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Friday, December 31, 2004
A Sure Sign of Age
By Dr. Steven Taylor @ 9:13 pm

With the exception of a professional display, I officially hate fireworks: they wake up the kids, scare the dog, can cause a fire, and somebody could get hurt. Do I sound like someone’s Dad yet? (Oh, yeah, I am someone’s Dad…).

Plus, as a bonus sign of age: I really couldn’t care less if I am up tonight at midnight or not.

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Sunday, December 26, 2004
Nice Fatherly Moments
By Dr. Steven Taylor @ 2:34 pm

It’s a nifty thing to be able to fix your son’s bike and teach him about PSI and the proper way to inflate a tire.

It is also nice that we managed to avoid the question of why a bike that Santa just brough would need some fixing (minor chain-related issues). We also have thus far avoiding the question of why a bike made at the North Pole would have a “Made in China” sticker on it

(And the techno-cherry on the sundae is that because of the magic of TiVo, I didn’t miss Manning tying Marino’s TD record).

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Happy Boxing Day
By Dr. Steven Taylor @ 10:45 am

I hope everyone had a merry Christmas. To wish you all a happy Boxing Day here are some Christmas Day images from the Taylor household. Mostly this is an easy way for family and friends who read my blog to see some family pics…and, maybe I can enhance family-generate traffic by posting pictures for those who don’t want to read what I write :)

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Sunday, December 19, 2004
Things I Said Today
By Dr. Steven Taylor @ 4:46 pm

To Youngest Son: “Why are you putting that spoon in your underpants?”

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Read My Lips - the blog linked with Dec. 20, 2004
Thursday, December 16, 2004
Holidays are Tiring
By Dr. Steven Taylor @ 7:45 pm

And I never knew just how tiring until I had kids. Today was a good example: Christmas program at my middle son’s preschool, then the parent’s Christmas party, then later in the afternoon to my oldest son’s school for his Christmas party (with the other two children in tow because my wife had a conflict) and then tomorrow my wife has to go help with the middle son’s Christmas party while I act as driver for oldest son’s “surprise field trip” to the movies to see The Polar Express (also with youngest son in tow).

Granted: this doesn’t sound all that tiring, but trust me-it is life-sucking tiring.

However, the broader point about holiday’s being busy with kids has really come home to me the last several years as I have realized exactly how much work my parents had to go through in preparing for Christmas and fixing dinners and doing the ol’ Christmas Eve set up and so forth. By mid-day on Christmas I am seriously in need of a nap!

(Indeed, one doesn’t fully understand or appreciate one’s own parents until one has children, of this I am convinced).

Thankfully all the shopping save for a couple of things are done.

Although I had better get wrapping soon (I am the designated wrapper in the family).

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Sunday, December 5, 2004
A Multiple Choice Quiz
By Dr. Steven Taylor @ 9:31 pm

Today, my three year-old:

A) Drew on his bedroom wall with a black marker so that to repair the damage some re-painting will need to be done.
B) Decided to swing a hand towel around the bathroom, so as to break a ceramic Christmas ornament that was on the vanity.
C) Peed in the bathtub as I was running the water for his bath (and I don’t mean while he was in the bath, I mean from outside the tub as if he was peeing in the toilet (which was just to his left)). When asked “is this a toilet?” he responded: “yes.” He spent some time in his room, shall we say.
D) All of the above.

I think you know the answer: and this was within a two hour timespan.

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Sunday, October 17, 2004
The Parent’s Dictionary: Toddler
By Dr. Steven Taylor @ 4:41 pm

Toddler. n. A diminutive human being who with every motion knocks something over, spills something, or otherwise furthers entropy in seemingly stable systems.

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Thursday, August 19, 2004
Please Don’t Report me to Child Protective Services
By Dr. Steven Taylor @ 12:29 pm

I apparently have engaged in a hideously tortuous action vis-a-vis my children: putting them in rooms containing more toys that exist in all of Burkino Faso and asking them to *gasp* play for an hour or so.

Oh, the cruel parent that I am.

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Thursday, August 12, 2004
On Stay-at-Home Parenting (a Fisking)
By Dr. Steven Taylor @ 6:21 pm

Dean Esmay notes that The Queen isn’t too happy about a report concerning a column from the Austin American-Statesman written by, it turns out, a faculty member from the Government Department at the University of Texas (where I did my doctoral work). The professor in question is named Gretchen Ritter, and I don’t think I ever actually spoke to her (it is a big department). I have linked to the article below (warning: registration required) and have fisked the piece.

I will note that my wife is a stay-at-home Mom for our three sons. This is a decision we made together, and planned for even before we decided to start our family (we had been married for six and half years at the time of the birth of our first son). I would also note that while my wife went on maternity leave from her job as a teacher for about 6 weeks, from the time she returned to shool until the end of the academic year, I took care of the baby at home and taught at Austin Community College at night.

Here’s most of the Ritter column (The messages we send when moms stay home) with my comments:

It is time to have an honest conversation about what is lost when women stay home. In a nation devoted to motherhood and apple pie, what could possibly be wrong with staying home to care for your children?

Several things, I think.

It denies men the chance to be involved fathers. This is a loss for them and a loss for their children. What does it mean when fathers are denied the opportunity to nurture their kids in ways that are as important as their work? What do the children miss when they don’t have fathers changing their diapers, picking them up from school, coaching soccer, making breakfast or dinner and doing homework with them? On both sides, the answer is too much.

Two things:

1) Why would having a mother stay at home equal blocking the father’s involvement? Sure, the number of encounter-hours will be higher for a stay-at-home mom will be higher than for a father who works but having the mother go to work as well doesn’t increase the number of contact-hours for the father. This is specious reasoning. My mother stayed at home, but yet there were plenty of times that my father picked me up from school, he was the coach for my baseball team, and for various teams for my siblings. Granted, he didn’t make breakfast, dinner or change diapers, but that was a generation thing, not a result of my mom staying at home with us.

Further, as noted, my wife stays home, but I pretty much make breakfast for the kids every morning, and have changed many a diaper.

2) The only outcome of having the mother work as well as the father is to have the child have a net loss of hours with parents in general. How does this improve the situation for the child and why would it result in any change whatsoever in the actions of the father? An uninvolved father will be an uninvolved father whether the mothere works outside the home or not. Most specifically: having the mother have less time with the child does not increase paternal contact. As such, the above paragraph is a non sequitur.

Women who stay at home also lose out-they lose a chance to contribute as professionals and community activists. Parenting is an important social contribution. But we need women in medicine, law, education, politics and the arts. It is not selfish to want to give your talents to the broader community-it is an important part of citizenship to do so, and it is something we should expect of everyone.

No one is saying that we don’t need women in those professions, but choices have to be made. Properly raising a child trumps having a person of a particular gender in a specific job. Fathers can stay home instead of mothers, mothers can postpone certain career goals (or careers-and I wold note: not having a career isn’t a crime) to stay home with pre-school-age children, etc. Saying that staying at home and being a mother does not, ipso facto mean that there won’t be females in the workplace.

Full-time mothering is also bad for children. It teaches them that the world is divided by gender. This sends the wrong message to our sons and daughters. I do not want our girls to grow up thinking they must marry and have children to be successful, or that you can only be a good mother if you give up your work.

Nor do I want boys to think that caring for families is women’s work and making money is men’s work. Our sons and daughters should grow up thinking that raising and providing for a family is a joint enterprise among all the adults in the family.

And going to daycare 8 to 10 hours a day is good for children? Or, being a latch-key kid without parential supervision is good for kids? And what is wrong with acknowledging that being a good mother can a be a fulfilling life? Further, being a good mother doesn’t not mean that one has to be locked in the house for the rest of one’s life. And there are plenty of examples running around that demonstrate that women play a vital, non-mothering role in society. Again, my mother was a stay-at-home mom, yet I did not grow up thinking that all women could do is be mothers-or that only men make the money.

Still, and this is the root of the whole situation, choices have to be made: if a couple chooses to have children, then it affects what options they have and I am of the opinion that the sacrifices must be made by the parents, not the children. One sacrifice may be career-related. And no, it doesn’t have to be the woman’s.

The new stay-at-home motherhood movement parallels the movement to create the “perfect” child. It’s not just that mothers are home with their children; they are engaged with their children constantly so they will “develop” properly. Many middle-class parents demand too much of their children. We enroll them in soccer, religious classes, dance, art, piano, French lessons, etc., placing them on the quest for continuous self-improvement.

Many of these youngsters end up stressed out. Children should think it is all right to just hang out and be kids sometimes. They should learn that parents have interests separate from their lives as parents. And we should all learn that mothers are not fully responsible for who their children become-so are fathers, neighbors, friends, the extended family and children themselves.

There’s a leap: having a stay-at-home mom equals more stress for children. Forget the stress of daycare or being a latchkey key. But again, there are serious logical fallacis here: is Dr. Ritter suggesting that only the children of stay-at-home mom’s engage in a large numer of activities? Clearly, this is not tha case and this argument is, like the ones above, specious. Further, it seems to me that having a father and a mother who have to be at work early, and have to come home late (later than the kids are out of school, at least normally) will certainly cause a great deal of stress in the household. Further, trying to figure out how two working parents are going to manage the activities of the children whilst working certainly isn’t a stress reducer.

Finally, the stay-at-home mother movement is bad for society. It tells employers that women who marry and have children are at risk of withdrawing from their careers, and that men who marry and have children will remain fully focused on their careers, regardless of family demands. Both lessons reinforce sex discrimination.

This movement also privileges certain kinds of families, making it harder for others. The more stay-at-home mothers there are, the more schools and libraries will neglect the needs of working parents, and the more professional mothers, single mothers, working-class mothers and lesbian mothers will feel judged for their failure to be in a traditional family and stay home their children.

Ok: so it is bad for society if parents take full responsibility for raising their children and caring for them? A remarkable assertion. And again, there is the issue of choices in regards to single mothers and lesbian mothers and so forth. And, yes, there are circumstances where mothers will have to work, whether the family be traditional or non-traditional, but that doesn’t vitiate the fact that ideal being that there be a parent at home with children-espeically very smal children.

By creating an expectation that mothers could and should stay home, we lose sight of the fact that most parents do work-and that they need affordable, high quality child care, after-school enrichment programs and family leave policies that allow mothers and fathers to nurture their children without giving up work.

Raising children is one of the most demanding and rewarding of jobs. It is also a job that should be shared, between parents and within communities, for the sake of us all.

I noted at the beginning of this post that my wife and I made a conscious choice that she stay at home with the kids. That meant not acquiring debt and other obstacles that would have precluded such a move. I have known many families who have no choice but for both parents to work-not because of economic deprivation, but because they bought expensive cars, homes or acquired other hefty debts prior to getting pregnant. So while there are many families in which both parents must work due to economic exigencies, there are also many who have been consumed by the materialism of our society (or who simply didn’t plan ahead) and therefore have to work because of circumstances they put themselves in.

But as I have pointed out before, the demands of parenting are great, and I can see nothing more important the focusing as much energy as is reasonable into that endeavor, which includes having a parent stay at home. And it is the case for a variety of reasons that that is likely to be the mother. The idea that this should be discouraged is laughable and, as noted above, not even logical.

And not the ultimate issue: the “community” should help raise the children, and tax-payers need to contribute more so that affordable day-care will exist. It seems to me that the burden on the community would be lower, as would the burden on the typical family’s pocketbook, if one of the parents stayed home and took care of the children. That makes far more logical sense than does Dr. Ritter’s assertions.

Update: This entry has ben posted to the Beltway Traffic Jam.

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the evangelical outpost linked with End of Week Roundup
the evangelical outpost linked with End of Week Roundup
Tuesday, February 10, 2004
A Reason Not to Give Gum to a Two-Year-Old
By Steven Taylor @ 3:41 pm

It fits well into phone jacks.

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Wednesday, October 15, 2003
Parenting Truth of the DayTM
By Steven Taylor @ 12:56 pm

You can lead a child to the math sheet, but you can’t make him sum (at least not quickly).

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Friday, October 10, 2003
Parental Observation
By Steven Taylor @ 4:03 pm

I would note that almost any food item is, in the hands of a two-year-old, a Weapon of Mess Construction.

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Tiger: Raggin' & Rantin' linked with By George, I think he's got it!
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