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  1. #11
    Vaguely Precise Seymour's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Magic Poriferan View Post
    I think children with more support end up doing better, but that doesn't necessarily come in the form of a conventional nuclear family. A single parent is at a disadvantage, and while I don't think it's severe, I wouldn't be surprised if it does tilt toward poorer results. However, the sky is probably the limit on the number of guardians a child can benefit from, and none of them need to fit a particular category as long as they function in the role. I don't see a nuclear family as a secret combo for success and I don't feel an obligation to uphold it.
    Studies absolutely show that the in the US, children of single parents are, on average, at a disadvantage. That's one reason I'm supportive of marriage in general (including gay marriage, since gay people end up raising kids, too).

    I think looking across human history, a mostly independent, nuclear family is clearly not the only way structure a functional society and raise children. In some respects, it seems unfair for modern parents to have the shoulder the most of the burden of raising their children by themselves, when in other societies there might have been a supportive village, tribe, or clan house to share the responsibilities of parenting. Plus, the current system makes it disastrous for the children if the married couple breaks up (something that might have been less disruptive in other arrangements with more caretakers available). It seems like it would be more fair to children if there more communal support available.

    Conversely, though, modern marriage is clearly more egalitarian and fair than polygamy, emphasizes the individual's right to select a mate, and generally promotes social stability. So, I think in the US it adds value and is an institution worth supporting.

  2. #12
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    I think one of the reasons children of a single parent (let's not kid ourselves, it's usually the mother) tend to be worse off is because single parents are also among those with the highest risk of living near or under the poverty line. In any case, the correlation should be strong enough to factor into the child's fate beyond "daddy wasn't there for emotional support" (not that this isn't another important factor).

    Absentee fathers are a serious problem IMHO even if I strongly agree that two peacefully divorced parents are better for a child than two fighting parents making each other miserable within the same household. The age of the child probably also plays an important role.
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  3. #13
    Feline Member kelric's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by gromit View Post
    Do you think this scenario is most likely to succeed at producing thoughtful, contributing adults?
    I tend to fall on the side of "the more, the better". Like Lateralus mentioned, the nuclear family is a relatively new convention, and while I'd never discount the fact that having two parents in a good relationship in a household is likely to produce a better outcome for the kids than one parent (two parents in a bad relationship is worse), grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, etc. are an important part of the picture too, if you're talking about a purely optimal situation. It's important for kids to have adults that they can trust and learn from *other* than their parents (who are, of course, #1 here). If I were to rank circumstances (simplistic, of course), they would go something like this:

    1. Two parents in a good relationship, extended family a significant part of the kids' lives
    2. One parent, extended family a significant part of the kids' lives
    3. Two parents in a good relationship, "on their own" or with minimal extended family relationships
    4a. One parent, "on their own", or with minimal extended family relationships
    4b. Two parents, not in a good relationship, extended family a significant part of the kids' lives
    5. Single parent, "on their own", or with minimal extended family relationships
    6. Two parents, not in a good relationship, "on their own" or with minimal extended family relationships

    (4a and 4b being fuzzy and even more dependent upon individual circumstances than the rest of this)

    Quote Originally Posted by gromit View Post
    Do we, as a society, have an obligation to support them? Is their success our collective success? Is their failure our collective failure?
    I think it depends a little on what you consider "support them". If you're talking resources for helping people find ways to rebuild relationships, sure. If you're talking making divorce/separation more difficult to attain, legally, no way. My own parents are both good people, but they were *not* good together. And while you may reasonably point out that I've got issues, I'm convinced that them getting a divorce was a good thing (put kelric-as-kid at #6 pre-divorce, and #5 post-divorce, on the above list - although I spent equal time with both parents after they divorced when I was 14, it wasn't together). When it comes to my grandparents, on the other hand... they, particularly my grandmother, were miserable together for something like 40 years until she took her own life.

    Circumstances matter, as do the nature of the kids in question. But expecting perfection as an end goal isn't realistic. Better outcomes seem likely by focusing on people, and not institutions (marriage, in this case).
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  4. #14
    Mojibake sprinkles's Avatar
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    The family format (e.g. nuclear or communal) doesn't weigh in nearly as much as raising children with wisdom and interaction regardless of the number of people doing it.

    Frankly, a lot of people suck as parents or guardians. They shuttle their kid off to school, then shuttle them off to sports, or just let them run the street or play games by themselves all day. There's no parenting until the kid starts doing stuff that causes intervention after the fact. They try to fix the problems that arise retroactively due to their negligence and inability to teach before said problems happen.

    Two stable parents might be better than one for various reasons, but it's really not that big of a factor. Not being shitty parents is the biggest factor regardless of the arrangement.

  5. #15
    Freaking Ratchet Rail Tracer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by gromit View Post
    I guess the question is for US Americans mostly, but others feel free to weigh in. Let's take a fairly common scenario:

    Two people are in love (I don't care if it's male-male, female-female, or male-female on the two people dynamic). They decide to marry, commit to a lifetime together. Have kids via sex or adoption. Raise those kids, teach them constructive behaviors, right and wrong, how to read, etc. in the hopes that the kids will grow up to be thoughtful, productive adults.

    Do you think this scenario is most likely to succeed at producing thoughtful, contributing adults?

    Do we, as a society, have an obligation to support them? Is their success our collective success? Is their failure our collective failure?

    If you agree that there is an obligation, do you think that we, USA, are living up to it? If we are not living up to that obligation, what do you think we should be doing better or different?
    I'm doing an essay towards a similar topic, I'll be posting relevant information. But generally speaking, it depends on your income level, your degree of education, and your neighborhood. The relevance of the family mostly depends on those factors. A nuclear family were more likely to have an easier time raising a child than a single parent alone (relevant to income level, the amount of time being able to spend with children... etc.)

    The Early Catastrophe: The 30 million Word Gap by Age 3
    ^This article explain that the difference between raising a child in a poor family versus raising a child from a rich family is the difference of 30 million words by the age of 3. Why age 3? Studies have shown that 85% of a child's brain is developed around that time. If you want a kid to be "more" likely successful, it means you need to fully prioritize your time with child development within those 3 years. Nuclear families, especially the well-off ones, are more likely to get this done correctly than poorer ones (and certainly more likely than single parents.)

    Early Child Care and Children's Development in Primary Grades (I think it was this one: )

    ^This article explains that across all income boundaries, most parents spend about the same time with their children. The difference between these parents are their education level. Those who have gotten a college education or higher have shown to prioritize their time better with their children than those with only a high school diploma or none at all.

    In relevance, it'll be 1-2 parents with college degree>no parents with college degree> single parent with college degree> single parent with no degree.

    Early Childhood Program Effectiveness(article inside the link.)
    ^This one, with a lot of other ones, show that early development programs for children help them become more "successful" and "productive" later in life. Those who fund these program has actually found return investments.

    -----

    Now, do we have an obligation to support them? That depends on your definition of support. There is definitely a collective success that can be accomplished if there is more support within the system to make it easier for all parents across income levels to raise their children effectively by age 3.

    Do I think there is an obligation? Yes. Do I think we are living up to it? Certainly not. Their failure is our collective failure. The fact that we have one of the highest GDPs, and yet, we have one of the higher rates of inequality is a sparkling reminder.

    The first thing is education, instead of vouchers(which I hate dearly,) there needs to be steps made towards child care programs. Things like allowing paid leave for the first year of a child's life is a dramatic step. The other is making pre-preschool options available for most income spheres (to teach, to set the child in a learning environment.) Education is certainly one of the defining factors in how "productive" kids can become when they grow up.

    NOTE: Lost the other version that I typed. There may be some things I forgot to say.

  6. #16
    Senior Member Lateralus's Avatar
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    People seem to be focusing on raising children here, but I also think we need to take caring for the elderly into account. That's why I didn't mention children, specifically, in my first post. In our technologically advancing civilization, we're becoming increasingly socially isolated despite things like Facebook and Twitter (which are really only superficial forms of social interaction). The trend I see is one where the elderly will eventually be nearly exclusively cared for by the state (the exceptions being the wealthy). I don't think this is a good thing for numerous reasons which I won't enumerate here, but I think most people could list if they spent time thinking about it.
    "We grow up thinking that beliefs are something to be proud of, but they're really nothing but opinions one refuses to reconsider. Beliefs are easy. The stronger your beliefs are, the less open you are to growth and wisdom, because "strength of belief" is only the intensity with which you resist questioning yourself. As soon as you are proud of a belief, as soon as you think it adds something to who you are, then you've made it a part of your ego."

  7. #17

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    Quote Originally Posted by Il Morto Che Parla View Post
    The nuclear family is the basis of a free, self-sufficient, civilized society, and the bastion against savagery and totalitarianism. Hence the reason why collectivists hate it.
    I would be labelled a collectivist by self-labelled individualists and I dont hate the nuclear family.

  8. #18

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    Quote Originally Posted by Magic Poriferan View Post
    Yes. That seems so obvious that I slightly doubt I understand the question.

    I do think that in some manner or another children should receive education, health care, shelter, all that kind of crap, on top of the fact that they probably should continue to be classified as a somewhat different citizen from adults (though, of course, defining the age of adulthood is always a chore). I think children do need some people, however many people, to function like guardians.

    Any alternative to what I've said above sounds like it would be Lord of the Flies or something.
    I actually believe in what you've just said here, which I would broadly describe as paternalism or paternalistic sentiments.

    I believe that there is an obligation to care for children and protect them but see that as on a par with a general obligation to care for and protect the weak or vulnerable from predations of less scrupulous beings.

    My reason is as much to do with what ought to be expected of adults in the community, also what I think accords with human nature, not even human nature at its best, just human nature which is not distorted by capitalism and authoritarianism.

    On the other hand I would say that utility or self-interest should mandate the care and protection of children, there is a generational reciprocity in play.

    There is also a bigger cost to tolerating neglect and abuse than simply society not being at its best or being able to reproduce itself. It is deletarious or contributes to social breakdown.

    So far as the nuclear family goes, I think that it is an organically evolved social institution, it wasnt designed and didnt emerge from a policy think tank. That's important. Its prove resilent. Its gotten society this far and I do believe it has a life independent of reductive analysis about either patriarchy or capitalism/proprietorship/title and estate.

    Alternatives, especially formal ones, are imperfect substitutes.

    I also, for sociological and psychological reasons, theory aswell as my personal "practical reason", I think that a two parent family with mother and father, ie man and woman, works well and is known to. Again its an old paradigm, which I'm familiar and accustomed to, so it could just be bias.

    There's no way that alternatives should be discouraged or prohibited, especially were it is producing happy, healthy children growing into adulthood.

    Its the children, more than the family per se, which need the support.

  9. #19
    likes this gromit's Avatar
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    Thanks everyone for the thoughtful responses. What I'm especially interested in is your opinions on how a society best supports its rising generation. On a community level, and on an institutional or government level.


    Quote Originally Posted by Lateralus View Post
    People seem to be focusing on raising children here, but I also think we need to take caring for the elderly into account. That's why I didn't mention children, specifically, in my first post. In our technologically advancing civilization, we're becoming increasingly socially isolated despite things like Facebook and Twitter (which are really only superficial forms of social interaction). The trend I see is one where the elderly will eventually be nearly exclusively cared for by the state (the exceptions being the wealthy). I don't think this is a good thing for numerous reasons which I won't enumerate here, but I think most people could list if they spent time thinking about it.
    I also agree that we should care for the elderly, but for different reasons than why we care for children. Both children and elderly are weak and vulnerable and we as a human society take care of our weakest members, or at least should. Immediate needs aside, we care for elderly out of love and out of respect for what they have done for us. Additionally, because their collective experiences represent a lot of knowledge and insight. We can learn from them. I think we miss out, being generationally isolated as we are.

    Children, on the other hand, represent the future, our legacy, basically. Not only are they vulnerable in an immediate sense, but an unstable or unloving childhood can disrupt a child's development, the repercussions echoing throughout that individual's life.

  10. #20
    Emperor/Dictator kyuuei's Avatar
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    Disclaimer: The whole 'separate but equal' mentality doesn't work for anything else in life, I don't see how people think it works just as well for divorcees too. There is a clear disadvantage there when the parents operate as separate entities from each other. They need to work together no matter how they feel about each other and be consistent in their decisions concerning parenting.

    Doing anything less than dedicating yourself, as a parent, entirely to your child puts the child at a disadvantage. Every single decision you make that involves putting yourself first (outside of keeping yourself healthy) technically puts the child at a disadvantage. Every time a parent decides to relax and take a break from the child instead of trying to continue playing, teaching, and developing the child is a disadvantage for that kid.

    Adults just pick and choose their battles.. because humans aren't really made for that sort of 100% dedication on either side. Children do not need 100% of two parents, or even one. And adults would be a miserable species if all they did was dedicate and cater to children.

    I really don't want to live in a world where the failure of a parent means the probable failure of the child. So, I'll continue to believe that people have their lives in their own hands, that humans are resilient, that a village can raise a child, and that people can change their direction any time they choose to do so. Divorced parents, single parents, arguing parents, and loving parents alike. I don't think children are not able to recover from those situations, so they aren't such a big deal to me. I am not morally responsible for my kid living in my basement until 40 years old because I made a bad decision at 20 and married a guy that didn't love me. That kid grows up to be an adult, and adults have the ability to do whatever they please to do. Even if they had a hard child hood, and much to recover from, if they don't recover.. it is on them. Parents aren't responsible for every tiny thing that happens in someone's life.

    But I agree with @jontherobot there is no coincidence in my being a functioning citizen of society with a life that isn't so hard due to the fact that I had two caring parents and family and friends that cared for me outside of them. My life is a good one, with few obstacles to drag me down into things like depression, peer pressure, and other such influences that can lead children astray.
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