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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 (41-50):
futureshock
by Ruby Member on Feb. 8, 2013 at 7:33 PM

Agreed.

Quoting AdrianneHill:

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!





ElitestJen
by Silver Member on Feb. 8, 2013 at 7:40 PM
There's your key words - "parents don't know any better".

That's the end all, be all. Kids need more than love. People need to start actually raising their kids.


Quoting Healthystart30:

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!

Posted on CafeMom Mobile
Healthystart30
by Silver Member on Feb. 8, 2013 at 8:01 PM
Quoting ElitestJen:




Exactly why I said they need quality childcare and good schools as well!
ElitestJen
by Silver Member on Feb. 8, 2013 at 8:12 PM



Quoting Healthystart30:

Quoting ElitestJen:




Exactly why I said they need quality childcare and good schools as well!

PARENTS are responsible for their children.  Not schools.  Not childcare.  Not government.  Parents. 

The government is inept at raising children.  They're inept at assisting in raising children. 

Parents need to do their job.  They want the kids....then they can raise them.  Parents need to take financial, emotional, and physical responsibility and stop pointing the fingers at society for their failures.  Society needs to stop allowing parents to buck their responsibilities.


soonergirl980
by Silver Member on Feb. 8, 2013 at 8:21 PM


A-friggin-men! I avoid this "village responsibility" crap for a reason! I and I alone am responsible for RAISING my kids whom I chose to bring into this world (well DH and I). I am not responsible for how others kids turn out if I wanted to be responsible for more kids I would have given birth to more instead of being responsible and getting my tubes tied because I knew 3 were plenty for me!

Quoting ElitestJen:



Quoting Healthystart30:

Quoting ElitestJen:




Exactly why I said they need quality childcare and good schools as well!

PARENTS are responsible for their children.  Not schools.  Not childcare.  Not government.  Parents. 

The government is inept at raising children.  They're inept at assisting in raising children. 

Parents need to do their job.  They want the kids....then they can raise them.  Parents need to take financial, emotional, and physical responsibility and stop pointing the fingers at society for their failures.  Society needs to stop allowing parents to buck their responsibilities.




krysstizzle
by DeepThought on Feb. 8, 2013 at 8:27 PM
2 moms liked this

Me too! My kids are only influenced by me, and our family has no ties to any other. No one affects us and we affect no one. It's just silly to think in terms of "community", as if humans are inherently social creatures. Ludicrous!

Quoting soonergirl980:


A-friggin-men! I avoid this "village responsibility" crap for a reason! I and I alone am responsible for RAISING my kids whom I chose to bring into this world (well DH and I). I am not responsible for how others kids turn out if I wanted to be responsible for more kids I would have given birth to more instead of being responsible and getting my tubes tied because I knew 3 were plenty for me!

Quoting ElitestJen:



Quoting Healthystart30:

Quoting ElitestJen:




Exactly why I said they need quality childcare and good schools as well!

PARENTS are responsible for their children.  Not schools.  Not childcare.  Not government.  Parents. 

The government is inept at raising children.  They're inept at assisting in raising children. 

Parents need to do their job.  They want the kids....then they can raise them.  Parents need to take financial, emotional, and physical responsibility and stop pointing the fingers at society for their failures.  Society needs to stop allowing parents to buck their responsibilities.





FromAtoZ
by AllieCat on Feb. 8, 2013 at 8:30 PM


Quoting soonergirl980:


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?



I truly hope you are making an effort to be willfully ignorant.  

NutHouseMomma
by Silver Member on Feb. 8, 2013 at 8:31 PM
I am not responsible for the piss poor decisions of others, or whatever hand that is dealt to them in life...and I refuse to accept anything different. But then again, I am a responsible and accountable adult.
Posted on the NEW CafeMom Mobile
FromAtoZ
by AllieCat on Feb. 8, 2013 at 8:35 PM
1 mom liked this


Quoting ElitestJen:

There's your key words - "parents don't know any better".

That's the end all, be all. Kids need more than love. People need to start actually raising their kids.


Quoting Healthystart30:

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!

I agree with you.

But reality speaks differently and, as it seems, you cannot make every horse drink the water.

Even so, the children suffer the most at the hands of these particular parents.  These children know no more than what is taught in the homes in which they live in. When they go to school, there is not much there offered to them in a manner that can be productive for them.

Society should not have to 'pay' for the willful ignorance of parents but as a member of society, I have no problem with programs in place to help children realize there are other choices to be made and guidance in making the correct choice.  I do not consider all of these as 'hand outs' or placing the blame on society.  It is to help those that do not know they can help themselves, that there are ways in which to do so.

We can sit around and talk about the ignorant parents all day and throw the children off to the way side, leaving no one but those ignorant parents to care for them.   If we do that, as a society, we certainly cannot complain about the outcome for some of the children.

When personal responsibility fails at a child's foot, by the hands of the parents, it is a collective effort that is needed to help that child.  

FromAtoZ
by AllieCat on Feb. 8, 2013 at 8:38 PM


Quoting ElitestJen:



Quoting Healthystart30:

Quoting ElitestJen:




Exactly why I said they need quality childcare and good schools as well!

PARENTS are responsible for their children.  Not schools.  Not childcare.  Not government.  Parents. 

The government is inept at raising children.  They're inept at assisting in raising children. 

Parents need to do their job.  They want the kids....then they can raise them.  Parents need to take financial, emotional, and physical responsibility and stop pointing the fingers at society for their failures.  Society needs to stop allowing parents to buck their responsibilities.


I could not, in good conscience, throw a child away to prove a point to their parents.

Of course, these situations are on a case by case basis and we should not lump too many in to the same cupboard.  But there should indeed be programs available for the child who suffers at the hands of their parents.  

I don't expect a school to raise a child but I do expect there to be resources available, within the school, for the child to reach out to.  If they are not conscience of how to do so, there should be other adults who can gently lead that child to the resources, take them by the hand and show them some one cares.

It is far better than throwing them away.  Their parents have already done that.

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