sitting on the edge of the sandbox, biting my tongue

November 28, 2011

Why Have Kids If Not to Spend Time With Them?

Filed under: politics — Tags: , , — edge of the sandbox @ 2:03 pm

Nancy Pelosi hopes to regain Speakership campaigning on federal childcare (via Maggie’s Notebook).  I suppose each princess is entitled to a wet nurse of two:

Last week, the California congresswoman hit five cities in five days, barnstorming for money to try to win the 25 more seats it would take to regain control. And if that happens — or when, according to her — at the top of her to-do list, she says, will be “doing for child care what we did for health-care reform” — pushing comprehensive change.

There’s a bit of symmetry to that: Amid allegations that he has been disrespectful to women, Cain refers to the highest-ranking female official in U.S. history as a princess. And when Pelosi takes a shot based on gender, she’s not afraid to mention that next on her agenda is the mother of all women’s issues: child care. Under fire for health-care legislation that conservatives consider a big-government power grab, she’s happy to promise more of the same.

Of the need for child-care legislation, she says, “I could never get a babysitter — have five kids in six years and no one wants to come to your house. . . . And everywhere I go, women say the same thing” about how hard it is to find the kind of reliable care that would make their family lives calmer and work lives more productive. When it comes to “unleashing women” in a way that would boost the economy, she says, “this is a missing link.”

Congress did pass such a bill, in 1971, but President Richard M. Nixon vetoed it because he thought it would undermine families and force them to put children in government-run centers.

“One of the great pieces of unfinished business is high-quality child care; I wonder why we just can’t do that,’’ Pelosi said. Her spokesman Drew Hammill said later that she doesn’t have a specific child-care proposal at the ready; that’s what the legislative process is for. But the Nixon-era legislation of which she spoke approvingly subsidized child care for low-income parents and was available to anyone who wanted to pay for it. “She sees this as the next big problem to tackle,’’ Hammill said.

Before I say anything else, let me point out that 5 children in 6 years is not recommended.

In the past decades, middle class parents tried to build a better and smarter baby.  Quite a few  early childhood education gimmicks came to pass — baby flashcards, red white and black mobiles, Mozart for your gestating baby Einstein.  Experts, however, warned that while the activities are not known to have any positive long-term effect, some can backfire.  What babies and toddlers need is one-on-one attention that the great majority of mothers seems to be hardwired to give: lots of hugs and motheresse.

One of my favorite books on the topic is The Myth of the First Three Years by neuropsychiatrist John T. Bruer.  Bruer explained that contrary to popular misconception, early childhood education does not predetermine future intellectual achievement.  Bruer also showed that politicians on both sides of the isle like to play into these popular misconceptions and legislate all sorts of interventions from mandating Mozart tapes in hospital nurseries to Head Start.

the myth of the first three years

These policies are not based in science and are not justified by follow up research.  Notoriously Head Start doesn’t yield substantial long term gains.  The reason the federal government should not be involved in daycare is because centralized nurture factories will be affected not by the needs of children but by what is politically expedient.

I’m certain that federal daycare would put lots of giddy thoughts into the tots’ brains — how we all need to love each other and yada-yada-yada.  In the spirit of multiculturalism they’d teach kids to be bi-lingual in Spanish.  Unfortunately, our other languages are Russian and Hebrew, and I prefer to start them in infancy and keep up in pre-school years.  It’s up to me and my synagogue, not the federal government, to pass our heritage to the kids.  Since I am the one ultimately responsible for my children’s moral and intellectual development, I’d like the choice to teach them myself and, if needed, I’d like to pick a private pre-school of my choosing too.

Speaking of which, my oldest attends pre-school.  Part time daycare around San Francisco starts at about $250 a month, which doesn’t feel too terribly burdensome.  And sure it would be nice to have that very same daycare center provide the very same services free, but as any libertarian (or is it feminist?) knows, there is no such  thing as a free lunch, even if it’s served by a loving teacher.  It’s possible that if federal government takes over pre-schools, the quality of daycare will deteriorate.  Federal daycare might become the only option for the overtaxed families trying to make ends meet, and this situation is still preferable to passing the nursery bill to the tots.

I can see Dr. Laura shaking her head at the idea of federal pre-schools.  She is not alone.  According to a 2003 Pew poll, 72% of Americans agreed with the statement that too many children are being raised in daycare centers.  This number rose slightly since Pew started asking the question in 1987.  As I mentioned earlier, mothers in my liberal neck of the woods either stay home or wish they could.  A few days ago, an occupy troll stopped and made a fabulous comment that “[Occupy kids] are our future while yours are at a day care shooting people on video games.”  I don’t know what demographic is expected to lend support for Mrs. Pelosi’s proposal.

A better solution for working families is a strong economy where any father can find employment enabling his wife to spend time with young children.  2012 is promising to be an interesting election, mommy wars-wise.



  1. A better solution for working families is a strong economy where any father can find employment enabling his wife to spend time with young children.

    Amen to that!

    A similar principle also applies to caregiving one’s elderly family members. Thanks to the modern role of women as part of the work force, caregiving is more and more becoming the domain of the federal government and the state — and resulting in higher taxes for Medicare and Medicaid.

    Comment by Always On Watch — November 28, 2011 @ 2:19 pm

    • It’s a really good point. I’m terrified of my parents becoming more frail. I will have to return to work sooner rather than later, and my parents will need care. I have a sister, but she’s on the East coast.

      Comment by edge of the sandbox — November 28, 2011 @ 2:39 pm

  2. You and I must be topic linked. I’m working on a post, in part, about the ironies of food and health fear mongering leading otherwise career minded women back home to prep the food themselves. Neither conservative women who see their responsibility as moral and intellectual development of their children nor more leftist women who are worried about chemicals in food want government healthcare. I’d wager that all of the working class women I know, prefer to use extended family for care of their children–or really prefer to bring them to work with them. (That’s possible for domestic workers with sympathetic bosses.) Regardless, who exactly wants government childcare?

    Comment by AHLondon — November 28, 2011 @ 8:24 pm

    • I’m looking forward to reading your post.
      Working from home, like programming or Etsy stores is also popular, but that’s typically a part time gig.
      The whole “unleashing women” rah-rah feels a bit dated, mainly because we now figured out that we want to spend time with our kids too.

      Comment by edge of the sandbox — November 28, 2011 @ 10:02 pm

  3. Pelosi would help ALL families by not pushing her hypocritical Socialist agenda on America.

    Comment by Harrison — November 30, 2011 @ 11:29 pm

  4. wow I couldnt agree more…but some women would rather satisfy their own needs and rationalize that their kids are doing fine in the welfare state with nannies all day!:)

    Comment by Angel — December 1, 2011 @ 5:57 am

    • Luckily most women are not like that. Even if we thought of going back to work, once we have babies we want to raise them.

      Comment by edge of the sandbox — December 4, 2011 @ 9:20 pm

  5. […] is one ‘s posts to which I easily related, Why Have Kids If Not to Spend Time With Them? That’s a question I can understand. Furthermore, I can understand why  asked that […]

    Pingback by MOMMY WARS | Citizen Tom — December 10, 2011 @ 7:05 am

  6. I left full-time work with a lot of travel when I had my son and went to partime. Thankfully, I was at a point in my career that I could do that. For the last several years I have been freelancing (working from home). It has not been without financial sacrifice, but I know I could never have the years back with my son. Now he’s in high school and I really need a bigger paycheck. I’m still in a quandry though! I love being about to attend his cross country meets, take him to soccer practice and be there for him after school, but we need to sock more away for college. I am very torn right now. Do you ever get past that? At what age do you feel your child doesn’t need you as much? Chidcare is a very personal decision and one the government cannot answer. They have ruined too many institutions such as education, postal service and I don’t think they can be trusted with rearing our kids.
    Found your post at Citizen Tom.

    Comment by Freedom, by the way — December 11, 2011 @ 4:18 am

    • Freedom, thank you for stopping by.
      You are right, childcare is a very personal decision. I am lucky that I can stay home with my kids for now. My oldest is in a pre-school part time, and we love it. My youngest will start it in summer. But I’m still with them most of the time, and I know that I’d never forgive myself if I miss them growing up. And although we love our pre-school, it’s not the same as mommy.

      Comment by edge of the sandbox — December 11, 2011 @ 8:42 am

  7. Does anyone involved in the ‘mommy wars’ know economics? Today people are working more; for less pay. Why? Because employers have double the amount of workers today, then they did in 1950 when one parent could support a whole household. Well of course they could support a whole household – there were less workers and hence, more competition for employees. That translated into better pay for the few workers there were – AND better benefits.

    Now that women are being told that a job that gives you cash is more important than a job that gives you lifelong significance – i.e. well developed, stable, secure children and future adults; there are so many workers that employers can pick and choose; lower paychecks; cut benefits and STILL see no ramifications since there are plenty more workers to choose from.

    How do we fix this problem? Do the right thing – have one parent stay home and raise the children. Why should the best educated parents in history leave the raising of THEIR OWN CHILDREN to someone with barely a high school education? Didn’t make sense to my husband and I and hence I left my career as a lawyer behind for 10 years to raise our 4 children. Guess what – I still had a great law career waiting when they were well taught and formed…

    Comment by Susan Fox — December 14, 2011 @ 4:30 pm

    • Susan,
      Thank you for stopping by and commenting.
      You are exactly right: Because women chose to stay home the size of the workforce in the 50s was smaller, and salaries — higher.
      I have to say I know some Russian women who, in the 1990s, got sitters from Russia with college degrees. I’m pretty sure this kind of Russian nannies is still out there, but I don’t want to go back to work even if I had this kind of arrangement.

      Comment by edge of the sandbox — December 14, 2011 @ 8:54 pm

  8. It is actually worse that that Sandbox and Susan. On top of lower wages is the two income trap. Families used to budget on one salary and hence did more saving and lived more modestly. Plus, if something happened to that income, the wife could jump in with a rescue income, a lower one usually, but still supplemental. Similiar for life issues like taking care of elderly parents. They didn’t necessairly have to pay for in home care because the housewife could take on some of that care. Today household budgets are based on two incomes, which since they seem bigger, initially allow for more lavish lifestyles. (Think back to 2005, or the 90’s.) If something happens to either of those incomes, it is much harder for the family to recover and with no spouse playing free safety, extra needs of the family have to be outsourced.

    Comment by AHLondon — December 15, 2011 @ 1:18 am

  9. […] will make staying home look like an increasingly attractive option, think again.  Last November Madame ex-Speaker promised to regaining Democratic majority in the House campaigning on a federal childcare […]

    Pingback by Calling All Julias (And Sandras) « sitting on the edge of the sandbox, biting my tongue — May 4, 2012 @ 9:58 am

  10. […] wee ones don’t need any more than that.  Oh, and a mommy will do.  Anyhow, this might be a Nancy Pelosi’s idea.  Not sure how her bankrupt home state of California is supposed to afford it all, or how the […]

    Pingback by Sandbox State of The Union « sitting on the edge of the sandbox, biting my tongue — February 13, 2013 @ 2:17 pm

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