Why are conservatives so individualistic and atomized?

My previous post was brought about by seeing promotion of 70s style egalitarian feminism on a pretty right-wing/conservative space and seeing very insistent promotion of individualistic isolated living (Just Marry and Have Kids, and optionally Homeschool ’em!) in several conservative areas ranging from the “Alt Right” to center-libertarians.

Marrying and having kids is good, but it’s not good to tell people that it ends there, that if they just follow that one weird trick everything will be all right.  It’s worth noting that even the male provision part is gone from that across the entire conservative and right-wing spectrum.  They don’t even see how badly they’ve lost the ability to think in terms of a real village, town or city.  The question of where the money is to come from to marry and have kids and optionally homeschool them is always met with quasi-solutions that rely on massive and faceless corporate entities who are completely antagonistic to family life.

The question of how your theoretical children are to be “well-reared” when social interaction with adults outside a workplace is waved away as unimportant (yes, including “church folk”, apparently hanging out with them is irrelevant to the whole marriage and properly reared kids project), where being embedded and part of a local community is dismissed as stupid to even worry about is an open one.

The question of how to raise kids with an understanding of household maintenance, management of finances and ability to save capital towards wealth-building or civic donations is also left unanswered.  There is very little discussion, even far from the internet, about what young couples who manage to marry are supposed to do for their individual families.  Again, the problem is not that for the most part we’re all reliant on the system and Business as Usual (BAU, from the peak-oil and doom-mongering crowd term for the status quo). That sucks, but you work with the situation you have.  The problem is the bizarre doubling down on the pretense that we aren’t if we just “marry and have kids”, that our choices aren’t incredibly narrow and constrained due to that reliance on BAU, that there’s no finding a way around BAU until you acknowledge you’re, well, subject to it.

But you know, this is conservatives we’re talking about.  They are leaving the development of anything meaningful to a weird guy who lives in Italy because you can live like a king on 40k a year USD because it’s so much easier to sit around complaining about how the billionaires are SJWs instead of getting funding from millionaires.  They sit around talking about how just marrying and having kids will magically produce the necessaries to feed, clothe and house them, and oh, if you do choose to homeschool, why they’ll totally be educated at an Oxford level by a worn out high school dropout mother and also simultaneously have Davy Crockett level wilderness and woodcraft skills…somehow while living in a tarmac-covered exurb without even a quarter acre parklet of grass.

And if you ask where the other people who aren’t your nuclear family are in all this, well, a surprising amount of the time it’s just a bunch of ???, because the solipsism is off the charts.  And most of the rest of the time, you’re told other people suck too much to hang out with.  The question of who your “well-reared” (in tablet-heavy isolation in the cheapest exurbs while you wreck your health with long car commuting) children will marry and have kids with themselves just leads to scary and weird places and also fails to seriously answer the question.

 

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52 thoughts on “Why are conservatives so individualistic and atomized?

  1. TPC said:

    “The question of how to raise kids with an understanding of household maintenance, management of finances and ability to save capital towards wealth-building or civic donations is also left unanswered.”

    Those are important and often neglected, but not hard (assuming an orderly and prosperous household with reasonably rested parents).

    With regard to household maintenance, I was basically raised by wolves (my parents have NO idea of how to maintain their house), but you pick up stuff over years of living in rentals and reading.

    I was also raised by wolves with regard to personal finance, but the basics aren’t that hard. For personal finance, I suggest starting with Dave Ramsey’s book Smart Money, Smart Kids. Our kids have had money making opportunities for the past 6+ years. It’s a little tough deciding what to pay them for and what is a because-you-live-here-sweetie (and there’s no going back once you pay a child for something), but our kids have been in charge of saving and buying themselves stuff for some time (ever since I noticed how wasteful they were with my Scotch tape and construction paper). My oldest has a ridiculous senior trip in four years, and we’ve explained to her that if she wants to go with her class, she needs to save $77 every single month from now until then. We keep an account for her with the Bank of Mom and Dad, as we do for our middle child and we offer 3% interest to make it interesting. For the past couple months we have been doing a check-in with her and collecting the $77 from her. She is taking it very seriously. She mother’s helpers for a good friend from time to time and will be moving on to solo babysitting in the next year or two.

    Our middle child has concerns about the wisdom of spending so much money on his senior trip and is thinking of buying a car instead…I think he may manage both, though.

    If our kids live at home for college, I would ideally like to have them save $100 or $200 a month for their young adult post-graduation fund throughout college (although I realize that that may not work for all majors). If they stayed after college, I would kick that up a bit. At that rate, they could have $10k in savings relatively rapidly, and $10k is way, way more than my husband or I had before we left home.

    More in a bit…

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  2. Here are some of our financial arrangements with the big kids (which are, I admit, hard to afford). If you are poorer, adjust way, way down:

    $1 to tidy living room (available daily, oldest has dibs)
    $1 to tidy preschooler’s playroom (available daily, oldest has dibs)
    $1 to tidy own room (I may be a meanie and insist on some extra organizing and sorting)
    25-30 cents per age-appropriate Kumon workbook page (corrected)
    $2 for SAT verbal section (corrected)
    $3 for SAT math section (corrected)
    $2 to do 15 minutes personal training for mom (just started that last night–the 8th grader was walking me through the Wii yoga–she’s actually really good)
    $2-$3 vacuum and wipe down car interior
    $20 (?) window washing (not all windows)
    $30 basic housecleaning (hasn’t happened yet–will offer this summer–will probably cancel one professional cleaning a month and ask kid to do floors, bathrooms, and kitchens once a month–I kind of expect this venture to fail, but I at least need to demonstrate the process once)
    $10 an hour babysitting (hasn’t happened yet–once preschooler is 4-5)
    $2-3 minor yard work

    Theoretically, they could both break us but it hasn’t happened yet. Our oldest makes $5 an hour as a mother’s helper when she works for a friend and will eventually get $15 an hour as a solo evening sitter for my friend.

    We expect the following for free:

    –picking up own stuff in living room
    –cleaning up after self
    –unloading dishwasher
    –keeping bedrooms passable (getting paid requires a higher level of effort)
    –15-20 minutes of playing with preschooler per day
    –some cooking from the early teen
    –Christmas tree decorating

    (We need to add more cooking, laundry, and dishes to the free list, but we have a few years to do that.)

    The free stuff is mandatory and the paid stuff is usually optional.

    The big kids have been on the plans for years. One kid is a natural saver and the other is a natural spender, but even the spender is on the program and understands saving, delayed gratification, and planning for the future. It’s really gratifying, because she’s way ahead of where I was at the same age with the same spending personality.

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    • Wow Amy P, you are generous! My parents would have never, ever in their wildest dreams done something like this with my siblings and I. They’re immigrants who expected hard work and sacrifice at personal expense…but they neglected to teach us, especially me, a lot of things. I had to learn the hard way.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Our system emerged years ago when I realized that I didn’t want to buy the kids art supplies that they were going to waste or deal with begging for toys (other than at Christmas and for birthdays). So, we made sure that they always have an opportunity to earn their own money, save and buy whatever they want. They can get whatever they want (if it’s moral) eventually if they work and don’t spend their money–even the ridiculous senior trip to Europe or an inexpensive car. It has been a number of years since I dealt with any whining for stuff at the store and the kids really have learned thrift and future orientation. Our oldest (who is a spender like me) has shown a lot of determination the last few months in working regularly for me. (And it is SO nice to finish almost every day with the preschooler’s toys tidied up.)

        There is no paid work on Sunday (although if they want to work and donate to their charity box, that’s fine). Also, as I noted, not all parts of the program are operational yet. I have a lot of hopes for having the big kids train me, because I’ll get free reminders from them.

        Also, I forgot to mention, but we have just started paying our two big school kids for school grades every term–$5 for 95-99% and $7 for 100% and above (they have extra credit in some classes).

        It is potentially a LOT of money (and I would recommend anybody doing something similar to try to get away with a lot less to start with). These amounts work in our family context–it’s high enough that it’s very motivating for the kids, but low enough that it is more than competitive with outsourcing.

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      • Maea,

        At some point in adulthood, I realized that my childhood financial education had been very inadequate. I’m not talking about the technical stuff that you see in the newsstand money magazines, but just the basic mechanics of earning, saving, and spending.

        The big problem was that (at least into my mid-teens), there was no regular way to make money. Money came very sporadically–$10 as a birthday gift, $20 after helping with some big farm project (but not every big farm project), etc. There wasn’t any predictable way of earning it until I was college-age. I literally never saved up for anything until I was in my early twenties and living on my own and I don’t think I ever heard my parents talking about saving for anything (although they must have) and I certainly never heard them talking about a budget or doing a budget. Up until I was in college, I would spend money as soon as I had an opportunity.

        There was also a lot of can’t-have-this-can’t-have-that from my mom at the grocery store and a pinched feeling, which probably contributed to me going hog wild financially through much of my 20s. It’s very much a poor person mentality–when you finally have money, you’ve GOT to spend it NOW.

        With my kids, I try to emphasize that they can buy whatever they like (if we approve of it)…if they pay for it themselves. I also discourage the kids from keeping any substantial amount of cash–anything over a certain amount is transferred from their piggy banks into their long term savings accounts, and any expenditure from there will require our approval. But they typically have a lot more cash in hand than I did at their age. My husband and I also do our monthly budget meeting out in the open in earshot of the kids, so I hope they have a general idea of our process.

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      • I’m really hogging this thread, but I have a lot of thoughts on the subject.

        A lot of people would pearl clutch about this, but I have leaned heavily on commercial classes to teach my kids stuff. My oldest has done sewing classes for years (including quilting). The interesting thing about that is that (even if I did know machine sewing), it would be hard to get her to sit down and sew a quilt for 12 hours a week, but when there’s a room full of other girls doing it, it’s FUN. (I privately refer to the quilt camp as “sweat shop camp.”) Our tween son has also done one or two machine sewing classes. We also bought our oldest a nice machine and sewing table. There are a couple of other craft classes I would like oldest to take (including knitting), but I may have just missed the window of interest for introducing a new craft hobby. (Tween girls LOVE this stuff but it can be hard to sell teenage girls on new experiences.) I’ll try to remember that with my younger kids.

        I have a general idea of the cooking process, but we’ve also outsourced much of that. Our oldest has been doing a one-week summer cooking class for the last few years, with great success. She comes home with cooked food and a recipe, proudly shares it, and then often wants to do the recipe again at home. We’ve gotten a lot of mileage out of what she’s learned in camp. I plan to put our middle child in the cooking class, too. We’ve also done cake decorating classes for the kids–a bit expensive and a big pain (lots of materials and you have to bring in cupcakes or a cake to work on), but we’re also starting to get a lot of mileage out of the skills. I think her cake decorating results are very good for an 8th grader.

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  4. TPC said:

    “They sit around talking about how just marrying and having kids will magically produce the necessaries to feed, clothe and house them, and oh, if you do choose to homeschool, why they’ll totally be educated at an Oxford level by a worn out high school dropout mother and also simultaneously have Davy Crockett level wilderness and woodcraft skills…somehow while living in a tarmac-covered exurb without even a quarter acre parklet of grass.”

    To be fair, a lot of the people who are enthusiastic about homeschooling have very, very low academic standards.

    One not infrequently hears people say that all they care about is their children getting to heaven, so it doesn’t really matter if they get a good K-12 education or are prepared for a career that would support a family. I don’t think I need to go into everything that is wrong with that idea–but here are a couple of thoughts:

    –doing a bad job educating children at home is a lousy witness
    –there are a lot of ticked off homeschool alumni from large families.

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    • My experience with homeschool promotion, including offline, is that they tell people to homeschool because it’s a “free” way to get super high quality private school equivalent education for any number of children if you don’t make much money as a household. This is one reason why a lot of the women I know feel bad about not doing it, they believe they’re failing to do something that could instantly put their (intellectually average) kids on the same footing as Tiger Mommed striver kids.

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      • Over at CAF, we have a lot of the following conversation:

        Parent of small family: We can’t have a large family because local public schools are terrible and private school is expensive.

        Homeschooling parent of larger family: You can homeschool!!!!!

        I hate that one, because if the parent of a small family follows the advice and it doesn’t work, they are truly up a creek. And really, how many families homeschool all of their kids K-12? The normal pattern is to hop in and out according to need (with a lot of hopping in once high school starts).

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      • I really enjoy homeschooling, and conventional schooling would be terrible for our family. What I don’t like, and where I feel the major issue with universal homeschool boosterism lies, is trying to educate multiple kids at once with no support. I live in a pretty homeschool-heavy area but the idea that all the moms could maybe run a co-op playschool for the under 6’s so we can actually read something with the older kids is treated like crazy talk.

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    • I just want to throw in here that we charter school… which means the shorter one is homeschooled (with a prepped curriculum and one day of class/labs) and the the HS age one goes to school 4 days/wk and does the rest online (oh noes – nothing like college these days at allllll). And the charter school keeps me sorted with the state (my state has lots of laws about HS) and I get the reassurance that we’re on target. This is good, since we came home when the older was in 6th grade and the younger was in 4th.

      Because the charter school is a public school, it’s free. Because it’s a public school (I think it counts as “independent study”) I get a curriculum, which I am free to follow – or not, if I have something better. There are online versions entirely (although the quality of those varies). Well, the charter school quality varies a good deal.

      I don’t know if other folks don’t have this opportunity, or don’t know about the charter schools in their areas, but just putting it out there – it’s not all or nothing with HS/public school, and we left the public schools because the education there sucked, not for moral reasons. Also, because there is this “cyber cafe” thing on school days, I could potentially take part time work if/when they were both working online.

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      • Like with the having fewer kids overall while a tiny group doubles down on big families, more and more households that want to homeschool are doing what you’re doing while a tiny purity cult calls those people traitors to the cause and etc and tries to homeschool many kids with varying degrees of success. I have come to find out in my area that public-private partnerships and charter school stuff (and full on private schools) are where a lot of the functional conservative families that might have produced some proper homeschool co-ops have ended up.

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        • I hear the same from my friends who still public school… and thought to myself when I started at the charter, “oh… I was wondering where all the other middle-class moms were…”

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  5. The initial post title was: “Why are conservatives so individualistic and atomized?”

    I’ll answer that primarily for conservative men and then add a theory or two for conservative women.

    –individualistic heroes (one guy who stands alone and gets stuff done–see Batman, Clint Eastwood, etc.)
    –the legend of the frontier
    –living amidst ideologically uncongenial peers for long periods of time
    –high mobility
    –not being familiar with the demands of child-rearing
    –being on the autism spectrum
    –and (related) not being good at relationships

    Some of those probably aren’t true for women (the individualistic heroes), but some probably are.

    For women, I’d also add:

    –pride
    –inexperience
    –competitive mothering is inherently destructive of female community

    I think the last item is very important across the ideological spectrum–and I think it is related to both pride and inexperience. Misplaced pride, inexperience and competitiveness destroy a young mother’s ability from seeking help and advice from her natural peer group (existing friends and family), hurt her relationships with her natural peer group, and drive her into the arms of people who are often wackos (all of those -isms that prey on new mothers looking for perfection).

    It can take a really long time for a new middle class mother to realize, this is not a contest, this is a journey that I am taking with other mothers, and I should be trying to make it as pleasant as possible for all of us. And if she never realizes that, she will be really and truly miserable.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Here’s another one for both groups:

      –fear that “the impure” will contaminate your precious family.

      “The impure” may include both parents’ entire extended families and their entire neighborhood.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. This is a thought I had recently, and I’d like to put out there.

    I noticed a lot of the values we, as orthodox devout Christians, promote are quite contrary to the current values of American culture. There was a time where I mused to myself, can one be a devout Catholic and a patriotic American? I’m coming to the conclusion it doesn’t seem so…unless American culture makes a HUGE right turn (doubtful). I know, controversial. It makes sense to me considering the current state of American Christianity.

    All of these values running contrary to individualism and atomization were gone at least a generation ago…if not more. How would we even know if we’re doing it right? I can tell from my ethnic culture, a lot of things are going to die out with my generation and my niece’s generation. Not all of the things dying out are good things, but my husband often comments to me how there’s such a strong sense of kith and kin. It would be a shame to see it get lost, but the fact is, in the current American culture, to assimilate you have to lose some of it. I’m for assimilating (none of that multikulti crap). Anyone get what I’m saying?

    Liked by 2 people

    • Maea,

      1. Nobody is totally wrong about everything. If ancient and medieval Christian authors were able to salvage huge chunks of Greek and Roman culture, then it stands to reason that there are chunks of contemporary US culture that are usable. (St. Augustine talks about appropriating good things from Greek and Roman thought as the equivalent of the Hebrews carrying away Egyptian treasures.) The truth is the truth wherever you find it, and whoever in saying it.

      I think it is a very basic and consistent error in the Christian part of the manosphere to assume that every thing that can be plausibly described as “feminist” is totally false. Whereas, I would argue that that makes no more sense than assuming that calling them “Greek” is an argument for tossing out Plato and Aristotle entirely.

      2. More specifically, I think there is a lot about mainstream US middle class parenting and marriage culture that is salvageable. I think there are a lot of good ideas.

      3. I think there’s probably less need to assimilate than ever before.

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      • My point is, how do we know what we’re implementing is correct? I still hold the belief we’re too far removed from what the community was, and often what we remember from experiences are just that– memories. We remember childhood memories of witnessing, or witnessing our parents’ involvement. But how do we know the way we go about this will lead to the desired result?

        For example– the patriarchal family. I think I read a comment from a manosphere blog author that if he tried to get his brother on board with the traditional patriarchal structure, he’d probably get a strange response or a weird look. We in our current age, don’t know how to really do this. How many families exist with males who’d actually step in to implement this structure? How many families exist where the oldest son after a father’s death would step in to be the patriarch? Heck, how many families are there that actually consider the father to be the head? Unless of course, one already lives in some kind of enclave but once again– how does that help the rest of us who haven’t seen this kind of structure, weren’t taught it, and have no idea how to begin?

        I think one of the reasons why conservatives are so individualistic and atomized is because they’re trying to preserve something they know to be true. The family is important, but since we’re so removed from how the family’s involved in the community, the idea of a community seems to be a moot point. At least, that’s my prediction for how things in the next generation might go before things get better. My view might be cynical, but I err on the side of realistic caution because people just don’t get along very well. Case in point: family conflict.

        Liked by 1 person

        • I agree that holding on to the nuclear family is a part of it. But SWPLs have created a portable, real culture that allows them to recognize their people even without internet access or phonebook access in a strange new place. So it can be done after a fashion.

          There has to be a way to recognize your people if ethnicity isn’t a big deal (and despite the talk, it’s not a big deal even to the “race aware” Alt Right types). It’s one means by which you move from clan/kin to broader community.

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      • Maea said:

        “My point is, how do we know what we’re implementing is correct? I still hold the belief we’re too far removed from what the community was, and often what we remember from experiences are just that– memories. We remember childhood memories of witnessing, or witnessing our parents’ involvement. But how do we know the way we go about this will lead to the desired result?”

        One thing I realize now is that there is a mainstream US middle class parenting culture and it does basically work–for solidly middle class and upper middle class people.

        So, for example, a lot of people make fun of preschool, organized sports and activities as being unnecessary and wastes of money–but what if that’s where the other middle class families are? What if that’s where the community is?

        But it is a BIG question–what about non-middle class people?

        “For example– the patriarchal family…How many families exist where the oldest son after a father’s death would step in to be the patriarch? Heck, how many families are there that actually consider the father to be the head? Unless of course, one already lives in some kind of enclave but once again– how does that help the rest of us who haven’t seen this kind of structure, weren’t taught it, and have no idea how to begin?”

        I think it’s actually more “traditional” in the US to have a matriarch. The phrase “matriarch of the family” is much more natural in the US when speaking about one’s own family than the phrase “patriarch of the family.”

        I know that in my extended family (which is very functional), we are economically patriarchal, but socially matriarchal. We don’t use the term, but my grandmother is an obvious matriarch, and has been my whole life. She’s the one who organizes social events, makes sure that the extended family stays in touch (via lots of events), makes peace, and is the conscience of the family. “What would grandma think?” has kept many of us on the straight and narrow.

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      • @TPC

        There has to be a way to recognize your people if ethnicity isn’t a big deal (and despite the talk, it’s not a big deal even to the “race aware” Alt Right types).

        If we use the past as the template, it was important for these communities to be ethnically homogenous. Desegregation wasn’t received well, and desegregation still isn’t received well as evidenced by the “gentrification” associated with race and class. Not saying the idea of desegregation was bad, but communities are in some ways, a large extension of the family. Most families aren’t okay with someone different pushing in (repeat– see family conflicts).

        I believe there’s a way to recognize kith. The question now is, what to do to get people to care? I’ve met many people growing up who didn’t even know all of their first cousins (much less cared for them). People think it’s “interesting” for me to know my 2nd cousins once removed, but they think it’s strange for me to call a close family friend “Aunty” when we’re not blood-related.

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      • @AmyP:

        I think it’s actually more “traditional” in the US to have a matriarch. The phrase “matriarch of the family” is much more natural in the US when speaking about one’s own family than the phrase “patriarch of the family.”

        This is one example I was referring to regarding conflicting values. I think it makes sense for the “head” woman in the family to take the social lead, but that’s different from taking “the lead.” Is it possible in the US to see families where the head father takes “the lead”?

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      • I hope this is nested correctly!

        Maea said:

        “This is one example I was referring to regarding conflicting values. I think it makes sense for the “head” woman in the family to take the social lead, but that’s different from taking “the lead.” Is it possible in the US to see families where the head father takes “the lead”?”

        I think I’ve seen it, but didn’t actually like it–maybe because being both the economic lead and the lead generally is too much power for one person. The economic/social split seems to work pretty well, though.

        I think with good US marriages it tends to be a bit nebulous to outsiders who is calling the shots.

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  7. “ideally you would have books, textbooks, workbooks, art supplies, pencils, pens, internet, a computer, a working printer, museum and zoo memberships (where available), good transportation, and field trips”

    How are you schooling your children without those things, home, public, private, or circus?

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    • Well, they’ve got pretty much all of that stuff even at the worst school–plus subsidized hot lunch.

      So, if a public school family can’t afford enrichment materials, at least they can get it at school. But if the kids aren’t going to school and the family can’t afford that stuff, they are really and truly up a creek.

      I feel very strongly that we should not be encouraging no-budget homeschooling–and those people do exist.

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      • You get it at school, you don’t bring it home. How is the kid doing homework with no internet? That’s all online now. They dont have *crayons?* That’s not normal, that’s poverty.

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  8. Materials are not a significant cost for homeschooling, they’re just not, unless you’re some kind of spartan weirdo. Anybody capable of homeschooling is buying all that stuff anyway. Acting like buying *art supplies and a printer* is some kind of special expense of *homeschooling,* as opposed to a normal expense of parenting, is just blowing more squid ink to contribute to the giant cloud obscuring the real issues with homeschooling and the real immediate benefits of schooling. The real issues have to do with never getting the kids out of your hair and schooling does this. But if you’re homeschooling, one of the major reasons you want some of the kids out of your hair is so you can provide an actual education to the oldest, something which most American public schools don’t provide. Speaking of printers, I’ve been trying to print out pictures for a timeline all day and the printer is being recalcitrant, but I can’t fix it because I’m never not interrupted. I have multiple homeschooling families in walking distance but if I asked any of them to take my younger kids to the park so I could do something necessary to a planned educational activity, they would blink at me for awhile, laugh nervously and back away.

    Liked by 1 person

    • You Know Who said:

      “Anybody capable of homeschooling is buying all that stuff anyway.”

      Ah, but that’s the point–there are families attempting to homeschool who are just too poor to do it properly.

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  9. There are always stupid people doing stupid things, but they’re not relevant to the greater issue. It’s like we’re having a discussion about camping and people keep saying “some people try to make tents out of garbage bags and think they can pet bears!” Ok, those people are idiots. Now can we actually talk about tents?

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    • You Know Who said:

      “Another way to put this: if you’re too poor to homeschool you’re too poor to have kids without state support. So these people aren’t relevant to this discussion.”

      No–it’s totally relevant.

      And the reason why is (that as TPC has discussed so many times) there are widespread delusions on the right as to how much income you need to do an adequate job raising children and homeschooling. How many times have we heard that anybody can homeschool?

      I was googling, and there’s even a book from the 1990s on Amazon entitled “Anyone Can Homeschool.”

      That’s a very important idea in the rhetoric surrounding homeschool–that anybody can do it, and if you don’t, it’s because you’re lazy or uncaring.

      To continue your analogy, there really are people camping in garbage bag tents and there really are people encouraging them to camp in garbage bag tents year round…in Alaska.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. So you say “garbage bag tenting is stupid and dangerous” and you’re done. You need a certain amount of resources to homeschool – however those resources are not actually significantly larger than the resources you need to parent. You don’t get any financial benefit in terms of material costs when putting your kids in school, unless you’re some kind of bizarro person who would buy crayons and zoo memberships when homeschooling, but not otherwise. The financial benefits come entirely from the mother being free to work, except most people’s labor isn’t actually worth that much, and when you subtract the costs of working, well….

    The resources that people need to homeschool and aren’t getting *aren’t financial.* They are community-based.

    Liked by 1 person

    • ” The financial benefits come entirely from the mother being free to work, except most people’s labor isn’t actually worth that much, and when you subtract the costs of working, well….”

      But a mother who is capable of doing a good job of homeschooling isn’t “most people”–she’s well above average, and hence her earning potential is above average (all things being equal).

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  11. “But a mother who is capable of doing a good job of homeschooling isn’t “most people”–she’s well above average, and hence her earning potential is above average (all things being equal).”

    Are you kidding me? How much do you think teachers earn?

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    • You Know Who said:

      “Are you kidding me? How much do you think teachers earn?”

      Compared to most other people, US public school teachers do earn a good salary and have good benefits–and it’s relatively easy for a two-income couple with a public school teacher wife to tip over into six figures.

      But I wasn’t really thinking of teachers per se, but that the market value of a bright, organized, calm, woman who is good at learning new things is higher than the market value of women with similar paper credentials (assuming similar amounts of time spent out of the work force).

      When I think of my good friend who homeschools, she’s good at homeschooling because she’s good at things in general and I know she’d be a superb employee.

      Also, bear in mind that the average is actually very low. If the median US household income is $52k, then it’s relatively easy for a woman in a one-income household that makes around that to bump that up substantially by working.

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  12. I’m pretty sure we had this discussion before about domestic work. You cannot use time spent at home to get any kind of job. I’m sure your friend is awesome, but her labor (and mine) is not worth enough on the open market to make up for the loss of her services at home. Housewifery and homeschooling have *no market value.* Insisting that they do is another contribution of squid ink obscuring the real problem, which is that in order to educate children at home properly without driving mothers into early graves, homeschooling mothers need to be treated like actual adults with status doing something real and important and real community resources need to be devoted to us. And by that *I don’t mean money.* I mean that people need to look around their actual communities and pick up the slack that homeschool mothers can’t. That isn’t happening in any community I am aware of, there is constant complaining about it everywhere you look. That’s what this blog is about. You can’t magic this lack away by thinking about an imaginary world where awesome organized homeschool mothers would be such good employees making so much money. I don’t make any money. I can’t make much money. I still deserve – and the community deserves, because it’s for their ultimate good – someone to go oh hey, maybe I should take that lady’s kids to the park for her so she can fix the printer.

    As for the cop and teacher/lawyer and teacher/nurse and teacher marriages cracking 6 figures, sure they do, but the cost of outsourcing what the women would be doing if she were staying home doesn’t go away, and the social effects of women just no longer being able to do those things are real and serious.

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    • “I’m sure your friend is awesome, but her labor (and mine) is not worth enough on the open market to make up for the loss of her services at home.”

      Assuming small children at home, yeah, but if kids are elementary age or older. it’s a bit different.

      I’ve got both a 3-year-old youngest at home, a 5th grader and an 8th grade oldest, with a third private school tuition and college right on the horizon, and I find myself increasingly interested in the cash value of my time. Obviously, after nearly a decade and a half at home, it’s not a great deal, but it’s worth something.

      In my friend’s particular case, she has a STEM degree and experience, does her husband’s work paperwork, and has good local contacts. I think she’s going to do swell when the time comes. I’ve also seen a mom of four at school go from uber volunteer to school admin/fundraiser.

      The nurses have the option of working three days a week, which is really important with regard to not have to outsource absolutely everything.

      I’m personally looking at a seasonal job that would probably be very intense for four or five months out of the year, but allow me to SAHM the rest of the time. (My sister has a different but functionally similar gig–her business is very intense three months out of the year, but during the school year, she’s 80-90% SAHM to a high schooler and a toddler. She has fabulous grandma and grandpa help from her in-laws during the summer.)

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    • homeschooling mothers need to be treated like actual adults with status doing something real and important and real community resources need to be devoted to us.

      Then the underlying issue needs to be addressed– the idea married women with children staying at home not making money are a problem. The reason why all of those other problems exist in the first place is due the idea not making money renders the person useless. “You mean you’re not working?” translates to “you mean you aren’t bringing in money?”

      Once people get there’s a lot to be done at home, and domestic life is very useful and benefits society, the problems will eventually subside.

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  13. Great piece and great comment thread. Ugh. What is wrong with people!? Having kids is hard! Help us! Sheesh!

    That’s my new battle cry. Not. Ok gonna go clean up this messy house some more. Wait, I mean, go eat bon bons and not contribute anything of value to society by being a SAHM.

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