Clearing through the clutter
Have you read some of the articles and books blooming in the online space lately? If so, tell me what you think below. If not, here are summaries so we can discuss.
“In Defense of Single Motherhood,” Katie Roiphe, New York Times. Roiphe argues that Americans live in a fantasy world that trumpets heteronormative two-parent families despite the statistical reality that two-parent families are increasingly rare and that they often produce screwed up kids. She suggests we focus on social policies that help families raise good citizens instead of worrying so much about the logistics of their household.
I feel her argument that happy kids come from happy households are a welcome reminder that each person has to find the right household for them and that we, as a society, owe our fellow humans more than empty aphorisms and entreaties. We need public policy that makes sure workers are paid a liveable wage, child care is safer and more affordable for all parents, and so-called “different” family structures (including the child-free, whom Roiphe doesn’t mention) are honored just as highly as conventional households.
“Why Women Still Can’t Have It All,” Anne Marie Slaughter, The Atlantic. She explains how hard it is for even highly educated, financially blessed families to raise children and how women are forced to make untenable choices in the face of a mythology that says we can have it all. She flatly refutes this outdated and harmful claim. She offers helpful perspective on phases in which we focus more on career or children and helps readers rethink the career arc (a later peak for women who raise children at any point in their career) and children’s needs (teenagers need as much time and energy as infants even though the parenting focus is different).
Her article rocked my world because it allowed me to reframe the career-family balance I seek, cheer for the recent honesty of third-wave feminism, and hope we can frame new basic work policies that allow all people to do their best work on their terms whenever possible.
“Raising Successful Children,” Margaret Levine, The New York Times (based on her book of the same title). Levine argues that raising people means letting them be people. They need the respect and space to make mistakes and learn. They need support to learn good habits and character. But other than that we need to do for our children less, listen to our children more, and praise our children rarely, and then only for effort not results or innate talents. I found her reminders about building children’s confidence by standing back more and about modeling by doing more in for ourselves in our own, adult world welcome entreaties to keep doing better for my kids and myself. They learn about themselves by doing and they learn about adults by watching. So choose your activities and values well, then let them do the same.
So. Have you read any or all of these? What do you think?