Moynihan’s claim that growing up in a fatherless family reduced a child’s chances of educational and economic success was furiously denounced when the report appeared in 1965, with many critics calling Moynihan a racist. For the next two decades few scholars chose to investigate the effects of father absence, lest they too be demonized if their findings supported Moynihan’s argument. Fortunately, America’s best-known black sociologist, William Julius Wilson, broke this taboo in 1987, providing a candid assessment of the black family and its problems in The Truly Disadvantaged. Since then, social scientists have accumulated a lot more evidence on the effects of family structure. This article will offer some educated guesses about what that evidence means.
The focus definitely needs to shift towards the positive aspects of midlife parenting, particularly since medical studies have established that there is little added risk for a healthy woman in her forties embarking on motherhood.
In my communications with other older mothers, several questions were raised, one of the most common being, "Will my child object to having older parents?" I think that this question highlighted the assumption of many that old age goes hand-in-hand with ill health and incapacity and yet this is not necessarily so.
Decisions about parenting are deeply personal. We all have many influences—our partners, families and friends, our communities, and very often our own experiences as children, good or bad. Many of us feel a strong urge to have children of their own, but not everyone feels maternal or paternal.
Thanks so much Liz. My exam is this week and your lessons have been of immense help. I am however confused about something . In this advantage-disadvantage essay, I noticed an opinion was given at the conclusion. I thought opinions are only allowed in opinion essays. Thanks once again as I await your response.
I am not having my own children because 1) there is a population/resource problem and 2) I can adopt and 3) I’m not convinced this is the kind of world into which I want to bring a child.
High levels of instability and complexity have important consequences for children’s home environment and the quality of the parenting they receive. Both the departure of a father and the arrival of a mother’s new partner disrupt family routines and are stressful for most children, regardless of whether the father is married to their mother or merely cohabiting with her. A nonresident father may also be less willing to keep paying child support if he believes his payments will be shared with another man’s child. Such problems are magnified in families with several nonresident fathers.
The high rate of partner turnover during a mother’s peak fertility years means not only that her children now experience more changes in the adults with whom they live, but also that they are now more likely to have half siblings, who have different fathers, paternal grandparents, and other relatives. Half siblings and their kin create additional complexity in children’s families. In the Fragile Families study, 60 percent of children born to unmarried mothers had a half sibling by the time they were five years old, and 23 percent had half siblings fathered by two or more different men. Among children born to married mothers, the comparable figures are 18 and 6 percent.
I think Pierce Moffett #2 hit the nail on the head. While having children certainly hasn’t made me happier in the skipping-down-the-street sense, it has enriched my life, forced me to understand things about myself and really made me appreciate my own parents in a new way.
These studies have NOT shown that having children makes you unhappy. Rather, these studies have failed to show that there is a difference in happiness (in either direction) between having children or not.
Mandatory education for Indian children became law in 1893 and thereafter agents on the reservations received instructions on how to enforce the federal regulation. If parents refused to send their children to school the authorities could withhold annuities or rations or send them to jail. Some parents were uncomfortable having their children sent far away from home. The educators had quotas to fill, however, and considerable pressure was exerted on Indian families to send their youngsters to boarding schools beginning when the child was six years old. Fear and loneliness caused by this early separation from family is a common experience shared by all former students. Once their children were enrolled in a distant school, parents lost control over decisions that affected them. For example, requests for holiday leave could be denied by the superintendent for almost any reason. ()
Of course children do not bring happiness. That comes from inside parents themselves. It is a form of emotional cruelty to children to even have that expectation. Who could live up to such a burden?
Some people do want children but feel deeply concerned about the future of our world and about the lives their children may lead if they do decide to have them. Becoming a parent does not always involve bringing more people into the world. Many parents choose fostering and adoption, providing loving homes to children who might otherwise go without.
It was not a difficult decision for me to delay starting a family of my own, partly because having been the child of older parents, it was not really an issue for me.