right after they had a baby and solicited their support for carefully crafted initiatives favoring childcare subsidies -- something like that. An actual lobbying group.)

I know I'm going to get attacked for this, but I feel that organizations like NOW have kind of missed the boat by focussing on other issues rather than this one. Unfortunately, they're out of touch with what FAMILIES (not women) really need today.

Posted by: Armchair Mom | March 5, 2007 7:51 AM

A Dad: Do you really see the child care tax deduction or the child tax credit subsidizing either choice. Clearly no one is choosing to stay home based on a $1K tax credit per child and the $5k tax DEDUCTION is really only a about $1250 tax credit for families. Less for others. I don't see either one of them enough to encourage people to make either choice. It just helps elevate the burden based on the choice you already made. Besides the tax credit for kids can be used for working or non working parents under a certain income.

Posted by: foamgnome | March 5, 2007 7:52 AM

"Every working woman I speak with, especially those with more than one child, suffers from never-ending worries about childcare. How much it costs, whether her caregivers are nurturing her children and keeping them safe, whether her life will fall apart tomorrow when her caregiver quits or falls ill or her day-care center closes or raises its rates."

You've never spoken with my wife. We have no worries about daycare. We can afford it. We know the employees keep our kids safe and nurtures them. The center will not close and when it raises rates, they are reasonable (and will remain so). Sure, the first day dropping off the first kid was terrible (worrying about the kid) but that quickly ended.


"Their wives' problem."

Only when the wives make it their problem. If my wife is specific about what we get in a babysitter, it is then up to her to find one. If she feels my choice is unacceptable, that's fine with me - but then I am no longer responsible for finding a babysitter. It's all her.


"What do we need to do to persuade the men in our families, our governments and our companies that childcare affects us all?"

Thanks for insulting every man that is here.

Posted by: Father of 2 | March 5, 2007 7:53 AM

My husband is almost always the one who finds and calls the babysitters, and often observes her behavior to tell whether we should have her again. In the next few weeks we'll be arranging the childcare for the next year, and we are attending all of the places together-- and he's doing the phone followup. When I say "we need a babysitter" he assumes it's him who calls.

It wasn't always like this. Earlier, when I was the SAHM, it was mostly viewed as my responsibility. When he became a SAHD, he began to view it as his. We're both working now, but the patterns from being a SAHD have lasted.

Posted by: Neighbor | March 5, 2007 7:58 AM

When Leslie makes broad, sweeping generalizations about men and/or women or any other group of humans, I lose my temper. When Leslie states statistical results incorrectly, or picks bits of a study and twists the results to suit her agenda, she makes me crazy. I won't even try to point out what is wrong with her blog entry today. Maybe Leslie makes these crazy statements to create posts, but I for one am weary of her inaccuracies.

Posted by: experienced mom | March 5, 2007 7:59 AM

Childcare will continue to remain a woman's issue and here's why:

Aint no mother in the right mind that will let a man change there baby's diaper other than the father himself unless she is extremely pressed. Kids need their butts wiped until around 4 or 5 years of age, and that pretty much cuts out hands on care by men for a significant portion of their childhood. Of course, I can pitch in with my own kids, but when we talk childcare, I'm assuming it's the care given to children other than the parents themselves.

So the fact remains, women select other women to take care of their kids and there is very little men can do about it.

Sorry!

Posted by: Father of 4 | March 5, 2007 8:00 AM

Father of 2, how nice for you to presume to speak for your wife and say you have no worries about daycare. There is no woman on the planet with children who doesn't worry about her kids when they're with a caregiver (including you) other than herself. If you say she doesn't worry, either you're lying or she is.

You can't play the daddy card here. Ballsy move, but like a lead balloon . . .

Posted by: What a Crock | March 5, 2007 8:00 AM

"I'm so completely bored of the women here complaining about the things the men that THEY picked don't do"

Women tend to mate with men that are a lot like their own (the womens')fathers. If there were fewer lousy fathers, there would be fewer lousy husbands,fewer lousy marriages and fewer broken homes, etc.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 5, 2007 8:02 AM

Foamgnome:
"A Dad: Do you really see the child care tax deduction or the child tax credit subsidizing either choice. "

That was part of the justification included within the congressional testimony -- both in 2003 when the child tax credit was passed and more recently as part of the discussion as to whether we should focus on increasing EITC or simply increasing the child tax credit [or making the child tax credit more progressive on income].

The question that many lawmakers asked was how to best provide financial assistance to families so that they could choose the best arrangement for them. The direct child tax credit was seen as the most expensive and most flexible -- the child care deduction is focused on subsidizing only those families in which both parents are employed -- while the EITC is somewhat mixed [pro-employment but not necessarily requiring that both parents be employed].

Agreed that the current amount is minimal - my question is whether people would be comfortable 'addressing' this issue by eliminating the child care tax credit and applying that same amount across the board as a broad-based child tax credit.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 5, 2007 8:06 AM

Women tend to mate with men that are a lot like their own (the womens')fathers. If there were fewer lousy fathers, there would be fewer lousy husbands,fewer lousy marriages and fewer broken homes, etc.

Posted by: | March 5, 2007 08:02 AM

Oh, that's right. No one is accountable for their own choices! It is always SOMEONE else's fault. WHere do lousy fathers come from? Not just fathers - apparently they aren't even raising them. So it must be mom's fault...geeze poor argument.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 5, 2007 8:07 AM

"If my wife is specific about what we get in a babysitter, it is then up to her to find one."

I find this argument bogus, unless your wife is insisting that the babysitter have some extraordinary qualifications. Seems like it's incumbent on both partners to decide what qualifications are important to them, then work as a team to find someone who meets those criteria.

And Armchair Mom, when I say that I think it's a problem that needs to be solved on a micro level, I don't mean to dismiss what could be accomplished by an activist group. I just mean that, in many cases, it seems like child care doesn't even appear on a man's radar screen as an issue at all, and that this won't change until we give those men a personal stake in the issue, too.

Posted by: NewSAHM | March 5, 2007 8:09 AM

"What a Crock", what are you smoking?

The father is now a caregiver??? The mother is only comfortable with herself??? Man, do you have issues.

You don't know me. You don't know my wife. Don't tell me what I think or what my wife thinks. I know. You don't. Go away.

Posted by: Father of 2 | March 5, 2007 8:10 AM

I deal with the big childcare issues -- what kind (au pair/nanny/center), who's the caregiver going to be, wracking my brains creating a list of questions, reading the books, making the calls, scheduling the visits, etc. I'm not saying my husband wouldn't be good at it, but I am much more picky (he would probably say "and fearful"). I see it reflected in all of our interactions with our kids. He's the one who lets them play on the playgrounds I wouldn't take them to, gives them food I don't like them to have on a regular basis, and roughhouses with them. I actually believe that it is good for the kids. If they had two parents like me, we'd need to start saving at birth for therapy.

I have never considered relinquishing my role as the primary person who deals with childcare. I like doing the research, feel I'm more thorough, and at the end of the day, I'm the one who worries more, so it's just as well that my questions are answered before I start worrying.

I wonder how many women, given the opportunity, would hand over the childcare stuff to their mate. I can't be the only one who thinks like this.

Posted by: WorkingMomX | March 5, 2007 8:15 AM

Father of 2, if you feel that the burden of child care in your household doesn't fall unfairly on your wife, that's great, but then why do you identify with men who *don't* step up and share the burden? I don't understand why you are feeling attacked, why you are identifying with men with whom (according to you) you have less in common with than the women posting here.

Posted by: Tara | March 5, 2007 8:23 AM

WorkingMomX,

I would hand childcare worries to my husband in a heartbeat! I'm sure he'd do fine, and we tend to be careful to the same degree when it comes to our daughter.

Alas, in our situation, all we need is an occasional, probably teenaged, babysitter. And he argues that it would be inappropriate for him to be calling the neighborhood girls for babysitting.

When I go back to work, however, all bets are off. He'll be helping whether he wants to or not.

Posted by: NewSAHM | March 5, 2007 8:24 AM

ISTM that women worry more about childcare because, as the anonymous poster pointed out, it is women who are more intimately involved in their child's life. It's a fact of life; men help create the child, but it is the woman who carries it, delivers it, and (sometimes) feeds it from her own body. There's a bond there that men don't have, so it is natural that women would worry more about who's taking care of their child when they aren't doing it themselves.

I have friends with several children, and the first day they left the child with someone else (even for the youngest one of 3) was traumatic for them.

My wife and I have already discussed this issue (both of us engineers; we obsessively plan for the future) and if we go the daycare route later on in our child's life, it will be a joint discussion, joint decision, and joint participation between both of us. She'll probably end up dropping off the child, and I'll be the one picking them up thanks to our schedules. She intends to stay at home the first few years herself though, as we can afford to do so for that long.

Posted by: John | March 5, 2007 8:26 AM

Workingmomx,

I *guess* that a lot of moms feel the same way you do. And if moms stepping back would mean children suffering, then they don't really have a choice about it.

But why is that? Why do they feel they can't trust their husbands to make decisions in the best interests of his children? I think part of what this blogpost is getting at is that that's an unfortunate and unnecessary state of affairs.

Posted by: Tara | March 5, 2007 8:27 AM

both of my daughters baby sit. Dads call and make arrangements. We consider this to be normal. (They don't sit for someone I don't know, unless someone I know actually knows the new family rather well.)

Posted by: experienced mom | March 5, 2007 8:28 AM

Ah, that's good to know.

Posted by: NewSAHM | March 5, 2007 8:29 AM

Anon at 7:51am -

I can't disagree that women who want children should consider the parenting potential of their future mates before creating them. But I think your spin on things puts way too much responsibility on women and way too little on men. Once a man is a father, his parenting responsibilities shouldn't depend on the children's mother's prior ability to predict the future.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 5, 2007 8:30 AM

I don't know that it's trust so much as probably a sense of control. I feel better knowing that I personally have selected what I believe is the best childcare option/caregiver for my kids. I think my husband would do a fine job of this if he needed to. But I actually WANT to do it.

I probably need to have my head examined.

Posted by: WorkingMomX | March 5, 2007 8:33 AM

"Once a man is a father, his parenting responsibilities shouldn't depend on the children's mother's prior ability to predict the future"

It depends more on the wife's manipulation of the father than anything else.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 5, 2007 8:33 AM

"Dads call and make arrangements. We consider this to be normal."

FWIW - I had this conversation recently with a number of neighborhood fathers - most of us independently had come up with a policy that calling / emailing to set up the arrangements was fine but none of us were ever the pick-up or drop-off person for babysitters who could not drive [so we were never alone in car with the babysitter].

Posted by: A Dad | March 5, 2007 8:36 AM

"Seems like it's incumbent on both partners to decide what qualifications are important to them, then work as a team to find someone who meets those criteria."

Excellent point! Having one parent monopolize any area reduces the pooled wisdom of the couple.

Neither parent should be allowed to ignore an aspect of parenting just because the other parent "worries more." The essence of shared parenting is to decide as a team how to raise the kids and then divide the tasks necessary so that each parent has ownership of the result.

Posted by: equal_too | March 5, 2007 8:37 AM

There is a SAH Dad in our neighborhood. I can't tell you how many men and women, both, wonder why he isn't working. He is a very hands on Dad. Their kids are elementary and middle school. The fact he is a hands on dad isn't an issue. The fact he is being 'mr. mom' is. I don't share the view of my neighbors, by the way. I'm merely reporting on middle america, aged between upper 20s and lower 50s, seeing the job of taking care of kids as being the mom's job, even if she is running a fairly successfully outside the home business.

Posted by: dotted | March 5, 2007 8:38 AM

Leslie is not making crazy statements to create posts. I agree with everything she says and I'm not crazy.

I am grateful to her for putting many of my thoughts into words. Her blog is thoughtful and balanced, IMHO. GO LESLIE

Posted by: StowMom | March 5, 2007 8:39 AM

Father of 2, Methinks thou dost protest too much.

Posted by: What a Crock | March 5, 2007 8:39 AM

This is a very sad statement on our society "so we were never alone in car with the babysitter".
As a kid I babysat every weekend. It was always the dad who picked me up and took me back home.

Posted by: KLB SS MD | March 5, 2007 8:41 AM

Agree with experienced mom. My two teenaged daughters babysit, but only for people we know. For those people, it doesn't matter whether the Mom calls or the Dad.

For people we don't know, it also doesn't matter if Mom calls or Dad - the answer's 'no'.

(My teenaged son chooses not to babysit, but if he did the rules would be the same.)

Now, it MIGHT be the case that if someone was calling around having heard from a friend/neighbor/relative that my kids babysit, it would be more "normal" for that to be the Mom rather than the Dad. So making those initial contacts might be the only case it matters - but in our case, you're going to get the same answer.

Posted by: Army Brat | March 5, 2007 8:42 AM

Sort of "adjacent" to this topic- anyone see "March of the Penguins?" Now there are some dads who really do their part - if you haven't seen it, the movie shows how male penguins sit with the egg for a month in the middle of Antarctica in the winter while the moms go back to the ocean to find food.
I can't imagine trusting my DH to watch the kids for a month in Antarctica... lol

Posted by: randommom | March 5, 2007 8:45 AM

Tara, I don't know whether you intended it or not, but your comment about "... the women posting here" seemed off base. A number of us who post here regularly are men.

And to second another of experienced mom's points (I seem to be doing a lot of that today, and no, I have no idea who she is), Leslie's generalization today is somewhat offensive. "What do we need to do to persuade the men in our families, our governments and our companies that childcare affects us all?" Umm, Leslie, SOME women have already done that, long ago. Some men were taught that by their own parents and their wives reinforce it. The fact that your husband doesn't understand this, and that you apparently tolerate this and aren't willing to do something about it, doesn't mean that "the men" don't understand it. A lot of us do.

Posted by: Army Brat | March 5, 2007 8:46 AM

You lost me with the oxymoron "great article" and "in the Nation."

Posted by: Mediaskeptic | March 5, 2007 8:50 AM

"It depends more on the wife's manipulation of the father than anything else"

Wow! So much nastiness so early on a Monday! Everybody take a deep breath.

The "women are closer to babies because we make them" arguement is complete BS in my opinion. This explanation is simply another way that we're brainwashed in this society. What about adoptive parents? Do the fathers take care of all the details then? What about moms who murder their kids? What about women who don't want kids? Do all of these women have their wires crossed or something? Does it strike anyone else as suspect that this little gem of wisdom *happens* to reinforce stereotypical gender roles? How convenient that what men want (i.e., for women to rear children) is "scientifically" supported!

Maybe women worry more. That seems to be instilled very early on. But there is no reason why men can't pick up the phone and make day care arrangements. Any man who claims to want children should want to ensure child care. The ones who don't help handle it are completely lazy in my opinion and ought to get a boot in the butt.

Posted by: Meesh | March 5, 2007 8:57 AM

"I don't understand why you are feeling attacked, why you are identifying with men with whom (according to you) you have less in common with than the women posting here"

You attack one man, you attack them all. :)


What a Crock, methinks you don't think at all.

Posted by: Father of 2 | March 5, 2007 8:59 AM

Ok, for all you mothers out there:

If your husband told you "I have made the childcare arrangement for our children, don't worry about it", how many of you would want to know all the details before accepting his judgement?

Whoever said this was a control issue is right.

Posted by: John | March 5, 2007 9:03 AM

The discussion so far has overlooked a crucial point, which could help to understand (amongst other things already pointed) why the "burden" of childcare arrangements tends to fall on mothers: when said arrangements fail (daycare is closed; child gets sick; no babysitter available), who's expected (by society, husbands and herself) to actually stay with the child instead of going to work?
I would like to add something I read about a study (Maryland University, "The Economist" April 15th 2006) that found that mothers spent the same time, on average, on childcare in 2003 as in 1965. The increase in work outside the home was offset by less housework - and less spare time and less sleep. So much for the nostalgic idea of the devoted mother...

Posted by: EuroMom | March 5, 2007 9:07 AM

In response to Armchair Mom regarding the need for a political/lobbying solution and the failure of NOW (and others) to focus on the family instead of "women's" issues:

We stumbled on a piece of news from a feminist group in Spain suggesting "public authorities take a new direction in both feminist and family policy that goes beyond stereotypes of maternal gatekeeping, which envisages shared care as a means of reconciling family and work-life balance". It certainly appears that there is movement around the world for a more balanced view of family life.

We blogged on it yesterday if you want more details.

http://www.equallysharedparenting.com/blog/blogger.html

Posted by: equal_too | March 5, 2007 9:12 AM

John: Exactly.

As for handling kid/sitter sick days or doctor appointments, my husband actually does more of those than me. His job is more flexible that way.

Posted by: WorkingMomX | March 5, 2007 9:13 AM

When will we make childcare a parents' issue (rather than just a mother's issue)?

1. When we stop thinking of men as 'helpers' and give them equal parenting status in every way.
2. When we bust apart the cultural expectations and beliefs that have no grounding in evidence (like that women are better parents than men, or that a woman's career is the one sacrificed to raise children).
3. When we destroy the myth that being a hands-on parent is being less of a man, and build up the truth that this makes for a fantastic man.
4. When one, then another, then another man decides to ask for time off to take care of his kids, signs up to be 'room parent' and politely but firmly asks his wife to step aside so that he can parent HIS way.
5. There's more...but I have to go to a meeting...

Until then, we'll be stuck going the 'Mommy agenda' political route to change. It would be a lot more effective if we went at this from both the political AND the personal angle.

As Marc says, come see us at www.equallysharedparenting.com for a lot more on this topic!

Posted by: Anonymous | March 5, 2007 9:15 AM

Hmmmm, I agree with father of 2. We did lots of research to find good child care, and have no worries about our daughter while she's in their care. My husband was responsible for the actual selection of the facility after I did the research, since he's the one most likely to fret. We drop by, know the teachers, and have seen her grow from a tiny 4 month old to a happy healthy 4 year old, loved and cared for by many adults.

Posted by: Olney | March 5, 2007 9:15 AM

Ok, for all you mothers out there:

If your husband told you "I have made the childcare arrangement for our children, don't worry about it", how many of you would want to know all the details before accepting his judgement?

Whoever said this was a control issue is right.

Posted by: John | March 5, 2007 09:03

Of course I would want to know the details. Of course, even when I make arrangements, I generally discuss them with my husband before they're final so he has an opportunity to weigh in. I think both parents should be involved AT LEAST to that degree. Childcare should be a joint decision so that everyone's concerns are addressed.

Posted by: Rockville Mom | March 5, 2007 9:16 AM

Oops - I forgot to sign my post above (9:15)...that's me, Amy/equal.

Posted by: equal | March 5, 2007 9:17 AM

We hire almost all babysitters from our church-- we don't always know the parents, but they've heard of us and there is some trust there because of values in common (we're Unitarian Universalists, which is noncreedal but has a lot of shared values).

The most creative thing we've done for babysitting is when we had a cousin's rehearsal dinner in another state. We were staying with my grandmother, who is also a UU. The rehearsal dinner went way past my kids' bedtime, and the only people we knew in the state would also be at the event. So we called up my grandmother's church and asked about babysitters-- and they gave us a few names of trained babysitters in the church that they had on call. The teenaged girl who showed up turned out to be one of the best babysitters we've ever had.

I don't think something like this could have happened without it being from my grandmother's church, and the connection of those shared values. It certainly was nice to be able to attend that important event without worrying about the kids.

Posted by: Neighbor | March 5, 2007 9:18 AM

Army Brat:
'the women posting here' wasn't meant to imply that only women post here. Rather, it refers to 'the women posting here.' Sorry about that, I hope that's more clear.

Posted by: Tara | March 5, 2007 9:20 AM

Oh yeah? No man ever?

Then why is Pat Roberts (R-KS) introducing legislation to help small businesses afford child care (S. 228). And why is the Child Care Development Block Grant a big issue in the House right now? And the WAGE Act (HR 239) in the House -- granted a woman introduced the bill, but there are a couple of men cosponsoring.

Maybe do a little research before you make generalizations.

Posted by: Melissa | March 5, 2007 9:21 AM

"But there is no reason why men can't pick up the phone and make day care arrangements."

There is something weird about this. My husband won't call in sick to work, I have to make the call. I also have to make the calls when he reschedules appointments and social engagements. It is odd. And it's not that he isn't a telephone person; he yaks on the thing constantly. Maybe he's used to his Mommy making some calls for him. To my knowledge, he has called his Father less than 10 times in 20 years, and never just to chat.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 5, 2007 9:21 AM

"Their wives' problem."

Only when the wives make it their problem. If my wife is specific about what we get in a babysitter, it is then up to her to find one. If she feels my choice is unacceptable, that's fine with me - but then I am no longer responsible for finding a babysitter. It's all her.

Hmmm. But if you BOTH figured out what it is you BOTH want, and no one gets p.o'd when his or her choice is found to be "unacceptable," chances are you will work as a TEAM to come to an agreement. Why does it have to be your way or her way? Or all you or all her?

Posted by: theoriginalmomof2 | March 5, 2007 9:26 AM

"If your husband told you "I have made the childcare arrangement for our children, don't worry about it", how many of you would want to know all the details before accepting his judgement?"

Well, of course, I'd want to know the details. But DH would also want to know the details if I were the one making arrangements. As far as I'm concerned, that's just good parenting/partnering, not a "control issue" as you seem to think.

Posted by: NewSAHM | March 5, 2007 9:26 AM

Ok, for all you mothers out there:

If your husband told you "I have made the childcare arrangement for our children, don't worry about it", how many of you would want to know all the details before accepting his judgement?

Whoever said this was a control issue is right.


Yes, you are correct -- the person who thinks there's something wrong with me wanting to know all the details is the controlling one. Because wanting to know all the details is a good parent move, not a control move. And not a judgment rejection.

Posted by: theoriginalmomof2 | March 5, 2007 9:29 AM

I think you're underestimating men here. Fathers sweat this little detail as much as any. The difference is that they make a decision and live with it. For whatever reason, mothers tend to have far more hang ups over daycare, where a father's concerns run as far as 1) fed, 2) safe, 3) amused. Relax mom, Harvard doesn't review daycare transcripts in its acceptance process...

Posted by: James Buchanan | March 5, 2007 9:29 AM

Whoever posted that this is a problem potentially best solved on the "micro" level is right. And as grouchy as the earlier poster who wrote, "I'm so completely bored of the women here complaining about the things the men that THEY picked don't do" is - they are kindof right. I had all of these discussions with my husband BEFORE we even got engaged. When we had our first, we went to all day care open houses together, made the decisions and researched together, and we each even took time off weekly (we're both professionals and have the flexibility to do this) to care for our daughter. The amazing part has been watching other men he works with kindof take it as a lesson for themselves. On more than once occasion, his male colleagues have mentioned that watching him take flex-time have made them comfortable to do so.

Posted by: SMF | March 5, 2007 9:31 AM

NewSAHM, that's my point. A joint decision requires two people to agree to accept it. It's not one person making all the decisions and the other just going along with whatever was arranged.

If you're the one saying "I make the decision on childcare because I am better at it than my husband", then that's not a joint decision; that's a unilateral decision he's just going along with.

Nothing wrong with that as long as both parents trust the other's decisions, of course, but it then becomes YOUR responsibility, and not one equally arrived at.

Posted by: John | March 5, 2007 9:33 AM

Is increasing the child tax credit a reasonable solution to address this funding issue?

Posted by: A Dad | March 5, 2007 07:49 AM

A Dad- I think this is the key to help with this problem, or at least getting it started. People have an issue with subsidized and government run facilities for child care, but no one blinks an eye when you say "tax credit"

Let's say Sen. X proposes that the government will provide cheap and quality child care all over the country, or will pay businesses to set them up, subsidizing them.

or

Rep. X proposes increasing the tax credit to 2 or 3K/year.

No one would go for option 1. Tax cuts/credits are the way to go in these situations.

3K per year would cover all or most of the costs/month for after school care (250)
I know I would be a LOT less stretch with an extra 250/month in a high cost of living city such as DC.

And it would target just the right section of workers: those who make too much for the big standard deduction or free/reduced Head Start or financial aid packages up until you get to the six figures.

Posted by: SAHMbacktowork | March 5, 2007 9:34 AM

A Dad: I don't care if they restructure the child care credit into one lump sum. They would just need to raise the income levels for it to work as effectively. I still don't think an additional 1250 would make anyone choose to stay home to take advantage of the tax credit. I think people who choose to work are looking at much larger numbers.

John: I do think a lot has to do with control. I know that I choose to do a lot of the child care things because I want them done my way. But it would be nice if DH did take some initiative. But he really doesn't. It could be worse. He is a wonderful helper and does everything that I ask him to. But I think your wrong about asking details. There is nothing wrong with someone setting up a sitter and the other person wanting to know the details.

I don't think it is because women carry the babies. Adoptive mothers do not give birth to their children and they seem equally devoted to their children.

Posted by: foamgnome | March 5, 2007 9:34 AM

Perhaps it goes back to that "Doofus Dad" persona that Rebel Dad didn't like - the concept that men are clueless about how to be at all domestic.

Since child care is considered part of the domestic scene, ergo - arranging child care is a considered a woman's problem. If the stereotype has any truth to it and persists, then this will always be considered a woman's issue.

Posted by: Chasmosaur | March 5, 2007 9:35 AM

You obviously don't talk to many fathers - we worry about child care all the time - especially single fathers. Many of us restructure our entire lives to be with our children.

Posted by: J | March 5, 2007 9:35 AM

I am currently a working mother but was a stay at home mom for a couple of years. I concede that perhaps in 1965 SAHMs spent the same time on "childcare" as working mothers of today spend on childcare. I think maybe SAHMs in 1965 spent A LOT of time doing housework-- cleaning, ironing, etc. bu ti can tell you that SAHMs of today do not spend so much time generally speaking on housework and instead spend more time than there 1965 counterparts on "Childcare." ALL parents, whether SAH or WOH now realize the benefits of spending quality time with their children. But the fact is that if you are a current SAHM you will have more of an opportunity to do "childcare" than if you are WOH. And you get more sleep, which is likely to keep mom healthy and happy! I know you didn't explicitly say that SAHMs of today spend no more time on childcare than WOHM of today, but I have seen people -- even professional researchers who should know better- make this incorrect leap in logic. SAHMs of today most likely spend much more time on childcare than WOHM of today do and to suggest otherwise is ludicrous (being the parent who is listed as the first contact in case of emergency SHULD NOT count as hours spent being a caregiver-- only time spent actually in the same room as the child should even be considered!) That doesn't mean SAHM are "better" than WOHMs-- every family should do what works best for them. Some kids may not need as many hours of parental "childcare" as others-- some may actually benefit from receiving professional care in a child filled, focussed and friendly environment as many daycares are.

Posted by: to euromom | March 5, 2007 9:38 AM

Right on, J. This qoute plain insults me:

"No man has ever mentioned childcare to me as a concern in his life or an obstacle to his career."

Funny. I'm a single father with 2 daughters (7 and 9) and their mother lives in California. I worry about daycare and daycare costs on a daily basis. It is an obstacle. I have to leave work a 1/2 hour early every day to get there before they close so I am not charged an ungodly by-the-minute amount and avoid the daycare calling the county and informing CPS.

Money-wise and career-wise it is an obstacle to me. Some of these people around here to need to recognize us single fathers as struggling just as much as the single mothers.

Posted by: Sterling Park | March 5, 2007 9:42 AM

SMF,

It's great that your husband is not only involved himself, but is also serving as a role model for other dads. That's the kind of change I'm talking about.

Unfortunately, all of the pre-engagement talking in the world is no help if people change their minds later on. Before we got married, DH was totally into the idea of being a stay-at-home dad. At the time, I was in law school, and he'd just started his first post-college job and didn't really know what he wanted to do for a career. Seven years later, when we started wanting a child, he was finally seeing a direction in his career. Turned out at that point that he really didn't want to be a SAHD after all (though he was careful to say that he'd support whatever decision I made with regard to working or staying home.) So I'm the one who's taking the career hit so I can spend my days with my daughter. I suspect we both think we have the better deal now, but If you'd have asked me before I got married if I'd agree to this arrangement, I'd have said an indignant, emphatic "No!".

Posted by: NewSAHM | March 5, 2007 9:45 AM

I think you tend to over-generalize when you ask when men will getinvolved in the childcare issues and why is it a woman's problem to deal with. I am the father of 2 young biys, 2.5 and 10 months. My wife does stay home full-time and we are lucky we could afford. She is planning on going back to work in the next year or two and I take a very active role in researching potential child-care. By no means have I or do I ever consider it my wife's responsiblity. I really get bothered by the stereotype that most men leave that responsibility to their wives. I know many stay at home dads and have many friends who are just as responsible for finding the nanny or getting the kids to day care as their wives are. I agree child-care as a whole is a worthwile topic but I would appreciate it if the stereotype of the uninvolved father. if you happen to be married to one of those typse, don't label the rest of us. Call him on it and make him more involved.

Posted by: Matt | March 5, 2007 9:46 AM

Father of Four-- you are wrong. i am considering hiring an au pair and I have specifically informed the agencies that I am interested in hiring the best qualified person and that I would CERTAINLY consider hiring a male au pair. I figure that because there are some families that shun males in caretaking positions, there is possibly a glut of over qualified persons on the market. I get along better with men than women-- I know men can be wonderful caregivers and I have some sence that I may have more of a problem with leaving my newborn with another woman-- like I'll be more jeoplus of her or fear my child will call her mommy. I'll take the best candidate, but I would certainly welcome a male au pair. Your comments about "wiping bottoms" is confusing to me and certainly unpersuasive. What's wrong with a man wiping a baby's bottom? As long as the caretaker is fully qualified and has beaucoup referrances, what difference does it make if the person has a penis? Are you suggesting pedophilia? Every man who is willing to wipe a baby's bottom is a likely pedophile?

Posted by: Clarina | March 5, 2007 9:51 AM

"I can't disagree that women who want children should consider the parenting potential of their future mates before creating them."

Are we talking Frankenspouse here?

Posted by: Anonymous | March 5, 2007 9:55 AM

IMHO *Leslie's husband* doesn't worry about childcare, and it's easier for her to blame "all men" than to realize that these issues are specific to HER HUSBAND.

For the upteenth billion time, I say again - why does the WP let a woman whose marriage is so obviously UNbalanced write this blog??

It should be renamed. I propose "On Leslie Morgan Steiner's attempts to come to grips with the fact that Mr. Morgan Steiner doesn't do sh*t around the house."

Posted by: Anonymous | March 5, 2007 9:55 AM

To neighbor-- do you go to Silver Springs UU? I attend All Souls UU in DC and really love it!

Considering your posts in the past, it doesn't surprize me at all that you are UU! i think REbecca in AR is too.

The Uncommon Denomination may be pretty common on this blog! Guess we are pretty focussed on balance in our faith, so it carries over to other things.

Posted by: Clarina | March 5, 2007 9:55 AM

"Father of 2, Methinks thou dost protest too much."

Methinks so, too.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 5, 2007 9:59 AM

"the movie shows how male penguins sit with the egg for a month in the middle of Antarctica in the winter while the moms go back to the ocean to find food."

Actually, I think it's closer to four months.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 5, 2007 10:00 AM

To What a Crock:

Are you kidding? I am a woman. I have three children and I work outside the home. I have arranged for my children to have great care when I am not with them. I do not suffer from "never ending worries about child care." When my kids are with their grandparents, their day care providers, or the weekend babysitter I do not worry about their well being. I know that these people genuinely care about my children and will keep them safe. If I wasn't comfortable with the care provider and had to worry about it all the time, I would never let them out of my sight.

My husband is an equal partner in raising our kids and he is fully capable of taking care of them all by himself. He is not a caregiver, he is their father. What kind of message would I be sending to him and my children if I didn't trust him 100% to take care of them in my absence??

Posted by: Mom2LED | March 5, 2007 10:00 AM

OT: Took the DD to Go Diego Go Live show at the Hippodrome last Sunday. It was great show. DD loved it. It was broken down into two 40 minute segments. Great sets, costumes, puppets, music and dancing. I strongly recommend it. Much better then Sesame Street Live: Elmo makes music. Elmo show had the first segment about an hour long. Lost most of the kids after the first 45 minutes. Pricey show. I think Orchestra right seats were $140 for three people. But worth it. Hope some of you get out to see it.

Posted by: foamgnome | March 5, 2007 10:01 AM

"No man has ever mentioned childcare to me as a concern in his life or an obstacle to his career."

My experience is totally different - there are TONS of men in my office who have expressed these concerns. Are we living on different planets?

Posted by: Lily | March 5, 2007 10:01 AM

"What do we need to do to persuade the men in our families, our governments and our companies that childcare affects us all?"

Folks, I fear that this column too often turns to male bashing. I'm a new Dad who worked with my wife to choose a daycare provider and helps take turns dropping our child there. Among other things, I get to share the heartbreak of leaving my son with others who will be able to spend time with him all day. I wish the column would do more to mention guys like me.

If you expect the worst from people, that's what you are going to get.

Posted by: Bob | March 5, 2007 10:02 AM

IMHO *Leslie's husband* doesn't worry about childcare, and it's easier for her to blame "all men" than to realize that these issues are specific to HER HUSBAND.

For the upteenth billion time, I say again - why does the WP let a woman whose marriage is so obviously UNbalanced write this blog??

It should be renamed. I propose "On Leslie Morgan Steiner's attempts to come to grips with the fact that Mr. Morgan Steiner doesn't do sh*t around the house."

Posted by: | March 5, 2007 09:55 AM


ROFLLOL!!! Exactly. Today's is yet another sexist, male-bashing, entirely innaccurate column.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 5, 2007 10:07 AM

My experience is totally different - there are TONS of men in my office who have expressed these concerns. Are we living on different planets?

Posted by: Lily | March 5, 2007 10:01 AM

Yes, this blog is sometimes like a different planet.

Posted by: cmac | March 5, 2007 10:10 AM

"It should be renamed. I propose "On Leslie Morgan Steiner's attempts to come to grips with the fact that Mr. Morgan Steiner doesn't do sh*t around the house."

Now, now, Perry does take out the garbage once in a while. Don't know why the kids can't take out the garbage.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 5, 2007 10:11 AM

"Now, now, Perry does take out the garbage once in a while. Don't know why the kids can't take out the garbage."

And get their hands dirty?

Posted by: DC lurker | March 5, 2007 10:14 AM

This is a terrific article in The Nation that turned into a not-so-terrific blog post. Let's stop debating whether men or women are sufficiently invested in their personal childcare choices--and instead talk about what society or government, as a whole, can do to help families provide adequate care for their children. I've talked before on this blog about expanding Head Start, but there are other options, like providing tax credits or direct subsidies for child care, or figuring out ways for government and employers to work together to provide high-quality on-the-job child care. We could also require more certification for child-care providers. In my view, high-quality child-care is an investment that we should be willing to make as a society. There are powerful spill-over effects, both on gender equality and on the well-being of children.

Posted by: Gretchen | March 5, 2007 10:14 AM

Leslie just lives in a different class.
Her husband makes a lot of money and, therefore, is not expected to contribute to the household. Rather, their only contribution is money.

The few friends I have that are wealthy (meaning a million plus per year) their husbands have absolutely nothing to do with the childcare. They barely see their kids- they are certainly not interviewing babysitters and such.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 5, 2007 10:15 AM

"No man has ever mentioned childcare to me as a concern in his life or an obstacle to his career."

My experience is totally different - there are TONS of men in my office who have expressed these concerns. Are we living on different planets?

Posted by: Lily | March 5, 2007 10:01 AM

Yes. The planet must of us live on, and the planet Leslie and What a Crock live on.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 5, 2007 10:17 AM

My husband definitely does worry about childcare, so that's not really a part of our experience.

However I do agree that there are inequities - and some of them have surprised me even though my husband and I did have long talks about this before our marriage and for the ten years of marriage before we actually had kids. :)

In our case we are kind of poster children for economic inequities. I went to a liberal arts university to follow my dream; he got a more technical Masters degree which boosted his earning power. Although there have been points in our marriage when we were earning equally, the point at which I dropped to part-time work was not one of them and so it made more sense to lose half my salary.

When I did that I did become the de-facto go-to parent, and I have done the lion's share of the interviewing and selecting for our (very part-time) nanny. (Vs. the family or "in-home" care that was our only other option for part-time daycare.) Now that's a pattern we'll have to change later if we want to change it.

I think a lot of this stuff starts earlier - with our sons and daughters in high school - than one might think. At the same time, what works for our family works, even if it is divided along traditional lines. My goal is that this not be the case for our entire childrearing experience but to trade off later on.

Posted by: Shandra | March 5, 2007 10:17 AM

Guys, how do you know Leslie is really that wealthy? Granted she does sound at least on the upper echelons of upper middle class: Three kids in private school in DC. But that may be just her priorities. I have friends here, government job, that have two kids in private schools. They just sacrifice other things. Like no cable. Don't get me wrong, they don't sound like they are hurting. But it doesn't sound like they are rolling in money. Because if they were, wouldn't they just have a nanny? Scheduling, snow days, summers covered with a nanny. Just my thought. But Leslie has certainly never disclosed her income and people are making wild assumptions about how much she has.

Posted by: foamgnome | March 5, 2007 10:18 AM

Father of 2 -- Nice to know we have a saint among our posters. Could I talk to your wife to see if she agrees? Because many times I talk to the husbands and they insist, our childcare situation is a breeze! And then their wives have a far different tale to tell.

But sorry for insulting you, specifically. Didn't mean to. But I think in general, my points have merit -- men do not consider childcare the critical issue women do.

Posted by: Leslie | March 5, 2007 10:19 AM

foamgnome

"I think Orchestra right seats were $140 for three people. But worth it. Hope some of you get out to see it."

Jesus would rather have you help the poor than this obscene waste of money. That would be "worth it" and a better example to your child.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 5, 2007 10:23 AM

foamgnome-

there is NO way to have 3 kids in private school in DC area and not be wealthy.
Their tuition alone would be 75K/year. Plus after school care, summer camps, sports, a big enough house for 3 kids. I would venture to guess they make 300-500K/year, which is very very wealthy.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 5, 2007 10:24 AM

I think men are concerned about childcare. Maybe if their wifes have taken that on as their duty they just hesitate to bring it up unless something really egregious happens.

Since childcare is something most women think they know more about than men it does seem to make sense that they take that issue over when looking for someone to provide it for their child.

If I'm an accountant married to a doctor, should the doctor deal with H&R Block and the accountant deal with health matters?

That said, women can help men take more of a role in childcare by demanding that their spouse help. But that means that sometimes they have to back off, which isn't always easy to do, particularly with a little helpless baby.

Posted by: RoseG | March 5, 2007 10:24 AM

For me, it's *totally* a control issue. When I worked, I took care of finding and communicating with the childcare providers (my ex-husband did some of the pick-up/drop-off but there's no way I would have been able to relinquish the rest.) My husband and I don't have regular childcare now but I arrrange the small amount that we do have and I can't imagine handing that over to him. It's not that I don't trust the men to do it (although I trust ex less than current ;o) ) but like WorkingMomX, I *like* to do it because I feel more in control of the situation that way. There's less to obsess and worry about when you personally know everything about the childcare provider instead of letting that information reside in someone elses brain. ;o)

I think that if a woman doesn't like it and she's not getting what she wants from her children's father re: childcare, then she should fix it. As with most things, change is going to start on a personal level and if we really need our politicians to consider childcare a unisex role, then people need to start changing their own lives and letting the trend work "upwards" instead of vice versa.

Posted by: momof4 | March 5, 2007 10:26 AM

One thing I have learned in my life is that people only treat you the way you allow them to treat you. I agree with many posters here who say that if women want help, they should relegate. There will always be men who refuse to do what they consider "women's work," but most men nowadays are reasonable human beings who actually LISTEN to their wives. It may be all talk now, but when BF and I talk about our future, we are both equally involved--if not him more than me. I think this could be achieved in most modern families.

Women tend to have a hard time feeling that they are replaceable and dispensable. So they take so much on that they feel slighted when "dad duty" involves playing football with the kids while "mom duty" involves the drudgery of every day life. Maybe if we let go of our notion that we are absolutely necessary, it won't seem as important who does the work, but that it gets done.

Posted by: Mona | March 5, 2007 10:27 AM

"I've talked before on this blog about expanding Head Start, but there are other options, like providing tax credits or direct subsidies for child care, or figuring out ways for government and employers to work together to provide high-quality on-the-job child care."

There has been a significant amount of legislative activity in this area -- it's hard to understand the argument that 'nothing has been done'. There are now child tax credits, child care tax credits, dependent care flexible savings accounts -- all of these are relatively new structures specifically designed to ease the cost of child care.

One fundemental question that needs to be addressed is should the USG subsidize outside-the-home childcare only [child care credit and dependent care FSA]? Why not directly subsidize families with small children [child tax credit] and allow them to make whatever child care arrangements work best for them [which may include a SAH parent or relative watching the child]?

Posted by: A Dad | March 5, 2007 10:27 AM

Discussions before, discussions after.

Discussing who is going to be responsible for what, before having a kid is informative; but it's AFTER the kid is on the ground that you find out what it takes.

Theory vs. reality.

In reality, someone is probably going to have to make more noise about getting involved and equitable distribution of a finite resource (parental time and sanity!).

You are unlikely to receive support in the form that you feel you need it, unless you ask for it.

Which isn't easy to do, sometimes. But well worth it.

Posted by: MdMother | March 5, 2007 10:27 AM

I have a women who works in my office and has two kids in private school. I think she told me the tuition was over 40K a year. She has three bedroom house, and yes you could have three kids in a three bedroom house. The assumption is if you have three bedroom house, you have at least two kids bedrooms. Two kids could share a bedroom. Probably unheard of these days but still possible. I am just saying it is possible that their priority is education. So most of their income goes to that. Like my office mate. They don't have cable, they go camping for vacations, and they don't go out to eat much. But they firmly believe in the best possible education for their child. They also don't save for college. I guess they think K-12 private school will get them a scholarship. I am just saying it is possible she may be more upper middle class then filthy rich.

Posted by: foamgnome | March 5, 2007 10:29 AM

foamgnome

"I think Orchestra right seats were $140 for three people. But worth it. Hope some of you get out to see it."

Jesus would rather have you help the poor than this obscene waste of money. That would be "worth it" and a better example to your child.

We do donate a lot of money to charity and no, I don't think Jesus minds that we took our child to the theater.

Posted by: foamgnome | March 5, 2007 10:30 AM

"men do not consider childcare the critical issue women do"

Another generality; as several men have said already on this blog, they do concern themselves with finding childcare.

As for the "critical issue" statement atributed to women, could it be that mothers are more likely to "own" this concern and make it a "critical issue" when it may not really be one?

Like the earlier poster said, men are more likely to accept a childcare provider if they appear to be doing a good job with other children, the cost is reasonable and the kids are happy, and leave it at that. Assuming the mother is ok with it, of course :)

Posted by: John | March 5, 2007 10:31 AM

Hi Clarina! I don't live in the DC area anymore. But I met my husband at the Arlington UU church. My grandparents met at one, too, back in 1937. I owe a lot to the UU church!

I think that there are a lot of UUs on this blog-- and even more who might want to be UUs if they knew about it. If I had a nickel for every time I saw someone posting that they wanted a place that would provide moral values and respectful exposure to many religions without some of the dogma... well, I think I'd have at least a dollar. :)

Posted by: Neighbor | March 5, 2007 10:32 AM

To momof4 re: "I think that if a woman doesn't like it and she's not getting what she wants from her children's father re: childcare, then she should fix it. As with most things, change is going to start on a personal level and if we really need our politicians to consider childcare a unisex role, then people need to start changing their own lives and letting the trend work "upwards" instead of vice versa."
CLAP, CLAP, CLAP. WOOHOOOOOO. Yes.

Posted by: SMF | March 5, 2007 10:33 AM

Okay, first of all I will admit that I have no children and no plans for any, and I've only read the first few posts here. I'm not particular concerned or thrilled with trying to get the government concerned about doing or influencing parents to do their job unless they are going to prevent unqualified people from ever being parents.

However, I certainly agree that childcare is the responsibility of BOTH parents. And if women want a husband/father who's going to do his fair share, why is this not discussed before becoming a parents or getting married? Why does this become an issue after the child is born? If the guy doesn't have all the necessary or desired qualities to do his part as a parent, why become a parent with him? Or do we have a big problem with men saying they will do certain things and then failing to do their father job later? In any case, I don't see this as a government issue at all. It's an individual issue about choosing the person who's going to do his part.

Posted by: Maxwell | March 5, 2007 10:33 AM

To be honest, I don't think the government has a way to pay for universal preschool. We don't even have full day kindergarten in every school district. The staff to child ratio necessary for a preschool makes it almost impossible for the ps system to implement in their current budget. They would need to really raise taxes or god forbid, stop invading other countries.

Posted by: foamgnome | March 5, 2007 10:33 AM

A Dad:One fundemental question that needs to be addressed is should the USG subsidize outside-the-home childcare only
___________________________

That was actually a major issue in the last Canadian Federal Election. The Liberal Party promised to create a large number of day care spaces for young children; the Conservative Party promised tax credits/payments to parents.

(FWIW, the Conservatives won. From my view as an American watching the process, I don't think that was a major reason; it had more to do with Liberal corruption, but it was a major, major debate topic.)

Posted by: Army Brat | March 5, 2007 10:34 AM

It's going to take a complete change in mindset to make this an issue for both genders. It's not just about the politics of child care, but the metal processes of all citizens.

I know women (and I think that this is representative of most women) who are constantly stuck in the middle. When they have a sick child they feel guilty because they should be at home. When the child is sick enough that they do stay home, they feel guilty because they aren't at work. This train of thought never passes through thier husbands minds.

It's not that these husbands are bad fathers, they just aren't taught to worry about things like this. They can seperate their work from their home, women aren't there yet.

Posted by: Fran | March 5, 2007 10:34 AM

Fredia and I attended a wedding this past Saturday. The bride's mother had a kiddy corner for all the children there. Slinkys, coloring books, hand puppets and other toys were available. I had fun entertaining some of the smaller ones with the slinky and hand puppet. I do a mean "Mr. Wiggles."

Posted by: Fred | March 5, 2007 10:35 AM

"what difference does it make if the person has a penis?"

Clarina, the state recognizes differences between male and female sexuality. For instance, it is unlawful for a male doctor to examine a female without a female witness present, however, it is not the same with a female doctor and male patient.

Now, why is that?

If you hire a male that wants to persue employment and knows that he will have to deal with children's genitalia on a regular, unsupervised bases, I'm telling you: DANGER, DANGER, DANGER!

Of course, you could take a poll of how many mothers on this blog have ever let another teenager/ adult male other than close family members change their childs diaper on a regular basis.

Posted by: Father of 4 | March 5, 2007 10:35 AM

"Jesus would rather have you help the poor than this obscene waste of money."

Did Jesus tell you that specifically? If so, can I have his phone number? I have a few questions for him.

Posted by: NewSAHM | March 5, 2007 10:35 AM

It's not fair to assume that just because someone sends their kids to private schools that they are wealthy. My parents send 5 kids to private school in a large metro area making well under $100,000 combined for most of it. Private school doesn't necessarily mean one with a tuition of $25,000 per year per kid, even in D.C. Plus many school offer scholarships and discounts for multiple siblings.

And even if they do make $300,000 that is not exceptionally wealth in an area like D.C. where not so hot apartments rent for $1200 a month for two dinky bedrooms.

Posted by: Bookworm Mom | March 5, 2007 10:36 AM

Women claim it as their burden as they do so much else in life, you are the "victims." If you look at the studies for the outcomes for children you have created a formula for failure.

Posted by: mcewen | March 5, 2007 10:36 AM

Foamgnome -

Just teasing, not bashing - but I do think it's sort of funny that you posted about $140/2 adults-1 child show tickets in one post and then about how people just "cut out the cable" to afford private school for more than one child in the next. With that kind of math and money management skill, no wonder you needed to blog about how you will afford/handle more than one child! ;)

Posted by: hmmmm..... | March 5, 2007 10:39 AM

Georgia has universal preschool for 4 year olds - any body know how that is going?

Posted by: Bookworm Mom | March 5, 2007 10:41 AM

I think it's unfair to generalize, because in my experience, I've seen both ends of the spectrum.

One set of friends, the father is very involved in childcare issues for his son. He's even the one who leaves early to pick his child up for appointments and illnesses. He also works farther away from the child care center, but I get the sense that he just wants to be the one to do it, not that he's being told or forced to by his wife.

On the other hand, we have another set of friends, where the man does absolutely nothing. Seriously. They have started arguments with us there as company over who needs to tend to the children. Of course, his maturity level has a lot to do with it. But it's a sad situation where he basically has the attitude that his work was done with providing the sperm. (No joke, he's even said as much.) And she wants more kids with him, too!

So, like most anything, there is a variety of truths. Just because one's husband is great or horrible with the kids doesn't mean it's the same across the board.

Posted by: JRS | March 5, 2007 10:42 AM

"... than this obscene waste of money. That would be "worth it" and a better example to your child."

It is her money and she is entitled to spend it as she wants to do so. How would you know what she gives to charity or how many hours she spends doing charitable work?

If you feel that bad or guilty about a person spending money on herself, maybe you can balance it out by sending money or your time to hurricane relief in New Orleans. So much is still needed here.

Posted by: Fred | March 5, 2007 10:42 AM

Before the spelling and gramer police jump on me - sorry that should have been sent and anybody.

Posted by: Bookworm Mom | March 5, 2007 10:43 AM

hmm: I am not the one sending my kid to private school. I am just saying some people do that. I am saying you don't need to make 300-500K to afford private school if that is your top priority. The family that does that makes more like 200K a year. And my guess is they could also afford Go Diego Go tickets if they wanted to.

Posted by: foamgnome | March 5, 2007 10:44 AM

Ok, I don't know what my deal is today - obviously that should be grammar. Perhaps I'll just stop writing.

Posted by: Bookworm Mom | March 5, 2007 10:46 AM

I totally agree with Leslie's depiction of many marriages and the male partner's role in childcare decisions. Most of my friends who are mothers make virtually all the childcare decisions in their families -- the fathers may weigh in once the mother has done all the legwork and presents the results, but as far as men taking the initiative and running with it, that's something I don't see AT ALL.

It could be attributed to women wanting control over that function, a lack of interest (or a feeling of incompentency) on the part of the fathers, or, maybe it's something else.

Whatever it is, I know when my husband says "let's get a sitter and go out", it means he wants me to find a sitter and make all the arrangements.

Posted by: chausti | March 5, 2007 10:46 AM

I think it's a good question--do we subsidize families with young children or child-care? I am inclined to think that as a matter of social externalities, there are some advantages to subsidizing childcare. First, I want a childcare policy that helps to facilitate gender equality. Because we still have a significant pay gap between men and women, in the majority of households, when one parent stays home with kids, it is usually the woman. (She's making less to start, so it's more financially practical for her to stay home.) A child tax credit would perpetuate this status quo. On the other side, if we subsidize out-of-the-home child care, it makes it easier for both parents to work, which ultimately puts women in a better employment situation, decreases interruptions to their careers, eliminates gaps in the resume, and may result in higher salaries.

This is just off-the-cuff thinking. But my sense is that there are some powerful, positive externalities that would result from a social policy that facilitates the gainful employment of both parents.

Posted by: Gretchen | March 5, 2007 10:47 AM

This is the first time I have ever written a comment on this blog. The article in the Nation was a good one. The main point was that there is a movement in this country to turn the child-care issue into a women's-only issue. This allows Americans, including corporations and politicians, to avoid dealing with the "care-crisis" - not just care of kids but of aging parents also. Ironically, one of the contributors to this movement cited in the article is the "mommy wars" idea itself. By making all "care" issues womens'-only issues we lack political power to change the status quo. The purpose of the article was to make all caregivers (female and male) realize this is happening and preventing caregivers from acquiring the rights they need in the workplace - more flextime, paid parental leave, etc..
Yes - there is a place for solving this on the "micro" level. Every family could benefit from an evaluation of how expectations at all levels (personal, societal, professional, familial) influence who carries the major caregiving responsibilitites. Every workplace would also benefit from the same evaluation. But the biggest solutions will have to happen on a "macro" level. The suggestion for a caregiver lobbying group, for further investigation into appropriate caregiver legislation - these are what are going to make a difference in this country.

Posted by: new person | March 5, 2007 10:48 AM

foamgnome-I'm glad you and your family had a wonderful time at the theatre. I credit exposure to the arts as to why all 4 kids play instruments-even our 2 no longer in school. The family enjoyment, the wonder of it all...simply priceless.

Posted by: dotted | March 5, 2007 10:51 AM

Foamgnome -

Sure, everyone has different priorities and a family making $200K could afford Go Diego Go and might be able to afford some private schools. But you were the one worrying about how to afford more than one child, and the one who spends $200 on a couple of hours entertainment for one child, and the one who thinks that cutting out the cable (which would save, what, $1200 a year?) would make a family afford $75K of tuition a year?

Posted by: hmmmm...... | March 5, 2007 10:52 AM

We send our kids to Walter Reed
Where with rats they play, and from tubes they feed.
What else more could anyone need?

The care they give is really top notch
They gag you silent and give you a watch
So now you can count the seconds tick by
Before America will forget your cry.

All that they wanted was to serve the country
But who could afford their dignity?
Misspent taxes come with too high a price;
They make these kids suffer wounds not once, but twice.

Landscaping bases and layoffs aside-
Scandals abounding from which they hide;
Congress mourns soldiers home and forgotten-
Ignoring the fact that they are what's rotten.
The uproar for heads is just misdirection-
Be careful when you vote in the next election.

Posted by: Chris | March 5, 2007 10:53 AM

Can it possibly be that maybe there are differences between men and women. That maybe our skills and talents are varied and the magic is bringing two different, but complementary skill sets together? GASP....! Is is possible that people are confusing "equal" and "same"? Maybe, just maybe, men don't think like we do? I'm thinking that trying to change them and make them think like women and care about the same things to the same degree is as fruitless as me caring about NASCAR and grubs.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 5, 2007 10:53 AM

go diego go live is not the theater.
try a kennedy center show or a smithsonian program.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 5, 2007 10:54 AM

A completely commercialized production by Nickelodean based on a television cartoon in a huge collesium with the average age of the crowd about 5 is hardly "the arts."

Posted by: to dotted | March 5, 2007 10:55 AM

My husband is a SAHD mostly, works 2 days per week. We actually just had a big "discussion" last evening about how much the TV is on while I'm at work, as it seems to be on a lot while I'm home. So as far as the childcare thing goes, it seems that even though he is obviously very involved with the kids, whether it's a control thing or a concern thing, we have different ideas/priorities concerning our kids. I would agree with an earlier poster who mentioned a guy's priorities as fed, safe, amused, because for whatever reason, it is not my husband who reads articles in parenting magazines about child development and so to him, his TV watching every evening doesn't affect the kids at all as long as it is not a "kid" show. Maybe too obsessive on my part partly, but it is just not even on his radar screen. Same with childcare. I don't think it would even occur to him that one needs to be calling months in advance to get a full time infant childcare spot, like I did for our first child before I had finished school. And he certainly has no concept of how many hours I spent on the phone finding the part time child care we have now so that he can work 2 days per week and preserve his sanity. I think it is great that there are men out there who do worry about child care, but I'm not married to one of them. We're fairly Midwestern traditionalists, all things considered. I don't think that makes him a bad husband, because I certainly never worry about mowing the lawn or cleaning out the gutters. We just are wired differently. So though I wish sometimes he'd do things differently, I'm sure he can say the same about me. The kids are happy, healthy, etc. But I do think that for whatever reason, most women I know are a tad obsessive compulsive about childcare issues and the men they are married to are more than happy to let them have at it. Maybe the phone thing, too? My husband won't even order a pizza unless I'm seriously busy doing something else.

Posted by: Rachel, frequent lurker | March 5, 2007 10:55 AM

A lot of mothers talk about changing laws and getting politicians to take child care seriously. Yet, it seems like they are unable to even get their husbands to take it seriously. That is their own fault. Men aren't the idiots you seem to imply. I fully expect my husband to help in child care decisions and trust his opinion. Treat your husband like he is competent in matters of home and children and you might be surprised with the results. Change starts at home...not necessarily in Washington DC.

Posted by: just another mom | March 5, 2007 10:56 AM

me caring about NASCAR and grubs.

Maybe if Volvo entered its cars in NASCAR you would be interested!

Posted by: the original anon | March 5, 2007 10:58 AM

Dotted: Thanks. I am surprised taking your kid to the theater is so controversial on this blog. Like you, I you said I think that the arts is a good thing.

Posted by: foamgnome | March 5, 2007 10:58 AM

RoseG wrote: "Since childcare is something most women think they know more about than men it does seem to make sense that they take that issue over when looking for someone to provide it for their child.

If I'm an accountant married to a doctor, should the doctor deal with H&R Block and the accountant deal with health matters?"

I don't want to start a fight, but I want to point out that this is not really an appropriate comparison.

In the first example, the woman only *thinks* she knows more about childcare. In reality, a few hours of researching my the man will level the playing field (unless you're saying that women have an innate sort of knowledge about that, which I disagree with). In addition, both parents have the same motivator (the child).

In the second example, the two fields are vastly different, they take several years of studying and practicing to acheive, and your children are not your motivator to be in either field.

It is up to the man to step up to the plate and do more of the child rearing. There is only so much "talking" a woman can do until she's "nagging." And no one wants to be the nagging wife. She just wants the stuff to get done.

Posted by: Meesh | March 5, 2007 11:02 AM

jeeezzz...all you nay sayers are being really rather snobbish about the definition of theater. At the age of 3ish, it is all about things like ice shows, wiggles (gasp..but yes kids love it), clapping in rhythm, seeing and believing princesses really fly (or whatever is the fantasy). The music and fantasy of early childhood becomes appreciation for art later on...at least it did for our 4 kids. At the risk of being snarky, how many of you naysayers have the experience to know differently?

But back to the topic-it was me, the mom, who took care of exposing our kids to outside-of-the home arts and stuff. My husband has a wonderful repetoire of kid songs and stories that were our in-the-home entertainment.

Posted by: dotted | March 5, 2007 11:02 AM

I don't think foamgnome is being at all hypocritical or inconsistent. She's just pointing out that parents can have different priorities for their kids and find creative ways to finance them.

Her example of the couple who skimped on things to send the kids to private school is one kind of focusing on priorities. Her own example of taking her child to the theater demonstrates a different -- but equally valuable -- kind of priority.

Maybe foamgnome and her husband feel that exposure to cultural events is an important kind of education for their child.

The point is that different parents choose to enrich their children's lives in different ways.

Seems pretty admirable to me.

Posted by: pittypat | March 5, 2007 11:03 AM

Anyone read the article in Sunday's WaPo on helicopter parenting?

Thought I recognized a few traits . . .

Posted by: Anonymous | March 5, 2007 11:04 AM

Leslie just lives in a different class.
Her husband makes a lot of money and, therefore, is not expected to contribute to the household. Rather, their only contribution is money.

I think this may be partially true. My sister told me about a book for men about male-female relationships. THe book argued that women see things in terms of points: you get one point for working, one point for doing the dishes, etc. So (the book said) a man may work all day long and be really tired, but when he comes home, the woman reduces his contribution to a single point, and feels he should equalize his contribution to hers by doing more around the house. I think the hidden other side of this viewpoint is that some men see things in terms of points too: each person contributes a number of points equal to their salary. Thus, if he makes lots of money, then he's contributed lots of points, even if they spend the same amount of time at work. Thus, at home, he feels like he's done his part and shouldn't have to contribute additional points by hellping with housework or childcare. I think the fair thing is to give each person a number of points equal to the hours worked: if they work the same number of hours then they get the same number of points, whether that work is low or high pay, or unpaid care of one's own kids.

Posted by: m | March 5, 2007 11:06 AM

Maybe foamgnome and her husband feel that exposure to cultural events is an important kind of education for their child.

I REPEAT- GO Diego GO is NOT culture!!

Posted by: Anonymous | March 5, 2007 11:06 AM

"Because we carry the burden or blessing of actually creating the child we [women] do have a higher responsibilty for its care."

I can testify as an adoptive mother that the pressure for women to be responsible for child care has nothing to do with biology, and everything to do with societal pressures and the dynamics of your relationship with your partner.

I feel the guilt burden on me to manage everyone's expectations about care for our daughter (my mother and my mother-in-law were SAHMs and rather think I should be, too). My husband doesn't take the lead in working out childcare initially, because I often tackle our joint logistical challenges before his more procrastinating work style kicks in. When I get too stressed, I have to take a deep breath and ask my husband to help.

It works for our personalities to have me to do the initial coordination (finding resources) and him to do the follow-up (setting up appointments, picking up sitters etc.)

Finding quality, affordable childcare is a huge issue and we'd be very happy to join in any lobbying effort that might be started. We have a modest income, but I can't see how other families managing with less can possibly figure it out.

Posted by: Chicago mom | March 5, 2007 11:07 AM

you get one point for working, one point for doing the dishes, etc. So (the book said) a man may work all day long and be really tired, but when he comes home, the woman reduces his contribution to a single point.

Sooooooo TRUE!

Posted by: Chris | March 5, 2007 11:08 AM

Direct Dial the Nazarene at MUrray Hill 5-9975.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 5, 2007 11:09 AM

OT to foamgnome: I caught up on the blog yesterday -- I appreciated your guest piece. I am an only who never thought she was missing anything -- I had friends at day care and then at school, activities etc - I was loved but not the center of the universe. FWIW being an only child of a working mom as well as an Army brat may have helped me - I was exposed to lots of people and places and while I was generally shy at first once I got to know people you couldn't shut me up! Best of luck to you - both with the temporarily unpleasant work situation and whether you add to your family.

Posted by: Product of a Working Mother | March 5, 2007 11:09 AM

"Maybe foamgnome and her husband feel that exposure to cultural events is an important kind of education for their child.


I REPEAT- GO Diego GO is NOT culture!!"

Posted by: | March 5, 2007 11:06 AM
Maybe foamgnone is getting her child used behaving appropriately in public at an event geared towards children. Would you prefer she have a squirmy toddler next to you at the opera?

Posted by: KLB SS MD | March 5, 2007 11:09 AM

The point is that different parents choose to enrich their children's lives in different ways.

Seems pretty admirable to me.

Posted by: pittypat | March 5, 2007 11:03 AM

Enrichment does not include a show by Nick Jr.
If it's an animal safari you want- then take a class at the Zoo to discover and learn about the actual animals!! Plan an animal themed hike over night in the mountains, get membership to the museum.

No, I don't see any enrichment in these types of shows. Fun can be had while doing educational things!
Even a Day out with Thomas is better than one of these shows.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 5, 2007 11:12 AM

"I REPEAT- GO Diego GO is NOT culture!!"

Posted by: | March 5, 2007 11:06 AM

What if the music was by Rimsky-Korsakov?

Maybe Leslie should give the "culture of the day" tip in her blog.

Posted by: Fred | March 5, 2007 11:14 AM

that should be were not was

Posted by: Fred | March 5, 2007 11:15 AM

to anon at 11:12
you have the right to your opinion. Others have the right to disagree. I don't believe your suggestions are wrong and I don't believe going to see go diego go is wrong either. Show some tolerance.

Posted by: dotted | March 5, 2007 11:16 AM

Father of 4 said:

Clarina, the state recognizes differences between male and female sexuality. For instance, it is unlawful for a male doctor to examine a female without a female witness present, however, it is not the same with a female doctor and male patient.

Now, why is that? . . .

Of course, you could take a poll of how many mothers on this blog have ever let another teenager/ adult male other than close family members change their childs diaper on a regular basis."


Father of 4, This and the earlier post don't even sound like you. On the off-chance that you're just having a cranky day:

1. As far as I know, and I'm glad for someone who has a med/mal practice to correct me, it's not unlawful for a male doctor to examine a female patient without a female witness present. The physicians' medical insurance providers' have advised that having a female witness present is a risk management tool to protect the doctor from baseless claims of assault from female patients. It's also entirely irrelevant to your point.

2. We have hired male sitters many times, both before and after our children were in diapers. We had no more concern about our male sitters assaulting our children than we would have with a female sitter, and we protected our children in the same way - references, and personal knowledge of both the sitter and his parents. Good fathers such as yourself often start out as good nephews, good uncles and good teenaged babysitters. Our kids are comfortable with caretakers of both genders who are good, respectful caregivers. They also both know that men change diapers.

Pedophiles come in both genders. Picking a female caregiver is not an insurance plan against criminal acts.

Posted by: Megan's Neighbor | March 5, 2007 11:16 AM

Go Diego, Go is not culture - however, it sure is fun!! When did fun become anethema in childrearing? Does every single activity have to be edifying? Sometimes I watch Frontline and sometimes I watch America's Next Top Model - so what its all about (drum roll) BALANCE! Foam - enjoy the Diego - they will become jadded and too cool for that stuff soon enough. Taking my two kids to the WIggles was so much fun and a cherished family memory. What's the point of having kids if you can't have fun.

Posted by: moxiemom | March 5, 2007 11:16 AM

Maybe foamgnone is getting her child used behaving appropriately in public at an event geared towards children. Would you prefer she have a squirmy toddler next to you at the opera?

Posted by: KLB SS MD | March 5, 2007 11:09 AM

KLB LOL -- shouldn't that be a BFO (blinding flash of the obvious) to the naysayers? Ok, it's not high culture but it's the experience of sitting still, etc.

Posted by: Product of a Working Mother | March 5, 2007 11:17 AM

OK, this in unreal that people are arguing about Go Diego Go. For one thing, it is the music, the sets, and the dancing that would be considered the arts. And whether you believe me or not it was on the same level of a lot of Andrew Lloyd Weber musicals. So if you don't consider that at least pop culture, then I would agree. But music and dance are generally considered culture and theatre. And let me clear up a furthur point. When I was the guest blogger, I said simply that the money would be easier with one child. I said I can't imagine going to shows with multiple children several times a year. I did not say in anyway that we could not afford the basics of two children. I think I have been pretty up front that we are well paid professional government workers. We can clearly afford two children. I don't think it would be easy to afford two day care payments, two college educations, and two retirements. Doesn't mean we couldn't do it. I just said it would not be easy. So don't go on an on that I thought we can't have two kids because we took our child to Go Diego Go. I said in short that was absurd. It is just that the money would be easier with one child.

Posted by: foamgnome | March 5, 2007 11:17 AM

"No, I don't see any enrichment in these types of shows. Fun can be had while doing educational things!"

I agree, but, is it really so awful to do some things just for fun?

Posted by: a question | March 5, 2007 11:17 AM

Pedophiles come in both genders.

The ratio of male/female pedophiles is 7:1. That's not an equal threat.

Posted by: To Megan | March 5, 2007 11:19 AM

So is it a cultural event to see the Blue Man Group?

It did cost me a lot of $$$ but I did enjoy it.

Posted by: Fred | March 5, 2007 11:21 AM

you get one point for working, one point for doing the dishes, etc. So (the book said) a man may work all day long and be really tired, but when he comes home, the woman reduces his contribution to a single point.

Sooooooo TRUE!

Posted by: Chris | March 5, 2007 11:08 AM

I think likewise, some men (not my husband), would only give points to earnings so even if the SAHM has been working all day, it doesn't count the same as his contribution because she didn't earn any money. So a SAHM's work is never done. She's on-call 24/7 whereas the man's workday ends.

Posted by: Rockville Mom | March 5, 2007 11:23 AM

"She's on-call 24/7 whereas the man's workday ends."

This is so not true for a lot of us guys. Back when Fredia worked at the hospital and I worked for a different company, the phone would ring in the middle of the night. F. and I would both groan trying to divine who the call was for.

Posted by: Fred | March 5, 2007 11:26 AM

Moxiemom, the fun-police have been called.
First your kids will start out watching wiggles, then next thing you know they'll be on COPS in a high-speed car chase and busted for crack use... all for a bit of fun. Stop the search for the next fun thing to do where it starts- at home.

I suppose it could be worse though. You could be exposing your kids to teletubbies. :-P

Posted by: Chris | March 5, 2007 11:27 AM

On parents not contributing:

I was at a dinner party a few weeks' ago. She's a SAHM, he works. They got into a tiff about why she hadn't picked up his shirts from the dry cleaner. His comments: "What exactly were you doing today that prevented you from getting my shirts?"

A friend of mine has to resort to putting her son in a highchair in front of a kid's show so that she can take a shower WHILE HER HUSBAND IS AT HOME. She can count on one hand the number of times he has changed a diaper in his 2-year old son's life, and recently, when she had pneumonia, she was SOL in that department. Both parents work.

An acquaintance of mine is responsible for all expenses for the son she had with her husband. This includes health care, day care, clothing, etc. She is also responsible for 50% of the mortgage for their shared house. (Sounds like a GREAT marriage, doesn't it.)

Another neighbor (and SAHM) who treats the time she's alone with her kids during the week as "work" and expects her husband to do at least 60% of all housework and childcare when he's not in the office, so that she can have her all-important "me-time".

A woman who had arranged for an 18-month leave of absence to take care of her twins with no professional detriment who then decided she couldn't handle it at home with them and stuck them in daycare at the tender age of 9 weeks.

Posted by: My 2 Cents | March 5, 2007 11:30 AM

I did all the legwork when it came to finding daycare for our son. I pick up and drop off. Hubby is considering changing daycares. I told him when he finds one that he likes to let me know. He has not mentioned changing daycare since that day.

I also was in charge of dr appts and visits. No more! I make the appt and he takes our son. If he can't make it then it's on him to reschedule. He has kept every appt. so far.

I am still the one to take off for our son's sick days. Hubby's job isn't family friendly so I take the hit at work. Our son has plenty of allergies and asthma to cope with and I usually end up on LWOP status.
(ramble alert!)
I have been reminded several times by my supervisor about the amount of leave I use which in turn I tell hy hubby that one day I may have to be a SAHM for a period of time just because of his allergies.
(alert over)

I handle things which I know he can't do due to his job but he looks to me to guide him with practically everything else for our son. He told me early on that I am in charge of the kids and he will do whatever I ask of him when it comes to them. Not sure why that is but I have a feeling it has to do with his 'doing it right' as if there were such a thing!

Posted by: 2xmami | March 5, 2007 11:33 AM

"No, I don't see any enrichment in these types of shows. Fun can be had while doing educational things!"

It sounds like you have an axe to grind about "these types of shows." What's your real problem with them?

The point is that it's up to the parents of any given child to decide what constitutes cultural experiences for that child.

Giving a list of "educational things" to do is nothing more than pressing your child-rearing philosophies on someone else. You've no call to do that.

Posted by: pittypat | March 5, 2007 11:33 AM

obviously everyone's kids watch a ridiculous amount to tv to even know who the wiggles, teletubbies, dora and diego are. My kids have no lcue who they are (and they are in daycare- so they've heard of them but they've never seen them)

most of tv is crap. if they grow up and choose to watch crap (and I watch crap sometimes) then that's their choice when they are adults. in the meantime, it's a brain drain and not worth it. Go get some nice dvds instead.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 5, 2007 11:34 AM

11:34 OK, DD has only watched Dora on DVDs.

Posted by: foamgnome | March 5, 2007 11:36 AM

it's just trashy!

Posted by: Anonymous | March 5, 2007 11:38 AM

"Giving a list of "educational things" to do is nothing more than pressing your child-rearing philosophies on someone else. You've no call to do that."

Neither do the Nursing Nazis, but no one can figure out how to shut them up on this blog!!


Posted by: Anonymous | March 5, 2007 11:39 AM

Dora and Diego are great. My kids don't watch tv, I only let them watch dvds so they aren't exposed to commercials and I can control the content. Dora and Diego dvds are some of our favorites. Just because it isn't Sesame Street doesn't mean it isn't worth watching. In fact my kids learn more from Dora than they do from Sesame Street and they play more creatively afterward making their own maps and climbing through the rain forest also known as our back yard.

Posted by: Bookworm Mom | March 5, 2007 11:41 AM

Go get some nice dvds instead.

Posted by: | March 5, 2007 11:34 AM

Ummmm, ok. I'm gonna get a DVD of Diego and watch it while we eat chips with trans fats! naughty,naughty mommy!

On topic, doesn't some of this come down to the division of labor in the home - that is we each do what we are good at/interested in/ hate the least and more women are more interested in child care and rearing issues than men. Notice I said more meaning that both are interested one just may have a stronger interest. DH is more interested in taxes - I just sign the thing. THe same way most dhs are in charge of lawn care. I care about the lawn, but not to the degree that dh does? It might not be ill intended, but just a reflection of most homes. (I know lots of you are different, but note the gender breakdown on this board - that might be an indicator of interest).

Posted by: moxiemom | March 5, 2007 11:42 AM

it's just trashy!

Posted by: | March 5, 2007 11:38 AM

If you have never seen it, how would you know? I wouldn't consider Go Diego Go as great culture. But it is music and dance. And is comparable to a lot of children's theater. No it is not the same as seeing King Lear but neither is watching a Broadway play of Peter Pan, which would fall into the realm of children's theater. I never said I went to Go Diego Go to give my kid an education or culture. I took her because she likes music and dance. The sets were very stimulating to a three year old. But that is Ok if it is not your cup of tea. But don't knock it, if you haven't tried it.

Posted by: foamgnome | March 5, 2007 11:42 AM

We took our three younger kids to see Go Dog Go, The Musical on Saturday. Was it fun? Of course. Was it entertaining? Sure. Did we sit in a theater and did the characters perform on a stage? Yep. Was it culture? Probably not!

We do that kind of thing often - we don't live near a city large enough to attend the Disney/Sesame Street/Nick Jr. shows anyway, so that's what we have. But I'm not sure if it has anything to do with the fact that 3 of my 4 children play instruments (one is still too young) LOL, like dotted suggests is the case with her kids. They play instruments because we encourage music and pay for lessons and instruments.


(Oh, and just for the record - the tickets were $36 for five of us and the show was about an hour long and there were no bored children in the audience by any means. If we're talking about good deals for children's entertainment, that probably fits the bill better than an expensive live show of the Go Diego Go ilk.)

Posted by: momof4 | March 5, 2007 11:42 AM

11:34, I agree. Furthermore, I think children should be introduced at an early age to rectangular objects made of paper- also known as books. The dry stuff they force kids to read in school makes many kids only associate reading with drudgery- so they come to hate it. If you teach them that there is so much more to reading- that not everything they can learn is boring, they will be much better equipped when it comes to reading, writing, comprehension, and research skills.

Posted by: Chris | March 5, 2007 11:44 AM

oh, yes, giving alternatives to a $200 day for a culturally void activity is just awful! i'm a horrible person for suggesting a few more enriching activities.

and i seriously doubt that anyone was learning to sit still! these events are a free for all (i was forced to bring my niece to one of these awful shows- never again)

Posted by: Anonymous | March 5, 2007 11:44 AM

I'm with WorkingMomX - it may annoy me sometimes that I am the researcher, but that is the case on every major purchase we make, not just childcare. It just seems to be in my nature - whether as an individual or a woman, I don't know. One thing's certain - though I sometimes resent the work, I could never give up the control I have over big decisions that comes from this role.

Posted by: WorkingMomY | March 5, 2007 11:44 AM

So if the SAHM's keep score of how many "points" the husbands rack up, what do they get when they get enough of them?

My wife's not a stay at home anything yet, but I figure if she's keeping score I've got a ton of points already (cooking dinner, putting away dishes, cleaning floors/carpets, putting clothes in dryer and then away, emptying cat litter box, killing/disposing of bugs), and want to cash them in!

Posted by: John | March 5, 2007 11:45 AM

Moxiemom, agree completely. My husband loves to do the taxes and cares about the lawn in a way that I never will. It's the closet accountant in him with the taxes. (I chose our financial consultant, though.)

We split 50/50 on who likes to cook more, though I certainly like to cook more complicated (and messy) dishes. He does bath time, I never have really loved it. I can read to the kids for an hour at a go, his max is 3 books or maybe 4, and he hates rereading. We both do laundry.

I don't know. I think -- or at least I'd hope -- that for most, it's a question of personal balance and not what society or NOW or the conservatives or whatever think it should be. I'm happy with my arrangements and only want others to be happy with theirs!

Posted by: WorkingMomX | March 5, 2007 11:46 AM

To WorkingMomY
There you have it...you like the control. Now, if the rest of these moms would recognize this fact also...instead of blaming their husbands.

Posted by: just another mom | March 5, 2007 11:46 AM

Hello!?! Childcare IS a woman's issue - has always been a woman's issue and always will be a woman's issue.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 5, 2007 11:49 AM

It's usually my DH's responsibility to drop-off/pick-up the kids from daycare. He works in the town where we live. I work 40 minutes away. If the situation were reversed, I'd do the daycare thing. However, when we used to work together, we'd take turns with being a chaperone and visiting daycare. I have a DH who is a great dad.

When the kids are sick, we decide which one of us is more flexible that day to take off. Some days neither of us are and we beg a grandparent about 30 minutes away to watch the child. This is not ideal, but sometimes we have no choice. (I hate to complain about this because I know we are lucky to have this choice.)

If this is a woman's problem, it is because women let it be. There are plenty of women who believe that the primary parent is the mother and that childcare is only for those families who are selfish and materialistic, so they force their children to stay in a "nasty" daycare. Of course, this is not the case. But, until we get buy in from more women so these women can also convince their husbands that childcare is everyone's issue, we'll continue to have this problem.

Another issue is that childless individuals think similarly. They believe that childcare is only a parents problem. They do not see that high-quality, affordable childcare benefits everyone. If I need services and the worker had to call off because of a childcare issue, I am impacted!

Posted by: Mom of 2 in PA | March 5, 2007 11:50 AM

momof4: What is go do go? where did you see it? I would like to take DD to children's theater and ballet when she is older. Right now, she is not ready to sit in show longer then 40 minutes. And for all of you pro Sesame Street. Sesame Street Live: Elmo makes music was not any better then Go Diego Go in terms of educational or cultural event. She actually liked Go Diego Go better because of all the nice sets.

Posted by: foamgnome | March 5, 2007 11:51 AM

Childcare is a woman's issue because women let it become a woman's issue. I'm just repeating what one poster wrote: change starts at home, not in Washington. If you want childcare to be a parent's issue, force your husband to be a (real) parent.

Posted by: first time poster | March 5, 2007 11:52 AM

From where I sit, I think Leslie's characterization is more correct than not. Caveat: Like Leslie, I went to a fancy schmancy business school so I have a certain consideration set in mind when I think of my peers and childcare. At my level, in the companies in which I have worked (big, famous Fortune 500 companies), I have been one of the only women with kids. I have been one of the only employees with a spouse who also works. Having a stay at home spouse is a huge benefit to career advancement, I think, because you never have to worry about lots of household management things - like, do I have clean shirts? Are the kids fed? Jacob has a fever; who is taking care of him? The phone doesn't work; who can let him in between 10-12? -- lots of little things that tax a dual-income household (or a single-income household with only one adult). Staying for a 7 p.m. meeting or going on an extended business trip took lots of juggling when my husband was doing his residency - "can you pick up the baby? Will you be on call? How is your patient load?"

It was extremely personally frustrating to me that there was no one in the office at my level with whom I could share my concerns - the women who acted as mentors to me had no children (maybe step children, but not children for whom they were primary caregivers), and the women below my level had different career burdens and didn't have to put in the same amount of face time I did. And at lower job grades, there were more two-income households, so there was less tolerance for things like 6 a.m. or 7 p.m. meetings, because somebody had to care for the kids.

I also felt irritated a lot because the working spouses seemed to have no clue about the benefits they derived from having a stay-at-home spouse. When I was pregnant and took an afternoon off to go look at day cares, one of my manager's counterparts said "wait, you're gonna put your kid in day care??" in the same tone of voice as you'd associate with "wait, you'd let your infant skydive sans parachute??" I used to take a half-day per month to go do things like: take clothes to the dry cleaner. Do eleventy-billion loads of laundry. Go on a massive Sam's Club run. Get a haircut. Deep clean the house (as opposed to weekly dusting and bedsheet changing stuff). Mow the lawn. Fix the toilet. You know, general life crap. Let the cable guy in. My husband is extremely helpful at home and with the kids. But he does not internalize child care woes like I do. We have a baby who loves her routine. We come back one day early from vacations so that she can have a day to acclimate at home before going back to day care. On trips we can't do that (for example a quick weekender to see the grandparents), I call the day care to see how she's doing. It would never occur to my husband to do that - with him, it's more out of sight, out of mind. But he does a great job caring for her, finding sitters, being involved with her healthcare (I have coworkers whose kids are 5 and have never been to a doctor visit past the 2 month well-child check up). Anyway, rant over.

Posted by: MplsMama | March 5, 2007 11:53 AM

Go Dog Go is a DR Seuss book

Posted by: Anonymous | March 5, 2007 11:54 AM

Oh recall that book. They must have made it into a play or something. I do take DD to arts in the park in the summer. But last summer she was just 2 and did not seem interested for more then 5 minutes. We will try again this summer.

Posted by: foamgnome | March 5, 2007 11:55 AM

John, you are out of luck. Man points are disposed of at the discretion/convenience of a wife and do cease to exist all together at the end of one week. Negative points, however, last for all eternity and are to be mentioned at least once every 6 months to 6 years, just to remind you how much of a failure you are as a human being. Men, on the other hand, have no such reserve points to draw from because if we somehow managed to remember what she did last week, much less last year, that -really set us off- we would no longer be men. If you keep a journal of such things in hopes of keeping up with her, you would not be considered a man either because she would not believe how petty you are to keep track of such things. I am afraid that no matter how you look at it, you are hosed. ;-P

Posted by: Chris | March 5, 2007 11:56 AM

Kids take time. I'm not sure what you were expecting when you had a child and both parents have so called high powered careers. You can't give 120% to everything...something or someone has to give...and it has to be one of the parents...not necessarily the mother.

Posted by: to Mplsmama | March 5, 2007 11:58 AM

Has anyone seen Chris Rock's stand up??

FOr the men (on being married): something like: Take a look in the mirror and say to yourself "f*ck your hopes f*ck your dreams. now let's go out there and make this b*tch happy"

and another classic:

What does the father get? The big piece of chicken.

On what men want:
Feed me
F*ck me
Shut the F*ck up

I'll have to rent that this weekend

Posted by: Anonymous | March 5, 2007 12:01 PM

all,
I suggested exposure to those kiddie shows inspired our kids in arts because it illustrates how our family, from early on, saw music as fun and as a family activity. We didn't wait until 'culture' to introduce them to the arts. Those kiddie theaters are great exposure to the arts and to fantasy.

Posted by: dotted | March 5, 2007 12:10 PM

"Father of 2 -- Nice to know we have a saint among our posters. Could I talk to your wife to see if she agrees? Because many times I talk to the husbands and they insist, our childcare situation is a breeze! And then their wives have a far different tale to tell."

I'm no saint. When I mentioned this to my wife this morning and she said "We are NOT typical when it comes to daycare. We are in a great situation."

Posted by: Father of 2 | March 5, 2007 12:10 PM

culture is one thing- exposing them to mass commercialization is quite another.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 5, 2007 12:12 PM

TO Mplsmama

I agree with you. DH and I also have careers. DH is a CEO of a non-profit and I am a manager at my company. Our coworkers with SAH spouses are clueless about what we juggle to be good employees and good parents. And, some of those coworkers who SAH spouses are also good employees, but I can tell you that because they have a spouse at home who does a lot, some of them are not necessarily great parents - heck, even good parents. At the company picnics, some of these dads let their wives run after the kids while they socialize with the management.

In my opinion, running a business well and running a family well take a lot of the same skills, so I like to see a good hands-on parent get a management position.

BTW - The above comment to you is uncalled for. You didn't say you were giving 120% to everything. You don't simply want to be a slacker. After all, you admitted to cleaning the house one day a month. (BTDT)

Posted by: Mom of 2 in PA | March 5, 2007 12:12 PM

Why is it that Leslie takes the comments of the women about their husbands at face value, but questioned what Fred said about his wife?

Turn it around. for all the women who say that their husbands are not helpful, what would your husband say? Would they have "a different tale to tell"?

Posted by: Anonymous | March 5, 2007 12:13 PM

Justanothermom:

Interesting that you would generalize from WorkingMomY's experience to ALL women who feel they have an uneven burden of childwork.

How did she become the representative for all these women, and the proof that all of them are lying either to others or themselves?

Oh, I know! It's because her experience fits with your preconceived views. Now, there's a good way to have a conversation!

Gretchen: I really liked your point, and agree, it's important that government measures increase freedom for families and not just reinforce the status quo.

Posted by: Tara | March 5, 2007 12:14 PM

I would fully expect to take charge of the kids at my spouse's company picnic. It is a company function...the spouse should be socializing with management.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 5, 2007 12:15 PM

foamgnome - I live on the West Coast, so you won't be able to see the same production we did. :o) But the plays we see with our kids are usually at either the university, community college, or local theater. This particular play was specifically billed as interactive with the audience so it was loud and chatty the entire time and even babies were fine to bring.

Posted by: momof4 | March 5, 2007 12:15 PM

"At my level, in the companies in which I have worked (big, famous Fortune 500 companies), I have been one of the only women with kids. I have been one of the only employees with a spouse who also works."

Mpls Mama, I'm not intended to be snarky, but, if your comment above is true, you failed to heed a red flag about your present employer that would have attracted my attention: the dearth at high levels of MOMS. I chose my employer in part because there were women who were successful, getting promoted, not getting divorced, and were raising young children. If you want to be a trailblazer, great. If not, with your credentials, you can afford to look for an employer that provides you with successful female mentors. I wouldn't have gotten as far without the guidance of other moms who've made it work and shared their advice with me.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 5, 2007 12:17 PM

Ooops - correction

"but questioned what Father of 2 said about his wife"

Sorry for the mixup. In my mind, Fred and Father of 2 both speak well of there wives. I guess that's why I confused them.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 5, 2007 12:17 PM

So, Go Diego Go is not appreciated, eh?

Well, there's the Grossology exhibit at the Maryland Science Center. Boogers, anyone?

Posted by: theoriginalmomof2 | March 5, 2007 12:18 PM

Oh, and just to be picky - Go Dog Go was written by P.D. Eastman, not Dr. Suess.

Posted by: momof4 | March 5, 2007 12:19 PM

Foamgnome (and others),

If you are near D.C., try taking the kids to Glen Echo to see some of the stage plays, puppet shows. They're inexpensive and fun. (Of course I also advise that you wait until the carousel is open too!)

Posted by: MdMother | March 5, 2007 12:21 PM

"(i was forced to bring my niece to one of these awful shows- never again)"

Aha! So there's the problem. Still resenting that experience, eh?

"i'm a horrible person for suggesting a few more enriching activities."

Of course not. But I really don't think that any of the parents on this blog need suggestions about enriching experiences for their kids. Have you paid any attention to their posts? They're a pretty savvy bunch!

Posted by: pittypat | March 5, 2007 12:23 PM

"Ooops - correction

"but questioned what Father of 2 said about his wife"

Sorry for the mixup. In my mind, Fred and Father of 2 both speak well of there wives. I guess that's why I confused them."

LOL. I was about to go back and see if I could find what Leslie said about Fred's comments. Guess I don't need to.

Posted by: Father of 2 | March 5, 2007 12:23 PM

http://www.nps.gov/glec/planyourvisit/hours.htm

http://www.glenechopark.org/kids.htm

Posted by: Anonymous | March 5, 2007 12:24 PM

Wow, I'm late to the game in reading the blog this morning, but I really thought Leslie was past this.

Having spent a year or so observing the men on this blog, I thought Leslie was past lobbing the "Men don't care about childcare" cheap-shots at us.

I guess not.

Posted by: Proud Papa | March 5, 2007 12:26 PM

Tara / Gretchen:
"Gretchen: I really liked your point, and agree, it's important that government measures increase freedom for families and not just reinforce the status quo."

But the point you are advocating does not increase freedom for families -- it indicates that the USG will subsidize one method of child care [out-of-house paid care] at the cost of all other options.

A progressive child credit gives families the most 'freedom' -- they have the money and they can choose to use it at their discretion. A child care tax deduction reduces family options and only subsidizes those in which both parents are employed.

Are we really ready to say as a society that we place no value on the concept of a SAH parent and that we should only address child-care issues as they relate to two working parents?


Posted by: A Dad | March 5, 2007 12:26 PM

"I was at a dinner party a few weeks' ago. She's a SAHM, he works. They got into a tiff about why she hadn't picked up his shirts from the dry cleaner. His comments: "What exactly were you doing today that prevented you from getting my shirts?""

That's exactly why I'd never be a SAHM. I don't think I could stop my self from ripping my husband's head off if he said that to me. And although I would consider that justifiable homicide, I don't think the court would burst into applause when I wrapped up my testimony with "And that's when I killed him, Your Honor."

Posted by: Meesh | March 5, 2007 12:27 PM

Chris, fortunately for me my wife doesn't keep track of points for any reason. I was just hoping to be able to cash them in for something I'd like in the event they were cumulative... :)

Posted by: John | March 5, 2007 12:29 PM

Meesh,

LOL.

You might not impress the judge, but I'm betting all the SAHM jurors would be cheering.

Posted by: pittypat | March 5, 2007 12:33 PM

Meesh - is the reason you couldn't be a SAHM because you would render yourself a widow, or because you suspect your husband would actually say something like that to you (at a dinner party, no less)? Aren't those two separate reasons for not wanting to be a SAHM?

Posted by: momof4 | March 5, 2007 12:33 PM

Meesh, let's hope your husband wouldn't be such an a** if you did become a SAHM. (The guy who said that is no prize, trust me.)

Posted by: My 2 Cents | March 5, 2007 12:33 PM

"Another issue is that childless individuals think similarly. They believe that childcare is only a parents problem."

In the vein of being defensive and assuming that generalities apply to everyone equally, which seems to be the norm today, I have to say that, as a childless person, I think we should have more affordable and better childcare opportunities (especially for the economically disadvantaged) and I don't mind paying for it. Believe ot or not, not all childless people are complete jerks.

Posted by: Meesh | March 5, 2007 12:36 PM

Did someone say something about me?

Posted by: Fred | March 5, 2007 12:37 PM

Count me in as another non-parent who agrees with Meesh!

Posted by: SheGeek | March 5, 2007 12:42 PM

... about being willing to subsidize child care

Posted by: SheGeek | March 5, 2007 12:43 PM

Father of Four, you said:

If you hire a male that wants to persue employment and knows that he will have to deal with children's genitalia on a regular, unsupervised bases, I'm telling you: DANGER, DANGER, DANGER!

I'm not unaware of the danger but I think there are ways of responding to that threat. I'm not going to let irrational fears stand between me and getting the very best qualified person for the job. Note that YOU in this instance are making a blanket statement about men in this blog-- something that Leslie is repeatedly accused of doing.

Regarding the go, diego, go show and What Show Jesus Advise Us to Take Our Children To discussion, I know Jesus said that you should give to the poor (i.e., the rich man getting to heaven is like a camel going through the eye of a needle-- great visual!), but I recall that he also defended Mary Magdeline when she poured expensive fragrant oils upon His feet. Some of those present shamed her, pointing out that the expensive, extravagent oils could have been sold for money to feed the poor, but Jesus said "You shall always have the poor among you." And I think He also said "You shall not have Me for much longer."

Now maybe Jesus was just a sucker for a good foot massage, but more likely, I think he was saying that we should never judge the gifts that people give to one another. I think Jesus would be totally supportive of foamgnome spending time and money on entertainment on her only child.

Any other takes on what mysterious comment "You shall always have the poor among you."

Just my (UU influenced, but not UU sanctioned) opinion!

Posted by: Clarina | March 5, 2007 12:43 PM

"I would fully expect to take charge of the kids at my spouse's company picnic. It is a company function...the spouse should be socializing with management."

Then why have a family picnic at all? Can't he or she do that at work without taking the time away from real family activities?

Posted by: Anonymous | March 5, 2007 12:45 PM

Maybe Jesus was just a sucker for Mary Magdalene.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 5, 2007 12:48 PM

momof4 wrote "Meesh - is the reason you couldn't be a SAHM because you would render yourself a widow, or because you suspect your husband would actually say something like that to you (at a dinner party, no less)? Aren't those two separate reasons for not wanting to be a SAHM?"

Well, I was joking, but I guess that the reason is that I could imagine him saying something like that (he's said as much when I've been working from home! Like "you can just make a quick trip to the store; they won't know you're gone) because I could see the negative ramifications of my reacting to that (prison, my children growing up without a father and a mom in prison, etc.).

Posted by: Meesh | March 5, 2007 12:49 PM

Meesh, to play advocate for the devil, was this SAHM the kind who sits on the couch watching TV all day, or does she do all the things everyone thinks standard fare for a SAHM? I have seen SAH spouses fall into the rut of just being sucked into the mindless vacuum of daytime television instead of doing anything meaningful...

Posted by: Chris | March 5, 2007 12:50 PM

"Then why have a family picnic at all? Can't he or she do that at work without taking the time away from real family activities?

Posted by: | March 5, 2007 12:45 PM"

Family picnics are events companies hold so that they can say they hold family-invited events. 'Nuf said. If I am at a work-related family event for me, DH knows it's expected that I socialize with everyone who is above me in the company. If the work-related family event is for him, he socializes; I parent. The employee furthers his/her career; the other spouse is the primary with the kids. We all go home after 1.5 hours and say, "whew, that's over. Can we stop smiling now?"

it's teamwork.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 5, 2007 12:51 PM

"I have seen SAH spouses fall into the rut of just being sucked into the mindless vacuum of daytime television instead of doing anything meaningful..."

And park their kids in front of the TV all day.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 5, 2007 12:53 PM

foamgnome,
This weekend I went out and bought series tickets to the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra -- plan to take the kid along to some of the concerts. Hope that will make her want to keep playing her cello. They are discounted this year so they are "only" $25 a seat, but that includes the seats that used to be $100 or whatever. At 2 tickets for 6 concerts that came to $300. Everybody, it might not happen again that you can get box seats for this price. How about "take your kid to the symphony year"?

Posted by: Diane, Baltimore | March 5, 2007 12:53 PM

Proud Papa wrote "Having spent a year or so observing the men on this blog, I thought Leslie was past lobbing the "Men don't care about childcare" cheap-shots at us."

Considering that Leslie Morgan Steiner wrote in her second paragraph that "No man has ever mentioned childcare to me as a concern in his life or an obstacle to his career," when men on this blog have spoken about such on a number of occasions, I think it's safe to say that Ms. Steiner probably doesn't give the comments here more than a cursory glance.

Posted by: HerndonDad | March 5, 2007 12:54 PM

all this talk of entertainment caused some fabulous memories of my kids when they were younger: taking them to parades, having to cover their ears during Sousa marches because they are always so loud but fun, climbing mountains to hear nothing at all, watching the birds hatch outside our kitchen window one year...sniff sniff

Posted by: dotted | March 5, 2007 12:55 PM

"culture is one thing- exposing them to mass commercialization is quite another."

*snort*

I guess the poster above has figured out how to shield the children's eyes and ears from bill boards, the WP ads on the computer screen, the radio, talking to other children who have something his/her child do not, etc.

It's not a bad idea to try and minimize the amount seen, but unless you live in a cave on a hillside, you are going to run into "mass commercialization" simply going into town for supplies once a year.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 5, 2007 12:55 PM

Chris, we'll have to hope that "My 2 Cents" answers your question. She posted that example at 11:30 (although I mistakingly did not note that in my post).

I don't have any SAHM or SAHD friends yet (we're all broke or too young), but I bet that there are SAHMs and SAHDs of all types. Almost nothing would shock me.

Posted by: Meesh | March 5, 2007 12:55 PM

Okay, I browsed most of the comments. My opinion has not changed.

It's a cheap shot Leslie. And you know better.

You JUST HAD two guest bloggers on (Equal/Equal Too) who disprove your point. The Father Ofs, Texas/A Dads, Big Fred, heck even some of the controversial bomb-thrower guys display some awareness/care about the welfare of their kids. Or they wouldn't be here.

So really, why was today's ugly generalization necessary?

It is disappointing to feel like you are contributing to the education of a community AND being educated by others, only to have the head of that community come along and trample any progress being made.

Welcome to Square One everybody.

Posted by: Proud Papa | March 5, 2007 12:56 PM

"I would fully expect to take charge of the kids at my spouse's company picnic. It is a company function...the spouse should be socializing with management."

Seems like an excuse that can blossom into many others to cop-out on responsibilities.

Posted by: please | March 5, 2007 12:56 PM

Diane-I concur on the symphony! I have 2 cellists and a bassist. They simply liked the sound of them. Yes, I have one crowded music room.

Posted by: dotted | March 5, 2007 12:57 PM

Strathmore, in Rockville, MD has a very nice selection of all sorts of programs with a WIDE range of price tags (free to $$$$).

Posted by: Anonymous | March 5, 2007 1:00 PM

I'm waiting for the same posters who bi*ched on and on about kids on a plane (wasn't there one idiot who said no child should be permitted to fly before age 30?)to comment that kids don't belong at the symphony.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 5, 2007 1:00 PM

I cannot personally relate to this because my husband has been just as involved with our daughter's child care, school etc. as I have. But I do see this behavior in lots of our friends where resposibilities fall along traditional gender lines and the husbands are often clueless. They are mostly in the 'helper' mode rather than the 'equal contributor' mode and this is irrespective of whether their wives work or not. I think upbringing has a large part in this and when we train our boys to share in all manner of work they will make better husbands in future.

Posted by: SR | March 5, 2007 1:01 PM

"Another issue is that childless individuals think similarly. They believe that childcare is only a parents problem."

Yeah, I'm with Meesh, too.

I'm childfree, but I support the notion of good quality and affordable childcare, and I'm willing to pay to ensure that those in economic need can get it.

Posted by: pittypat | March 5, 2007 1:02 PM

"I have seen SAH spouses fall into the rut of just being sucked into the mindless vacuum of daytime television instead of doing anything meaningful..."

Chris,

You mean like WOH spouses who fall into the rut of just being sucked into the mindless vacuum of Internet blogging?

Just teasing. :>)

Posted by: pittypat | March 5, 2007 1:06 PM

I support subsidized child care, even though we would not qualify. I do support universal preschool. I just don't think it will happen any time soon due to $$$.

I have found that kids do better at kiddie show around age 4-5 versus the 2-3 year olds. But that is just my observation. I have heard of Glen Echo park. I will try to check out their performances.

Posted by: foamgnome | March 5, 2007 1:06 PM

"I'm childfree, but I support the notion of good quality and affordable childcare, and I'm willing to pay to ensure that those in economic need can get it."

Tomorrow our bi-weekly house cleaner will come to clean our house. She has a 6-month old son. Her husband makes a lower middle-class income. Does the 'good quality and affordable childcare' that you are willing to

Posted by: A Dad | March 5, 2007 1:07 PM

I haven't read all the posts--there are too many already. But I disagree with those who believe that Leslie's assertions are "sexist". They are generalizations yes, but they accurately reflect society at large and of course, there will be many exceptions (my husband included). I don't think it's sexist to point out that the US lags behind all other first world countries when it comes to families and childcare. True in the US we have a very individualist point of view with regard to allowing people to fend for themselves when it comes to these issues, but I'd bet that if childcare were thought of as a man's issue, we'd have better supports for families.

I also believe that men of the gen x and later generations tend to be more hands on. However, study after study shows that it is not "equal". Working women in general are still expected to do the housework and arrange childcare. And it tends to be women/mothers who are discriminated against in the workplace with regard to opporunties.

In my socioeconomic group (educated and upper middle class), most fathers I know are more hands on than their fathers, but I see far too many women in this group give up and stay home. Granted, some because they want to, but others who have told me "it's too hard" or "I don't have to, my husband earns enough". It is a personal decision for every family and I don't judge, but as long as it's "ok" for women to opt out of the workforce (temporarily or permanently) then the powers that be see it as a "women's issue" and not worthy of serious consideration.

I tend to agree with those above who say that it is a societal view/pressure--that women belong at home with their kids. And I also agree with the poster who said that for real change, all families will need to get organized and lobby our leaders. And money will need to be involved. Money talks--our leaders don't listen unless there is the financial incentive to listen.

Posted by: anon on purpose | March 5, 2007 1:07 PM

Well said, Proud Papa.

Posted by: Mona | March 5, 2007 1:07 PM

[Sorry earlier one got cut off]

"I'm childfree, but I support the notion of good quality and affordable childcare, and I'm willing to pay to ensure that those in economic need can get it."

Tomorrow our bi-weekly house cleaner will come to clean our house. She has a 6-month old son. Her husband makes a lower middle-class income. Does the 'good quality and affordable childcare' that you are willing to support include the option to subsidize her staying at home or only the option to enable her to continue to work?


Posted by: Anonymous | March 5, 2007 1:08 PM

"the spouse should be socializing with management."

Why?

Is the company family picnic nothing more than an opportunity to brownnose the boss and/or beat back the competition?

Posted by: Anonymous | March 5, 2007 1:10 PM

"Is the company family picnic nothing more than an opportunity to brownnose the boss and/or beat back the competition?"

Pretty much...that is usually the case. As someone said...teamwork.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 5, 2007 1:12 PM

It is only sexist if a man says it. If a woman says it- you get a generalized statement. :-P

Posted by: Chris | March 5, 2007 1:12 PM

"If I am at a work-related family event for me, DH knows it's expected that I socialize with everyone who is above me in the company."

What is this - the "suck-up fest"? Is there no socialization among co-workers who are not above you? Is there no inclusion of family members in the work-related family event? Talk about balance - there is definitely a lack of balance when you can't deal with anyone unless they can do something for your career.

Glad I'm middle-income, no title, no perks kind of employee. Maybe no big bucks or career advancement, but I'm happy with my job, my husband, and my family.

This blog is yet again leaning toward score-keeping among spouses. No one should care about whether or not men or women are expected to carry child-care responsibilities, except the parents in a particular family. If it works for your family, fine. If not, find a way to resolve it. I think this is an issue that should be addressed bottom-up, not top-down.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 5, 2007 1:14 PM

"Tomorrow our bi-weekly house cleaner will come to clean our house. She has a 6-month old son. Her husband makes a lower middle-class income. Does the 'good quality and affordable childcare' that you are willing to support include the option to subsidize her staying at home or only the option to enable her to continue to work?"

To A Dad,

Don't quite know what you're getting at here in terms of your house cleaner.

I advocate good quality, affordable childcare that that allows parents to work and make a living.

Is that confusing to you?


Posted by: pittypat | March 5, 2007 1:15 PM

I have found that kids do better at kiddie show around age 4-5 versus the 2-3 year olds. But that is just my observation. I have heard of Glen Echo park. I will try to check out their performances.

FG,

Please do! Trust me, I can remember spending many weekend afternoons there when I was a kid, getting the performers autographs, etc. My sister is 7 years younger than I, and she behaved pretty darn well (plus it was easy to scoot out if it proved to be a bit much for her). I can't believe that my "baby" sister will be 33 this year...

Don't pass up on the carousel ride either.

Posted by: MdMother | March 5, 2007 1:17 PM

"I advocate good quality, affordable childcare that that allows parents to work and make a living.

Is that confusing to you?"

Somewhat -- I advocate good quality childcare.

I don't care if that means that both parents work, or one parent works while the other stays home to personally care for the child. I would advocate that the government subsidize both choices equally.

Hence, I would favor an increase in a child tax credit [especially a progressive increase that would impact those at the lower end of the income spectrum] -- and not an increase in a child care tax deduction that only benefits parents if they both choose to work.

Does that distinction make sense?

Posted by: A Dad | March 5, 2007 1:18 PM

Hey pittpat,
I think, but I'm not sure, A Dad is questioning whether SAHMs should be subsidized for staying at home because it is 'good quality affordable childcare.' Odd thought that.

YMMV here but unless someone went through all the certification required to be deemed 'quality' (as per some previous discussion day), it is difficult to unequivocably equate SAHM with 'good quality affordable childcare.'

Posted by: dotted | March 5, 2007 1:20 PM

To A Dad, regarding his first posting: "The fundamental question that many lawmakers asked was whether the USG should take a position of encouraging both parents to work outside the home [through exclusively subsidizing outside-the-home childcare]. The fact that this care already receives a tax subsidy [the childcare deduction] suggests that we've gone partially down that path -- the question is how much further we wish to go." We should recognize that double-income families already "subsidize" families with SAH parents since two incomes contribute to the military, NIH budget, schools, social security, medicare, etc. The government has already taken a stand that they want to support/subsidize SAH parents - wives (people?) who have never worked for pay a day in their life qualify for their OWN social security checks. I would definetely support a move in the other direction that subsidizes/supports working parents.

Posted by: AM | March 5, 2007 1:21 PM

"I think, but I'm not sure, A Dad is questioning whether SAHMs should be subsidized for staying at home because it is 'good quality affordable childcare.'"

Yep.

"Odd thought that."

It was actually brought up multiple times in 2003 when the child tax credit was introduced -- it's why it's a general child tax credit and not a child care tax deduction increase [which many advocated at the time].

Posted by: Anonymous | March 5, 2007 1:22 PM

Does anyone think this is a largely generational issue?

I'm only 28 and my husband is VERY involved- and I didn't have to make him that way either. He even came from a crappy background so it's not like he had personal experience with good dads. It's just something (as a young man) that he's comfortable with. He knows he's more of a man by being fully involved with his kids' lives.

Leslie is older and maybe they are old school in a lot of ways.

Just like race relations and gay rights, maybe old notions of what men and women "should" be will get better as time passes.

Posted by: Generational issue | March 5, 2007 1:24 PM

Mdmom: I just looked at Glen Echo park site. Nothing is listed for March but I will keep checking. We did take DD to a state park with a carousel and a train ride last year. She really liked them. I will definitely look for that.

I think A Dad wants us to give a larger tax credit for SAHPs because he thinks SAHPs can be considered high quality child care. I actually don't care either way. But the income thresholds should be slightly higher for two working parents. I don't mind finding a way through tax cuts or whatever, to make staying at home a real possibility for more people that choose that route.

Posted by: foamgnome | March 5, 2007 1:24 PM

"We should recognize that double-income families already "subsidize" families with SAH parents since two incomes contribute to the military, NIH budget, schools, social security, medicare, etc."

Umm, not exactly. We have a progressive tax system so that those who make more pay more. My wife is a SAHM but our family income is well above average [in large part because my wife is a SAHM].

"The government has already taken a stand that they want to support/subsidize SAH parents - wives (people?) who have never worked for pay a day in their life qualify for their OWN social security checks. I would definetely support a move in the other direction that subsidizes/supports working parents."

The child care credit, flexible spending account for dependents, two-income credit [available in some states such as Maryland] already do to some degree.


Posted by: A Dad | March 5, 2007 1:28 PM

Well, if trains are her "thing" (and they're mine too!), Sykesville, MD is one of the many unofficial model railroading capitals. Plus they have a garden train that the kids can ride, and once a month (starting April or May), the local club sets up displays in one of the railroad cars sitting on the siding, etc.

But no carousel. Darn.

Still...

Posted by: MdMother | March 5, 2007 1:29 PM

Childcare is a family issue. Fathers who aren't involved are either too lazy or too incompentent. Same for mothers who aren't involved. On the flip side, mothers who don't share responsibility are control-freakish hags. If one spouse isn't involved, that doesn't make it a social issue, it makes it a family issue. Ladies, want your man to take childcare responsibilities seriously, remind him he is the father and should act like one.

As for employers, I fail to see how a father not taking his childcare responsibilities seriously is a problem for the mother's employer to solve. I do agree that as a society we should seek to have quality childcare available to all but finding it and who does the finding is not a social issue, it is a private family issue.

Posted by: LM in WI | March 5, 2007 1:31 PM

You know, all of the "micro" discussion is interesting, but I think there's a "macro" point about why this isn't a bigger issue with Congress, corporate America, etc. Most of the people who rise to higher levels in politics and companies are not two-income families with kids, or SAHMs who took a few years off and jumped back in (Nancy Pelosi notwithstanding). Most of them are people who either have SAH wives to support them or who make enough money to hire nannies and housekeepers to take care of that stuff. So it's just not an issue that they have had to get down in the trenches and deal with personally. Plus (as someone else said), most don't currently have small children -- so even if it was an issue at one time, those memories have likely faded. Heck, even in the 4 yrs between no. 1 and no. 2, my memories of how hard infancy is faded away (I think it must be selective amnesia -- after baby boy arrived, I had a ton of "oh, NOW I remember that" moments).

foamgnome, I can't believe people are giving you sh*t over "Go Diego, Go Live"!! For the record, we took my 5-yr-old and all her cousins Sat., and they were entranced. You know what's worse: I even took her to Disney Princesses on Ice last fall. She is totally into the pricess thing, had heard all about it the year before from her friends bragging that they went, so asked for a year if she could go next time -- then she went and learned how to read, so when the commercials came on, I couldn't lie about it. :-)

But you know what? It completely made her month. I have no illusions about any artistic or cultural value. And personally, I can't stand the whole "princess" thing (topic for another blog). But my daughter adores them beyond all reason. And all I know is that that one stupid show made my little girl as happy as I've ever seen her. So if the experience means that much to her, then it's worth it to me to suck it up (both financially and time-wise) once or twice a year.

Posted by: Laura | March 5, 2007 1:32 PM

Oh well, some much for trying to reach Leslie...I guess divisiveness in topics and tone, and the route to woman-consciousness raising is the only path Leslie sees. Or at least wants to see.

Don't have time to read all the comments for today, sicne I'm off to a meeting. May try to come back and read late, though unless the topic got usefully hijacked, I doubt I'll have much use for it. But I did just finish reading off Friday's comments, sicne I left early then.

With that I wanted to offer a late CONGRATULATIONS to my favorite Irish to be Mom on this blog!!! That's a pretty nice present just in time for St. Patrick's Day, huh Scarry?! I offer my heart-felt best to you and your husband...

Posted by: Texas Dad of 2 | March 5, 2007 1:33 PM

Exactly.

Posted by: to LM in WI | March 5, 2007 1:34 PM

OT to MdMother: I had to LOL about the carousels - my mother rides one every chance she gets -- it's her absolute favorite thing.

Posted by: Product of a Working Mother | March 5, 2007 1:34 PM

For me, the problem with subsidizing SAHMs is two-fold: such a system would discriminate in favor of two-parent families and, more problematically, provide less $$ for childcare facilities that would be used by large numbers of low-income people.

So, a smaller number of people in need would receive help, and the quantity and quality of the childcare facilities would suffer.

Frankly, I'd like to see all the child-related tax credits eliminated in favor of BIG tax dollars going toward a national system of daycare, available 24 hours for parents who do shift work. That way, everyone has an equal chance to use the service, and the question of "quality" can be monitored consistently by federal inspectors.

Posted by: pittypat | March 5, 2007 1:34 PM

When I was looking for part-time childcare, the task fell entirely to me mainly because I was the one who had the time to do it. I was returning to work after staying at home. Also, because I had been at home and was looking for care in the neighborhood where we lived, I was the one with better local knowledge and contacts.

I would think that if both parents are working full-time and the only break is a maternity leave

Posted by: Another Librarianmom | March 5, 2007 1:36 PM

Events in DC for kids:

My friends make fun of me because I always know what's going on (I'm also a research nut- for childcare, schools, neighborhoods- what have you- I'll confess to my control issue on that end!)

Check out Discovery Theatre on the mall. The shows are amazing and cheap. We have seen African drummers, there is an Irish group next weekend for St Patty's Day, etc. A lot of the shows are during the week so I went a lot when I was a SAHM, but there are a few weekend family programs.
Definitely worth a trip to the city- and there is, of course, a carousel on the mall!

Also, the zoo has programs- and increasing weekend programs due to popular demand in addition to their special events such as the Guppy Gala.

There is so much going on in the DC area- get Washington Parents magazine (available for free) read the Post's weekend section and get the Northwest Current. We're booked each weekend with an activity if we want!

Posted by: to foamgnome | March 5, 2007 1:36 PM

Perhaps we should do away with income tax and just have a large sales tax. It would encourage economic growth for America and balance things out fairly between all the classes/ income levels.

Posted by: Chris | March 5, 2007 1:38 PM

"For me, the problem with subsidizing SAHMs is two-fold: such a system would discriminate in favor of two-parent families and, more problematically, provide less $$ for childcare facilities that would be used by large numbers of low-income people."

I would suggest that making the tax credit progressive would counter these concerns -- in fact, the existing childcare credit is very much not progressive since it is not a refundable credit -- so it provides the most benefit to the middle and upper middle class [who have higher tax rates].

"Frankly, I'd like to see all the child-related tax credits eliminated in favor of BIG tax dollars going toward a national system of daycare, available 24 hours for parents who do shift work. That way, everyone has an equal chance to use the service, and the question of "quality" can be monitored consistently by federal inspectors."

So you see no societal value in enabling a SAH parent?

Posted by: Anonymous | March 5, 2007 1:39 PM

"May try to come back and read late, though unless the topic got usefully hijacked, I doubt I'll have much use for it."

Who cares?

You know, TDo2, we don't hang around on this blog breathlessly awaiting the moment when you chime in.

Also, we don't really care whether you like the topics or not.

You need to ratchet down the self-importance meter just a bit.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 5, 2007 1:40 PM

"quality" can be monitored consistently by federal inspectors."

I think someone already stated how high quality such a program would be. Look at the military healthcare system. Look at public schools. Look at... well... nearly anything public.

Posted by: Chris | March 5, 2007 1:41 PM

whoops! hit the button by mistake.

I was saying that it seems to me that if both parents are working full-time and the only break is a maternity leave, then both parents are equally responsible for ensuring good care for the child, even if the legwork of doing doesn't work out 50/50 because of logistics.

I think it was Gretchen who made a good point about wanting government more involved in quality control. Fairfax County's Office for Children does more than some municipalities, but I would like to see more inspections/oversight. I don't necessarily want subsidies for childcare (except for low-income situations). I do think it's worth spending tax dollars on evaluating quality though.

Posted by: Another Librarianmom | March 5, 2007 1:41 PM

Yeah, national daycare should work out as well as public schools. or maybe we'll get that passed after national healthcare and a plush retirement package in Social Security and meds for all??

Hilarious.

should we be responsible for paying for anything at all?

Posted by: Anonymous | March 5, 2007 1:43 PM

"Perhaps we should do away with income tax and just have a large sales tax. It would encourage economic growth for America and balance things out fairly between all the classes/ income levels."

Chris,

If you're serious (are you?), I have to ask. How would this be helpful?

You'd be levying the same sales tax on all income levels without recognizing the lower end of the spectrum. Hence, poorer people's buying power would be radically reduced.

You were just joking, right?

Posted by: pittypat | March 5, 2007 1:43 PM

Has anyone here bought Leslie's book?

Posted by: lurker | March 5, 2007 1:45 PM

"What is this - the "suck-up fest"? Is there no socialization among co-workers who are not above you? Is there no inclusion of family members in the work-related family event? Talk about balance - there is definitely a lack of balance when you can't deal with anyone unless they can do something for your career."

Spare me the snarky response. There's no lack of balance in our family because we treat a work event as a work event. We each introduce spouses to colleagues, as anyone with a modicum of social skills does. However, when our 2 year old needs to go to the restroom, I don't expect me spouse to interrupt his conversation with his boss to accompany her -- I do it. He does the same if I am having a conversation with my boss. Each of us socializes with our same-level colleagues all week long. We're already friends. What we don't have an opportunity to do is to talk to our bosses and others outside of the office about non-work events. Those relationships may make the difference in mentoring, and may result in other introductions that will subsequently matter to our family.

If our family wants to have a family picnic that gives us quality family time, we plan a family picnic. That's not what the company sponsored family picnic is, for us. If you find company-sponsored events to be pure fun for you, your spouse and your children, great, but our family doesn't use work events to replace relaxing family time.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 5, 2007 1:47 PM

"You'd be levying the same sales tax on all income levels without recognizing the lower end of the spectrum. Hence, poorer people's buying power would be radically reduced."

There have been a number of graduated sales tax ideas proposed [some exclude tax on food items and other necessities while having a much higher tax rate on luxury items] -- he is likely suggesting something along those lines.

In every analysis, however, your point that in order to raise the same revenue with a sales tax it becomes extremely difficult to maintain a progressive system in which the wealthy pay more is correct.

Income tax = progressive. Sales tax = not so much.


Posted by: A Dad | March 5, 2007 1:47 PM

Child care has always been my responsibility. I stayed at home for 2 1/2 years which was great because most of it I had income. Either from old job or unemployment. I did all the research for her day care placement and got her in.

Starting in June, weather permitting,
many outdoor concerts are available for young children. We walk over to Strathmore
on Wednesday nights, drive to Cabin John some Tuesday nights. If my companies new day care center ever gets done we may go to
a few concerts at the National Zoo.

We were at the Kennedy Center ($33 for two tickets) young peoples concert a couple of weeks ago. Please please do not bring babies to a three and older concert. The older children can not hear and want to misbehave themselves.

Posted by: shdd | March 5, 2007 1:48 PM

"So you see no societal value in enabling a SAH parent?"

I didn't say that.

We all agree that the question of good quality, affordable childcare is huge and that everyone needs to be involved in solving it.

With a problem of this magnitude, I think you have to get away from individual preferences and establish an across-the-board policy that would be implemented nationally and would afford the widest benefit to the most people.

This kind of large-scale social service goal can't be accomplished if too many exceptions get thrown into the mix.

And there is the point that SAHMs who "need" to be subsidized will be coming from families that apparently need more income than they've got coming in. So, yeah, maybe those women should be working.

Posted by: pittypat | March 5, 2007 1:50 PM

"May try to come back and read late, though unless the topic got usefully hijacked, I doubt I'll have much use for it."

Who cares?

You know, TDo2, we don't hang around on this blog breathlessly awaiting the moment when you chime in.

Also, we don't really care whether you like the topics or not.

You need to ratchet down the self-importance meter just a bit.

Posted by: | March 5, 2007 01:40 PM

You had a spare 5 minutes and thought attacking a stranger was a good way to spend it? You must be in desparate need of a new hobby or a sense of humor transplant.

Posted by: anon for now | March 5, 2007 1:51 PM

When will women choose to only make babies with men who will be active and desiring to take on those responsibilities AND allow the men to do it?

Posted by: Liz D | March 5, 2007 1:52 PM

To anon at 1:39pm

I'm curious what societal value you see in encouraging a SAH parent? I don't think there's anything wrong with SAH parenting, and if it's important to a family to have a SAH parent, I don't think we should put any barriers against that. But over all, I don't see why it should be actively subsidized over day care.

There's no evidence that kids are more successful with a SAH parent, and even if there were, there would be no way for the state to discriminate between subsidizing hands on, committed, SAH parents, and tv-babysitter parents. Quality control can be much more effective in a day care setting.

Also, as Pittypat said, it does the most good for the greatest number, and for the people who need it the most, not just while kids are young, but in terms of lifetime contributions on the part of the parents, both in terms of taxes and philanthropy they can afford to pay, and achievements in their career that can benefit society.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 5, 2007 1:52 PM

>>Frankly, I'd like to see all the child->>related tax credits eliminated in favor >>of BIG tax dollars going toward a >>national system of daycare, available 24 >>hours for parents who do shift work. >>That way, everyone has an equal chance >>to use the service, and the question >>of "quality" can be monitored >>consistently by federal inspectors.

I fervently disagree with this because I have little trust that the government would define quality the way I would.

I think the public school system in this country is proof enough that the government cannot enforce "quality" on a large scale.

Posted by: Becky | March 5, 2007 1:52 PM

maybe I am unique, but hope not. my wife an I have worked together over the years in finding childcare. As we get ready to relocate within the area I have done most of the legwork in investigating possibilites, making phone calls, and setting up vists. we have tried to vist together, but she has visited several places without me.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 5, 2007 1:52 PM

"I think someone already stated how high quality such a program would be. Look at the military healthcare system. Look at public schools. Look at... well... nearly anything public."

Yeah, Chris. I think we've got to begin holding the govt accountable for these lapses/atrocities instead of routinely letting them get away with such abuse.

If you take the attitude that a federal program will be mismanaged, so there's no point in creating it, then you're accepting sub-standard govt service and allowing the bureaucrats to get away with shirking responsibility.

Posted by: pittypat | March 5, 2007 1:54 PM

"There have been a number of graduated sales tax ideas proposed [some exclude tax on food items and other necessities while having a much higher tax rate on luxury items] -- he is likely suggesting something along those lines."

Don't think so, A Dad.

What he actually said was: "Perhaps we should do away with income tax and just have a large sales tax. It would encourage economic growth for America and balance things out fairly between all the classes/ income levels."

Posted by: Anonymous | March 5, 2007 1:57 PM

"You had a spare 5 minutes and thought attacking a stranger was a good way to spend it?"

Nah. Only took me about 30 seconds.

And he's no stranger. I've read enough of his never-ending posts to have learned a lot about him.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 5, 2007 1:58 PM

OT - did anyone see the story about the man who killed and dismembered his wife, the mother of two small children, after arguing over her business travel?

Very extreme, but still shows stress of two careers is very real.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 5, 2007 1:59 PM

To A Dad/Tara/Librarian/Pittypat/and others who are engaged in this mini-conversation within this very long thread: I come at this issue from the normative perspective that working outside the home is a good thing, and that as a society, we should encourage ways for parents, both mothers and fathers, to be productively involved in the market economy. My concern with a child tax credit is that I think it would perpetuate the status quo--and the status quo results in disproportionate numbers of women taking time off from work to care for children.* What I'd really like to see are government interventions that make it possible for both parents to work and parent. Widely available, high-quality childcare is one way to help both men and women work outside the home. Another intervention would be an increase in paid leave, or providing national health insurance so that people could work part-time without compromising their medical care. But my basic premise--and it's normative--is that working and parenting are both good things, and we should make social investments that provide for children WHILE making it possible for women and men to have productive working and family lives.

*You guys are all smart enough to realize that I'm talking in generalities. There are lots of men who become stay-at-home dads, there are lots of men and women who prefer not to work at all, etc., etc. But as we all know, we're talking about society here, and the basic reality is that women ON AVERAGE have primary caregiving responsibilities that they try to balance with full-time work outside the home.

Posted by: Gretchen | March 5, 2007 1:59 PM

""You had a spare 5 minutes and thought attacking a stranger was a good way to spend it?"

Nah. Only took me about 30 seconds.

And he's no stranger. I've read enough of his never-ending posts to have learned a lot about him."

Posted by: | March 5, 2007 01:58 PM

And yet you are too cowardly to even sign a name (or make one up for that matter).

Posted by: Anonymous | March 5, 2007 2:00 PM

"And yet you are too cowardly to even sign a name (or make one up for that matter)."

And your name is ...?

Posted by: Anonymous | March 5, 2007 2:01 PM

When will women choose to only make babies with men who will be active and desiring to take on those responsibilities

My crystal ball is out of whack--you can only work with what is said at the time. Again, what actually happens when you move out of the realm of theory and into reality can be subject to some abrupt changes. And I don't know, how do you "make" a grown adult do something they refuse to do?

Posted by: the human element | March 5, 2007 2:02 PM

"There's no lack of balance in our family because we treat a work event as a work event. We each introduce spouses to colleagues, as anyone with a modicum of social skills does"

If it is a work event, why is the family even there? If my DH had to attend a work event, I wouldn't be there. It's not my job, it's his. If it's a social event for the workers and their families, then I would expect socialization, not sucking up. My time and my childrens' time is too valuable to spend at someone else's job function.

I guess we will have to disagree on this.

Posted by: a question | March 5, 2007 2:02 PM

re: anon for now @ 1:51pm.

Sometimes I suspect Leslie posts anonymously herself in her weaker moments.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 5, 2007 2:03 PM

Gretchen,

Your argument is excellent. I agree wholeheartedly.

Posted by: pittypat | March 5, 2007 2:03 PM

Laura, we are looking for tickets for Disney on Ice. One of our friends gave us a coupon for buy one ticket get one at half price. Plus we got a $50 gc to ticket master as a Christmas present for DD. DD is not into the princess yet. But I imagine that is next. I do think Go Diego Go was about as good as some Andrew Lloyd Webber shows. Not the height of theaterical performances. But great dancing,sets and music. I wonder if people are just jealous that they can't take their kids there.

Chris, as far as books. I am sure, like me, that most educated and non educated parents read to their kids. You can read to your kid every day and still have time to go to a show.

I actually don't mind a larger child credit. But be clear, the child care tax is a deduction. Not an out and out credit. So people at most are getting back something on the lines of 1250 but for most families, it is way smaller. It just depends on your income and your individual tax situation.

I think it would be hard to regulate a SAHP. But I do see a lot of value in having some parents stay at home. But I doubt any tax credit will be enough to encourage people to stay at home or go to work. People seem to make those choices on the larger financial picture of their families.

Posted by: foamgnome | March 5, 2007 2:03 PM

Maybe its unfair or wrong, but it works for us -- my husband does not deal with thing one related to childcare unless I delegate a task to him. However, I do not deal with thing one related to our finances unless he delegates a task to me. We regulary update one another on "our tasks," and when its time to make major decisions on either, the person "responsible" for the task presents the information and makes a recommendation. We talk about it and move on. That works for our family. However, this does not address the issue of getting childcare on the lawmakers' radar screens. I think it will as time progresses. I mean it was not that long ago that most moms stayed at home, so it will take time.

Posted by: Marie | March 5, 2007 2:04 PM

OT - did anyone see the story about the man who killed and dismembered his wife, the mother of two small children, after arguing over her business travel?

Very extreme, but still shows stress of two careers is very real.
=======================================
Maybe he's simply a nasty piece of work.

Maybe he couldn't handle his wife outearning him.

Perhaps she should have consulted her crystal ball at the beginning and predicted this outcome and not married him.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 5, 2007 2:05 PM

"When will women choose to only make babies with men who will be active and desiring to take on those responsibilities"

When I can predict the future, I'll spend my days at the track.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 5, 2007 2:08 PM

Gretchen:
"To A Dad/Tara/Librarian/Pittypat/and others who are engaged in this mini-conversation within this very long thread: I come at this issue from the normative perspective that working outside the home is a good thing, and that as a society, we should encourage ways for parents, both mothers and fathers, to be productively involved in the market economy."

I understand and respectfully disagree -- I see significant societal benefits both in family structures in which both parents are part of the workforce and in family structures in which only one parent is part of the workforce.

At a minimum, the vast majority of the volunteer workforce that I have seen supporting our community is made up of SAH parents and part-time employed parents -- I believe these individuals perform important community tasks outside of the market economy.

In the example I provided earlier, is it really better for society if it provides a subsidy for my house cleaner to have quality daycare available for her 6-month old child when what she would really like to do is stay-at-home fulltime for the first year?

Posted by: A Dad | March 5, 2007 2:13 PM

And he's no stranger. I've read enough of his never-ending posts to have learned a lot about him."

Posted by: | March 5, 2007 01:58 PM

[the first three bars of the theme from the Twilight Zone plays]

oh, look, the courageous cyber-stalker - the one who KNOWS everyone from reading a blog on occasion -- is back to spread peace, joy and understanding among us.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 5, 2007 2:13 PM

I know too well what happens when you are on the receiving end of sub-standard treatment. They sweep your complaints under the rug and eliminate you the first chance they get because it is easier to shut you up than replace someone in a high up position and deal with negative publicity. Look at the gag order on the active duty soldiers.
The Air Force is booting out 40,000 troops in the name of cost-cutting in the middle of a war! Mismanagement lead to that problem. The 4-star at my old base had it re-landscaped. Who cares about landscaping in the middle of a war??? Additionally, they spent thousands of dollars on flowers for a Fiesta party. They got a room in the mansion remodeled for over half a million. The SES got a new conference table for 7k when his old new one was not long enough by a foot. The list is endless...

The only way the system will change is with a conscious effort by elected officials to change it and stop the abuse of power by their peers and appointed senior officials. Until the American people stop treating politics like American Idol, and start electing honest people who will do their best for the country, not for their pockets, we are in a sad position.

There is no point in creating a new program under the current broken system. If we fix the system, I think a federal program has the potential to be a wonderful thing. The corruption must go first.

Posted by: Chris | March 5, 2007 2:16 PM

"When will women choose to only make babies with men who will be active and desiring to take on those responsibilities"

When I can predict the future, I'll spend my days at the track.

Posted by: | March 5, 2007 02:08 PM

will you drop off your child at pittypat's nationalized day care center on your way to the track, or take him along?

Posted by: Anonymous | March 5, 2007 2:17 PM

To Gretchen:

Hear, hear!

"Widely available, high-quality childcare is one way to help both men and women work outside the home. . .we should make social investments that provide for children WHILE making it possible for women and men to have productive working and family lives."

I think the potential for return on those investments is greatly underestimated. I suspect there are many educated mothers staying at home in part because 40+ hours a week seems so daunting and the infrastructure just isn't in place for part-time for the most part.

Posted by: Another Librarianmom | March 5, 2007 2:17 PM

"When will women choose to only make babies with men who will be active and desiring to take on those responsibilities"

Balk all you want, but she's right. The worst mistake women make is marrying a man who she thinks she can change. If he needs to be asked to take the trash out, the same will apply to diapers and feedings. And that he might just flat out refuse...

Posted by: well... | March 5, 2007 2:17 PM

and start electing honest people who will do their best for the country, not for their pockets,

where do we find these people?

Posted by: Anonymous | March 5, 2007 2:18 PM

What????? "For me, the problem with subsidizing SAHMs is two-fold: such a system would discriminate in favor of two-parent families..." Of COURSE it should discriminate in favor of two-parent families. While long-term studies have repeatedly shown that, when controlled for education and income, two income households have no effect on children, they REPEATEDLY show that [healthy] two-parent households more likely raise children with higher educational attainment, lower crime, longer term financial stability, etc. How sad was the article in the Post this weekend about how marriage is becoming an institution for the educated and well-off? THIS is why there is such a discrepancy in public schooling and it is going to get worse, because the kids who are born into stable, two-parent affluent, educated households are going to show up at school coming from stable homelife. And in all other classes where marriage is decreasing, these kids are going to show up at school more tired, with less stability, etc. and their teachers, many of whom only see classes of 20-30 for 45 minutes per day, will have to somehow compensate for this lack of stability.

Posted by: Ummm | March 5, 2007 2:20 PM

"When will women choose to only make babies with men who will be active and desiring to take on those responsibilities?"

You know, sometimes the babies show up whether the couple actually wants to make them or not. It's called recreational sex.

Posted by: John | March 5, 2007 2:21 PM

"Frankly, I'd like to see all the child-related tax credits eliminated in favor of BIG tax dollars going toward a national system of daycare, available 24 hours for parents who do shift work."

Even by this Blog's standards, the ideas don't get any worse than this. Federal public housing has turned out so well for its occupants.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 5, 2007 2:21 PM

"In the example I provided earlier, is it really better for society if it provides a subsidy for my house cleaner to have quality daycare available for her 6-month old child when what she would really like to do is stay-at-home fulltime for the first year?"
1.Why don't you clean your own damn house?
2. Flashback 15 months and use birth control and then you can talk about what you "would really like to do."

Posted by: Anonymous | March 5, 2007 2:22 PM

Also, we don't really care whether you like the topics or not.

You need to ratchet down the self-importance meter just a bit.

Posted by: | March 5, 2007 01:40 PM

LOL!! speaking of ratcheting down the self-importance meter, pot meet kettle.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 5, 2007 2:23 PM

Ummm - are you trying to say that the only people who will succeed in life are the ones who are from wealthy two parent families? What a lot of hogwash! What about the children of divorce? The children where a parent has died? What about children where a parent is away fighting a war?

Posted by: DC lurker | March 5, 2007 2:24 PM

Just as a cheap plug, I sing with the National Philharmonic Orchestra Chorale. We are the resident orchestra for the Strathmore Music Center. All NPO concerts are free for children 7-17 when accompanied by an adult. The NPO also puts on concerts for all 2nd graders in Montgomery County Public Schools each year. I look forward to taking my daughter to concerts 6 years from now!

Posted by: MaryB | March 5, 2007 2:24 PM

Observe how the in-laws interact. If there are red flags in their relationship, there are likely to be red flags in yours.

Sadly, for me, my prospective MIL died years before I showed up on the scene, and her son's lies weren't revealed until he was actually put to the test (parenthood). You can SAY anything you like, but it's what you do, when called upon that matters.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 5, 2007 2:25 PM

"1.Why don't you clean your own damn house?"

Because I make enough to employ someone -- and thus improve the economic position of her and her family -- by employing her to clean my home. [And she does a much more professional job than I would / could.]

I actually feel mildly guilty that I don't use a lawn service -- but there's a certain zen to mowing the lawn that I refuse to give up.

Posted by: A Dad | March 5, 2007 2:25 PM

available 24 hours for parents who do shift work."


Huh??? So parents would drop their kids off at midnight and pick them up at 8am? Your idea makes no sense

Posted by: Anonymous | March 5, 2007 2:26 PM

"And all I know is that that one stupid show made my little girl as happy as I've ever seen her."

Isn't it strange that your family life can't make your daughter that happy?

Posted by: Anonymous | March 5, 2007 2:26 PM

Going downhill fast.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 5, 2007 2:27 PM

A Dad,

We've discussed this issue, of whether a child tax credit disadvantages SAH families, several times before. The fact is, SAH families are *automatically* favored by the tax structure, even without dedicated credits, as the income forgone by the SAH parent is *not taxed*. If the SAH parent foregoes a $40K income, the SAH family's fed taxes (income and social security/medicare) drop by about $13000, a substantial break. For the WOH family, the child care tax credit/deduction only *partially* offsets income earned by the second working spouse, in what is today a token amount only. It is currently limited to $5000 for all kids (for FSA) or $2400/kid (for deduction), or the lowest earner's salary, whichever is smallest. So that childcare credit (let's say a $5000 pre-tax FSA), for the second earner making $40K - same as her SAH counterpart before kids - only reduces the family's federal taxes by $1625. The family who SAH automatically gets a much greater tax reduction (in this simple example $13K); the child care tax credit makes a token effort toward leveling the field, but still gives WOH families only about 12% of the tax break that goes to SAH families automatically. A more reasonable leveling of the field would be to allow pretax payment of childcare costs, up to 100% of a usual and customary value (which would be closer to $20K for an infant, tapering to $4K for a school-age child in aftercare/summer care), again up to the lowest wage-earner's salary. Again, I can phrase this in a SAH/WOH-neutral way; for some (maybe a minority!) of SAH families that second salary might just happen to be 0. Just because you can state the policy in what sounds like a neutral way does not mean that the net impact of your favored tax policy is balanced in bestowing its favors on SAH versus WOH families. Right now the default tax structure heavily subsidizes the SAH choice; child credits just perpetuate that imbalance, without altering it; child care tax credits instead begin to spread the subsidy more evenly between the 2 choices. So long as the child care deduction/pretax remains less than the second earner's income, the choice to remain a 2-earner family will always be a choice to pay more money to the fed government as tax; that is, to be less subsidized than by choosing to SAH. Moreover, the additional tax paid is hugely disproportionate to discretionary income, after childcare costs much in excess of the current policy's token amounts have been paid. That WOH family in my example, with a new baby in f/t childcare, pays $20,000 in childcare expenses *and* pays $11,000$ more in fed taxes than their same-second-income counterpart family who decided to SAH. That $11,000$ extra tax comes out of a $40,000 second income of which only $20,000 is discretionary --- a very high marginal tax rate on income actually in hand.

I can't see how a child care tax deduction 'reduces family options' any more than a mortgage interest deduction 'reduces family options.' It partly diminishes the great tax incentive that now exists against WOH/marginal income. The mortgage tax deduction biases the cost calculus from renting to owning in an everything-else-equal world, but it hardly reduces options to 'can only afford to buy, not rent'.


A Dad wrote

>A progressive child credit gives families the most 'freedom' -- they have the money and they can choose to use it at their discretion. A child care tax deduction reduces family options and only subsidizes those in which both parents are employed.

>Are we really ready to say as a society that we place no value on the concept of a SAH parent and that we should only address child-care issues as they relate to two working parents?

Posted by: KB | March 5, 2007 2:29 PM

Not going downhill - has crashed into a car at the bottom of the hill.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 5, 2007 2:29 PM

"Of COURSE it should discriminate in favor of two-parent families. While long-term studies have repeatedly shown that, when controlled for education and income, two income households have no effect on children, they REPEATEDLY show that [healthy] two-parent households more likely raise children with higher educational attainment, lower crime, longer term financial stability, etc."

So, you're saying we should be subsidizing the families that have means because they're already giving their kids a better life, and discriminate against the families that have little or nothing to spare because they don't have resources?

What kind of bass ackwards logic is that?

Posted by: pittypat | March 5, 2007 2:30 PM

Ummm - are you trying to say that the only people who will succeed in life are the ones who are from wealthy two parent families? What a lot of hogwash! What about the children of divorce? The children where a parent has died? What about children where a parent is away fighting a war?

Posted by: DC lurker | March 5, 2007 02:24 PM

Are you saying that it's not in the best interest of the child to have a happy 2 parent household? You're being very defensive about the subject- YES, it's better for kids to be in a 2 parent financially stable house! How can you possibly argue otherwise???

Maybe we wouldn't be having these childcare discussions if people were more responsible! The reality is: If you can't afford to either SAH or pay childcare fees, then you shouldn't have kids. End of story. Havings kids is not a right- it's a responsibility that should be taken seriously.

It's discussions such as these that foster laziness. If you can't afford 1 or 2 or 3 kids, then why have them at all?

It's time for women to reclaim some power over their lives! Marry the right guy- don't sleep around with losers. Take some action for yourself!

Posted by: Anonymous | March 5, 2007 2:32 PM

What about the children of divorce? The children where a parent has died? What about children where a parent is away fighting a war?

And what about the kids whose parents just screwed up? Aren't they entitled to the same consideration?

Posted by: Anonymous | March 5, 2007 2:32 PM

"The worst mistake women make is marrying a man who she thinks she can change. If he needs to be asked to take the trash out, the same will apply to diapers and feedings. And that he might just flat out refuse..."

so if a man refuses to take out the trash, change diapers, and help with feedings, it's the woman's fault? It's 100% the woman's responsibility to take care of the household and child care? I see the point you're making--that women marry "these men"--but aren't you essentially still placing all the responsibility on women? Shouldn't the question be why aren't "these men" not equipped with the tools to be fathers? Not all women are (believe me!!) but they learn, adapt, change to be mothers.

Posted by: to well | March 5, 2007 2:33 PM

"Are you saying that it's not in the best interest of the child to have a happy 2 parent household? You're being very defensive about the subject- YES, it's better for kids to be in a 2 parent financially stable house! How can you possibly argue otherwise???"

OK ladies and gents - make sure your spouse doesn't die unexpectedly on you!

Posted by: DC lurker | March 5, 2007 2:34 PM

zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

topic done, and done, and done again. more government subsidies. more tax credits for Wharton grads. government day care. silly, stupid women who get themselves pregnant through immaculate conception.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 5, 2007 2:37 PM

Yes, instead get a jump on it and dismember your spouse when they displease you!

Posted by: Anonymous | March 5, 2007 2:37 PM

To all of you pooh-poohing the idea of national childcare --

It's funny that you don't seem to mind the feds being involved in your life when it concerns a tax credit or deduction. Then you welcome them with open arms!

I suspect one response will be: With tax credits, we choose how the money is used.

Well, for those of you in a position to say that, you probably don't need help with childcare.

The goal of subsidized national childcare would be to meet the needs of people who can't afford it at all. People who don't have the kind of choices in life that many of you do.

Poor people have never had the expectation that they should decide how their tax money is spent. Only the middle class feels that way.

Posted by: pittypat | March 5, 2007 2:39 PM

"In the example I provided earlier, is it really better for society if it provides a subsidy for my house cleaner to have quality daycare available for her 6-month old child when what she would really like to do is stay-at-home fulltime for the first year?"

I think that it would be great if this woman could take a year of paid leave to stay at home during the first year, with the understanding that she will return to the workforce. But the economic reality is that this woman will need to work; it's highly unlikely that government would (or should) be able to afford to subsidize her family choices to the extent that she would be able to give up working entirely. And when this woman does return to work, she'll need a safe place to leave her children while she's cleaning houses. Grandparents are great, but what if there's no family around? That's where I'd like to see child-care subsidies kick in.

And part of the reason why I like child-care subsidies is not only that it lowers the cost of working. I also suspect that if government kicked in for child care, we might end up with better-paid child-care workers, which I think would allow centers to be more selective in their staffing.

Posted by: Gretchen | March 5, 2007 2:39 PM

We need a cabinet level department, a Secretary of Child Care.

Posted by: Tomcat | March 5, 2007 2:39 PM

"Are you saying that it's not in the best interest of the child to have a happy 2 parent household? You're being very defensive about the subject- YES, it's better for kids to be in a 2 parent financially stable house! How can you possibly argue otherwise???"

OK ladies and gents - make sure your spouse doesn't die unexpectedly on you!

Posted by: DC lurker | March 5, 2007 02:34 PM


No one said that it's not possible to raise happy healthy successful kids in an alternative arrangement- but would you argue that it's a BETTER situation? I think not.
Life happens, but one should always plan for the best.
Knowingly bringing a child into a bad situation is cruel.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 5, 2007 2:40 PM

"Isn't it strange that your family life can't make your daughter that happy?"

Thanks for the snark, Oh Brave Anonymous One.

But, yeah, she's five. So until I sprout wings and grow a magic wand and a bag of pixie dust and turn her into a magical princess who rules the universe with pink and glitter, then, yeah, I'm stuck being just boring old mom who makes her at least try the broccoli and brush her teeth before bedtime. And you know what? I can live with that.

Posted by: Laura | March 5, 2007 2:41 PM

Are childcare providers who are also working moms? If so, how is a SAHM not a working mom? Is FICA the only thing that gives value to work?

Posted by: Anonymous | March 5, 2007 2:41 PM

I have to say I more or less agree with A Dad on the child tax credit vs. child care tax credit discussion. I think that the Government should provide a progressive subsidy that supports parents either working or being a SAH, as they so choose.

(The parallels between this discussion and the one during last year's Canadian election I referenced above are either funny or frightening, I'm not sure which. But it's the same arguments.)

One other note: it's interesting to me that the US Government child credit doesn't end until 17, while the child care credit ends when the child is 13. Apparently, you don't need care for a teenager!

Posted by: Army Brat | March 5, 2007 2:41 PM

Did anyone read the OUtlook section the Post yesterday regarding foster kids and the Unkown Father bulletin board.

That's a case in point. Should these parents be "helped" with free childcare? No- they shouldn't have had the kids in the first place!

Posted by: Anonymous | March 5, 2007 2:41 PM

KB:

Thanks for the well-thought response.

I still respectfully disagree with the logic. Under the same analysis, one could argue that the tax structure favors individuals to drop high paying jobs in favor of entry level positions [since their tax load would then decrease].

The base of the tax code is a graduated system in which tax rates increase as income increases -- this is based on our societal belief that the 'wealthy' should be required to pay more.

Each tax credit and deduction represents a separate societal decision on what behavior to encourage -- whether it be home ownership, marriage, or ownership of long-term equities.

Certainly the child care deduction doesn't eliminate a choice to be a SAH parent -- much as the mortgage deduction doesn't eliminate the option to rent -- but it does indicate what behavior society wishes to subsidize.

And that becomes the fundamental question: what childcare arrangement do we as society wish to subsidize? Only paid outside-the-home care? Au pairs? Relatives? SAH parents?

For me, all have equivalent societal benefits.

Posted by: A Dad | March 5, 2007 2:42 PM

Not going downhill - has crashed into a car at the bottom of the hill.

Posted by: | March 5, 2007 02:29 PM


So getting back to Leslie's question, "Is Childcare a 'Woman's Issue'?", no it's a family issue. For those folks wanting less sexism and more balance in the land of marriage, you might want to try to begin to adjust your thinking with a small change in vocabulary. Rather than referring to husbands and wives, lets call them spouses or, better yet, partners. Though commonly used to refer to non-marrieds or homosexuals, I quite like its connotations for all kinds of couples.
You can discuss it with your partner over dinner tonight.

Posted by: lindab | March 5, 2007 2:42 PM

Also, to KB: Wow. That was awesome. Thanks for spelling out what I was trying to say (much less articulately!)

Posted by: Gretchen | March 5, 2007 2:42 PM

"and thus improve the economic position of her and her family -- by employing her to clean my home."

A Dad,

I agree that this is an excellent reason to employ a house cleaner.

However, your reasoning is at odds with your claim that she'd be better off at home with her child instead of working to improve the economic position of her family. Doncha think?

Posted by: pittypat | March 5, 2007 2:43 PM

Tomcat: no thanks; no more cabinet-level positions, please! There are too many of them as it is. Any study of organizations will show you that having too many people directly reporting to the Chief (e.g., Cabinet secretaries report only to the President, subject to Congressional oversight) is horribly inefficient. Oh, the "status" looks good, and the person who fills the seat gets a nice line on his/her resume, but it doesn't help solve the problem at all.

Posted by: Army Brat | March 5, 2007 2:44 PM

Augh. Regarding: "Ummm - are you trying to say that the only people who will succeed in life are the ones who are from wealthy two parent families? What a lot of hogwash! What about the children of divorce? The children where a parent has died? What about children where a parent is away fighting a war?"

No, I did not say that, implicitly or explicitly, in my posting. There was no mention of "only" in my posting. I am saying, based on the Washington Post article this weekend, in conjunction with other studies I have read and my personal experiences working in public school systems, that the AVERAGE child of a stable, two parent families has, on average, a better shot at having more education and less instability in their life than the AVERAGE child of: divorce, single-parent household, etc. It is an ugly reality that although children should not be held accountable for the sins of the parents - they are often implicitly held as such. So before anyone posts, "I was the product of a single parent/divorced household/etc and I'm fine" - I'm glad you are, but on AVERAGE, the kids of two-parent households statistically do better than those who aren't.

Posted by: Ummmm | March 5, 2007 2:44 PM

"Huh??? So parents would drop their kids off at midnight and pick them up at 8am? Your idea makes no sense"

Maybe not in your world.

But for a family with kids that is just scraping by because both parents have shift-work jobs, it would be invaluable.

Yeah, the kids may have some confusion in their lives for a while. But they'll have a home, parents, food, heat, and a measure of security.

Posted by: pittypat | March 5, 2007 2:46 PM

I think that hunger, homelessness, health care and education are more pressing issues than subsidizing child care. Not to mention that we are at war.

Reaching a definition of 'quality child care' would be the first hurdle. Some believe it is "1) fed, 2) safe, 3) amused", while others believe that stimulation and education by qualified professionals are required. The truth is that most Americans are happy with care that is somewhere in the middle.

I could be wrong, but I don't believe that the majority of participants in this blog represent the majority of families in this country.

Posted by: xyz | March 5, 2007 2:48 PM

Pittypat,
In the world where you only have children if you can afford them that wouldn't happen!

Posted by: DC lurker | March 5, 2007 2:48 PM

"Maybe we wouldn't be having these childcare discussions if people were more responsible! The reality is: If you can't afford to either SAH or pay childcare fees, then you shouldn't have kids. End of story. Havings kids is not a right- it's a responsibility that should be taken seriously."

Hmmm. Why would you be bloggin on a social welfare topic when you obviously don't believe in it?

What's your interest here?

Posted by: Anonymous | March 5, 2007 2:50 PM

When I was married, my husband was just as involved with the issue of childcare as I was. He and I both spoke with prosepctive babysitters, etc.

Once we divorced, all the issues became my issues. It's impossible to be a father when you live 10,000 miles away from your child.

Posted by: single western mom | March 5, 2007 2:51 PM

"In the world where you only have children if you can afford them that wouldn't happen!"

Posted by: DC lurker | March 5, 2007 02:48 PM

DC lurker, are you advocating abortion? doesn't anyone's financial security change on your planet? Our finances, for one, looked great when we became pregnant with our second. My husband was laid off as a result of a merger/acquisition when our daughter was 4 months old. Our financial picture is very, very different now from what it was when we planned our daughter. We are not by any means the only family whose fortunes and financial wherewithal changed in a matter of months based on investments in Enron or other 401(k)s that tanked, catastrophic medical bills, or changes in industry models.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 5, 2007 2:54 PM

Hmmm. Why would you be bloggin on a social welfare topic when you obviously don't believe in it?

What's your interest here?

Posted by: | March 5, 2007 02:50 PM

Why do I have to believe in something in order to discuss it? I don't believe in the war for example- do i not have the right to discuss it?

I am on this blog because I am a working mom with kids, trying to balance my life. That's the point of this blog- not social welfare!

Posted by: Anonymous | March 5, 2007 2:54 PM

Umm: I do agree on average, children of two parent families have a better shot at a stable life. But that would be true of two working parents or one working parent one SAHP.

Posted by: foamgnome | March 5, 2007 2:54 PM

The cost of housing is also a MUCH more pressing topic than childcare. Perhaps if rent weren't inflated in DC and San Fran and NYC then we'd actually be able to afford childcare. The rent I pay is much more daunting to my family than preschool

Posted by: COST OF HOUSING | March 5, 2007 2:55 PM

I am not advocating abortion - I was commenting on the posts by Ummm who seems to think that you can only have children if you can afford them! I realize it didn't come out the way I meant it after I wrote it - apologize. I disagree with Ummm completely.

Posted by: DC lurker | March 5, 2007 2:56 PM

Laura - well-handled, as always. As if a lifetime of cookie baking and snuggles is ever appreciated, in the moment, by our children.

Posted by: Megan's Neighbor | March 5, 2007 2:56 PM

FG,

I have often told people that every child needs two parents.

Which means that once a couple has a SECOND child, the adults are outnumbered. At that point you will find out just how strong your social and familial ties REALLY are.

Be aware!

Posted by: Anonymous | March 5, 2007 2:57 PM

Gretchen:
"But the economic reality is that this woman will need to work; it's highly unlikely that government would (or should) be able to afford to subsidize her family choices to the extent that she would be able to give up working entirely."

The interesting thing is that less than 75 years ago we as a society answered this so differently. At that time, in large part due to widows with young children, we as a society decided that families with young children should have the ability to afford one parent to SAH. We passed the Aid to Families with Dependent Children Act specifically to address this.

Given her annual income [probably $15-20K] it would not require an overly large tax-free subsidy [$3-5k] in her specific case to decide to SAH.

Is the primary metric of childcare success whether it enables parents to be employed?

Posted by: Anonymous | March 5, 2007 2:57 PM

"Did anyone read the OUtlook section the Post yesterday regarding foster kids and the Unkown Father bulletin board.

That's a case in point. Should these parents be "helped" with free childcare? No- they shouldn't have had the kids in the first place!"

Are you nuts?

That's no different than a doctor saying, "Well, I'm not going to set that broken bone in your arm because you shouldn't have been clinmbing that tree."

Posted by: pittypat | March 5, 2007 2:58 PM

I work for a company that has -for a number of years been considered amongst the top 100 companies to work for.
When I was over at HR, to get info about maternity leave, I asked why, despite obvious benefits to employees/company, etc., there still wasn't any plans for on site daycare. (This company also has been featured in Working Mothers top 100). She rolled her eyes,(I guess she'd been asked this before), and said, that as the company was predominantly male, it was felt by the higher ups that day care would only benefit a small proportion of workers (i.e. the females). i.e. This Top Company considered daycare a 'woman's issue'.

Posted by: H | March 5, 2007 2:59 PM

John: Yes, not all babies are planned for. But babies are still CHOSEN. Adoption and abortion are completely legitimate options when pregnancy occurs.

As for all the "know the future"- are we saying that it's a complete unknown factor? That you choose to have a baby without knowing whether you will may even be LIKELY to be a decent enough parent?

I'll grant you that a guy could surprise you- that he could be responsible for work, make you happy, be stable and mature, talk everyday about how to be a good father and what sorts of duties he wants to directly care for and balance things together (aka, give all the signs that he will be a good responsible parent) and somehow end up falling flat.

So that's ONE child who unfortunately now has to deal with a parent who isn't mature enough and doesn't desire to take on balanced responsibilities and perpetuates the need for the mother to deal with the "mother load."

Oddly enough though, very few women I know stop at one child. But surely by that child, despite the fact that they PROBABLY knew ahead of time that the father wasn't going to do those things, despite the fact that they DEFINITELY know that he won't do those things now- they continue to choose to make babies together.

And then wonder why things don't change.

Posted by: Liz D | March 5, 2007 3:00 PM

"However, your reasoning is at odds with your claim that she'd be better off at home with her child instead of working to improve the economic position of her family. Doncha think?"

Umm, no -- that's part of my point. She can [and I assume does] take advantage of the child care tax deduction -- but what she really needs is an increase in the child tax credit.

Or to put it another way, we are subsidizing her more to do something that she doesn't want to do [clean my house] instead of subsidizing her to do something that she does want to do [stay at home with her child]. Why?


Posted by: A Dad | March 5, 2007 3:01 PM

LizD

and somehow end up falling flat.

"Somehow"? My spouse developed late-onset schizophrenia. Try THAT on for "somehow" and factor it into your "it's the mother's fault that their partner is a crap parent" 8-ball of answers!

And again, sometimes the stressors that come along when an adult is OLDER illuminate the cracks in their personalities that youth and energy could hide.

Shake your eight-ball again, Liz.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 5, 2007 3:03 PM

who seems to think that you can only have children if you can afford them!

Posted by: DC lurker | March 5, 2007 02:56 PM


WHY SHOULD PEOPLE HAVE KIDS IF THEY CAN'T AFFORD THEM???? This kind of thinking makes me so angry. Why should kids be brought into the world to parents/parent who can't afford them? Again, having kids is NOT A RIGHT. Until people treat having kids as a serious endeavor, we'll have people just waiting for handouts while their kids go hungry or cold or unsafe.

Your mentality is cruel to all of the children who don't have homes or food because their parents have no money, yet thought they had a "right" to kids anyway.

Remember the homeless 12 yr old who died last week from the infected tooth? Should his mother have had kids without a home???

Posted by: Anonymous | March 5, 2007 3:04 PM

"Adoption and abortion are completely legitimate options when pregnancy occurs."

Maybe for you. Not for everyone.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 5, 2007 3:06 PM

I am not talking about someone who is homeless, living on the street but a family who both work and do the best they can. Are you honestly saying that unless you make >$100,000 or $200,000 you can't have a child? If a spouse dies and the family income drops below that level or if someone loses a job should the child be taken away and given to someone who makes an appropriate amount of money? And who decided what the minimum salary is for parenting?

Posted by: DC lurker | March 5, 2007 3:07 PM

Remember the homeless 12 yr old who died last week from the infected tooth? Should his mother have had kids without a home???

Was the family homeless when the child was conceived 13+ years ago?

And what of it? He shouldn't have died because of complications from an infected TOOTH.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 5, 2007 3:08 PM

to: single western mom: true. And it's just as true for single fathers - both my brother and my wife's brother now have the daycare and all other responsibilities because their ex-wives decided that their new husbands were more important to them than the kids.

Posted by: Army Brat | March 5, 2007 3:08 PM

It is my understanding that the mother of the 12-year-old worked, but didn't have health insurance.

Lack of health insurance in this country is a bigger problem than lack of childcare.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 5, 2007 3:09 PM

pittypat- I'm curious- how much would you expect to be taxed for all of your social programs? Do you work? Or will it be your husbands huge salary that bank rolls this 24 hr. daycare? You live in a dream world in which all who fall on hard times are victims. Not once have you advocated personal responsibility.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 5, 2007 3:09 PM

It is my understanding that the mother of the 12-year-old worked, but didn't have health insurance.

Lack of health insurance in this country is a bigger problem than lack of childcare.

Posted by: | March 5, 2007 03:09 PM

Nope- this family of the 12 yr old is homeless

Posted by: Anonymous | March 5, 2007 3:10 PM

WHY SHOULD PEOPLE HAVE KIDS IF THEY CAN'T AFFORD THEM???? This kind of thinking makes me so angry. Why should kids be brought into the world to parents/parent who can't afford them? Again, having kids is NOT A RIGHT. Until people treat having kids as a serious endeavor, we'll have people just waiting for handouts while their kids go hungry or cold or unsafe.

Your mentality is cruel to all of the children who don't have homes or food because their parents have no money, yet thought they had a "right" to kids anyway.

Remember the homeless 12 yr old who died last week from the infected tooth? Should his mother have had kids without a home???

Posted by: | March 5, 2007 03:04 PM

When is the affordability test? When we decided to get pregnant, everything was fine. Two stable jobs, 3 months savings, 401(k)s progressing along. Then came the baby. Then came the lay-off. Then came my spouse's severe depression. Then came a dispute with his medical insurer about whether there was a pre-existing condition.

Now we have one stable job, but can't afford health insurance for all family members. So our choice is between my husband getting treatment and running up credit card debt, or foregoing treatment. I suggest that, in fact, it's your mentality that is cruel.

This world some of you inhabit where all choices are black and white and all information is perfect, it must be quite nice.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 5, 2007 3:10 PM

"so if a man refuses to take out the trash, change diapers, and help with feedings, it's the woman's fault? It's 100% the woman's responsibility to take care of the household and child care? I see the point you're making--that women marry "these men"--but aren't you essentially still placing all the responsibility on women? Shouldn't the question be why aren't "these men" not equipped with the tools to be fathers? Not all women are (believe me!!) but they learn, adapt, change to be mothers. "

Women place it on themselves simply by falling into that trap that they think they can change a man's behavior. And, yes, I am female and I am married.

It would helpful if boys were being raised to share duties responsibly so they don't go from having mommy to wifey coddle them throughout their lives. I refuse to, and my husband knew this well before we got married.

That being said, compromising is also key here. Sometimes you have to let the little things go, in order to reach common ground on the more important issues, such as childcare. So what if he leaves the toilet seat up? In the grand scheme of things, it doesn't matter. But he can be there to take care of DD after school, assist with homework, play, talk...that's more important.

Posted by: well... | March 5, 2007 3:11 PM

Foamgnome - I wasn't making the distinction for comparison of working & staying at home, I was disagreeing with the poster (whose name I am currently forgetting, sorry) who seemed to be appalled with the thought of a government program/policy advocating two parent households. We should advocate two parent households. There ARE certain things the government should (and does) advocate, like home ownership, which is why the mortgage deduction exists. To the extent that governmental policy can support two-parent households, it should. But I get your point about two parent households with either working or SAHM (although I might slightly disagree). Also, can I ask a stupid question - who is Diego?

Posted by: Ummm | March 5, 2007 3:11 PM

"Nope- this family of the 12 yr old is homeless"

You can have a job and still be homeless.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 5, 2007 3:12 PM

Oh, and Liz, my husband was adopted and no one knew there was a genetic possibility of schizophrenia.

"Pluck your magic twanger, Froggy!"

Posted by: Anonymous | March 5, 2007 3:12 PM

I am not talking about someone who is homeless, living on the street but a family who both work and do the best they can. Are you honestly saying that unless you make >$100,000 or $200,000 you can't have a child? If a spouse dies and the family income drops below that level or if someone loses a job should the child be taken away and given to someone who makes an appropriate amount of money? And who decided what the minimum salary is for parenting?

Posted by: DC lurker | March 5, 2007 03:07 PM

So kids should be allowed to be born homeless or into extreme poverty?

Posted by: Anonymous | March 5, 2007 3:13 PM

"I don't care if that means that both parents work, or one parent works while the other stays home to personally care for the child. I would advocate that the government subsidize both choices equally."

You made a CHOICE to have children. You should have known at the time that this CHOICE would have an economic impact. Why should the government (i.e. other citizens who have no relationship to your child) subsidize your choice? Since when did it become everyone else's responsibility to make sure those who CHOOSE a certain path can afford that path? "The government" already subsidizes the life choices of drug addicts, alcoholics, and welfare parents. Birth control is a lot less expensive than day care - if you can't afford to have a child, you shouldn't have one...but if you do, you should be fully prepared for the expense of that venture. I already pay plenty in taxes - and as a single childless person, I pay MORE in taxes than a parent with the same income would. Why should I have to pay more to provide parents with more choices than I have? Are parents somehow more worthy of subsidies than non-parents? I love kids, hope to have at least one someday, and will of course take full advantage of whatever tax benefits are offered to me as a parent...but I also won't expect anyone else to subsidize that choice any more than they already do. I certainly don't have a choice to work or SAH - why should I give up more of my income to provide that benefit to someone else, whose only qualification for such a benefit is that they CHOSE to have a child?

Posted by: Anonymous | March 5, 2007 3:13 PM

There is not enough decent Father material to go around for all the women who want to make babies. Unfortunately, this leaves the majority of childcare issues in the hands of women.

Once again, Sorry!

Posted by: Father of 4 | March 5, 2007 3:14 PM

"Or to put it another way, we are subsidizing her more to do something that she doesn't want to do [clean my house] instead of subsidizing her to do something that she does want to do [stay at home with her child]. Why?"

Well, if it comes down to a matter of what one WANTS to do vs what one HAS to do, isn't that really a different questions?

You're talking about subsidizing people's preferences here, and that's not what the federal government exists to do.

Subsidies are meant to help level the field -- that is, give poorer citizens the opportunity for, and access to, jobs and economic stability. They're not intended to fund individual preferences or "family values" entitlements.

Posted by: pittypat | March 5, 2007 3:14 PM

"Nope- this family of the 12 yr old is homeless"

You can have a job and still be homeless.

Go and review "Nickel and Dimed", for example.

What about the guy who filmed "SuperSize Me" (or maybe it was "Fast Food Nation") who opted to live on the wage he paid others for a month or two--and immediately offered health care benefits to his employees after his trip down sociology lane?

Posted by: Anonymous | March 5, 2007 3:15 PM

Umm: diego is the cousin of Dora the Explorer. He is a character on a cartoon.

Posted by: foamgnome | March 5, 2007 3:15 PM

It is my understanding that the mother of the 12-year-old worked, but didn't have health insurance.

Lack of health insurance in this country is a bigger problem than lack of childcare.

Posted by: | March 5, 2007 03:09 PM


Nope- this family of the 12 yr old is homeless

Posted by: | March 5, 2007 03:10 PM

WTF? The fact that the family is homeless doesn't tell us whether mom was employed. The issue is health insurance, not home ownership.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 5, 2007 3:16 PM

"You're talking about subsidizing people's preferences here, and that's not what the federal government exists to do."

No, he's talking abut subidizing childcare. If the woman provides the childcare herself rather than paying someone else, why shouldn't she receive a 'childcare' subsidy?

Posted by: xyz | March 5, 2007 3:17 PM

So kids should be allowed to be born homeless or into extreme poverty?

Are you mandating that they be aborted or given up for adoption if the parent(s) do not meet a certain economic means test?

Have you ever read Jonathan Swift's, "A Modest Proposal"?

Are you saying that you can predict the future--that every child who is born into a home with a "reasonable" amount of influx of cash is guaranteed that it will continue? There will be no economic set-backs?

Again--was that 12 year old boy conceived 13 years ago by two people who were homeless at the time? Or did it happen LATER? And he's just as dead...which is still sad.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 5, 2007 3:19 PM

There is a similarity between health care and child care, from the employer's and worker's point of view. Why do so many employers provide health care to their employees? It's usually not out of the goodness of their management's hearts. Management is responsible ultimately to the stockholders. Healthy workers are more productive for the company, which means more dividends and capital appreciation for those stockholders.

Some companies are big enough to run clinics right at the work site. Other companies pay all or part of health insurance premiums for their workers. The way this works is that when employees need medical care, they go to an outside doctor or hospital and present their insurance card. The doctor treats the worker (or her dependent), and then the doctor applies to the insurance company, which pays the doctor's and hospital's bills. Of course, there are deductibles and co-payments, but this is how the system works in general.

Employers do not have to provide these benefits, but many of them do so because workers who do not have to worry about their health or their family's health are better workers for the company. Since healthy employees benefit the company, health care for employees is a legitimate business expense and therefore the cost of on-site clinics or employer-paid health insurance premiums can be deducted on the company's income tax as a business expense. Meanwhile, the in-kind care or premium payments are not considered taxable income to the worker.

Under this system, everyone benefits. Government benefits because it does not have to pay the workers' medical expenses, as it has to pay the medical expenses for those not covered by insurance. Employers benefit from having healthy workers. Workers benefit by being healthy.

Why not emulate this system for child care? Workers who do not have to worry about care for their children are better workers for the company. And indeed, many companies already have child care centers right at the work site. A worker who can visit his children during break time or lunch time will be happier and more productive than one who worries, "It's ten A.M. Who's watching my child today?"

So, the first step would be to make the cost of operating worksite child care centers tax deductible as a business expense, while not considering the value of the child care as taxable income to the employee. This policy would encourage many more employers to set up worksite child care centers.

What about small companies who do not have the capital or space to provide worksite child care? One possibility would be to allow several nearby employers to band together to build and fund a Child Care Center convenient to all their workers. Another possibility would be for such companies to give out Child Care Vouchers to their employees, usable at any duly licensed Day Care Center. The Day Care Center would care for the children, just as a doctor or hospital cares for an insured worker, and then the Center would present the Voucher to the employer for reimbursement, just as doctors and hospitals present claims to medical insurance companies.

Even if a company has a Child Care Center at the worksite, some employees might prefer to get Child Care Vouchers which they could use at a Day Care Center which is more convenient -- say, one that is closer to home, or to a spouse's place of employment, or to an older child's school. The value of the Voucher would be determined by the average cost of caring for a child at a worksite Child Care Center. This value would be tax deductible as a business expense to the employer, but not included in the worker's taxable income.

But we're not done yet. Many working parents, possibly worried about respiratory or intestinal diseases (our friends' son caught shigellosis at a Day Care Center), arrange for family members to care for their children during the day, even though these family members are not licensed Day Care providers. To accommodate such parents, the company could make its Child Care Vouchers redeemable by family members who care for its employees' children. Again, the value of the Voucher would be determined by the average cost of caring for a child at a worksite Child Care Center. This way, the worker who leaves her children in the care of their aunt or grandmother would be able to reimburse her relative with tax-free, employer-provided dollars, while she would be able to do her work with peace of mind. In keeping with the spirit of today's topic, she could leave her children in the care of their uncle or grandfather, too. Or even in the care of their stay-at-home father.

As with employer-paid health care, everyone would benefit from employer-paid child care. The choice whether to have the children cared for at a worksite Child Care Center, or at an off-site licensed Day Care Center, or by a relative -- that choice would be the family's. These are benefits that a company could provide on its own, or that a Union could bargain for. The employer, by providing or paying for the care, and the government, by treating employer-paid child care for tax purposes as it treats employer-paid health care, would just be reinforcing families' own choices.

Posted by: Matt in Aberdeen | March 5, 2007 3:19 PM

"You made a CHOICE to have children."

More accurately, my wife and I made the choice - but yes.

"You should have known at the time that this CHOICE would have an economic impact."

Yes - certainly did.

"Why should the government (i.e. other citizens who have no relationship to your child) subsidize your choice?"

As part of our society's social contract, we believe as a society that we should support the development of the next generation so that they will be in place to support us in our old age.

"Since when did it become everyone else's responsibility to make sure those who CHOOSE a certain path can afford that path?"

It hasn't -- it is entirely path dependent.

"I love kids, hope to have at least one someday, and will of course take full advantage of whatever tax benefits are offered to me as a parent...but I also won't expect anyone else to subsidize that choice any more than they already do."

There are many subsidies that exist -- some for parents, some for home-owners, some for equity owners, some for retirees -- all of these are constantly re-evaluated by society. It's probably fair to say that no federal action in the next 3 years with respect to child care subsidies will come close to the subsidy just passed along to seniors for health care.

"I certainly don't have a choice to work or SAH - why should I give up more of my income to provide that benefit to someone else, whose only qualification for such a benefit is that they CHOSE to have a child?"

For the good of society.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 5, 2007 3:20 PM

"pittypat- I'm curious- how much would you expect to be taxed for all of your social programs? Do you work? Or will it be your husbands huge salary that bank rolls this 24 hr. daycare? You live in a dream world in which all who fall on hard times are victims. Not once have you advocated personal responsibility."

I've worked since I was 15; 40 hrs/wk since I was 19 (and going to college fulltime). I'm now 50, and I expect to be working fulltime for another 20 years.

My husband doesn't make a huge salary -- neither of us does -- but he makes excellent money when he's working. He is an independent contractor, so there are lots of lean times when no work for a month or two can really eat away at our resources.

I don't have children, so I think that my advocacy of subsidized childcare is a pretty fair indication of my personal responsibility. And, for the record, my husband is in agreement with this.

We are willing to take personal responsibility to help poor people manage their childcare problems.

Posted by: pittypat | March 5, 2007 3:23 PM

You're talking about subsidizing people's preferences here, and that's not what the federal government exists to do.

Subsidies are meant to help level the field -- that is, give poorer citizens the opportunity for, and access to, jobs and economic stability. They're not intended to fund individual preferences or "family values" entitlements.

Posted by: pittypat | March 5, 2007 03:14 PM

In your dreams. The government subsidizes conduct it considers consistent with strategic goals. Admittedly, I am not sure why growing more mohair is one of our strategic goals, but there it is. The government model you describe is more commonly referred to as, "socialist", and is not a viable model.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 5, 2007 3:23 PM

"Subsidies are meant to help level the field -- that is, give poorer citizens the opportunity for, and access to, jobs and economic stability. They're not intended to fund individual preferences or "family values" entitlements."

No -- that's the role of a progressive income tax system. Specific behavior-related subsidies exist to encourage or discourage specific behavior.

We want more home ownership -- we subsidize it.

We want stability in equity markets - we subsidize long-term equity holdings.

We want business to provide health care - we subsidize health plans.

We want individuals to go to college - we subsidize college education.

We want parents to have access to good healthcare - we require them both to be employed?

Posted by: A Dad | March 5, 2007 3:25 PM

A Dad: I agree the tax system may be a way to encourage some types of behavior. But why should we encourage a SAHP? Simply saying your house keeper would prefer to be one, is not worthy of tax subsidies. She may want to be a ballet dancer too but I don't think I need to subsidize her choice. The fact is if we subsidize SAHP, there has to be a benefit to society more then it makes some people happy.

Posted by: foamgnome | March 5, 2007 3:28 PM

"So kids should be allowed to be born homeless or into extreme poverty?"

Well, what do you suggest? Forced sterilization? Leaving infants exposed on a mountainside?

It's ridiculous to say that kids shouldn't be "allowed" to be born into any specific situation, since you're not in a position to prevent their being born.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 5, 2007 3:29 PM

What about these kids (aged 2 and 5) who were smoking pot??? Does their mother have a "right" to just keep producing kids??

I just saw the mother interviewed and she didn't even CARE that her brother was giving her 2 and 5 yr olds pot!!!

Posted by: Anonymous | March 5, 2007 3:30 PM

From The Washington Post:

The Driver children have never received routine dental attention, said their mother, Alyce Driver. The bakery, construction and home health-care jobs she has held have not provided insurance. The children's Medicaid coverage had temporarily lapsed at the time Deamonte was hospitalized. And even with Medicaid's promise of dental care, the problem, she said, was finding it.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 5, 2007 3:31 PM

"You made a CHOICE to have children. You should have known at the time that this CHOICE would have an economic impact. Why should the government (i.e. other citizens who have no relationship to your child) subsidize your choice?"

By extension, then, you're saying that tax credits and deductions for children should be abolished across the board?

Posted by: Anonymous | March 5, 2007 3:31 PM

Just for argument's sake, Socialism is "not a viable model", why? Because the Fox Noise mouthpieces say so?

I am not advocating wholesale shift -- our Democracy can use some tinkering but is working fine.

At the same time, I'm sick of the "ditto-head", our-way-is-always-better, conventional "wisdom", xenophobic knee-jerk reaction against socialism.

It's not viable? Why? Because past Governments have failed? Democracies have fallen too, y'know. We might just topple the Iranian democracy any day now. Would that prove Democracy doesn't work?

Posted by: Anonymous | March 5, 2007 3:31 PM

Nitpicky word choice alert!

You can only choose to "believe" in things that may or may not be true or real. For example, "I believe in the tooth fairy and unicorns," not "I don't believe in feminism."

You cannot, however, choose to "believe" in something that is real. Those are things that you "agree" or "disagree" with or "dislike" or "like." For example, "I disagree with the war."

Posted by: Meesh | March 5, 2007 3:32 PM

"So kids should be allowed to be born homeless or into extreme poverty?"

Well, what do you suggest? Forced sterilization? Leaving infants exposed on a mountainside?
===================================
So wasteful! Can't we at least toss them to the lions?

I guess in the issue of fairness, we should do the same to the mothers as well. THAT'LL teach 'em.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 5, 2007 3:34 PM

"There is not enough decent Father material to go around for all the women who want to make babies. Unfortunately, this leaves the majority of childcare issues in the hands of women."

Who, Fo4, where did that come from? You can't be serious. I'd like to know how you back that up? That sounds completely bogus to me. Sounds like the feigned incompetence excuse to me. People do it all the time. They pretend that they can't do something (when, in fact, they could if they tried) just as a way of manipulating someone else to do the undesirable task for them. It happens at work also. I never fall for it.

But then again, I am one of the lucky ones whose husband is a completely hands on father. He did diapers, he walked the colicky baby at 2 am, he did daycare drop offs and pick ups, the whole shabang. And thanks to that, he has a wonderful relationship with his son (as well as his wife).

Posted by: Emily | March 5, 2007 3:34 PM

"No, he's talking abut subidizing childcare. If the woman provides the childcare herself rather than paying someone else, why shouldn't she receive a 'childcare' subsidy?"

xyz--

A Dad, Gretchen, several others, and I have been parsing this all afternoon. This question has been addressed by a few different posters.

Go back and read the thread.

Posted by: pittypat | March 5, 2007 3:34 PM

Wait a second, I missed this: "I am not advocating abortion - I was commenting on the posts by Ummm who seems to think that you can only have children if you can afford them! I realize it didn't come out the way I meant it after I wrote it - apologize. I disagree with Ummm completely." Again, I'd like DC Lurker, and everyone else who is making hay about my original post to go back and cite where I say ONLY the affluent should have kids. In my original post, in fact, I only mentioned affluence once, and you can delete that if you want, without losing any of my overarching points that two-parent households will foster, ON AVERAGE, more stable environments in which to raise children. I was writing about the stability factor influencing a growing gap within the public school system. Where on earth did I say only rich people should have kids???

Posted by: Ummmm | March 5, 2007 3:36 PM

At the same time, I'm sick of the "ditto-head", our-way-is-always-better, conventional "wisdom", xenophobic knee-jerk reaction against socialism.

It's not viable? Why? Because past Governments have failed? Democracies have fallen too, y'know. We might just topple the Iranian democracy any day now. Would that prove Democracy doesn't work?

Posted by: | March 5, 2007 03:31 PM


And how about Social Democracy??? Alive and mostly well in places like Denmark, Norway, Sweeden, Holland, Germany ... to name just a few ... all of which boast a very high standard of living and affordable health care for every working person and his or her dependents.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 5, 2007 3:38 PM

A Dad, Gretchen, several others, and I have been parsing this all afternoon. This question has been addressed by a few different posters.

Go back and read the thread.

Posted by: pittypat | March 5, 2007 03:34 PM

and has she ever been parsing.

All.

Afternoon.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 5, 2007 3:39 PM

"We want parents to have access to good healthcare - we require them both to be employed?"

Sure.

Two working parents minimizes the drain on govt resources. Subsidizing childcare facilities on a broad basis is more economically efficient than meeting individual desires to stay at home. More people are served with less of a burden on tax dollars.

Posted by: pittypat | March 5, 2007 3:40 PM

At the same time, I'm sick of the "ditto-head", our-way-is-always-better, conventional "wisdom", xenophobic knee-jerk reaction against socialism.

so much reactionary jargon; so little time.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 5, 2007 3:41 PM

Umm: The problem it is hard to follow long arguments across threads. People pick up one line and try to apply it to a totally different line. Like when I said the money would be easier if we had one child. And then in another post said I wondered how people can afford to go to kiddie shows or cruises with multiple children. Some how people thought I said I was not having a second child because I could not afford to have one because I was going on cruises and going to Go Diego Go Live show. I never said I could not afford a second child. I simply said the money would be easier. Same with your post. You said 2 parent families provide on average more stable families. Some how people see that as Rich people should have kids. It is really just the forum. I think these discussions would always be easier in person.

Posted by: foamgnome | March 5, 2007 3:42 PM

"What about these kids (aged 2 and 5) who were smoking pot??? Does their mother have a "right" to just keep producing kids??"

You seem to enjoy generalizing from very specific, individual incidents.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 5, 2007 3:42 PM

The Driver children have never received routine dental attention, said their mother, Alyce Driver. The bakery, construction and home health-care jobs she has held have not provided insurance. The children's Medicaid coverage had temporarily lapsed at the time Deamonte was hospitalized. And even with Medicaid's promise of dental care, the problem, she said, was finding it.


Posted by: | March 5, 2007 03:31 PM


Exactly - try finding a Medicaid dental provider. Many health care providers don't want to provide care for this population because it can be challenging. I think every provider should have to include the Medicaid population as some portion of their practice!

Secondly, re: health care. My dh had to get 3, yes 3 stitches in his finger a few weeks ago at the ER. The visit was at most 20 minutes. We just recieved the statment for $780 for 3 stitches. Luckily we are insured and will probably only end up paying out of pocket $150 or so, but I can't even begin to fathom how the uninsured can begin to cover expenses such as this. The irony is that we pay less because the insurer negotiates a lower rate - but those who can least afford it pay full price. Its criminal really!

Posted by: moxiemom | March 5, 2007 3:43 PM

Good point foamgnome - it's like a twisted e-version of Telephone. So, in a few posts, you're not going to be having (adopting?) that second kid because you can't get the new Jaguar and I'm saying only the Gateses should reproduce. :-)

Posted by: Ummm | March 5, 2007 3:45 PM

Foamgnome, you wrote "I wonder if people are just jealous that they can't take their kids there."

I don't think so. I think the first poster was expressing a sincere concern that there are better ways to spend the money. I have a lot of money, but i don't spend it on such events because i think they are shockingly overpriced. I don't judge (or at least I try not to judge) those who do spend their money on such events, but the fact is that even though we have the money to do it, our family just doesn't spend $ on it. Why when we can have so much fun for free/low-cost?

Not saying I'm morally better than you foamgnome, just saying that just because someone doesn't agree with the way you spend your money isn't necessarily because they are jealous and don't have as much as you.

Posted by: Clarina | March 5, 2007 3:46 PM

moxiemom: I always thought that was strange that the uninsured pay the highest cost. But it based on the idea that a larger percent of uninsured will simply not pay. So the more accurate statement is that the % of uninsured who actually pays their bill, subsidizes those who don't pay their bill and the those with health insurance. I think one reasons Dentist refuse medicaid patience is the hassle to collect. Even with insurance, they insurance companies make it very difficult for the doctors and dentist to collect their money. I am hazarding a guess too that medicaid does not pay out as much as the average insurance or out of pocket patient. But it is hard to imagine a doctor or a dentist being forced to take medicaid patients. If you want to gain some emphathy for what the unisured goes through, try going to your county clinic. DD's pediatrician ran out of the flu vaccine. I went down to the county clinic with her. We must have been their three hours before she got called. You will see first hand what they have to put up with.

Posted by: foamgnome | March 5, 2007 3:48 PM

"On the flip side, mothers who don't share responsibility are control-freakish hags."

Hey, I forget who posted this but I guess you can color me haggy.

Posted by: WorkingMomX | March 5, 2007 3:49 PM

"What about these kids (aged 2 and 5) who were smoking pot??? Does their mother have a "right" to just keep producing kids??"

You seem to enjoy generalizing from very specific, individual incidents.

Posted by: | March 5, 2007 03:42 PM

And so does everyone else on here.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 5, 2007 3:49 PM

Not saying I'm morally better than you foamgnome, just saying that just because someone doesn't agree with the way you spend your money isn't necessarily because they are jealous and don't have as much as you.

Posted by: Clarina | March 5, 2007 03:46 PM

Understand your point. But the first poster thought Jesus would have issues with it. I doubt that.

Posted by: foamgnome | March 5, 2007 3:50 PM

"I wonder if people are just jealous that they can't take their kids there."

Translation:

"They think I'm morally bankrupt and shallow and that's not nice, and I know I am nice, so instead of considering that I might be morally bankrupt and shallow, I will dismiss them with a wave of my hand and declare them jealous."

Posted by: Anonymous | March 5, 2007 3:52 PM

Foam - I know the medicaid pop can be difficult on many levels, I worked with them for several years. However, since so many of them are children, do health care providers have a moral obligation to provide care to them? They are among the most vulnerable people in our society and because they cannot advocate for themselves they are lost. Makes me angry.

Posted by: moxiemom | March 5, 2007 3:54 PM

"I am one of the lucky ones whose husband is a completely hands on father."

Emily, you consider yourself lucky to have a hands-on father of your child? Like I said, you are probably in the minority, but somehow I think by your charm, wit, and possibly breast size, you picked out a man that exhibited solid family values to begin with. I just don't think there are enough of them to go around. Just ask all the single mothers why they are still single.

Posted by: Father of 4 | March 5, 2007 3:54 PM

"They think I'm morally bankrupt and shallow and that's not nice, and I know I am nice, so instead of considering that I might be morally bankrupt and shallow, I will dismiss them with a wave of my hand and declare them jealous."

First of all I did not declare anyone jealous. I said I wondered if they were jealous. Second of all, how does taking your kid to a live child show make anyone morally bankrupt and shallow? You guys are making way to much over a kid's show.

Posted by: foamgnome | March 5, 2007 3:54 PM

Interesting, but I do maintain that instead of bemoaning child care as a women's issue, we should bemoan the fact that it is no longer a feminist issue. In the wake of the Comprehensive Child Development Act veto, child care has largely fallen off of the feminist radar. Child care cuts to the heart of the foundations of the women's movement so far as the gendered division of labor and the devaluing of women's work (care work if you'd rather--it's semantics as far as I'm concerned). However, in both feminist theory and practice child care has been usurped by "sexier" topics like reproductive choice, economic development, and gender-motivated violence.

On the theory side, I believe this is partially related not only to the appeal of global feminist issues but also to the shift from a "women's studies" curriculum to a "gender studies" curriculum, where the focus tends to be placed on the construction of and relationship between sex, gender, and sexuality and their associated social implications. These discussions are interesting and certainly worthwhile, but children and other dependents are nearly invisible within them.

In practice, I think it speaks well to look at the two mainstream feminist organizations in the U.S., NOW and the Feminist Majority. Both, arguably, are largely focused on defending reproductive choice, and have been successful in bringing this issue to widespread attention. Their work is part of the reason why we have a national discourse on reproductive rights. There is no similarly-minded organization with the name recognition of Feminist Majority or NOW taking the lead on child care, and there won't be until we start grooming younger feminists to take interest in the issue.

We now have (at least) two generations of women who have been told they can have it all--a high-powered career and a family. Guess what? These women were lied to. Until the U.S. catches up with the rest of the Western World to embrace an economic system that values work/family balance, women will have to make tough choices to juggle their care responsibilities and their professional lives. Until such mechanisms are in place, men will continue to work the way they have always worked. Child care in the United States should be at the forefront of the feminist agenda.

Posted by: Kelsey | March 5, 2007 3:55 PM

Matt, I am much more skeptical about the social utility of employer-sponsored health care than you are. Employer-sponsored health care has some significant problems, especially now that people increasingly work part-time, freelance, or contract jobs. There are fewer unionized industries to provide strong lobbying support for good health care by employers. And employer-provided health care means that companies are providing health care for the healthiest, while the government ends up paying for the highest-risk individuals. Combine that with distorted incentives, and you end up with a pretty broken system. I think that employer-sponsored child care would be a great, terrific thing. But I am reluctant to encourage it as a government mandate because our experience with health care has been that employer-controlled social policy is unsustainable.

Of course, the difference is that while everyone needs health care, working or not, child care is more intimately tied to the fact of working. If you work, you need someplace to leave the kids. So it's possible that employer-sponsored child care and government-sponsored health care might actually be a better compromise.

To earlier posters, 1) I think that the reality is that many parents will be employed. The best metric for evaluating the success of our child-care policy is not just how great it is for children, but also how much it helps working parents to succeed at their jobs (and thus feed their families.) And 2) the reason why the government should help the house cleaner to work instead of to stay at home is that if she works, she'll improve the long-term economic position of her family and fund her retirement. And once her child turns 5 (or 13, or 18, or whatever) and grows up, she'll have a set of skills she can use to support herself. The problem with directly subsidizing stay-at-home parenting is that it creates bad incentives(as seen in the AFDC experience) for people to avoid working and continue having children.

Posted by: Gretchen | March 5, 2007 3:56 PM

moxiemom: I hear you but I am just stating I think that is why they don't take medicaid patients. I don't think they are like some of these posters that think poor children deserve to rot. I think it is just a business decision for some of these doctors. A better way of changing the system is to cut all the red tape in getting reimbursed by medicaid and raising the amount they pay doctors and dentists. Make it a financial incentive to take medicaid patients.

Posted by: foamgnome | March 5, 2007 3:57 PM

Emily, you consider yourself lucky to have a hands-on father of your child? Like I said, you are probably in the minority, but somehow I think by your charm, wit, and possibly breast size, "


Great, Father of 4. what a nice comment. sexist prick.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 5, 2007 3:57 PM

moxiemom, Your points are right on the money. Have to say, I think most dentists take a certain percentage of Medicaid patients, but then they are not open to new Medicaid patients unless an existing one leaves. It's also not as though dentists are geographically dispersed. Lack of dental care for Medicaid patients is an even bigger issue in rural poor areas like Appalachia then it is in cities.

As someone who, as an adult, has gone through three periods where I had no health insurance (could never afford the COBRA rates), I, like you, look at the negotiated rate and understand how completely out of reach healthcare is if you're paying the rack rate.

Posted by: Megan's Neighbor | March 5, 2007 3:58 PM

Make it a financial incentive to take medicaid patients.

Posted by: foamgnome | March 5, 2007 03:57 PM

Foam - I agree with you in general and don't want to diminish the importance of the business issues. But if pharmaceuticals have an obligation to give reduced price meds to people and to Africa, do not health care providers have the same moral obligation to provide care, especially to the children?? Frankly I think we ought to open health centers in some inner city schools where they children can readily access care preventive and acute. The reality is that operationally its probably unrealistic.

Posted by: moxiemom | March 5, 2007 4:00 PM

I am not against health care centers in schools. I did not realize that poor people got cheaper drugs. Is that through medicaid as well?

Posted by: foamgnome | March 5, 2007 4:03 PM

on the subject of healthcare and insurance...the NY Times has a good piece on how the middle class is being squeezed out of health care, "Without Health Benefits, a Good Life Turns Fragile": http://www.nytimes.com/2007/03/05/us/05uninsured.html?em&ex=1173243600&en=4bb75a508df74396&ei=5087%0A

Posted by: single western mom | March 5, 2007 4:08 PM

"There is not enough decent Father material to go around for all the women who want to make babies. Unfortunately, this leaves the majority of childcare issues in the hands of women."

Father of 4, your posts today are uncharacteristically negative. Unlike you, I have daily contact with many, many decent guys who are great and involved dads. Honestly, to the extent you're suggesting there's an imbalance between the number of women who are great moms and the number of guys willing and able to be great dads, I don't see that.

I do see lots of women who want to have babies who may or may not turn out to be great moms. Bad parenting couples often find each other.

Posted by: Megan's Neighbor | March 5, 2007 4:09 PM

I did not realize that poor people got cheaper drugs. Is that through medicaid as well?

Posted by: foamgnome | March 5, 2007 04:03 PM

The Pharma companies have the PPA - Partnership for Patient Assistance to help bridge the gap for the uninsured. You might have seen the commercial for it with Montel Williams - this is done by the pharma. orgs, not gov't mandate. Medicaid does provide drug coverage, but it is handled at the state level and varies according to the state. CHIP is another program for the "working poor" to provide health insurance to children. They generally have very generous drug and care benefits.

Posted by: moxiemom | March 5, 2007 4:10 PM

"Great, Father of 4. what a nice comment. sexist prick."

Hey, lay off Fo4, he's just joking, you don't get his sense of humor, blah, blah, bs, bs...

Posted by: Anonymous | March 5, 2007 4:14 PM

"Great, Father of 4. what a nice comment. sexist prick."

Hey, lay off Fo4, he's just joking, you don't get his sense of humor, blah, blah, bs, bs...


Posted by: | March 5, 2007 04:14 PM

You need a blog in order to talk to yourself?

Posted by: Anonymous | March 5, 2007 4:17 PM

"I don't think they are like some of these posters that think poor children deserve to rot. I think it is just a business decision for some of these doctors."

Yeah, the article in the Post last week talked about this.

Apparently, there is a real dearth of dentists who will deal with Medicaid paperwork. I'm guessing it's because they tend to be in smaller or individual practices as opposed to large medical clinics. The few that will take Medicaid are so far apart that it's impossible for poor people to get to them.

How are we letting this happen in the U.S. in 2007? There are developing countries with more comprehensive health and dental care than the U.S.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 5, 2007 4:19 PM

I think part of the reason that this is deemed a woman's issue is two reasons. 1. So many children now are being raised by single-women. 2. Society has now been taught that having a child is a woman's choice. If we returned to the focus of a two-parent family as the ideal for children - it can be two working parents, 1 SAH parent, or whatever combination you prefer - but a mother and a father to care for a child, you would see a shift to the idea that both parents are responsible for a child.

Posted by: MLA | March 5, 2007 4:24 PM

Medicaid rates for dentists haven't gone up in decades. Dentists have an opportunity to work for 2 hours today for the rate they made in 1972 and 6 hours at their current rate, and another 2 hours to fill out all the Medicaid paperwork for $0 compensation, or for 8 hours at their current rate. You can't factor in the satisfaction of helping the less fortunate because in addition, the dentist might earn 0 for the 2 hours he set aside for Medicaid patients because Medicaid patients have a significantly higher no-show percentage rate.

The rates suck and the paperwork to recover the sucky rates is ridiculous. Fix Medicaid and fast if you care about poor patients.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 5, 2007 4:25 PM

Emily, if my 03:54 offended you, I'll just go away for a while. I promise.

Posted by: Father of 4 | March 5, 2007 4:26 PM

Right foamgnome-- but then you said that you wondered if the poster said that out of jealosy. that's like wondering if Jesus's Disciples were criticizing MAry Magdelane because they were jealous and wish they had her wealth to spend on extravagent gifts for Jesus. I think it is more likely that the Disciples truely felt that the oils were a VLI that should better be spent on serving the poor. In other words, my reading of the Gospels is that if the dispiles had some across a bunch of loot or been given a bunch of money, they would have spent it on the poor and not on VLI because up until that point that seemed to be the teaching of Jesus. I could be TOTALLY wrong, but that is my take on it. Do you think the Disciples were really just jealous or did they actually have a philosphical gripe with using the oils that way?

Posted by: Clarisa | March 5, 2007 4:27 PM

If we returned to the focus of a two-parent family as the ideal for children - it can be two working parents, 1 SAH parent, or whatever combination you prefer - but a mother and a father to care for a child, you would see a shift to the idea that both parents are responsible for a child.

Posted by: MLA | March 5, 2007 04:24 PM

Two parents? I'm with you. A mother and a father? No. There is not a single reason why a gay couple would be unable to provide every single benefit of a two-parent family that you're ascribing to opposite-sex couples.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 5, 2007 4:29 PM

A Dad wrote

>I still respectfully disagree with the logic. >Under the same analysis, one could argue that the >tax structure favors individuals to drop high >paying jobs in favor of entry level positions >[since their tax load would then decrease].

Continuing the respectful disagreement:

People (ok conservatives ;-) ) actually do make this argument, that tax rates can approach the 'confiscatory' level at which there is little incentive to earn more. Better than high-paying versus entry-level as an example would be the question, is it worth it to work a bit more overtime or to ratchet up to a higher-stress/ higher-pay echelon when I will keep only x of the proceeds of that work, which costs me time, stress, health, family togetherness, etc etc. Arguably for each person there is a point when x, the fraction kept after tax, becomes small enough to be outweighed by the opportunity cost of working harder/more, so that the person says, no, that's all I want to earn, I'd rather have my health/sanity/family time/indolence/whatever. Of course, the opportunity cost may be so great that we choose to limit our earnings anyways, regardless of the tax planners; most parents on this blog have already described such choices. Conservatives, though, tend to argue that x, the 'kept' fraction of earnings, is always too small, and always discourages our wealthy from all-out striving and reaching their full earnings potential, thus obstructing an obvious societal good. (;-), I'm stating the argument, not endorsing the idea that our tax rates or anything on the same order of magnitude are confiscatory, or that maximized personal income is always an overarching societal good.)

In this context, though, the opportunity cost for a second parent to work is *much* greater than for an existing worker to boost their salary: as the second salary not only entails its own proportionate tax burden, at high marginal rates (the usual progressive tax calculus), but *also* childcare expenses which would not exist without the second earner's paid work. These childcare costs greatly overwhelm the tax penalty for working, for typical low to middle-class salaries.

Indeed, at the bottom of the 2-earner family income distribution, many women who wish to work can't afford to work and pay for daycare, and can only choose SAH; it's a bit higher up on the scale that women who would like to SAH can't afford that choice, which would require forgoing a salary itself greater than daycare costs + extra taxes.

That " + extra taxes," though, just coming from the progressive nature of the tax code, definitely affects family's decisions, at the edges, if they are trying to SAH and make the finances work. The fact that, well income dips by $40K, but expenses are cut almost as much, with taxes $13K less and daycare $20K less, means that SAH costs only $7K --- a cost a family who really wants to do it may be able to absorb on one income. The tax savings makes a big marginal difference in affordability for SAH --- a fact I doubt anyone who has been privy to 'can you afford to SAH' discussions would overlook.

>Each tax credit and deduction represents a >separate societal decision on what behavior to >encourage -- whether it be home ownership, >marriage, or ownership of long-term equities.

If one views setting this tax policy as a way to encourage/facilitate a particular choice, one has to frame it in terms of its effect on families facing that choice: SAH, lose one income, lose fed tax expense on that income, incur no childcare expense; or WOH, retain income, retain fed tax expense on that income (maybe partly defrayed by a childcare tax credit), incur childcare expense. That's the calculus in which tax policy tries to skew the balance. Skewing the balance is trivial for homeownership versus renting --- neither affects income, so a deduction for one automatically tilts the balance more favorably to it. But SAH versus WOH is intrinsically an income-changing choice, and any attempt to rebalance the calculus must take that into account. The progressive nature of the tax code *always* subsidizes a choice to forgo income; the lost income is always partially offset by disproportionately reduced taxes. Usually, external motivators to maximize income prevail in spite of tax cost. . . but the whole point is that the external motivators are quite different for the SAH/WOH decision.

On the other hand, it's always in the government's naked financial interest to encourage more income, and more bodies producing income, as that directly increases tax revenue (at least, it will until the day that the fed government bears a nonnegligible share of the childcare expense required to keep those bodies at paid work). But the government doesn't pass this incentive on, to make the choice to WOH the tax-advantaged one . . . or at least tax-neutral, one whose additional income is taxed only at marginal progressive rates, *after* the preconditioning expense of childcare is excluded.

>And that becomes the fundamental question: what >childcare arrangement do we as society wish to >subsidize? Only paid outside-the-home care? Au >pairs? Relatives? SAH parents?
>
>For me, all have equivalent societal benefits.

I agree, I see strong societal benefits to having parents make all these choices, as fits their lives. We do benefit from the contributions of SAH parents, in the institutions that support our communities and children. But as I said, the progressive nature of the tax code already acts as a subsidy of SAH, a decision that forgoes both income and expense. That reduced tax expense is what makes the possibility of SAH viable for many families which are 2-income before kids: the fact that by forgoing income they also lighten their share of the federal tax burden. I think this is just fine, the lightened tax constribution is offset by the contributions of parenting as SAH. But I think any additional subsidy should go first to the dual earner families who continue to shoulder that greater tax burden, essentially unadjusted for their significant childcare expense, which enables their second-earner income in the first place. Right now taxes share in the rewards of that second income, without sharing in its expense.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 5, 2007 4:30 PM

I thought this blog was about balancing work and home, but I must be confused because it is all about politics and healthcare today.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 5, 2007 4:31 PM

Ummmm - you certainly did say rich in your original post
"THIS is why there is such a discrepancy in public schooling and it is going to get worse, because the kids who are born into stable, two-parent affluent, educated households are going to show up at school coming from stable homelife."
Or do I misunderstand the meaning of the word AFFLUENT?

Posted by: DC lurker | March 5, 2007 4:32 PM

Fo4,
Don't you worry, your 3:54 did not offend me. I got the joke.

Posted by: Emily | March 5, 2007 4:38 PM

Fo4,
You have been on a roll today.

Posted by: KLB SS MD | March 5, 2007 4:39 PM

Men need to take ownership of every area of their children's lives. Women need to stop micromanaging everything in their children's lives and trust that maybe the husband/father is not the bumbling idiot portrayed on our sitcoms. We don't value children in the US. How poorly our teachers are paid is but one example. The American taxpayer will not tolerate higher taxes and a more "socialistic" approach to government so our kids can be well cared for.

Posted by: Suzy | March 5, 2007 4:41 PM

I think part of the reason that this is deemed a woman's issue is two reasons. 1. So many children now are being raised by single-women. 2. Society has now been taught that having a child is a woman's choice. If we returned to the focus of a two-parent family as the ideal for children - it can be two working parents, 1 SAH parent, or whatever combination you prefer - but a mother and a father to care for a child, you would see a shift to the idea that both parents are responsible for a child.

Posted by: MLA | March 5, 2007 04:24 PM

ChildCARE, not child. Having a voice in determining to have a child is unrelated to whether a man will take on the responsibility for being the parent who investigates childcare opportunities and providers, and who hires the babysitters.

We focused on two-parent families as the ideal in the '50s, and women were 100% responsible for childcare then. Why would you think returning to the '50s would make men more responsible for childcare? Men are perfectly happy to be dads, but making childcare arrangements is not on the fun list.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 5, 2007 4:41 PM

MLA, I think you have a chicken and egg scenario with mothers being assigned responsibility for all child-related issues as a result of children being raised by single mothers. In the former era of working fathers and SAHMs, fathers likely took far less responsibility for issues related to the upbringing of children--it was women's work. The fathers were the breadwinners. And for women stuck in horribly abusive marriages, the choices were: stay trapped in an abusive marriage or take your multiple children and live in poverty as you have no job skills other than changing diapers.

As equality in educational and professional opportunities for women increased, so did a man's role at home. A Mr. Mom was not a concept in 1950.

A father's decision to be engaged in his child's life is HIS decision, whether he is married, divorced or simply knocked up his girlfriend and never married her. It all comes down to personal responsibility, and I have seen some unbelievable posts on here that completely let men off the hook for ANY responsibility for their children, from being an active role model to financial support, the latter of which is required by law.

So...please stop blaming single mothers for the lack of responsibility of jerk men. The responsibility lies solely with that individual. BTW: Do you blame single fathers as well for these ills? Is it a man's fault he married or had a child with an irresponsible woman?

Posted by: single western mom | March 5, 2007 4:42 PM

But I do have something serious to say. Fo4, you claim that there are a bunch of single women out there raising children because there are not enough quality men to be their partners in that endeavor. This seems to make the assumption that the single mothers are all necessarily quality mothers by simple virtue of being biological mothers. I don't think that's the case. I think that women can be just as lousy parents as men. It just turns out that in most cases, the kids end up with their lousy mothers instead of their lousy fathers, because well, they are born to those mothers who get rights over this kids because they gave birth to them. And sometimes, these lousy mothers rise up to the task of parenting and become pretty good mothers because they have no choice -- because society pretty much forces them to be responsible for their kids. And men often don't rise up to the challenge of parenting because society gives them a free pass because they are men. So they are viewed as lousy parents in comparison to women, but in fact, I think both sexes have the same potential to be great or lousy parents. Men could rise to the same greatness of parenthood as women if only someone held their feet to the fire and gave them no choice of what is expected of them as parents.

Posted by: Emily | March 5, 2007 4:46 PM

So...please stop blaming single mothers for the lack of responsibility of jerk men. The responsibility lies solely with that individual. BTW: Do you blame single fathers as well for these ills? Is it a man's fault he married or had a child with an irresponsible woman?

Posted by: single western mom | March 5, 2007 04:42 PM

The issue is however, that women bear a greater burden than men do when it comes to having children. Therefore, would it not follow, that the person who has the most to lose would bring a greater level of caution and responsibility to the table? You would expect that the person who will end up holding the bag would make a greater effort than others to avoid the creation of the bag in the first place.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 5, 2007 4:46 PM

clap, clap, clap, clap!

Posted by: to Emily | March 5, 2007 4:48 PM

Is it a man's fault he married or had a child with an irresponsible woman?

Posted by: single western mom | March 5, 2007 04:42 PM

we laud him as a saint for being a single dad while that irresponsible tramp (all shake their heads and sigh) goes off into the sunset.

We sure as hel* don't ever ask why he didn't listen to his Magic-8 ball.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 5, 2007 4:50 PM


Sorry, 'continuing to respectful disagreement' at 4:30 is obviously me, it posted unsigned.

Posted by: KB | March 5, 2007 4:50 PM

Taking this way back...yes, the companies for which I have worked have not been the most parent-friendly places. But it's not like parents with a SAH spouse have a real workplace incentive to change how the place works - they can't afford not to put in the time, and I am convinced that at least a few of these super-workaholics put in the hours they do so they can brag about it, complain to the SAH spouse about how hard their jobs are, and feel generally more prestigious (not all, but there is definitely a subset that does this). At any rate, I am a fan of change from within, and it may or may not work. But I like the work I do and the nature of my industry, so I'd like to make it work. If no one sticks in it to make it to the top, then who will be there to support those who come after? One of the companies I worked for had 15,000 employees and 1(!) woman in an executive position. About 5,000 total employees were women. Women were the primary purchasers of this company's products. But management is short-sighted.

As for the poor 12-year-old who died for want of proper dental care: I shared that article with my husband, and he was very angry. When people come to the ER with medical issues, any ER, doctors are required to at the very least stabilize them before sending them on their way. Dentists are not. For many people, dental care is a luxury that medical care is not, even though proper dental care can help prevent many issues. (BTW, if anyone ever has a dental emergency in Minnesota, go to Hennepin County Medical Center in downtown Mpls, which has the only dental ER in the area. It's also the only public hospital in the Twin Cities.) Listen, I went to business school. In that vein, I am a little bit of a "out-for-myself" kind of gal. But it breaks my cold, shriveled, Gordon Gecko heart whenever I hear about relatively preventable tragedies. What if we had health and dental coverage for all kids till they were 18? Treating a tooth abcess is much cheaper than treating brain disease. When my husband was doing his obstretrics rotation in medical school (6 weeks long) he met 13 women who had moved from North Dakota to Minnesota (living in trailer parks, shelters, or other low-cost housing) because MN covers prenatal care for all uninsured women, and ND doesn't. Yeah, we pay higher taxes here, but in some ways you reap what you sow - MN consistently has healthier kids, better ranked schools, good quality of life, great parks and recreation, etc. Crappy winters, but you can't have it all. And we pay accordingly. I'd be willing to pay a few more hundred dollars a year if I knew it meant that there were no kids in MN who are going without healthcare. In the early 1970s, my aunt had her first baby when she and her husband were very poor, and her pregnancy and birth were covered by Medicaid. She has said for years (at least 30) that she has never forgiven how she was treated by the doctors and nurses, that she was treated like garbage, with no dignity, with no respect. She and her husband run a pretty large clinic system now, and if I had to guess, probably have an annual income of over $1million. She swears she will never turn away someone who is on Medicaid or who can't afford treatment, because of how badly that experience scarred her. Guess she shouldn't have had kids because she couldn't have afforded them. (Well at least the first one -- that cousin is a big jerk and isn't worth what his mom went through for him, though his little brothers are awesome).

Posted by: MplsMama | March 5, 2007 4:52 PM

"The issue is however, that women bear a greater burden than men do when it comes to having children."

Please explain this to me--there is no legal merit to your argument. The law is very clear in that a child is the legal responsibility of BOTH parents. The child bears 50 percent DNA from each parent. The child simply incubates in a woman's body.

So once again, other than your obvious sexism, why is the burden greater on the woman? The law certainly does not agree with you. (If the law did, then we wouldn't be locking up deadbeat PARENTS regardless of gender).

Women are simply less likely to dump a child on the father and take off, but it does happen. I dated a single father in college whose ex-wife did just that.

Posted by: single western mom | March 5, 2007 4:53 PM

Please explain this to me--there is no legal merit to your argument. The law is very clear in that a child is the legal responsibility of BOTH parents.

Of course you are right, but the reality plays out a little differently doesn't it. For whatever reason women in general stay and take care of their kids and suffer significant social and financial consequences for it. Soooo, if you can't change the behavior of the men, then... don't have the baby with him. It certainly takes two to make a baby, but only one to say no. Again, it is always someone else's fault - that way the individual isn't responsible to fix it.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 5, 2007 4:59 PM

Emily,

Great insights in your 4:46 post. So many men and women are great and dedicated parents by dint of their own personal values and commitment to their child(ren). But in the next tier, of souls less eagerly committed to the responsibility and engagement of parenting, I think you're right that being society's parent of last resort pushes more women than men up to exemplary parent status.

Emily wrote:

>So they are viewed as lousy parents in comparison to women, but in fact, I think both sexes have the same potential to be great or lousy parents. Men could rise to the same greatness of parenthood as women if only someone held their feet to the fire and gave them no choice of what is expected of them as parents.

Posted by: KB | March 5, 2007 5:00 PM

My husband and I seem alternately ready to start trying for our first baby. One month he is, the next month he is ready. Recently, he declared that it was time to get started and laid out a solid list of reasons that it was time.

Looking to temporarily change his mind in the easiest way possible, I said, "Do you know how far in advance you have to line up childcare?."

After I gave him the following information, he announced that maybe we were not ready yet.

In response to his "no," I said, "Before your child is born. X & Y put their child on fourteen lists before he was born. Remember that he ended up at a day care that his mom said, 'smelled. It honestly smelled like dirty diapers,' and her husband told her she just had to get beyond that" (not b/c he is insensitive, simply b/c he was so beat down by the process).

I am hopeful that his quick change of heart indicates that he thinks childcare is not just my responsibility.

Posted by: Chicago | March 5, 2007 5:02 PM

"Soooo, if you can't change the behavior of the men, then... don't have the baby with him."

Uh, I suppose that would have been good advice for Laci Peterson, no? Why don't we use your line of reasoning to blame her for her own murder and that of her unborn child?

Posted by: single western mom | March 5, 2007 5:06 PM

What a great scam.

Don't have sex out of wedlock, but if you do, you're irresponsible if you have the baby and raise it for yourself, but hold on now, don't abort because that ain't right. so, the only acceptable option is for you to keep the baby, let us tell you how promiscuous and thoughtless you were, and finally deliver your baby and put her up for adoption. Then all the infertile conservative couples will have a steady supply of healthy, adoptable infants and they won't have to spend one red cent of their own money on IVF. What a country.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 5, 2007 5:08 PM

05:08
What is your point?

Posted by: KLB SS MD | March 5, 2007 5:10 PM

Uh, I suppose that would have been good advice for Laci Peterson, no? Why don't we use your line of reasoning to blame her for her own murder and that of her unborn child?

Posted by: single western mom | March 5, 2007 05:06 PM

Yeah, since that happens ALL the time. Let's pretend that you can't know how anyone will behave based on their current behavior. Maybe that loser will become hardworking. Anecdotal situations do nothing to bolster your argument. Most losers are losers from the beginning - its generally not a big surprise.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 5, 2007 5:11 PM

I'm going to have to back up Single Western Mom here.

I don't think most single parents plan on being single parents. Most though their spouses/ partners would stay with them. Plus you can't always tell what a person will do. One guy might seem like the type to turn tail at the sight of snot and end up bing a great dad and the apparently steadfast guy is the one who leaves after 2 years because he doesn't want to deal with being a dad any more. To top it all off so many marriage/ partnerships end for reasons that have nothing to do with kids.

Posted by: Bookworm Mom | March 5, 2007 5:18 PM

"Yeah, since that happens ALL the time. Let's pretend that you can't know how anyone will behave based on their current behavior. Maybe that loser will become hardworking."

Check your headlines today..it happened again in Michigan. And in Utah with Lori Harding (I think that was her name). And in many communities all over the U.S.

Your line of reasoning allows absolutely no chance the "hard worker" will become a "loser," or a "faithful" man will leave his family for another woman. And guess what? That happens rather frequently.

And again, your reasoning does not hold the irresponsible party responsible for his own behavior based soley on the fact that the irresposnible party has a penis.

Bad logic all the way around.

Posted by: single western mom | March 5, 2007 5:22 PM

My experience has supported the women's issue stereotype of child care AND single parenthood. I know dozens of single parents - some by choice, some by divorce - Single moms deal and move on, dads rail and flounder. The day-to-day raising of kids is just not something that men spend their lives anticipating or preparing for and in most cases they dont see it as something they will have to deal with; ergo, they are twice as shocked when a spouse dies, leaves them for someone else, divorce and get custody, etc, leaving them to care and/or find child care for their own children. Though we women are only 50% of the DNA we are STILL 95-100% of the parents when it comes to raising and taking care of the kids. No, I dont like it but that's how it is.

Posted by: tunatofu | March 5, 2007 5:26 PM

Though we women are only 50% of the DNA we are STILL 95-100% of the parents when it comes to raising and taking care of the kids. No, I dont like it but that's how it is.

Posted by: tunatofu | March 5, 2007 05:26 PM

Don't sprain your shoulder in the process of patting yourself on the back.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 5, 2007 5:29 PM

Supreme Court declines to hear case of father seeking paternity

By KEN THOMAS, The Associated Press
Mar 5, 2007 2:26 PM

WASHINGTON - The U.S. Supreme Court declined Monday to hear the case of a Michigan man who has tried to sue to make a court declare him the biological father of an 8-year-old boy. The boy's birth certificate lists the Van Buren County man as his father.


The court, issuing its order without comment, declined to review a ruling by the Michigan Supreme Court last year that barred Michael Barnes Jr. of Gobles from filing suit because the child was conceived when the mother was married to another man.

Under Michigan law, a husband is presumed to be the legal father if a baby is conceived during a marriage.

Barnes had lived with the child's mother, Kim Jeudevine of Kalamazoo, and helped raise the child for more than four years until 2003, when their relationship ended.

Barnes has sought the right to sue for a paternity determination, which he needs to seek custody and parental rights.

Jeudevine gave birth to the boy in late February 1999, about four months after her divorce from another man, James Charles III of Paw Paw. The boy's birth certificate identifies Barnes as his father, and Jeudevine also signed an affidavit of parentage the day after the birth saying Barnes was the father.

Barnes' attorney, Jeff Gagie, said he was "dumbfounded" by the court's decision not to hear the case. Gagie said he would likely advise his client to seek changes in the paternity law in the Michigan Legislature.

"This is absolutely awful to feel that you have a client with these facts and I still can't get him justice," Gagie said. Barnes has not seen his son in 3 1/2 years, Gagie said.

Jeudevine's attorney, George Perrett, said he was pleased with the decision. Perrett said he thought the court's decision would "more or less" end the case.

"I don't believe there is going to be an avenue for him to pursue to address this issue further with the Michigan courts," Perrett said.

Charles and Jeudevine divorced in November 1998. In a default judgment of divorce for Charles, a judge said it appeared "no children were born of this marriage and none are expected."

At the time he filed for divorce from Jeudevine, Charles wasn't aware she was pregnant. He doesn't have a relationship with the boy.

Last July, the Michigan Supreme Court voted 4-3 to reverse a state Court of Appeals decision allowing Barnes to sue for a paternity determination. The court's majority said there must be an "affirmative finding" that a child was conceived during their marriage but the youngster wasn't a product of the marriage.

The three Michigan judges who dissented in the case said Jeudevine had been rewarded, in effect, for failing to disclose her pregnancy and the father's identity during divorce proceedings, which she did not attend. Another justice said the decision would leave the child without a father.

Gagie has tried unsuccessfully to persuade Jeudevine's former husband, Charles, to reopen the divorce case to seek a determination that he's not the father. Gagie said Charles has been reluctant to get involved.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 5, 2007 5:32 PM

Check your headlines today..it happened again in Michigan. And in Utah with Lori Harding (I think that was her name). And in many communities all over the U.S

Has it occurred to you that these stories are NEWs precisely because they are abberations? You didn't hear on the news about the black kid who got shot in the inner city did you? Not news. All I'm saying is that there is a significant victim mentality on this board and everyone has an answer as to why their wretched cicumstance is 100% not their fault and society should do something to fix it for them. Statistically, it cannot be that no one made a bad choice - just no one is willing to admit it. Society should not be responsible for underwriting the continued poor choices of many.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 5, 2007 5:36 PM

3:57, you're not the only one who found that comment...out of line, to say the least. I'm glad such a comment was not directed at me...

Posted by: Mona | March 5, 2007 5:38 PM

"You didn't hear on the news about the black kid who got shot in the inner city did you? Not news."

5:36, you should be ashamed of yourself for stooping so low as to be dismissive of the death of any child in order to make a point on a blog. A black child's death has no less value because the white-run media don't report it as news.

Posted by: you've got to be kidding me | March 5, 2007 5:40 PM

:36, you should be ashamed of yourself for stooping so low as to be dismissive of the death of any child in order to make a point on a blog. A black child's death has no less value because the white-run media don't report it as news.

Posted by: you've got to be kidding me | March 5, 2007 05:40 PM

You are missing the point entirely. I'm not dismissing the death, I'm pointing out that our media tends to focus on the outliers, not the common. Unfortunately, in our society the death of an inner city black child is not uncommon. Sad fact, but a fact nonetheless.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 5, 2007 5:46 PM

No, 5:46, I'm not missing the point. I'm making a different one. I've heard you ad nauseum today, and I'm calling you out on the offensive nature of your statement. What you call a "fact" is merely a reflection of your own warped perspective.

Society at large as not nearly as dismissive as you are of the value of all human life or the newsvalue of a child's death. Even in a warzone, deaths make news. It takes someone with a heart and mind, though, to notice and care.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 5, 2007 5:56 PM

5:36

Just because I am a single mother doesn't mean I have asked the government or society to underwrite anything. I earn 50 percent more than the median family income in the city where I preside. How's that for breaking a stereotype? (And your use of stereotypes is pretty ugly, BTW).

And no, we cannot always predict what our spouses will do. My neighbor is now a single mother because she caught her soon-to-be ex-husband in bed with her friend (on her birthday, no less). I'm sure she had no idea he would do this when she married him 12 years ago. And we all thought he was a great husband and father. But let's blame her for her poor judgment in husbands and friends. It cannot possibly be her husbnad's fault that the family is torn apart, because...the husband has a penis, and as such, it's not his fault.

As for news, abberations and statistics: every year, between 30-35 percent of murdered women are murdered by a current or former intimate partner. That's roughly one-third. Would you call that a statistical abberation?

And that's here in the good ole USA...not in countries where honor killings are a de facto way of life. But hey, let's blame murdered women in those countries for having the audacity to be born there...

Posted by: single western mom | March 5, 2007 5:57 PM

It takes someone with a heart and mind, though, to notice and care.

Posted by: | March 5, 2007 05:56 PM

YOu are so clearly reactive that you are unreasonable. Just waiting for someone to say something you can bang on. yawn... It is ghastly and apalling that these children are dying. The difference between you and me is that I blame the people who put them there and you blam "society".

Posted by: Anonymous | March 5, 2007 5:58 PM

"Yeah, since that happens ALL the time."

Actually, it does happen much more often than you'd like to think. From an ABC news story:

"According to a 2001 study published by the Journal of the American Medical Association, approximately 20 percent of Maryland women who died during pregnancy were murdered. This supported the findings of previous studies in Cook County, Ill., and New York.

"Experts and women's advocates are not surprised to find that pregnant women are especially prone to violent deaths. In many cases, pregnant women are killed by their husbands or significant others."

Posted by: Megan | March 5, 2007 6:03 PM

The difference between you and me is that I blame the people who put them there and you blam "society".

Posted by: | March 5, 2007 05:58 PM

Failure to read strikes again. I didn't blame or blam, if you must, society. I blame you for your indifference and ignorance. The difference between you and me is that you are insufferably smug and might have already reproduced, foisting on the U.S. another narrow-minded person who thinks everyone else is the problem.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 5, 2007 6:05 PM

And you think everyone else is the solution.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 5, 2007 6:08 PM

And you think everyone else is the solution.

Posted by: | March 5, 2007 06:08 PM

solution to what? Your racism or your indifference? Only you can solve your own problems and deficiencies.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 5, 2007 6:09 PM

Okay, I haven't been following all day, but I sense the need for some levity.

Emily, and all you others who admitted (or not!) to being avid John Denver fans the other day, how cool is this?!

'Rocky Mountain High' as state song?

http://www.denverpost.com/ci_5360319

Posted by: niner | March 5, 2007 6:15 PM

"And you think everyone else is the solution."

We should ALL be the solution.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 5, 2007 6:24 PM

solution to what? Your racism or your indifference? Only you can solve your own problems and deficiencies.

Posted by: | March 5, 2007 06:09 PM

You are so very typical - just waiting to call someone a racist. There was nothing racist in anything I said, and there was nothing untrue in anything I said. Just waiting to cast the blame. If you put the same energy in to making positive change as you do yelling at people, maybe you could make the world a better place.

Megan you are right that murder is the leading cause of death of pregnant women. The point was that the stories in the news were supposed "nice" guys who killed. I'm pretty sure that the great majority of the others are really no surprise at all. That's why you don't hear about it. That's why you hardly hear about the war anymore - it becomes the new normal. Doesn't make it o.k., but the reality is that people acclimate to the given situation - ask people in Israel. OHHHH, am I an anti semite now?

Posted by: Anonymous | March 5, 2007 6:25 PM

"We should ALL be the solution."

Everyone join hands now.

Kum ba yah, my Lord, kum ba yah!
Kum ba yah, my Lord, kum ba yah!
Kum ba yah, my Lord, kum ba yah!
O Lord, kum ba yah!

Someone's laughing, Lord, kum ba yah!
Someone's laughing, Lord, kum ba yah!
Someone's laughing, Lord, kum ba yah!
O Lord, kum ba yah!

Someone's crying, Lord, kum ba yah!
Someone's crying, Lord, kum ba yah!
Someone's crying, Lord, kum ba yah!
O Lord, kum ba yah!

Someone's praying, Lord, kum ba yah!
Someone's praying, Lord, kum ba yah!
Someone's praying, Lord, kum ba yah!
O Lord, kum ba yah!

Someone's singing, Lord, kum ba yah!
Someone's singing, Lord, kum ba yah!
Someone's singing, Lord, kum ba yah!
O Lord, kum ba yah!

Kum ba yah, my Lord, kum ba yah!
Kum ba yah, my Lord, kum ba yah!
Kum ba yah, my Lord, kum ba yah!
O Lord, kum ba yah!

take that, John Denver.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 5, 2007 6:25 PM

"I'm glad such a comment was not directed at me..."

Mona, I would never direct a comment like that to you, however, Emily is special and has a wonderful sense of humor.

Posted by: Father of 4 | March 5, 2007 6:28 PM

That's why you hardly hear about the war anymore - it becomes the new normal. Doesn't make it o.k., but the reality is that people acclimate to the given situation - ask people in Israel. OHHHH, am I an anti semite now?


You might be. You would know better than us. We do know that you appear to be living under a rather large boulder since you "hardly hear about the war any more".

Posted by: Anonymous | March 5, 2007 6:29 PM

(on her birthday, no less).


And this is revelent? Why?

Posted by: the original anon | March 5, 2007 6:30 PM

"(on her birthday, no less)."

Rather nasty birthday present, wouldn't you say? Also speaks to the self-centered nature of this guy...I know, as if cheating on your wife with her friend doesn't already say that...

Okay, it's redundant.

Posted by: single western mom | March 5, 2007 6:33 PM

"If you put the same energy in to making positive change as you do yelling at people, maybe you could make the world a better place."

don't you have dinner to cook?

Posted by: Anonymous | March 5, 2007 6:33 PM

don't you have dinner to cook?

Posted by: | March 5, 2007 06:33 PM

Wow, snappy reply. Hey, the jerk store called and they're running out of you! Post again, when you come up with something better.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 5, 2007 6:37 PM

To Matt in Aberdeen:

While I don't totally disagree with you, healthcare benefits everyone directly. Childcare would not benefit everyone directly. To have it not included in income for those who take advantage of it would be unfair. There are other unfair things such as this in the workplace but let's not add to it.

Posted by: curious nonmother | March 5, 2007 6:39 PM

http://www.portphillip.vic.gov.au/childcare_policy.html#L1

those of you who like the idea of government subsidies for childcare, consider moving to Port Phillip, Australia. it sounds quite nice and who knows, the people there stand a good chance of being nicer than the anonymous trolls here.

Posted by: you've got to be kidding me | March 5, 2007 6:43 PM

Rather nasty birthday present, wouldn't you say? Also speaks to the self-centered nature of this guy...I know, as if cheating on your wife with her friend doesn't already say that...


Posted by: single western mom |

single western mom, says great things about her friend as well, since it's more likely that her girlfriend KNEW it was her birthday and her husband may or may not have remembered.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 5, 2007 6:45 PM

single western mom, says great things about her friend as well, since it's more likely that her girlfriend KNEW it was her birthday and her husband may or may not have remembered.

Yes, but the girlfriend doesn't have to answer to their children. Sooner or later, the father will. He not only cheated on his wife, he cheated on his children (or that's my belief, at any rate). If a married person with children has an affair, he/she hurts the entire family, not just the spouse.

Posted by: single western mom | March 5, 2007 6:48 PM

You didn't hear on the news about the black kid who got shot in the inner city did you? Not news. All I'm saying is that there is a significant victim mentality on this board and everyone has an answer as to why their wretched cicumstance is 100% not their fault and society should do something to fix it for them. Statistically, it cannot be that no one made a bad choice - just no one is willing to admit it. Society should not be responsible for underwriting the continued poor choices of many.


Did Ann Coulter join the blog today?

Posted by: Anonymous | March 5, 2007 6:54 PM

"Did Ann Coulter join the blog today?"

Nah. Just a wannabe : )

Posted by: single western mom | March 5, 2007 7:02 PM

You know, whenever I read your articles, I always wonder, "WHO is she married to?" My husband made all the childcare arrangements for our daughter, and calls the babysitter as readily as I do.

He doesn't cook, but he cleans. Why is this so hard for other people?

Posted by: Lisa | March 5, 2007 7:07 PM

Yes, but the girlfriend doesn't have to answer to their children. Sooner or later, the father will. He not only cheated on his wife, he cheated on his children (or that's my belief, at any rate). If a married person with children has an affair, he/she hurts the entire family, not just the spouse.

Yup, I agree with you on this salient point no matter what day the tryst occurs!

Posted by: the original anon | March 5, 2007 7:42 PM

SAH families are *automatically* favored by the tax structure, even without dedicated credits, as the income forgone by the SAH parent is *not taxed*. If the SAH parent foregoes a $40K income, the SAH family's fed taxes (income and social security/medicare) drop by about $13000, a substantial break.

Well I'm delighted to hear that I'm getting a "tax break" on the money I DIDN"T earn while staying home. That is the stupidest way of looking at this issue that I've ever heard. Taken to its logical conclusion, those who do their own housework are getting a "tax break" because they aren't paying housekeepers to do it; those who mow their own lawns are getting a "tax break" because they aren't outsourcing it to a lawn service. And, gee, if I'm foregoing a $40 000 income and saving $13000 in taxes, then I think I'll give myself a pay raise and forgo $200 000 in income. Then I could save $50 000 or $60 000 in taxes! People like you make me want to become a Republican.

You are such an idiot.

Posted by: m | March 6, 2007 8:23 AM

Wow, M, my mild, strictly follow-the-money arguments hit a nerve!

I'm not sure why you so vehemently want to dispute the fact that sharply reduced tax expense cushions the loss of income, for families who choose to SAH. As I said, I don't begrudge that cushion, but I think those who paper over it and claim that our tax code "only" subsidizes dual income parents who use childcare are being disingenuous. The choice to WOH versus SAH is always a choice to among many things, pay more taxes, not less, and any childcare tax credit only offsets *part* of that higher tax burden.

Why this desire to feel SAH is disadvantaged by the tax code? Of course forgoing income is a hard choice --- assuming the financial burdens of parenthood is a hard choice, regardless of the choice to SAH or WOH --- but from a tax point of view, the tax code partly defrays the cost of SAH and forgoing income, while it adds expense to the WOH choice, by taxing a second income at a high marginal rate without excluding the large portion of that income going to pay childcare expenses. The WOH family has forgone the income that paid for childcare, just as the SAH family has forgone a whole second salary. The SAH family does not pay federal tax on the forgone income, the WOH family does. How exactly does that make the SAH family disfavored by the tax code?

Posted by: KB | March 6, 2007 8:57 AM

I apologize for yesterday. I meant to say that "some" childless people think childcare is a parents' issue. After all, I didn't have my first child until I was almost 30. For almost 10 years before that point, I used to annually donate money to a nonprofit daycare center that provided scholarships to low-income parents. I will watch my wording in the future.

Posted by: Mom of 2 in PA | March 6, 2007 4:03 PM

When a friend's sister delivered her first child (a boy) last year, she had the choice of listing the father as either "unknown" or "the Local Sperm Bank," both of which were true. When this male child grows up and wonders why his mother decided he needed no paternal presence (aside from "pinch-hitting" uncles, friends,neighbors and rotating paramours), what will he deduce about men and his own malehood? Childcare is not a coporate or governmental "problem" to be solved, it is the parents' responsibility to be accepted, with maturity and commitment. Our entire society depends upon it.

Posted by: Neil Morse | March 8, 2007 4:09 PM

I read an old article in the Washington Post. The article was SUPPOSED to be a scathing commentary on the inefficiency and inadequacy of the transportation systems in the DC area. However, after reading all about the woman's 2-hour commute each way on bus and metro and her trials and tribulations of getting the baby to the day care on one bus, then walking 2 miles to a bus stop to catch a different bus to the metro then the metro to catch the bus that took her to the office, we learned that SHE HAD A HUSBAND WHO WORKED 10 minutes from the day care and who left work 45 minutes LATER than the wife! She could have cut out almost an hour and 2 busses from her commute just by having him DROP HIS OWN KID at the day care in teh morning!!! Turned out that the problem wasnt really the transport system but that the poor woman married a selfish butt-head!!

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