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Brit Chicks Want More Time With Children

by Christopher Chantrill
June 28, 2006 at 11:01 pm

IN THE US THERE is a swelling movement of women who are wondering if career and children are a sensible combination, indeed whether, as Carolyn Graglia puts it, “market production” has any moral or economic advantage over “domestic production.”

Now British working mothers are beginning to wonder too. Writes Camilla Cavendish: “For me, the desire to be with my children is physical, like an elastic band stretching. I can’t be away for too long.”

And now there’s a poll to back her up.

This week, a YouGov poll of 1,736 mothers in First magazine demonstrates how profoundly unhappy many mothers are with living this way. More than half feel guilty about time spent away from their children. Two thirds think that mothers should stay at home with their babies and toddlers during the first few years — though nationally, less than half do. A third would like to reduce their working hours, and more than a third say they would give up work altogether if they could.

How did we get to this point, where mothers have been tossed into the workplace and told that it is good to leave their children to a childminder? And where they are exhausting themselves—for what?

Here we have the most prosperous society the world has ever seen, and mothers are running themselves ragged?

There seem to be two trends on a collision course. The National Center for Health Statistics says that in 1995 6.6 percent of couples were “childfree,” up from 2.4 percent in the 1980s But wealthy hedge fund managers are going for four and five children, and many people are saying that “three is the new two.”

Writes Cavendish:

We live at a time of greater opportunities for women, of greater job flexibility, of higher average incomes, than at any period in history. Yet we increasingly talk as though we have no control over our lives. We are the first generation to feel that we cannot afford to bring up our own children.

Yes, what is that all about? In the richest society we say we cannot afford to bring up our own children? Who are we kidding?

There is this to think about. When women are at work, governments get revenue from their market production. And they get more control over the nation’s children. It’s all about power, as the postmodernists say.

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Christopher Chantrill blogs at www.roadtothemiddleclass.com.  His Road to the Middle Class is forthcoming.


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Responsible Self

[The Axial Age] highlights the conception of a responsible self... [that] promise[s] man for the first time that he can understand the fundamental structure of reality and through salvation participate actively in it.
Robert N Bellah, "Religious Evolution", American Sociological Review, Vol. 29, No. 3.


Taking Responsibility

[To make] of each individual member of the army a soldier who, in character, capability, and knowledge, is self-reliant, self-confident, dedicated, and joyful in taking responsibility [verantwortungsfreudig] as a man and a soldier. — Gen. Hans von Seeckt
MacGregor Knox, Williamson Murray, ed., The dynamics of military revolution, 1300-2050


Civil Society

“Civil Society”—a complex welter of intermediate institutions, including businesses, voluntary associations, educational institutions, clubs, unions, media, charities, and churches—builds, in turn, on the family, the primary instrument by which people are socialized into their culture and given the skills that allow them to live in broader society and through which the values and knowledge of that society are transmitted across the generations.
Francis Fukuyama, Trust


What Liberals Think About Conservatives

[W]hen I asked a liberal longtime editor I know with a mainstream [publishing] house for a candid, shorthand version of the assumptions she and her colleagues make about conservatives, she didn't hesitate. “Racist, sexist, homophobic, anti-choice fascists,” she offered, smiling but meaning it.
Harry Stein, I Can't Believe I'm Sitting Next to a Republican


Liberal Coercion

[T]he Liberal, and still more the subspecies Radical... more than any other in these latter days seems under the impression that so long as he has a good end in view he is warranted in exercising over men all the coercion he is able[.]
Herbert Spencer, The Man Versus the State


Moral Imperatives of Modern Culture

These emerge out of long-standing moral notions of freedom, benevolence, and the affirmation of ordinary life... I have been sketching a schematic map... [of] the moral sources [of these notions]... the original theistic grounding for these standards... a naturalism of disengaged reason, which in our day takes scientistic forms, and a third family of views which finds its sources in Romantic expressivism, or in one of the modernist successor visions.
Charles Taylor, Sources of the Self


US Life in 1842

Families helped each other putting up homes and barns. Together, they built churches, schools, and common civic buildings. They collaborated to build roads and bridges. They took pride in being free persons, independent, and self-reliant; but the texture of their lives was cooperative and fraternal.
Michael Novak, The Spirit of Democratic Capitalism


Society and State

For [the left] there is only the state and the individual, nothing in between. No family to rely on, no friend to depend on, no community to call on. No neighbourhood to grow in, no faith to share in, no charities to work in. No-one but the Minister, nowhere but Whitehall, no such thing as society - just them, and their laws, and their rules, and their arrogance.
David Cameron, Conference Speech 2008


Faith and Politics

As far as the Catholic Church is concerned, the principal focus of her interventions in the public arena is the protection and promotion of the dignity of the person, and she is thereby consciously drawing particular attention to principles which are not negotiable... [1.] protection of life in all its stages, from the first moment of conception until natural death; [2.] recognition and promotion of the natural structure of the family... [3.] the protection of the right of parents to educate their children.
Pope Benedict XVI, Speech to European Peoples Party, 2006


Never Trust Experts

No lesson seems to be so deeply inculcated by the experience of life as that you should never trust experts. If you believe doctors, nothing is wholesome: if you believe the theologians, nothing is innocent: if you believe the soldiers, nothing is safe. They all require their strong wine diluted by a very large admixture of insipid common sense.
Lord Salisbury, “Letter to Lord Lytton”


Conservatism's Holy Grail

What distinguishes true Conservatism from the rest, and from the Blair project, is the belief in more personal freedom and more market freedom, along with less state intervention... The true Third Way is the Holy Grail of Tory politics today - compassion and community without compulsion.
Minette Marrin, The Daily Telegraph


Class War

In England there were always two sharply opposed middle classes, the academic middle class and the commercial middle class. In the nineteenth century, the academic middle class won the battle for power and status... Then came the triumph of Margaret Thatcher... The academics lost their power and prestige and... have been gloomy ever since.
Freeman Dyson, “The Scientist as Rebel”


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©2007 Christopher Chantrill