The hardest part of being a mom

I loved this column by Judith Shulevitz that ran back on Mother’s Day as I think it is so spot-on and I’ve been meaning to give it a post ever-since.  The basic idea, is that regardless of the time breakdown of household responsibilities, far more often than not, it is mom who is actually in charge, and there’s lots of added stress that comes with that:

Sociologists sometimes call the management of familial duties “worry work,” and the person who does it the “designated worrier,” because you need large reserves of emotional energy to stay on top of it all.

I wish I could say that fathers and mothers worry in equal measure. But they don’t. Disregard what your two-career couple friends say about going 50-50. Sociological studies of heterosexual couples from all strata of society confirm that, by and large, mothers draft the to-do lists while fathers pick and choose among the items. And whether a woman loves or hates worry work, it can scatter her focus on what she does for pay and knock her partway or clean off a career path. This distracting grind of apprehension and organization may be one of the least movable obstacles to women’s equality in the workplace…

No matter how generous, “helping out” isn’t sharing. I feel pinpricks of rage every time my husband fishes for praise for something I’ve asked him to do. On the other hand, I’ve never gotten around to drawing up the List of Lists and insisting that we split it. I don’t see my friends doing that either. Even though women tell researchers that having to answer for the completion of domestic tasks stresses them out more than any other aspect of family life, I suspect they’re not always willing to cede control.

Hey, liberated men out there who do have the housework and child-rearing– does this sound like you?  Probably.  I’ll admit it sounds awfully familiar around here.  Though, in fairness, part of that is my preternaturally low set point for anxiety and worry.

Speaking of worry, Shulevitz continues:

No matter how generous, “helping out” isn’t sharing. I feel pinpricks of rage every time my husband fishes for praise for something I’ve asked him to do. On the other hand, I’ve never gotten around to drawing up the List of Lists and insisting that we split it. I don’t see my friends doing that either. Even though women tell researchers that having to answer for the completion of domestic tasks stresses them out more than any other aspect of family life, I suspect they’re not always willing to cede control…

ALLOW me to advance one more, perhaps controversial, theory about why women are on the hook for what you might call the human-resources side of child care: Women simply worry more about their children. This is largely a social fact. Mothers live in a world of other mothers, not to mention teachers and principals, who judge us by our children. Or maybe we just think they’re judging us. It amounts to the same thing. But there is also a biological explanation: We have evolved to worry.

Evidence from other animals as well as humans makes the case that the female of the species is programmed to do more than the male to help their offspring thrive. Neurological and endocrinological changes, the production of hormones such as oxytocin and estrogen during pregnancy and after birth, exert a profound influence over mothers’ moods and regulate the depth of their attachment to their children.

Hey, it’s not my fault– it’s evolution!

Anyway, I think this is fascinating stuff and it’s going into my next Gender & Politics syllabus.  It also reminds me of some of my own research from back when Laurel and I conducted our own survey on parenting.  Here is the section from the appendix from the book chapter where we discuss our Parental Involvement Index:

Parental Responsibility: “Below are various tasks parents do on behalf of their children. Please tell us whether these tasks are all your responsibility, mostly your responsibility, roughly equal responsibility, mostly another’s responsibility, or all another’s responsibility.” (1) “Making social arrangements for your children, such as play-dates, planning activities, making appointments, and arranging transportation for activities”; (2) “Making decisions regarding your children’s health care needs”; (3) “Helping children to learn or helping with homework”; (4) “Making decisions about child care and schooling”; (5) “Setting limits and disciplining”; (6) “Planning appropriate meals and buying food for your children”; (7) “Nurturing your child and tending to their emotional needs.” Each item coded from 1, all another’s responsibility, to 5, all own responsibility. Index is mean response to the six items. Parental-Involvement Index: Standardized nonworkday hours + standardized parental-responsibility index. Rescaled for a minimum value of 1. Range from 1 to 8.91.

And here’s the table with the results:

PI

What I also really remember was pre-testing these items on people I know– both halves of a married couple– and having the man answer that he was doing an equal share whereas the woman would say she was doing more than an equal share.  I suspect that a fair amount of that comes from the worry disparity.

I think the big picture here is that genuine equality in child-rearing requires not just the time spent, but the worry work.  And that is not going to be a simple thing to equalize.

Quick hits (part I)

Didn’t blog much at the beach, but still read lots of good stuff.  Many quick hits coming at you.

1) Really liked this perspective on Galileo— he was not as right as you think nor his critics as wrong.

2) Nice N&O Editorial on the latest example of NC Republicans deciding that local government is best– except when it is electing Democrats.  When Jesse Helm’s chief adviser says you’ve gone too far, you’ve probably gone too far.   And Thomas Mills on the travesty that is the NC Senate:

House Speaker Tim Moore came to power promising to show that the GOP could govern. Unfortunately, it’s not to be. The ideologues in the Senate are too busy micromanaging local governments and sticking square pegs into round, free-market holes to pay attention to what’s working and what’s not. They don’t seem to care whether policies are good for the people or the state. They only care that they fit into their narrow ideological box.

3) On the science behind “Inside Out.”  And seriously, if you haven’t yet, see this movie.

4) Nice piece from Bill Ayers on using the language of religious rights to deny rights:

As one lawmaker put it in North Carolina, “Just because someone takes a job with the government does not mean they give up their First Amendment rights.” A cake baker has apparently also decided to take his case to court, lest he be sanctioned for discriminating against gay couples in the making of wedding cakes.

I find this argument deeply troubling on many fronts. It strikes me as a species of other arguments people make which use the trappings of commonly-held values (in this case, the language about rights and freedom) to advance the opposite

5) Enjoyed this Slate piece on how Carli Lloyd and other US women soccer stars were rejected from youth teams and how that helped lead to their greatness.

6) I hate felony murder charges.  No, you should not rob somebody trying to sell you marijuana.  But when that goes wrong and the marijuana dealer falls off the truck and dies as it pulls away (and you are sitting in the back seat!) in no way are you a murderer at all.  Except, of course, under felony murder laws.  If I were on a jury for this case there would damn well be some juror nullification.  (Interesting that it happened at the park I visit every week with Sarah while Evan has his piano lessons).

7) A urologist argues in NYT that we need to bring back more prostate screenings.  This was a great example of smart commenters that you actually see in the NYT as they were all over the problems in this argument.

8) Apparently Amy Schumer’s jokes really are racist.  I, however, am not persuaded.

9) The best stuff I read on Germany and Greek debt last week.  Thomas Piketty on how the Germans are hypocrites. NYT’s Eduardo Porter makes a similar point.   And Harold Myerson.  Not like Greece doesn’t have plenty of blame to go around, of course.  For example, their crazy pension system.

10) I hate the tendency towards over air-conditioning in the summer.  I’ve been known to run my space heater in my office in the summer.  What a waste of energy.

11) I think I’m going to have to read this book on how over-parenting is ruining our kids.  I’m definitely no helicopter parent, but I fear I am not doing enough to make my kids learn tough life lessons on their own.

When parents have tended to do the stuff of life for kids—the waking up, the transporting, the reminding about deadlines and obligations, the bill-paying, the question-asking, the decision-making, the responsibility-taking, the talking to strangers, and the confronting of authorities, kids may be in for quite a shock when parents turn them loose in the world of college or work. They will experience setbacks, which will feel to them like failure. Lurking beneath the problem of whatever thing needs to be handled is the student’s inability to differentiate the self from the parent.

12) I’m glad I don’t have to rely on public schools in Texas to teach my kids history:

THIS FALL, Texas schools will teach students that Moses played a bigger role in inspiring the Constitution than slavery did in starting the Civil War. The Lone Star State’s new social studies textbooks, deliberately written to play down slavery’s role in Southern history, do not threaten only Texans — they pose a danger to schoolchildren all over the country.

On a related note, here’s some excerpts from a 1970’s Alabama history text.

13) Maybe autism is so more prevalent now because earlier clinicians actively worked to not diagnose it.

14) John Oliver on bail is, of course, excellent.

15) The most common reasons behind unfriending on FB:

In a 2014 study, Christopher Sibona, a researcher at the University of Colorado at Denver, actually pinpointed the four types of content that are most likely to prompt an unfriend:

  1. Frequent/unimportant posts
  2. Polarizing posts (politics and religion; liberals are, for what it’s worth,more likely to unfriend over political views)
  3. Inappropriate posts (sexist, racist remarks)
  4. Everyday life posts (child, spouse, eating habits, etc.)

Also, HS friends are most likely to get unfriended.

16) Iron Giant is going to be re-released on the big screen.  So going to take all the family to that.

17) I’m sure I’ve mentioned it before, but it never hurts to mention how near-useless the BMI is for addressing the health of individuals (there is some value as a population statistic).

18) A nearby public library that is actually inside a local HS is set to close.  Why?  People are worried about security:

The school system and Wake County partnered in the early 1980s so the Athens Drive High School library served students while also doubling as a public library.

But times have changed in terms of security at schools, said Ann Burlingame, assistant library director in Wake. High schools need to monitor who comes on their campuses, she said.

“We need to have a regard for the children and their safety,” Burlingame said…

No major security issues have been reported at the west Raleigh school. But Simmons said some parents have complained that it’s easy for library visitors to access the main part of the building.

Got that?  No actual issues in decades of use, but parents are worried.  So frustrating when the overly-fearful get to make public policy.

19) I had no idea about putative father registries.  Pretty interesting account of the laws and one disturbing case in South Carolina–yes, there are racial overtones (and the author was a friend of mine back at Duke).

 

Quick hits (part II)

Managed to get out a timely Sunday quick hits even while at the beach by working ahead.  Hooray for me.

1) I’m going to start with this Vox list of 31 “bite-sized” TV shows to binge, mostly because I want to find this link later for suggestions.  And because it contains Party Down (easily the best TV show almost nobody’s ever heard of) and Black Mirror, which I’ve really enjoyed of late.

2) Kevin Drum on new government regulations about overtime.  Of course, the business lobbyists say this will ruin American business.  As Drum points out, they say that every time and they are always wrong.

3) The Upshot on how abortion and gun control are different from gay marriage.

4) The New Yorker’s Lincoln Caplan on John Roberts.

5) Just another piece further emphasizing that you really should not tell your kids they are smart.  Of course, after reading Nurtureshock, I did pretty much stop doing that.  Alas, regardless of what I say, Evan knows he’s damn smart, regardless of how much I praise him for hard work (especially when he doesn’t have to work hard for a good outcome).  Not sure what I’m supposed to do about that.

6) Some good stuff on teenagers and risk-taking.  The key?  Keep them away from other teenagers:

We found that having friends in the same room doubled the number of risks that teenagers took but had no effect on adults. We then repeated this experiment using brain imaging: we scanned people while playing the same games either with or without peers able to see their performance on a monitor in another room. Not only did we once again find that the presence of peers increased risk taking among adolescents but not adults––we also found that when peers were watching, this lit up reward centers in the adolescents’ brains but not in the adults’ brains, and that the more these centers were activated, the more risks teenagers took.

7) Wasn’t sure I was actually going to read this, but got totally sucked into this Marshall Project report on life at Rikers Island from many different perspectives.

8) David Roberts says the Supreme Court’s EPA decision is pointless.  Also liked Drum’s succinct summary.

9) Nice NYT infographic (a little large to insert here) on the interesting splits this term among the Supreme Court’s conservatives.

10) I enjoyed Tim Lee’s suggestion on issues where conservatives and liberals agree and therefore, you’d think, would be able to get something done.  But, Drum gets right to the heart of why nothing has gotten done on these issues:

There’s a common theme to all four of these issues: there are special interests who care a lot about them, but no real benefit for working politicians to reach across the aisle and fight back. In theory, they might have similar attitudes on these four items, but why bother doing anything about it? No one is jamming their phone lines about this stuff and no one is voting for or against them based on their positions. If activists want action on this kind of googoo stuff, they have to figure out a way to make the public care. Once they do that, they’ll have at least a fighting chance of getting politicians to care too. Until then, don’t get your hopes up.

11) Hope you saw some good fireworks.  Here’s videos of the federal government blowing up mannequins to keep you safe.  Great stuff.

12) The math to a lasting relationship.

13) I keep meaning and failing to do a good post on colleges, sexual assault, and the meaning of sexual consent.  And failing.  So just read this.

Quick hits (part I)

1) It’s hard out there for a pollster.  Nice piece on why it is getting harder and harder to do accurate polling these days.

2) It’s going to be harder than ever for NC to have enough good teachers given how the Republicans in charge feel about education.

3) Wonkblog with a great series of maps on America’s ethnic/racial demographics.

4) Europe’s biggest problem (one we fortunately do not share) is it’s low birth rate.

5) The destruction of defendant’s rights.

6) How working mothers are good for kis:

The researchers find statistically significant differences in outcomes for both boys and girls, though the outcomes are different.

  • Daughters of working moms grow up to earn more money, in part because daughters of working moms are more likely to be employed and more likely to be employed in a supervisory role.
  • Sons of working moms don’t have significantly different economic outcomes, but dogrow up to be more likely to spend time taking care of family members or doing household chores.

In other words, the adult children of mothers who held jobs when they were little kids are likely to grow up as adults who are somewhat less gender-conforming. Their daughters “lean in” more in the labor market, and their sons “lean in” more at home.

7) With all the other big Supreme Court news (yeah, I’ll get to Obergefell), hardly anybody noticed part of the new deal getting rolled back with a ruling on raisins.  Yes, raisins.

8) Another little noticed, but important, Supreme Court case on race and criminal justice.

9) The NC legislature wants to eliminate Driver’s Ed (my oldest just finished the classroom portion a week ago).  There may or not be good reasons to do this, but their justification is embarrassing.

Their argument for no longer requiring 120,000 teenagers to take drivers ed is that it is too expensive for families. The reason that it is too expensive for families is the Senate Republicans ended the state’s $26m appropriation to teach it, putting cost on families. Gotta admire their audacity if not their logic.

10) With Seinfeld coming to Hulu, loved Todd VanDerWerf with a piece on how Seinfeld changed television.  And Matt Zoller Seitz writes about how Seinfeld paved the way for the TV anti-hero we are so familiar with now.

 

11) Fascinating story of a a DC area man recorded the horrible things an anesthesiologist said about him while he was under.  He won a bunch in a lawsuit.

 

12) Tom Edsall with a really good piece on why don’t the poor rise up:

People today, Ray continues, “are not only able to make choices in an ever-expanding range of situations, but they are also compelled to do so.”

In effect, individualization is a double-edged sword. In exchange for new personal freedoms and rights, beneficiaries are agreeing to, if not being forced to, assume new risks and responsibilities.

In addition to opening the door to self-fulfillment, “the rise of individual rights and freedoms has its price,” writes Nikolai Genov, a sociologist at the Berlin Free University in “Challenges of Individualization,” published earlier this year.

Placing an exclusive stress on the expansion of rights and freedoms of individuals by disregarding or underrating the concomitant rise of individual responsibilities brings about social pathologies. They undermine solidarity as the glue of social life.

As a result, individualization can come “at the expense of various forms of common good in general, and of various forms of solidarity in particular,” Genov observes…

All of which brings us back to the question of why there is so little rebellion against entrenched social and economic injustice.

The answer is that those bearing the most severe costs of inequality are irrelevant to the agenda-setters in both parties. They are political orphans in the new order. They may have a voice in urban politics, but on the national scene they no longer fit into the schema of the left or the right. They are pushed to the periphery except for a brief moment on Election Day when one party wants their votes counted, and the other doesn’t.

Quick hits (part II)

These should have gone up yesterday– sorry.

1) Toddlers have a sense of justice–probably not that much of a surprise to those who have raised toddlers– but this is a cool experiment with puppets.

2) Generic Concerta not as effective as brand Concerta, but somehow the FDA says it’s okay anyway?!  (At least for 6 months).  How is this okay?!

3) Jamelle Bouie argues that in order be “authentic” Hillary should just go full-on policy nerd.  That would certainly appeal to me.

4) Onion on Charleston and guns:

FAIRFAX, VA—In the wake of Wednesday’s mass shooting that left nine dead at a church in South Carolina, sources confirmed today that National Rifle Association officials had already started up with their shit about what would be an even greater injustice. “What happened in Charleston is a terrible tragedy, but what would be even worse is if we reacted to this event by passing laws infringing on our constitutional rights,” said NRA board member Charles Cotton, who, right on cue, let loose the same predictable flood of steaming horseshit about how the real threat facing Americans comes from legislators who would attempt to restrict access to firearms.

5) If Republicans in NC can’t win something fair-and-square, they are plenty open to rigging the rules– in this case, judicial elections.

6) Nobody wants to talk about menstruation (I’m not afraid!  I also buy feminine hygeine products unashamedly), but it is an important health and education issue for many women and girls in the developing world.

7) Both Drum and Chait with nice posts on how John Kasich is utterly unqualified to be the Republican nominee for president as he thinks there is a moral case for expanding health care access.  Chait:

Kasich came face to face with the actual political choice faced by American politicians: whether to support the coverage offered under Obamacare for the poor, or to leave them with nothing. Kasich actually came out and said that taking health insurance away from extremely poor people is immoral.

This was completely beyond the pale, infuriating conservative activists. Kasich has found himself increasingly alienated within the party…

There are plenty of Republicans who believe that their party must veer back toward the center on economics, or social issues, or both. The overwhelming majority of them, however, go about this project with the utmost caution. They don’t openly challenge the moral foundations of their party’s most sacred pieties.

8) Matt Yglesias on his lessons from paternity leave.  Number one– dads get credit just for being adequate.

9) Jon Cohn dives into the latest polls on Obamacare.  This is a really important point:

6. If it’s health care, people assume it’s Obamacare.

So what’s the mystery factor? The best guess is that people are holding the law responsible for all of the problems of the health care system — including those like rising deductibles, narrowing hospital networks, or even long waits at the doctor’s office that most experts believe have little or nothing to do with the law itself.

10) Cool NYT feature on how there’s been dramatic improvement in survival from heart attacks, not from any new medical technology, but from way better coordination of the humans involved.  Time if of the essence, and in some places, they’ve figured out how to get things done much faster– and it’s not easy.

11) Alas, too many members of Congress are still in the pocket of for-profit universities (a nice example of how money indeed does matter in influencing politics) and fighting against much-needed rules to stop these places from basically scamming their students and the American taxpayer.

12) Clarence Thomas joining the majority in the Texas confederate flag license plate case ultimately shows that– like every other justice– he ultimately just decides what he wants and then looks to justify it.  And Mark Joseph Stern on how two other recent opinions show that he is not actually interested in meaningful analysis (and also profoundly lacking in empathy):

As a straightforward application of federal and constitutional law, Brumfield’s case is an easy one. Thomas’ dissent is an effort to muddy the waters, to pass off his own retributive notions of morality as rational legal logic.

13) Who says we can’t teach non-cognitive skills?  The latest research from a project in Chicago is really heartening and suggests we should be doing a lot more programs like this.

14) Seth Masket with a nice column on how Donald Trump shows that money on its own cannot buy political office and that political parties are really important;

Money can help a bit more in primaries and caucuses, but only so much. Studies have shown that, at least in presidential elections, endorsements by politicians are a far better predictor of who will win the nomination than fundraising.

Here’s where Donald Trump comes in. By virtue of his celebrity, he can certainly attract media attention. (Indeed, he got far more attention for his announcement last week than did Jeb Bush, who is widely seen as one of the more likely candidates for the nomination.) And by virtue of his substantial personal fortune, he can buy all the things a presidential candidate needs—offices, staffers, advertising, planes, etc. He could literally spend a billion dollars on winning the Republican presidential nomination and still be a billionaire when it’s over.

But here’s the catch: He won’t win it. He’ll never get close to the Republican nomination, for the very simple reason that party insiders despise him. They think him a clown and an embarrassment to the party.

Get your kids out of the house

Okay, my oldest is only 15, but I worry about his ability to successfully navigate the adult world not all that long from now.  I was therefore especially intrigued by this 538 post from last month about how having young adult children living at home impacts parents:

A woman whose children have left home can expect to spend 10.5 hours a week on household and child care. However, when those children don’t leave home, she spends 18 hours a week, on average, on those activities. A man, on the other hand, spends 5.5 hours on home and child care, whether he has adult kids in the house or not. In other words, women with adult children living at home spend, on average, eight more hours a week on house and child care, whereas men are unaffected. [emphases mine]

Well, I guess this means my wife should be the one to really want David out of the house after college.  More interesting stuff:

When it comes to their sex lives, men without children in the home have significantly more sex each month than men with children of any age at home. Interestingly, the same is not true for women. Women with kids under the age of 18 at home have the most sex, followed by women without kids. Women and men with kids over 18 at home have the least amount of sex – about 10 minutes a month.4

Alright, I guess that means all the kids are moving out even if we have to rent an apartment for them :-).

My wife is part of a trend

Of highly-educated women having more babies.  This is kind of interesting:

ST_2015-05-07_childlessness-01

That’s us in the 3+, of course.  Brigid Shulte in Wonkblog:

But a new report by the Pew Research Center has found something surprising: more highly educated women in the United States are becoming mothers than ever before. And they’re having bigger families.

Childlessness among women age 40 to 44 is at its lowest point in a decade. And among the most highly educated — women with medical degrees or PhDs — the share of childless women has dropped from 35 percent in 1994 to 20 percent…

Not only are a greater share of educated women becoming mothers, they’re also having larger families than before. The share of mothers with at least a master’s degree who have just one child fell from 28 percent to 23 percent. While those having three or more children rose from 22 percent to 27 percent.

That said, the Greene family of four kids is becoming ever more rare:

So, what’s with educated women having more children?  There’s some speculation in the piece, but no answers:

The surprising findings could signal that as more women have become educated, workplaces are getting more used to accommodating working mothers, or that by delaying childbirth, older women have established their reputations as good workers and have more control over their schedules.

“If there are women benefitting from changing work policies, I’m guessing it would be highly educated women,” Livingston said, “And not women with less education.”

Which could explain why women with less education, who work in hourly jobs with little power or control over their schedules, are having fewer children.

But we don’t actually know.  Certainly, more research on this would be interesting.  As for 4+ kids… you should!

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