Children are important to me. Partly because harvesting and enslaving them is a big part of my long-term career goals, and partly because they're the only people who agree with me that flicking boogers is hilarious. But they're mostly important for, ya know, pragmatic reasons: Kids are the future, and if we want our species to prosper, we gotta take care of them. So, naturally, I'm going to use my column today to talk about the wrong kinds of families, and make those people feel bad about the terrible, terrible job they're doing raising their kids.
No, obviously I'm not going to do that, because generalizing about different kinds of family structures almost always backfires -- especially if you refuse to do any research first. Because as much as we hear about how shitty single parents are, how modern kids are all disrespectful murder-hooligans, and how absent black fathers are ruining a generation of youth, the truth is ...
5 You Don't Need Stay-At-Home Parents To Raise Kids Properly
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Working moms are the favorite punching bag of people who don't understand that it's not cool to punch moms. Mothers are 79 percent less likely to be hired than non-mothers are, and while childless women make 90 percent of a man's salary, women with children make only 73 percent. You might say, "Well, of course! That's because they can't focus on their career, what with all the baby-raisin' that they gotta get up to!" Except employed fathers are actually treated favorably over non-fathers in the workplace -- so while it's a good career decision for a man to have a baby (or, ya know, convince a woman to have a baby for him), it's a terrible career decision for a woman in the exact same position. It really seems like everyone is assuming that women are supposed to stay home and look after their kids and punishing them for not doing it. And while that's dickish, do they at least have a point? Would America's kids be better off if their moms didn't have to get jobs?
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"You can either have a healthy upbringing or an Xbox, but not both."
Nope! First off, dads are just as capable of being good parents as moms are, so it's absurd to have that double standard. But, more importantly -- and kind of impossibly -- modern families are actually spending more time with their kids than ever, even when both parents work.
So, what's going on? Is it parent cloning? It's parent cloning facilities, isn't it, you crazy bastards? You can't even begin to understand the- oh wait, no, sorry. I misread my source: It turns out that (according to the historians) the modern, non-traditional family setup is just more efficient. First of all, people are more likely to marry other people that they actually want to hang out with, so when they have time off from work, family is the obvious destination. Also, when both parents are working, that means both parents are dividing the housework -- which means it gets done more efficiently.
Finally, hanging out with your kid is more important than it ever has been, so parents are more concerned with setting their kid down the right path by, ya know, reading them magazines and watching Aliens together or whatever. It should be pretty obvious at this point that I do not have kids.
4 No, There's Not A Crisis Of Absent Black Fathers
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Presidential candidate Rand Paul recently mentioned on a radio show that the Baltimore protests were the result of absent fathers. Then he insisted that it "isn't just a racial thing," but come on. Come on.
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Maybe Paul was just projecting his resentment that Papa Ronny couldn't join him on his road trip. Or maybe he was just doing his part to make sure the "absent black father" stereotype continues to be absolutely freaking everywhere. And, at first glance, it seems like the statistics support it. Journalists love to point out that 72 percent of black kids are born to unwed mothers, which raises the question: Are all the black dads too busy at Dave Matthews concerts? Wait, no, that's white guys. Is it that they can't stop doing illegal drugs? Shit, that's white guys again. I'm so bad at this.
See, when you see a racial disparity in a statistic like that and immediately your explanation is that one skin color must be less good at a thing than another skin color, well, you're not just being racist, you're being lazy. It turns out that "unwed mother" doesn't automatically mean "absent father," particularly since black fathers are more likely to be involved in their kids' lives than any other dad race. See, in this country, black families live in poverty at the highest rate, money problems are one of the biggest things that families fight about, and separate studies have found that poverty has a negative impact on a family's structure. If there isn't enough money for everyone to survive, people aren't going to be as happy, and the family is going to be in trouble. They'll be more compelled to try different things.
Basically, these dads are are dealing with a situation that's just a tad more complicated than the statistic implies. Because our assumptions paint a certain type of picture that really looks nothing like anyone's life. Because no one statistic tells the whole story. It's just like Mark Twain said: "There are lies, damn lies, statistics, and then people who falsely credit this quote to me, Mark Twain. Thanks for coming to visit me in the past with your time machine, Sarge. We had a great time together. Bye now."