Power Mom Vargas' Return

Elizabeth Vargas, the co-host of ABC's World News Tonight who stepped down shortly before the birth of her second child this past summer, returned to work with a 20/20 segment last Friday called Mother's Work. The piece profiled the struggles of three working moms -- and Vargas herself, with lots of shots of her at home with her children.

One of the moms said her daycare bill is double her mortgage. Another thinks one problem is that culturally, women are trained not to ask for help. Carol Evans from Working Mother magazine argued that companies couldn't survive a day without the 58 million working moms in America. Democratic Senator Christopher Dodd revealed that every time he brings up the subject of a national maternity leave program or child care on Capitol Hill, other politicians present a "stonewall." And Vargas herself asked, "Why has so little been done regarding paid maternity leave, child care and flexible schedules?"

In all, a great 20 minutes ot television. Nothing we haven't covered here, but an important milestone to see these issues profiled on one of television's top news magazines.

The show analyzed 168 countries in terms of government-supported family-friendly company policies. Only 4 out of 168 countries do not have national maternity leave programs: Papua New Guinea, LeSotho, Swaziland and the United States. North Korea and Iran offer more support to working moms than America. No wonder, as Vargas terms it, "Working motherhood is an exercise in exhaustion and compromise."

What causes your exhaustion? What are your biggest compromises? And what's the No. 1 thing we all need to be doing to make life better and easier for working families?

At the top of my list: raising awareness of the struggles facing working moms, getting more women into local and national political offices and other positions of influence, and educating men on how much women are struggling. 20/20 did not interview a single dad about balancing work and family, which perpetuates the idea that this issue only impacts moms. This country can't -- or won't -- bring about positive changes until our husbands, male bosses, colleagues and politicians understand that making working motherhood so challenging challenges everyone.

By Leslie Morgan Steiner |  November 13, 2006; 9:00 AM ET  | Category:  Conflicts
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I think this says it all
"educating men on how much women are struggling. 20/20 did not interview a single dad about balancing work and family, which perpetuates the idea that this issue only impacts moms."

It is an issue impacting all families...not just women. As long as it is successfully marginalized as being a 'woman' issue, we will not have progress.

Posted by: dotted | November 13, 2006 9:26 AM

I'm all in favor of govt help for middle-class working moms. I am morally opposed to giving six-figure income moms paid maternity leave because they do not need that financial help. I'm hoping that Pelosi and the dems will not offer any tax help for the rich.

Posted by: Koko | November 13, 2006 9:27 AM

I forgot...as long as people qualify the issue by dividing rich vs. poor, middle vs. poor or whatever...we will not have progress. If progress (i.e., a cultural change) is what we want, then it should be for everyone.

Posted by: dotted | November 13, 2006 9:28 AM

Here we go again.

Why do we need to subsidize the CHOICE of someone to have a child? How about subsidizing the CHOICE of someone not to have a child?

Posted by: yep | November 13, 2006 9:29 AM

One of the reasons my husband quit the corporate world is because he had a series of female bosses that didn't understand his need to be with his family. My husband took 4 weeks of paid paternity leave and then worked part-time for 4 months after the birth of both our children. After the first child, he over heard his female boss loudly complaining about his request to someone else -- "I never had it this good!" When our children were young they went through the typical childhood illnesses. When I had exhausted my leave and begged my husband to help, all he got was grief -- "Why can't your wife take the day off?" He finally gave up and quit.

I don't necessarily think that the answer is more female bosses. We need more compassionate people in authority.

Posted by: SLP | November 13, 2006 9:31 AM

Yep, seek your fun elsewhere. In case you didn't realize it, you're posting on the blog that deals with work-life balance issues for people who. have. children.

Posted by: Unreal | November 13, 2006 9:32 AM

"educating men on how much women are struggling".

I would think that the 58million working moms are married to over 50million dads. Believe me, these men are fully educated on how much their working wives are struggling. The folks that might need educating are those who do not have working wives, and that includes some women too!

Posted by: Mr.Honda | November 13, 2006 9:32 AM

"Elizabeth Vargas, the co-host of ABC's World News Tonight who stepped down shortly before the birth of her second child this past summer, returned to work with a 20/20 segment last Friday called Mother's Work."

"20/20 did not interview a single dad about balancing work and family, which perpetuates the idea that this issue only impacts moms. This country can't -- or won't -- bring about positive changes until our husbands, male bosses, colleagues and politicians understand that making working motherhood so challenging challenges everyone."


Laying the blame with a pathetic guantlet toss squarely in front of the Y-chromosome sect seems a bit much for a closer when supermom Vargas I would assume had some resposibility for content of this news item.

We dont have universal healthcare either.

btw, I am all in favor of flexibility and productivity. Face time is a waste.

Posted by: Fo3 | November 13, 2006 9:34 AM

I'll weep my crocodile tears for power mom Vargas today. Poor thing having to "struggle" with the same issues the common folk have.

Posted by: Koko | November 13, 2006 9:35 AM

Mr. Honda,
I have to say my husband is educated, but I know quite a few husbands who don't do or understand that 'second job.' You know the job: the one where socks magically arrive clean and in pairs in your bedroom (ha ha). However, as long as this issue is seen as a women's issue, no progress will be made and progress is what this column is about.

Posted by: dotted | November 13, 2006 9:36 AM

Fun? More like hoping to educate people that childfree couples are impacted by financial perks given to those who have children.

Posted by: To unreal | November 13, 2006 9:49 AM

While I'll agree that Ms. Vargas certainly has it easier than other women in the ways that count, I don't see why we have to pick on her and Leslie and other "six-figure" earners.
Would you prefer the wealthy (who are still human, by the way) just assume that because they have it easy, that they should ignore the poor and middle class troubles?
Maybe she realizes that even though she has it all and she's still tired at the end of the day that it must really be hard for those who don't have access to her luxuries?
Maybe since she's in a position to try to call media attention to working motherhood she's trying to do what she can to help elevate the national dialogue?
And finally, when people throw around this "six figure" b*tchiness, they ought to remember that in many areas of the country 2 people earning $50k equal a six figure income. Once you factor in taxes, mortgage/rent, car payment, daycare, student loans, food and other expenses those so-called six-figure people, while not in the poor house, may not have much left over at the end of the month.
It does no good for the national dialogue to complain bitterly that you'll take your ball and go home if a comprehensive childcare / parental leave plan helps everyone and not just the so-called working poor.


Posted by: MadisonWIMom | November 13, 2006 9:53 AM

It goes back to what I said last week, that attitudes at work need to change. Oftentimes, both women and men are guilty of being the tireless trooper or the tireless jockey for position. They feel the need to be in the office and in the boss' face as much as possible to score those brownie points and get ahead. I remember at my old job, this trooper had a baby, and when the baby was a week old, she came in to work for a few hours and brought the newborn with her. Hooo-kay! In an office where often more than one woman was pregnant at the time, and leaves of three months were expected, was that even necessary?

Really, in the office, the support and lack thereof for working moms is on a case-by-case basis. If you're liked as an employee (read: "valued") then you can either be a trooper and not take much maternity leave or take three-plus months and be okay with the boss. If you're not liked, you can be a trooper and go unappreciated or take the time and be considered a slacker. That is what I have observed. That's unfair, and while I support laws to provide paid maternity leave, the attitude adjustment needs to accompany that legislative adjustment.

Oh, and since when does making six figures mean you can afford to take three or more months off work with no pay? I don't make six figures myself, but please stop hating on the six-figure earners. Like they say, don't hate the playas, hate the game!

Posted by: theoriginalmomof2 | November 13, 2006 9:53 AM

This says it all to me: "Only 4 out of 168 countries do not have national maternity leave programs: Papua New Guinea, LeSotho, Swaziland and the United States. North Korea and Iran offer more support to working moms than America."

We can spend time arguing about rich, poor, middle, male, female, childless, whatever, but the bottom line is Americans are laps and laps behind the rest of the world on this issue. Thank you Leslie for initiating a discussion I wish would catch the attention of SOMEBODY in Washington!

We like to think America is so innovative and progressive and a world leader, but a report card like this is just plain shocking.

Posted by: concerned mom | November 13, 2006 9:54 AM

. . . and we are all connected to each other, in a circle, in a hoop that never ends. (My kids were watching Pocahantos yesterday.)

We are all impacted by the decisions of others.

Posted by: Unreal | November 13, 2006 9:55 AM

to to unreal:
Flexibility doesn't have to have be a financial perk. Flexibility allows for choices to be accommodated: choices to have kids or not, support parents, participate in Katrina cleanup or other good works...

Posted by: dotted | November 13, 2006 9:58 AM

I see a lot of opposition to govt or businesses paying for maternity leave coming from two groups:
1) the childless
2) the "your choice, your responsibility" camp.

As for the childless, some will never be happy with any solution. It is very hard to pursuade them to "pay" to help someone else raise a child. This goes in the "too hard" bucket.

As for 2), any program will go down easier if you put some income limit on it. People in general are willing to help another if truly in need. No one's going to bear the burden for Ms. Power Mom to hire a $500/wk nanny so she can rake in her six-figure income to match her husband's. IHowever, if I give you a middle-class couple with 3 kids, a 10yr old car, living in a rental house for 10yrs, both parents HAVE to work to make ends meet, wouldn't you be willing to vote for some govt or employer paid maternity leave for her? There is some room for compassion, yes?

Help for the middle class, not for the upper crust.

Posted by: Koko | November 13, 2006 10:01 AM

The CHOICE to NOT have a child doesn't help society, not if everyone follows your logic.

Did you not take intro to philosophy, (or ethics, or polisci) and learn the categorical imperative? Do we want to encourage all people, in all places, to NOT reproduce? How will that improve humanity?

(Or are you perhaps suggesting that only the very wealthy should have children?

Or only those who pass an intelligence test at a certain level? Beauty pageants, perhaps?)

If you're seriously advocating rewards for the childless, you're advocating the death of humanity. Yes, really. By attempting to make parenthood easier on the parents, we're ensuring the survival of our species, and giving that next generation the best chance we can.

I don't even have kids, and I am utterly sick of this idiotic suggestion that having children is some kind of "you say potato, I say potahto" choice. It's what we DO. If we don't do it, we die out. Period.

Frankly, if I don't end up ever having kids, I'd like to see those who do a little better subsidized, to make up for the fact that they're shouldering my share of the next generation.

Posted by: WDC | November 13, 2006 10:01 AM

Men are not stupid! How can we expect men to invest more in housework and childcare if we focus on how "challenging" it is. The sales pitch might be more effective if we focus on relieving the men of the sole responsibility of breadwinning and the possibility of a more intimate relationship with their kids. I believe the goal should be equal investment in careers, equal time for recreation, and equal time with the kids. Once parents commit to equality in all domains the entire workforce will be unified in their desire for change on a political level.

Posted by: equal_too | November 13, 2006 10:05 AM

yep (to Unreal):
I am trying to figure out where the perks are for those of us who have children? I get to use all of my sick leave to tend to other's illnesses, when my sick leave is exhausted, then I "get" to use my vacation time to cover any days I have to take off due to my own illnesses. Oh I can also work long hours to make up the deficit.
Gee, somehow the child tax credits just don't seem to have me feeling like I exactly rolling in the dough. After I factor in child care costs, preschool tuition, medical expenses (including private OT for my son, which is not covered by my insurance), I gladly put out approximately $12,000 a year for my two wonderful sons. (Note this does not even cover food, clothing, supplies or extracurricular activities.) So how am I reaping benefits from all of these expenditures? OH yes, I get unlimited hugs. Yep, as the Mastercard commercial says: "Priceless."

Posted by: dcdesigner | November 13, 2006 10:05 AM

I missed the discussion Friday, but I don't understand the frustration about tax breaks for child care (besides the nutty "raise your own kids" argument - lost cause, pass this post by if you're one of those...). People (and companies!) get subsidized for all sorts of things - home ownership, college attendance, MOVING!, etc. Why aren't we more concerned that last year, fully 8% of our federal budget went to paying off the interest we owe other countries (Japan, China, etc.). That's 8% of the ENTIRE budget. Between that and the Iraq fiasco, a bridge to nowhere, pork, pork, pork - we should certainly be able to come together to support a break for parents who pay for child care (or elder care, I think I could be convinced we should get a break for that, too).

Re: the Vargas interview - the problem I have with this is something I've articulated before - she should definetely have included interviews with some men (perhaps, even her OWN husband about how HE copes with balancing...what has HE given up since he had kids).

Posted by: The original just a thought | November 13, 2006 10:06 AM

I've been thinking about the whole 'mommy wars' issue (if there is one) and the way in which people divided into camps and attacked each other in the blog on Friday, and I think that the whole working parent issue in America is actually just a symptom of a much larger problem -- a lack of commitment to a common good, a lack of community.

Ideally, your national government would provide lots of services that you (thankfully) would never have to use -- VA rehabilitation for people who are wounded in a war, Social security payments for children who are orphaned, Medicaid for little children who are born with severe birth defects, tax relief for people who lose their homes in floods. As a society, most of us hope never ot have to claim those benefits, but presumably don't resent the poeple who do. We understand that as a community we all benefit from providing these things.

I recently realized that I feel the same way about daycare. I haven't chosen to use it much with my kids but feel that we benefit as a society by providing kids with high quality daycare. My childrens' schools are better when everyone comes in relatively healthy, fed and ready to learn. My children's teachers are probably better teachers for taking time out when they give birth and not coming back before they're ready. It makes me sad that the school busdrivers and cafeteria workers don't get benefits, because I worry that it affects their perceptions of their jobs and maybe even their ability to do them.

I think the keeping score that people do with regards to who got more and who picked up the slack and who did less in the mommy/daycare issue is perhaps not really even about that, as much as the perception that life in America is precarious without much of a safety net and so everyone spends a lot of time jealously guarding what's theirs rather than thinking about the community. I know the one elementary school where my kids attended that divided neatly into two camps (working vs. SAHM moms) was poorly run and lacking in leadership and I think the rancor among the parents was just a symptom of that discontent, rather than the actual problem.

Posted by: Armchair Mom | November 13, 2006 10:07 AM

The point is not six-figures as a magic cutoff. If it makes you feel better, let's raise the threshold to $200K/yr. My point is still valid - no help for those making $200K/yr. Help only those making less than that amount.

The point is - help those who really need it, not those who want it.

Posted by: Koko | November 13, 2006 10:08 AM

"Help for the middle class, not for the upper crust." But where do you draw the line? What if you end up being just over that line? I say no line at all! Do we really think there are that many $500K/yr women having babies or with small kids at home? I think we should offer this help to all.

Posted by: SLP | November 13, 2006 10:09 AM

When you chat with the working moms from other countries who take the paid leave, you realize that they will still stay in touch with the office. TELECOMMUTING!!! These women enjoy their jobs, but they also want to be at home for all of the firsts. Being a mom is exhausting, but being able to telecommute and at least work for a few hours seems like a pretty good compromise.

Posted by: my 2 pennies.... | November 13, 2006 10:11 AM

It just boggles my mind that people are so against tax breaks for childcare! Wake up! This does benefit everyone, yes even us "heartless child-free". I know it has been said before, but I would much rather see working families receive benefits like this than the already filthy rich corporation receiving tax breaks.
I would also be interested in seeing proposals that did grant flexibility to all...I would like to take a week off and volunteer for Habitat for Humanity.

Posted by: Missicat | November 13, 2006 10:15 AM

I couldn't agree more with armchair mom. If everyone could stop worrying about what they get out of it and worrying more about making it a better place for everyone we would solve more of the problems all families face; fair wages, health care costs, childcare, etc.

Posted by: Standing O for armchair mom | November 13, 2006 10:21 AM

"It's what we DO. If we don't do it, we die out. Period."

Um, we're not dying out. Indeed, families with 3+ kids are more than making up for those who don't procreate. There's a balance that needs to be struck there too. Could you imagine if EVERYONE had kids what the state of the world would be?

Whether it's conscious choice not to have kids, or those who biologically can't, there's a reason for it.

Posted by: RaiseYourOwnKids | November 13, 2006 10:22 AM

I have a strong feeling that Jokester is Father of 4.

Posted by: Liz | November 13, 2006 10:22 AM

Carol Evans from Working Mother said it all when she noted that 71% of moms work outside the home. This has created an economy in which most families are dependent on a two person income. Our government needs to recognize this. The fact that many parents do not have even 6 weeks of paid maternity/paternity leave is sad. This just shows where the priorities of the so-called family values initiative put forth by the "leaders" in government has gone. If families were truly valued, Senator Dodd's efforts to improve family leave would have been acted on years ago.

Posted by: drmom | November 13, 2006 10:25 AM

I'm sorry but since when are the lower middle class the only owns who have to pay for

Childcare
Mortgages
Health insurance
Food
Transportation
Student loans
Health insurance, etc

People who worked hard shouldn't be penalized for other people's bad choices. FYI-200,000 isn't a lot in DC.

Posted by: to koko | November 13, 2006 10:26 AM

Speaking of Father of 4 and the other regulars, what's happened to them lately?

Did you all run them off (again)? Huh, huh, did you, did you???

LOL!

Jokester is growing on me.

Posted by: theoriginalmomof2 | November 13, 2006 10:28 AM

How about a sliding scale paid maternity leave? Pay for 12wks parental leave (fathers eligible too) at 70% for income <$40K/yr, 60% for $50K, 40% for $60K. Nothing after that. These figures aren't set in stone, just a rough guide.

Another point is that many employers offer voluntary short and long-term disability that pays for maternity leave up to 12wks at 70% salary. Employees pay the premium. So there already are plans to give paid maternity leave. Maybe the govt can pick up the premium? or mandate that every employee has this coverage? I'm sure the insurance companies would love that.

Posted by: Koko | November 13, 2006 10:29 AM

Kudos to Armchair Mom!

You should re-post that every hour on the hour today, so no one will miss reading it. You hit the nail on the head.

Posted by: Yay! | November 13, 2006 10:30 AM

Did anyone else think her story was lame?

We know the issues--it's done to death. Why not look at solutions? And talking to fathers would have been useful and interesting, I agree with the other posters.

And I agree with others who say stop the rich vs middle class vs. poor. We're all in this together. Just because someone makes a "good" living, doesn't mean that they do not have the same issues. Yes it's easier to afford good childcare, but the lack of flexibility issues in the workplace are the same. I believe we should subsidize childcare--either directly as tax breaks to families, to business, etc. Also to subsidize excellent childcare facilities for poorer and middle class families. This is good for business AND families.

The problem is society's attitude toward women and work. I can see this anti work for women in a few of the responses above. Why can't a woman want to earn $500,000 and have children? Men do it. Be careful how you phrase your responses if you really don't mean to say that it's not ok for women to be ambitious. These attitudes lead to disparities in pay and promotion opportunities I believe.

I believe that we need to strongly encourage business to give families (and others) flexibility to take care of their families (within reason). Paid maternity leave, telecommuting when possible, flexible work start and end times, etc. can help. But this should be available to all who need it/want it (fathers, the childless caring for elders, etc). For a lot of businesses, it would make sense and make for a more happy and therefore productive workforce.

Posted by: Hated the Vargas piece | November 13, 2006 10:31 AM

Doesn't everyone here realize that having kids and not having kids is a choice? If you have three kids and are paying more than the mortgage in child care, well, that is a choice that woman and her husband made - they need to deal with it instead of complain about it. If it is a problem, perhaps they should have stopped at one or two. Get a better paying job! If you don't have a job that can support three kids in day care, don't have three!
I know people who have had to cancel their cable TV and change to very cheap cat litter that the cats hate and turn off their land line phone in order to afford having one. In my opinion, if a couple if operating on margins that are that close, they might want to reconsider whether or not the timing is right to have a baby. They are awfully expensive.
Yes - I think that the workplace should be more flexible, but it should be that way for everyone, not just for parents.
There should be better child care choices, but it is easy to clamor for it, but very difficult to define it. I haven't seen anyone here define what excellent child care is. I suspect that there would be wildly differing standards. And what about the cost of such care - how many complaints would that elicit?
And it is not obligatory to reproduce. It is not doing humanity a disservice to remain childless. It is a choice, just as it is to have 3, or 7, or 12.
What I see in this column more than anything else is people complaining about a choice that they have made and how it makes their lives pretty difficult. I am not passing a judgment - I am just saying that there are going to be compromises. And yes, your ability to move ahead at work might suffer, but that, again, is a part of the choice you made.
I do not mean this as a tirade on people who have chosen to have kids - but I think that we have an entitlement issue here and the sooner those people who have had kids realizes they made a choice to do so and that they aren't entitled to any more than anyone else in the workplace, the better off we will all be.
I will admit that this comes from personal experience as someone who does not want kids but is tired of all the accommodations that everyone makes for my brother, his wife and three kids while not realizing that my husband and I have our own needs. We are not attending the family Thanksgiving precisely because of this - and we won't ever again until people figure it out.

Posted by: weallmakechoices | November 13, 2006 10:32 AM

In the DC area, $60,000 per year barely makes a family middle class. I can't begin to see how someone can make a mortgage on a house here AND excellent childcare. Stop pitting "rich" vs. "poor". Smart businesses would be interested in paid maternity leave for all.

Posted by: To Koko | November 13, 2006 10:34 AM

koko,

I'd like to know why you think that if someone makes over 60,000 dollars that their kids are any less important than someone who makes under 60,000? What does money have to do with bonding with your child?

If there is going to be paid maternity leave, which their isn't, it should be for everyone who lives in the country, not just people of a certain tax bracket.

Posted by: Scarry | November 13, 2006 10:34 AM

Your sliding scale still doesn't work for me. What if the woman is the major breadwinner? I have a good friend who makes $75K per year. Her husband is a teacher and he makes $30K per year. Under your scenario, she would get no paid leave and they would struggle to make ends meet. It should be 6 weeks paid maternity leave for everyone, across the board. To do otherwise is ridiculously complicated and unfair.

Posted by: To Koko | November 13, 2006 10:35 AM

:) :) :)
OK, I'll raise it to $300K for the poor DC folks who have such high expenses. BTW, what is your net worth? :)

the point... again.... is, this assistance ought to be need-based. folks here want to pick at my rough numbers, but ignore the elephant in the room - NEED BASED. Just like the govt determines your tax rate, when to phase out your deductions, when to hit you with the death tax,.... all depends on how much you make.
So this govt paid maternity leave should be dependent on your income, need, net worth, whatever. I'm just saying the middle class ought to get it, but not the upper crust. That's the principle. I'm no govt whiz at determining what that cutoff is, just putting out some rough numbers to try to make the point.

Posted by: Koko | November 13, 2006 10:35 AM

that koko doesn't run the government.

Posted by: so glad | November 13, 2006 10:38 AM

Having children is a choice like choosing lifesaving medical care is a choice. Sure you can choose not to get medical care you need to live, but then you die.

And it's stupid to say "get a better paying job". People either work where they are happy or at the best paying job they can get.

And if most people are discussing these issues of affordability of childcare and parental leave, then it is a problem that we as a society should be addressing.

Sure having children is a "choice". But 90% of people is society get married and want families. It's an expectation and the norm. It used to be that families could be brought up with all that they need on one salary and that is not the case anymore. We should be discussing these issues and our government and business should be addressing them.

Posted by: To: weallmakechoices | November 13, 2006 10:38 AM

So, you are staying home from Thanksgiving and pouting because you think your family isn't fair?? Doubt they will miss you...

Posted by: toweallmakechoices | November 13, 2006 10:40 AM

ok.... I guess folks here think that paid maternity leave should be available to both parents regardless of income.....

and all taxpayers should shoulder the burden to pay for this......

ok... you win.... i must have been bananas.

Posted by: Koko | November 13, 2006 10:43 AM

koko

Did the upper crust stop paying taxes or being US citizens?

Posted by: Anonymous | November 13, 2006 10:43 AM

"As for the childless, some will never be happy with any solution. It is very hard to pursuade them to "pay" to help someone else raise a child."

Koko --

You don't have to persuade them They already do pay to raise your kids. It's called "taxes."

Posted by: Anonymous | November 13, 2006 10:44 AM

Wow, not to be judgmental, but you sound really bitter that your brother had 3 kids. What a shame that those children won't know their Aunt since you refuse to attend thanksgiving ever again until your family puts "your needs" over everyone elses. That sounds extremely selfish. I wonder if you could put yourself in your nieces and nephews shoes. How would you feel as a child if your Aunt wanted her needs put above yours?

Yes, having children is a choice, but without them, society cannot go on. If you want to be a contributing member of society and give back as much as you take, I think you should reexamine your outlook on life. You sound very unhappy.

Posted by: to weallmakechoices | November 13, 2006 10:45 AM

Weallmakechoices, thank you! I knew I wasn't the only one out there that had this mindset. I posed that question on Friday's blog, and no one really answered. If one child is more practical than three or more, than what's wrong with stopping at one?

I think it's because we're ingrained to want more in this society. More kids, too! But, as you said, if people are having to shave things that close, priorities need to be re-evaluated.

And, for what it's worth, I just want to say that I have no issue with my taxes going to maintain schools, etc. I know that would be petty and would impact everyone negatively in the longrun.

But I do believe the childcare issue remains the responsibility of the parents. And, if you're struggling with one child to make it all work, the logic is absent when you bring in more kids to the picture. Adding financial worry, stress and whining to an unbearable level.

Posted by: RaiseYourOwnKids | November 13, 2006 10:45 AM

Test

Posted by: tickles | November 13, 2006 10:45 AM

My previous post didn't come across exactly the way I meant it - it was a tad bit harsh in the 'entitlement' part. What I am trying to say is that neither the government nor employers owe anyone anything for having a child. It is a big bonus if the company you work for will give you some time off after having a child - I think it is a great thing (if we had a kid, my husband would get 12 weeks paid leave, which is pretty awesome - he wouldn't be able to use it, because of what he does, but it is there), but what people don't realize is that companies are organized around the principle of making money - it is not very productive to pay people if they aren't working.
Everyone points to the European countries as examples of countries that are pro-child - they are also pro-adult by requiring at least 5 weeks vacation (maybe not across the board, but a lot of them do) - and the employees actually use it. These countries have somewhat different philosophies as far as their economic models go, too.
There IS a long way to go here in the States as far as leave goes, but I don't really see it happening as long as our current economic model remains. Child care is different - there is a lot that can be done, but it will be very, very expensive.

Posted by: weallmakechoices | November 13, 2006 10:45 AM

koko,

okay, I'll buy into your plan, but people who make under 60,000 dollars can only have one child. That way they will have enough money to take care of them and the upper crust won't have to support them.

Posted by: Anonymous | November 13, 2006 10:46 AM

sorry to everyone ... sorry... i must have been bananas.

Posted by: Koko | November 13, 2006 10:47 AM

Having a child is a "choice?" Not for everyone! My husband and I went through 5 years of infertility and all the horrible medical treatments that entails. I became horribly depressed. My life came to a standstill. Having a child for me was a biological necessity that I would have never have imagined until we found ourselves unable to have one. We ended up conceiving a child on our own while waiting for our third and final IVF (but clearly other medical interventions helped along the way). I cannot tell you how basic/important having a child was/is for me. I suspect for that most people, they need children not just want them.

Posted by: SLP | November 13, 2006 10:50 AM

I agree with what some others have said, there should be no income limit. People automatically equate "six figures" as "filthy, stinking rich", which is not the case. Six figures -while I admit is nice and makes life easier than making minimum wage- does not go very far in many areas of the US. This includes Washington, DC. Those that make "six figures" still struggle with healthcare, insurance, college funds, caring for children and finding life/work balance. It may not be on the same level as those at lower incomes, but I assure you it is there.

Further, if (some) people continue to make it an us vs. them choice, rich vs. poor, etc., you are going to lose the consensus needed to effect change. Most people are not going to unite for change with people who want to deprive them of a benefit solely b/c of how much they make. Just the way it is. Like it or not, a certain amount of self-interest is basic to human nature.


Posted by: JS | November 13, 2006 10:51 AM

Everybody ready?

Hey W A M C -

What exactly are your needs?

Posted by: Fo3 | November 13, 2006 10:52 AM

To all readers:

Koko got on my laptop and started typing. Sorry for his postings. We have implemented the appropriate safeguards and it will not happen again.


The Gorilla Foundation.

Posted by: Trainer | November 13, 2006 10:52 AM

"I will admit that this comes from personal experience as someone who does not want kids but is tired of all the accommodations that everyone makes for my brother, his wife and three kids while not realizing that my husband and I have our own needs. We are not attending the family Thanksgiving precisely because of this - and we won't ever again until people figure it out."

With your ugly attitude, I'm guessing no one will miss you.

Posted by: Anonymous | November 13, 2006 10:53 AM

If you do not want kids, why read and post on this blog? "RaiseYourOwnKids" and "weallmakechoices" are offensive and only serve to add to the divide between people with and without children.
None of us would say we want someone else too raise our kids. We can all do a fine job, regardless of our individual situation. Unless you have kids of your own, you will never understand the love a parent has for their child. Why don't you stop being so judgemental and either start contributing positive solutions or get off the blog.

Posted by: drmom | November 13, 2006 10:54 AM

"Gee, somehow the child tax credits just don't seem to have me feeling like I exactly rolling in the dough."

That's not what they're meant for.

Posted by: Anonymous | November 13, 2006 10:54 AM

jhtdtf hgjf k

h e l p

lknkbjnbm

Posted by: Koko | November 13, 2006 10:56 AM

To weallmakechoices and raiseyourownkids, or whatever those usernames are:

The CATEGORICAL IMPERATIVE works something like this. When you're deciding on a choice of action, you can determine if it a correct choice by applying it to everyone, everywhere, under all circumstances. It is not a rule per se, it's an analytical tool.

So let's say I want some earrings. I don't have the money for the earrings, so I need to decide either to steal them, or to live without earrings. Should everyone steal the accessories they can't afford? How about food? If I wanted/needed food, how should I get it if I don't have any money? Should everyone who can't afford food steal it?

You can get some great discussions going with 18 year olds about this. There's no right answer, usually, except in the simplest cases, like whether or not we should all steal earrings.

Ok, so kids: You're saying that no one should get any help from their society in raising kids. If you can't afford to pay twice your mortgage amount on day care, (or whatever the norm/standard is where you live) no kids for you. So here's where the categorical imperative comes in. Do you really say that everyone should err on the side of no kids if they can't afford to raise them with no help from society? OR do we prefer an imperative to society: everyone who wants kids should have them and society will help support them?

One imperative leaves us with too few people to carry on the workings of society, and eventually, humanity. The other could leave us with too many people to feed. We don't have the second problem, so we should probably be thinking about the first one.

So please, PLEASE stop saying that having children is a choice. On a societal level, it's not. It's an imperative. The alternative to an environment which supports and celebrates children and families is too awful to comtemplate. If you haven't ever lived in a negative-population-growth country, you can't know how truly terrifying it is to watch your society circle the drain like that. Please don't wish that on the U.S.

Posted by: WDC | November 13, 2006 10:57 AM

To:

To weallmakechoices 10:45:

I am perfectly happy, thank you. I am just tired of people excusing my brother's behavior on 'he has three kids and he is a doctor' - well - I have two dogs, one of who is ill, and we have our needs, too - and no one has asked us what it would take to make us comfortable when we are all around for Thanksgiving.
If I don't know my nieces, well, that is my brother's fault, not my own, because I certainly have made more effort than anyone else would given the situation.
There are times where it is perfectly reasonable to put one's wants above those of a child's - there are times when the child's wants NEED to be put first, but always doing so only teaches that child that the world revolves around them. That is not the issue here.
For too many people, having a child is not thought of in rational terms - there is that 'ooh - they are so cute and fun' thing - not the 'is it a good time financially, emotionally, situationally? Would it be better to wait until we are more secure in above ways?' There is too much irrationality and not enough common sense involved.


Posted by: weallmakechoices | November 13, 2006 10:57 AM

"I know people who have had to cancel their cable TV and change to very cheap cat litter that the cats hate and turn off their land line phone in order to afford having one"

I am laughing really loud about the koko remark, but this is also funny! They are cats people, if they don't like the kitty litter to bad!

Posted by: poor cats | November 13, 2006 10:58 AM

Ah, what would the holidays be without a good boycott?

WAMC, your Thanksgiving drama really emodies the spirit of the season. ;> If that's your choice, fine. Just don't be bitter about it. Life is too short.

Posted by: theoriginalmomof2 | November 13, 2006 10:59 AM

Drmom-

I'd like to know exactly what I said that was offensive?

Perhaps making suggestions that people not have more kids beyond their means?

Sorry if that's just too much common sense and logic!

Posted by: RaiseYourOwnKids | November 13, 2006 11:00 AM

The part I think is lost on the childless camp is this: These children are our future, they are needed to run the country, buy things, fix things, help people, pay taxes, defend our country etc etc. They are the future society, a country that has no children has no future. That is why we should "subsidize" parents. The real drain is on those who just want to live and die enjoying the fruits of what others sacrificed for.

Posted by: pATRICK | November 13, 2006 11:01 AM

When you compare kids to animals you lose all credibilty.

Posted by: to weallmakechoices | November 13, 2006 11:04 AM

My biggest exhaustion is that I simply do not have time for it all. Invariably, I have dirty dishes in the sink, laundry that needs folding, floors that need mopping. I have a five your old boy and a 30-year old boy, so don't get me started on the condition of the bathroom ;) I wish I could have a house that looked as neat and tidy as all those sitcom moms, but then I remember, that is fantasy; those aren't even real families! Real working moms constantly face a deficit, in my experience, the housework suffers first and most frequently.

The biggest compromise I have had to make is tied closely to my role as mother AND wife. I simply don't have the time to devote to my interests (painting, drawing) and my career choices have been sharply curtailed by the shared goals my husband and I have for our family. It isn't so much that I regret not being able to pursue employment in a field that stimulates me, but I feel that I have no choice because fininacially helping my husband so we can have our 1300 sq ft home, food for our children, is more important than my dreams or personal satisfaction. I guess what I am trying to say, is that the well-being of my family (emotionally and financially) is more important than my personal well-being. And, like all the movies that suppose alternative lives if we had only made different choices, I wouldn't have my life any different than it is now.

Still, it does seem to me that there would be greater opportunity for me as a woman and a person to focus more on my interests and my goals if I could have a more flexible schedule and less financial stress. Now, there are some who would say, "Oh, you are so selfish, wanting to focus on your desires. You CHOSE to marry, you CHOSE to have kids, shut up and be happy with the CHOICES, you have made." TO that I would have this response. I am THRILLED to be married to the most wonderful man in the world (yes, ladies, I married him) and I love my children and consider my role as a mother to be the most important thing I will ever do. But I did not CHOOSE to lose my own identity in the process. Economic reality made that choice for me. ANd to those who complain that "paying" for these family friendly ideas penalize the childless and benefit families with children, I would point out that my children will be paying for your golden years by working to sustain our economy and "paying" for the government funded or sponsored programs and projects that make your life a little easier.

Posted by: LM in WI | November 13, 2006 11:04 AM

SLP:

I am sorry about your struggles with infertility - but if you had a NEED to have a child, that is fine. I just hope it was a good time for you financially and otherwise. That is all I am saying. There is a time for everything.
The difference between NEED and WANT is an interesting one - one that might be discussed sometime here. There are issues, too.
Listen, I don't mean to sound like I am anti-child or anti-anything - I just want people to accept responsibility for their choices and to approach things rationally. I also want people to realize that people without children have needs and desires just as much as those with children do - but we are overlooked in the debate.
I may have a kid (adoption only), but it will be at a time that is good for us, not because I NEED one.

Oh - and yes - my mother is very unhappy that we won't be there for Thanksgiving, as our other family members who have called and asked us to reconsider. The situation is far more complicated than anyone here could realize and there is an awful lot of pain on many sides involved, so please don't condemn me for sticking up for myself in this situation.

Posted by: weallmakechoices | November 13, 2006 11:07 AM

To LM in WI - well put. Thanks for the insight into a "real" family's life.
And..thanks for having kids! ;-)

Posted by: Missicat | November 13, 2006 11:07 AM

OK, completely off-topic, but I just read this in the NYT Metropolitan Diary (admittedly, I live in Cleveland, but still enjoy it):

Dear Diary:

Walking along Fifth Avenue early on a Monday morning, I overheard an intense, animated conversation between two suit-and-tie Masters-of-the-Universe Wall Street types:

Master of the Universe No. 1: "So you wrapped it up on Friday night?"

M.O.T.U. No. 2: "Yep, it's all done."

M.O.T.U. 1: "Well, that's great. Congratulations. I know it was a lot of work."

M.O.T.U. 2: "Yeah, thanks. We put everything we had into it."

M.O.T.U. 1: "I'm sure you did!" (Long pause). "Bottle or breast?"

M.O.T.U. 2: "Breast."

M.O.T.U. 1: "Excellent!"


Posted by: Rebecca | November 13, 2006 11:07 AM

Why, why, why do some people get so much pleasure out of the notion that others deserve to suffer because they made stupid choices? I am the first to admit that my child was not brought into this world as a result of any "rational, common sense, logic" and raising him was certainly beyond my financial means at the time. (I believe I've posted before that I was a teenage mother.) It is easy for people to shake their head in disgust at my situation. But how does it help anyone for the two of us to live in poverty because I might have made a poor choice?

Posted by: TakomaMom | November 13, 2006 11:11 AM

Rebecca, thanks! Very cute.

One of the things that's especially cute is that the MOTU assumes that once the birth is complete, it's "all done". Hee!

Posted by: WDC | November 13, 2006 11:11 AM

"the point... again.... is, this assistance ought to be need-based"

Koko --

You're so right about this. Childcare -- like college loan money -- should be allocated based on the circumstances and obligations of a given family's life.

While I don't think the gov't could extend paid maternity leave only to people who need it, childcare subsidy absolutely should be rationed based on family income, expenses, etc.

Posted by: pittypat | November 13, 2006 11:13 AM

"But 90% of people is society get married and want families."

And 50% of them get divorced.

Posted by: Anonymous | November 13, 2006 11:14 AM

WAMC --
Thank you for your kind words. Believe me, I fully support people that do not want to have children (although I personally don't understand it). Nothing makes me sadder than to think about children born to parents that don't want them. While we were struggling to have children, it seemed that there were several stories on the news about teenagers that gave birth and tossed the newborn. What a cruel world at times, no?

Posted by: SLP | November 13, 2006 11:15 AM

tO:

to weallmakechoices:

If my having a pet that needs my attention makes me lose credibility with you, that is fine. I am not looking for it from you.

Listen - there are not any easy answers for any of this. I just wish that people with kids would realize that those without have needs, too, that often are not realized. I do think that having a kid needs to be approached rationally, and if child care is too expensive, well, then either don't or wait or figure out help from somewhere, but it is not fair for me to subsidize your child care or for me to not have the same flexibility that you demand in the workplace.

Let's all just take responsibility for our choices.

Now I have to go do something productive so I am not disappearing because any of you intimidated me - not the case.

Posted by: weallmakechoices | November 13, 2006 11:16 AM

WEMC's post is reminding me of a little situation that happened when my sister and parents were staying over. My sister (who lives two time zones away) was extremely frustrated when at 8:30 a.m., she stormed downstairs and yelled at my two children (who'd been trying so hard to be quiet) because "YOU PEOPLE DON"T UNDERSTAND THAT I REALLY NEED MY SLEEP!!" My parents and my husband and I were at the table and we all just looked at each other after she slammed the door and went back upstairs. All was quiet for a minute, and then my father came out with one of his best lines ever:


"Some days I wake up crabby, and some days I just let her sleep."

Posted by: FamilyChick | November 13, 2006 11:16 AM

Having kids is not always a choice for people. Just ask the right-wing.
You're points are nicely put, WDC.
At the risk of sounding trite, children are the future of the world and we owe all of them the brightest future possible. That may be through helping parents out with childcare subsidies, improving education, or simply improving our attitudes towards children and those who chose to have them.
As a society, we owe it to ourselves to ensure our children are well-taken care of. Those who do not have children are part of society and would benefit from taking part of this.
Let's face the practical point that, our economy is such that it would not function without working moms and dads. What are we going to do to improve the quality life of everyone?

Posted by: drmom | November 13, 2006 11:16 AM

No - why not have all subsidies rationed by family income? How on earth would you do that - let's ration mortgage subsidies rationed by family income. Will we do that by the price of a house in NYC or upstate New York? Iowa or Miami? Sometimes the reason why people make a lot of money is because they pulled their acts together in high school, worked hard, got into a good college, got a good job, etc. You can't withold a public good from them because they work hard....how about police force workers who are on salary for X amount (which would permit them to qualify for a childcare subsidy), but working overtime puts them over but just enough to disqualify them?

Posted by: Anonymous | November 13, 2006 11:17 AM

Actually it shouldn't. If I can only afford one kid and that's all I have, but my friend has five and can really afford none, why should I be punished?

Posted by: to pittypat | November 13, 2006 11:17 AM

WAMC

Don't expect us to be able to read your mind into your family situation but you can't throw a story out there like that and expect everyone to know and sympathize with you. Don't bring your baggage (of which we know nothing) and apply it to the conversation topic and expect people to feel for you.

My husband and I are discussing children (we've been married 5 years) and I can definitely say that the fridged words in this blog are not encouraging - it sounds like we're going to have to go it alone out in the cold dark word.. very scary

Posted by: to: weallmakechoices | November 13, 2006 11:18 AM

I never once suggested that everyone stop having kids. That obviously won't be happening...

I just question why some feel it's necessary that EVERYONE have kids? I assure you, my contribution to the gene pool will not missed.

And if I am going to be attacked or considered as less of a person for doing so, because "that's what we're here to do." Then so be it. I guess my taxes, volunteering, advocating worthy causes have nothing to do with how it will impact the future at all.

There are other ways of fulfilling one's life and leaving a legacy than by having kids.

Posted by: RaiseYourOwnKids | November 13, 2006 11:18 AM

We kind of visited this a couple of weeks/months ago by comparing the US to France and other European countries with respect to free child care, paid maternity leave. I still think that we (American women) most likely have less access to those but have more access and opportunities for advancement in the workplace and are treated more (not completely) as equals with men. I doubt we can get both - which do we want since we have to choose?

Posted by: KB Silver Spring | November 13, 2006 11:21 AM

KB, that reminds me -- We watched 20/20 the other night, and my husband was wondering if women in the countries who provide such wonderful maternity leaves and subsidized childcare and so forth attain the kind of professional success that women can (or at least are starting to) in this country. Does anyone know where I might find this information?

Posted by: WorkingMomX | November 13, 2006 11:24 AM

KB silver spring:
good point....

Myself, if there is such a choice, I choose to be treated equally.

However, if there isn't a choice, I choose to work for a company with equal benefits.


Posted by: dotted | November 13, 2006 11:26 AM

The decision to have (or not to have) children often cannot be articulated very well. I certainly cannot explain why, within the last few years, I have this overwhelming desire to be a father. I'm just fortunate that my wife has agreed to help me out in this endeavor!

IOW, having children is not always a rational decision that can be explained or understood. For some it is after a lot of thought and planning; for others it just happened, but I hope that in either case the children that are produced are equally wanted and loved by their parents.

As for the subject of the discussion today, just because someone has a six figure salary doesn't mean they still don't have high mortgage costs, etc. Everyone doesn't live in homes that cost the same, after all.

Posted by: John | November 13, 2006 11:27 AM

What does "why should I be punished?" mean? Who is punishing you? How? Taxes on one's payroll/income are taking something you earned. The government allowing you to take pretax dollars for something just permits you to keep more of what you own. If you have a problem with how much the gov't. takes broadly, take it up with the government, not in a "why should I be punished" manner. Let's stop agriculture subsidies! Why should I be punished for not farming? Let's stop mortgage deductions! Why should I be punished for owning a home (or two, or three). Let's stop Lifetime Learning Credits - why should I be punished for choosing not to go to college? Let's stop funding the VA hospitals - why should I be punished for not signing up to join and serve in the army?

Posted by: Allie | November 13, 2006 11:27 AM

'My husband and I are discussing children (we've been married 5 years) and I can definitely say that the fridged words in this blog are not encouraging - it sounds like we're going to have to go it alone out in the cold dark word.. very scary'

I don't think this is necessarily true. You won't be going it alone - I am not sure about what point you are trying to make but I hope you make the right decision for you and that you are very happy.

Posted by: weallmakechoices | November 13, 2006 11:28 AM

Back on topic, I do think childcare subsidies are a good idea - and yes, they are already available to the poorest people (I speak from experience). I don't know where the line should be drawn in terms of income (if at all). I think people are inclined to give too much credit to those who "get a good job". It seems common to hear "why should I be punished because I worked hard to become a fill in the blank?" but it can also be looked at as "why should you be rewarded because you chose a career that the market might put a higher dollar value on?"

Posted by: TakomaMom | November 13, 2006 11:28 AM

I meant for NOT owning a home.

Posted by: Allie | November 13, 2006 11:28 AM

To weallmakechoices,
Yes, choosing to have children is a choice. Does that matter? The big picture is why is there no structured maternal/paternal leave program in this country. Lets actually start supporting each other instead of bringing each other down. Why aren't people here questioning how North Korea and Iran can have better programs to support families than the United States.

Posted by: Arlington, VA | November 13, 2006 11:29 AM

What in the world is wrong with people? We are all in this together! The children of today, whether from poor families or rich families (or that more frequently elusive middle class) are all going to be in control of our country in a few decades. Bad-mouthing "rich" people and saying they and their childen don't deserve help or tax cuts or that their lives are "oh, so easy" misses the entire point of this blog! Parenting is hard work - worth it - but really hard work. Having money MAY make portions of it easier, but the trade off of having "extra" money because both parents work is not an easy choice for anyone. And money is not the cure for all that ails families. My gosh, some of the most disfunctional and least happy families out there have the most money. The working poor have it the worst, no doubt, and single parenthood, WOW, I can not even imgaine how tough that is. Regardless of where you fall in the social-economic spectrum, we should all have compassion for our fellow parents. Being angry and nasty because you perceive someone as "better off" than you, does not give one leave to denigrate others. Also, you never know what kind of family commitments other people have or where they may give their money. This country does need to do more for families, for ALL families. Our children are our MOST PRECIOUS COMMODITY and we should do much much more to make sure that all our children, regardless of the economic status of the parents, receive excellent daycare, excellent schooling, and that their parents receive the support and help that we ALL need. Bbad mouthing each other will definetly not help us get any closer to a solution for all of us.

Posted by: Cameron | November 13, 2006 11:32 AM

Careful what you ask for: Just a quick thought that occured to me. If the government mandates paid maternity leave, would corporations be less inclined to promote and advance child-bearing age women to higher positions and higher salaries for fear of paying more if/when they take maternity leave?

Also IMHO:
My colleague is on maternity leave until end of January - I am 100% picking up her work. I don't mind too much. However, I don't have kids, nor can I have kids without serious health risks. I am very happy for her and her family, however...I get to work without any days off this entire holiday season, with double work load during the busiest time of the year. Maybe a little bump in my salary in the interim would be nice, but the theory is I can have the maternity leave if I need it so no raise, since she would cover my work while I am out.

Posted by: Just a thought... | November 13, 2006 11:36 AM

You just sound dumb. The point is that people shouldn't have more kids than they can take care of. I am being punished when I have to pay full price for day care so someone else can have as many kids as they want and pay next to nothing.


Posted by: to ALLIE | November 13, 2006 11:37 AM

The country will always face some budgetary constraints. My personal point of view is that the deficit we are raking up for the next generation is also cruel. When we talk about increasing programs we need to think about the costs.

I don't think that many of us without kids resent paying for public schools, etc. What I do have some trouble with is the lack of realization here that we are not a limitless resource. I am an academic who lives in a 1-bedroom, without cable, luxury vacations, etc. I pay 1/6 of my income to the feds - a coworker with a stay-at-home wife, mortgage, and a few kids pays nothing. This is fair - but there is still a limit to how far this logic can be pushed. While I don't have obligations to offspring, I also don't have the help/backup of spouse. The idea that I (and others in my boat) should pay for the next generation so that upper income earners are "not punished" seems a trifle harsh. Most of my dual-income friends have more than I do in the material-luxury department even with their childcare expenses.

Posted by: Another childless | November 13, 2006 11:41 AM

I think one of the reasons people get riled up about the cost of things is the difference in quality between so many child care programs. The subsidies as they exist now pay a rate that's dependent on the area's cost of living. If the subsidies were offered to all, poorer people could continue to choose programs where the subsidy pays the full cost of daycare, and wealthier folks could choose (if they wished) more expensive programs and pay the offset out-of-pocket. I personally think this is still a solution that would help everybody (disproportionately, as everything does), but it would be nice to also address the "quality" part. But I can be patient - it takes baby steps in this country where so many are paranoid about socialism :)

Posted by: TakomaMom | November 13, 2006 11:41 AM

Sorry for coming late to the discussion -- but I wanted to second Leslie's point about the stunning lack of mention of men.

I wasn't bothered by the lack of single dads, but I was bothered by the fact that not only were the spouses of the working women not interviewed, they never appeared on camera (Vargas profile three moms -- two of whom apparently had husbands -- and showed a montage of what they did all day, from waking up to making lunches to serving dinner. In not one montage did a father even appear in the frame).

If we're serious about changing the conversation on balance, we have to start asking (or showing) where the husbands are. But though Vargas gave a shout-out to her hubby, that was it for the idea that fathers have a huge part to play in the work-family dynamics that their wives face.

Posted by: Brian Reid | November 13, 2006 11:45 AM

Just wondering why the Vargas piece was not more balanced (show the dads too). Bad journalism to show only one side of the story, but that's what she needed to get her point across.

Posted by: Mr.Honda | November 13, 2006 11:50 AM

"We can all do a fine job, regardless of our individual situation."

That is a ridiculous generalization.

Posted by: Anonymous | November 13, 2006 11:52 AM

It sounds like the mothers Vargas interviewed either did all the child rearing and housekeeping themselves, or the father was told to deliberately stay out of the camera because this was a focus on women's issues. If the second reason was correct, then someone dropped the ball in production. My wife and I work equally around the house and will continue to do so when we have a child. It just seems fair to me...

Posted by: John | November 13, 2006 11:52 AM

Brian,

I agree and I think that most husbands know that it is hard to be a working mom; I mean most of them are working dads too. My husband is great, he cleans, supports my efforts to go to school, is great with our daughter, etc. I know that some women don't have this, but I hate the generalization that most men are oblivious to working mothers.

Posted by: Scarry | November 13, 2006 11:54 AM

Oh, and to those of you who believe that you, by choosing not to have children, should not have to contribute to this issue, or have no stake in the problem of affordable child care - uuhhmmm... just WHOM do you think is going to be contributing to your social security and deciding how medicade/medicare and taxes will be applied to the elderly? and be your doctors and nurses? your pharmaceutical CEOs? your elderly aids and those running your hospitals? your Congressional Representatives and Senators? WHO will be running your WORLD when you are old and gray? ANSWER: the children of today who YOU don't care to ensure have adequate and high quality care (whether parental or other). Maybe they will not care that you have adequate and high quality elderly care.

Posted by: Cameron | November 13, 2006 11:55 AM

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Posted by: Koko | November 13, 2006 12:03 PM

to Cameron: read my post above - if I did not know so many wonderful parents offline this blog would give me a hideous impression of the general selfishness of parents. I never married & had kids - and consequently I am able to spend many extra devoted to students, helping family & friends, etc. than I could if I was also tending children. My contributions to the next generation are different - but they are not nonexistent. I also think it is possible for parents to get in a trap of what worrying about what is best for their kids rather than globally the next generation. The gas-guzzling SUV, mcmansion owners, are not generally single women :)

Posted by: Another childless | November 13, 2006 12:10 PM

You're right about that, however, I am concerned because as a whole, we are also quite far behind other countries in revering and caring for our elderly.

Children are the future, and the elders are our past. It would benefit us all to learn a few things from them--particularly in regards to the cycle of history.

Posted by: RaiseYourOwnKids | November 13, 2006 12:14 PM

Anyone else as worried as I am about getting old and dependent on others?

Posted by: scared | November 13, 2006 12:17 PM

another boring rehash of the same beaten to death topics. the same fools complaining. only fresh air is Jokester and Koko the gorilla.

Posted by: Blah | November 13, 2006 12:19 PM

"Having a child for me was a biological necessity that I would have never have imagined until we found ourselves unable to have one."

SLP --

So, you're saying that having a kid wan't all that important until you found you couldn't have one. Then you wanted one. Then it became a life-or-death issue.

Do you have any idea how many people have coped with childlessness through acceptance and adoption?

All those folks (like you and your husband, I guess) who are willing to pay tens of thousands of dollars to MAYBE conceive their OWN child could have spent the money instead on adopting an existing child who needs a home.

Sure, it's a disappointment not to be able to have a kid if you want one. But life is like that -- you don't always get what you want. Why not turn that disappointment into something useful?

Sounds like maybe you needed some counseling to deal with your extreme mental anguish.

Posted by: Anonymous | November 13, 2006 12:22 PM

To all raise your own kids out there-
The reason the government gives incentives to families to rear kids, is because they are the future of this country. Immigration only makes up 40% of the US growth. The other 60% comes from children born of US mothers. It is in the best interest of society, to provide an atmosphere that is condusive to child rearing. If children were negative to society, the government would be giving incentives against having children. Children are a multi billion dollar year industry. Not only are they the future tax payers, military personnel, civillian job market, they are also the consumers of today. Also it is stated the most financially lucrative hhld situation is a DINK( dual income no kids). So they are already financially properous on average. What more do you people want? Will you not be statisfied till you hold all the money in the country? As for the question of one child, actually I think that is a good one. I don't know what circles you are running around in but most of my highly educated two income professional couples that I know do limit their family to no more then 2 children. Most choose 2 children due to the benefit of providing a sibling to their child. But lots of people (approx 20%) are choosing to have one child. So I don't know where you get off thinking everyone is popping out 3+ children. The average family size is only 2.05. So clearly lots of people are having one or two children. For the extreme end of the income distribution, a significant portion is choosing one based purely on a time issue. They have the financial resources to raise more then one child. But they desire more time with the child, more alone time, more couple time, more professional time, and a higher standard of living. DH and I are in that boat. We thought long and hard to go from one child to two. In the end we decided, that it was worth the time to go to two kids. The dependency stage is very short and truly an enjoyable time for parents. The money was the least of the problem. On the last note, regardless of money, some larger families have a lot to offer our society. Having one or two truly indulged children is not always the perfect model.

Posted by: foamgnome | November 13, 2006 12:27 PM

"Maybe a little bump in my salary in the interim would be nice, but the theory is I can have the maternity leave if I need it so no raise, since she would cover my work while I am out."

Prior to your colleague going out, when it was clear that you would be expected to do her work too, you needed to talk to your supervisor and ask for compensation. It may not be too late. You should not be asked to shoulder the burden without compensation or at least some consideration for temporary help with the work. Don't be a martyr.

Posted by: "To Just a Thought" | November 13, 2006 12:29 PM

"Maybe a little bump in my salary in the interim would be nice, but the theory is I can have the maternity leave if I need it so no raise, since she would cover my work while I am out."

Prior to your colleague going out, when it was clear that you would be expected to do her work too, you needed to talk to your supervisor and ask for compensation. It may not be too late. You should not be asked to shoulder the burden without compensation or at least some consideration for temporary help with the work. Don't be a martyr.

Posted by: "To Just a Thought" | November 13, 2006 12:30 PM

"Maybe a little bump in my salary in the interim would be nice, but the theory is I can have the maternity leave if I need it so no raise, since she would cover my work while I am out."

Prior to your colleague going out, when it was clear that you would be expected to do her work too, you needed to talk to your supervisor and ask for compensation. It may not be too late. You should not be asked to shoulder the burden without compensation or at least some consideration for temporary help with the work. Don't be a martyr.

Posted by: "To Just a Thought" | November 13, 2006 12:30 PM

oops, sorry that my post showed up 3x

Posted by: Anonymous | November 13, 2006 12:31 PM

This is like De Ja Vu all over again. Like Leslie pointed out - we just had this discussion - but now that ELIZABETH VARGAS has done a "special" on 3 working mothers we need to discuss this again. Does anybody give any men any credit? The mere fact that she interviewed 0 men in itself shows how biased her peice was. Are only mother's raising and caring for children? The premise of the discussion is faulty - so the ensuing discussion is also faulty.

I am standing by my personal responsibility rant from the last discussion. You bring a kid into this world - you should be able to take care of it. People make sacrifices all the time for their kids - but I don't ever see them highlighted in Leslie's forums. Day after day it is "Warton school panel," "Wall Street Moms," "Elizabeth Vargas says (wa-wa-wa)" GEEZ! Do Leslie's examples represent the overwhelming majority of the working women in this country who are are NOT posting on this forum, or the small minority who "want it all" despite the costs associated with having a family?

Posted by: cmac | November 13, 2006 12:31 PM

"It is easy for people to shake their head in disgust at my situation. But how does it help anyone for the two of us to live in poverty because I might have made a poor choice?"

Takoma Mom --

I hope that most posters on this blog would agree that you are precisely the kind of parent who should enjoy access to subsidized chldcare and other financial assistance from the government.

Many posters here have made the point that they don't like the idea of subsidizing people who make enough money that they can jolly well afford their own childcare. I hope that means that they are willing to help -- not denigrate -- people who have real need.

In any case, you're the kind of person I'm happy to see my tax dollars helping. I think your child(ren) will grow up to be compassionate humans.

Posted by: pittypat | November 13, 2006 12:37 PM

Parents do make sacrifices all of the time. As some have said above, it is our hobbies and personal time that suffers. I have little "me" time and that is one of the sacrifices I make for family and career and I suspect most parents do as well.

Also, my and my husband's careers have taken many turns based on the needs of our families. My husband didn't take a job in another city b/c our family was happy where we are. These are sacrifices and families make them all of the time. These sacrifices don't necessarily mean that we can't "have it all"--a career and family. It just means that we make career and life decisions with our families as our first consideration.

With regard to childcare issues--it is still a valid and important discussion. The quality and cost of care affects everyone who is a parent. I make good money, but I still am anxious about the quality, the cost,etc. I can only imagine the anxiety it causes less affluent families. I believe businesses and government need to create policies that make work and home life better for families. It doesn't seem that our lawmakers even think about this issue and not enough has been done.

Posted by: To CMAC | November 13, 2006 12:39 PM

"At the risk of sounding trite, children are the future of the world and we owe all of them the brightest future possible."

Dr Mom --

That is trite. And "we" don't "owe" anyone a "bright" future. Where do you get the idea that children -- yours or anyone else's -- are entitled to a particular kind of future?

You have your kids, you raise them, and then hopefully you let them go to make whatever future they make. If, while raising them, you help to make the world a better place, great. But either way, their future is ultimately going to be in their own hands.

You can't guarantee a "bright" future, and you shouldn't. Don't deny them the right to shape their own.

Posted by: Anonymous | November 13, 2006 12:45 PM

to foamgnome:

Immigration may only account for 40% of growth, but it could account for more, there has been a decision to limit immigration.

I agree that a next generation is a vital thing, but your view of the childless as selfish is simple-minded. Some childless people are selfish and some parents are selfish. I have never found a particularly strong correlation on that factor.
Saying we need another generation is a bit of a canard since there is no global population crisis. I understand wanting an upper-middle class American lifestyle for your children - but I don't agree with saying someone who thinks (**by definition limited**) government funds should be spent on things like the AIDS crisis in Africa, combatting malaria, rather than on upper-middle class childcare subsidies is automatically a heartless wretch. Maybe we needed to spend more time thinking about how to help the children of the larger world - rather than getting your kicks treating Americans who happen to be childless as some sort of a lower caste of human being.

Posted by: another childless | November 13, 2006 12:47 PM

TO SLP- Please do not confuse need with wants. I can relate to wanting a child very badly. Society needs children to insure a future of a country or ultimately the future of the human race. But individuals do not NEED children. Orphans NEED families and parents. I think there is nothing wrong with choosing the path you took (fertility treatments). It is is your right to do so. But please, remember the person with real needs are the orphans. Not the childless couples. Childless couples have options to create families within their own control (adoption). Orphans are at the mercy of others.

Posted by: Anonymous | November 13, 2006 12:49 PM

to another childless : Sorry, if categorized all childless in the same bank. Clearly some are very giving. It just seems that a number of childless on this board keep complainng about incentives to be child free. So I was addressing them. As far as help abroad, I have nothing wrong with helping others abroad. I am not sure we couldn't afford to do both. The US has a lot of money. It is just a matter of priortizing the distribution of funds.

Posted by: foamgnome | November 13, 2006 12:52 PM

Jokester, you are the best! Are you Warren Jeffs?

Posted by: experienced mom | November 13, 2006 12:53 PM

"Having one or two truly indulged children is not always the perfect model."

This is true. And obviously what works for one, doesn't for the other. That compliments my comment from Friday that "one size does not fit all."

My whole thing is simply this: if you can afford them, and not complain about the costs involved with them, have as many as you want. It's the overextended ones who whine that I can't feel sorry for.

And maybe it's just the area in which I live, but I observe that most families I see have at least three kids. It's rare to see an only child in these parts.

Posted by: RaiseYourOwnKids | November 13, 2006 12:55 PM

We need the next generation of US citizens. It is irrelevant if people live in different countries. Unless, there is a mass migration from the over populated countries to the under populated countries, each country will have to implement measures to ensure population replacement.

Posted by: foamgnome | November 13, 2006 12:55 PM

To RaiseYourOwnKids: To be honest, most of my friends would prefer if childcare were slightly cheaper. But none of my professional two income couples, I know are advocating subsidies. Most of us know, we can afford it and are happy to provide child care to our children. Only on this board do I hear people advocating for higher subsidies (mainly tax breaks). One reason people have more then one child, is there is a lot of cultural pressure to have more then one. I was surprised how strongly people feel against a one child family. That is not the reason we finally decided to have another child. But it was really awkward explaining to people that we wanted one child, even though we could probably support 3 or 4 kids.

Posted by: foamgnome | November 13, 2006 1:01 PM

raiseyourownkids - what part of the country do you live in? I am in Alexandria, VA, and most of the couples that I know that actually have kids only have 1 - if they have two, they stop there.

Posted by: Missicat | November 13, 2006 1:01 PM

I currently live in a suburb of Baltimore County--about 20 minutes from Baltimore. There's an interesting dynamic in regards to the widening gap between the classes. Right now, I live right on the edge of the more "upscale" area, where apartments go for $1500 a month or more.

I don't pay that for rent, but with the housing out here booming, it's well over going to be $1100 a month for a 2 bedroom apt when the increase takes affect in January. We simply can't afford that, so we have to look elsewhere.

And for the other side of the gap, not just 2.5 miles up the road, the housing is considerably cheaper, but in a rather seedy area. Sure, you can get an apartment for $600-700 a month (or sometimes, even less), and you just may well end up on the evening news.

It's scary how there's less and less of a middle ground anymore.

Posted by: RaiseYourOwnKids | November 13, 2006 1:12 PM

it's inteligent, kind, practical people like foamgnome that I encourage to have more kids.

Posted by: Robbing Hood | November 13, 2006 1:17 PM

R Y O K - $1,100 for a two bedroom?? Funny how different things are in our area...that would be considered quite a bargain here!

Posted by: Missicat | November 13, 2006 1:20 PM

I'm in the childless camp and I really don't understand the antagonism toward dependent tax credit. Why NOT help people pay for expenses out of pre-tax money? If the amount hasn't been raised since the 80s it would seem more than fair to at least double it. I'm with armchair mom -- the government spends a lot of money on programs I hope to never need. One other thought about the dependent care accounts -- when they revisit the amounts (if they do) it would be nice if they included taking care of our parents in their old age. There are certainly childfree people who will end up with a reversal of the parent child relationship. Care for the aging doesn't come cheap either...

Posted by: Product of a Working Mother | November 13, 2006 1:20 PM

I admit to being curious as to why this decision devolved into subsidies for day care. I believe the real solution is flexible schedules...something for everyone that isn't tax related or income related...

Posted by: dotted | November 13, 2006 1:21 PM

And I agree with you about the middle ground....very scary. Some of the older folks who bought their townhouses in Old Town Alexandria many years ago and have paid them off, now cannot afford the taxes! Just doesn't seem fair.

Posted by: Missicat | November 13, 2006 1:22 PM

It's people like F04 that should be discouraged from having any more, if any at all.

Posted by: Robbing Hood | November 13, 2006 1:22 PM

"One reason people have more then one child, is there is a lot of cultural pressure to have more then one."

I agree--but I don't understand why people feel they have to buy into the pressure--most especially if finances don't allow. I see a direct link to this "needing more" lifestyle with bigger houses, cars, and other material things.

Or is it because of the assumption that only children are spoiled? Some are, yes...but on the flip side, I've seen sets of siblings that were spoiled much, much more.

Posted by: RaiseYourOwnKids | November 13, 2006 1:24 PM

I was really quite surprised by the meaness of a couple of postings in response to my statement about my "need to have children." I stand by my opinion that I truly had a biological need to reproduce. And to the person who posted, "Sounds like maybe you needed some counseling to deal with your extreme mental anguish." Actually, I did say that I was depressed in my posting. I did ask my doctor for a referral to a mental health professional. Before I could make my first appointment, I found out that I was pregnant.

I have rarely posted in the past because I felt most of the posters were a little too intense and mean on occasion. I'll definitely think twice before posting my thoughts in the future.

Posted by: SLP | November 13, 2006 1:27 PM

Speaking of spoiled kids, did anyone see the article in the post on Sat about the types of cars Loudoun teens are driving these days? Its' enough to make your hair curl.

Posted by: cmac | November 13, 2006 1:27 PM

Elizabeth!?! I was hoping for Alberto... Never mind

Posted by: teplicky101 | November 13, 2006 1:28 PM

RaiseYourOwnKids - you live in an apartment? how awful for you.

Posted by: clarification | November 13, 2006 1:29 PM

"R Y O K - $1,100 for a two bedroom?? Funny how different things are in our area...that would be considered quite a bargain here!"

Yeah, well it's beginning to look that way for here too. And it's even scarier when you have two salaries, very minimal debt (student loans and one car payment--NO credit cards!), and it's still tight!

Posted by: RaiseYourOwnKids | November 13, 2006 1:31 PM

"We need more compassionate people in authority."

Couldn't agree more, whether that means women or men of the "new" generation, let's get them into office!

Part of me (the optimistic part!) likes to think that it is a generational thing, and once the "boomer echo" has to deal with this in a big way, real changes WILL be made.

My boss is a 62 year old man whose wife was a Stay-at-home mom (SAHM) to their one daughter her entire life. When he wants to take jabs at me for taking off a few hours to chaperone my child's preschool field trip, he tells me I'm not somebody who is "resilent". The President of the company is the same age, his wife was also a SAHM to his two sons, he obviously has NO clue what it takes for a working parent to raise their kids. The Vice President of the company is the step-mother to two grown kids - hmm, yep - clueless! The HR Director gave up her "career" mid-way through to be a SAHM - her husband is a very successful 6 figure business man - doesn't get what today's parents are up against. She just can not understand why breastfeeding mothers would not want to pump in the bathroom and thinks the company would be setting a bad "precedent" if they made one of the empty closets into a pumping room. My gosh - the entire leadership of the company is from a 1950s "leave it to beaver" scene!

And shame on Vargas for leaving men out of the equation- I do truly believe that this issue will not continue to be stonewalled if men's voices DO start to be heard.

Posted by: Single Mom SS | November 13, 2006 1:38 PM

To Raise your own kids: I guess that is just the daily struggle. I guess it wasn't meant to be easy. $1,100 for a two bedroom would be a good deal in suburban VA too. But it is all relative. Good luck managing.

Posted by: foamgnome | November 13, 2006 1:38 PM

Somebody asked - Do women in foreign countries with long maternity leaves achieve high levels of career success?

Have you not heard of the predominatly female parliament in Sweden? Or the many examples of female Prime Ministers? Puh-lease - yes, a society that wants to support families is successful at doing so at all levels.

Where is our female president?

Posted by: Silver Spring Mom | November 13, 2006 1:41 PM

My wife bought short-term and long-term disability insurance from her employer benefit plan. It paid for 12wks of maternity leave at 60% salary. Though we could have survived w/o it, it was nice to have that pay.

Perhaps the first step would be for the govt to make this a voluntary benefit for all employees. At least then everyone (women) can get the 12wks paid maternity leave. Note, dads don't qualify.

The next step could be getting the govt (which really means "you" collectively) or employers to pay this insurance premium. But as we have seen, that is a point of contentious debate, which I don't intend to be a part of.

Posted by: Mr.Honda | November 13, 2006 1:43 PM

Mr. Honda, I have the short term disability insurance myself. We do offer it at my place of employment - we have to pay the premium ourselves, but it really isn't that much (of course, that is relative too..). It does help that my health insurance is fully paid for.

Posted by: Missicat | November 13, 2006 1:47 PM

SLP - I feel your pain - I had 2 very difficult pregnancies - but would it be the end of the world if you had turned to adoption? Thousands of couples go through infertility and it does not work for all.

Posted by: cmac | November 13, 2006 1:51 PM

For the 100 billionth (last?) time....

Leslie is not a poor, minority, single mom from the projects. She cannot write the daily topics from that perspective. She does not have that experience.

If you are looking/expecting Leslie to write from that experience, look elsewhere.

She has offered a weekly guest blog so that others can write about their issues from their perspectives. This is perfectly reasonable and all she can do.

If you (believe that you) earn less than Leslie's family, and so you can't relate to her perspective...just expect that to happen more often than not. Why expect anything else?

Posted by: For the last time... | November 13, 2006 1:51 PM

Mr. Honda-Does the government or the employer even need to pay the insurance premium for everyone? My answer here is if those who can afford pay the majority or all of the premium. It would be essentially like paying for your maternity leave over the lifetime of your employment. Sort of like a no interest loan. Or have the employer (or goverment-if your a government employee) pay part of the premium and have employees pay a portion as well. I think people can all bent out a shape when you talk about government full subisidies. But what I don't understand why people would object to people paying all or most of their own maternity insurance premium. People who choose not to have children, can opt out, people who already have had children, can opt out, people who plan to have kids, can opt for it. Maybe with each subsequent child, you pay a little more. Seems like a partial solution. I like the government bargaining with insurers as a group to get the lowest possible rate. But I don't mind paying for the whole premium myself. I actually won't really qualify because I probably will have had my second kid by the time this would be implemented. But I would have preferred it to using up all my leave and spacing my kids 4 years apart.

Posted by: foamgnome | November 13, 2006 1:52 PM

The problem is caused by all the stay-at-home-moms!

Why? They make it easy for their husbands to focus 100% on work. Those husbands rise to positions of power, and then impose those same rules of advancement on everyone else. These "sexist, clueless men that run America" do not understand what two-parent working families and working moms face.
We will not have change until the SAHMs get out of the house and into the workforce.

Posted by: Blah | November 13, 2006 1:52 PM

For the 100 billionth (last?) time....

Leslie is not a poor, minority, single mom from the projects. She cannot write the daily topics from that perspective. She does not have that experience.

If you are looking/expecting Leslie to write from that experience, look elsewhere.

She has offered a weekly guest blog so that others can write about their issues from their perspectives. This is perfectly reasonable and all she can do.

If you (believe that you) earn less than Leslie's family, and so you can't relate to her perspective...just expect that to happen more often than not. Why expect anything else?

Posted by: For the last time... | November 13, 2006 1:55 PM

"We will not have change until the SAHMs get out of the house and into the workforce."

Its the chicken and egg conundrum.

Why would a SAHM want to go into the workforce when she is up against so much? Personally, I think that's why most of them decide to stay home - it takes too much energy to go up against the systems that work against women in the workplace.

Posted by: Silver Spring Mom | November 13, 2006 1:59 PM

"For too many people, having a child is not thought of in rational terms - there is that 'ooh - they are so cute and fun' thing - not the 'is it a good time financially, emotionally, situationally? "

Everybody, look! We have a mind-reader in our midst! S/he knows exactly what all us parents were thinking before we had kids! Amazing. How did you guess that I only had kids because I thought they would be cute and fun? Wow.

You are so wise, WAMC, in addition to being a kind and generous person.

Posted by: to WAMC | November 13, 2006 2:00 PM

to koko: I get it now. From each according to their ability; to each according to their need.

Wasn't this experiment already tried in the last century? (Note: yes, in the Soviet Union. It failed.)

Posted by: another mom | November 13, 2006 2:03 PM

The problem is caused by all the stay-at-home-moms!

Why? They make it easy for their husbands to focus 100% on work...

* * *

Not across the board, my friend. Many SAHMs I know sure can crack that whip and get Dads home in time to make dinner or take over with the kids. These families have their own balance issues, but the 1950's model doesn exist here either.

Posted by: clarification | November 13, 2006 2:08 PM

Once I was lucky enough to have an audience with God.
"Lord, how long is a thousand years to you?" I asked.
God answered, "A second."
"And, to you, how much is a million dollars?" I interjected.
"Pennies," the omnipotent replied.
"May I have a million dollars?" I figured was worth a shot, one doesn't get an audience with the deity that often.
"Sure! Just a sec."

Posted by: Perspective | November 13, 2006 2:13 PM

Jokester: Please stop. There are other blogs for people with your interests.

Posted by: another mom | November 13, 2006 2:23 PM

when they revisit the amounts (if they do) it would be nice if they included taking care of our parents in their old age. There are certainly childfree people who will end up with a reversal of the parent child relationship. Care for the aging doesn't come cheap either...

They already do. You can use it to care for any dependent that you have. Check your administrator if you are unclear of the rules. I imagine a lot of people will be using this fund later on life. The only problem is the person has to be considered a dependent on your tax return. A lot of people help out their aged parents but do not supply the necessary amount of aid to qualify the claim that their parents are their dependents.

Posted by: foamgnome | November 13, 2006 2:24 PM

I really think Father of 4 got a hold of some kind of cyber jokebook and is posting as Jokester.

Posted by: Elaine | November 13, 2006 2:26 PM

Elaine why don't you do the same and spare us your annoying posts and catty responses.

Posted by: Anonymous | November 13, 2006 2:27 PM

I didn't watch the show because of the subject. Why is it that every time a news anchor (even in the local market) has a baby that we then have to have a special on babies? For Pete's sake, they didn't invent motherhood! Who cares?

Posted by: MissV | November 13, 2006 2:30 PM

To LM in WI:

Great posting -- now if I can be nosy, where are you in WI?
It's nice to not feel like the lone midwesterner out here.

Posted by: MadisonWIMom | November 13, 2006 2:40 PM

My issue with maternity leave as it is currently is in this country is that it is unequally applied. For example, my husband and I both work for government contractors doing very similar work in the same job market. After working 5 years for this company, I will receive 75% pay for 6 weeks for maternity leave (plus the 6 weeks of FMLA job protection unpaid). If I worked for my husband's company, I would receive 12 weeks of 66% pay. He will receive no paid time off. One benefit of government paid maternity leave would be the baseline of support offered to new parents, taking away the capriciousness of businesses for something that truly benefits society.

Posted by: PregnantInBurke | November 13, 2006 2:42 PM

to PregnantInBurke.

of course maternity leave is a benefit"unevenly applied". So are health insurance benefits, sick leave, vacation policy, parking reimbursement, and every other employee benefit. Benefits are different from employer to employer and even with each employer based on seniority, title, whatever. This creates market forces whereby certain employers are known as "family-friendly" or great places for women to work, and others are known as he**-holes.

Here's my personal choice rant and it's not directed at PregnantInBurke -- why don't people who have options seek jobs with employers who provide the sort of benefits they value, instead of selecting the employer that pays the most in annual salary but with lousy benefits, and then whine about the quality of the benefits? Some people don't have options. They either don't have the job skills, the credentials, or transportation to work other than with employers who offer X benefits. Others who do, however, have options and job choices, seem not to consider maternity and like benefits during the job search process. Employers get the message: skimp on benefits, don't match the 401(k), but keep the initial offer as high as you can, and you'll get your offers accepted by a higher percentage of applicants.

Posted by: Anonymous | November 13, 2006 3:05 PM

seems like you directed at her since you answered her post.

Posted by: just pointing out | November 13, 2006 3:14 PM

Dishonest reporting by Vargas. Ignoring that in some of these "Wonderful" countries where employers are required to provide "free" stay at home periods for new moms, women of childbearing age face discrimination by employers who must always weight in the cost of hiring them vs older women or males.

Posted by: JAC | November 13, 2006 3:17 PM

I occasionally read this blog as a depressing reminder of how selfish we all are, but I'd like to offer a fresh perspective on this: there seem to be lots of angry childless bloggers out there (I'm childless, but not angry), who think that those who had children made their bed and they should lie in it. But honestly, all the flexibility and tax breaks and associated "perks" aren't really designed for the parents - they're designed for the children! Parents who are less frazzled, have more tax breaks, have better childcare, etc., can do more to improve their children's lives. And that benefits all of us in more productive future adults, less crime and a better society.

And for all those truly disgusting people out there who say maybe you shouldn't have had 3 kids, has anyone ever heard of an accident?

Posted by: What about the children? | November 13, 2006 3:46 PM

accidents can be fixed by abortions.
womans right to choose.

Posted by: Anonymous | November 13, 2006 3:49 PM

yeah let's promote irresponsibility! sorry, if you have 3 "accidents" you need better birth control...or sex ed all over again.

Posted by: Anonymous | November 13, 2006 3:53 PM

accidents and inspiration
lead you to your destination

Posted by: quote | November 13, 2006 3:53 PM

Why is it that so many childless (not all) bloggers feel such resentment toward people with kids? And it seems to me that most of these bloggers are women, not men. I have a brother who is childless, but he is the most devoted uncle that anyone could ask for. Having kids or not is not such an issue to him. It just happens that he does not have any, but somehow, it does not weigh on him as it seems to over other people. And he would never compare his dog (which is incredibly adorable and a wonderful creature) to a human being. He knows the difference. Is the childless resentment coming from mostly childless women? Could it mean that as a society, we treat childless women badly and generate this kind of vitriol from them? How could we make it better without actually having to cave to the ridiculous idea that the pets of childless people should have the same status as children?

Posted by: Emily | November 13, 2006 3:54 PM

which well-known politician said this?

"Many of you are well enough off that the tax cuts may have helped you. We're saying that for America to get back on track, we're probably going to cut that short and not give it to you. We're going to take things away from you on behalf of the common good. "

Posted by: popquiz | November 13, 2006 3:54 PM

accidents can be fixed by abortions.
womans right to choose.


OK, that is kind of sick. It is a women's right to choose. No women should be forced to carry a child nor should they be forced to have an abortion. Children are not accidents. They may be surprises but they are not accidents.

Posted by: foamgnome | November 13, 2006 3:55 PM

3 accidents and sex ed might be in order, but having enough money for 2 kids and for 3 are different things. I also can't believe that anyone would suggest that people who need help affording another child should have an abortion if they become pregnant. I don't want to get into the abortion debate, but it seems extreme that you would want people to have abortions solely for financial reasons.

Posted by: What about the children? | November 13, 2006 3:57 PM

Many 3rd (and 4th and 5th) children are not accidents, and are born to parents who want them. Why has 3+ become a problem issue on this blog?

Posted by: not a quote | November 13, 2006 3:57 PM

Okay, so some pregnancies are unintentional. That does not mean that they are not completely and joyously welcomed once they are discovered.

Posted by: Emily | November 13, 2006 3:58 PM

I am one of eight kids, all planned (at least that what we were told). Didn't have alot of "things", but definitely had fun growing up!

Posted by: Missicat | November 13, 2006 3:59 PM

To justathought and others who think being childless means you never need benefits or work coverage from your colleagues, what if you become seriously ill? What if your parent, partner, or sibling does and you need FMLA leave to care for that person? I had to take big chunks of FMLA leave twice in five years to care for a terminally ill parent. The fact that I had taken the second leave within the past two years ate into my maternity leave, actually. But I also covered for my colleague who had major surgery and a heart attack, so I didn't expect a big fuss to be made about it when I was the recipient or the person providing coverage.

Benefits should be available to everyone, but don't be silly and mistake maternity or paternity leave for a sabbatical. I was better prepared than most people to become a parent and still wasn't prepared to hallucinate from sleep deprivation in the weeks after my child was born.

People need to stop being so self-centered and always thinking they deserve a raise or a medal for pitching in when colleagues need help. What goes around comes around, in my experience. We all need to work to create better work-life balance, whether because of our children, our extended families, our close friends, our volunteer work, or our passions. If one person in the office is always getting dumped on, that's a problem. But more often, it seems like people whine about their situation instead of addressing it like adults. Propose a solution. Start leaving on time and let your boss know why a deadline didn't get met. Stop spending so much time reading blogs and get more productive at work. But please, stop whining about how you have to cover someone's maternity leave. You never know when you might need leave, even if you're not having kids.

Posted by: Restonmom | November 13, 2006 4:03 PM

Restonmom - I agree. I used to occasionally feel "dumped on". Then my father became terminally ill. Fellow childless folk, unless you have no relatives, you will be needing time off and compassion one day.

Posted by: Missicat | November 13, 2006 4:06 PM

"I'm in the childless camp and I really don't understand the antagonism toward dependent tax credit. Why NOT help people pay for expenses out of pre-tax money?"

Well, every time someone gets a tax credit or a tax deduction for a child, that's one more person to be provided for but that much less $$ available to do so.

Think about it. You have a kid, so you get to pay LESS in taxes even though you've added a consumer to the population. In order to make up the deficit, then, people without children end up paying more in taxes than they should have to so that you can add a mouth but not be responsible for feeding it.

How does this make any kind of sense?

Posted by: Anonymous | November 13, 2006 4:07 PM

I'm pretty sure that was Bill Clinton.

Posted by: to pop quiz | November 13, 2006 4:08 PM

Thanks, Restonmom!

I, too, covered for a coworker while she used leave to deal with her serious illness. She covered for me while on maternity leave. We help each other out, and everybody wins.

You're right -- people would rather complain and wallow in "victimized" status than go to their supervisor and discuss workload problems like a mature adult.

Posted by: another mom | November 13, 2006 4:12 PM

Emily:

I didn't compare my dog to a human being. All I am asking for is consideration for my needs as well as the needs of those who have children. My dog is important to me - I can't just leave him, either, and an awful lot of people think that he can just go to a kennel - can you imagine what would happen if I said that about my brother's kids? It's not comparing one to the other - it simply isn't - its about accommodating everyone's needs.
I am not resentful towards people who have children - I just want people to take responsibility for their decisions and to expect that day care is going to cost more than the mortgage if you have three of them. It doesn't make any sense to me that if someone wants three kids that they are complaining about how much it costs to take care of them. It doesn't make any sense to have a kid if it means having to get rid of the cable and the land line because it there isn't enough money if they are kept. I simply can't feel badly for someone who makes that kind of decision.
I think that a lot of the problem is based in the fact that people with children are thinking that they are the only ones who need or want flexible schedules - there is awful lot of 'how can you not want kids' going on, too. Kids aren't the end all and be all for everyone, and some people who have kids can't see the other side of it, although they should be able to because there was a time when they didn't have them. . .and if they think their life was so awful without them, that is fine, but don't tell me that my life is, because it isn't.

Posted by: weallmakechoices | November 13, 2006 4:13 PM

"I did ask my doctor for a referral to a mental health professional. Before I could make my first appointment, I found out that I was pregnant."

Did you not follow through, then? If you were that depressed and in such a bad way emotionally, how does learning you're pregnant change that? You may finally have achieved your goal, but your emotional distress at not being able to conceive indicates that you have some issues you probably really need to explore. For the sake of your child if not yourself.

With such an overwhelming biological need, you are likely to demand much more from your child emotionally than he/she should be expected to give.

Posted by: Anonymous | November 13, 2006 4:13 PM

A bit off topic... but I'm truly trying to understand. Why do women accept the fact that their mates do not fully participate in the running of the household and in the rearing of their children? And I do not mean that their mates should 'help', I mean they should fully participate. I see my married female friends and colleagues, who have the second shift when they get home, who get called at work when the children are sick and who have to coordinate things that pertain to the families - i.e. the wife is called at work to be informed that the child is sick, then she calls him to tell him what to do. Yet I know that men are competent and can pull their weight when they have to - I know some single fathers. Do women enable men?

I'm planning on being a single parent - I'd rather have the full responsibility of my children than having a mate who is like another child. What's the use of having a mate that you have to tell to do things, a mate who doesn't understand that cooking and cleaning do not get done magically, a mate who is not willing to take time off or be late to work because the children have problems?

To me, the status quo that defavorizes working women -and men who do their share at home- will prevail because employers will continue to believe that issues such as flexibility, parental leave only affect women.

Posted by: Anonymous | November 13, 2006 4:17 PM

anonymous poster today -- reveal yourself!

Since you seem to be a misanthrope, why don't you become a consultant so you won't have to work with anyone else and deal with life issues.

Posted by: another mom | November 13, 2006 4:18 PM

To the anonymous blogger who said: "Think about it. You have a kid, so you get to pay LESS in taxes even though you've added a consumer to the population. In order to make up the deficit, then, people without children end up paying more in taxes than they should have to so that you can add a mouth but not be responsible for feeding it."

Think about it. If people did not have children, who would pay into the social security system when you get old so that you can have benefits. Who will be your doctors, lawyers, accountants, nurses, pharmacists when you are old and need those services? The next generation of children will be the workers who will be contributing to society in the future. Childfree people who did not raise them will also benefit from the work that parents put in to raise productive citizens. Or do you plan to exempt yourself from the services of the next generation in the interests of fairness, since you did not contribute to raising them.

Posted by: Emily | November 13, 2006 4:19 PM

"You have a kid, so you get to pay LESS in taxes even though you've added a consumer to the population. In order to make up the deficit, then, people without children end up paying more in taxes than they should have to so that you can add a mouth but not be responsible for feeding it."

No, that does not make sense. Adding a "consumer" is a positive thing for the economy. All the goods and services I purchase for my children contribute to economic growth. I don't understand how you think it creates a "deficit."

Eventually, these children will work, contributing productive labor and taxes of their own (especially to pay for our social security and medicare).

Note that I am 100% responsible for feeding them. Relatively few people qualify for food stamps, and even that assistance is far from generous. (If there is free food out there for all children, please let me know where to sign up!)

I get a tax deduction for each dependent. I also get a tax deduction for my mortgage. Do you resent me for owning a home, too? I get a tax deduction for health insurance premiums. Do you resent me for having insurance? And so on.

BTW, the vast majority of your tax dollars go to the Pentagon, not children. If you have a problem with the amount of taxes you pay, that's where you should start your argument.

Posted by: to anon | November 13, 2006 4:19 PM

to: for the last time.......

Leslie's biases should be discussed. When she claims to be for all women, working and SAH, writes books on "Mommy Wars" and has a forum in which she continually writes from one (Upper East) side - I think readers are entitled to not only their opinions but their complaints. If I post on this forum and someone wants to question my motives/opinions I don't call "no fair."

Given the overlap on the subject matter the same comments are seen over, and over, and over - day in and day out. Childless people post here (which I have no problem with) but you don't want someone who questions Leslie's biases?

In the words of John Stossel - Give me a break!

Posted by: cmac | November 13, 2006 4:23 PM

"Why is it that so many childless (not all) bloggers feel such resentment toward people with kids? And it seems to me that most of these bloggers are women, not men."

That's because it is women who are impacted by the inconvenience generated by their WOHM coworkers.

Men aren't asked to cover for other men while they take time off to deal with their kids -- partly because the responsibility for the kids is usually not theirs but also because men wouldn't think of expecting each other to help out that way.

With the exception of the few sterling dads we know are out there, most men are not the primary caregivers in their families. Their wives are -- even if they work full time. So, this is an issue that affect women in a HUGE way but affects men -- on average -- hardly at all.

Posted by: Anonymous | November 13, 2006 4:25 PM

"Why has 3+ become a problem issue on this blog?"

Because, while the parents may want them, they may not be able to afford them. Then it becomes society's problem.

Posted by: Anonymous | November 13, 2006 4:27 PM

>Men aren't asked to cover for other men while they take time off to deal with their kids -- partly because the responsibility for the kids is usually not theirs but also because men wouldn't think of expecting each other to help out that way.<

You have a very low opinion of men. Rather insulting. And not at all true in my experience.

In a healthy work environment, people cover for each other for all kinds of reasons. It's how work gets done. But all it takes is one embittered person like this poster to poison the whole atmosphere.

"me, me, me!"

Posted by: to 4:25pm | November 13, 2006 4:29 PM

"Why has 3+ become a problem issue on this blog?"

Because, while the parents may want them, they may not be able to afford them. Then it becomes society's problem

* * *

Can you back that up with anything of substance? Who are "they"? What level of certainty is there to "may not be able"?

This anti 3+ attitude sounds like bias more than anything.

Posted by: not a quote | November 13, 2006 4:31 PM

"Do women enable men?"

Yeah, totally.

Posted by: Anonymous | November 13, 2006 4:32 PM

Does anyone have statistics on what percentage of US taxdollars actually go to welfare/food stamps, etc? Seems to me that it is not a very large amount.

Posted by: Missicat | November 13, 2006 4:33 PM

"Why is it that so many childless (not all) bloggers feel such resentment toward people with kids? And it seems to me that most of these bloggers are women, not men."

It is hard to empathize with parental issues when parents themselves often attack those without kids, and label them as "selfish" and "child-haters". Because not all childless people are those things.

And, it's a bit intimidating and scary when someone tells you you've made the wrong choice by not having kids, and that you're one duty and job in life is to become a mother. Finally, I don't seek the same sense of entitlement and seek validation by having kids.

Posted by: Anonymous | November 13, 2006 4:33 PM

"BTW, the vast majority of your tax dollars go to the Pentagon, not children. If you have a problem with the amount of taxes you pay, that's where you should start your argument."
-----
Whereas that might be true of our federal taxes, it isn't true of my local ones, 50+% of which go to the public schools. I don't resent having an educated populace, but programs for the elderly, parks for the masses,roads for the commuters, etc. come out of the communal pot as well. The more students a district has to educate, the less money it has for other projects. There's a reason that counties in the DC area are trying to attract more business and tech industries and less residential development...tech equals money into the coffers and more residential growth equals money out.

Posted by: footloose and childfree | November 13, 2006 4:35 PM

to anonymous at 4:33

I don't seek validation by having kids either.

Though I do have kids, they aren't the meaning of my existence. I'm the meaning of theirs.

Posted by: dotted | November 13, 2006 4:36 PM

To WAMC,
But sometimes, you just can't accomodate everyone's needs. And yes, you are comparing your dog to your brother's children, especially when you say that people would be horrified if you suggested the childen should be kennelled while you go away. That is a comparison.

Plus, I would gladly turn off my cable and cell phone and get rid of other VLIs if it meant that it would make children more affordable. Most people think of their kids as having priority over their cable. You don't seem to get that.

Posted by: Emily | November 13, 2006 4:36 PM

Should illegal immigrants be eligible for paid maternity leave?

Posted by: Blah | November 13, 2006 4:38 PM

...and *most* judgement of the childless is directed at women by women.

*Most* of the judgement of stay at home / work at home decisions is of mothers by other mothers.

No stereotypes are perfect - but I think you would be alot closer to the mark if you focused just on gender.

Posted by: to emily | November 13, 2006 4:38 PM

"Or do you plan to exempt yourself from the services of the next generation in the interests of fairness, since you did not contribute to raising them."

I've no objection to contributing. I'm proud that my tax dollars go toward education and am happy to have those same tax dollars fund social welfare programs for people too poor or disabled to do for themselves.

What I do object to is that, with tax deductions and credits for children, I'm contributing but the parent is getting a tax break. I'm happy to help raise the nation's children, but I'd like to see their parents pay a fair share of taxes.

Posted by: Anonymous | November 13, 2006 4:39 PM

Consider what will happen when you grant amnesty to the current illegals and then have paid maternity leave.

Posted by: Blah | November 13, 2006 4:40 PM

Emily: I've been reading WAMC comments all day. I think you and others are taking WAMC out of context. I don't believe she is comparing dogs and kids. Rather, she is standing up for herself because her family constantly railroads her and apparently values her brother more than her. It isn't her brother's family per se. It isn't her nieces/nephews. It isn't the kids at all! It is her parents who are making value judgements on her life. I don't blame her from just saying no more. Sometimes, if you can't change something, you just have to stop.

Posted by: dotted | November 13, 2006 4:43 PM

"Though I do have kids, they aren't the meaning of my existence. I'm the meaning of theirs."

Oh, boy.

I see a psychiatrist's couch in someone's kids' future!

Posted by: Anonymous | November 13, 2006 4:43 PM

"What I do object to is that, with tax deductions and credits for children, I'm contributing but the parent is getting a tax break. I'm happy to help raise the nation's children, but I'd like to see their parents pay a fair share of taxes."

So do you object to tax credits for homeowners also? Or do you get one so that makes it okay.

Posted by: Emily | November 13, 2006 4:44 PM

And, it's a bit intimidating and scary when someone tells you you've made the wrong choice by not having kids, and that you're one duty and job in life is to become a mother. Finally, I don't seek the same sense of entitlement and seek validation by having kids.
-----------------

I really think a lot of this drama is made up in your own head. Unless you grew up in a conservative religious cult, how many people have actually said to you, "it is your only duty in life to procreate"? You may think that's the "message" you're getting from "society", but I think you're *looking* for things to feel aggreived about. If you have a reasonable amount of confidence and self-respect, you won't worry about things like this. Make your life decisions and be at peace with them. Then you won't find it necessary to ascribe such nasty motivations to those of us who do choose to have children (having them only to "seek validation" and "entitlement"? speak for yourself!)

Posted by: to anonymous | November 13, 2006 4:47 PM

"Consider what will happen when you grant amnesty to the current illegals and then have paid maternity leave."

Racist much?


Posted by: Emily | November 13, 2006 4:47 PM

"So do you object to tax credits for homeowners also? Or do you get one so that makes it okay."

Do you mean mortgage interest deductions? 'Cause I don't know of any tax credits I should be getting for having a house.

And tax credits are very different from interest deductions -- wouldn't you say?

Posted by: Anonymous | November 13, 2006 4:48 PM

Emily //Racist much? //

Huh??? Way off base, ma'am.
Race is absolutely not in consideration at all.

I'm trying to wrap my head around millions of illegal immigrants granted amnesty and then a new govt program of paid maternity leave. A very costly scenario! It's not here today, but may be a reality in the coming years.

Posted by: Blah | November 13, 2006 4:51 PM

I am not sure what WAMC family situation is, but this is what it seems to boil down to: Her family accomodates her brother, his wife and his three kids, but does not accomodate WAMC, her husband and her dog. Maybe they don't want to host the dog the house of the person who is having the dinner. So she is in a huff that the kids are accomodated and the dog is not. I'm sorry, but I think that the kids trump the dog.

Posted by: Emily | November 13, 2006 4:53 PM

to anon at 4:43

I was actually paraphrasing a prominent child psychologist...John Rosemond.

And Ann Landers too.

Posted by: dotted | November 13, 2006 4:54 PM

Fine. Call it mortgage interest deductions and answer the question. The point is, that people who own homes and get mortgage interest deductions ultimately pay less taxes than people who do not own their homes and have mortgages? How is this fair to people who cannot qualify to get a mortgage on a home?

Posted by: Emily | November 13, 2006 4:56 PM

EMily's on a roll.

downhill....

Posted by: Anonymous | November 13, 2006 4:58 PM

"How is this fair to people who cannot qualify to get a mortgage on a home?"

It's not.

Posted by: Anonymous | November 13, 2006 4:58 PM

And, it's a bit intimidating and scary when someone tells you you've made the wrong choice by not having kids, and that you're one duty and job in life is to become a mother.

* * *

This is primarily a blog for parents -- what sort of attitude toward the childless (epecially whining ones) would expect in this environment?

Posted by: Anonymous | November 13, 2006 5:00 PM

"EMily's on a roll.
downhill...."

So you don't have an answer to the question. Thought so.

Posted by: Emily | November 13, 2006 5:01 PM

to dotted:

THANK YOU!!!!! Maybe you know me better than I do. . .

As far as your comment 'Though I do have kids, they aren't the meaning of my existence. I'm the meaning of theirs.'
- I think you are more balanced than anyone else here. You have the right approach and one that I would follow myself if we 'have' kids (in quotes because we would adopt - by choice, not that it matters).

Emily:

I am not comparing - all I am asking for is that our needs (my husband's and mine) be accommodated as much as anyone else's - there is nothing wrong with that. It is only fair and it seems rather conditional if it is any other way.

Posted by: WAMC | November 13, 2006 5:02 PM

And, it's a bit intimidating and scary when someone tells you you've made the wrong choice by not having kids, and that you're one duty and job in life is to become a mother.

This is the attitude and thought process that all women have been trying to escape for the last hundred years - I understand this comment because everyone tells me that I would be a great mom (believe it or not!)and it is a shame that I choose not do so - but that is not the one choice in life for women. There are issues of fairness and balance for those who do not have children, too, concerning work.

Maybe some of us who do not have children but tune in here have some sort of interest or are thinking about taking the plunge or whatever, but everyone should be able to have their voice heard. I don't think it is fair to limit the participation to those with kids.

No one should tell someone else they have made a bad decision by deciding to not have kids - it is a choice.

Posted by: WAMC | November 13, 2006 5:09 PM

WAMC - Try to see this from the rest of the famiy's perspective. A childless couple is a lot more portable than one with three kids. I am sorry that your family has made you feel devalued, but sometimes, transporting three kids during a busy holiday season is impossible. Sometimes things are what they are. Which of course does not mean that you must make a journey that is inconvenient to you. But holding such a grudge against your family is counterproductive. You won't change them. Stay at home for Thanksgiving and enjoy it with your husband and dog, but don't use your absence as a weapon to wield against your family.

Posted by: Emily | November 13, 2006 5:10 PM

"EMily's on a roll.
downhill...."

So you don't have an answer to the question. Thought so."

Emily --

This was not my response. It was someone else.

My response was that it's not fair that people who can't qualify for mortgages don't get interest deductions.

I don't disagree with you at all on that.

What's your point?

Posted by: Anonymous | November 13, 2006 5:10 PM

Sorry. Case of mistaken identity. It is hard to distinguish one anonymous blogger from another.

Posted by: Emily | November 13, 2006 5:13 PM

"The point is, that people who own homes and get mortgage interest deductions ultimately pay less taxes than people who do not own their homes and have mortgages? How is this fair to people who cannot qualify to get a mortgage on a home?"

Actually, the point is with your incorrect assumption. People who own homes and get the mortgage interest deduction don't necessarily pay less taxes, on average, than people who do not own their own homes. Or at least we have no information upon which we can assume that. You are assuming that both taxpayers have the same income, yet one qualifies for a deduction and the other does not. It's a safe bet that the average homeowner has a higher taxable income than the average taxpayer who wishes to take on a mortgage but can't qualify -- particularly when you consider the availability of loans via the subprime market. If you can find verifiable information to support your assumption, come on back. Until then, while the home mortgage deduction might strike you as unfair, the tax code is based on good public policy not fairness. Good public policy encourages home ownership, farm ownership and a whole host of other things like small business ownership.

Good tax policy also means that, while we can't afford as a country to let all medical expenses be deducted by all taxpayers, those taxpayers who have medical expenses in excess of 7% in a given tax year can deduct those medical expenses and those of us taxpayers who, by the grace of God, don't qualify, can't deduct them. Is the medical expense deduction also unfair?

Posted by: Anonymous | November 13, 2006 5:16 PM

dotted:

Meant to add that it is also my brother and his wife who think they can dictate how and when things happen because THEY have kids. Sometimes it is them more than anyone
else. . .

Posted by: WAMC | November 13, 2006 5:16 PM

To Koko: who are YOU to decide who has enough and who does not? Really, you are a bit judgemental and arrogant.

And, for your comment of, let's only help those who need it - I've been saying this for years re: social security. Why are there ANY benefits for those who just don't want to work as opposed to those who can't work? When Soc. Sec was started, most people didn't even live to 65 - today it is not uncommon to live to 90 - and 65 is hardly old. The age at which people begin to get benefits should be raised to 75 or 85 - an age at which most people *can't* work, not an age at which most people don't *want* to work - save your own money, etc....

Posted by: atlmom | November 13, 2006 5:16 PM

Emily - one more try because you just don't seem to get WAMC's point. She isn't trying to punish her family or 'wield a weapon'. You're seeing something that isn't there. Every family has these issues (my husband's family has one member who insists Thanksgiving be at a time when another member can't be there...and since she married into the family first...she wins...). WAMC is just saying 'no more' to feeling marginalized and 'no more' to unhappy holidays....good for her.

Posted by: dotted | November 13, 2006 5:23 PM

One of the things I constantly struggle with is feeling the need to apologize or hide that I have family commitments. My boss is male, and is very flexible and understanding but in the end, he (and my childless boss above him) doesn't get that mommy still has to be the one to go to the pediatrician, or juggle traveling with childcare, or feeling guilty about working hard. Men just don't seem to have those kinds of conflicts, and it's adding even more stress to an incredibly stressful job (I'm a full-time working lawyer).

Posted by: BusyMom | November 13, 2006 5:25 PM

"Why is it that so many childless (not all) bloggers feel such resentment toward people with kids? Could it mean that as a society, we treat childless women badly and generate this kind of vitriol from them? How could we make it better without actually having to cave to the ridiculous idea that the pets of childless people should have the same status as children?"

TWO COMMENTS:

1. Speaking just for me personally, I resent the parents who judge me for being childless and try to tell me that my life is somehow incomplete because I haven't followed their path. (Sometimes I wonder if they aren't just a bit jealous ...)

I would dearly love to meet a man and fall in love and marry him and have a child, but it hasn't happened yet, and that makes me feel sad and awkward and worried and generally like a big loser. I am "outside the norm" for my socio-economic/peer group, and that makes me feel bad about myself.

Then on top of all that, I have to listen to smug married parents tell me how my life is so inferior to theirs and I can't ever truly understand how *fabulous* their life is and blah blah blah. I just get sick of it.

2. I don't think that my dog is a child. I don't dress my dog in clothes or take it with me in a little bag everywhere I go or talk to it like it's a person or feed it people food or use it to replace human relationships.

BUT ... my dog is a small, helpless creature who offers me unconditional love and who I have made a commitment to care for from the day it was born until the day it leaves this earth. I take that commitment seriously (as I wish all pet owners would) and I make decisions for my life based on that commitment.

When people make snide remarks about "comparing a dog to a child" I believe they de-value the commitment that it takes to be a responsible pet owner. My dog depends on me for everything in its life -- food, shelter, safety, etc. -- the way babies depend on their parents. (YES, I just wrote that sentence.) It baffles me how that seems to pose such a "threat" to parents.

I don't know what exactly the issues were for "weallmakechoices" regarding her sick dog, but I can tell you that the safety and well-being of my dog is paramount to me in all the life decisions I make, including where to live and where/when to travel.

Posted by: Anonymous | November 13, 2006 5:28 PM

BusyMom: Assuming you are married or cohabiting with Dad: why can't Dad be the one to go to the pediatrician? Why not talk to your husband/SO about it so you can stop feeling guilty and go forward? Yep, you'll have to give up some power (i.e., you won't be the sole decider), but you will gain balance.

Posted by: dotted | November 13, 2006 5:29 PM

To anon at 5:16.

Actually, I have nothing against tax relief for homeownders. My point is also that good public policy gives tax relief to people with children, people who own homes, etc. People who don't have children and are offended by tax credits for children do not seem to be as offended by tax relief for other things that they can take advantage of, such as mortgage interest deductions. My point is that what may seem unfair in some contexts is often done for a greater public good, and I think that tax policies that are friendly to people with children are part and parcel of good public policy.

Posted by: Emily | November 13, 2006 5:29 PM

"Men just don't seem to have those kinds of conflicts, and it's adding even more stress to an incredibly stressful job (I'm a full-time working lawyer)."

That's right. Men don't have those kinds of conflicts because they're almost NEVER the primary caretaker.

Posted by: Anonymous | November 13, 2006 5:34 PM

Just back from a looong day out at meetings and kids' stuff. No computer. Just catching up now. Great discussion.

Thought Koko was hilarious and smart, Jokester annoying and probably some kind of promotion, and so glad to see that some more Wisconsin moms have joined the blog.

Posted by: Leslie | November 13, 2006 5:34 PM

Hey, I understand that people love their pets. I had a dog too before I married, and I felt just as intensely about her as you seem to feel about your pets. I did take her with me everywhere (thankfully, my family was pretty welcoming of her), spent a fortune at the vet when she got sick, and planned my life around her. I even cooked a special recipe for her because she had digestive issues. But then I had my son, and realized that my puppy love, although very strong and committed as very pet deserves, was in comparison insignificant to what I would feel as a parent to a child.

Posted by: Emily | November 13, 2006 5:37 PM

"When people make snide remarks about "comparing a dog to a child" I believe they de-value the commitment that it takes to be a responsible pet owner. My dog depends on me for everything in its life -- food, shelter, safety, etc. -- the way babies depend on their parents. (YES, I just wrote that sentence.) It baffles me how that seems to pose such a "threat" to parents."

I don't get this, either. Until this person posted, I hadn't thought in terms of parents feeling "threatened" by the idea that people's animals can be as important to them as other people's kids are to their parents. But that is the way so many posters come across.

My husband and I have four cats. We don't pamper them and dress them in stupid outfits, but we respect their wishes and preferences and treat them with love. When someone says something disparaging -- like "Geez, it's not like they're your children!" -- I always reply, "No, they're not my children. But they are my family."

Parents of human children do seemed threatened by this attitude. Why?

Posted by: Anonymous | November 13, 2006 5:40 PM

to 5:28 - re: commitment to dog.

Thank you for writing and explaining it much better than I could. It does take a lot of commitment to have a pet and to care for it well.
My dogs are very well trained and very obedient. I worked very hard with them as puppies and continue to expect behavior from them that is not inherent in the breed.

Thanks again.

Posted by: WAMC | November 13, 2006 5:41 PM

To WAMC:

You wrote, "It's not comparing one to the other - it simply isn't - it's about accommodating everyone's needs."

That's true to a certain extent - but society can't accommodate everyone's needs. Government can't afford it, and is reluctant to compel employers to accommodate all needs because of the costs involved. So, we as a society have to choose what needs are so important that they are worth the cost of accommodation. For better or worse, society has decided that a parent's need to care for a child is worthy of accommodation (up to a point, certainly - 12 weeks, under the FMLA). But, your need to care for your sick pets isn't so important TO SOCIETY that the we are willing to foot the bill for the costs associated with such care. It's not about being fair to everyone - it's about valuing the reasons individuals need accommodations, and acting accordingly. And while I can understand that it is frustrating (I am a childless individual who has often had to pick up others' slack when they need to care for their kids), it's not going to change anytime soon. Your dogs are not as important to the rest of society as other people's kids are. Do you disagree with that? Would you really want it any other way?

Posted by: Choices | November 13, 2006 5:41 PM

"But then I had my son, and realized that my puppy love, although very strong and committed as very pet deserves, was in comparison insignificant to what I would feel as a parent to a child."

See, this is *exactly* what I was talking about in my post at 5:28.

Why does Emily feel it necessary to pat me on the head with a smug little grin and explain to me how sure, it's great that I love my dog and all, but I can't possibly understand how *significant* love is until I marry and have a child the way she has.

THAT is why childless people sound bitter and angry. Because we are constantly being told that our thing isn't good enough because it's not just like everybody else's.

Emily, why do you feel the need to marginalize me in that way? Serously. I really want to understand. What do you gain by "reminding" me that however great my dog is, your child is *better*? Why not just say, 'Wow, she sounds like a really good, responsible pet owner ... wish everyone were that committed to caregiving, whatever the recipient of the care'?

Posted by: Anonymous | November 13, 2006 5:46 PM

"But then I had my son, and realized that my puppy love, although very strong and committed as very pet deserves, was in comparison insignificant to what I would feel as a parent to a child."

See, this is *exactly* what I was talking about in my post at 5:28.

Why does Emily feel it necessary to pat me on the head with a smug little grin and explain to me how sure, it's great that I love my dog and all, but I can't possibly understand how *significant* love is until I marry and have a child the way she has.

THAT is why childless people sound bitter and angry. Because we are constantly being told that our thing isn't good enough because it's not just like everybody else's.

Emily, why do you feel the need to marginalize me in that way? Serously. I really want to understand. What do you gain by "reminding" me that however great my dog is, your child is *better*? Why not just say, 'Wow, she sounds like a really good, responsible pet owner ... wish everyone were that committed to caregiving, whatever the recipient of the care'?

Posted by: Anonymous | November 13, 2006 5:46 PM

geez, Emily, can't you just let it go rather than condescendingly counter WMAC's and other posters' concerns with, it's a mom of children thing, you wouldn't understand?

Our family includes both children and dogs and there's plenty of love to go around.

This "my children are more important than your beloved dog/s" fight is one of the silliest disputes I've ever seen someone pick on this board -- and there've been some doozies.

Posted by: Anonymous | November 13, 2006 5:47 PM

Parents of human children do seemed threatened by this attitude. Why?

I actually don't see the perspective toward animals as being split between people with children and people without. I see it as a split between animal people versus people who are not particularly fond of animals. My family loves animals (and chilren). My husband's family does not really like animals. They are bothered by the shedding and smell and all that other inconvenient stuff. They will never understand why people love their pets. They think dogs belong outside no matter what the weather (so it is a good thing they don't have pets).

I do think that a lot of childless/free people have pets in order to have an outlet for that nurturing part of their personality that wants to take care of and love another creature. And I agree that pets are great for that. They are so much easier than children. They don't talk back and are unfailingly loyal.

Posted by: Anonymous | November 13, 2006 5:48 PM

5:40: re: cats as family

Thanks to you, too. I think I need to go out and brush up on my writing skills - or at least take the time to really write out what I am thinking - I guess that is the point of a blog.

You put it very well. My dog is ill with a life-threatening illness and although he is doing well for now, it has really become apparent to me that most people don't see their dogs and cats as part of their families - an awful lot of people are very surprised that we are treating him.

If we had kids - the dogs stay in the holiday picture!!!

Posted by: WAMC | November 13, 2006 5:48 PM

'When people make snide remarks about "comparing a dog to a child" I believe they de-value the commitment that it takes to be a responsible pet owner. My dog depends on me for everything in its life -- food, shelter, safety, etc. -- the way babies depend on their parents. (YES, I just wrote that sentence.) It baffles me how that seems to pose such a "threat" to parents.'

I think we have hit on an idea of Leslie's next thread - or at least one to store for a slow day!
I agree with this poster - I hadn't looked at it in these exact words before but I am glad you verbalized it for me!

Posted by: WAMC | November 13, 2006 5:53 PM

Sorry that stating that my love for my child is stronger than my love for my dog offends people. But it is honestly how I feel, and how a lot of other parents feel. Childless/free people are quick to point out the benefits of their lifestyle: Freedom, independence, more income, more time for hobbies, more time for careers, and that is fair. As someone else said, we all make choices. But that does not mean that parents should have to pretend that their commitment to kids is on par with commitment to pets in order for childless/free people to feel good about their choices. We all take the good with the bad. Parents have their crosses to bear as well, including poopy diapers, PTA, projectile vomiting in bed in the middle of the night when the toddler is sick, etc. But we do it because the rewards outweigh the work. Why can't childless people think about their rewards also, and enjoy them, instead of insisting that parents downplay the importance of children in order to not offend the childfree?

Posted by: Emily | November 13, 2006 5:57 PM

"Parents of human children do seemed threatened by this attitude. Why?"

Hey, don't be snarky to a whole category of parent posters who agree with you that Emily and the anonymous poster making similar comments are way off base. There are plenty of parents of human children who are not threatened in the slightest by your valuing your furry children because, ahem, we also are parents of furry children.

When you share your house and your life with both categories of kids, you don't need to evaluate which you love more. you meet all their needs the best you can with the resources you have.

btw, going back a few days to the topic of which kind of boss you'd rather have, if you have pets, having a supervisor who also loves and values pets is essential. When I say I have to leave early/come in late because of an emergency vet appointment, I work best for someone who understands that this is a non-negotiable request.

Posted by: NC lawyer | November 13, 2006 6:05 PM

WAMC - I will back you on the committment to animals. Our cats and dog are part of our family. We have friends that have dogs and no kids and they love their dogs as if they were their kids. I don't question their commitment to their animals.

We just had a fish die today that we got about 7 months ago and had a burial in the backyard. I shed a tear when my daughter eulogized him - it was very sweet. The fish are living creatures and would die without us - and we take that responsibility seriously.

PS My dog does not talk back, is always happy to see me and is the one family members no one fights with.

Posted by: cmac | November 13, 2006 6:07 PM

Actually, sometimes parents and pet owners do need to make a decision between pets and children. I have a friend whose baby was allergic to her cat. She truly loved the cat, who had been with her for 12 years. Who do you think she gave away, and what does this say, empirically, about the value of children versus pets?

Posted by: Emily | November 13, 2006 6:08 PM

"Why can't childless people think about their rewards also, and enjoy them, instead of insisting that parents downplay the importance of children in order to not offend the childfree?"

I don't have to downplay the importance of your son to you in order to feel good about the way I treat my dog. I *delighted* that you have a son, and I'm sure you're a great mom and you love him a lot.

So why do you feel the need to downplay the importance of my dog to me in order to validate your parenthood?

It's not an even-sum game, Emily. There's an infinite amount of love to go around.

Except, apparently, in this comments section ... :)

Posted by: Anonymous | November 13, 2006 6:08 PM

Actually, sometimes parents and pet owners do need to make a decision between pets and children. I have a friend whose baby was allergic to her cat. She truly loved the cat, who had been with her for 12 years. Who do you think she gave away, and what does this say, empirically, about the value of children versus pets?

Posted by: Emily | November 13, 2006 6:08 PM

But see, insisting that pets are equal to children (humans) is downplaying humans. They are not equal. Sorry this offends you.

Posted by: Emily | November 13, 2006 6:11 PM

NC Lawyer and CMAC:

Thanks!

Even though we do not have children, I believe that our love is limitless and that there is plenty of room for two-legged (if we decide that) and four-legged kids. Now if we could just take the leap of faith it requires to have the two-legged type. (As much as I wanted a dog after grad school, it took a leap, too - no more deciding to go live in Europe for a few months when I want to, which, I have found, I still want to, but maybe later. . .).

Posted by: WAMC | November 13, 2006 6:15 PM

This is what I have noticed: Every time a parent says that the experience of parenthood has far surpassed any other experience they have had, some childfree person takes offense, and interprets that to mean that the parent is judging the childfree person as not having as significant an experience. For example, I never said that anybody's love for their pet was insignificant or unworthy of respect. But the minute I state that MY love for my child far exceeds what I felt for MY dog, all of a sudden, I am dissing people who don't have children. I just don't see it that way. It is all in the interpretation. Maybe the childfree have other joys I don't understand.

Posted by: Emily | November 13, 2006 6:18 PM

Human vs. dog question:

Osama Bin Laden and a dog are tied to a train track, you have time to untie just one. I choose the dog.

Posted by: cmac | November 13, 2006 6:19 PM

Emily -

I think that you said somewhere that you have a pet - I am not sure - or that you did. Even if you think that the dog is not equal to your child, I hope that you are good to him/her. If not, please find him/her another home.

I admire the poster who is rebutting each and every one of your arguments quite well - I don't have the energy to because I know that we won't see eye to eye on this - kudos to that person - you are doing quite well. All that I am going to say is that you must respect our feelings for our pets even if you do not agree with them. Do not belittle us because we find a so much value in what our dogs bring to out lives.

Posted by: WAMC | November 13, 2006 6:22 PM

"But see, insisting that pets are equal to children (humans) is downplaying humans. They are not equal. Sorry this offends you."

It doesn't offend me, it just makes me feel sorry for you. You seem really limited in scope -- both in how you process/understand what I write and in how you approach your love for the beings around you. Love for one doesn't have to take away from love for the other. There's plenty of love to go around.

Posted by: Anonymous | November 13, 2006 6:23 PM

WMAC, if you read my post, you would see that I was an exceptionally good dog owner. My dog dies 6 years ago at the age of 15. I dearly loved her.

I am just saying that as much as I loved her, I would not compare her to any child. This does not mean that I don't appreciate how much pet owners love their pets. Can you then appreciate how much parents love their children?

Posted by: Emily | November 13, 2006 6:26 PM

Emily,

It's not only the childfree that have taken offense at your comments. I have considered your tone to be quite condescending and smug. and it's clear from several responses of childfree responders that your comments have been interpreted as typical of all parents. As for your friend with the cat of twelve years, the fact that she gave the cat away tells me all I need to know about her values, and it's not pretty. There are plenty of professionals out there to assist pet owners when babies join the family and I have little respect for those who pitch their pets rather than work toward a resolution. If the baby was allergic to her dad or you MIL's perfume, or whatever, what do you think your friend should have done and what does that say about your friend's values?

We love our children. We love our pets. We see no need to establish a pecking order in our family of whose life is worth more. We are a FAMILY.

Posted by: Anonymous | November 13, 2006 6:27 PM

Human vs. dog question:

Osama Bin Laden and a dog are tied to a train track, you have time to untie just one. I choose the dog.

Sure. I would choose the dog too. Even Cujo could not do as much harm as Osama. Because Cujo is not human, and does not have the ability to affect the world in such a way as humans, for good or for bad.

Posted by: Emily | November 13, 2006 6:29 PM

cmac, LOL, we need to have a beer some time in our next lives. There's no question I'm untying the dog.

Posted by: NC lawyer | November 13, 2006 6:30 PM

6:27:

Thank you to you, too!

I can't imagine finding another home for my dogs in a situation such as an allergic baby - there are options!

We have two dogs - my girl didn't turn out to be a dog that my breeder wanted to use in her program - I was VERY disappointed but I couldn't think of finding her another home so that we would have room for another girl (this is a pretty common thing to do). Now my boy is sick and we can't give up on him, either. . .

Thanks - there is an awful lot of love out there, and it is good to hear about it.

Posted by: WAMC | November 13, 2006 6:33 PM

If the baby was allergic to her dad or you MIL's perfume, or whatever, what do you think your friend should have done and what does that say about your friend's values?

The cat caused an extreme reaction in the baby where the baby couldn't breathe. Giving the cat away is a no brainer to me if it was endangering the health of a baby, and no, I don't see meds as an alternative, especially in the case of an allergen to which the baby is exposed to full time.

And, if the baby were allergic to the MIL's perfume, the MIL would just stop wearing that perfume. I have never heard of people being allergic to humans, so I won't take the bait on that one. And what do I think of my friend's values? I think she has the right set of values. She rightly judged that her baby's well-being superceded that of her cat. (And she gave her cat to her parents, which is hardly abusive or neglectful).

Posted by: Anonymous | November 13, 2006 6:34 PM

Emily:

I can't believe that I am going to write this, but I think that I can understand the situation and the choice that the person had to make in regards to her cat. It is a BIG stretch, but one never can say never, can they?

I know this is inconsistent with what I posted slightly earlier, but it is situational.

Re: earlier post about friends who changed cat litter to cheaper brand and cats hated it - they were thinking of putting the cats down 'because no one would want older cats' - I was very dismayed that my friend would entertain this thought - I never saw it coming. That is a different situation - not an acceptable reason (if $5 or $10/month is so important, maybe one should evaluate whether or not the kid is so reasonable) or way to take care of the cats.

Posted by: WAMC | November 13, 2006 6:45 PM

To all you dog haters out there:
I was single once and would get really miffed when parents would bring their kids to work to run wild around the workplace while they tied up loose ends. Some people thought it was cute; I thought it was REALLY annoying and prevented me from concentrating on my work. I mentioned this to one coworker about how he would feel if I brought my dog in to run amuk in the workplace, barking and playing and running and squealing, and he was offended that I comepared my dog to children. I don't see the difference. I LOVED my dog (still do) and would be devestated if anything happened to her. I would not have married my husband if he didn't accept the dog either. It was both of us or neither of us. I don't understand why I can have unconditional love for a child but not for a pet. It feels like the days of slavery, when african americans were "chattel" and unworthy of human compassion and were equated with animals. Are you going to say that the only people who treated AA slaves with compassion were animal lovers??????

So stop treating single people who love their animals like their own child as if there were something wrong with them. To deny a single person the same feelings of love one feels will someday feel towards a child (if they ever have one) is wrong.

And to all of you single, childless people out there, sounds like you all are in a world of hurt. I've been there with the aunts/family members who cannot relish in your accomplishments, that you bought your first house at 24, have a masters degree from a prestigous university and a job that pays you well for doing next to nothing, they only care about that you aren't married and have kids, so obviously you couldn't be as successful as you say you are. But you know what? When you get married it's when are you going to have kids, and when you have your first kid its when are you going to have another and when you are just about to give birth to the second (as I am) its you've gotta have another kid so that you can have a boy too. ONly then did I realize that they didn't really care about me or me being successful. They wanted me to become the old woman in the shoe with so many kids, she didn't know what to do. the old woman in the shoe was a SAHM and until my husband learns how to dress himself and shave, I doubt I'll be quitting my job anytime soon so that I can have more kids...

Anyway, people with kids, stop bashing single people and single people, stop bashing people with kids. We all have our problems to deal with!!!!!!!!!!

Posted by: tlawrenceva | November 13, 2006 7:12 PM

'Anyway, people with kids, stop bashing single people and single people, stop bashing people with kids. We all have our problems to deal with!!!!!!!!!!'

***********

Amen to that! It is so sad & exhausting to be a hater.

I also wish working moms, stay at home moms, childless women and single women would stop judging eachother and be a little more understanding and respectful of peoples individual choices.

Posted by: Wish | November 13, 2006 7:26 PM

to tlawrenceva and WISH:

I second that AMEN.

Posted by: WAMC | November 13, 2006 7:31 PM

There are two tax related issues. One is the deduction for dependents. That is irrelevant to age. It is the same deduction that individuals take for themselves, their spouse, their aged parents if they are responsible for them, and for children. Parents are not getting any more then any one else. Children count as people are entitled to the individual deduction the IRS allows for every single person in this country. The second is a tax credit. This is fairly new and is due to expire. Not every parent gets this. I don't qualify for this credit because we make too much money. I am not at all saying, I deserve this either. I am simply stating to all these people that are annoyed by this that not all parents get a tax credit. There are income thresholds and other barriers. Again, yes parents produce the next consumer. I hate to break it to you childfree people but this is good for the economy. The child centered market is a multi billion dollar industry. Everything from clothing, food, toys, educational materials and entertainment drives the US economy. Why do you think business gears itself to families. They are trying to tap into child markets. Now childfree people are a desperately untapped market. I am actually surprised that more hasn't been done to accept those child free dollars. Although there has been some gains in this area, it has a rich market just waiting to be drained. So we produce the next generation of workers, labors, tax payers, consumers, and yes tax burden as well. If some of the childfree out there have a problem with this take it up with your congressmen. Although I don't think it will get you too far because kids are important to this country. As far as WAMC, it seems as if you are confusing "all parents" with the inconsiderate behavior of your individual family. Inconsiderate family members can be parents and nonparents. We have a couple of the nonparent types in my own family. Personally, I could care less if people choose not to have children. I don't know why you would need to explain that to anyone but your own family. But I do recongize why the government gives incentives to families over the child free. The same reason it gives larger incentives to big businesses versus small businesses.

Posted by: foamgnome | November 13, 2006 7:40 PM

nc lawyer: I am having a beer right now and toasting kids, dogs, cats and even fish - oh, and my husband - who is giving the kids a bath - what a guy!

Virtual toast to all and to all a good night.

Posted by: cmac | November 13, 2006 7:46 PM

Love my dog. Love my friend's kids. My dog is better behaved than most of my friend's kids. Can't compare them - have to walk the dog in the rain and snow and clean up his poop. The kids use the bathroom and occasionally flush the toilet. He leaves his toys all over the floor so I stub my toes and trip. They drop clothes from one end of the house to the other leaving a trail (makes them easy to find). He barks at strangers and keeps me safe - they leave the door wide open. He wags his tail and gives me kisses no matter what I say. Sometimes the kids say thanks. He makes me laugh - they make me laugh. I love it when they visit for the weekend and I love it when they leave. Things don't have to be perfect to love someone or something - it is just love.

Posted by: One dog - no kids | November 13, 2006 8:06 PM

Re: making accommodations for childless with dog vs brother with spouse and kids:

I don't believe that this is just a matter of dogs being as important as kids. It may be more that the childless sibling who is always expected to work around the sibling with offspring doesn't feel as valued by her family. I have seen this many times in families. Let's have dinner at X because it's easier for Sally and the kids - Mary can change her schedule more easily. Maybe Mary wants to feel sometimes that her family values her as much as Sally and that occasionally everyone else will accommodate Mary. Similar to the prior blog about staying friends after one has children - it can't always be the childless person who makes an extra effort, even it it is easier.

Before I had children, my mother checked with my brother first and planned every dinner/celebration at her house based on the time that was best for him and his family. I was invited to come at the time and date that they determined and was expected to be there then or just miss out. The fact that I had a life and obligations and desires was completely ignored in the face of "it's harder for them because they have kids". Maybe it's residual sibling rivalry, but it was hard to feel like my mother never cared about my situation because I didn't have the precious grandchildren.

I do have children now and I find it just as hard to stay home, clean house, and hostess, as it is to pack up the kids and their equipment to go somewhere else.

Posted by: Anonymous | November 13, 2006 8:11 PM

I moved away from home when I was 20 (am not 52). I have only missed two Christmas holidays back home. Years ago when both sets of grandparents were alive (parents divorced) I would run from house to house to house the whole time I was home visiting. I rarely had time to visit with my old friends. The funny thing is that now my sister has moved away too and when she goes home to visit she complains about all the time she has to spend traveling from house to house to house. Now she knows how I felt for 30+ years.

Posted by: SS MD | November 13, 2006 8:18 PM

or rather zoning... near me all of the new construction permits are for condos and for mcmansions... in other words don't move in unless you are childfree or wealthy.
the feds may give incentives for marriage but it seems like local gov'ts are doing the reverse.

(I am opposed to this by this way - just wanted to point out that you can't read to much into what is good for society from the behavior of the government. That gives too much credit to the gov't.)

Posted by: more taxes... | November 13, 2006 8:24 PM

Ah but McMansions pay a lot in property taxes and condo's mean no children using the public schools - may not be good for society but is definitely good for the tax base.

Posted by: to more taxes | November 13, 2006 9:19 PM

Just because people don't think it is okay for a billion people to hop a border, break the law, protest in the streets and demand amnesty doesn't make them racist.

It makes them law abiding citizens of this country.

Posted by: to emily | November 13, 2006 10:42 PM

It feels like the days of slavery, when african americans were "chattel" and unworthy of human compassion and were equated with animals. Are you going to say that the only people who treated AA slaves with compassion were animal lovers?????

I'm sorry are you like 200 years old? How do you know what slavery felt like. I think you better get a new bag because this one is getting old.

Posted by: Anonymous | November 13, 2006 10:45 PM

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