Tuesday, September 16, 2014
New York Times presents interlocking views on parenthood, marriage (and so does Vox)
There’s new (really recycled old) attention to marriage – restoring its social expectation – as a way to address inequality, as in a New York Times story in the Sunday Review by Isabell V. Sawhill, link here. That story is reinforced by a Vox story this morning by Danielle Kurtzleben, “Two parents, not just two incomes, are what helps kids get ahead”, link here Both articles report the shift from “don’t have kids before marriage” until “don’t have kids until you’re both ready to be parents”.
It’s fair to mention a new wild card character in the debate: gay marriage, assuming that same-sex couples were encouraged to adopt whenever economically able.
The readiness is a big haul. It’s arguable that we’ve made it too risky and too expensive, and too emotionally demanding to have children at all, thereby bringing on, among people with ample incomes, a “demographic November”. For all the media hype about charity and helping those in need (enhanced by the Internet and sometimes, as with ice-bucket, carried to silly lengths), we’ve created a society where turning inward, along with increased reflection and self-absorption, is rewarded. My own personal life track suggests a particular irony: other men feared that my own homosexuality could indirectly show up their own potential inadequacies as marriage partners and fathers than they would have feared straight romantic rivals.
This is a good place to mention a corresponding piece in the Sunday Review in the NYT, by Nicholas Kristoff and Sheryl WaDunn, “The way to beat poverty: To fight inequality, give help early, even before birth”, link here. In the print layout on an orange page, that op-ed actually leads off. That would suggest that parenthood needs to be encouraged, and that cultural distractions are a real issue. It would be tempting to conflate this issue with the paid parental leave debate, as well as the arcane issue of the "family wage".