CNN/Dual careers

Julia Frugoli jfrugoli at
Mon Jun 19 17:58:24 EST 2000

Dr Brookes wrote:

"A fact worth considering is that with the lack of reasonably priced
childcare, the only way most families can survive is to have one parent work
and the other stay at home.  It is un-economical for both parents to work,
if one of their salaries is being spent entirely on childcare costs.  So,
what happens?  They see the economic stupidity of this (and the improvement
in the quality of life for the child by having a parent care for it)  and
one of them quits."

I would argue strongly that "Improvement in the quality of life for the
child by having a parent care for it" is by no means a given, and no one has
ever shown that children suffer from daycare.  My own have thrived and grown
up to become responsible, intelligent adults, with expanded world views.  I
suspect it helped them that they understood from early on that different
people do things differently.  

My soapbox:
I don't buy that "only a parent can raise a child" line, especially because
it is often used to suggest that people, usually women, are selfish if they
have other desires outside raising a family.  I am a firm believer that
people are better parents when children aren't the sole focus of their life.
 I also find that children who are the sole focus of their parents' life (1)
can never live up to their parents expectations and (2) tend to be
insufferably spoiled.  So even if daycare is a breakeven proposition
economically, if it allows you to be a sane and happy parent because you're
not resentful of your child-it's worth it.

"Given what has already been said WRT salary imbalances between men and
women, this is usually the woman, for purely economic reasons.  So, the
imbalance in the number of women vs. men who quit after a child arrives can
be accounted for at least in part by the salary imbalance that exists - it
is cheaper for the woman to quit.  Of course, there is still the argument
about who's job in the partnership is "more important", but in these frugal
times, economics must play a large part in the decision?"

I also have to ask about where the expression "in these frugal times" comes
from.  To my understanding, we're in the midst of the largest, longest
economic expansion in US history.  There are fewer unemployed people and
more millionaires that ever before.  Even in conservative academia, in my
own field I see universities pouring megabucks into new facilities and
positions to take advantage of the biotech boom (the advisability of which I
won't discuss).  It doesn't get much better than this economically, so if we
can't pull even now economically, imagine what will happen when the economy
contracts (some people think "if " the economy contracts, while I tend to be
a pessimist).

Food for thought.

Julia Frugoli
Department of Plant Pathology & Microbiology
Texas A&M University
Norman E.Borlaug Center for Southern Crop Improvement 
2123 TAMU
College Station, TX 77843
phone 979-862-3495
FAX 979-862-4790

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