College has replaced the parish

This is more of a note than a fully hashed out idea, but I think there is something to the fact that the “tribe” of college-educated adults and especially college-educated parents is where what remains of functional parenting culture lies in America among American-born Americans.  It’s the college-educated who hook each other up with nanny shares, allowing them genuinely flexible childcare that pays a good wage to the nanny while none of them ever pay more than center-based daycare costs per family.  It’s the college educated who can still find college-educated young women willing to barter and be live-in childcare for a gap year or two.  Who make social events mixed-age, and welcoming to children and their parents.  There is a loyalty and support base there that even crosses political boundaries.  But of course, both parents have to be college-educated.

Thus, when the political rubber hits the road, conservatives are more loyal to their real tribe of college-educated types than their supposed tribe of conservatives, Christians or conservative Christians.  I’ve seen way too many non-Christian college educateds serve as enforcers of progressive stuff by assuring college educated Christians that so long as they agree with some progressive thing (obviously being frothy about how evil Trump is would be a recent example) they’re “sane, sensible Christians” and thus acceptably human and allowed to retain access to a fairly vast social network.

And why shouldn’t they scrabble for the attentions of fellow college-goers?  Completing a BA/BSc or more has a shared vocabulary and world of experiences that crosses the same kinds of political and ethnic lines that church or parish (sometimes) used to.  Being cut off from a complete culture with its own traditions and lore, and of course, support in real terms like showing up to watch your kids with ten minutes’ notice, it’s easy to see why Christians end up choosing to go along with tons of progressive cant to maintain those bonds and access to those resources.

 

 

Homeschool Enrollment Trends

http://icher.org/blog/?p=2801#more-2801

This data is caveated like whoa for obvious reasons, but it’s interesting because it gives a glimpse of where critical mass is that can lead to more options for homeschooling households than doing it alone in the woods and never meeting any other homeschool families.

Something all the men who yell “homeschool or die” never talk about, but having the choice to be part of a community and not having to be jane teacher of all subjects is a big deal when making the decision about whether to homeschool and for how long.

 

Shift Toward Greater Educational Attainment for Women Began 20 Years Ago

In the mid-90s, black, white and Hispanic women aged 25-34 all pulled ahead of men in getting bachelor’s degrees or higher (or multiple, etc).  Asian women pulled ahead about ten years later.  Two decades of this has resulted in all women over 25 being likelier than all men over 25 to have a college degree.

Now since we’re talking about all adults over 25, and further, since it’s painfully obvious that college education doesn’t improve women’s financial earnings capacities reliably or consistently, we have to consider the longer-term implications of this on marriage and family formation.  Men still do earn more on average, *if they bother to work*, but they are increasingly not bothering to work.

Source: Shift Toward Greater Educational Attainment for Women Began 20 Years Ago

Saying farewell to full time childcare while being a SAHM

T.W.O. is always saying I should be more open and raw on muh blawg, so here goes.

The combination of number of kids, the ages they are, their physical and mental vigor and quirks, and the fact that I do stay home with them have all led to our household reaching a point where the effort involved finding the type of full time nanny/babysitter that is ok with it all is more stressful and disruptive than simply giving up things like cooking in favor of going with part-timers, private school and deli food.  We had a good run, had some very kind and caring people over the years, but we’ve reached the limit of how useful it can be to us in a part of the country where being a housewife isn’t really viewed as having its own purpose.

I come from the South, and there being a housewife comes with expectations that make it reasonable to do something like have full time childcare if that’s what it takes to meet the expectations.  Many do not, but people don’t really freak out if you do because it’s assumed you must have that lady there to help you meet the expectations of hospitality and visiting and decoration that come with housewiving there, especially at the higher household income brackets.  Where we are now, the expectation is that the housewife is solely full time childcare.  This is the reason for the 20 dollar a day SAHMs around here.  They literally don’t know what else to do but watch kids, so they just keep chugging and the money is pretty much a token sum charged because people would be weirded out by them pleading to watch kids for free (although sometimes they offer, and now I understand why).

We basically didn’t have to confront this issue until recently because the people we got stayed for decent lengths of time.  But recently we had to put feelers out and the hassle was just so epic compared to previous hiring go-rounds that we’re done this time around.  Granted I will still have part-timers, but part-timers don’t sweat me being home precisely because they are part-time.  It could be a lot worse, we’re not making the change because of inability to pay, and I still have part-time childcare from nice teenagers readily available.  I just had hopes of  starting “pure” homeschooling soon, but that’s just not possible.  There is no homeschool community here, the private school options we’re going with are closer to the “one room school” model that we think is best for our children, and me providing more complex instruction down the road is always an option as the kids age.

We’ve all been pretty sick the last couple weeks, so I have more anxiety about the whole thing than is really warranted.  The kids are very capable at very young ages and we can do this without everything falling apart.  At least, that’s the hope.

 

 

A homeschooler’s history of homeschooling

http://a2zhomeschooling.com/main_articles/history_homeschooling/history_of_homeschooling/

This extremely popular homeschooling resource clearinghouse is run by a twice-married, very smart and career-oriented work-at-home mother who had two children about 15 years apart (one from each marriage, she is still in her second marriage) and homeschooled the second one starting when he was about 9 or 10.   That was around the time she figured out how to work from home in a very specialized way that allowed her a lot of free time and flexibility in home educating her son.

I put all that intro out there because most of the homeschool resources people still use now in 2015 come from these older people (mostly women) who were very diverse in their backgrounds and generally very brainy and immensely intellectually talented types who wanted to have kids anyway.

That page contains a very interesting piece of homeschooling history, the recollections and documentation of the conservative Christian homeschooling wing of homeschooling by Cheryl Seelhoff, whose divorce and adultery caused some major rifts within that community (which as you’ll learn from the history was really many little sub-communities who were openly inspired by the Amish and Mennonites and who often wouldn’t even let remarried people into their homeschool circles or home church circles, much less a woman who was at-fault in the classic sense for her divorce).  She herself is an interesting figure in homeschool history, as someone who provided a lot of resources and support even after she received ostracism from so many other homeschool big names.

The direct links to Seelhoff’s history are below, they are pdf scans, but quite readable and high quality.

http://a2zhomeschooling.com/documents/hsh1.pdf

http://a2zhomeschooling.com/documents/hsh2.pdf

http://a2zhomeschooling.com/documents/hsh3b.pdf

http://a2zhomeschooling.com/documents/hsh4.pdf

http://a2zhomeschooling.com/documents/hsh5.pdf

http://a2zhomeschooling.com/documents/hsh6.pdf

 

There are several very interesting books about the history and evolution of homeschooling, links to which can be found at the site of this homeschool researcher who wrote one of the most comprehensive ones.  Yep, there’s academic research on homeschoolers, quite a lot of it, some of it pretty high quality.

Anyway Seelhoff’s  history basically shows that the Superwife thing has been going on for a really long time among conservatives, as the mothers were expected to bake, can, garden, make their own clothes and those of their daughters (for modesty), homeschool, and be constantly pregnant or hoping to be while dad earned an income, but usually not a high one.  The major differences between these 1980s and 1990s homespun jumper folks and modern conservative Christian homeschoolers doing that is that the 1980s and 1990s folks mostly did bother to live near enough to each other to provide direct encouragement and support via numerous home churches.  And in what might unkindly be thought of as a kind of pyramidism, and more kindly as a conscious networking before internet, they often had “home businesses” selling each other “home-centered living” and “home schooling” lifestyle magazines, newsletters and curriculum, along with various Christian literature about how Biblical various practices were or weren’t.

Everything old is, as ever, new again.

Market salary for a housekeeper/cook/nanny is 35-50k/yr

This is just for the people who claim that a grown woman who really was raised with full domestic skills in those things, including household inventory management and orderly cleaning routines and a decent time spent in child caring has zero money-making skills and is completely doomed if her husband dies or leaves.  It’s not the stupid and unhelpful 200k/year of occasional news articles, but it’s the general range of what women get who do this for pay.  Being a housewife is economically fragile these days, but if you were brought up to do it, you probably can perform at a professional level if you have to make money.  And if you have credentials like a basic B.A., you can certainly command more.

Sharing the services of such women or hiring one outright is how quite a few homeschooling Christian SAHMs in my neck of the woods with no relatives nearby homeschool and keep the house from melting into a puddle of soda, pretzels and Cheeto dust.

Children are not fungible

One of the major blind spots conservatives have regarding family size is the oddly egalitarian idea that all children are basically the same and will turn out well (read: better than the children of their ideological opponents) no matter how much or how little you do for them beyond the basics. That, therefore, one should pop ’em out like pez because really, they just need extremely cheap food, some thrift-store clothes and can be put to sleep anywhere with a roof over it and anything more is just “nice to have”. But children are not all the same.  To use an obvious example, a Down’s syndrome child will need very different resources and time than a neurologically and physically “normal” child.  To use a less obvious example, there are babies that don’t mind if Mom pops into another room for an hour and will be very relaxed and let her take care of other little tasks that whole time, while other babies freak out if Mom just goes around the nearest corner for ten seconds.  Those two babies grow up into children with very different social and interaction needs.

More to the point, the subtext of the endless refrains about how little children need elides the reality that if you have something like a Temple Grandin on your hands, that kid will need much and the price is very likely to include not many more or even any more children.  She is an extreme and remarkable example, but there’s many other situations where it doesn’t serve the children or child you have already to keep adding more to the mix.  Children can and do “get lost” in larger families and sometimes it will still all work out, but in a society where there are not tons and tons of other women around to help out, each individual mother has less reserve for additional children even if she is of the “rack and stack in one corner of our shack, feed ’em beans and rice til 18 and dress them only in castoffs” school of thought.  This isn’t about coddling or helicoptering children, it’s about being able to meet the non-physical needs that children have effectively.  And that’s hard to do when legal regulations mean having to purchase from among a short list of expensive vehicles in order to have more than three kids since most of America isn’t “walkable”.  Or when the costs of “walkable” neighborhoods are so high that the household income has to be top 20% to even rent in one.  Or when it’s a full time job just coordinating educational needs for each successive child.

The numbers don’t lie.  There’s a reason very few people have that fifth or sixth child.  I wish more women could, but we’d have to live in a pretty different world for that to happen.