Moms Jailed Cause Childcare Unaffordable. GOP Superego Hides Solutions

Kids playing in a park

Kids playing in a park

Poor moms face no-win situations where conservatives are concerned.

Moms shouldn’t work outside the home, because kids need them every second.

But POOR moms SHOULD work outside the home.

Which leads to another double-blind:

Poor moms must work outside the home, even when they can’t afford childcare. 

In one well-known case Debra Harrell worked at McDonald’s and told her nine-year-old daughter to play in a nearby park that was packed with kids, because her pay wouldn’t cover childcare. Then mom ended up in jail, charged with neglect.

Next, mom loses her job, and daughter loses her mother when she ends up in foster care. Which brings more trauma than if she had been left playing in the park.

When the less harmful thing lands you in jail

Next, conservatives land in a conundrum. Like New York Times columnist, Ross Douthat.

It’s good to work. But it’s not so great when moms can’t be good mothers. He says:

We have to also find a way to defend their liberty as parents, instead of expecting them to hover like helicopters and then literally arresting them if they don’t.

In fact, the nine-year-old would be at greater risk while being driven to daycare than while playing unsupervised in a park — since way more kids are injured and killed in car accidents. And, she is more likely to face abuse in foster care than by being left at the playground. Is her arrest more about her race than her child’s risk of harm, Conor Friedersdorf wonders over at The Atlantic.

Heck, I know plenty of people who grew up playing in parks with no parents around. And the kidnap rate was no higher back then.

Ideology pushing solutions out of awareness

McDonald's: Living Wage Now!

McDonald’s: Living Wage Now!

Otherwise, you could favor both work and supervision.

But how would that be possible, Douthat wonders?

Can’t advocate a living wage. That’s against free-market principles.

And you can’t let the government provide childcare. Because everyone should be self-sufficient.

You can’t support moms on welfare, either, enabling them to stay home with their children. Because welfare’s bad.

Is there is no solution?

Professor Jay Livingston over at Sociological Images, says:

It’s a distinctive challenge, but only if you cling so tightly to conservative principles that you reject (obvious) solutions…

It’s a political version of Freudian repression – the conservative superego forcing tempting ideas to remain out of awareness.

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About BroadBlogs

I have a Ph.D. from UCLA in sociology (emphasis: gender, social 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. And I have blogged for Feminispire, Ms. Magazine, The Good Men Project and Daily Kos. Also been picked up by The Alternet.

Posted on August 22, 2014, in feminism, politics/class inequality, psychology, women and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 18 Comments.

  1. A lot of conservatives really seem to have no clue what the options are for people. They seem much more concerned for making sure nobody mooches off public money than making sure that poor people have avenues in place to not be poor anymore. In particular, the solution to everything seems to be, “Just get married!” As if marriage is a magic wand. Or even better – “Make better choices!” Yeah okay – I can see how I would have done something different if I had known the future, but how does that help me figure out what I need to do today?

    Now, in once sense I am happy for those conservative types because it’s clear that they have never experienced the effects of poverty, bad relationships, and having to throw yourself on other people’s mercy just to put your life back together. It’s not something you want other people to go through. But on the other hand, it makes them particularly unqualified to go on about how the solution to poverty is marriage or making different choices in the past.

    I think the biggest thing causing problems is this –

    It creates a situation where rational people would choose to stay dependent and below a certain income level.

    Also, there’s provisions in certain programs (can’t remember which ones at the moment) that will only help if you’re working 40 hours a week. How exactly are you supposed to find the time to change your situation if you’re working 40 hours a week and have kids at home? Plus, the one thing that the conservatives are right about – it’s better for kids if they can be raised by their parents. So we are better off as a society if we simply pay single moms of kids under, say, 3 years old to just stay home and raise them for a few years.

    Anyway, I could go on.

    • And even crazier, some have benefitted from liberal ideas, but don’t want others to be similarly helped. Paul Ryan’s dad died when he was a kid, and social security helped the family survive. Now libertarian Ryan wants to abolish SS.

      Plus, they’re ok with welfare for the rich, like subsidies for Big Oil, Big Ag…

      Their ideology is love the rich, hate the poor.

      And then give corporations unlimited campaign contributions (legalized bribery) and the rich become all the more favored.

  2. The psychologically and emotionally repressed making sure other people have to suffer and stay repressed like they do. There can be no solutions that dont fit the same thinking that the thinkers think from.
    Why wouldn’t they create a solution like maybe getting someone to watch all those kids at the park and make it a place where kids could come and be kids.

  3. There’s plenty of money to go round for childcare, etc. if the Washington elites just didn’t get such a kick out of going to war. The US spends more on its military than almost all other countries in the world combined. In the US, military spending is just of 4% of GDP, while European countries spend between 1- 2% depending on the country. Any wonder why European countries provide health care, human services, infrastructure, etc.?

  4. Clearly a problem. I wonder if the burden of childcare fell on the fathers if there would be such a dilemma in terms of a lack of childcare resources for those that cannot afford it.

  5. Yes, back then, but unfortunately times have changed. People used to have their doors unlocked when leaving, can;t really do that anymore. Leaving a child at the part without being there, just is scary to me. All these amber alerts, and all these pedophiles nowadays just makes it scary. It actually made national news, where poor amish girls were kidnapped and abducted and the couple, man and woman raped the girls and planned on having them as their prisoners. Luckily cops found them but it’s scary. The girls sold crops outside their house with a stand, but by themselves. You should let that happen, but nowadays, I’d keep my eye for my kids if out there and them selling stuff which brings people over and their attention.

    • The kidnap rate actually isn’t any higher, Per capita. It just seems like it because there are more kidnappings, overall, And those get on the news. Although most kidnappings are by parents. It’s no less safe these days and it was A few generations ago. And the child is more likely to be harmed or die just being driven around in the car.

  6. It becomes difficult to takecare of a child and also work on the other side, to feed him and your family. And the situation is more worse when she is alone an has to look after earning and taking care of her child. Those who can’t afford childcare, in such cases, I feel, there should be an elder person to look after your child, basically grandparents. In this way, our child is in safe and reliable hands and also we can save money by not paying for nanny.!

  7. Many politicians (and voters?) don’t look at long-term benefits. Doing everything possible to help bring about a positive outcome for a family is a fiscally sound idea. The more stability and security during formative and development years, the better chances that child will grow up and be able to get an education and join the work force, which is good for the economy, and puts less strain on the “welfare” system and taxpayers. Are politicians only doing what voters want? Are enough voters also willing to invest in the short-term to reap long-term benefits? It seems to me that many voters want instant results, and chastise politicians when they support initiatives where benefits won’t be realized until several years later. Yes, I’m sure “marriage” can be helpful, but it doesn’t align with the reality of the situation, and just because two people are married doesn’t guarantee they’ll have enough income to ensure that the physical and emotional needs of the kids are met.

    • Yes indeed.

      Like if you invest in education for young children you save a lot of money when they get older. You spend less money on teen moms, police, courts, the prison system…

  8. Thanks for this thought provoking post. A sad commentary indeed. In 3rd world countries where poverty levels are astonishingly high people do have to fend for themselves despite government efforts.

  9. hmmm…. What if we just keep minimum wage the way it is, but also establish what living wages are for an area. Keep that living wage in a chart that shows what a living wage is for different situations. Then, if you pay a person below living wage, you are required to provide free child care.

    I know that’s rather simple the way I stated it, but maybe there’s something there.

    • I think that it’s perfectly fine for people to be paid a living wage that is based on their community. Of course, that would likely mean changing the minimum wage in most, if not all, places. Seems like a good idea to me.

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