Thursday, August 31, 2006

Dialectic vs. Dialectic

I was amused to run across this post at Daddytypes, about dialectics in the film Half Nelson. Includes a list of dialectics for kids resources (?!) that perhaps I should stick in ye olde blogroll...maybe I also need to see Half Nelson...

I'm also including with this post a picture of my beautiful wife and son...cause I feel like it and I want the world (that's you) to know how beautiful they are.

The City vs. Kids

This afternoon for lunch (I'm working today) I stopped by a playground near San Francisco's City Hall. I walked right past a sign that said, "NO ADULTS WITHOUT A CHILD," figuring that since I'm a dad the prohibition didn't apply to me. I sat down and opened a book.

A group of street people sat nearby, inside the playground gates. They were mostly minding their own business, although they also dominated that half of the playground. A grandmotherly woman walked up to me. "You should leave," she said, obviously nervous at confronting me. "This is a place for children, and your presence here violates the sanctity of the place - and the same goes for those people over there."

She was right, and I told her so. I closed my book and left. She didn't ask the street people to leave, for obvious reasons. Perhaps I should have; maybe I should have found a cop.

Dealing with homeless people, drunks, crazies, and junkies is a part of playground life in the city. This past Sunday I brought Liko to Mission Dolores park. There a drunk took it upon himself to regulate the children's play. He told one boy to get down from the monkey bars; he told a girl to give a toy back to the boy she took it from. The parents avoided eye contact and they kept their kids away, which is just about all parents can do in such situations. You learn that it doesn't pay to be confrontational, especially with your kid present. Better to just ignore them until they go away, and hope no one crosses a line.

That very afternoon, after a nap, we went to a completely different playground in Noe Valley - a mommy friend called to see if we could meet her and her boy there. Noe Valley's a pretty safe neighborhood, but when we got there we discovered a homeless-looking guy sleeping on the grass. "He was making me nervous," said the mommy, which is why she called us. Not nervous enough to leave the park; if you left every park where a drunk is sleeping on the grass, your kid wouldn't have anywhere to play.

Later the guy woke up and wandered directly into the playground, which is about the size of a postage stamp. He turned out to be a raving lunatic. He babbled to the kids and wandered in a circle around us. We followed procedure, avoiding eye contact, etc. It was a difficult situation, but eventually he wandered out into the street, where he was almost run down by a car. (By the way: all the drunks and crazies mentioned in this post were white guys, in case anybody is harboring an image in their heads of dark-skinned urban predators.)

This is the sort of thing that horrifies suburbanites and turns progressive moms and dads into the kind of people who vote for Rudy Giuliani: on the playground you find yourself wishing for a cop, though of course there never are any. In the absence of law and order, you contemplate abandoning the urban commons and moving to the privatized suburbs, where kids play in backyards or in malls that charge admission to indoor playgrounds. Where you can buy a house. Where the schools have doors on the bathroom stalls.

I'm not sure that I have an intelligent conclusion to share, but it troubles me and so I want to write about it. I'm a committed urban blue-state dad: I want my son to grow up in a place where cosmopolitanism and cross-pollination are facts of life. But sometimes, I wonder if it's worth it. And sometimes, I even wonder if people like Giuliani are right about what it takes to run a city that is fit for kids to live in.

Monday, August 28, 2006

What Dads Want to Do vs. What Dads Need to Do

From a press release:

Being a father has little effect on men's working patterns, in spite of the fact that they cut back their working hours for a short time after a new child is born, according to Economic and Social Research Council funded research at the University of Bristol. "There is no evidence that 'new,' involved fathers are adopting a 'female model' of parenthood, with part-time work and high levels of child care," says sociologist Dr Esther Dermott, who conducted the research...

"It seems that fathers don't want to work fewer hours," says Esther Dermott. "What professional men value most about their jobs is their ability to control their working hours so that they can leave early to go to school functions or parents' meetings - and this flexibility was also what other men most wanted..."

Data analysis showed that around a quarter of men wanted to work fewer hours: less than one per cent wanted to increase their hours and the remainder wished to maintain the status quo. These preferences did not change when the men became fathers. They did not want to work shorter - or longer - hours.

"These conclusions are significant and interesting," writes author Dave Hill in the U.K. Guardian. "But do they mean that New Dad is, and always will be, a myth and a fantasy? Predictably, those obsessed with reinforcing and policing what they regard as 'natural' and 'traditional' boundaries between the sexes have been excitedly spinning that this is so, and using them as a stick with which to beat 'family-friendly' measures such as state-funded paternity leave."

It doesn't surprise me at all, that the U.K.'s homegrown convervatives would use the results to attack paternity leave; the Bristol study, which relies on data from the British Household Panel Survey and interviews with 25 "professional and managerial" fathers, appears to be filled with wrong-headed assumptions and conclusions.

For example: "There is no evidence that 'new,' involved fathers are adopting a 'female model' of parenthood." But do most new fathers have any choice? If new dads will be penalized at work (and in society) for adopting female models of parenthood, then obviously they will avoid the penalties. In fact, I'm sure many dads are terrified by the prospect of a reduction of hours that might push their families even closer to the financial edge. I asked Dermott (in an email) if her study addressed the question of what dads might want to do vs. what dads need to do - she didn't respond, but I have a feeling that the answer is no.

Another major flaw: the study looks at one narrow area (and only 25 professional dads, at that!), draws a sweeping conclusion, but does not take account of other factors and studies that might complicate the conclusion. "The time British dads spend with their kids has risen eightfold over the last 30 years," reports Newsweek International. "Today, 79 percent say they'd be happy to stay at home" with their kids. This isn't just talk: there are at least 155,000 stay-at-home dads in the U.K., a number that increases every year (while in the U.S., the number of SAHDs has doubled over the past decade). How might those numbers change Dermott's conclusions?

It seems to me that in fact more and more men are adopting what Dermott calls the "female model" of parenting - actually, it might be more accurate to speak of a "third way" that assumes men and women have an equal capacity to contribute to the financial and domestic integrity of the family.

But perhaps my biggest criticism of the study (as described in the press release) is that it acts like business is going on as usual, when in fact it announces something quite revolutionary. More and more men are joining women in challenging the "ideal worker" model, which Elizabeth at Halfchanged World describes as "the idea that employers are entitled to employees who are largely unencumbered by family responsibilities, who don't have to run out the door in the middle of the day when the daycare calls because a child is sick, who can stay late without hesitation." While men in the U.K. might not be adopting the "female model" of parenting, they are certainly rejecting the "ideal worker" model that says they must live for work. Flextime and paternity leave are only the minimum; families need much more.

On that note: I recently received a white paper from the Center for Law and Social Policy on flexible work. The author Jodi Levin-Epstein notes that "workers’ access to paid leave and flexible scheduling has declined in the United States, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, even as these issues have gained attention. The United States lags behind many other nations that have enacted paid leave laws and promoted flexible scheduling." She ends with a Christmas list of policy recommendations that would give a majority of workers, male and female, flexibility at work - all of which I'd like to see made law tomorrow. Of course, with the current "family-friendly" Bush administration, I doubt any of these proposals will get a serious hearing.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Some thoughts on time and kids

Time's a funny thing. It seems like before we had kids, we were in this timeless bubble. We'd go out to plays and dances and clubs and bars whenever we wanted. We'd travel, we'd just hang out, we were a cool young couple going out on the town. There was a cafe/restaurant down the street from our apartment owned by an Iraqi guy who loved the fact that we were this young couple in love, and would give us cardamom-laced coffee on the house. Life was good, and it seemed like it would go on forever.

Having kids ends that timeless phase, and the clock starts ticking as soon as the little one comes along. Don't get me wrong, I love being a dad, and wouldn't trade it for anything. But here I am, 15 years older than I was when I was last childless, now a late 40-something instead of an early 30-something. I still can't believe my daughter is starting 10th grade, or that all the kids I met when she was in kindergarten are also now 10th graders. Kids I remember just yesterday being toddlers are suddenly fifth graders.

The time has flown in some ways, in other ways it seems like my daughter's birth took place in another era. I realize that seven years ago my daughter was 8 and my son was 5; seven years from now, she'll be 22 and he'll be 19. It'll be a different world. And by the time my son finishes college, I'll be in my mid-50s. Yikes!

The dads I see now with little babies and toddlers are so young. I identify with them, but on the other hand I realize they're from another generation, probably born when I was in high school. I remember that when my kids were that age, older kids and teenagers were in another universe, they weren't on my radar screen, and I don't think I even knew any parents of older kids.

In a way, I think maybe being a parent is the time in the bubble, but not a timeless bubble. We popped into that bubble in our early 30s, and will pop out in our early 50s. We'll be the same, yet fundamentally changed. We'll once again have our time all to ourselves, and be able to do whatever we want whenever we want, but we won't be that young cool couple anymore, we'll be that old couple, and I don't know if old couples can be cool...

Cross posted at daddychip2

Trust the Man vs. Mr. Mom

It just hit me. We've been doing this all wrong. Dads advocating for other dads to stay at home with their kids (or at least take more of a role in childrearing) have been yammering on about the emotional and spiritual benefits, being close to your kids, blah blah blah.


Instead we should be talking about all the great sex stay-at-home dads can have! The "Mr. Mom" image of the bumbling, fish-out-of-water stay-at-home dad is out. Today's Mr. Mom is living la vida loca!

In the new movie Trust the Man and the forthcoming movie Little Children, stay-at-home dads get to watch porn all day and have torrid affairs with really hot (but curvy - that's how you can tell she's real!) mommies like Kate Winslet. Finally, Hollywood is telling the truth about stay-at-home daddyhood!

I feel like these movies could be documentaries about, you know, my life, and stuff.

I'm telling ya, these movies are going to recruit more dads to our cause than any ten pious blog entries about the joys of diaper-changing. Dads, let's drop the posturing and really speak to what most guys care about: sex.

Sex, sex, sex!

Whoo hoo!

Monday, August 21, 2006

Jeremy vs. the X-Men

“Cyclops, Storm, Nightcrawler, Wolverine, Colossus. Children of the atom, students of Charles Xavier, MUTANTS – feared and hated by the world they have sworn to protect. These are the STRANGEST heroes of all!”

Image: Middle of the night. Jean Grey – the Dark Phoenix – returns home to Annandale-on-Hudson. She embraces her father.

Father: “This is fantastic! My goodness, girl, we haven’t heard from you in weeks! Why didn’t you write or call? Elaine! Sarah! Come Downstairs! Look who’s here!”

Dark Phoenix (thinking): “Oh, no! Please, no! My telepathic power is so sensitive, I can’t block out Dad’s thoughts. He’s an open book to me! Nothing’s secret, nothing’s sacred, anymore!

Mother: It's wonderful to see you, dear...You look thin, Jean. Are you eating enough?

Dark Phoenix (thinking): I can read Mom’s love for me, her concern. But beneath that – buried so deeply she probably isn’t even aware the feeling exists – she’s scared of me.”

--from Uncanny X-Men No. 136: “Child of Light and Darkness”

Lately, I've been thinking and writing a lot about comic books. I read comics from the ages of 11 to 14, when I was a bookish social outcast in Saginaw, Michigan. When my family moved to Florida, I suddenly stopped reading them. (I also stopped running track, drawing, and playing the flute. In Florida I discovered punk rock, black clothes, and the joys of hanging out with other outcasts, and I didn't have time for much else.)

Years went by. I sold my comic book collection. I ended up in San Francisco. Along the walk between my house and my old office there was a comic book store, which I ignored until Liko was born. A month later, I found myself going in and browsing. The proprietor, a rotund black man with a beard like Karl Marx’s, watched me warily, like an unwanted houseguest. The new titles were displayed in the front of the store along a junkyard of racks; the rear was filled with paperbacks piled to the ceiling. During my first visit I tried to extricate one.

"Do you know how to put that back?" asked the proprietor, hands quivering, eyes almost fearful.

"Sure," I said. I started to put the title back in its stack but the proprietor snatched it from my hand.

"You’re not doing it right!" he shrieked.

For the rest of the day, I thought back on this encounter with a combination of bemusement and annoyance. Later, after I visited other stores in the Bay Area, I realized that this dude was a fairly typical example of a comic dealer - they all have the personalities of shut-ins and treat their disheveled shops like inviolable Fortresses of Solitude.

But I kept coming back. His distrust never wavered and I never saw another customer in the store. I found the titles of my pre-pubescence – Frank Miller's run on Daredevil, the classic Dark Phoenix saga, and the first 40 or so issues of the New Teen Titans, as well as random old favorites like Rom: The Space Knight and Jack Kirby's Kamandi: The Last Boy on Earth. I started to buy the omnibus paperbacks, one a week, in which many of these stories are collected.

Faintly embarrassed, I’d hide my acquisitions from Shelly, and in the dead of night I'd read them, sometimes with the newborn Liko cradled in the other arm. At 11 years old, the art had seemed fluid and beautiful to me, but as I re-read the stories, it took only the smallest effort to see through the action to how stiff and shallow the figures and backgrounds were. At times I giggled aloud at the ponderous solemnity of the dialogue, particularly in Chris Claremont's X-Men.

But I was transfixed by the stories. I've never been good at remembering my childhood; at times it seems to me that I slept, like an astronaut in suspended animation, through my first decade-and-a-half of life, only to wake at 14 or 15 on a strange alien planet called Florida. Reading the X-Men, however, I found that I remembered the stores in Saginaw where I’d gone to buy comic books.

The first was a convenience store that I could reach on my Huffy, where the comics had been displayed in a revolving rack near the entrance. I'd loiter there munching on Twinkies and flipping through the pages; I don't ever remember the clerk telling me to get lost. I also bought comics at a specialty store called The Painted Pony, somewhere in downtown Saginaw. I remember the owner as a middle-aged, hunchbacked homunculus. He wore glasses that always sat at a tilt on his nose, whose lenses were so thick that they warped his eyes into ever-changing funhouse shapes. Was he really so grotesque, or are my memories distorted by childish perception?

One day after a trip to the Painted Pony, my dad asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up.

"I’d like to own a comic-book shop," I said.

My dad was silent as he drove through downtown.

"Are you sure?" he finally said. "Look at that guy in that funny-book store I take you to. [My dad always called them "funny books."] Do you really want to end up like him?"

"What's wrong with him?" I wanted to know.

In general, my parents did not approve of my "funny book" habit. I think they saw comics as violent and emotionally unhealthy, and they were rightfully nervous about the social (anti-social?) milieu that surrounds the buying and selling of comics. But in reading the same comic books as a new father during the past two years, I've remembered many things about my comic-reading years that were previously lost to me. It's helped build a connection to my childhood that I think I need as a dad.

What really strikes me about these old stories, however, is how much, and what, they have to say about being a child and being a parent. Ninety percent of comic books are crap (Sturgeon's Law: 90 percent of everything is crap), "but the remaining 10 percent is worth dying for." True enough. A series like the Dark Phoenix saga reads - I'm being completely serious - like a paradigmatic new myth about the inevitability of loss and the responsibilities that come with power. The parent-child relationship is at the center of the myth.

When Jean Grey discovers that her mother is secretly afraid of her - and parents, admit it: we're all a little bit afraid of our children - it's a terrifying moment for the child. "Behold your creation, Charles Xavier!" says Jean to her surrogate father, the leader of the X-Men, before she tries to kill him. Children represent the future, but they also evoke our mortality. In the end, the entire X-Men series - which tells the story of the next stage in human evolution - is about accepting change, loss, and renewal. (Which, come to think of it, is probably why the Phoenix image has become so central to the series.)

Such were the lessons imprinted on my tender, confused little brain. During the past two years, I've broadened my reading and brought myself up to date in the state of comic book art. I've found that comics have matured and dramatically improved in terms of writing, art, and sophistication - in fact, most comics these days seem much more directed to adults instead of kids.

James Robinson's Starman series, which is thematically focused on the relationship between fathers and sons, was one of the first new titles I encountered. The last five issues of the 80-issue series are stunning, especially when viewed through the lens of Daddy Dialectic's themes. Jack Knight, who inherited his father's mantle as the superhero Starman, himself becomes a father. Jack's dad, the original Starman, dies, and so does the baby's mother.

Instead of retreating into superhero fantasy, Jack becomes a stay-at-home dad. "My son is more my life than...crime-fighting," says Jack. In the panels of the comic book, we see an exhausted Jack changing, feeding, and burping the baby, often in the dead of night, surrounded by laundry and dirty dishes. "My boy needs feeding. He needs changing. My boy needs love so he can begin to understand I'm his dad and not just some weird guy he got stuck with. He cries for his mom. He misses her. I cry too sometimes for my losses."

Later Jacks seeks the counsel of Superman. "I have a son," he tells the Man of Steel. "He needs me now. I don't want him to become an orphan. And... I don't know... something's gone. Some part of me. I'm not motivated like I was. Suddenly there's an unknown vista ahead and none of them involve crimefighting. Is that wrong?" He asks Superman's permission to quit. "You met evil with valor," Superman replies. "Now let others."

You have to understand: at the moment I read this, I was thinking of quitting full-time work and staying home with Liko. I can't say that I ever "met evil with valor," but I know exactly what Jack is talking about when he says, "I'm not motivated like I was." And it was incredibly moving to me to see such an accurate picture of parenting in a comic book: not a romanticized, fantastic picture, but gritty and real. In the end Jack does quit. He packs a station wagon and drives with his son to San Francisco, queer capital of the world.

Think about it, folks: this is a fucking comic book that shows a man giving up his profession so that he can stay at home with his baby. Back in the Golden Age, Superman never would have done that. The superheroes of his time were muscle-bound warriors, not stay-at-home caregivers. In the end, giving it all up for his child is the most heroic thing Jack can do. It seems fitting that a father-figure like Superman guides Jack in that direction; it feels like a watershed.

What if I had read that when I was 14? What if such images became commonplace in our culture?

Monday, August 07, 2006

peein like a boy

hey everyone -- sorry i've been a bit silent -- summer is always more hectic then i plan for...but it's been one that i learned an incredible amount of humility, patience, and the utmost respect for friendship in difficult times; i've dealt with my son's arrest, my daughter's desire for a bra-lette, my youngest daughter’s on going attempts to pee like a boy...

but i did manage to get rad dad 4 out and boxcutter 13 so read'um and weep

i also want to add that i will be at the sf zine fest aug 9 and 10th and would love to meet and talk with others out there in the real world

until then write something for rad dad 5 – i dare you and i’m, off to the jungles of chiapas for two weeks with my son – wish me luck

tomas moniz

here’s the intro to rad dad 4:

a just gettin by dad

One thing I do not enjoy is the limelight. I hate when someone I know introduces me and says, he’s the guy that does rad dad; you two need to talk and then walks away. I feel like I need to be The Rad Dad, have some eloquent spiel prepared about perfect parenting and how few mistakes I’ve made. And we ALL know that shit ain’t true. What I really feel like is a phony, especially when I’m introduced to someone while I have a beer in one hand, or it’s 1:30 in the morning at a bar, or my kids are off somewhere in the world while the person I’m introduced to has a six month old in his hands. I smile.

And talk about mistakes. Yes, my son still smokes pot and I am aware of it, but really what can I do? Yes, I believe my boy is amazing and I am so proud of him and encourage him to keep on skating and doing graffiti. And then he gets arrested for it. What do I say now? I told you so, just don’t cut it. The other day my partner confided in me that a close friend of hers was giving her hell about us not doing more with our son. Or to him. Or for him. Are we not? What can we do, I wondered: send him away, or let him continue unchecked, unabated. Balance. There needs to be balance. We can be honest with him about our fear, our displeasure, and we can trust him to deal with the consequences. He said he is willing to face them, but when those consequences include juvenal hall? Balance...

I often repeat a phrase that China Doll shares in her zine The Future Generation (one of the only other parenting zines I’ve come across that deals with parenting a teen) get tough skin, keep asking them to do things, and then trust. That’s balance. But it is hard to share that with people who think I am making a mistake though.

My middle daughter is reading a book about the coming of age story of a queer woman of color. She asks me sitting at the gelato store within earshot of countless others what queer means and what a strap-on is. At that moment the whole place seems to fall silent. I don’t feel like a rad dad then. Well..., I start off hoping I am doing more good than bad.

So let’s say instead of a rad dad, I am a making-do dad, a just getting by dad, a motherfucking grumpy dad. But I also know that I am a dad with friends, I am a dad with adults who trust me, believe in me, who got my back. I am ultimately a dad like so many others out there who believe in my kids, believe in all kids, believe that there is a better world possible and it can start now: during the car rides I share to the beach, on the living room floor making puzzles with my love\r and her kids, on bike rides down the coast of Oregon with my babies’ mama even though there are no kids around, as we look out and say our kids would love this and we plan for the future.

The time is now; let me know you are out there and that you give a damn. Welcome to rad dad #4

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Mommy wars vs. daddy wars

Elisa over at Mother Talkers recently posted on a Salon article that asked whether we're going to see "daddy wars." My hunch is that the answer is no.

When I think of all the stay-at-home dads — or even really involved dads — that I know, none of them are parenting like the overachiever moms described by Judith Warner. These dads aren't overscheduling their kids or parenting in what Warner described as an “excessive, control-freakish way." They're not fixated on the choices of other dads (or moms for that matter), and don't feel the need to "prove" they are better parents.

Why is that?

Why would men, who are raised in and subjected to the same societal expectations and definitions of success, but who decide to stay home with the kids, have such a different parenting style?

My best guess is that it is all about different gender expectations and the different pressures men and women face in our competitive, individualistic society, and especially in the context of middle and upper-middle class America.

A dad who decides to stay home full-time with his kids has to make a major identity shift. He has to reject society's expectations of him as a male, and change his identity from one focused on "achieving" in a material sense to one focused on "caring." He's giving up a career, money, status and prestige, in short, everything by which our society defines success, in order to care for his kids.

(Of course he still has his male privilege, that is, he still knows that, push comes to shove, he's still a guy, that society values him as a guy, and he can choose to get back into the professional workforce somehow.)

The SAHD has already decided to reject society's definition of "achievement" and "ambition," he's already surrendered himself to a different mode of being. So his time with his kids reflects that different mode.

No need to be the perfect overachieving dad. No need to overschedule the kids, no need to compete with other dads (or moms), no need to prove in the realm of parenting that he's successful in those traditional terms. Dad can accept that parenting is not about ambition and achievement because he's had to move to a different place in order to be a SAHD.

If a mom decides to stay home full-time, it's also a serious, hard decision. Like the dad, she too is giving up career, money, status and prestige. For these moms too a key part of their identity is society's definitions of achievement and ambition. As Warner explains,

We saw ourselves as winners. We'd been bred, from the earliest age, for competition. Our schools had given us co-ed gym and wood-working shop, and had told us never to let the boys drown out our voices in class. Often enough, we'd done better than they had in school. Even in science and math. And our passage into adulthood was marked by growing numbers of women in the professions. We believed that we could climb as high as we wanted to go, and would grow into the adults we dreamed we could be.

She's clearly talking about a class-specific group here, but let's set that fact aside for the moment (since many SAHDs are from that same class).

For women from this class background, maybe it is much harder to make the shift that the SAHDs have made. Success for women of this class is defined in the traditional masculine, materialistic way: power career, climbing the professional ladder, high-status jobs, more money, high-status lifestyle.

This is a big change from the past, when expectations for women were quite different, when women were oppressed by a traditionally subordinate and dependent role. So we have progressed as a society because women can now be as ambitious and successful as men.

But do they have a choice? Can a woman feel successful if she does not meet the traditional masculine measures of achievement and success in our competitive, materialistic society?

I think maybe that it's hard for these women to do what the SAHD's do (that is, shift out of this achievement mode), because for women, more is at stake. Foresaking a career and the dominant definitions of achievement seems to mean reverting to that oppressed, traditional role described so well by Betty Friedan. And once you revert, there's no going back.

So maybe what's happening among some women is that they are hanging onto society's definition of ambition and success, and just transferring it to their roles as moms. That definition of ambition and success is so central to their identities, in part because if they give it up they fear reverting to the old, oppressed roles and identities described by Friedan.

So momming becomes competitive, it becomes focused on achievement, especially achievement of their kids as the measure of their own success.

I think since the stay-at-home dads have had to make a decision to downshift, and because they have that male identity to fall back on, they are in some ways more able to shift into that non-achievement oriented mode of caring, outside of and different than the competitive definition of "success" that dominates our society.

The question then becomes, how can women downshift without reverting to the past. How can they do what SAHDs have done, how can they come to terms with an identity that is not in line with society's definition of "success" and "achievement," how can they shift to an identity that values caring and defines success in noncompetitive and nonmaterialistic ways? I do know some SAHMs who seem to have done that, who are not parenting in the ways described by Warner. While they are highly educated, they also tend to be much more counter-cultural than Warner’s moms. I’m not sure, this seems like it would be a great area for some research.

On a final note, Warner is right about the need for societal support for families and children. But based on the above hunches, I don't think that alone would do anything at all to relieve the anxieties and overachieving parenting style of the moms she focuses on.

What it would do is provide needed support and relief to moms and dads who just want to spend more time with their kids. And that's an important first step.

Reposted in slightly revised form from daddychip2