(Brave New) Care Plus World

When will an establishment like this appear on our shores? My guess: not long. Via Hot Air headlines, behold the epitome of modern parenting in a surrogacy world:

Juggling parenting with a high-powered career and hectic social life is a challenge anywhere in the world. One daycare center in India has stepped in to help with at least one part of that equation: a 24-hour nursery for the children of the super busy.

Care Plus World in India’s capital New Delhi bills itself as the place to go for “children of parents who are too busy to put them to bed,” according to Britain’s Times newspaper [...]

Why, why have children if you’re too busy to put them to bed? Oh, silly people that is a luxury:

“At ‘Care Plus World’ we recognize, in this busy world, at not everyone has the luxury of being at home with their children, therefore we strive to give children a ‘home from home’ environment in their most important early years.”

Just in case you’re really tired of putting the kids to bed, the nursery offers services ranging from one week to a year.

To be fair, I consider it a luxury to have a babysitter for an evening. A luxury since it doesn’t happen vey often as I’m not lucky enough to live close to extended family. Most military families aren’t so blessed. Even without a grandma nearby, I love bedtime with my daughter. We read. We pray. We discuss our day and cuddle. Yes, at times–primarily if I haven’t been diligent and she’s overtired–it can be a chore. But not one I would abdicate to someone else for a year because I’m too busy.

Exit question: how long before the nanny-state gurus suggest this for all?

Related: Pundette, Some advice for busy mothers from C.S. Lewis 

UPDATE: linked by Pundette. Thanks!

Taxing motherhood

I’ve highlighted Ann Althouse’s explanation of the tax benefit of having a stay-at-home parent before. A refresher:

Why don’t more couples do the math and figure out that they should not do all that extra work for the government? Life is so much simpler with the 1-earner family, and the spouse who doesn’t bring in the dollars can provide great economic benefits by directly performing work that would otherwise have to be paid for, most notably child care. Since this economic benefit isn’t taxed, it’s a double benefit. Instead of buying inferior childcare (or other services) with after-tax dollars, you perform the work that is worth that much money, and you’re not paid, so you don’t pay taxes on the value it represents.

The flip side is that the services you provide do not qualify for a tax break per se, though I’d argue the economic benefit still works out to help the one-income family. Nevertheless, it can needle some. Phil Lawler fumes:

Do you realize that you can deduct child-care expenses–unless you care for your own children. And you can deduct education expenses–unlessyou educate your children at home? If you drop you toddler off at the day-care center, the cost is a deductible expense. But you can’t pay yourself, and you can’t deduct the expenses you run up keeping your child out of that day-care center. If you’re a schoolteacher, you can deduct miscellaneous expenses incurred on the job. But if you’re a home-schooler, you can’t. In other words, Moms can’t be paid, and can’t even deduct out-of-pocket spending, for doing the work that other people are paid to do.

And you wonder why a liberal Democrat might think that a Mom “never worked a day in her life.”

(H/t: Pundette)

I prefer to stay under the radar. Let the liberals and the government think I don’t work, and as such, provide a continuing threat to liberalism. As I told a friend this week, you take care of your own. Who knew I’d be such a counter-cultural radical who must be demeaned and destroyed!

 

“The days I stay home with my kids without going out, I start to get ill.”

Ah, she gets a headache, too.

So quipped the First Lady in an interview in 2007. The full Monty:

Every year, Michelle Obama considers quitting her job and staying home full-time to take care of her children. “It was a gift having my mother home every day. I want my kids to feel that way,” she says. But having experienced the pleasures of work outside the home, she is reluctant to give up her independence. “Work is rewarding,” she says. “I love losing myself in a set of problems that have nothing to do with my husband and children. Once you’ve tasted that, it’s hard to walk away.”

So difficult to walk away. Why would your children’s problems ever be more important than ones with no connection or bearing to your family?

Then, too, there is that little-discussed fact that staying home with children can be—how else to put it?—less than intellectually stimulating. “The days I stay home with my kids without going out, I start to get ill,” she says. “My head starts to ache.” When she mentioned it to her mother, Marian Robinson told her daughter she didn’t think Michelle could handle the boredom of staying home with kids. Obama was surprised to hear that taking care of her had been boring, but now she embraces the idea of discussing it openly.

The boredom. It’s funny, I’m so busy I’m rarely bored.

Bored? What the hell did Michelle do on sick days? Stay in bed herself? Luckily for Michelle, the family decided they couldn’t live on Barack’s humble salary of $162k. How military families like mine decide it’s in the family’s best interest to have me stay home must be a mystery as we do it for much less than $162k a year. Then again, I do know how to cook. That saves a boatload, I guess.

H/t to Pundette for the illuminating Vogue interview with our esteemed First Lady.

“A woman who does this is a heroine of feminism. A man who does this is a louse”

So writes Instapundit of Rahna Reiko Rizzuto, a mother of two who decided she didn’t want to be a mother anymore and abandoned her family to live in Japan and pursue writing. He’s right, of course. She is a finalist for the National Book Award for her memoir, Hiroshima in the Morning.  From the article at Parenting:

This morning’s TODAY Show featured a segment on a woman who chose to leave her husband and two young sons (ages 3 and 5 at the time) while on an extended research trip to Japan because she realized she didn’t want to be a mom anymore leaves my chest tight and my gut aching. Photos show her boys as pre-school-age angels. I want to hug and kiss them as my own.

[...]

Reiko Rizzuto speaks of her struggles to stay true to herself and admits that she had never wanted children (which begs the question why she had two). “I didn’t want to be swallowed up,” she says on the TODAY Show interview.

Swallowed up. There is a remedy for that, actually, it’s called embracing the life you’ve chosen. With a soon to be four year-old and another on the way, I do understand the sentiment at times. Except I thank God daily for the family that I have and remind myself of that when the going gets tough. I can imagine parenting can be more challenging without some kind of perspective. I’m lucky my faith provides it. As does my sense of life. How incredibly sad for her–and for her sons–to know that she wasn’t thankful. That she didn’t want her life after all.

Then again, bioethicists argue for this very reason that abortion should be available as an after-birth option. Because adoption is too traumatic. And some people really do realize after the baby’s born that eh, maybe this life’s not for me. At least Reiko Rizzuto let her children live…

UPDATE: linked by Pundette as a Recommended Read. Thanks!

Let kids play

In dirt.

Instapundit asked:

Is this an argument in favor of daycare?

In regard to a study published in Nature showing early exposure to germs in childhood confers more immunity. This offers more proof for a known.

It isn’t, however, a justification of childcare. The caption of a picture of kids playing in the mud reads:

 Dig in: eating dirt and playing in the mud are thought to confer protection from allergies and asthma.

Precisely. Studies have always shown farm kids grow up healthier. Kids now either don’t have as much access to dirt or their parents don’t allow them to get … dirty. Rolling around in the mud has always been an excellent means of play (that’s why we have washing machines, folks), and now you can argue with your neighbors that it makes kids healthier, too! Win-win for being the cool mom on the block!

More from Nature:

In a study published online today in Science1, the researchers show that in mice, exposure to microbes in early life can reduce the body’s inventory of invariant natural killer T (iNKT) cells, which help to fight infection but can also turn on the body, causing a range of disorders such as asthma or inflammatory bowel disease.

The study supports the ‘hygiene hypothesis’, which contends that such auto-immune diseases are more common in the developed world where the prevalence of antibiotics and antibacterials reduce children’s exposure to microbes.

“We as a species are not exposed to the same germs that we were exposed to in the past,” says study co-author Dennis Kasper, a microbiologist at Harvard Medical School in Boston, Massachusetts.

The researchers induced two groups of mice — germ-free (GF) mice, which are raised in a sterile environment, and specific-pathogen-free mice raised under normal laboratory conditions — to develop forms of asthma or ulcerative colitis. GF mice had more iNKT cells in their lungs and developed more severe disease symptoms, indicating that exposure to microbes was somehow influencing iNKT cell levels and making the GF mice more susceptible to inflammatory diseases.

Go out. Play with your kids. Let them get dirty. It’s good for them developmentally but it also makes them stronger!

UPDATE: linked by Pundette as a Recommended Read. Thanks!

And Chris Wysocki at Theo Spark. Thanks!

“The future belongs to the fruitful”

So argues James Taranto of the WSJ yet again in explaning the consequences of what he terms the “Roe Effect.” More:

We have another thought as to why environmentalism seems to have peaked with the baby boom. The key is in that generation’s moniker: “baby boom.” The baby boomers’ parents were unusually fertile, especially when compared with subsequent generations, including the boomers themselves. But the decline in fertility was not evenly distributed throughout American society.

This columnist has posited that the polarization of the electorate around the issue of abortion, combined with the direct effect of abortion itself on fertility, over the long term has a conservatizing effect on the electorate. We call it the Roe Effect. Although environmentalism is not sharply polarizing in the way that abortion is, it seems to us quite probable that a similar and overlapping effect is at work here.

After all, you can’t make a baby by hugging a tree. Attitudes about “the environment” are very much tied up with attitudes about human fertility. The prevailing view on the environmentalist left is, and has been since at least the early 1970s, that to bring a child into the world is an act of violence against Mother Earth. Along with feminism, which devalued motherhood and women’s domestic work, environmentalism motivated left-liberal baby boomers to have smaller families, or none at all.

I’m not sure if I can wait for liberals to make themselves extinct. As Instapundit says (in, admittedly, an entirely different context): faster, please.

H/t: Instapundit. 

UPDATE: Linked by Pundette as a Recommended Read. Thanks!

Was there a mirror at the altar? Bride marries herself

Well, why not, right? Since marriage means nothing to most folks anyway, why not marry yourself? Via Shine:

Here comes the single bride. Last week, Nadine Schweigert married herself in a symbolic wedding ceremony. The 36-year-old divorced mom of three wore blue satin and clutched a bouquet of white roses as she walked down the aisle before a gathering of 45 friends and family members in Fargo, North Dakota.

She vowed to “to enjoy inhabiting my own life and to relish a lifelong love affair with my beautiful self,” reports Fargo’s InForum newspaper . After the ring was exchanged with the bride and her inner-groom, guests were encouraged to “blow kisses at the world,” and later, eat cake.

Schweigert, who followed the ceremony with a solo honeymoon in New Orleans, claims the wedding was her way of showing the world she’s learned to love and accept herself as a woman flying solo.
“I was waiting for someone to come along and make me happy,” she told reporter Tammy Swift . “At some point, a friend said, ‘Why do you need someone to marry you to be happy? Marry yourself.’”

Piper Weiss, an editor of Shine adds:

I believe everyone has the right to marry, regardless of sexual preference. For some people being alone is what feels most natural. Shouldn’t they too be entitled to tax breaks? Don’t they get a moment in the spotlight, the chance to rationalize a way-too-expensive dress, the two weeks off from work unquestioned, the ridiculous kitchen appliances they’d never have bought for themselves? It’s time we did away with the stigma of ‘old maids’ and the belief that you’re not really complete without a partner.

Ah, yes. The right to marry. For tax breaks, big dresses, vacations and appliances. Cause that’s what it’s all about, babe. It’s discrimination to say otherwise.

Even Politifact is forced to admit Rick Santorum is right in saying over 40% of American children are born out of wedlock; can we admit that maybe, just maybe our insistence as a culture to focus on marriage as a right or a means to have a big, fluffy party might not be the right one? Because traditional marriage is about, you know, having kids?

Schweiger, by the way, has three, one of whom was mortified by her marriage to herself.

H/t: HA headlines

UPDATE: linked by Pundette as a Recommended Read. Thanks!

“I’m grateful to Santorum for forcing on me the discomfort of having to think about the moral implications of his daughter’s smile”

So concludes Time magazine writer Joe Klein of Santorum’s oft-vilified family choices. It’s a beautiful and moving tribute that bears repeating often. The whole piece is behind a paywall, but visit if you have a subscription. I might have to buy this copy once it hits newstands. Via NRO:

Rick and Karen decided to fight for Gabriel’s life, which nearly cost Karen her own, and they passionately embraced the child during his two hours on earth. They have spent the past three years caring for their daughter Isabella, whose genetic defect, trisomy 18, is an early-death sentence. “Almost 100% of trisomy 18 children are encouraged to be aborted,” Santorum told Schieffer.

I am haunted by the smiling photos I’ve seen of Isabella with her father and mother, brothers and sisters. No doubt she struggles through many of her days — she nearly died a few weeks ago — but she has also been granted three years of unconditional love and the ability to smile and bring joy. Her tenuous survival has given her family a deeper sense of how precious even the frailest of lives are.

All right, I can hear you saying, the Santorum family’s course may be admirable, but shouldn’t we have the right to make our own choices?

Yes, I suppose. But I also worry that we’ve become too averse to personal inconvenience as a society—that we’re less rigorous parents than we should be, that we’ve farmed out our responsibilities, especially for the disabled, to the state—and I’m grateful to Santorum for forcing on me the discomfort of having to think about the moral implications of his daughter’s smile.

The Santorums lead by example of what we should aspire to be as parents–fighters for our children, not executioners because “that kind of life” isn’t what we had planned. That’s what makes lives like Isabella’s all the more rare and special: they have the ability to make us see ourselves for what we really are. Joe Klein sees her radiant smile and realizes something incredibly important. Most don’t.

UPDATE: linked as a “Recommended Read” by Pundette. Thanks!

Are French parents superior? They achieve remarkably different results

It’s all in priorities. Don’t tolerate whiny, screaming, demanding kids. Expect better of them. Do you want an independent or dependent child?

From the WSJ, an article penned by American ex-pat Pamela Druckerman explains the difference between American and French parenting styles. It’s rather illuminating. She writes:

And once I started thinking about French parenting, I realized it wasn’t just mealtime that was different. I suddenly had lots of questions. Why was it, for example, that in the hundreds of hours I’d clocked at French playgrounds, I’d never seen a child (except my own) throw a temper tantrum? Why didn’t my French friends ever need to rush off the phone because their kids were demanding something? Why hadn’t their living rooms been taken over by teepees and toy kitchens, the way ours had?

Soon it became clear to me that quietly and en masse, French parents were achieving outcomes that created a whole different atmosphere for family life. When American families visited our home, the parents usually spent much of the visit refereeing their kids’ spats, helping their toddlers do laps around the kitchen island, or getting down on the floor to build Lego villages. When French friends visited, by contrast, the grownups had coffee and the children played happily by themselves.

Before you chide the French for not involving themselves in child-rearing, think again:

But for all its problems, France is the perfect foil for the current problems in American parenting. Middle-class French parents (I didn’t follow the very rich or poor) have values that look familiar to me. They are zealous about talking to their kids, showing them nature and reading them lots of books. They take them to tennis lessons, painting classes and interactive science museums.

Yet the French have managed to be involved with their families without becoming obsessive. They assume that even good parents aren’t at the constant service of their children, and that there is no need to feel guilty about this. “For me, the evenings are for the parents,” one Parisian mother told me. “My daughter can be with us if she wants, but it’s adult time.” French parents want their kids to be stimulated, but not all the time. While some American toddlers are getting Mandarin tutors and preliteracy training, French kids are—by design—toddling around by themselves.

Fostering independence is a primary goal–or should be–of parenting. If, after all, you’re preparing your kids to go off into the world alone, should they not be able to care for themselves? If nothing else, decades of helicopter parenting reveals overly sheltered kids who are ill-prepared to enter the world, by failure of the parents. No wonder the “youth vote” breaks so heavily for Democrats: they need Big Brother since they are unable to care for themselves.

Druckerman highlights myriad facets of “French parenting” she hails as highly successful. Read the rest. I plan on downloading her new book.

H/t: Lisa

The telly’s effects on early learning

I wrote about Dr. Dimitri Christakis a few months ago, citing his study of SpongeBob and Caillou. Here he is giving a TED talk, and it is most illuminating:

Pregnant me thought: I wonder if I can find DVDs of Mr. Rogers. Sesame Street has as many rapid sequence changes, but it’s the good ol’ Mr. Rogers that didn’t have an effect on brain patterns or development.

The irony: the legions of parents who thought they were helping their kids via … Baby Einstein videos likely landed themselves kids with behavior problems. From the outset, that’s what I’ve noticed in my kid after tv, and that’s why we abstain: the rest of the day becomes a search for high-stimulus overload, and in its absence, tantrums ensue. No TV, no tantrums.

UPDATE: linked as a Recommended Read by Pundette. Thanks!

UPDATE: Just in case you’re wondering, all of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood is available on Amazon streaming. We’re Prime members, so it’s free streaming. We watched how crayons were made and took a trip to Make-Believe Land (remember the trolley car?) this afternoon after playing in the snow with no … ill… effects. So far. ; ) It was a fascinating trip down memory lane and long enough for me to successfully brush all the tangles out of pjKid’s impossibly tangled hair.

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