Right-Wing Hearts Bleed for Kids

boy-and-girl-cute-kids-laugh-love-Favim.com-451746Right-wingers fret over “working moms” and want to jail pregnant women who drink, smoke, or use drugs. We wouldn’t want to harm children’s life chances, now, would we?

Unless children’s life chances are harmed by corporate pollution or government cuts to battered women’s shelters, early education, health care or food supplements for poor kids.

Then, no worries!

Concern only comes when the opportunity to jail or disempower women presents itself.

Right now sequester cuts are threatening shelters and early education, while budget discussions are threatening the ability of little kids to get enough to eat.

Congress rushed to rectify across-the-board cuts to the FAA – long lines at airport security are a no-no! Especially when frequent flyers so often bring in big campaign contributions.

But who cares if kids are so hungry or lacking in medical care that they can’t focus on their schoolwork? How about the life-long trauma that comes from watching fathers beat mothers? How about cancer-causing toxic waters?

Right-wing extremists have their priorities.

They stew about moms working outside the home. But that’s where they shouldn’t worry.

University of Michigan psychology professor, Lois Wladis Hoffman, reviewed 40 years of research and performed her own study. Turns out, kids whose moms worked outside the home did better academically and were better-adjusted behaviorally and socially. Daughters, in particular, had a higher sense of competence and effectiveness.

Extremists. Worried about kids? Or just looking for ways to disempower women?

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About BroadBlogs

I have a Ph.D. from UCLA in sociology (emphasis: gender, social psych, women's psych). I currently teach sociology and women's studies at Foothill College in Los Altos Hills, CA. I have also lectured at San Jose State University. And I have blogged for Ms. Magazine, The Good Men Project and Daily Kos.

Posted on June 21, 2013, in feminism, politics, sexism, women and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 22 Comments.

  1. I never thought I’d see myself agreeing with a “right winger” opinion but I’ve felt that my work outside the home stole from my time as a wife and a mother and robbed from the well-being of my family, home and children. A mother (or father) can only spread so far in a 24 hour period.

    I’m concerned about the human costs of children being raised in group settings from young infancy by constantly changing low-wage workers. How can that be good for them? Is relative “success” in a public education setting the only end point to evaluate outcome?

    I don’t see this as only a “woman” issue. It’s a family issue, a relationship issue, a cultural issue, a father’s issue, a children’s issue and a human issue.

    Perhaps if “right wingers” want mothers (or fathers) at home with their children, they’d like to spend the money necessary to support the young families so this can happen?

    Thanks for another thought provoking article. Keep it up. :-)
    Alice

    • Supporting mom is what the French government does. They are concerned about the falling birth rate and so they do things like provide childcare for stay-at-home moms that costs $150 a month. (Well, at least that’s what it cost when Judith Warner wrote her book called “Perfect Madness” on intensive mothering in the United States.)

      That said, working outside the home usually doesn’t hurt families and can help children. When lower-class kids moms work outside the home they tend to be less delinquent. Children, generally, are also more independent and girls in particular tend to be more confident and higher achievers.

      My mom worked outside the home and I think I turned out okay.

      But it doesn’t work out well for everyone. And in particular it doesn’t work out well for mothers who wish they could stay at home with their children. But more often it works out well when moms get support from spouses and paid help.

      • Truly “at home” parents are so far in the historical past in this country that I doubt we have any way to compare what we have now with what we lost through the industrial revolution. With the industrial revolution, we destroyed and left behind the extended family with both parents (and everyone else) at home.

        Perhaps one could compare Amish children raised inside their intact extended families to modern American kids.

        I’m sure some people turn out “okay” doing things just as we do. I know we’ve gained a lot from everyone going their separate individual ways to work and school. We are all well trained in individualism in this country.

        The working mothers I’ve known work themselves crazy trying to shoulder the burdens of house, food, children plus a job. With the way American families are fragmented there’s often no one to help pick of the slack.

        My husband and I both worked part-time and swapped off work hours and juggled parenting and home tasks. Working while raising children was an exhausting tag-team way to run a family.We were lucky to stay married and to work have jobs that made enough money to allow even this insanity.

        I know working families where both parents have to work multiple jobs just to keep a minimal roof over their heads. I don’t call the mothers or fathers in these families “liberated”. They look to be enslaved to me.

        Plus I wonder if we haven’t lost essential aspects of family and humanity through our industrialization/education/work/liberation process.

        Alice

        PS It’s great that we can have discussions like this. I’d love to hear your own experiences raising children while working.

        Perhaps I was only so tired because I did the modern liberated woman thing and used birth control to post-pone reproduction till I was through school and had established a career in my late thirties and middle forties.

        Alice

      • Actually, before the Industrial Revolution women had very little time to spend with their children. They were too busy making clothing from scratch, mending clothing, washing clothes without a washer, drying clothes on a line because they didn’t have a dryer, chucking peas and husking corn, making three meals a day from scratch, washing the dishes without a dishwasher, milking cows, gathering eggs, making candles, making butter, making soap, canning and preserving food for the winter…

        It wasn’t until after the Industrial Revolution, when “women’s work” moved into factories, that women had time to spend with their children. Even then, most women still needed to work outside the home to feed their families.

        The romantic notions we have of mom being in the home and spending a ton of time caring for children weren’t even possible until union jobs allowed men to make enough money to support a family – roughly the 1950s and 60s when 3/5 of women were able to be stay-at-home moms.

        But those moms were not spending a lot of time with their kids. The kids would go out and play when they got home from school and then come in for dinner and watch some television and go to bed. Even though mothers are working outside the home these days they actually spend more time with their kids than moms did in the 1950s and 60s.

        When you compare the outcomes of kids raised by moms who work outside the home with those who don’t the most important factors are the mental health of the mother, and the quality of daycare, not whether moms work or not.

        Overall, kids whose mom’s work seem to do slightly better than those with moms who stay home. Especially true for girls.

        I agree that it’s becoming increasingly difficult for even two parents to support a family. This problem stems from the fact that unions are now weak with the increase of “right to work” (for less) states, technology is overtaking jobs, and jobs are being off-shored and outsourced. So productivity is increasing, and GDP is increasing, but nearly all of the increase is going to the top 1%.

        The middle-class is struggling to get by and disappearing.

      • Yes. I certainly agree. The rich art getting richer and the poor poorer.

        Before the industrial revolution children worked with their parents from a very young age. Older children took care of younger children. Aunts, uncles and grandparents all worked together. They didn’t “spend time together”. They simply were together.

        School and public education is a tool invented before but put into use here around the time of the industrial revolution to manage the population. The King of Prussia developed the original model used for our education system. This is a fascinating piece of history.

        Kids didn’t “go out and play after school” before industrialization. Most kids didn’t go to school for very long, if at all. Their work was an essential part of family survival.

        Prior to mandatory public education in this country, the literacy rates were higher than today. (Check John T. Gatto’s “Underground History of the American Education System”. He reviews minutes from government meetings where our schools were designed. A real eye opener.)

        Check out the modern lifestyles of groups (Amish) who didn’t industrialize life. My family lives in Amish country. Yes, the Amish are “poor’ by modern monetary and material standards (ie They have low incomes and contribute little to “productivity” and “GDP”). They work hard. But they are together.

        I suspect the necessary house and family work only counts toward GDP is it’s done by someone outside the home and paid for with dollars.

        When you evaluate “outcomes”, it’s important to be very clear what you’re measuring and what it means, what is “gained” and what is “lost”. It’s also (I learned though my experience evaluating “mental health” outcomes and pharmaceutical research) essential to know who is paying for the research and why.

        All the best. Alice

      • I named the outcomes. See my post and go to the link.

        I, and plenty of my friends, had so-called working moms. Personally, I think we all turned out fabulously!

        I even have friends with stay-home moms who didnt turn out so great. And others who also turned out fabulously.

        On your other point, I don’t get being against public education. In poor countries where conservative economists from the World Bank and IMF insisted on paying for education, kids, especially girls, quit getting educated because their parents couldn’t afford it. Bad idea. The single biggest boost to an economy is educated girls. See results.org.

        Without public ed here, many middle-class and lower-class families wouldn’t be able to afford it. Then we’d have an even bigger gap between rich and poor, and the poor would be more easily manipulated and disempowered to resist certain wealthy interests who care nothing for anyone but themselves.

      • I hear that you’re fabulous. I am too. We can certainly agree there. We are each fabulous in our own ways. Like with outcomes measurement words, we may all define this term differently.

        I also hear you are a true believer in public education. I used to be just as staunch a believer. I used to think home education was a kind of childhood deprivation that bordered on abuse.

        I don’t think that now. Not at all.

        I also know that “a (wo)man convinced against his (her) will is of the same opinion still.”

        This works both ways.

        If you want to learn more about what the back story on government mandated”education”, read history. Read John Taylor Gatto. He’s a former award winning public school teacher from NewYork.

        If you want to understand, then educate yourself about the history of education and literacy and the impact of industrialization on family and community.

        History. That’s the key here. If you only go back 50 or 60 years, this isn’t far enough to be informed.

        You might then understand some of my issues with mandatory government education.

        If his History book is too long, try another of his books, “Dumbing Us Down”. It’s not so long and less ofchallenging a read.

        Good luck as you continue to educate yourself. Learning is a lifetime of self-education.

        All the best.
        Alice

      • Whatever it’s beginnings, from personal experience my own public education has been stimulating and mind-expanding. Had excellent teachers in elementary school. Some unbelivably fab professors at San Diego State, UCLA — and my own teaching at Foothill College. My mom was also an excellent 5th grade teacher. Her students were lucky to have her.

        On homeschooling the instances I know personally have been mixed. One person I know gave her kids a good homeschooling education. Two other people I know weren’t educated enough themselves to be able to educate their children. The mother of one of them told my mom that her grandchildren basically didn’t know anything. And several other people I know who homeschooled their children were motivated by keeping them shielded from a world that taught things like evolution and climate change. Shielded them from science. As much as possible they wanted to make sure that their children were not exposed to any ideas that were different from their own.

        And then there’s this, related to the right-wing war on public education:

        War on the Core By BILL KELLER
        The right-wing campaign to keep America stupid.

        http://www.nytimes.com/2013/08/19/opinion/keller-war-on-the-core.html

        “overwhelmingly the animus against the standards comes from the right.”

        “Some of this was inevitable. Local control of public schools, including the sacred right to keep them impoverished and ineffectual.”

        “FreedomWorks — the love child of Koch brothers cash and Tea Party passion”

        I suspect they want to keep people – especially lower-class people – ignorant and manipulable.

        Ideally the right wants to completely get rid of public education. That’s one of the reasons they don’t want to reform it where there are problems. They want to get everyone up in arms to get rid of it completely.

        And at the very least, keep the poor schools poor and underfunded. That way it’s easier to manipulate people, including keeping people from voting. People who feel disempowered tend not to vote.

        What do you recommend in lieu of public education?

      • Ah. You’re a teacher raised by a teacher.

        I have absolutely no recommendations “in lieu of public education” for you. It’s clear your mind is made up on this.

        I’m glad to hear that your education experiences were all so wonderful. Everyone’s are not.

        Check out the ACLU website for information on the the school to prison pipeline http://www.aclu.org/racial-justice/school-prison-pipeline.

        Check out rates of illiteracy in public school grads and rates of stimulant prescribing in schools.

        Investigate standardized test scores for the home-educated compared to the publicly educated.

        All is not lovely in public education land and it hasn’t been for a long time.

        Good luck on your exploration of this topic.

        Alice

      • The movement to destroy public education comes from wealthy right-wing interests who know that it’s easier to manipulate an uneducated population: get them to vote in the interests of the wealthy and against their own interests. We have a strong history of this happening in the United States recently. Just look at all the poor folks who watch FOXNews and vote in ways that favor the rich and hurt themselves. Plus, as universities — and public education generally — expand students minds, those minds tend to become more liberal. That’s a big threat to conservative, wealthy interests.

        And so they do what they can do to convince people to disband public education.

        You say that you have no alternative idea as to what to do. The clear alternative would be uneducated masses.

        (And to the extent that you can push home-schooling, it serves the dual purpose of keeping women in the home, out of paid work, and more disempowered. They’re more disempowered because women who do not work for money are more likely to let their husbands make big decisions because “They make more money.” And husbands are more likely to feel like they should have more say because they make more money. It’s also harder for women to leave marriages when they can’t support themselves. And when women don’t hold positions of power in government and business, etc., our world is more likely to be run from the perspectives of men.)

        Also, you say “public education is a tool invented to manage the population.”

        I live in Silicon Valley, one of the most creative places in the world. Most of the people I know here received public educations. They are thriving, and unmanaged. And here are a few publicly educated, or “managed people,” as you say, from creative Silicon Valley and from the creative arts outside our valley:

        Apple founders, Steve Jobs and Stephen Wozniak , HP’s William Hewlett, Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, Adobe founder, John Warnock, Intel founder Robert Noyce. Authors Maya Angelou, Amy Tan, and Phillip Roth. And then there’s Oprah Winfrey.

        I could go on, but I don’t want to spend so much time on this.

        Do you really think that public universities like Berkeley, UC Santa Cruz, UCLA, University of Massachusetts, Ohio State, and the University of Michigan, for instance, are there to “manage the population”?

        The first week of class I tell my students to read a paper called, “Claiming an Education.” This reading encourages students to use their critical thinking skills. I tell them that it’s okay to disagree with me, the authors they are reading, or the students in our classes. They just need to be polite. I’ve had students from Asia who’ve told me that they aren’t at all used to American teaching styles, which encourage critical thinking.

        I have made some of the same complaints that the ACLU does (re your link). For instance, I don’t like tracking students into college versus vocational schools. But neither the ACLU nor I think that ridding ourselves of public education is the answer. The answer is to reform where there are problems.

        It’s easy to accuse someone of being narrow-minded because you believe they will never agree with you. I could accuse you of the same thing. It’s clear that you will never be for public education no matter the evidence.

        Even before I went into teaching – when I was working at an advertising agency – I had very much valued my public education. (If you’re worried about “managing the population” attack ad agencies — that’s why I left.)

        It’s not that I value public education now because I teach. Rather, I know from “the inside” that you are completely wrong. Neither I nor anyone around me in academia has ever felt like “managing the population” is our job. I, and most of my colleagues, feel that it’s our job to challenge our students to think creatively, think outside the box and challenge current ways of thinking.

        I’m tired of this conversation, and this thread is getting too long. If you want to continue this, do it on your own blog.

      • All the best to you too, Georgia. :-)

      • Thank you.

        You too.

      • One more thing: The Taliban is trying to end education — and girls education especially — by throwing acid on girls, killing girls, and blowing up schools. After the Taliban unsuccessfully tried to kill Malala Yousafzai, one of their leaders wrote her a letter warning of the evils of public education. From the New York Times report: http://thelede.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/07/17/a-taliban-commander-writes-to-malala-yousafzai/?emc=tnt&tntemail0=y

        “Mr. Rashid also tried to convince the young woman that Western notions of education are a continuation of a centuries-old plot to indoctrinate the former subjects of the British Empire.”

        Sounds an awful lot like what you’ve written here about why public ed is so dangerous.

        Yes, it is dangerous to tyrants.

        When you remove people’s education you weaken them, and more easily manipulate them. Is that really the side you want to be on?

  2. Consider this: The “right wing” opposition leader in Australia, a former candidate to be a Catholic priest, who we know is against abortion (though probably won’t do anything about it), has also made it party policy for the most generous paid parental work scheme ever proposed. Women would get 26 weeks paid leave, so that they can keep their job, and go back to work when they’re ready.

    • It could be that right wingers in Australia aren’t hypocritical as they are in United States. I know nothing about Australian politics. But you seem not to understand US politics.

      The truth remains that in the United States the right-wing doesn’t care about children when it comes to their being harmed by corporate pollution or government cuts to battered women’s shelters, early education, health care or food supplements for poor kids.

      The only time they care about children’s outcomes is when they think they can find an excuse to limit women.

  3. Oh don’t worry, I’m sure right-wingers here in the land of Oz can be pretty hypocritical also! I don’t think things go quite as far as in the States and xpusostomos is right when he says the conservative leader of the opposition, Tony Abbott, wants to expand paid parental leave scheme, but what you say about corporate pollution is just as relevant here and probablly nearly everywhere in the world. Not that the current party in power are much better. You made a really interesting point linking the environmental damage to concern for children. You can have all the women in gaol for smoking and paid parental leave schemes in the world but you can’t claim to care for childrens welfare while poisoning them.

  4. Strange article.Its not as if liberals are proenvirornment.What about the silence of liberals when obamas drones regularly kill kids in yemen,waziristan,somalia.

  5. Juan Leonardo

    I do not agree with the right-wings’. The research has clearly shown that working moms may cause their children to be more independent and competitive. Talking about mother’s role in the house, it might be true that little kids need their mom next to them all the time in the house, but only until a certain age. After the kids has grown up a little, they should learn to live more independently, not to be spoiled by their mom. After the certain age, mothers should be allowed to work. Beside, thinking about food and health for the children, working mothers can actually improve a household’s earning and thus lifting up their family’s life quality with better food and health cares. So all in all, saying that mothers should stay at home and take care of their kids is wrong.

    • Also, there is no evidence that children need to be with their mothers every moment of the day.

      The notion that they do is relatively recent. Even in the family farm situation that Alice was talking about the kids are with their mothers every second.

      And boredom is good for kids. It creates a motivation to become creative.

  6. This is something that I have learned about very recently. At the end where it states, “kids whose moms worked outside the home did better academically and were better-adjusted behaviorally and socially.” I had never noticed this or paid any attention to it until it was mentioned in one of my classes. I thought about examples in my life where it could apply and I thought about my girlfriends situation, her mother and father worked very hard throughout her childhood, so much to a point where she had to raise her younger siblings because her parents were never home. While I always thought of this as a detriment to her education, she is now one of the most intelligent people I know, her passion for school and learning influences others. She consistently gets A’s in every class as well as getting numerous leadership awards and her passion has influenced me to do the same throughout my college life. Then I think about the opposite end, my family. My father is an engineer and making the salary that he does allowed for my mother to always be at home 24/7. What benefits has that brought us? My youngest sibling is 2 years behind in her home schooling, my other sibling dropped out of high school and I went through high school with around a 1.7 GPA. Quite a change from my now current 3.97 GPA and the only change I have to account for is the girl who had to raise herself and influenced me to take control of my own life.

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