Singled Out

In response to On Balance's Single Purpose? entry, writer and Ph.D. holder Bella DePaulo sent me her hilarious, superbly researched diatribe in favor of living well single, Singled Out: How Singles Are Stereotyped, Stigmatized, and Ignored, and Still Live Happily Ever After.

Go Bella! She is living "happily ever after" in the fabulously-named Summerland, Calif., which I dream of as a new singles paradise in stark contrast to my endless rounds of laundry, wet bathing suits found 10 hours later on now-wet carpets and restless nights searching for a bed where neither my kids nor my husband will find me.

Bella is onto something big. As all of you single and/or childless posters have let us know in absolutely uncertain terms, the work/balance movement is heavily biased towards heterosexual married families with children. In homage to and mockery of The Feminine Mystique and Perfect Madness, her first chapter is titled "Singlism: The 21st Century Problem That Has No Name."

Subsequent chapters attack the top ten myths of singlehood:

Myth #1 Marrieds Know Best

Myth #2 You Are Interested in Just One Thing -- Getting Coupled

Myth #3 You Are Miserable and Lonely and Your Life Is Tragic

Myth #4 You Are Self-Centered and Immature and Your Time Isn't Worth Anything Since You Have Nothing To Do But Play

Myth #5 Attention, Single Women: Your Work Won't Love You Back and Your Eggs Will Dry Up. Also, You Don't Get Any And You're Promiscuous

Myth #6 Attention, Single Men: You Are Horny, Slovenly, and Irresponsible, And You Are the Scary Criminals. Or, You Are Sexy, Fastidious, Frivolous, and Gay

Myth #7 Attention, Single Parents: Your Kids Are Doomed

Myth #8 Too Bad You're Incomplete. You Don't Have Anyone and You Don't Have A Life

Myth #9 You Will Grow Old Alone and You Will Die in a Room by Yourself Where No One Will Find You For Weeks

Myth #10 Let's Give All the Perks, Benefits, Gifts, and Cash to Couples and Call It Family Values

Bella ends with "The Way We Could Be," a chapter on a utopian society in which we all acknowledge and accept the reality that more than 40 percent of our nation's adults are divorced, widowed or purposefully single.

Why should all of us blissfully marrieds care? Because, face it, we're probably going to be single again at some point -- one way or another.

Unite, singles!

By Leslie Morgan Steiner |  July 9, 2007; 7:00 AM ET  | Category:  The Single Life
Previous: Fourth of July Tales | Next: Teenagers, Romance and Balance


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Comments

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One good thing about being single and living alone is that you can eat a bowl of cereal for dinner standing over the kitchen sink and nobody sees you.
One bad thing about being single and living alone is that there are certain jobs that require more than two hands so you need to find a good handyman or have close friends who are willing to help.

Posted by: KLB SS MD | July 9, 2007 7:12 AM

I love being married so this is not my bag of chips. The only thing I remember liking when i was single more than now is unfettered access to the remote. But we have more than one TV so problem solved!!!

Posted by: HappyDad | July 9, 2007 7:20 AM

Thanks for the wonderful affirmation, Leslie! There is, indeed, more than one way of engaging this journey we call life. May we each find the path that satisfies us and encourages to live life to the fullest!

Posted by: Murphy | July 9, 2007 7:41 AM

Although I agree that single people get stigmatized in general and sometimes get taken advantage of in the workplace, I do mind the idea that any benefit to help families with children is somehow taking away from singles. The miniscule child care tax benefit we got last year ($600) did not begin to offset the amount we spent for just seven months of the year (almost $10,000). I don't think most singles have any clue how much it costs to raise a child.

There also seems to be a misconception among singles that staying home for a month or three with a new baby is a sabbatical or extended vacation. I knew better than most what to expect with a newborn, and nothing could have prepared me for how utterly exhausting it was.

On the other hand, I do think workplaces ought to offer flexible schedules and reasonable hours to EVERYONE. Not everyone wants to work crazy hours and the sooner we can stop taking sides and actually seek work-life balance for all workers, the better off we will be as a society. Happy people are more productive, and the bottom line would benefit, too.

Posted by: restonmom | July 9, 2007 7:54 AM

I was just talking with my husband about this very thing. We went on a date (!) And I said to him: do you miss being single and dating, etc. And he said no, but there was more not knowing what's going to happen. But he said he's happy now.

He also said he remembers being single fondly but didn't realize how much fun he was having at the time.

Posted by: atlmom | July 9, 2007 7:55 AM

ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ

Posted by: Anonymous | July 9, 2007 7:57 AM

Leslie: one rule was left out: if you don't find someone and have a child, who's going to take care of you when you're old?

Posted by: atlmom | July 9, 2007 7:58 AM

"One good thing about being single and living alone is that you can eat a bowl of cereal for dinner standing over the kitchen sink and nobody sees you."

One good thing about being married, is that your spouse sees you eating mac and cheese in your lap, out of the pot while watching Melrose Place re-runs and loves you anyway!

Posted by: Moxiemom | July 9, 2007 8:09 AM

Moxiemom

"One good thing about being married, is that your spouse sees you eating mac and cheese in your lap, out of the pot while watching Melrose Place re-runs and loves you anyway!"

Another excuse to be a fattie!


Posted by: Anonymous | July 9, 2007 8:13 AM

In all seriousness, I think marrieds and singles spend a lot of the time looking over the fence at each other and cherry picking the appealing and unapealing aspects of the other's lifestyle. As I've learned from my friends, married and single, perception is not always reality.

Posted by: Moxiemom | July 9, 2007 8:18 AM

This is a great affirmation for me and the majority of my 30-something friends who are single. Now, if only we could get our grandmothers and great-aunts to agree...

Posted by: CaliEsq | July 9, 2007 8:18 AM

Atlmom -- although i wish it were different, i don't think having kids guarantees anyone is going to take care of us when we get old. we're all going to be single at some point and we're still going to be responsible for ourselves. even if we have 10 kids.

one of the best things my parents, especially my mom, did post 50 was take care of their financial health. they are not a burden and will never be. good for them. and good for us kids too!

Posted by: Leslie | July 9, 2007 8:19 AM

My favorite myth is #9. Many of my single friends have remarked something along those lines. Myths #3, 4, and 8 are also lavishly applied to married couples w/o kids.

For me, being single was great. Being married is also great. I think we can all agree that there are pros and cons to both situations.

In terms of taxes, I'm pretty sure that childless married people filing jointly carry the heaviest tax burden (no child credit and a marriage penalty). So couples don't always get the most cash, benefits, etc.

Posted by: Meesh | July 9, 2007 8:22 AM

my favorite myths are #5 and #6.

also, i think bella should add one about attractive recently-divorced single women. seems that some wives (of course not me!) are threatened and see these women as predators going after their hubbies.

i wonder if husbands see recently-divorced single men in this same light.

Posted by: Leslie | July 9, 2007 8:36 AM

In defense of singles Restonmom, before I had kids, I thought the whole gig was a lot more leisurely than it has turned out to be. I don't think until you have kids, you can have any idea what its like. I never in my wildest dreams would have anticipated cleaning poop off of the crib. I was pretty certain that the poop stayed in the diaper. Why on earth would a child take it out of their diaper and decorate with it?

Posted by: Moxiemom | July 9, 2007 8:37 AM

Meesh, every liberal I've ever met is more than happy to pay their fair share of the tax burden. That's what they say, anyway...

Posted by: Lil Husky | July 9, 2007 8:37 AM

Leslie

"also, i think bella should add one about attractive recently-divorced single women. seems that some wives (of course not me!) are threatened and see these women as predators going after their hubbies"

and, ahem, attractive widows and widowers!

Posted by: Anonymous | July 9, 2007 8:38 AM

I'm snorting reading the chapter headings. I well remember discussions I'd have with my mother when I was single: "we just want you to find someone so you can be happy". This at a time when I was the happiest I'd ever been up to that point! It used to drive me insane.

There is more than one way to be happy.

Posted by: WorkingMomX | July 9, 2007 8:43 AM

Well Lil Husky, I'm always ready to pay my fair share of the tax burden. Now if we can only get the government to start taxing fairly...

Posted by: Meesh | July 9, 2007 8:45 AM

so far, everyone seems pretty supportive of being single.

so why these myths that we all identify with?

why is our culture so prejudiced against being happily single?

Posted by: Leslie | July 9, 2007 8:47 AM

i wonder if husbands see recently-divorced single men in this same light.

Posted by: Leslie | July 9, 2007 08:36 AM

Nope!

Posted by: Fred | July 9, 2007 8:48 AM

I experienced the opposite; getting married at a young age. Actually one of my grandmothers (and many coworkers, aunts and uncles) was continually harrassing me and telling me not to get married at my age, that I was better off waiting. We'd been dating 4 years at that point, so was not going to wait. Of course now she's satisfied enough to harass me for grandchildren every time I see her but at first I realized there is a certain age where getting married is appropriate. Maybe if you are under 25 you are supposed to wait, and over 30 and it is too late! :)

Posted by: Miles | July 9, 2007 8:51 AM

Even if you have children, they will not take care of you in your old age. They will choose your nursing home and use your money to pay for it.

People are prejudiced against singles because they're jealous of us. It's better to be single and happy than married and miserable.

Posted by: Single & Very Happy | July 9, 2007 8:58 AM

Miles helps me answer Leslie's questions at 8:47.

I think that lots of us feel judged at some point in our lives. Whether you're single, married with no kids (selfish), married with only one kid (stupid), married with more than 4 kids (irresponsible), someone's got something to say against your lifestyle choice.

Compared to our grandparent's genereation, we have a lot more choices in terms of lifestyle. Because of that, there are more differences that we see around us. I think it's natural when you're confronted with a lot of different choices to pick your favorite ones and least favorite ones. So I think people are just more judgemental these days. I also think that people are more defensive. There is a little bit of a victim mentality in all of this. "I've got it the hardest," sort of justifies your choice as not just the easy way out but a choice that you fight for every day, which makes you feel better about it.

... are you sorry you asked, Leslie? :)

Posted by: Meesh | July 9, 2007 8:59 AM

Leslie-i thought I was joking, sorry it didn't come across that way.

I think most people want validation and if others aren't doing what you are, many people want to convince others they're happy so they want to persuade them to do what they're doing. Which is why people want others to get married, have kids, go to wotrk, quit, etc.

Posted by: atlmom | July 9, 2007 8:59 AM

Another BAW (Bored at Work) topic...

Posted by: Anonymous | July 9, 2007 8:59 AM

Even if you have children, they will not take care of you in your old age. They will choose your nursing home and use your money to pay for it.

People are prejudiced against singles because they're jealous of us. It's better to be single and happy than married and miserable.

Posted by: Single & Very Happy | July 9, 2007 08:58 AM

__________________________________

Yeah, you sound like a bundle of joy.

Posted by: AFT | July 9, 2007 9:00 AM

People are prejudiced against singles because they're jealous of us. It's better to be single and happy than married and miserable.

I agree with your second sentence, but think you're going too far with the first. You might want to tone it down a bit if you expect people to engage in rational discourse with you.

Posted by: WorkingMomX | July 9, 2007 9:01 AM

"I agree with your second sentence, but think you're going too far with the first. You might want to tone it down a bit if you expect people to engage in rational discourse with you."

Right! This blog has nothing but rational discourse!

Posted by: Anonymous | July 9, 2007 9:08 AM

And still others get married to inappropriate people because they think that that's what they *should* do. Then they think others should follow their footsteps.

Posted by: atlmom | July 9, 2007 9:15 AM

Last week-end I traveled to a wedding where I ran into several friends from high school who I hadn't seen in 7-8 years in some cases. The first question I was asked was not where I live or what I'm up to, but always "are you married?", and then following my negative response, "Engaged?" then "dating seriously?" And then upon discovering I have no regular man in my life, the "smug look of pity" and assurances that someday I'll find the right person. Well, maybe or maybe not....but I'm certainly not unhappy now.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 9, 2007 9:15 AM

i wonder if husbands see recently-divorced single men in this same light.

Posted by: Leslie | July 9, 2007 08:36 AM

No, because for most recently-divorced men I know, the last thing on earth they want right now is a relationship with a woman. It usually takes a while.

(And also because I know my wife well enough to trust that even if there was a predatory male after her, she can handle the situation.)

Posted by: Army Brat | July 9, 2007 9:16 AM

"Myth #8 Too Bad You're Incomplete. You Don't Have Anyone and You Don't Have A Life"

I see this A LOT and it it's infuriating. I am married, but I never thought it was going to happen for me. I am glad it did and couldn't imagine my life without him.

But that does not mean that my life is any better than those who have not married. My mother is just one person I know who is better off being single than married. It's not for everyone.

Everyday I see examples of many married couples with kids in tow who don't seem all that happy. Those of us who have married, don't do a very good job of showing singles that it's so great.

Also, I think it's a dangerous concept to believe that being married or having kids completes you. You are who you are. Placing your identity in someone else actually erases your uniqueness and what makes you the person you are. I think it's unfair to the other people in one's life to make them complete another person. Be your own person before you get married and have kids. And let those who come into your life enrich it, not complete it. Complete yourself, first.

Posted by: JRS | July 9, 2007 9:20 AM

"Last week-end I traveled to a wedding where I ran into several friends from high school who I hadn't seen in 7-8 years in some cases. .."

Interesting. It will be a far different scenario at your 20th high school reunion. The shoe will be on the other foot of your now serial-married friends with kids in broken AKA blended homes.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 9, 2007 9:21 AM

Army Brat

"No, because for most recently-divorced men I know, the last thing on earth they want right now is a relationship with a woman"

Relationship - no
Sex - always!

Posted by: Anonymous | July 9, 2007 9:24 AM

I enjoy being single and being a mom - though they are quite expensive and the statistics say that she is doomed! Everything from poor grades in school to early promiscuity (spelling).

I am glad that I only have one person to take care of - it seems that married families have the stress of rasing a child and keeping the relationship interesting (seemingly miserable at times). I have to worry about only one of the two - and am not miserable.

I think that singles and marrieds do not understand eachother because they couple off - meaning that they get together in couples and no longer hand out with their single friends... guess three really is a crowd.

Posted by: single mom | July 9, 2007 9:27 AM

"One good thing about being single and living alone is that you can eat a bowl of cereal for dinner standing over the kitchen sink and nobody sees you."

See, this is what single people don't get! If you actually are in a good marriage, he's standing right next to you eating cereal over the sink, laughing about it together, after another dual income with kids working day. The kids are asleep, it's 9pm and neither of you has eaten in hours.


Leslie, I don't think society has anything against being happily single.

Society has a problem with ANYONE being happy. There are just as many stereotypes on marriage, don't you think? How many times do I have to hear about the "ball and chain" references or how miserable all married people are.
It cuts both ways.

Posted by: SAHMbacktowork | July 9, 2007 9:33 AM

"why is our culture so prejudiced against being happily single?"

I can't tell you how many times I've been barfed on, had to wiped butts, almost had a busted spleen from getting jumped on, suffered the embarrasement of dismantling a squalling child with the ol' limp body move, ..., etc. etc.

And the singles and childless get a free pass!

It's just not fair!

So us parents group together and try to convert the unknowing by spouting out cute little slogans about love, passion and how satisfying it is for 2 people to become 1 and all that cilly crap about the joy of parenting.

What we really want to see though, is the singles getting suckered like we did, and be brought to the same level of humility as us.

Posted by: Lil Husky | July 9, 2007 9:35 AM

I think it depend on the people. I have many friends who are couples and we get together quite a bit. Sometimes with the kids - sometimes without. When the kids were younger it was harder. Sometimes you would like to have an adult conversation with your friend without the kids hanging around. Now they are on auto-pilot for the most part.

Posted by: KLB SS MD | July 9, 2007 9:35 AM

I think the pity for singles comes from the small but noisy contingent of "single and unhappy about it" people out there. After enduring countless hours of singles' (especially single women) whining about being single, it's easy to assume that singles would prefer to be marrieds.

On the one hand, I suppose it's useful to remember that content people don't whine about their situations. On the other hand, I really don't care all that much how other people choose to live their lives. Single and happy? Great, but I don't care. Single and unhappy? Great, still don't care. What to stop being single? Easy. Quit'cher'whinin', and you'll be attractive again.

Posted by: Bob | July 9, 2007 9:39 AM

single mom - I have single mom friends and I'd much rather hang out with them than couples. There's always one part of the couple that is intolerable! lol
My issue is always finding time (and that's finding time for anyone - not just single mom friends). Time is taken up doing "family time" activities and then there are the inlaws and everything else that comes from having a spouse. It sucks just as much for me, but that's what one does when married...
I doubt anyone is trying to exclude you - there are just so many obligations.

Posted by: to single mom | July 9, 2007 9:41 AM

"Sometimes you would like to have an adult conversation with your friend without the kids hanging around. Now they are on auto-pilot for the most part."

Who is on auto-pilot? The adults or the kids?

Posted by: Anonymous | July 9, 2007 9:42 AM

"See, this is what single people don't get! If you actually are in a good marriage, he's standing right next to you eating cereal over the sink, laughing about it together, after another dual income with kids working day. The kids are asleep, it's 9pm and neither of you has eaten in hours."

I get it - I was being sarcastic.

Posted by: KLB SS MD | July 9, 2007 9:43 AM

The kid are on auto pilot as they are mostly in high school and don't want to hang around with us uncool old folks.

Posted by: KLB SS MD | July 9, 2007 9:53 AM

Myth #10 is slightly incorrect. It should read that the benefits are given to parents who believe they deserve them because they had children.

Posted by: almost right | July 9, 2007 9:58 AM

"I think that singles and marrieds do not understand eachother because they couple off - meaning that they get together in couples and no longer hand out with their single friends... guess three really is a crowd."
Posted by: single mom | July 9, 2007 09:27 AM

Mr Bee and I discovered that we were spending a lot more time with coupled friends and realized that basically, since time is at a premium for both of us, we were doing a kind of calculation to arrive at this choice. Time spent with a couple is more "efficient" as we can catch up with both halves of the couple at once--it's like fulfilling two social obligations for the price of one.
Once we realized we were thinking this way, of course, we made more of an effort to see our single friends too, either alone or in more diverse gatherings. The bottom line is that the number of friends in our lives gets higher as we get older and it is harder to see everyone as often as they deserve, and unless we're trying to be very conscious about it, silly things can lead us to privilege some friends over others.

Posted by: worker bee | July 9, 2007 10:02 AM

"I don't think most singles have any clue how much it costs to raise a child."

I disagree. I think many people know EXACTLY how expensive it is to raise a child (children) and that's exactly why some haven't done it.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 9, 2007 10:04 AM

And so what if others do or do not know how much it costs to raise a child? What does it matter? You have made a choice to have children, why keep telling everyone how much you're sacrificing in order to do it? Are there points you're winning that I am not aware of?

Posted by: atlmom | July 9, 2007 10:13 AM

People are prejudiced against singles because they're jealous of us. It's better to be single and happy than married and miserable.

Posted by: Single & Very Happy | July 9, 2007 08:58 AM

How perceptive of you to think that I'd be jealous of anyone with such a sanctimonious attitude.

Fortunately, the single people I know, unlike you, are both fun to be with AND content with their choices. As an extra bonus, they don't use excess adverbs to drive home a point.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 9, 2007 10:18 AM

What's so bad about excess adverbs?

Posted by: Anonymous | July 9, 2007 10:21 AM

"You have made a choice to have children, why keep telling everyone how much you're sacrificing in order to do it? "

Agreed. The martyr act get tiring very quickly.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 9, 2007 10:21 AM

"I disagree. I think many people know EXACTLY how expensive it is to raise a child (children) and that's exactly why some haven't done it."

I have to agree with this anon. Some of us really do consider the cost of children when deciding if or when to have them. It was certainly a factor in our decision. Reports like this one help us make informed decisions.

http://www.cnpp.usda.gov/Publications/CRC/crc2006.pdf

I didn't read the whole thing, but it looks like the total for an average family would be $197,700 to raise one child to the age of 17.

I bet there are lots of other figures out there.

Posted by: Meesh | July 9, 2007 10:22 AM

Having a child wasn't nearly as expensive as I thought it would be, actually. I've certainly lost a LOT of income, but the hospital bill was only $12 total (insurance covered everything else) and we get hand-me-downs for everything- toys, clothes, etc. People don't need to expend nearly as much money on kids as the child rearing books scare you into believing. USe cloth diapers, breastfeed, accept hand-me-downs with gratitude, and really economics doesn't seem like a great reason to not have kids if that is what you really want to do. Not having a partner to help you raise the child-- that's something else! If it weren't for my husband, I don't see how I could manage the discipline required to raise a child right-- I'd just be too exhausted!!

Posted by: Jen S. | July 9, 2007 10:22 AM

"What's so bad about excess adverbs?"

Nothing. As long as it doesn't leave a participle dangling in front of me.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 9, 2007 10:24 AM

Looking at that report I posted, they estimate only $13,710 for childcare and school from birth to age 17. That seems shockingly low.

Posted by: Meesh | July 9, 2007 10:25 AM

According to DC child support calculator for a combined income of $190K (father making much more) - it should cost about $42K/year to raise one child. They then divide out the portion of who pays by income. I know it is expensive, but I doubt that I pay more than $25K year (this includes childcare and increased rent, food, and clothes)

Posted by: single mom | July 9, 2007 10:27 AM

i wonder if husbands see recently-divorced single men in this same light.

Posted by: Leslie | July 9, 2007 08:36 AM

Anyone remember "The Odd Couple"? Two divorced guys living together out of financial necessity, and making one another crazy. Plus the newly-separated Felix moped around grieving for his lost marriage. Neil Simon used his own brother's divorce as the inspiration for the play, which is why there was a ring of truth to it.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 9, 2007 10:28 AM

It always depends on WHY the divorced guy is the divorced guy. I've known many deliriously happy divorced guys -- when they pick the time and initiate the divorce.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 9, 2007 10:30 AM

It's better to be single and happy than married and miserable.

Likewise, it's better to be married and happy than single and miserable.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 9, 2007 10:31 AM

I was happy being a single (lots of friends, so no problem finding extra pair of hands to replace a toilet), then married for exactly wrong reasons : he loved me, I did not really care, but it was amazing to see such passion for the first time, and economics worked out well. When I got married I discovered I liked that too -- waiting for the husband to come home at 11 PM and fry some steaks... somebody painting your walls as a surprise while you are at school... whole new bunch of relatives trweating you like a family so you can't do wrong... what a time. When you are young, everything's cool, single or married. Few years later his great love subsides, I meet my first great love (unrequited) -- gone in a flash, amicable divorce. Single, rerun: fencing romantic advances of otherwise great guys I would rather prefer to be friends with, and pursuing the object of my romantic interest, who seems to finally realize that resistance is futile. Life is great!.

Posted by: Ornata | July 9, 2007 10:31 AM

Jen S, send your kid to school in hand me ddowns and you can expect your child to be some other students lunch money.

Posted by: Lil Husky | July 9, 2007 10:31 AM

OK - so I just lost my last post.

Well according to the DC child support calculator is should cost abour $42K to raise one child in DC if the parents have a combined income of around $180K (father makes much more than I). I know that it is expensive here, but with increased rent and child care (perhaps even food and clothes) I probably pay only around $25K/year for her. Though we have not started sports, and other fun/expensive activities.

I still wonder where this figure comes from... It would only be 10% more we we had a second child, and he only gets a $15K credit for a child that he has living with him.

Kids are darned expenses, Men - use protection!

Posted by: single mom | July 9, 2007 10:31 AM

Yeah, I don't really have a lot of sympathy for singles. When I was one, my single friends and I would joke about how there should be a singles' grocery store with smaller portions--and a potential to meet people to boot. We'd talk about how the world was set up for couples. And then we'd go out, have a great time, meet people, and do exactly what we wanted.

However, now that I'm married & with a kid I'm generally much happier. I never contemplate intentionally overdosing. I never wake up next to a stranger and wonder what the hell I'm doing with my life. Also, I never pick up and move to another town because of a fantastic opportunity or the chance to live with a friend next to the ocean. Nor do I pick up and go to, say, India for 6 months because I've always wanted to.

Single and coupled lifestyles both have pretty clear, somewhat mutually exclusive benefits. Discussing "singlism" is good for a laugh, but I do hope no one expects it to be taken seriously.

Posted by: Josh | July 9, 2007 10:32 AM

One summer between school years I stayed with an aunt and uncle and helped with their kids. SHe had just had her fifth; the oldest wasn't in school yet (two boys, twin girls, and the newborn) The entire day was spent cleaning up kids, feeding kids, consoling kids, cleaning up kids again, feeding them, getting them dressed or undressed, feeding them, changing diapers, calming fights, potty training. I saw then how 'happy' marriage can be. No thank you.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 9, 2007 10:33 AM

We socialize primarily with married couples of our own age (early 40's) who have children close to the age of our children. We do it because (a) we don't want to inflict our children's behavior on those who might find it "difficult"; (b) our kids can play with their kids while we try to have a semblance of a conversation; (c) they are on the same schedule: afternoon in the park, 6 pm dinner; (d) we want our kids to be friends with our friends kids. We get really extatic when our kids make friends with a child whose parents we like. As someone posted above, it's hard to find a couple where you like both halves. Finally, I think that we would have little in common with singles who are in their 20's and 30's, just like when we were this age we found nothing in common with the older people.

Posted by: fedmom | July 9, 2007 10:34 AM

"we're all going to be single at some point and we're still going to be responsible for ourselves. even if we have 10 kids."

Well, unless my husband leaves me or dies first, I will never be single again. It's more common for the wife to outlive the husband, but that doesn't mean that there's no chance your husband will outlive you.

Posted by: to Leslie | July 9, 2007 10:35 AM

Married = good when you made the commitment and chose to have children with that person under the guise that they would put their spouse and family first always..... single = bad when you are now a single parent with children when you had planned to be with a spouse that promised to be with you forever and being a joint parent with you.

Army Brat - my now ex husband wasted no time... he was dating and engaged the moment the divorce paper ink hit the paper....re-married a few months later...new baby.. new family.

Me - It will take a long time before I'd trust someone again to get married... and there are advantages to being single.. except the nights get lonely.

Posted by: C.W. | July 9, 2007 10:36 AM

Society has a problem with ANYONE being happy. There are just as many stereotypes on marriage, don't you think? How many times do I have to hear about the "ball and chain" references or how miserable all married people are.
It cuts both ways.

Posted by: SAHMbacktowork |

I agree with SAHMbacktowork.

I think many people view happiness as some sort of cosmic pie--and if someone ELSE is happy, that means there is less available for them, or that you swiped THEIR share. Somehow.

Ditto for love.

I don't understand that outlook, personally.


Posted by: Maryland Mother | July 9, 2007 10:38 AM

marriage sucks, you singles just don't know how good you have it.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 9, 2007 10:40 AM

There are plenty of ways to determine how much kids cost but you can spend as much or as little as you'd want, I would say. I have friends who complain about money then spend 300 dollars on a bassinet.
I buy mostly used stuff when I can, or inexpensively on line when I can.
I think it's difficult to figure out how much it costs-i would have taken difft or no vacations. If I *would* have gone around the world but didn't cause I have kids, does that mean they're *saving* me money? Altho I would say that 200k dollars seems low for 17 yrs. Not having done the math, I have no idea. But I did buy a bigger house to accomodate the kids which will appreciate faster than stocks or mutual funds would have-so are they making me money there?

The mind boggles...

Posted by: atlmom | July 9, 2007 10:41 AM

Lil huskie what are you talking about? My kid attends a schools where all of the kids wear hand-me-downs at some point or another. And lunch is free for all. So is breakfast.

Posted by: Jen S. | July 9, 2007 10:42 AM

opps-- that wasn't right-- breakfast is free at his school, but lunch does cost something-- but it is free for lots of the kids at the school. We have to pay, but it is very reasonable. I'm thinking less than $50 per month.

Posted by: Jen S. | July 9, 2007 10:45 AM

People are prejudiced against singles because they're jealous of us. It's better to be single and happy than married and miserable.

How many adverbs in this sentence? I only see one.

Posted by: Grammar sheriff | July 9, 2007 10:45 AM

Josh at 10:32 wrote: I never contemplate intentionally overdosing. I never wake up next to a stranger and wonder what the hell I'm doing with my life.

That is not the typical single person's life dude.

Posted by: DC lurker | July 9, 2007 10:45 AM

"Discussing "singlism" is good for a laugh, but I do hope no one expects it to be taken seriously."

Why do we need to constant pit one camp against the other? Isn't there enough "I'm better than you because ____________!" behavior going around these days?

This is quite arrogant. Just because you've made the choice to get married does not mean it's right for everyone.

You imply that all singles are irresponsible and are aimless. Indeed, being married does not guarantee that won't happen.

I sincerely hope you don't face the prospect of being single again anytime soon.

Posted by: JRS | July 9, 2007 10:45 AM

Hmmmm... I wonder who Single & Very Happy is? Could it be Kudzu? Sounds miserable and defensive enough.

We socialize plenty with our single friends. They usually come over or we meet out somewhere Sat or Sun afternoons, as we have an infant. They live their "wild and crazy" single lives at night. They are our age and are professionals like us, so, why wouldn't we hang out? Only about 40% of my best girlfriends are married, and we're (gasp) in our 30s. Why would I stop being friends with them because they don't have spouses? Most of my husband's friends are single, though they've hit the early 30's marry-off, so that demographic is changing. I think there is a much bigger difference between kids/no kids than single/married. But we can still manage to maintain those very important friendships.

Posted by: atb | July 9, 2007 10:45 AM

"When you are young, everything's cool, single or married."

So true. The bad things in life are much, much worse when you are old. The good things aren't as great.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 9, 2007 10:45 AM

so what's the point of sending your kid to such school? Does he/she learn anything besides gang symbols?

Posted by: to Jen S. | July 9, 2007 10:46 AM

I don't see any adverbs there.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 9, 2007 10:46 AM

Where is this school with free lunch and breakfast? Is it a private school (which would make the free lunch and breakfast really not free)? Is it lower-income where everyone is on a federal or state meal program?

Really, I have never heard of this. Which state has these schools?

Posted by: to Jen S | July 9, 2007 10:47 AM

It's supposedly a 9A school (low income, NCLB low performing). Federal funds, so could be any state.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 9, 2007 10:50 AM

One summer between school years I stayed with an aunt and uncle and helped with their kids. SHe had just had her fifth; the oldest wasn't in school yet (two boys, twin girls, and the newborn) The entire day was spent cleaning up kids, feeding kids, consoling kids, cleaning up kids again, feeding them, getting them dressed or undressed, feeding them, changing diapers, calming fights, potty training. I saw then how 'happy' marriage can be. No thank you.

Posted by: | July 9, 2007 10:33 AM

Think you are missing that marriage does not necessarily always equal children. I also think there's some disconnection here today between being in love and being with someone and getting married to them. I think the love aspect of finding my husband was way more important than whether we ever got married or not but marriage was what stabilized the future (bummer on the marriage tax-penalty, did not know filing jointly made any difference whatsoever!)

I think when you are in love, and you know it is "for real" and have committed to a lifetime of love with one person, it did fill in a lot of gaps in my life. It didn't make me whole, or complete, or make me THAT much happier overall, but it did do something to kind of round out the shape of my life and let me know where I am going. I am guessing many single people do not like this, they prefer to think they can move at any time and drop their boyfriend/girlfriend at any time. They think like this until they fall in love and decide it's for real.

My only qualm with some of my single friends is their obsession with partying, juggling suitors to find the richest one, and constantly scheming for attention and appreciation whether they are with someone or not. However, I am sure that this is by no means ALL single people and likely is just the culture of person I happen to encounter.

Posted by: Miles | July 9, 2007 10:52 AM

One summer between school years I stayed with an aunt and uncle and helped with their kids. SHe had just had her fifth; the oldest wasn't in school yet (two boys, twin girls, and the newborn)

Marriage doesn't have to be like that. Just use birth control.

Posted by: To 10:33 | July 9, 2007 10:52 AM

"One summer between school years I stayed with an aunt and uncle and helped with their kids. SHe had just had her fifth; the oldest wasn't in school yet (two boys, twin girls, and the newborn)"

That was REALLY nice of you. And likely a valuable learning experience.

Posted by: Arlington Dad | July 9, 2007 10:55 AM

marriage sucks, you singles just don't know how good you have it.

Posted by: | July 9, 2007 10:40 AM

and you are intelligent if you don't have children. refer to the posts at 10:33 & 10:36.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 9, 2007 10:56 AM

My child is attending our neighborhood DC public school. It's just elementary and quite small. Lots of wonderful school spirit and esprit d' corps. the free breakfast is probably because there are a certain percentage of kids that come from low income households-- lots of military families.

Posted by: Jen S. | July 9, 2007 10:56 AM

According to DC child support calculator for a combined income of $190K (father making much more) - it should cost about $42K/year to raise one child. They then divide out the portion of who pays by income. I know it is expensive, but I doubt that I pay more than $25K year (this includes childcare and increased rent, food, and clothes).

I don't understand this figure. I am aware of how child support calculations are made, but unless there is a built-in presumption that if a family's combined income is $190K, the child is going to attend an extremely expensive private school, I'm coming up at least $20K short. And that's assuming that a child is attending a private school (though not an obscenely priced one), gets new wardrobes each season, etc. I just don't get it.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 9, 2007 10:57 AM

Miles,
I can tell you that partying and trying to find a rich man is not all singles. Most of my single friends and I work, visit with friends, and take care of our family and our homes.

Posted by: KLB SS MD | July 9, 2007 10:58 AM

I don't know who posted at 10:50, but our school is not "low-performing," but it does have a significant population of low income students.

Posted by: Jen S. | July 9, 2007 11:00 AM

Jen S, round about middle school, appearance all of a sudden becomes astronomically important, especially for girls.

If you have a teenage daughter, and you want her to love and respect you, expect to pony up some serious cash for her wardrobe...

or don't expect for her to get a date on prom night.

Posted by: Lil Husky | July 9, 2007 11:03 AM

significant population of low income students = low performing school

Money. It's the new way to integrate.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 9, 2007 11:03 AM

My only qualm with some of my single friends is their obsession with partying, juggling suitors to find the richest one, and constantly scheming for attention and appreciation whether they are with someone or not. However, I am sure that this is by no means ALL single people and likely is just the culture of person I happen to encounter.

Posted by: Miles | July 9, 2007 10:52 AM

The common denominator in this group is you, Miles. These are people you identify as your friends. If these are the values of the people you choose for friends, that says more about you than it does about them.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 9, 2007 11:03 AM

"The common denominator in this group is you, Miles. These are people you identify as your friends. If these are the values of the people you choose for friends, that says more about you than it does about them"

True. Water seeks its own level.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 9, 2007 11:11 AM

KLB, you mentioned taking care of the family and home.

But you forgot the dog! or maybe I'm part of the family?

Woof!

Posted by: Lil Husky | July 9, 2007 11:11 AM

Re. Myth #6: I definitely agree that marrieds look at singles with a degree of suspicion and/or judgement. When I was single, a lot of folks would look at me as if I was either 1) gay or 2) on the prowl for married women. (Husbands would never let me talk too long to their wives). Now that I am married, I still get suspicious looks when I go to our local pool alone. I almost have to flash my wedding ring conspicuously at times to show I am "one of you".

Posted by: Bob | July 9, 2007 11:14 AM

"The common denominator in this group is you, Miles. These are people you identify as your friends. If these are the values of the people you choose for friends, that says more about you than it does about them"

True. Water seeks its own level.

Posted by: | July 9, 2007 11:11 AM

Sweet, I knew it was my fault somehow.

Posted by: Miles | July 9, 2007 11:15 AM

I think the part of being single that annoyed me the most was the married people who would say, "You're not a grown-up until you're married" and then after they had babies they would say, "You're not a grown-up until you've had kids." A woman five years my junior (who was married with one kid) kept saying this, and also called my fiance my "boyfriend". I kept thinking, "Oh, so I should have had a baby out of wedlock like you and THEN I'd be mature? Whatever."

Posted by: m | July 9, 2007 11:16 AM

Jen S.,

Ignore the trolls' comments about your child's school. Our kids have worn pre-loved clothing almost exclusively and that choice has never resulted in razzing or other unfortunate social behaviors. (The most treasured garments are those pre-loved by favorite cousins.) Particularly when your children are under 8 years old, kids aren't sensitive to whether an outfit comes from the Summer '07 collection or Summer '04 season. Besides, if anyone cares about impressing the fashion divas, pre-loved Gymboree-brand and other designer labels is way more cool than new garments from Wal-Mart or Sears.

We explain to our kids that, first, used clothes are less expensive, and second, the money saved pays for those ballet classes and tennis lessons. Explaining financial and budgeting choices to your kids while they are young is a service to your kids and saves you from having to listen to lots of pre-teen whining later on, IMHO.

Posted by: Megan's Neighbor | July 9, 2007 11:16 AM

Jen S, round about middle school, appearance all of a sudden becomes astronomically important, especially for girls.

If you have a teenage daughter, and you want her to love and respect you, expect to pony up some serious cash for her wardrobe...

or don't expect for her to get a date on prom night.

Posted by: Lil Husky | July 9, 2007 11:03 AM

Bullcrappe.

That has not been my daughter's experience AT ALL. And the child had a "date" for the 8th grade dance, she looked great in her hugely marked down dress (from Kohl's) that she purchased with her very own money ($12!). She already had a nice pair of shoes.

There are no absolutes in raising a child of either gender, JenS, and don't let the flea-bag tell you otherwise.

Posted by: anon this time | July 9, 2007 11:17 AM

Ah, Leslie! Today's blog made me laugh. Thanks for posting.

You ask:
"so far, everyone seems pretty supportive of being single.
so why these myths that we all identify with?
why is our culture so prejudiced against being happily single?"

Great question. I'm not single but I'm childless so some of the chapter headings apply to me. It feels like there's a lot of social pressure to be married and raising kids these days. More so than I remember when I was younger. Is it because I'm in my thirties? Or have times changed?

I think we're in still in the throes of the anti-feminist baklash that began in the nineties.

Posted by: Friend | July 9, 2007 11:18 AM

Bob

"Now that I am married, I still get suspicious looks when I go to our local pool alone."

Not to worry. The looks at the pool will end when you are bald with a pot belly!

Posted by: Anonymous | July 9, 2007 11:19 AM

It feels like there's a lot of social pressure to be married and raising kids these days. More so than I remember when I was younger. Is it because I'm in my thirties?

Probably--you are not sticking to the usual timetable and it's more noticeable.

Now, that is not to say that it's right for you, just that it throws a monkey-wrench in others' perception of what "should" be happening by a particular age.

Does that make any sense?

In other words, it's them, not you!

Posted by: Anonymous | July 9, 2007 11:22 AM

to 10:57

I just reran the numbers - basic support is $26K, and then $16K for pre-school (divided between us 65%/35%, and $940 for health care.

He earns $125K and I earn $60K - around $180K total which brings up the basic obligation... how is that part calculated? I understand dividing child care and health, but not sure how basic support is figured out...

(he has one child at home, I have no others)

Posted by: single mom | July 9, 2007 11:23 AM

My only qualm with some of my single friends

"Some" is not the same as "all", folks.

Don't fret Miles, enjoy the wide range of friends you have. Not everything or everyone is some sort of statement.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 9, 2007 11:24 AM

Yes, clothing can be very important to kids(we never had money like my classmates to spend on clothes). But then children can learn a lot from not spending hundreds on jeans too.

Posted by: atlmom | July 9, 2007 11:30 AM

Jen S, round about middle school, appearance all of a sudden becomes astronomically important, especially for girls.

If you have a teenage daughter, and you want her to love and respect you, expect to pony up some serious cash for her wardrobe...

or don't expect for her to get a date on prom night.

Posted by: Lil Husky | July 9, 2007 11:03 AM

Lil Husky - Apparently you have never heard of Plato's Closet, or you simply have a yen to raise conspicuous consumers. Your daughter doesn't have to be out of fashion to shop economically.

p.s. if your daughter's hot, boys don't care what she's wearing. All they are thinking about is how long she'll be wearing it.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 9, 2007 11:32 AM

Some more on Myth #6: I always thought it was only single men who were suspiciously by the marrieds. But my wife went to her niece's kindergarten graduation recently, in place of her sister. She had to face suspicious looks and outright questions from the Moms who were there. I joked that she should have worn a t-shirt that said "Wife and Mother, just like you."

Posted by: Bob | July 9, 2007 11:34 AM

the free breakfast is probably because there are a certain percentage of kids that come from low income households-- lots of military families.

Posted by: Jen S. | July 9, 2007 10:56 AM

That is so sad! It's shameful that, in this country, our enlisted men and women, and low-ranking officers, make so little. All over the country, military bases create low-income neighborhoods. It's an embarrassment to the U.S. -- but I don't anticipate our 'leaders' doing anything about it anytime soon.

Posted by: educmom | July 9, 2007 11:35 AM

Bob

"But my wife went to her niece's kindergarten graduation recently, in place of her sister. She had to face suspicious looks and outright questions from the Moms who were there. "

Wow! You and your wife must be really hot!

Posted by: Anonymous | July 9, 2007 11:36 AM

"the free breakfast is probably because there are a certain percentage of kids that come from low income households-- lots of military families"

Don't military families know about birth control?

Posted by: Anonymous | July 9, 2007 11:39 AM

I hope my teenaged daughter, should I be lucky to have one someday, will love and respect me for reasons beyond how much money I spend on her clothing. And I LOVE the idea of my daughter using her own "hard-earned" money to buy her own clothes!

And if guys don't want to take her out because she doesn't have the very best clothes-- OK with me!! I'm really not interested in setting up my children to enter the dating world any time too soon!!

Posted by: Jen S. | July 9, 2007 11:40 AM

Bob, Wht wasn't your wife's sister at her own child's graduation?

Posted by: Anonymous | July 9, 2007 11:40 AM

I second Megan's Neighbor about hand-me-downs. I have saved a fortune getting stuff from cousins and neighbors. I mean, I honestly have hardly bought a thing except socks and underwear for my son in years, and my daughter has a cousin two years older and we just get her clothes. My neighbor came to me and said she was hoping I wouldn't be offended but would I like some of her son's barely worn clothes? Offended? Never!!

Posted by: WorkingMomX | July 9, 2007 11:41 AM

"the free breakfast is probably because there are a certain percentage of kids that come from low income households-- lots of military families"

Don't military families know about birth control?

Posted by: | July 9, 2007 11:39 AM

A certain percentage of people join the military in order to be able to get ahead and provide for their families. In other words, they already had children and the military is a step up and out.

In other words, you are common.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 9, 2007 11:42 AM

You know, the same single women who are complaining about not having anyone are going to be complaining in ten years about how the husband never talks anymore, or the moms in PTA are mean.

Married, single, it doesn't matter. Too often the spouse/lack of spouse is just a convenient way to put off taking responsibility for our own happiness. Whose life is it, anyway? Is there anything more destructive to a relationship than one party expecting the other to fix everything, start "real life", or make it all margaritas on the beach? Sure, companionship is great. But we can all find it with friends or family. Sex is also great, but if it's the difference between happiness and misery, get a therapist. Someone to eat cereal with or watch the game with? Get a dog.

I'm not saying there's anything wrong with being married. I think marrying the right person sounds great. But I've lost patience with the knight-in-shining-armor concept. It's unfair to the other person and a great way to waste years in daydreams and bad blind dates instead of actually enjoying them. Everyone, today, go to the park or read a book or go swimming or do something that you actually love that doesn't depend on the presence of anyone else.

This blog is all about balance between work and home, but I think the real balance is to learn to chose our own lives in between the obligations, real and imagined, that surround us. I am the anti-New-Age-guru, but there honestly is something in the concept of mindfulness. (Why else would any sane person enjoy jogging?) Doing something real, today, always beats feeding the internal chatter about tomorrow's obligations/hopes/fears/whatever.

I am delighted, as a single. My sister is delighted, as a married mom with a four-month-old baby. For the record, I am thirty and she is twenty-three. Being delighted is a great way to live, and I recommend it to anyone.

Posted by: krasni | July 9, 2007 11:44 AM

Don't military families know about birth control?

Posted by: | July 9, 2007 11:39 AM

Yeah, the people who REALLY serve and protect our country don't deserve enough money to eat AND have a place to sleep. And how DARE they want to have a family, like the rich people who apparently deserve to sit on their a$$es and send the soldiers off to die?!?!

You're a troll. Crawl back under your bridge!

Posted by: educmom | July 9, 2007 11:45 AM

"the free breakfast is probably because there are a certain percentage of kids that come from low income households-- lots of military families"

Don't military families know about birth control?

Posted by: | July 9, 2007 11:39 AM

What the ----?

Posted by: Anonymous | July 9, 2007 11:45 AM

"Everyone, today, go to the park or read a book or go swimming or do something that you actually love that doesn't depend on the presence of anyone else."

Yes and no. Go give blood and get out of some unpleasant household chore instead!

Posted by: Maryland Mother | July 9, 2007 11:46 AM

krasni, I loved your post. I am going to go get an iced coffee and drink it in the park while reading a book about werewolves now.

Posted by: worker bee | July 9, 2007 11:50 AM

I love how everyone is either "happily married or single". In my experience, it's never quite that simple. I've been married for 3 years and sometimes I like it, sometimes I don't. Sometimes I wish I was single again, but I also know I have a tendency to look at the past through rose-colored glasses. Everyone of my married friends feels the same way. I wish people would be honest about their lives and not have to justify their choices by either denigrating others or proclaiming how perfect their lives are...

Posted by: J | July 9, 2007 11:50 AM

Bob, Wht wasn't your wife's sister at her own child's graduation?

Unfortunately she could not afford to lose the day's wages. Neither could her husband. I know - rough. We've offered her and her husband cash before and I think they've had enough of taking our money. So my wife volunteered to be there for her sister and videotape the whole thing. Her niece was a little teary but perked up when my wife took her out for lunch afterwards to Wendy's.

I covered things with our newborn that day so my wife could go.

Posted by: Bob | July 9, 2007 11:50 AM

Krasni!!! Clap clap clap!!! I will definitely look to you as the sane, happy, single and childless representative! You sound like my single friends/sister. (Who don't judge men by the thickness of their wallets, btw. Youch, Miles. Icky friends.)

Posted by: atb | July 9, 2007 11:51 AM

I do think my wife's a looker and tell her that often. But if it was me there that day, I would have told anyone who asked "None of your business".

Posted by: Bob | July 9, 2007 11:52 AM

"I hope my teenaged daughter, should I be lucky to have one someday, will love and respect me for reasons beyond how much money I spend on her clothing."

Let me just say that teenage girls can be very brutal to one another. I didn't realize it when I was in HS, but If you think a parent is bigger than peer pressure during these formable years, you're probably in for a big treat!

I wish you good luck!

Posted by: Lil Husky | July 9, 2007 11:54 AM

J,

"I love how everyone is either "happily married or single". In my experience, it's never quite that simple. I've been married for 3 years and sometimes I like it, sometimes I don't."

I think what you are describing is akin to coming off of a "peak experience" sort of high.

We are not going to experience a life entirely founded of mind-rushing highs, and we need to figure out how to enjoy them, remember them but not dwell on them to the detriment of the pleasures (and pains) of the present. First off, we would burn our synapses out if all we had were rushes. Secondly, that too would pall with time.

Perhaps we can all agree that sometimes life can be very good indeed (and I hope that everyone has those moments), and sometimes it's going to be your turn to take a BIG bite out of the sh*t cupcake. That's a lesson those of us involved with children can hope to pass along, eventually. Somehow.

Posted by: Maryland Mother | July 9, 2007 11:56 AM

Let me just say that teenage girls can be very brutal to one another. I didn't realize it when I was in HS, but If you think a parent is bigger than peer pressure during these formable years, you're probably in for a big treat!

I wish you good luck!

Posted by: Lil Husky | July 9, 2007 11:54 AM

When you wear blinders, you see only the solution that pulling out your wallet offers.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 9, 2007 11:59 AM

Lil Husky,
I have to disagree with you on the teenaged girls and clothes topic. Of course, teenagers, whether boys or girls, want to conform and get the clothing that their friends have. Or not conform and get the same kind of clothing that the rebels wear. But as parents, it is our job to teach them the value of money, and to help them appreciate that while the presentation may be important, that you can make a good presentation without spending loads of money. When I was a kid, my family did not have a lot of money to spend on clothes. They gave me the basics, and anything extra, I had to buy with my own money. This did not cause me to resent my parents. On the contrary, I now appreciate the financial lessons I learned as a kid, because they have served me well as an adult. Even now, I purchase some of my clothes at thrift stores, and they look great and cost a fraction of what they would have otherwise. And I don't think people know the difference. And if they do, who cares?

Teach your daughter that she is much more then the labels on her clothes or the sum she spent on them. She will ultimately love and respect you (and herself) more if you do that.

Posted by: Emily | July 9, 2007 12:04 PM

Re: teenage girls and clothes.

Now you know why a lot of us parents love uniforms at school!

Posted by: Anonymous | July 9, 2007 12:07 PM

I was a teenage girl once and trendy clothes do not equal happiness, nor do they prepare you in any way for real life.

I've told my kids that if they practice being truthful with themselves and their friends (and KIND), that they will be decades ahead of their peers. People who put on the Mask of Popularity(TM) and bury their real feelings in order to be popular are those who are going to be spending many dollars, someday, in order to "get to know themselves", and figure out why they are so angry and feel so shortchanged.

Hey! I'll contribute a slice of the world's best carrot cake if someone offers me a cup of iced cyber-coffee.

Posted by: Maryland Mother | July 9, 2007 12:09 PM

I second the opinion that no one is doing their HS kids a favor letting them go to school poorly dressed.
I don't think this means new or brand-name clothing. But I was raised by hippies who wanted to let me 'express myself' through my garments, and never pointed out things like the advisability of wearing a bra with certain tops.
Took me years to figure it out on my own. Also saw several financially-challenged friends in middle-school whose parents made them go around in really awful decade-old polyester--these were kids not old enough to work yet, but old enough to know they looked completely out of place, and to suffer for it.
(Jen S., you don't at all sound like the kind of parent who'd inflict leisure suits on your kids! I just wanted to speak up and remind people that you can do your kids a HUGE service by teaching them fashion basics & keeping them from standing out in a negative way.)

Posted by: worker bee | July 9, 2007 12:10 PM

Lil huskie, that is why we are and expect in the future to be very active in selecting what peer group our kids have. We are the parents and we get to decide what school and church they attend, along with the neighborhood we live in and the extra curricular stuff we let them participate in.

Posted by: Jen S. | July 9, 2007 12:15 PM

Me: "Discussing "singlism" is good for a laugh, but I do hope no one expects it to be taken seriously."

JRS 10:45: "Why do we need to constant pit one camp against the other? Isn't there enough "I'm better than you because ____________!" behavior going around these days?

"This is quite arrogant. ... You imply that all singles are irresponsible and are aimless. ... I sincerely hope you don't face the prospect of being single again anytime soon."

---

I really should reread my posts before submitting them, and try to imagine how other people might read them. My post was meant to say something like, single or married, I think there are benefits and pitfalls to both. Therefore, I don't really think singlism is anything worth worrying about. We make our beds, alone or together, and we lie in them.

I certainly didn't mean to imply that all singles are irresponsible and aimless. I know that I was more irresponsible then, but I don't blame myself for that. I didn't have a wife and child to whom I needed to be responsible, so no one ever had the right to tell me to be more responsible. Nowadays, irresponsibility on my behalf would have consequences beyond the exploratory and occasionally edifying game of personal cause-and-effect; now, people depend on me. That's a big difference.

As far as aimlessness goes, when I wandered during my single life, I was never aimless. It was my right to wander, and I felt that was what I needed to do. I still do what I feel I need to do. That has not changed.

Also...

Josh at 10:32 wrote: "I never contemplate intentionally overdosing. I never wake up next to a stranger and wonder what the hell I'm doing with my life."

DC lurker at 10:45 wrote: "That is not the typical single person's life dude."

---

Um. Well. Maybe I had a harder time of it than most? It was all worth it though, and I wouldn't, even now, have had it any other way. I had a lot to work out before I could get to where I am--and where I am does happen to be married. I would have had a lot to work out even if I never did get married, but a family only became an option after a certain point.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 9, 2007 12:17 PM

Clean jeans, socks, underwear, t-shirts and a sports bra that fit work just fine. Then (me)and now.

Chinos and a decent white button-down shirt that can be worn with the school colored bow-tie (for those days when the orchestra/choir perform) work too.

Trust me, any kid who wants to wear something more than I am willing to provide is more than welcome to save their allowance and do extra stuff to earn more money. I still get final say on whether it's appropriate. So far, none of the kids have balked. No one wants to have their clothes be more noticed than what they themselves have to offer.

"Are they paying attention to me because of what I'm wearing, or because they like ME?", is not a question my kids deal with.

*touches wood*

Posted by: Maryland Mother | July 9, 2007 12:18 PM

the post 12:17 PM was me, Josh, only accidentally anonymous.

Posted by: Josh | July 9, 2007 12:21 PM

"We are the parents and we get to decide
what school and church they attend, along with the neighborhood we live in and the extra curricular stuff we let them participate in."

Next thing you know, we'll be trying to decide who our children will marry. LOL!

Posted by: Lil Husky | July 9, 2007 12:24 PM

Just my two cents on teens & clothes:
As some of you may recall, son #2 (aka Mr. Metro) is a bit of a clotheshorse. I indulged him to a certain extent -- I didn't go overboard, but I didn't balk at Ralph Lauren polo shirts. Since graduation, he has repeatedly requested some new summer clothes. Since he's old enough now to earn money for his own clothes, I have decided that my Visa deserved a break. Last weekend, he took his money and went to the mall. I think it was the first time he actually looked at the price of clothes, and he was shocked! Come to find out, he discovered he did not, in fact, need any more clothes right now.

Posted by: educmom | July 9, 2007 12:25 PM

Most women wind up single, whether through never marrying, being divorced or widowed (about 75% of marriages). About 25% of married men wind up being widowed. Only in a few rare cases do couples die at the same time. So married people who are smug about their married status should consider the future.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 9, 2007 12:28 PM

Worker bee, I totally agree with you! i was raised by hippies too and it wasn't until college when I started to read books about style that I "recovered" from the lack of education in that area. I still love to read such books.

A favorite recent book on the subject-- Tim Gunn's book about style. I really loved his point that it doesn't matter what you spend on your clothes if your posture is poor! (Not an issue with military families, that's certain!)

And thumb's up for uniforms-- sure makes it easy for parents!

Posted by: Jen S. | July 9, 2007 12:30 PM

"So married people who are smug about their married status should consider the future."

The smug rarely consider the final frontier; that is why they are smug!

Posted by: Anonymous | July 9, 2007 12:33 PM

"Teach your daughter that she is much more then the labels on her clothes or the sum she spent on them. She will ultimately love and respect you (and herself) more if you do that."

I think some of you forget that teen-agers are still children with less than fully developed adult brains. You can teach all you want, but they don't always receive your teachings the way you intend.

I have 2 teenage daughters. One is very respectful of our financial limitations and understands that her wardrobe will not match her friends' wardrobes. The other is much more involved with fashion and thinks it is totally unfair that she doesn't have what her friends have.

The ultimately loving and respecting the parents decisions may not happen until they are self-supporting adults paying for everything themselves.

We live in an area of great public schools, and it is a bit of a financial stretch for us to live here. Our kids truly do not have the same things as their peers. I don't mean material things such as clothes necessarily. We don't have the ability to send them to expensive sports, arts, or educational camps. We don't take vacations that are not within driving distance. We live in the smallest house in the neighborhood. We can't afford the pool membership, etc.

We won't uproot them now, but if we had the chance to do it over, we would have chosen to live in an area with decent schools (not necessarily the 'best' district), where we were not on the lower economic rung of the neighborhood. While they have received an excellent public education, they could have done just as well elsewhere as long as we remained vigilant about what they were learning and supplemented school with enrichment programs when needed.

All parents try to pass on their values to their children, but just because you believe that clothes don't matter as long as they are clean doesn't mean that it doesn't matter to your children.

Posted by: lurker | July 9, 2007 12:34 PM

So.. what you're saying, 12:28, is that I should not be smug because my wife--the woman to whom I've devoted myself, the woman whom I love more than anyone in the world and the mother of my baby--will die one day.

Nice.

Posted by: Josh | July 9, 2007 12:37 PM

The smug rarely consider the final frontier; that is why they are smug!

Posted by: | July 9, 2007 12:33 PM

Which is precisely why we need to kick their smug a$$e$ back into reality, right?

Posted by: Anonymous | July 9, 2007 12:38 PM

Lil huskie, I would LOVE it if I could have that kind of control over my kids!

Seriously though, the hardest part of being a parent for me isn't the providing for them, the sacrificing time and money, and the inconveniences. It's having them separate and detach from me. Each step away from me fills me with such mixed emotions of pride and sadness.

Posted by: Jen S. | July 9, 2007 12:39 PM

but just because you believe that clothes don't matter as long as they are clean doesn't mean that it doesn't matter to your children.

Posted by: lurker | July 9, 2007 12:34 PM

I doubt it will scar them for life to do without something fashionable. If so, they have much bigger problems than what they are (not) wearing to school.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 9, 2007 12:40 PM

Josh

"So.. what you're saying, 12:28, is that I should not be smug because my wife--the woman to whom I've devoted myself, the woman whom I love more than anyone in the world and the mother of my baby--will die one day.

Nice."

It's a fact.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 9, 2007 12:40 PM

So.. what you're saying, 12:28, is that I should not be smug because my wife--the woman to whom I've devoted myself, the woman whom I love more than anyone in the world and the mother of my baby--will die one day.

Nice.

Posted by: Josh | July 9, 2007 12:37 PM

You better believe it!!! Wake up and smell the coffee.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 9, 2007 12:40 PM

Just a warning on making kids buy their own clothes: Hvae you seen the cheapie stores aimed at teenaged girls - cheap clothes, cheap fabrics, that make the girls LOOK CHEAP. I mean, I'm horrified by the selection of these "clothes". My husband's sister is 13 years our junior, in high school still and I want to charge her with a large mumu everytime I see her!

I now have 2 daughters. I would rather buy them nice well made clothes and teach them that it's not all about MONEY - it's also about how one presents herself.

So, if I need to plop some money down to prevent my girls from buying $5 tube tops - then so be it!!

Posted by: Anonymous | July 9, 2007 12:43 PM

Josh

"So.. what you're saying, 12:28, is that I should not be smug because my wife--the woman to whom I've devoted myself, the woman whom I love more than anyone in the world and the mother of my baby--will die one day.

Nice."

It's a fact.

Posted by: | July 9, 2007 12:40 PM

12:40 sounds like someone who lives in fear.

Josh,

Enjoy your life and your baby. You sound as though you already appreciate the good times.

Don't bother paying the troll-toll.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 9, 2007 12:43 PM

Josh

"So.. what you're saying, 12:28, is that I should not be smug because my wife--the woman to whom I've devoted myself, the woman whom I love more than anyone in the world and the mother of my baby--will die one day.

Nice."

And you aren't quite as smug as you were a few minutes ago...

Posted by: Anonymous | July 9, 2007 12:45 PM

This may be a bit of a tangent, concerning the final frontier: My wife was unhappy about something Dr. Phil (font of marital wisdom that he is) said on TV the other day. He said one ought not invest more in a relationship than one is willing to lose.

I can't say how much I disagree with this sentiment. I don't know about smugness, but my favorite aspects of my relationship with my wife come from the fact that we let ourselves love and trust each other (and our new daughter) without letting the fear of the final frontier stop us. Of course it'll be hell when one of us dies. It's not so much that we don't consider it; it's more that we do what we do in spite of it.

Posted by: Josh | July 9, 2007 12:45 PM

RE: Myth #10 Let's Give All the Perks, Benefits, Gifts, and Cash to Couples and Call It Family Values

I'm all in favor of giving benefits to those with children (married or single), but what I don't get is giving benefits to spouses who are not engaged in child-rearing.

Posted by: Diane, Baltimore | July 9, 2007 12:45 PM

"The smug rarely consider the final frontier"

Space?

Posted by: Anonymous | July 9, 2007 12:46 PM

12:40 sounds like someone who lives in fear.

Yea, I'm going to live forever!

Posted by: Anonymous | July 9, 2007 12:46 PM

"but just because you believe that clothes don't matter as long as they are clean doesn't mean that it doesn't matter to your children.

Posted by: lurker | July 9, 2007 12:34 PM

I doubt it will scar them for life to do without something fashionable. If so, they have much bigger problems than what they are (not) wearing to school."

No, it won't scar them for life. The point I was trying to make was that it will matter to some of the children no matter how much any adult teaches them that it doesn't matter.

Posted by: lurker | July 9, 2007 12:47 PM

to anon 12:28 re "Most women wind up single, whether through never marrying, being divorced or widowed (about 75% of marriages). About 25% of married men wind up being widowed. Only in a few rare cases do couples die at the same time. So married people who are smug about their married status should consider the future."

Come on! We all know that single at 70 does not equal single at 35.

Re: teenaged clothes. I was a teenaged girl. I worked to pay for my clothes. I was in an "alternative" clique. Believe me, sometimes the clothes weren't even clean, much less new or designer. Lord help my daughter if she turns out to be brand-focused, clothes hound. She will be miserable and/or working her fingers to the bone to pay for the clothes while maintaining her GPA.

Posted by: atb | July 9, 2007 12:49 PM

Seriously, what teenagers are wearing something other than jeans/khakis and a top?

I live in an extremely wealthy area and all of the teenagers walk around in jeans and a t-shirt and flip flops. True, they're from J Crew and Neiman's, but it's a look that's easily replicable at discount stores or by sales.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 9, 2007 12:50 PM

"Come on! We all know that single at 70 does not equal single at 35."

Right! It's a LOT worse! Imagine the elderly competing for sex. Yuck!

Posted by: Anonymous | July 9, 2007 12:52 PM

"She will be miserable and/or working her fingers to the bone to pay for the clothes while maintaining her GPA."

She would be miserable whether doing without or working to pay for it herself. Speaking from experience, when a teenage girl is miserable, the whole family suffers - similar to 'If Mom's not happy, then nobody's happy' :).

Posted by: Anonymous | July 9, 2007 12:52 PM

I'm all in favor of giving benefits to those with children (married or single), but what I don't get is giving benefits to spouses who are not engaged in child-rearing.

Posted by: Diane, Baltimore | July 9, 2007 12:45 PM

Are you talking about couples who haven't had a child yet, couples whose kids have reached 18 (or 21, or 22, or some other arbitrary age), or only couples who never have kids?

Posted by: Anonymous | July 9, 2007 12:53 PM

True, they're from J Crew and Neiman's, but it's a look that's easily replicable at discount stores or by sales.

Not so. Teenagers can tell the difference. Always.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 9, 2007 12:55 PM

"So.. what you're saying, 12:28, is that I should not be smug because my wife--the woman to whom I've devoted myself, the woman whom I love more than anyone in the world and the mother of my baby--will die one day."

I'm not 12:28, but yes, that would be the message. My husband, the man to whom I devoted myself and whom I loved more than anyone else, died suddenly after 14 years of marriage and I became single again for 5 years.

One of my best friends and my sister were also widowed due to illness. All of us were under 40. (And all remarried, and all know that we could be widowed again.)

Knowing this doesn't get in the way of our love for our present spouses. Knowing that "married" could become "single" very suddenly is just life.

Posted by: just the facts | July 9, 2007 12:55 PM

RE: Myth #10 Let's Give All the Perks, Benefits, Gifts, and Cash to Couples and Call It Family Values

I'm all in favor of giving benefits to those with children (married or single), but what I don't get is giving benefits to spouses who are not engaged in child-rearing.

Posted by: Diane, Baltimore | July 9, 2007 12:45 PM

I'd agree with that thought, but I'm not sure of what sort of benefits you have in mind. As I recall from last April (pre-baby), we got kind of a raw deal at tax time.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 9, 2007 12:55 PM

July 9, 2007 12:53 PM:

Those issues would have to be weighed in any policy decisions. BEcause of the huge career sacrifice involved in going into full-time parenthood, I personally think those who have raised kids up to adulthood should get continued benefits. Overall, our whole approach needs to be examined. Someone who used to live in Sweden was telling me about their system the other day, which made me reflect that the discussions on this blog consider only a tiny portions of the social options we could consider vis-a-vis work-family balance.

Posted by: Diane, Baltimore | July 9, 2007 12:58 PM

Lurker, that's how I grew up. If you're providing your kids with a safe loving home tho, I wouldn't worry too much about it. It's possibly painful to watch now, but it will definitely help them grow into adults who are confident with themselves.

Jen s: you can only control so much in your kid's lives. And not necessarily their friend's at some point-youll have to live with their possibly less than optimal choices at some point and trust you did all you could.

Posted by: atlmom | July 9, 2007 12:58 PM

"I live in an extremely wealthy area and all of the teenagers walk around in jeans and a t-shirt and flip flops."

Where I live, the girls wear jeans and spaghetti strap tank tops, or sometimes the new baby-doll style tops. Not extremely wealthy area, but fairly wealthy, and the name brands are Hollister, American Eagle, Abercrombie, J Crew. The kids absolutely recognize the "real names" vs the knock-offs.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 9, 2007 1:00 PM

Diane, Baltimore wrote: BEcause of the huge career sacrifice involved in going into full-time parenthood, I personally think those who have raised kids up to adulthood should get continued benefits.

What continued benefits do you feel they should continue to get?

Posted by: DC lurker | July 9, 2007 1:01 PM

just the facts, I'm sorry for your loss. I hope my posts didn't seen to make light of it.

I'm currently reading The Year of Magical Thinking, Joan Didion's account of her husband's death, and the prospect is simply horrifying.

Posted by: Josh | July 9, 2007 1:03 PM

"I live in an extremely wealthy area and all of the teenagers walk around in jeans and a t-shirt and flip flops."

Where I live, the girls wear jeans and spaghetti strap tank tops, or sometimes the new baby-doll style tops. Not extremely wealthy area, but fairly wealthy, and the name brands are Hollister, American Eagle, Abercrombie, J Crew. The kids absolutely recognize the "real names" vs the knock-offs.

Posted by: | July 9, 2007 01:00 PM

You know, if your child is shunned due to not wearing the "right" label, then your child is being given a gift. The gift of finding out, right away, who the real jerks are at school.

Anyone who is that controlling is someone who is going to make your kids lives miserable, in more ways than one.

I'd rather they be on the outside looking in, than trapped within the vacuous bubble of Being Popular. Besides, when you are popular, you have nowhere to go but down. And that is exactly where everyone wants you to be.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 9, 2007 1:05 PM

My sister is single, and I am happily married. She never complains about being single. She just lives her life. I sometimes wish that she would find someone to share her life with because I enjoy sharing mine with someone. But, I have never expressed that opinion to her because. First of all, it's not my place to impose my opinion, and second, she is happy with her life as it is. I don't for one minute believe that she would be happier if she were married - just as happy maybe, but in a different way.

Posted by: me | July 9, 2007 1:07 PM

Anyone who is that controlling is someone who is going to make your kids lives miserable, in more ways than one.

I'd rather they be on the outside looking in, than trapped within the vacuous bubble of Being Popular. Besides, when you are popular, you have nowhere to go but down. And that is exactly where everyone wants you to be.

Posted by: | July 9, 2007 01:05 PM

Actually, it's perfect preparation for life in the world of work.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 9, 2007 1:10 PM

"You know, if your child is shunned due to not wearing the "right" label, then your child is being given a gift. The gift of finding out, right away, who the real jerks are at school."

The kids are not necessarily being shunned, but the kids know that they aren't wearing the "cool stuff". Some kids are fine with it, but others have more oa a need to fit in. It depends on the personality of the child, in addition to how they are raised and taught that these things don't matter.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 9, 2007 1:13 PM

Hans plays with lotte, lotte plays with jane
Jane plays with willi, willi is happy again
Suki plays with leo, sacha plays with britt
Adolf builts a bonfire, enrico plays with it
-whistling tunes we hid in the dunes by the seaside
-whistling tunes were kissing baboons in the jungle
Its a knockout
If looks could kill, they probably will
In games without frontiers-war without tears
Games without frontiers-war without tears

Jeux sans frontieres
Jeux sans frontieres
Jeux sans frontieres

Andre has a red flag, chiang chings is blue
They all have hills to fly them on except for lin tai yu
Dressing up in costumes, playing silly games
Hiding out in tree-tops shouting out rude names
-whistling tunes we hide in the dunes by the seaside
-whistling tunes we piss on the goons in the jungle
Its a knockout
If looks could kill they probably will
In games without frontiers-wars without tears
If looks could kill they probably will
In games without frontiers-war without tears
Games without frontiers-war without tears

Jeux sans frontieres
Jeux sans frontieres
Jeux sans frontieres

Posted by: for the teenaged | July 9, 2007 1:16 PM

You know, with so many adults trying to keep up with the Jones' - need the right school, the right vacations (no disney, must be European travel), the right neighborhoods (diverse but no riff-raff), granite countertops, the best summer camp experiences, I find it amazing that so many think that teenage girls have the werewithal to withstand peer pressure and do so gracefully.

Posted by: lurker | July 9, 2007 1:17 PM

The key is to teach your kid to not be a sheep, looking/doing/dressing the same as your peers. Boring, boring, boring. How do you do this? I wasn't a sheep, and the reason wasn't something you "teach." My parents moved me school to school, so I was never able to fall in with a well-established clique. I will not be doing that to my kids if I can help it. It makes falling in with the bad kids WAY too easy.

Posted by: atb | July 9, 2007 1:18 PM

Josh

"I'm currently reading The Year of Magical Thinking, Joan Didion's account of her husband's death, and the prospect is simply horrifying."

Been there, done that. It's tough, but it's not the end of the world. Happiness is largely a matter of choice.


Posted by: Anonymous | July 9, 2007 1:18 PM

And those of us who opted not to have kids because they're too expensive should be punished? This is the thanks we get for making our decision BEFORE it's too late and you have to end up supporting our mistake with more welfare dollars? Thanks for thinking that we responsible people aren't worth anything.

Posted by: scooter964 | July 9, 2007 1:20 PM

"...But I did buy a bigger house to accomodate the kids which will appreciate faster than stocks or mutual funds would have-so are they making me money there?

The mind boggles..."

Posted by: atlmom | July 9, 2007 10:41 AM

If you expect your housing to appreciate faster than stocks, you are probably mistaken. The last 7 or 8 years have been nice, but historically stocks vastly outperform a house.

Posted by: dctony | July 9, 2007 1:21 PM

Thanks, Josh. You didn't seem to make light of it at all. I just wanted to make the point that it happens (and yes, it's as horrifying as you imagine). As I said, it happened to three of us, all before we turned 40. Leslie is quite right that anyone married/partnered has a very decent chance of being single again.

Posted by: just the facts | July 9, 2007 1:22 PM

"You know, if your child is shunned due to not wearing the "right" label, then your child is being given a gift. The gift of finding out, right away, who the real jerks are at school."

The kids are not necessarily being shunned, but the kids know that they aren't wearing the "cool stuff". Some kids are fine with it, but others have more oa a need to fit in. It depends on the personality of the child, in addition to how they are raised and taught that these things don't matter.

Posted by: | July 9, 2007 01:13 PM

I wouldn't buy my kids the cool stuff, live in the cool neighborhood, purchase the cool car for them, and pay for tuition at the cool university even if we could. If their respective self-esteems depend on these trappings, they need to get over it before they become insufferable, condescending, shallow, materialistic adult ninnies -- the sort no one wants to marry, date or hear whine.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 9, 2007 1:25 PM

"Josh

"I'm currently reading The Year of Magical Thinking, Joan Didion's account of her husband's death, and the prospect is simply horrifying."

Been there, done that. It's tough, but it's not the end of the world. Happiness is largely a matter of choice."

---------------------------------------

I don't believe you. I've "been there and done that," and, in my experience, it makes you less flip and more empathetic. I was young (23) and thankfully didn't have kids. It wasn't the end of the world, but it takes everything you thought of as your future and turns it on its head. It took a couple years of grief and realignment for me to "choose" to be happy again. I'm sure your just a troll, but that was ugly. Josh sounds like a committed and happy husband and father, and that he's so in touch with his love for his family is honorable and sweet and manly.

Posted by: atb | July 9, 2007 1:26 PM

anon at 1:05, while it might be a gift to find out who the real jerks are right away, it doesn't feel like a gift four years later when they're still bullying you for looking like a freak.
When you are unpopular, there is no 'rock bottom' of unpopularity... for some kids it just keeps getting worse.
I'm not saying the "right label" solves that problem, believe me. What does solve the problem, though, is learning the complex hierarchy of high school society and deciding where, or whether, you want to fit in.
It's not just the popular kids who read the semiotics of clothing and possessions (and language choices, and sports, and cars, and extracurricular activities, etc). High school is where kids learn to make judgments about other people, and by extension, how to present themselves so that others will judge them correctly.

Posted by: worker bee | July 9, 2007 1:30 PM

You know, with so many adults trying to keep up with the Jones' - need the right school, the right vacations (no disney, must be European travel), the right neighborhoods (diverse but no riff-raff), granite countertops, the best summer camp experiences, I find it amazing that so many think that teenage girls have the werewithal to withstand peer pressure and do so gracefully.

Posted by: lurker | July 9, 2007 01:17 PM

I find it amazing that you think passing on the "keeping up with the Jones' mentality" to be mandatory. My parents, and my husband's parents, raised kids who understood the value of a dollar, the value of friends, and the importance of making friends with people who care about what's on the inside. We don't pick our friends now based on the cars they drive and the clothes they wear. Our kids see our example. We would be letting them down if we gave them any other value-system for life. If they opt to believe differently, they'll have to deal with the consequences of having shallow friends all on their own.

Learning to withstand peer pressure is a key part of high school. If you are suggesting that good parents teach their kids to give in to peer pressure in all its ugly manifestations, I hope you don't have kids.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 9, 2007 1:33 PM

Dagnabit! Here's a topic I could actually contribute to, but it's already jumped the shark.

Oh well, I'll contribute anyway. I think if I looked around enough, I could have found evidence of all of these attitudes coming from people I knew--when I was only single and not a single mom. Now that I am a single mom, who has time to be wondering what people are saying.

I got an awful lot of "having children will really change your life," and "do you really know what you are getting into?" or "have you really thought this through" when I went public with my adoption plans the first time around. Well, yes, I was aware that having a child would change my life--and it was a change that I was looking to make. And no, I don't really know what I am getting myself into--any more than you did before having kids (although I was the director of a child care center, so I had more of an idea than some people did).

As for the "have you thought this through question, well, I always wanted to say, "No, I just woke up this morning and decided to adopt, so here I am bringing a baby home." The reality was that for several years I didn't do much else besides think about it. I spent so much time on the internet researching adoption, going to workshops, searching out other single adoptive parents.

As for "single women, your kids are doomed," no one who actually knows my kids ever says that. I know there are people out there who think that, but not even my cousin (who thinks I should sell Mary Kay so I can "quit my job and love [my] children the way [I'm] supposed to") would actually say it to me.

Posted by: Single mother by choice | July 9, 2007 1:44 PM

Once upon a time, teenagers wanted to be mistaken for adults in their dress and demeanor.

Why in the world are we permitting teenagers to be the standards of behaviour, dress and mores?

Posted by: Anonymous | July 9, 2007 1:45 PM

Once upon a time, teenagers wanted to be mistaken for adults in their dress and demeanor.

Why in the world are we permitting teenagers to be the standards of behaviour, dress and mores?

Posted by: | July 9, 2007 01:45 PM

It's even better than that - we are using the bogeyman of a less than thrilled teenager as a way to shame other parents into thinking that making different financial choices is unacceptable.

There's this camp of parents that finds it unacceptable when every other parent doesn't pull out the plastic to live beyond their means. They use guilt to keep the other parents in line.

Pretty sorry stuff. Kind of reminds me of high school.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 9, 2007 1:49 PM

"There's this camp of parents that finds it unacceptable when every other parent doesn't pull out the plastic to live beyond their means. They use guilt to keep the other parents in line.

Pretty sorry stuff. Kind of reminds me of high school"

And it's usually run by the former "Queen Bees" who peaked in high school and never want it to end!

Posted by: Anonymous | July 9, 2007 1:55 PM

There is a connection between these topics, by the way.

If you go through life judging people who choose differently, live differently, have different priorities than you as somehow not one of the Popular Crowd --

If you are so desparate to fit in with the Popular Crowd that you marry the man or the woman you most want to show off to your friends rather than the man or woman who treats you well--

If you stay in a lousy marriage because at least you are not -- drum roll here -- single --

you have to ask yourself, when are you going to finally grow up and start living the life you want to live for yourself, regardless of whether your choices would win a poll of your peers?

Posted by: Anonymous | July 9, 2007 1:58 PM

"Once upon a time, teenagers wanted to be mistaken for adults in their dress and demeanor.

Why in the world are we permitting teenagers to be the standards of behaviour, dress and mores?

Posted by: | July 9, 2007 01:45 PM "

Today's public discourse about adulthood is a whole lot more honest than it used to be (Exhibit A: this blog), but that means it is a whole lot less attractive to teens, who typically see things in a pretty self-centered way.

When I was a teen, I saw adults as people who were confident in themselves, had the power to change the world, and had a choice in everything (from matters as small as when to go to bed, to as large as who to marry). Once I reached adulthood I discovered that self-doubts didn't magically disappear, bills had to be paid, and choices came with consequences. Not that I'm complaining! But I can see how teens would find this version of adulthood difficult to aspire to.

Posted by: worker bee | July 9, 2007 2:00 PM

"No, it won't scar them for life. The point I was trying to make was that it will matter to some of the children no matter how much any adult teaches them that it doesn't matter."

Sure, it may matter to them, but that does not mean that you have to spend a mint to indulge it. Buy what makes sense for your budget and values. If the kid wants more, let him or her save up and buy it herself. If she complains she complains. There is no law that says you have to buy a kid everything they want. Teach them to delay gratification. They may not be too pleased now, but too bad. As parents, it is not our job to give the kids everything they want. It's our job to raise them to be responsible, self-sustaining adults. Sometimes the best decisions are not the most popular ones.

Posted by: Emily | July 9, 2007 2:00 PM

*Claps* *cheers*

Holds up sign in the endzone right in front of that John 3:16 guy: "Go EMILY!!!"

Posted by: Megan's Neighbor | July 9, 2007 2:03 PM

Sometimes the best decisions are not the most popular ones.

Posted by: Emily | July 9, 2007 02:00 PM


Holy crap, Emily! You have the ability to read minds! I think you've just intercepted George W. Bush's thoughts!!!


lol

Posted by: Anonymous | July 9, 2007 2:06 PM

Lurker thank you so much for your comments about somewhat regretting your choice to send your children to the very "best" school" rather than settling for a merely decent school - and active oversight of their education to ensure they are getting what they need. i rarely hear anyone express "buyers remorse" about this sort of thing-- but it's also as if they are so invested in the sacrifices they've made, they can't allow themselves to consider that maybe it wasn't worth it-- that maybe their kids would have done just as well in a merely "decent" school. I sure wish there were some way to know for sure what is the right thing to do.

Posted by: Jen S. | July 9, 2007 2:06 PM

"Holy crap, Emily! You have the ability to read minds! I think you've just intercepted George W. Bush's thoughts!!!"

Yikes. I take it back. I take it back. LOL

Posted by: Emily | July 9, 2007 2:11 PM

Jen S.: I think about this a lot. There is a terrific amount of pressure to be a hands-on parent in so many ways (schooling among them), and I am constantly wondering if my child would be better off -- or would learn rather valuable lessons -- if I just sort of took the path of least resistance and see what unfolds. Maybe I'm lazy, maybe I'm stupid, I don't know. Schooling around here (Wake County, NC) in particular is a bit of a drag. When I was a kid, you knew which school you'd be going to until you graduated. I have to figure out if I want my kids to go to the school they're slated for (a good school on a year-round calendar) or if I'd rather they attended a magnet school (and which one out of the 10+ options) or a charter school. I wish I didn't have to think about this stuff. Bad mommy.

Posted by: WorkingMomX | July 9, 2007 2:12 PM

--"No, it won't scar them for life. The point I was trying to make was that it will matter to some of the children no matter how much any adult teaches them that it doesn't matter."

Sure, it may matter to them, but that does not mean that you have to spend a mint to indulge it. Buy what makes sense for your budget and values. If the kid wants more, let him or her save up and buy it herself. If she complains she complains. There is no law that says you have to buy a kid everything they want. Teach them to delay gratification. They may not be too pleased now, but too bad. As parents, it is not our job to give the kids everything they want. It's our job to raise them to be responsible, self-sustaining adults. Sometimes the best decisions are not the most popular ones.--

Why is it that because I said it matters to some kids more than others, you automatically assume that I give in to it? I don't.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 9, 2007 2:13 PM

Also, Emily, if you start channeling Bush on this blog, I'm going to be very, very scared.

Posted by: WorkingMomX | July 9, 2007 2:15 PM

Sometimes the best decisions are not the most popular ones.

Posted by: Emily | July 9, 2007 02:00 PM

I nominate it for QOTD!

"Holy crap, Emily! You have the ability to read minds! I think you've just intercepted George W. Bush's thoughts!!!"

Yikes. I take it back. I take it back. LOL

Posted by: Emily | July 9, 2007 02:11 PM

Don't take it back!

Posted by: educmom | July 9, 2007 2:15 PM

Jen S.,

I've heard some version of this more than once. Depending on your social circle, many adults get a bit more honest and introspective about their choices between the time their kids hit middle school and after the graduate from undergrad. When their kids are in preschool, many parents still think all their choices are perfect or they are too danged insecure to admit their not.

I know a couple of adults who were admitted to wonderful high schools on scholarship and, while the education was phenomenal, the lifestyle gap between a child whose family is living below the poverty line and an entire school of families who take three vacations per year is vast. The educational opportunity was life-changing from an academic perspective, but didn't balance out the social gap for either of these adults.

I had a slightly difference experience. We were always house poor. I would gladly have traded 1000 square feet to live in the neighborhood where all my friends lived and to have a couple of new pairs of shoes each school year.

All things worth considering.

Posted by: Megan's Neighbor | July 9, 2007 2:15 PM

"I sure wish there were some way to know for sure what is the right thing to do."

Jen S. -- I think it very much depends on the particular family and kid in question. I went to a high school where the kids were from families much wealthier than mine. There was a certain amount of nastiness in 9th grade, but I don't think it was all related to clothing, accessories, or who had more stuff. Kids can be mean in middle school, no matter where you are or how you fit into the socio-economic scale. Ralph Lauren shirts are not going to rescue anyone from the tortures of high school cafeteria politics.

I never had all the stuff that most of my friends had, but it did not keep me from having friends or from having fun. And to this day, I remember my high school days as not only fun, but also incredibly enriching academically. So no regrets for me.

Posted by: Emily | July 9, 2007 2:17 PM

To dctony (do I have that right?):

But what if I would have just blown the money on stupid stuff rather than ivest it?

(Trying to make another joke)

Posted by: atlmom | July 9, 2007 2:27 PM

In regards to suspicious looks from spouses.

If you are married or not, I think that if you are in any way attractive, then you are considered competition. I found that any type of attention paid to another's spouse will raise the hackles of said spouse.

I cannot tell you how many times I have struck up a conversation with a fellow parishioner at church, or father at Cub-scout pack meetings and school functions, just to have the wife quickly abandon her conversation so that she could quickly slide up next to her hubby and stake her claim. I am happily married (12 years) and attend all of these functions with my own husband. I do not dress provocatively and am not overtly flirtatious. I tend to spend more time talking with women than I spend talking with the men-folk. So I cannot figure out how I am coming across as such a threat.

I guess that I should just shut up and be flattered.

Posted by: dcdesigner | July 9, 2007 2:31 PM

"In regards to suspicious looks from spouses.

If you are married or not, I think that if you are in any way attractive, then you are considered competition. I found that any type of attention paid to another's spouse will raise the hackles of said spouse."

Maybe I'm naive, but I don't consider anyone competition. I'm secure in my relationship with my husband. If I'm wrong, then I would still rather live this way than live with constant suspicion that my husband might stray.

Posted by: naive | July 9, 2007 2:35 PM

Was single in college, married for 19
years, single again now for 9 years.
Glad I was married. But I'm ecstatic that I'm single now (at age 50). And I can't think of a thing that'd change my mind and lead me to marry again. I like having my own place, my own time, my own stuff, my own retirement account, my own plans, my own LIFE. I love my boyfriend (51 y.o., never married, lives on his own) but would never live with him (or any guy, for that matter). I enjoy being with him, spending time together, but when we're apart I absolutely do not worry about him or at any time think about what he should do or what we should do as a couple (whether it's the menu for dinner that night or long-term financial planning), as do many/most married or live-together couples. All good, valid things, I suppose, but I'm done being anyone's wife/housekeeper/mom. Why mess up a great romance worrying about, thinking about, or even seeing dirty socks on the floor?

Posted by: SF Mom | July 9, 2007 2:38 PM

Naive:
Exactly the point I was trying to make. Do you know what my husband is doing while I am engaged in a conversation with others. He is usually having his own conversation with someone else, male, female, married, divorced, widowed...who cares, he is only talking with them.

Posted by: dcdesigner | July 9, 2007 2:40 PM

emily, my thing is that I think ALL schools should be academically enriching, not just the schools in the wealthy neighborhoods. no reason why that can't be the case.

I suppose I'm also influenced by something I read in Freakonomics-- that it really doesn't matter much (for most kids) where they go to school. The die is cast pretty much before the kid is even born so fussing over the details of what school they go to is wasted effort.

I'd like to belive it, but I tend to get a nagging suspicion that i could do something different that will make my child's life much better than it is. On the other hand, it seems very good right now, so why mess with a good thing?

Posted by: Jen S. | July 9, 2007 2:46 PM

"If you are married or not, I think that if you are in any way attractive, then you are considered competition. I found that any type of attention paid to another's spouse will raise the hackles of said spouse."

dcdesigner, this is a pretty broad statement for an experience that happens about once a year. If you are attractive, some will consider you competition. Most won't. Some have reason to worry about their spouse based on past experience and you are merely the latest pawn in a long running game.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 9, 2007 2:47 PM

To naive: I'm the same.

SOmeone said to me: you're crazy to have a young lady from another country living in your house (our Au Pair).

I say: My husband loves me, I love him, etc - if he wants to stray, I always have said to him (even when we were dating): go, you can't come back to me, so make your decisions wisely - but go if that's what you want.
So if he wants to stray, more power to him. I get the house, the kids, etc.

Posted by: atlmom | July 9, 2007 2:50 PM

"emily, my thing is that I think ALL schools should be academically enriching, not just the schools in the wealthy neighborhoods. no reason why that can't be the case."

I agree that they all should be. But they all aren't. And I did not live in a wealthy neighborhood. I commuted 45 minutes to a private school in DC.

Posted by: Emily | July 9, 2007 2:51 PM

"I suppose I'm also influenced by something I read in Freakonomics-- that it really doesn't matter much (for most kids) where they go to school. The die is cast pretty much before the kid is even born so fussing over the details of what school they go to is wasted effort."

Huh? All you have to do is look at the graduation rates and college acceptance rates for different schools to know that a child who attends a school with resources and where the norm is college attendance is more likely to attend college than a child who attends a school without resources and where graduating from high school is considered a major family event without an encore.

There is far too much evidence of nurture's importance to find any reasonable basis for concluding that nature is all that matters.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 9, 2007 2:52 PM

Jen S -
I have not read Freakonomics - but I am interested in the explanation behind this statement:

"The die is cast pretty much before the kid is even born so fussing over the details of what school they go to is wasted effort."

Can you explain the reasoning behind it?

Posted by: Emily | July 9, 2007 2:54 PM

Re: shopping for teenagers--my brother, who graduated HS in 2000, was a major, major clotheshorse. He ran with the coolest of the kids (bunch of jerks) and hated that he got to drive my hand-me-down car (that would be the 1982 Dodge Colt hatchback, rust and burgandy in color.) My parents told him he was on his own for shopping above a certain budget they set, which was about in line with what the other kids in the family spent. Believe me, it was not nearly enough to pay for his J-Crew-and-Abercrombie habit.

So he got a couple of jobs. My parents made him quit the first one, at an ice cream store, when they discovered that his coworkers were smoking marijuana on their breaks. He was furious, but got a new job, and it was amazing how his determination to get what he wanted translated to good shopping skills, good financial sense, and a work ethic that shocked us all. He spent his first two years at college at West Point (hard to get into, but free), learned Chinese, Japanese, and Arabic, and is working as a political intern at a US embassy for the summer before going back to school.

My point? Teaching your kids to work hard for what matters to them can have huge payoffs over the course of their lives. Even if what matters to them, at first, is kind of stupid (my take on fashion, sorry.) And being unflinching about enforcing values and family rules kept him out of a lot of trouble, although he had his wild moments as a teen.

I will add the disclaimer that results may vary. I'm not a parent, but I've seen enough children grow up to know that parenting cannot be a one-size-fits-all approach. But, for you parents keeping a hard line on your family's values and budget, it can work better than you expected!

Posted by: krasni | July 9, 2007 3:00 PM

to 2:52

No, all those things *don't* matter. Parental involvement is the NUMBER ONE thing that matters in education. The reason you think there's a correlation there is that the parents who send their kids to the 'best' schools are typically the parents who have higher education themselves, they value education, they have told their kids what's important.

So no, having the access to the 'resources' is not causation - the correlation is the parents and what the parents will do. The resources are the cause - it's the parents.

Posted by: atlmom | July 9, 2007 3:05 PM

And, Jen S. I loved the book freakonomics. It was great...

Posted by: atlmom | July 9, 2007 3:08 PM

"However, now that I'm married & with a kid I'm generally much happier. I never contemplate intentionally overdosing. I never wake up next to a stranger and wonder what the hell I'm doing with my life."

Um, I'm a single 32-yo and have never done any of these things. Am I doing something wrong? Am I a bad "singleton?"

Posted by: princeton | July 9, 2007 3:08 PM

"However, now that I'm married & with a kid I'm generally much happier. I never contemplate intentionally overdosing. I never wake up next to a stranger and wonder what the hell I'm doing with my life."

Does that mean that getting married 'cured' what sounds like some sort of depression? Or need for therapy? That is the most insane thing I've ever heard. If there's something wrong when you're single, getting married doesn't 'cure' you.

Please get some help...

Posted by: atlmom | July 9, 2007 3:13 PM

atlmom, actually, what I think is that schools matter. Parents don't control everything. Teachers can be great or lousy mentors. So can coaches. To say that the die is cost before you give birth is to say that no parental choices matter after that. Great copout, that.

It kills me to hear parents say that wish they could afford to send their kids to a good school but they just can't. Then they drive away in their red Beemers. It's all about priorities. Reading your kids bedtime stories, hovering over them while they do their homework, and taking them to the library 4 times a week isn't going to matter nearly as much as doing all of those things and sending them to a school that inspires them rather than teaches them how to steal cars.

Posted by: 2:52 here | July 9, 2007 3:16 PM

2:52: then read the book and all that it says. The biggest influence is the parents. I've always thought that, and the book uses stats to verify that.

If you show your kids what's important, they will take that to heart. You can get a good education anywhere.

The biggest factor, I would think, is that if it's a SAFE place to be - then all will be fine.

Thinking that the school has all the responsibility is just not correct. If the kid is unwilling to show up willing to learn, there's NOTHING that a good teacher can give them.

Posted by: atlmom | July 9, 2007 3:22 PM

Does that mean that getting married 'cured' what sounds like some sort of depression? Or need for therapy? That is the most insane thing I've ever heard. If there's something wrong when you're single, getting married doesn't 'cure' you.

Please get some help...

Posted by: atlmom | July 9, 2007 03:13 PM

Maybe there's a more neutral interpretation of this thought process. Some people don't care as much about consequences to themselves when their lives are only about them. Sometimes having a spouse who loves you, and/or kids who love you, encourages you to be good to yourself, to value yourself, to take care of yourself in a consistent way that you might not if it was all about you. The love of another can be a powerful curb on self-destructiveness. More innocently, love helps some people develop impulse control

Or maybe he is a mess, LOL.

Posted by: Megan's Neighbor | July 9, 2007 3:22 PM

"Reading your kids bedtime stories, hovering over them while they do their homework, and taking them to the library 4 times a week isn't going to matter nearly as much as doing all of those things and sending them to a school that inspires them rather than teaches them how to steal cars"

I'm sure that there are many schools that fall somewhere in the middle of your examples.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 9, 2007 3:22 PM

Thinking that the school has all the responsibility is just not correct. If the kid is unwilling to show up willing to learn, there's NOTHING that a good teacher can give them.


Posted by: atlmom | July 9, 2007 03:22 PM

and that's not what I said, but if you want to argue with straw men, be my guest.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 9, 2007 3:24 PM

"2:52: then read the book and all that it says."

Sheesh, Lady. I have read the book. Stop assuming that anyone who disagrees with a point you make is either uninformed or ignorant. Having a brain of my own is a handy tool.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 9, 2007 3:26 PM

Atlmom, "Please get some help?" Come on, now. I'm being truthful. Is that any way to respond?

Also, as I said above, I'm not claiming to have had a normal singlehood. And getting married did not "cure" me at all. What helped me get my life in order, was all the work I did after, and leading up to, getting married.

I'm not saying that it's true for everyone, not at all, but my personal experience has been that yes, getting married helped me sort out some issues. Committing to one person--and their reciprocal commitment to me--really helped me put my life and the decisions I was making in perspective.

It's out of fashion to say so, but the love of a good woman can go a long way.

Posted by: Josh | July 9, 2007 3:26 PM

I'm sure that there are many schools that fall somewhere in the middle of your examples.

Posted by: | July 9, 2007 03:22 PM

Of course there are. So?

Posted by: Anonymous | July 9, 2007 3:31 PM

Come on folks, maybe "cure" is hyperbole, but don't most of you know more than a few men who are much improved after they've been married? A good wife is a great influence -- is it wrong to acknowlege that?

Posted by: Arlington Dad | July 9, 2007 3:31 PM

Josh: I don't mean to offend or be mean or anything. I just would think that if you show signs of depression/unhappiness/whatever, that those would not go away just by getting married (I see people who seem to think that way). The reality is, it's great you see a bigger purpose to your life than you did before - but what happens when it's not as idyllic as you have it now? What happens if something happens to someone in your family (immediate - i.e., child, or wife - or in laws or parents or whoever)? Would you go back to the same thoughts? Would you be prone to getting back to where you are?

Clearly, therapy is not the be all and end all - plenty of people have broken bad patterns without it. It's just that noticing something is the first step to acknowledging and getting out of patterns that might be destructive.

Live and prosper...I'm happy you changed your life around - but I was thinking more of what I referred to above.

Posted by: Atlmom | July 9, 2007 3:35 PM

Um, I'm a single 32-yo and have never done any of these things. Am I doing something wrong? Am I a bad "singleton?"

Posted by: princeton | July 9, 2007 03:08 PM

No, no you're not. At some point, I will learn how to state personal truths without making it sound like they should apply to all people. Until then, please know, I don't think that what applies to me necessarily applies to all people. Nor do I know why I must type this.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 9, 2007 3:36 PM

Arlington Dad - I'm not convinced that the marriage ceremony is the key, but I agree that more than a few men AND women make better choices for themselves or at least stop making really, really bad choices, after they meet someone who loves them for themselves.

Posted by: Megan's Neighbor | July 9, 2007 3:37 PM

I was blessed with two long-lived grandmothers (my mother's mother turned 100 in January, and the party was great!) giving me positive examples of life after out-living their husbands. Both ladies were widows for at least 30 years. Both kept busy and active in their communities, and kept close ties to their children, grandchildren, and as much as possible the great- and great-great-grandchildren too.

I'm not looking forward to my hubby's passing, and hope that he beats the odds for a 50-y-o diabetic with high cholesterol. He's a good husband - perfect for me, but not for most women - and a terrific father. Someday, with a bit of luck, we'll have grandchildren, and I'm betting that he'll be the "fun-er" grandparent.

But the reality is that I'm going to be kicking around for a long, long time after he's gone. And I'll have a hard time adjusting to not being half of "Don and Sue" anymore.

But I'll adjust, just like all my female line, and life will go on.

Posted by: Sue | July 9, 2007 3:38 PM

Come on folks, maybe "cure" is hyperbole, but don't most of you know more than a few men who are much improved after they've been married? A good wife is a great influence -- is it wrong to acknowlege that?

Posted by: Arlington Dad | July 9, 2007 03:31 PM

Marriage as the equivalent of cod liver oil?

Look, saying that someone brings out the best in you is different from saying "If it weren't for you..!"

I prefer the first to the burden of the second.

Sarah Orne Jewett, anyone?

Posted by: Anonymous | July 9, 2007 3:38 PM

So if he wants to stray, more power to him. I get the house, the kids, etc.

Posted by: atlmom | July 9, 2007 02:50 PM

Does this work both ways? If you cheat on your husband, would you accept losing the house and the kids?

Posted by: Anonymous | July 9, 2007 3:39 PM

to 2:52: I'm not sure I'm convinced that the die is cast before one is born, but possibly pretty close.

And for you to be heartbroken parents can't afford the schools they want, well the private schools want you to think that. I'm not saying it's a conspiracy or anything, but the private schools are choosy about their kids (and parents) - that's why they're better, not cause they have better resources. Maybe a small part of it is that - but trust me, 98% of my classmates from high school would have gone to college without the resources of my school because the parents told their kids they were going, the parents were financing it (or many of them) the kids were highly competitive with each other, etc etc. It was only possibly slightly having anything to do with the actual school - it was the kids and the parents who made it what it was (and, of course, the teachers - but they were crawling over each other to get jobs in that school because of the all of the above).

Posted by: atlmom | July 9, 2007 3:41 PM

well, not going to cheat, so *shrug* if hypothetically it were to happen, yes, he'd take me for everything, I'm sure...

Posted by: atlmom | July 9, 2007 3:43 PM

ditto what atlmom said.

Anyway, the assumption that schools with average test scores are not inspiring but instead just teach kids to steal cars is so outrageous-- in my son's case, you are talking about a school with a high percentage of military families! They aren't inspirational? This is wartime-- this is the first day back from July 4th weekend-- you feel up to backing up that kind as assinine statement? Some of these kids are moved around constantly-- there fathers and sometimes mothers are fighting a way on the other side of the world-- gee, I wonder why they could have a difficult time getting their scores super high?

you can call me a bad parent for not sacrificing my short commute time to make the long trek out to the suburbs to place my kids at the "very best" school, but I'll be dam-ed if I'll stand by while you tarnish such children with a broad-bush.


Posted by: Jen s. | July 9, 2007 3:43 PM

"Marriage as the equivalent of cod liver oil?"

Have you been listening in on my pillow talk?

"Sarah Orne Jewett, anyone?"

No idea -- please explain the reference.

Posted by: Arlington Dad | July 9, 2007 3:45 PM

Sarah Orne Jewett, anyone?

Who???

Posted by: Anonymous | July 9, 2007 3:46 PM

Regarding the Freakanomics observation -- you know, "The die is cast pretty much before the kid is even born so fussing over the details of what school they go to is wasted effort" -- I wonder if that might be a chicken-and-egg question.
The parents who are most keenly interested in their kids' education are those same parents who put the most effort into educating their kids, in and out of school. Maybe that even extends to efforts at prenatal care. So those who read to their kids, take them to the library and zoo, etc., are also those who are most involved in making sure their kids are at the appropriate school. It might not be so much that the "die is cast" situation as a one-thing-goes-with-the-other situation. (The focus on education is not necessarily correlated with income, either.) Also, it might not be so much of a case of picking the exact "right" school as simply paying a lot of attention to what goes on in the school, whichever school that happens to be.

Posted by: anon mom | July 9, 2007 3:46 PM

Well said.

Posted by: to Jen S | July 9, 2007 3:46 PM

As with being married, there are trade offs to being single. I enjoy it some days and not others, and think it is the same as with married people.

Having a dauther, I have re-watched all of the old disney flics (she is not into princesses), and there is no wonder why there is such a romantized vision of finding and being rescued by our one true love and living happily ever after. Wish there was a single/strong woman disney movie... (or even one that does not kill off the mother)

Posted by: single mom | July 9, 2007 3:46 PM

"And for you to be heartbroken parents can't afford the schools they want, well the private schools want you to think that."

Can you actually respond to what someone says and not the argument you want to make? I'm not heartbroken, I'm offended at the hypocrisy. If you say education is the most important thing than don't put your cash under the hood. Kids watch how you spend your money more than the rubble that comes out of your mouth. If you say education is the most important thing, then make it a family priority. Or you can kid yourselves that it's the most important thing, all the while believing that biology is destiny. Like they won't catch on.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 9, 2007 3:46 PM

single mom:

Actually, I like beauty and the beast. It shows the 'tough' guy, and belle is not interested in him at all, she falls in love with the beast.

My DS has been watching that a lot lately.

Of course, you do have the 'mom isn't there' thing going on, but you can't have everything, can you?

Posted by: atlmom | July 9, 2007 3:48 PM

DC NAEYC Preschool - $16K/year
Private School in DC - $25K/year+
VA State School - tuition, room & board $14,000

= $354,000

Notice that pre-school and elementary school cost more than a decent state college? I will not be driving a luxury car nor will I be paying $250K for private school. Education is very important, but paying a lot of money does not necessarily make it that much better. I'd rather save the money give it to my child upon graduation to start a business, downpayment on a home, or travel the world... perhaps even be greedy and use it for my retirment!

Posted by: single mom | July 9, 2007 3:54 PM

Well, my mom thought education was extremely important. She wanted her kids to be the first in the family to go to college (dad's sis and bro actually graduated from college, but my dad never thought it was highly important, actually). My parents moved to a neighborhood with a top 10 high school (public or private - happened to be a public school I went to) in order for us to be at a school where 98% of the kids went to college - to put us in that environment.

There was never a question that my sisters or I would go to college. So we lived in a house my parents couldn't afford, drove old cars (not mercededes, like my friends and their parents), didn't take vacations, etc, etc , so my parents could show us what was important to them.

I'm not sure I understand being hypocritical...?

I live in an area where the schools are very good - and getting better every day as more and more parents are becoming more and more involved with the local schools (most can't afford to live in the city *and* send kids to private school any longer).

I personally am a big proponent of public schools - a more diverse (sometimes) population, creating a community/neighborhood, etc...

Posted by: atlmom | July 9, 2007 3:54 PM

Still thinking about the myths of singlehood... While I had a good laugh, I know these myths are part of what scares my mom so much about my dad's illness. She has been married since her teens, believes all the myths, and is terrified of what will happen after my dad passes.
It's a salutary lesson on balance, really--it's ironic that my mom, with an amazing marriage, has so much to fear from singlehood partly because she's devoted so much energy to her marriage over the years. She and my dad are very interdependent.
I am not sure what is better. I am much less entwined with Mr Bee; we probably don't love each other as deeply, but we have more solid foundations as individuals. I don't find the idea of being single again alarming at all, in itself--though losing Mr Bee would be very sad.

Posted by: worker bee | July 9, 2007 3:56 PM

Sorry for all the typos-- boy, that really got my Irish up!

Posted by: Jen S. | July 9, 2007 3:58 PM

"There was never a question that my sisters or I would go to college. So we lived in a house my parents couldn't afford, drove old cars (not mercededes, like my friends and their parents), didn't take vacations, etc, etc , so my parents could show us what was important to them."

Must be nice. My parents never dreamed of owning a home or a car or kids going to college. You are so naive.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 9, 2007 3:58 PM

I absolutely love Nemo. It's hilarious.
I also like Aristocats. Nothing overtly sexist in those movies, which is wonderful.

single mom - we have to start our daughters on Sex and the City for the strong single woman perspective! lol

Posted by: Anonymous | July 9, 2007 3:59 PM

Atlmom- Thanks for the well wishes. Also, you asked:

"What happens if something happens to someone in your family (immediate - i.e., child, or wife - or in laws or parents or whoever)? Would you go back to the same thoughts?"

If something happened to my wife and daughter, I imagine I might go back to the bad old ways. To be honest, though, I have a hard time worrying about me in the aftermath of that scenario. It's really too dark to contemplate. So why should I?

Seriously. As an abstract, non-me-related question: If someone feels good most of the time, is productive and creative, is making progress toward their personal life goals, how much does it matter if that success is tied to another human being?

When I was single, I felt like it was fundamentally important to do these things and accomplish these goals on my own. Now I'm not so sure of why.

Posted by: Josh | July 9, 2007 4:01 PM

I'm one of those "project" husbands. Do any of you all wives out there that frequent this blog marry one of those?

It's highly doubtful that you can fix us. But don't let that stop you from trying!

:-)

Posted by: Lil Husky | July 9, 2007 4:09 PM

I was very independent in my 20s and had a pretty good time as a single, so when I met my future husband I didn't see us becoming one of those deeply interconnected couples.
Then he was deployed to Iraq, and I was forced to imagine (and for a time, live) life without him. It was pure hell.
So for me, I guess some of those myths are true. While he was in Iraq, I was miserable and lonely, even with great support from family & friends.
Now that he's home, we keep up our own careers and hobbies and friendships, but that doesn't make us less emotionally dependent on each other. I guess I'd rather have the closeness now, and pay for it later if he's the one to go first.

Posted by: Coupled | July 9, 2007 4:18 PM

Love Freakonomics. To sum up their parenting theory: It's not the choices we make as parents, but who we are as people that determine how well our children will do in life.

So Jen S., keep your short commute.

Posted by: WorkingMomX | July 9, 2007 4:20 PM

Must be nice. My parents never dreamed of owning a home or a car or kids going to college. You are so naive.


And you are so full of sh*t. Where did you live, in Thoreau's woods in the 1800s?

Posted by: Anonymous | July 9, 2007 4:22 PM

single mom: just because the tuition is lower, does not mean that the cost is lower - the taxpayers are paying some of the cost. So it's not that it 'costs' less, it's that someone is actually subsidizing it.

not that there's anything wrong with that, but in comparing those numbers, one needs to take that into account.

Posted by: atlmom | July 9, 2007 4:26 PM

Josh,
It sounds as tho you are a very loving husband and father. I hope you are not dwelling on the fact that something bad might happen in the future as that can certainly cloud your enjoyment of the present.

Posted by: KLB SS MD | July 9, 2007 4:28 PM

Well, mom grew up with her mom and sis in a one bedroom apt that they rented. Is that okay for you?

Posted by: atlmom | July 9, 2007 4:30 PM

"Must be nice. My parents never dreamed of owning a home or a car or kids going to college. You are so naive.


And you are so full of sh*t. Where did you live, in Thoreau's woods in the 1800s?"

Umm, there are people today who don't dream of those things. Where do you live, in your protective bubble?

Posted by: Anonymous | July 9, 2007 4:31 PM

"Josh,
It sounds as tho you are a very loving husband and father. I hope you are not dwelling on the fact that something bad might happen in the future as that can certainly cloud your enjoyment of the present."

Strange how easy it is to shatter his illusion of happiness...

Posted by: Anonymous | July 9, 2007 4:31 PM

altmom - taxpayers are also paying for public school, so why not take advantage of that as well...

Posted by: single mom | July 9, 2007 4:32 PM

Josh: another perspective: what if something happens to wife or one of the kids. Sounds like you would want to be strong for either of them.

That's another idea I have, if your success is tied to someone else -that's wonderful (would that we all have special people in our lives).

I just think about you needing to be strong for others if there's tragedy in life, and you need to help the others involved.

Posted by: atlmom | July 9, 2007 4:33 PM

Anyway, the assumption that schools with average test scores are not inspiring but instead just teach kids to steal cars is so outrageous-- in my son's case, you are talking about a school with a high percentage of military families! They aren't inspirational? This is wartime-- this is the first day back from July 4th weekend-- you feel up to backing up that kind as assinine statement? Some of these kids are moved around constantly-- there fathers and sometimes mothers are fighting a way on the other side of the world-- gee, I wonder why they could have a difficult time getting their scores super high?

you can call me a bad parent for not sacrificing my short commute time to make the long trek out to the suburbs to place my kids at the "very best" school, but I'll be dam-ed if I'll stand by while you tarnish such children with a broad-bush.


Posted by: Jen s. | July 9, 2007 03:43 PM

Jen S., you might care to re-read my 3:16 post. It said nothing about your school, military families or anything of the like. It was in response to atlmom's desire to keep twisting statements into something they are not. I can't imagine what any of those statements had to do with you or your school, except for the statement you made that nothing after birth matters anyway. That's absurd.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 9, 2007 4:40 PM

single mom: no kidding - you just seemed to be comparing the college numbers to other numbers that weren't subsidized - so I was just pointing out that the cost *to you* wasn't the cost.

Cause you were also pointing out that it was less expensive for private school - which it's not, it's just that some costs are paid by others.

Posted by: atlmom | July 9, 2007 4:42 PM

I don't see how I twisted anything. I was just indicating how I disagree with you.

What matters is the parents and their values. That's what I said...

Posted by: atlmom | July 9, 2007 4:44 PM

"Cause you were also pointing out that it was less expensive for private school - which it's not, it's just that some costs are paid by others."

I think when most people speak of the cost of education, they are talking about their out of pocket cost. In single mom's example, I would agree that the cost for college is less expensive than the cost for private school.

Posted by: to atlmom | July 9, 2007 4:46 PM

"I'm not sure I understand being hypocritical...?"

It must not have been quite as crystal clear as I thought. Make whatever choices you want, but don't say that the reason your kids aren't getting a good education is that you can't afford to provide it, while you spend the family's resources on cars, vacations, handbags, the latest fitness equipment, and eating out. You can obtain a good education in many ways, but finding the way that best suits your family and your children is either a priority for your family or it isn't.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 9, 2007 4:46 PM

"You can obtain a good education in many ways, but finding the way that best suits your family and your children is either a priority for your family or it isn't. "

Who says otherwise?

Posted by: Anonymous | July 9, 2007 4:49 PM

"I don't see how I twisted anything. I was just indicating how I disagree with you."

You never do, no matter how many times someone points it out to you.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 9, 2007 4:50 PM

And we make decisions often based on the schools in our area. One reason we bought our house where we did *and* are ALREADY involved in the schools (my kid enters kindergarten in a few weeks). I know more about the schools, I think, than many of the people in my neighborhood who have several kids in them.

So maybe you weren't saying *I* was hypocritical, but I took it as such? dunno...

Posted by: atlmom | July 9, 2007 4:51 PM

"I don't see how I twisted anything. I was just indicating how I disagree with you."

Imagine living with this know-it-all....

Posted by: Anonymous | July 9, 2007 4:52 PM

how does disagreeing with someone *ON A BLOG* make one a know it all?

Posted by: atlmom | July 9, 2007 4:57 PM

then, I did know some people, whose parents moved to our neighborhood because of the great schools, so they talked the talk - but didn't really walk the walk, so to speak, in indicating to the kids that education was important.
Yes, it's anecdotal, but those were the kids more likely NOT to continue on in college even if they went for a semester or two.

So just moving to where the schools are good won't typically show your kids that education is important, and won't guarantee that they think it either.

Posted by: atlmom | July 9, 2007 5:02 PM

Atlmom, I think the anonymous troll has been looking in the mirror too much. Just ignore him or her.

Posted by: catlady | July 9, 2007 5:03 PM

4:49, look around.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 9, 2007 5:06 PM

"ause you were also pointing out that it was less expensive for private school - which it's not, it's just that some costs are paid by others."

If you're a taxpayer, you've already paid for the public schools--they're a sunk cost. Therefore, private schools are indeed an additional cost for a taxpayer than since they're paying for both even if only using one.

There is always an associated cost to any public good, but I am a private citizen so my view of "expensive" includes only additional outlays I am not already making--like taxes. I don't budget specifically for road systems, fire departments, or libraries either.

Posted by: to atlmom | July 9, 2007 5:13 PM

Atlmom, I think the anonymous troll has been looking in the mirror too much. Just ignore him or her.

Posted by: catlady | July 9, 2007 05:03 PM

how typical to comment before reading any of the related posts.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 9, 2007 5:33 PM

I'm happy, single, and wore the most dreadful clothes that my mom picked out, and got crap for it everyday. Seriously, it was terrible. Happily though, I grew up, as every child will, and aside from being more clothing obsessed than I might have otherwise been (but who knows, really?) it didn't scar me for life. Trust me, I don't have any trouble with the opposite sex now, and who needs their 12 year olds stressed about looking cute for the little boys/girls on the playground. Yikes! That's why I'm afraid to have kids...

Posted by: 2cents | July 9, 2007 5:35 PM

how does disagreeing with someone *ON A BLOG* make one a know it all?

Posted by: atlmom | July 9, 2007 04:57 PM

it's all a matter of style, and the ability to address someone's actual opinions rather than discounting a point she or he never made.

Many disagree. Only a few are know-it-alls. Screamers are 80% of the way there regardless of what they scream.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 9, 2007 5:37 PM

Thanks, catlady.

Posted by: atlmom | July 9, 2007 5:52 PM

SF Mom -- I want your life! It sounds great. And you sound very happy with it. Way to go. Life has different phases. Do you live in Summerland?

Posted by: Leslie | July 9, 2007 6:22 PM

Thanks, Leslie, for posting about SINGLED OUT, and thanks to the many people who have contributed to this lively discussion! Here are a few thoughts about some of the themes that have come up.

1. About HAPPINESS, in Chapter 2 of Singled Out, I go over some of the best research on whether getting married makes you happy. The best study has been ongoing for 18 years and counting and has followed thousands of people. It shows that people who get married become slightly happier around the year of the wedding - a honeymoon effect - then they go back to being as happy or as unhappy as they were before. And that's only for the people who got married and stayed married during the entire length of the study. Those who got married and then divorced did not even enjoy a honeymoon effect; they were already becoming slightly less happy as their wedding date approached.

It is important to note that the results of all of these studies are based on averages. So there will be many people who are exceptions - for example, people who marry and do become happier. But the averages indicate that the people who marry and become happier are balanced by about the same number of people who marry and become less happy.

2. About whether singles are IRRESPONSIBLE and care for no one other than themselves: New research from two national studies suggests that just the opposite may be true. Americans were asked how often they visited, supported, contacted, helped (etc) siblings, parents, friends, and neighbors. People who had always been single were MORE likely to maintain connections and to help others than were people who were currently or previously married. So single people are not turning America into a nation of isolates; instead, singles are providing a lot of the social glue.

3. About CHILD CARE tax benefits: my own opinion about this is that people who are dependent on others - not just children but also those who are seriously ill or disabled - deserve to lead a dignified life and I am happy to pay taxes to help support them. I think that those who care for the needy and dependent should have what they need to lead a good life, too.

4. About needing CHILDREN to care for you in OLD AGE: I agree with the people who have pointed out that no one can count on this anymore. More and more adults are opting not to have children, and of those who do have children, family sizes are not what they once were. Even those who do have grown children may find that they live hundreds of miles away, or are otherwise preoccupied. What many single people have found is that their friends are there for them (and vice versa). Many single people, rather than being "alone," have actually maintained a whole network of people important to them. So, rather than investing all of their emotional capital into one person and hoping that person does not turn out to be Enron, they maintain a diversified relationship portfolio. That leaves them less vulnerable over the long run. (Of course, the many coupled people who do not buy into the "you are my everything" myth can also have circles of people who care about them.)
Again, thanks for the great discussion.

--Bella DePaulo

Posted by: Bella DePaulo | July 9, 2007 6:27 PM

Fred's Quote of the Day

Marriage as the equivalent of cod liver oil?


(Nearly fell out of the creepy van on this one!)

Frieda says, "Marriage is good for all men!"

Posted by: Fred | July 9, 2007 8:57 PM

Frieda said that marriage is good for women "if men behave!"

Posted by: Fred | July 9, 2007 8:58 PM

P.S.

Frieda is not saying that women need to be married if they don't want to

Posted by: Fred | July 9, 2007 9:28 PM

Goodnight, guys and gals. Thanks, Bella!

Posted by: Leslie | July 9, 2007 11:23 PM

FYI,
The correct word isn't childless; its child-free.

Posted by: Sandy Eggo | July 12, 2007 5:39 PM

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