The M-Word; Day Care Wars Continued…

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Tuesday, May 22, 2001

The growing “Marriage Movement,” composed of organizations and individuals who seek to strengthen marriage in America, has received a boost from an unexpected ally, Washington, D.C. Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton. In an interview with Essence magazine, she was asked what elected officials ought to do about black children in poverty. Her response? “I’m not going to give you the politician’s answer,” she said. She went on to cite the “disappearance of marriage” in many parts of the black community as the root of the problem. Her advice to her colleagues? “We’ve got to talk about marriage again. We’ve got to make it fashionable.” Delegate Norton has not been known previously for her pro-marriage views, but her words illustrate that the social fallout of what researcher Barbara Dafoe Whitehead calls our “culture of divorce” is apparent to people from all points on the political spectrum. Her support is welcome. It will take a concerted effort from a broad coalition to turn things around and restore a “culture of marriage.”

Day Care Wars, Continued…
The release of several new reports on the pros and cons of child care has re-ignited a longstanding debate on the subject, pitting child care advocates against those who believe that children receive the best care from their parents at home. Childcare advocates accuse conservatives of attempting to heap guilt on working mothers. Conservatives point out that the only working mothers who have any reason to feel guilty are those who for whom work is a means of self-fulfillment, at the expense of what is best for their children. One of the more insightful commentaries to date on the subject appeared in the May 11 issue of the Jewish World Review. Michele Malkin, a regular contributor the magazine and a young mother, compares two very different visions of work and motherhood in recent books on the subject by Ann Crittenden and Jennifer Roback Morse. In her book, The Price of Motherhood, Crittenden laments the loss of professional opportunities and income precipitated by her decision to stay at home and longs for a European style compensation in the form of government subsidies for child care, parental leave and the like. Roback Morse, on the other hand points to the hard-core materialism at the heart of the feminist obsession with career and income in her book, Love and Economics. She writes, “The worst stereotype of capitalism is that the value of a person is reduced to his value in the market. It is ironic that the American feminists have done so much to indoctrinate women into this distorted view of themselves.” Malkin concurs, and adds, “All the money in the world can’t compensate for our everyday rewards-the outstretched arms, the giggles, the secure attachment of children to parents who love them unconditionally and eternally like no paid caregivers ever could. Motherhood means never having to say, ‘What do I get in return?'”

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