Why I’m raising my kids lower-class.

I know that raising your children to be relatively independent at young ages is associated in American society with the parents being unable to do any adulting whatsoever, but it’s important to T.W.O. and I that the kids be adaptable.  It’s more important than the constant humiliation and embarrassment over the fact that our kids do a lot for themselves and are expected to handle a large amount of household maintenance.

And it is difficult, because the brunt of “bad parent” falls entirely and solely on me as a rotten mother and on our mixed marriage (what, you thought Lion’s Den liberal white women were ok with it? LOL!) as a sign that black women basically can’t do middle-class parenting.

The fact is, teaching your kids to cook without doing it via an instagrammable class you spend $100+/kid on is considered low status and a sign you must be a drunk/druggie or “unstable” poor or an unstable poor drunk/druggie.  Expecting them to do household chores without paying them is also considered a similar sign of not-so-secret dysfunction.  After all, how can a kid do housework and ace all the schoolroom checkboxes if they have to pick up a broom now and again?  Just ignore the elephant in the room that in many other high-scoring countries, kids doing chores is part of the school attendance deal.

I don’t know, I’ll ask my kids after they skip another couple of grades.  Of course, grade skipping is also de trop and Doing Smart Wrong as well, unless it’s going straight from K to college.

My kids can do yardwork safely with edged tools, hand wash dishes, load a dishwasher correctly, load and run a front load or top loading washing machine correctly, including handling borax, and my oldest can do basic clothing repairs by hand or using a sewing machine.  Given a small spatula for the very youngest, all my children can cook on a stove top, griddle and can handle campfire cooking.  They can sweep, vacuum, and use kitchen cleaning products safely and correctly.

They can forage effectively and safely with a guidebook.  They know what barks and berries are edible without one.  But since we didn’t pay through the nose to have them taught these things, we’re trash as parents for not letting them have their own tablets and smartphones.  No, I have no kids aged 10 or older.  Yes, you’re viewed as a suspicious or bad parent for not giving younger children private electronics like tablets and smartphones.  Ironically, a lot of the judgment comes out of not being like actual lower-class parents who ask for and get these things out of the well-funded (but never “fully funded”) school districts in the area.

The giant caveat to all this is that Montessori parents aren’t remotely like this despite general very liberal tendencies and are pretty chill overall.  But there’s no way we can do K-12 Montessori and meet our kids where they are educationally.  It’s a great pedagogy for elementary level work, but it wasn’t designed for beyond that and I think it’s suboptimal that an entire secondary-school Montessori model has arisen in many locales.  But it was helpful in teaching our kids how to learn and they’ve shown a lot of adaptability to other learning paths.

Ultimately, my husband and I are not special, privileged people who can afford to use the public schools plain-vanilla and trust the system.  We’ve never been able to plug-and-play with private school either.  Our kids don’t do well following the normal parenting approaches where we live.  And we could have a seven figure household income and we’d still be considered lower-class for the way we’re raising them because when it’s all about “only people credentialled in this thing, even if this thing is making fishsticks, can teach it and the only valid way to learn this thing is from them and never anyone else or via self-teaching”, well, obviously we’re no good, bad, deplorable parents for not doing that.

Our household will never be middle class.  Our household will never be upper middle class.  I don’t know how I will explain our permanently low socioeconomic status to our kids when the time comes, and perhaps it never will.  Sometimes you don’t have to say anything for kids to figure out the social dynamics as teenagers.  And hopefully they are secure enough in having adaptability and competence that they don’t even care.

Child support quick post (2017 numbers)

According to the latest child support numbers that dropped today from the Census, there’s been an increase in custodial parents with support agreements receiving 0% of the child support they are due to be paid.  It looks rather as if over the last few years the partial paying group shifted to not paying at all, as the full-pay numbers are more stable for the same time while the partial-pay numbers went down.

Not an optimal shift.  It fits into the broader trend of the “unreceived child support” gap increasing over the last decade as received child support declined.

Custodial fathers have more volatility in receipt of full child support compared to custodial mothers when you look back over the decades but in the last couple of years are about as likely to receive it all as custodial mothers at around 43% receiving full payment compared to 46% of custodial mothers.  Custodial fathers still have a huge “no payment” gap, and this might be affecting the broader no payment trends of recent years.


One in six married parents made 200k/yr or more in 2018

As ever, fresh from the ACS 2018 1-year estimates.

One in eight make 150-199k per year.

So for 2018, over a quarter of married parents of minor children had household incomes of 150k or higher.

The group for $100-149,999 per year, ticked up to 24% of all married parents from 23% in 2017.

In short, 51% of married parents made 100k a year or more as a household in 2018.

The 50-99k pool of married parents is still about 1/3, but just barely at 32% in 2018.  It’s evenly split between households making 50-74k and those making 75-99k.

The downward trend continues for married parents with household income of 49k per year or lower.  Only about 1/6 of all married parents fall into this range.  And yes, you’ll note it’s about the same as the total pool of 200k+ households.

Eight years ago in 2010, the breakdown was very different, even though the number of married parent couples was about the same (a bit under 23m instead of a bit more than 22m)

200k- 7% nationally

150-199k- 7.5% nationally

100-149k- 20% nationally

50k-99k- 37.5% nationally

49k or lower-28% nationally

For 2018 67% or 2/3 of all married parents had household incomes of 75k per year or higher.   

We’re in for a rocky ride for 2019 and 2020.  We’ll likely see 70% of married parents above 75k in 2019’s numbers and then the year after that a drop (but not a very big one, married parents weren’t the ones bodyslammed by job losses from the economy stoppages related to Wuhan coronavirus), but the family median will plunge, as solo parent families took it on the chin very hard.  Trends continue until they don’t and black swans are notable for their recurrence and their rarity.

(Not)Eating the meat and tossing the bone: My experiences with fasting

I’m not a doctor, this is just my personal experience. Perhaps it might be useful for some.

About four years ago I lost the “magic” of not really gaining weight postpartum.  Previously, it was gone within a couple of months, breastfeeding rapid-gaining babies did cause massive calorie deficits and I was mostly dealing with the physical changes of widened shoulders and hips when clothes shopping.

Then it finally hit.  I gained a lot of weight very rapidly and didn’t know where to go from there.  So I went with the basics.  Ate less, moved around more.  This resulted in some weight loss, but I was constantly irritable and thinking about food I wasn’t eating.  There were a lot of hunger pangs as well.

I had a major health issue crop up that made it very hard to move around more, and the weight returned.  The weight issues made the health situation worse, so I started casting about for another approach.  I tried counting “macros”, and I did a little better with weight loss, but it was truly exhausting to try to eat that way.  Many women for whom that strategy is effective eat a lot of shelf-stable things that lend themselves to mixing and matching based on protein/fat/carb content, or they are super relaxed about eating 87 of the exact same macro-measured salad in a row.

Long story short I was losing weight for a month or two and gaining it back and then I looked into fasting.  Fasting female fans were showing stable weight loss, but more to the point they were showing stable *fat* loss and months between much lower regains than the other dieting approaches I’d used.  That women were having this result was very key to my decision to try fasting.  Some dieting approaches are better for men than women, and men don’t always think about that if they get good results and promote it to both men and women.

I had reasonable concerns about whether fasting was safe or sensible for my body.  All the kind of entry-level WebMd or casually asking a doctor information is that for most overweight or normal weight people not eating for up to 24 hours is probably fine.  Again I’m not a doctor, and I’m not saying doctors prescribed me a fasting schedule (although this is certainly something people can and do work out with a physician).  What I did learn, that does fall under the “forbidden knowledge” heading is that the typical concern is electrolytes and dehydration.  Medically prescribed or arranged fasting generally deals with this via IV fluids.

Or you can just make your own cheap electrolyte mix.  There are a lot of recipes online, the simplest is salt+nosalt, or sodium+potassium.  With a basic electrolyte mix to drink, fasting became something that seemed low-risk to try for more than 24 hours.  And that was what I found to be the case.

Fasting for 48-72 hours has many different names, and the approach with electrolyte mixes is just one of several, but seemed safest to try to me.  Fasting for this long puts many people into ketosis, which 24 hour fasting does not.  Ketosis is supposed to provide better and more lasting weight loss.

I have over the last year done 48 hour fasting and “intermittent” fasting of not eating for 16-24 hours.  The 48 hour fasting gave very different results than my previous dieting.  I lost more inches at the same scale-number. It was a 3 inch difference, same number on the scale, with about 18 months between weights.  I didn’t crave or obsess about food after the first 24 hours. I lost a little more weight on a monthly basis, but it was all at once and without changing my eating the other days of the month.  I did not do 48 hour fasts every week. I did do several monthly.

When I did 16-24 hour fasting, I didn’t get the all at once weight drop, but I did see more consistent weekly weight loss than with conventional dieting.  I did that kind of fasting for 3-5 days probably a half dozen times, but not in the same months I did a 48 hour fast.

Fasting is easier for me than conventional dieting (lol just don’t eat for a while!) and the weight loss is stickier.  There’s also real fat and inches loss that outpaces the drops on the scale.  I do drink electrolytes (salt+potassium, 0 calories in plain water) when I do a fast over 24 hours, but I don’t worry about it if it’s 16-24 hours.

The upshot is that a year later, doing less than one fasting style a month, I’m at a low weight I previously had to aggressively diet and sprint to reach and saw total regain within weeks on.  I haven’t faced total regain.  I even went on vacations with lots of high calorie food to eat in groups and saw no weight gain.

It’s been working so far.  If it only continues working as well as it has another year, I’ll be back to my most recent post-pregnancy weight, but with more muscle and probably as much as 4-5 more lost inches.  And all while never having to turn down food at social events.  The fasting protocol I’ve adapted emphasizes arranging to fast only when you aren’t facing social gatherings on the grounds that it’s impolite to bring your dietary weirdness into social stuff when you can just eat the darn cake or hot dog.  This works well for our social life.

That’s my experience with fasting the last year.  I’m skinnier without sagging skin and with less stress about food.

How many kids take Calculus in High School?

It’s hard to say.  The range based on any estimates within the last 5 years would put it around 750k annually across both AP and dual enrollment.  Dual enrollment also means a lot of public school kids who would have taken it in high school are receiving college credit instead, resulting in a certain amount of underestimating of how many public school kids are studying calculus in high school.  Using AP enrollment alone gets us to around 600k annually.

I’m putting a pin in this, it’s a legitimately tricky question to answer.  I can say that back of the old envelope, half or more of the students taking AP Calculus are private schooled. I don’t have access to the expensive research papers that delve into this topic in more detail.

Some will turn to NCES data and say “but that says only 5% of high schoolers take calculus!”  But it refers to the entire pool of 9-12th graders, and 5% gets you to the 750k above.

So that’s probably about right, right now.  And with private schooled high schoolers from grades 9-12 representing nearly 400k calculus-takers, that puts them around 25% taking calculus (more than half the total).  This leaves public school with around 3% of their 9-12th graders taking calculus.  So that’s a pretty major selection effect.


Capstone Follies, no fiction writing for mamma edition.

I came up short on my own writing goals, including a big fat zero on fiction wordcount because I spent the week helping one of my kids with a massive capstone project.  And yes, I didn’t think it would take all week and that I’d have some time to write.  But it didn’t work out that way.

There’s always next week though!

10% of BAs and higher among 15-24yos go to those under 21.

This appears to be about the right range.  Due to the variations in how dual enrollment and other early college access are handled by states, counties and school districts, it’s hard to nail the exact number down and thus have a 99.99% estimate.  But about 1 in 10 matches up with the available surveys and estimates on educational attainment.

For under-18s, girls are often slightly more likely to secure the 4 year degrees than boys, but it’s not consistently so.  For 18-20yos, boys are mostly ahead compared to girls on that.  Currently 15-17yos get a small but consistent chunk of early degrees, but we have yet to see them cross 100k/yr average as a group.  Maybe 60k tops by now annually.

Right around 4 million BAs and higher degrees are completed each year by the under 25 crowd, and the split is around 5% to 20yos, 2-3% to 18-19yos and 1-2% to 15-17yos.  I only have pure anecdotes and social media scraping to add in under-15, but they could be as high as half a percentage point to these totals, which would be 20k preteens with bachelor’s degrees.  It’s impossible to say though without more technical social media deep digging, and that’s probably the ceiling anyhow.

The interesting thing is that it appears we are at or near the tipping point in which college education (including the college prep high school and junior high system) must transmute under the strain of being secured at increasingly early ages.  What’s ahead?