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  1. #21
    Senior Member UniqueMixture'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?
    Evolution works in mysterious ways. I think the current system of some people being monogamous and others not is what evolves humans that can fit into every niche needed by society. Imo humanity has conflicting goals, for example after war or great disease or when colonizing a new territory humanity has a need of individuals to mate rapidly and prolifically. In times of stagnation, famine, etc humanity has the need for individuals to control their sexual desire more so as not to strain resources. Human history is about the oscillations between these various conditions and humanity becoming adaptable so that it can vary its response appropriately as conditions change in the real world.
    For all that we have done, as a civilization, as individuals, the universe is not stable, and nor is any single thing within it. Stars consume themselves, the universe itself rushes apart, and we ourselves are composed of matter in constant flux. Colonies of cells in temporary alliance, replicating and decaying and housed within, an incandescent cloud of electrical impulses. This is reality, this is self knowledge, and the perception of it will, of course, make you dizzy.

  2. #22
    i love skylights's Avatar
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    I think that a nurturing group of people who encourage education, awareness, positivity, philosophical thinking, and service to humanity is most likely to succeed.

    The benefit of two parents over one is more than one living example of a strong, healthy personality and an example of a positive close relationship.

    Quote Originally Posted by kelric View Post
    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)
    This seems like a pretty good ranking.

    Quote Originally Posted by gromit View Post
    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.
    More money to schools. More staff at schools. More money to teachers. More education to parents - prenatal care, nutrition, basic psychology of child rearing. More educational programs for kids. More extracurriculars in school. More emphasis on cultivating social participation and "changing the world" at an early age. More emphasis on childhood nutrition, more low-cost food programs for students with low-income families. More inclusion of parents in education beginning at an early age (but discouragement of "helicopter parents").

    Just more education in general for everyone, really. Knowledge is power.

  3. #23
    @.~*virinaĉo*~.@ Totenkindly's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Eilonwy View Post
    I tend toward the "It Takes a Village" pov. While two CARING parents is a good (and maybe necessary) foundation, I think a well-adjusted, well-rounded child comes from having many caring people around to support them and teach them.
    I tend to think having at least one loving parent (and preferably two, as parenting is a difficult and exhausting task) basically creates a 'bottom line' foundation for the kids. I think community involvement is also meaningful, but otherwise it can be like the syndrome when someone is threatened/hurt in a public area and no one helps because they're not sure if it's their job to do so -- at least with parents/children, there is generally a natural bond that leaves the parent feeling responsible for the child as well as caring for the child, and vice versa -- the caregiver attachments. that bond will hopefully run deeper than just community and peer involvement, providing a secure emotional and relational basis from which to tackle the sometimes difficult journey of life.

    I think the community involvement helps build a sense of responsibility and consideration outside of the very tiny nuclear family, which is a somewhat separate but good thing. It is also likely to expose the child to a multiplicity of views, thus given them opportunities to use their critical thinking skills as well as learn acceptance of those who are different. The definition of "Other" includes less, as the child can identify with more than just the nuclear/blood family.

    I had one parent who actively cared but who I did not connect with. The other parent was absent emotionally and physically. I think I ended up turning out decently, but I still have baggage from the lack of stability (as the rest of the family wasn't around due to geographical distance, and I had a great deal of trouble finding connections in the community where I felt a connection). Even when I have friends nowadays who I care about and who understand me and connection well with me, I still feel a large sense of loneliness/loss that might persist to the end of my life; I don't feel like I have parents to whom I can go when I'm in trouble and who can either help me or truly care for me emotionally. I think kids who have that with their parents might have a sense of security children without engaged parents might not experience. When the rest of the world goes to crap, there's a sense that loving parents is the last line of defense -- you are the child and they can look after you and love you unconditionally. Unfortunately that is not always the case; not everyone has that boon.
    "Hey Capa -- We're only stardust." ~ "Sunshine"

    “Pleasure to me is wonder—the unexplored, the unexpected, the thing that is hidden and the changeless thing that lurks behind superficial mutability. To trace the remote in the immediate; the eternal in the ephemeral; the past in the present; the infinite in the finite; these are to me the springs of delight and beauty.” ~ H.P. Lovecraft

  4. #24
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    I thought this article by Rod Dreher at The American Conservative offered some interesting points:

    Childhood Poverty Is Society’s Fault? Really?

    Writing at The Atlantic’s site, Karen Kornbluh notes that about fifty percent of single-parent families are living in poverty — and she knows whose fault that is: Ozzie and Harriet’s:

    Nine years later, the nation no longer clings quite so tightly to the ideal of the 1950s family, but policies and practices lag behind. … Our lack of quality childcare and after-school programs puts these kids at risk and endangers the nation’s future in a knowledge economy. Our lack of support for flexible work arrangements and Social Security credits for caregivers puts these parents at risk. However, there is good news: health care reform will be an enormous help to these families. They are raising our future citizens and building our productive assets at great cost to themselves and with little help from the rest of us.
    Look, I agree that we ought to have more flexibility in our labor laws to make it easier for things like parents taking sick leave to care for their kids. That the government is responsible for “quality child care and afterschool programs”? Well, call me skeptical.

    What’s so interesting, and frustrating, about this piece is that it doesn’t seem to have occurred to this writer that single parenthood is something to be avoided. It’s just one of those choices that people make, and public policy should accommodate it. The rhetoric about “raising our future citizens and building our productive assets” is airy-fairy and moralistic, and conceals the true nature of the crisis. The idea seems to be that if we shifted public policy a bit, we would solve, or go a long way toward solving, the problem of single parenthood and childhood poverty. To a certain kind of liberal, there’s no problem that a new government program can’t solve.

    It’s just not so. Kay Hymowitz wrote a few years back about marriage and caste in America. Excerpt:

    Yes, 33 percent of children are born to single mothers; in 2004, according to the National Center for Health Statistics, that amounted to 1.5 million children, the highest number ever. But the vast majority of those children are going home from the maternity wards to low-rent apartments. Yes, experts predict that about 40 to 50 percent of marriages will break up. But most of those divorces will involve women who have always shopped at Wal-Mart. “[T]he rise in single-parent families is concentrated among blacks and among the less educated,” summarize Ellwood and Jencks. “It hardly occurred at all among women with a college degree.”

    When Americans began their family revolution four decades ago, they didn’t tend to talk very much about its effect on children. That oversight now haunts the country, as it becomes increasingly clear that the Marriage Gap results in a yawning social divide. If you want to discuss why childhood poverty numbers have remained stubbornly high through the years that the nation was aggressively trying to lower them, begin with the Marriage Gap. Thirty-six percent of female-headed families are below the poverty line.
    The new states Kornbluh reports indicate that that number is now almost 50 percent. More Hymowitz:

    For children born at the bottom of the income scale, the situation is the reverse. They face a decrease in what McLanahan terms “resources”: their mothers are younger, less stable, less educated, and, of course, have less money. Adding to their woes, those children aren’t getting much (or any) financial support and time from their fathers. Surprisingly, McLanahan finds that in Europe, too—where welfare supports for “lone parents,” as they are known in Britain, are much higher than in the United States—single mothers are still more likely to be poor and less educated. [Emphasis mine -- RD] As in the United States, so in Europe and, no doubt, the rest of the world: children in single-parent families are getting less of just about everything that we know helps to lead to successful adulthood.
    These single moms are by and large not raising “our productive assets.” There are obviously exceptions — we all know them — but statistics indicate that these women are raising kids who will be just like them, or, if they are males, like the fathers who abandoned their children. Here, from Hymowitz, is the important point:

    There is something fundamentally different about low-income single mothers and their educated married sisters. But a key part of that difference is that educated women still believe in marriage as an institution for raising children. What is missing in all the ocean of research related to the Marriage Gap is any recognition that this assumption is itself an invaluable piece of cultural and psychological capital—and not just because it makes it more likely that children will grow up with a dad in the house. As society’s bulwark social institution, traditional marriage—that is, childbearing within marriage—orders social life in ways that we only dimly understand.

    For one thing, women who grow up in a marriage-before-children culture organize their lives around a meaningful and beneficial life script. Traditional marriage gives young people a map of life that takes them step by step from childhood to adolescence to college or other work training—which might well include postgraduate education—to the workplace, to marriage, and only then to childbearing. A marriage orientation also requires a young woman to consider the question of what man will become her husband and the father of her children as a major, if not the major, decision of her life. In other words, a marriage orientation demands that a woman keep her eye on the future, that she go through life with deliberation, and that she use self-discipline—especially when it comes to sex: bourgeois women still consider premature pregnancy a disaster. In short, a marriage orientation—not just marriage itself—is part and parcel of her bourgeois ambition.

    When Americans announced that marriage before childbearing was optional, low-income women didn’t merely lose a steadfast partner, a second income, or a trusted babysitter, as the strength-in-numbers theory would have it. They lost a traditional arrangement that reinforced precisely the qualities that they-and their men; let’s not forget the men!—needed for upward mobility, qualities all the more important in a tough new knowledge economy.
    Want to tweak public policy to give single parents a break? Fine. But don’t tell yourselves that this is going to make a significant difference in the future of kids born into these circumstances, or left there because of divorce. There really are deleterious consequences to the welfare of children — including the adults these kids will grow up to be — from our sexually permissive culture. The cost of out-of-wedlock childbearing cannot be significantly ameliorated with public policy adjustments. Should it be?

  5. #25
    LL P. Stewie Beorn's Avatar
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    @DiscoBiscuit

    I wish that author didn't make the fundamental liberal mistake of conflating society and the state. It is a societal problem. That doesn't mean there should be a state solution as we do have other structures and institutions in society to rely on. Moreover, the problem with the rhetoric "citizens and productive assets" isn't that it's moralistic, but that it is utilitarian and views children as mere tools and not as persons that are uniquely good and beautiful in and of themselves.

    If children are mere assets then what sort of bizarre inhuman policies will we develop so that we can efficiently produce the greatest number of productive adults? Perhaps schools should install eating machines so kids can spend more energy on math and science.

    Take the weakest thing in you
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  6. #26
    likes this gromit's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DiscoBiscuit View Post
    I thought this article by Rod Dreher at The American Conservative offered some interesting points:
    Yeah the numbers are kind of extreme, huh?

    However, it is one thing to lament that times are changing and that a large proportion of impoverished children are growing up in less-than-ideal conditions. From a practical standpoint, is there anything to be done? Obama's Fatherhood Initiative is interesting to me, a coalition with non-profits to provide parenthood education, job training, public service announcements, mentoring, etc in targeted communities.

  7. #27
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    Quote Originally Posted by Beorn View Post
    @DiscoBiscuit

    I wish that author didn't make the fundamental liberal mistake of conflating society and the state. It is a societal problem.
    How, in your view, should society address it?

  8. #28
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    Quote Originally Posted by Beorn View Post
    @DiscoBiscuit

    I wish that author didn't make the fundamental liberal mistake of conflating society and the state.
    I think you may have misread the article if that is one of your take aways.

  9. #29
    LL P. Stewie Beorn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DiscoBiscuit View Post
    I think you may have misread the article if that is one of your take aways.
    My problem is that the title gives away too much. He get's to a similar conclusion when he writes: "To a certain kind of liberal, there’s no problem that a new government program can’t solve." But, it makes me wonder if he's the kind of conservative that only thinks in terms of individual and state.
    Take the weakest thing in you
    And then beat the bastards with it
    And always hold on when you get love
    So you can let go when you give it

  10. #30
    LL P. Stewie Beorn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by gromit View Post
    How, in your view, should society address it?
    On the local level through family, friends, churches, and community groups. What these parents and children need is love and the federal government sucks at loving people and particularly children. They're much better at dropping bombs on them.
    Take the weakest thing in you
    And then beat the bastards with it
    And always hold on when you get love
    So you can let go when you give it

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