Thursday, February 5, 2015

out-of-school time

After school programs make me angry.  Our society is in a state where most of the time both parents and any family members that might be able to help take care of and parent children are unavailable for most of the day.  Instead of making parents available to parent their kids by changing this fact, they offer to parent our children for us in after-school programs.   
     This is not a good thing.  If we are going to continue to have families in our society they need to spend more than 2 hours a week awake and in each other’s company.  Family time should be the GOAL of having children.  The goal for parents should not be to raise productive, socially acceptable drones for someone to employ at low wages and few benefits.  Our goals are focusing on the wrong things!  I looked at several articles on “how children spend their out-of-school time.”  Every article I could find listed the advantages of after school programs as “successful” children.  “Success” being measured by standardized tests and earning power. 
            Are these really the goals we want to set for ourselves and our children?  It’s no wonder to me that most Americans report they are unhappy.  Of course we are.  We are valuing prestige and earnings above our emotional health!  How many “unhappy” Americans are in soul-stealing jobs that discourage creativity and encourage “fake it until you make it?” 

            In summary I believe that out-of-school programs are going to push us further in the wrong direction.  How long until we are scheduling all our children’s time with government run and funded programs?  How long until we just turn over our kids to them in the morning while we go to our drone jobs and only see them in the late evening?  How many of you already live like that?  The goal should be:  allow more parenting time for parents, not set up more in-lieu-of-parents programs.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Nature vs Nurture: the ubiquitous assigned debate

I have a lot of children in my life.  My own children (all except 1) benefit from experience in two households.  I believe that will allow them to be more adaptive as adults because it teaches them there are many different ways to live, learn and love.  I see my brother’s children, as well, in what (I consider to be) a cluttered and unorganized home learn more quickly than my own children.  If they can learn and grow so successfully in that environment then it stands to reason that nature has something to do with learning ability.   Or perhaps my brother just spends more time teaching his son the alphabet than he does cleaning his home.   A habit I wholeheartedly support.
 My own opinion is that our children are an amalgam of their experience.    A girl born with no legs can be a gymnast as long as she doesn’t give up and has support from people around her.  A boy born of mentally handicapped parents can excel academically, if he goes to school and applies himself.  People achieve what they truly want to achieve.  If you believe yourself to be a mathematical genius, but also believe that you are cursed and cannot ever earn a living with this skill, you never will.  Where someone less skilled in mathematics may believe they can be paid for their skills will achieve that goal.  It depends on what you believe about yourself and the world around you.  Usually that is what you learn at your parents’ knee, whether they meant to teach you what they did or not.
In the debate nature vs. nurture we are handicapped because we do not have an objective way to determine intelligence in the absence of education.  The intelligence quotient (IQ) test is based on how much a person knows about the world.  That is compared with how much that person “should” know about the world according to his/her age.   It is impossible to measure a person’s potential intelligence with this test.  After a point in development we are simply testing how much they have been taught.  And we know that not everyone is taught the same things. 
            A child develops the same way no matter which socio-economic background they live in or what language they speak according to the Language Acquisition Device or LAD (Rathus, 2009, p. 174).   To me that would mean that after that phase when we start to learn language in earnest, nothing is equal.  Everything is dependent on how much we are taught.  A child who has never played with blocks because his family’s religion forbids it will score lower on certain tests than a child who has played with blocks before (Rathus, 2009, p. 181).  Does that mean that religion makes one child smarter than another? 

            However if we measure how well a person copes with the world around them as David Weschler defined it (Rathus, 2009, p. 177) then a person with an 80 IQ might be more adept than a person with a 125 because they are better manipulators, less emotional, more adaptable/flexible or just plain oblivious to the worries that hold the higher scoring person back.  Until we develop a way to objectively measure intelligence without also measuring how much a person has been taught, we will not have a definitive answer to the nature vs. nurture question.  Since we do know, statistically, that “better” environments seem to create more socially acceptable and socially successful people, perhaps it is best to err on the side of caution and provide the best environment we can to our children.  I would hope that we were doing that anyway.  
In summary I believe nature gives you tools and nurture determines what you will do with them.  In the end what you do with your tools is more important than what you were given to begin with.  Nurture is more important than nature.  

The high cost of birth control

     Birth control is often condemned and/or praised for the sexual freedom it can provide, but what about the family planning opportunities?  Even married women need to be able to control when they have children. Speaking from a strictly physical point of view, it is actually better to have children when in your 20s (Matthiessen, 2015), though most people feel they are more emotionally and financially capable of taking care of children later in life.   It is also physically healthy to spread out pregnancies, allowing the body to come back to a more normal state before subjecting it to the strain of pregnancy a second or third time (Martindale, 2007).  Most people do not appreciate how dangerous having a child actually is (Helmuth, 2013).  Birth control in all its forms can help a woman space out her pregnancies and allow her to survive the pregnancies. 

      In the past due to ill-times pregnancies and pregnancies too early or too late in life women often did not survive being pregnant or childbirth (Helmuth, 2013).   Past generations have their share of single parents, broken families and relatives raising children, but they were for different reasons.  If a woman’s body has time to recover between pregnancies she is much more likely to live to raise the child.  If she becomes pregnant within a 6 months of having a baby she is more likely to have complications, and to leave her husband a single parent (Helmuth, 2013).  Pregnancy was not the only danger in the not-so-distant past.  Many men fell to accidents in unsafe working environments or illness.  If a man or woman in a past generation were left alone with a child or children because their partner died they might remarry or turn to families to help raise children, much as single parents do now.  Blended families are not a new phenomenon.  But if there was no one left for the children, the children could be left on their own.  They would have to fend for themselves in whatever way they could.
     Don’t forget before child labor laws the children could also bring home money or be of more monetary value to their parents in other ways ("Child Labor in U.S. History", 2004).  It is distasteful to think about, but that is what we are coming from.  Children were more numerous because there was no choice.  If you had sex then you had children.  But parents were not always able to care for all of them.  They were too often seen as a burden, not a blessing.  If the children were left on their own they lived on whatever they could scrape together alone, were put in overcrowded orphanages, sold as laborers or if they were lucky put to work on a farm ("The Orphan Trains").  There were so many children that it could not be controlled if someone, usually a relative, sold them to work in a factory or for other disturbing uses.  It was not even seen as wrong, it was common practice.  Accepted in society. 

     The patriarchal view of the family unit is something that was sold to us as wholesome and right, perhaps to combat this painful history.  But it is a false image.  Most families, even in “the good old days” were not one man, one woman and 2 children.  They were cobbled together of surviving members strong enough to survive and loyal enough to stick together.  If there were too many children, then the others did what they could to survive.  Pining for the time when a person could not control when he/she wished to have a child seems a little barbaric to me considering the consequences of many, many unplanned children.  Birth control is one of the things that prevents this part of our history from repeating itself.  Coupled with the new foster care systems and adoption options available for unwanted children we have brought in a new era of caring for our children.  We should not go back to the old way of doing things. 

Child Labor in U.S. History. (2004, January 1). Retrieved January 9, 2015, from

Helmuth, L. (2013, September 10). The Never-Ending Battle Between Doctors and Midwives. Which Are More Dangerous? Retrieved January 9, 2015, from

Matthiessen, C. (2015, January 1). Age and fertility: Getting pregnant in your 20s | BabyCenter. Retrieved January 9, 2015, from

The Orphan Trains. (n.d.). Retrieved January 9, 2015, from

Martindale, M. (2007, May 1). Is it dangerous to have several babies close together? Retrieved January 9, 2015, from

social mobility assignment

Describe the potential social mobility you have achieved in this job. Your mobility may be negative now if, for example, you work a low-paying internship, but positive in the future if the internship leads to a management position.
Occupation: Call center customer service associate
Prestige Score: estimated around 33, cashier at a grocery store
American Class: Working class
My potential social mobility with this position is minimal, though it is the first level of the ladder in the corporate environment. Many people in this position move on to “higher” level positions with more pay and prestige. This is achieved by agreeing to provide approximately 30% of the first 10 years wages to a college or university and complying with corporate standards for living. Usually the standards involve an invasive set of “core values” set by the company. The values are usually based on basic social norms like “thou shalt not steal,” so are easy to accept on the surface. When studied in depth they include duplicitous representation of the company to their customers that I found disturbing. I was unable to conform to the core values without upsetting my personal values and so was unable to “climb the ladder.” I have since left that company to find work that is more in line with my “core values.”

glitter butt

How often do you look at your house and groan inwardly at all the stuff that needs to be done.  Dusting, vacuuming, and don't forget cleaning out that closet in the spare bedroom!  Have you taken that bag of old clothes to Good Will yet?  Is there ever an end to all the effort?  No.

3 girls and 1 boy in my house.  Between My Little Pony, Monster High, Littlest Pet Shop, Hannah Montana and numerous other toys marketed to malleable young minds, my house is positively, permanently penetrated with glitter.  It is ground into the carpet.  It is rubbed into the couch.  There are sparkles smeared across all my clothes, shoes and undergarments.  No matter where I look there is more glitter.  It comes off with various cleaners, sticky tape and a lot of effort but I say, Fuck the glitter.

I am sparkly now.  I shine like the starry night sky.  I am a beacon in this dark, dreary world.

I have enough to do with the effort expended trying to keep my two year old from ingesting pocket lint, my 10 year old from developing epilepsy through flashy video games, my 11 year old from a early nervous break down caused by peer pressure and myself from strangling my 13 year old.  I can barely keep up!  Leave alone trying to find new ways to punish myself with housework.

In the major scheme of things how important is an immaculate house. . . really?  Isn't it more important to take the time to enjoy a toddler's first poo in the potty than it is to multi-task scrubbing the toilet and scraping soap scum?  I mean, they only do that first poo once.

Are sparkly clean windows more important than the glitter on your cheeks after your 101st makeover at the hands of an enthusiastic future make-up artist?

In my opinion, the makeover is tantamount.

 So shine, mommy, shine.

Go out into the world with sparkles on your butt and cheerios in your hair.  Let the dishes soak.  Wear wrinkled pants.  Do, or don't do, whatever you need to so you can enjoy the kids while they are still kids.  The only thing really worth major effort are the good times you have.