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Childhood Poverty Is Society’s Fault? Really?

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Childhood Poverty Is Society’s Fault? Really?


Writing at The Atlantic’s site, Karen Kornbluh notes that about fifty percent of single-parent families are living in poverty — and she knows whose fault that is: Ozzie and Harriet’s:

Nine years later, the nation no longer clings quite so tightly to the ideal of the 1950s family, but policies and practices lag behind. … Our lack of quality childcare and after-school programs puts these kids at risk and endangers the nation’s future in a knowledge economy. Our lack of support for flexible work arrangements and Social Security credits for caregivers puts these parents at risk. However, there is good news: health care reform will be an enormous help to these families. They are raising our future citizens and building our productive assets at great cost to themselves and with little help from the rest of us.

Look, I agree that we ought to have more flexibility in our labor laws to make it easier for things like parents taking sick leave to care for their kids. That the government is responsible for “quality child care and afterschool programs”? Well, call me skeptical.

What’s so interesting, and frustrating, about this piece is that it doesn’t seem to have occurred to this writer that single parenthood is something to be avoided. It’s just one of those choices that people make, and public policy should accommodate it. The rhetoric about “raising our future citizens and building our productive assets” is airy-fairy and moralistic, and conceals the true nature of the crisis. The idea seems to be that if we shifted public policy a bit, we would solve, or go a long way toward solving, the problem of single parenthood and childhood poverty. To a certain kind of liberal, there’s no problem that a new government program can’t solve.

It’s just not so. Kay Hymowitz wrote a few years back about marriage and caste in America. Excerpt:

Yes, 33 percent of children are born to single mothers; in 2004, according to the National Center for Health Statistics, that amounted to 1.5 million children, the highest number ever. But the vast majority of those children are going home from the maternity wards to low-rent apartments. Yes, experts predict that about 40 to 50 percent of marriages will break up. But most of those divorces will involve women who have always shopped at Wal-Mart. “[T]he rise in single-parent families is concentrated among blacks and among the less educated,” summarize Ellwood and Jencks. “It hardly occurred at all among women with a college degree.”

When Americans began their family revolution four decades ago, they didn’t tend to talk very much about its effect on children. That oversight now haunts the country, as it becomes increasingly clear that the Marriage Gap results in a yawning social divide. If you want to discuss why childhood poverty numbers have remained stubbornly high through the years that the nation was aggressively trying to lower them, begin with the Marriage Gap. Thirty-six percent of female-headed families are below the poverty line.

The new states Kornbluh reports indicate that that number is now almost 50 percent. More Hymowitz:

For children born at the bottom of the income scale, the situation is the reverse. They face a decrease in what McLanahan terms “resources”: their mothers are younger, less stable, less educated, and, of course, have less money. Adding to their woes, those children aren’t getting much (or any) financial support and time from their fathers. Surprisingly, McLanahan finds that in Europe, too—where welfare supports for “lone parents,” as they are known in Britain, are much higher than in the United States—single mothers are still more likely to be poor and less educated. [Emphasis mine -- RD] As in the United States, so in Europe and, no doubt, the rest of the world: children in single-parent families are getting less of just about everything that we know helps to lead to successful adulthood.

These single moms are by and large not raising “our productive assets.” There are obviously exceptions — we all know them — but statistics indicate that these women are raising kids who will be just like them, or, if they are males, like the fathers who abandoned their children. Here, from Hymowitz, is the important point:

There is something fundamentally different about low-income single mothers and their educated married sisters. But a key part of that difference is that educated women still believe in marriage as an institution for raising children. What is missing in all the ocean of research related to the Marriage Gap is any recognition that this assumption is itself an invaluable piece of cultural and psychological capital—and not just because it makes it more likely that children will grow up with a dad in the house. As society’s bulwark social institution, traditional marriage—that is, childbearing within marriage—orders social life in ways that we only dimly understand.

For one thing, women who grow up in a marriage-before-children culture organize their lives around a meaningful and beneficial life script. Traditional marriage gives young people a map of life that takes them step by step from childhood to adolescence to college or other work training—which might well include postgraduate education—to the workplace, to marriage, and only then to childbearing. A marriage orientation also requires a young woman to consider the question of what man will become her husband and the father of her children as a major, if not the major, decision of her life. In other words, a marriage orientation demands that a woman keep her eye on the future, that she go through life with deliberation, and that she use self-discipline—especially when it comes to sex: bourgeois women still consider premature pregnancy a disaster. In short, a marriage orientation—not just marriage itself—is part and parcel of her bourgeois ambition.

When Americans announced that marriage before childbearing was optional, low-income women didn’t merely lose a steadfast partner, a second income, or a trusted babysitter, as the strength-in-numbers theory would have it. They lost a traditional arrangement that reinforced precisely the qualities that they-and their men; let’s not forget the men!—needed for upward mobility, qualities all the more important in a tough new knowledge economy.

Want to tweak public policy to give single parents a break? Fine. But don’t tell yourselves that this is going to make a significant difference in the future of kids born into these circumstances, or left there because of divorce. There really are deleterious consequences to the welfare of children — including the adults these kids will grow up to be — from our sexually permissive culture. The cost of out-of-wedlock childbearing cannot be significantly ameliorated with public policy adjustments. Should it be?

http://www.theamericanconservative.com/dreher/childhood-poverty-single-parenthood/

by on Feb. 8, 2013 at 1:42 PM
Replies (31-40):
krysstizzle
by on Feb. 8, 2013 at 6:02 PM

This, the most basic of concepts; yet it still eludes people. 

Quoting mehamil1:

Poverty is caused by lack of access to resources. Not laziness. 

Those who have more access to resources, which a society shares, has less poverty. I point to Scandinavia as an example. They are very socialistic in their structure *gasp* and yet are highly productive people. The 4 nations that make up Scandinavia are wealthy and prosperous and most of all, safe. There is very little crime in these countries. Much of that can be pointed to the fact that they have little poverty. The countries are not perfect, but they sure as hell are a model of what it means to share resources for everyones benefit. They care about each other and it shows. 


Healthystart30
by Silver Member on Feb. 8, 2013 at 6:09 PM
2 moms liked this
Quoting ElitestJen:




Open your eyes! Calling it horseshit doesn't make it any less true! If a child is born in the wrong part of the city in this country that child is much more likely to never become anything but an inmate or a fast food worker! Why? Because the parents don't know any better, the kids go to shitty daycares, on to shitty public schools and after that a shitty "career"! And we turn a blind eye because it's not our problem. I think you and those like you forget that children did not ask to be born into this world, and it is our responsibility to take care of them collectively! I'm not talking about hand outs, like clothes and food, but to demand that they get the same education as other children and that their caregivers don't look at them like dirt!
If you don't think that happens, I think you need to look around!

And just to make it clear I believe in personal responsibility, that we should take care of our children and do what's best for them, but I am a realist and I know that many children are not being offered the opportunity they deserve and that needs to change!
Healthystart30
by Silver Member on Feb. 8, 2013 at 6:23 PM
1 mom liked this
Quoting soonergirl980:




A part of it is societies fault. I didn't say all of it is societies fault but a part of it is! We are not doing anything to help break that cycle because we have just decided it won't get any better, that these kids/young adults are lost causes and that by cutting welfare they will just die off by killig each other!
I just watched a documentary about a pastor that opened up an outreach program in a neighborhood that had murders almost every day! He talked with the people in the neighborhood, all those young men and most of them said they needed jobs. He made buisnesses that employ fellons, told the women/moms/grandmothers to stop being afraid, to go out in their community and demand for the violence to stop! The last homicide in this neighborhood at the time when that show was made was three years earlier!
http://homeboyindustries.org/
I believe we can do better!
soonergirl980
by Silver Member on Feb. 8, 2013 at 6:25 PM

Good for him, but it shouldn't take a human being telling other human beings that it's not ok to kill each other. Those people are making those choices not society.


Quoting Healthystart30:

Quoting soonergirl980:




A part of it is societies fault. I didn't say all of it is societies fault but a part of it is! We are not doing anything to help break that cycle because we have just decided it won't get any better, that these kids/young adults are lost causes and that by cutting welfare they will just die off by killig each other!
I just watched a documentary about a pastor that opened up an outreach program in a neighborhood that had murders almost every day! He talked with the people in the neighborhood, all those young men and most of them said they needed jobs. He made buisnesses that employ fellons, told the women/moms/grandmothers to stop being afraid, to go out in their community and demand for the violence to stop! The last homicide in this neighborhood at the time when that show was made was three years earlier!
http://homeboyindustries.org/
I believe we can do better!



AdrianneHill
by Platinum Member on Feb. 8, 2013 at 6:40 PM
Yeah, you'd think that but you'd be amazed at the shit people need to be reminded of.

Quoting soonergirl980:

Good for him, but it shouldn't take a human being telling other human beings that it's not ok to kill each other. Those people are making those choices not society.



Quoting Healthystart30:

Quoting soonergirl980:






A part of it is societies fault. I didn't say all of it is societies fault but a part of it is! We are not doing anything to help break that cycle because we have just decided it won't get any better, that these kids/young adults are lost causes and that by cutting welfare they will just die off by killig each other!

I just watched a documentary about a pastor that opened up an outreach program in a neighborhood that had murders almost every day! He talked with the people in the neighborhood, all those young men and most of them said they needed jobs. He made buisnesses that employ fellons, told the women/moms/grandmothers to stop being afraid, to go out in their community and demand for the violence to stop! The last homicide in this neighborhood at the time when that show was made was three years earlier!

http://homeboyindustries.org/

I believe we can do better!




Posted on the NEW CafeMom Mobile
Healthystart30
by Silver Member on Feb. 8, 2013 at 6:41 PM
2 moms liked this
Quoting soonergirl980:




Well now I feel like you are just being willfully ignorant! Just take a basic psychology class for goodness sake! If there is only hopelessness people will resort to violence! Give them hope and most will do better!
Sometimes I wonder about the lack of compassion and empathy shown by some of you people in this group!
You believe a child that has never been told that they will succeed, a child that has to live in poverty, doesn't get proper nutrition, doesn't get a good education, lives in constant fear of being shot, has seen things no child should ever see, will just wake up one day and know how to be a productive member of society?
Do you really think we should just let children die from hunger and hopelessness because their parents didn't do better? Give them subpar care because they were born in the wrong place? Subpar education because after all their parents suck? Sit and hope that they will just kill each other off because it's not societies fault?
Well I don't! I much rather support outreach programs that work, and ask that every child be equal in the eyes of society regardless of where or to whom they were born!

soonergirl980
by Silver Member on Feb. 8, 2013 at 6:53 PM

We have very different opinions on what humanity is. I think if a person is willing to murder someone over a street corner or a pair of shows than that is who they are it is a part of him, it is a lack of humanity, it doesn't matter what his life circumstances are that is a path he chooses. There are plenty of people in this world who come from those same circumstances and choose to do better.


If you grow up in a pverty stricken home because your mother got knocked up at 15 and made a horrible pick for you father who has gone on to father 3 more babies from 3 different woman without supporting any of them and you DON'T take steps to not let that happen to you, that is on you not society.

It's not societies fault but society sure pays for it.

Quoting Healthystart30:

Quoting soonergirl980:




Well now I feel like you are just being willfully ignorant! Just take a basic psychology class for goodness sake! If there is only hopelessness people will resort to violence! Give them hope and most will do better!
Sometimes I wonder about the lack of compassion and empathy shown by some of you people in this group!
You believe a child that has never been told that they will succeed, a child that has to live in poverty, doesn't get proper nutrition, doesn't get a good education, lives in constant fear of being shot, has seen things no child should ever see, will just wake up one day and know how to be a productive member of society?
Do you really think we should just let children die from hunger and hopelessness because their parents didn't do better? Give them subpar care because they were born in the wrong place? Subpar education because after all their parents suck? Sit and hope that they will just kill each other off because it's not societies fault?
Well I don't! I much rather support outreach programs that work, and ask that every child be equal in the eyes of society regardless of where or to whom they were born!



stacymomof2
by Ruby Member on Feb. 8, 2013 at 6:54 PM
2 moms liked this

Another shallow, myopic bashing of single parents.  Leaps of logic, blindness to changes in society.  Congrats on your lack of recognition of every working married couple struggling with lack of resources, putting their kids in crappy daycares and living where their crappy neighborhood schools are not setting their kids up to succeed in anything.

Healthystart30
by Silver Member on Feb. 8, 2013 at 7:12 PM
1 mom liked this
Quoting soonergirl980:




if children dont know any better, they wont do any better! And if you were right aboutgang members there would not be any former gang members, or so many that tried to become former gang members and are now dead! Please educate yourself about gangs, where they came from and how hard it is for kids to get out! And in the meantime educate yourself about poverty and how it affects people, plus hoplessness, discrimination and racism! please for humanities sake!
And no we will never agree on this, because you are closed minded and your attitude quite frankly sickens me! I cant believe that there are actually more then one person that believes children deserve shitty lives because their parents were shitty or didnt know any better! WTF is wrong with you people?
soonergirl980
by Silver Member on Feb. 8, 2013 at 7:14 PM


Who said they deserve anything?? Um I sure didn't I said they should learn from their childhood and break the cycle and not blame society. Blame their parents not society.

Quoting Healthystart30:

Quoting soonergirl980:




if children dont know any better, they wont do any better! And if you were right aboutgang members there would not be any former gang members, or so many that tried to become former gang members and are now dead! Please educate yourself about gangs, where they came from and how hard it is for kids to get out! And in the meantime educate yourself about poverty and how it affects people, plus hoplessness, discrimination and racism! please for humanities sake!
And no we will never agree on this, because you are closed minded and your attitude quite frankly sickens me! I cant believe that there are actually more then one person that believes children deserve shitty lives because their parents were shitty or didnt know any better! WTF is wrong with you people?



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