Growth (OR Who cares about kids?)

Via Ezra comes this little tidbit about what child care providers earn. The timing is opportune, since I just finished Al Gore’s The Assault on Reason this morning, and he mentioned some interesting stuff about child rearing (pp 246-247):

First developed by John Bowlby, a British psychiatrist, in 1958, attachment theory was further developed by his protégée Mary Ainsworth and other expers studying the psychological development of infants.


[P]sychologists were able to discover that every infant learns a crucial and existential lesson during the first year of life about his or her fundamental relation to the rest of the world. And infant develops an attachment to this theory, learns to adopt one three basic postures toward the universe:

  1. In the best case, the infant learns that he or she has the inherent ability to exert a powerful influence on the world and evoke consistent, appropriate responses by communicating signals of hunger or discomfort, happiness or distress. If the caregiver – more often than not the mother – responds to most signals from the infant consistently and appropriately, the infant begins to assume that he or she has inherent power to affect the world.
  2. If the primary caregiver responds inappropriately and/or inconsistently, the infant learns to assume that he or she is powerless to affect the larger world and that his or her signals have no intrinsic significance where the universe is concerned. A child who receives really erratic and inconsistent responses from a primary caregiver, even if those are occasionally warm and sensitive, develops “anxious resistant attachment.” This pathway creates children who feature anxiety, dependence, and easy victimization. They are easily manipulated and exploited later in life.
  3. In the worst case, infants who receive no emotional response from the person or persons responsible for them are at high risk of learning a deep existential rage that makes them prone to violence and antisocial behavior as they grow up. Chronic unresponsiveness leads to what is called “anxious avoidance attachment,” a life patter that features unquenchable anger, frustration, and aggressive, violent behavior.

Kinda puts the value the value of child care in perspective doesn’t it?


2 Responses to Growth (OR Who cares about kids?)

  1. Jenny says:

    Not just childcare in the typical sense of paid outside-the-home childcare, but also parent-provided childcare. Of course the issues of class and poverty are complicated but parents who have to work 2-3 jobs cannot provide that consistent care and responsiveness that is needed in early childhood. These parents are stressed out, not able to consistently provide healthy meals (either for cost or time consctraints), etc., etc.

    So, consider that from time to time legislation is introduced to mandate equal pay for equal work (i.e. pay equality for women) or paid maternity leave or flexible work arrangements or public early childhood education but rarely do any of these measures pass.

    Now, as an admitted libertarian leaning citizen who believes in the free market (most of the time), I appreciate that providing these benefits to parents and women often comes at a cost to businesses who do not perceive the value of offering these benefits. And then there is a resentful non-parent contingent of the workforce who resent the “mom card” when it gets played at work. I appreciate that people without parents perhaps ought to get paid more for being available 100% of the time (as they represent themselves for not having to leave early to take Johnny to the doctor). However, I would argue that such non-parental units rather ought not to be so available, demanding realistic work requirements and refusing to be on call by cell phone 24-7. Of course, when they’re offered more money, they ultimately whore out their personal time. In which case, they shouldn’t complain.

    I believe I’ve just talked myself in a circle. Am I arguing for equal pay for mothers or perhaps just better overtime benefits? I’m not sure. But I do believe that children should in fact receive consistent loving care, and the desire and necessity for mothers to work can complicate that societal need.

  2. Shane says:

    There’s a lot in there, Jenny, that I don’t really think I can parse… but your last sentence opens an entirely different conversation…

    In your typical middle class family, is it a necessity that both parents work? It seems that, as our actual earning power diminishes (as our income relative to inflation declines), that, in order to maintain or improve a standard of living for the next generation more adults per household must work. I’ve seen this referenced numerous times (particularly here, which I had meant to link to earlier).

    So, child care seems caught between the desire to provide more opportunity for our children, and the need for both parents to work to do so.

    And, as you say, this doesn’t even get into issues of poor families, or single parent homes.
    Bottom line, to me, this is just one more symptom of the economy the Republicans have created for us. If we were still able to afford living with a single parent working (regardless of gender), this issue wouldn’t have nearly the importance it does now.

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