Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Replies to the Happiness of Motherhood.

Firstly, I want to thank the commentators for quality of the comments.

I thought I would reply to you in a post as some of my replies may overlap others.

Commentator Brandon made the following comment;
The question is, how do we accomidate women who aren't cut out to be mothers and still have a society centered around strong families? As your post mentions, the need for social and peer conformity is great in women so they most likely will end up following what their sisters do or what society says they should do. 
and JMSmith writes:

Your remarks make me wonder, though, if we are not giving too much weight to enjoyment of performance of our responsibilities. I've known people who get psychological satisfaction from cleaning the bathroom or mowing the grass; the fact that I don't doesn't exempt me from these duties. Some men take great pleasure in their work; others don't, but nevertheless stick to it out of duty and necessity.
I think one of the big problems of our society are the forces which promote individualism. I suppose it stems from an intellectual tradition which strongly emphasises individual rights but ignores its reciprocal, individual obligations.  Our society operates on the principle of social atomisation, basically it's every man or woman for themselves. There is no emphasis on people having an obligation to others.

The romantic version of marriage is at its core a hedonic and solipsistic conception, based on the mutual pleasure both parties derive from  it. It's legitimacy being in conformity to this vision.  Hence if one of the members is unhappy, the marriage is said to have failed and is justified in its dissolution.  The romantic vision never emphasises the obligation to the other in such a relationship.

I think one way out of this problem is to emphasise that marriage is state of mutual obligation as much as it is a state of mutual pleasure, and when a man or woman gets married, they have a duty to it and any subsequent children that are its product. I think we need to bring back the concept of "injuring the marriage" in other words, repealing the no fault divorce laws. Pursuing actions which deliberately put the marriage at risk should be sanctioned.

This implies that there is duty towards keeping the marriage intact regardless of our own satisfactions, however we as a society should try to endeavor that we try to make our duty as pleasant as possible, given the circumstances, as it will facilitate keeping the marriage strong. Duty only hurts when its unpleasurable.

I think one of the big problems is rigidly defining how the marriage should be run. I'm all for a fair amount of latitude in how people manage their own affairs. I'm all for men and women working if they choose to provided the marriage comes first. Careerism is a form of solipsism and men are just as guilty of it as women. I think careerism is acceptable as long as it is subordinate to the well being of the marriage. A woman supporting her husband advancing in his career with a view towards him gaining more money for the family is not such a bad thing, but if it comes at expense of him never being there for the children, I'm not sure I support it.

Anonymous wrote:

 The primary thing women miss as stay at home mother's/career worker is the women's grouping up and hanging out.

Women are buy and large social animal and one of the main reasons they choose to work (apart from the necessity of more money) is because it provides them with a way to get some psychological breathing space away from the kids, and allows them to interact with other adults. Indeed, many women are happy to work for trivial wages "just to get out of the house". This social isolation problem is far more widespread than people think and is a consequence of many factors including hypermobility, multiculturalism, social reserve and town planning. A lot of women simply hate staying at home all day waiting for hubby to come home.

Dalrock said:
The only part I disagree with is the premise that parents who aren't good parents can "buy" what is missing. If they know upfront they aren't cut out for being parents, then why have kids? If they have one and figure this out, why have more? You can't pay someone to love your kids. 

There are several replies to this.

Firstly, the problem is that a lot of parents don't know that they won't be good parents.

Secondly, what constitutes good child care?

Children are more resilient than most child care specialists claim. I don't think that there is any such thing as ideal child care  instead there is good enough care and substandard care. My own mother worked in a tannery when I was a child as my parents wanted to get ahead. I spent long hours in the care of another lady and I never felt that mother didn't love or care for me, and yet I know other mothers who lavish their kids with attention in order to appear a good mother to other mothers. How many kids get sent to shitty piano lessons just so that their mother does not think that other women will think that she is a bad mother?

A lot of women find full time care of their children emotionally and psychologically exhausting. Child care actually offers them some relief which gives them time to "recharge their batteries" and a happy mother for 50% of the time is better than a grumpy one for a 100%.

Simon Grey wrote:

First, women (and all people, really) can't predict future happiness.
One of the great myths of our currently culture is that, left to their own devices, people can reliably find happiness.  This subject deserves a post of its own.


They should also understand that trying to juggle a career and homemaking is a fool's errand for most women. Simply pick ether a career or homemaking and dedicate yourself to that would be my advice.
I'm not sure what the situation is like in the U.S. but here in Australia most women aim for a part time job, not a career. Most women actually want to look after their children but find the process exhausting or psychologically unfulfilling and hence look for an escape in part time work.   Catherine Hakim, a British sociologist hated by the Left, has done several studies on the subject and has found that the careerist women, like the full time homemakers, make up a small percentage of women's preferred parenting choices. Most women want a mix and I feel that conservatism should have something to offer these women.


Simon Grey said...

@SP- In America, most women are pushed to have a career. Most of the women I know personally are either careerists or homemakers. I don't think I know homemaker who has a part-time job outside of the home. Of course, this observation suffers from a high degree of self-selection bias.

And shouldn't that be "psychologically unfulfilling" in the second sentence of your final paragraph?

Karen said...

There is a need for the home makers to go with the job and earn something

Karen Coffin
Divorce Help solutions

The Social Pathologist said...

@ Simon

Thanks, fixed it up.

I don't think I know homemaker who has a part-time job outside of the home.

That's interesting. Over here there seems to be far less careerism than what you describe. Most women that I meet (Middle to lower middle class demographic) work either to get out of the house or work to supplement the family income. Many of these latter women resent having to have to work.

I've worked a bit amongst an upper middle class demographic as well, careerism seems most prevalent amongst this group.

Anonymous Protestant said...

One way to counteract atomization of one's life is to be actively involved in a scripturally sound church. Women do need to socialize, but there is a world of difference between chatting at the Starbucks with other women and chatting with other women after an hourlong Bible study. There's a world of difference between strolling around the mall shopping at stuff for an hour, vs. an hour spent working with other women sorting clothing for donation to the local homeless shelter.

The churches are all too often falling down on the job of being a community. A community is more than a group of people who meet for a couple of hours one day a week. There are still older people around who can tell of days 50 years ago when women of the church made sure to deliver meals to families with newborn children, families that had just suffered a death, families where mother or father had suffered a health problem. That's community, and it takes time, and there's a big outlet for the woman staying at home with her children -- and she should take the children with her if possible to help out.

Ideally, anyone staying at home should have too much to do to fiddle around on Facebook all day.

Red said...

Formally the primary house hold tasks were cooking and laundry. Both were extremely time consuming but low brain power tasks. Both where often done in a very communal way in the past thus allowing women their need to being around an all female social group.

If you want women to be happy we need to bring back the communal cooking/laundry/other work chicks do system.

Kids really don't need as much attention as people often give them. They just need to know they can run to parents when they need to and that parents are teaming up to keep an eye them. Being there for them when they need it is more important that physically watching over their shoulders all the time. But do that you need to be in close proximity.

In very real way women are communistic while men are the individualists. As such different structures need to be designed for each group. Both the 50's model and the current model make women very unhappy because in both cases it takes them away from their heard. Not that feminists every really cared for woman's happiness.

The Social Pathologist said...


One way to counteract atomization of one's life is to be actively involved in a scripturally sound church.

Agree, one of the big causes of social atomisation is the decline of active religious participation.

In very real way women are communistic while men are the individualists. As such different structures need to be designed for each group.

I don't think things need to be "designed" as much as allowances made for people's needs. I think one of the big problems of traditional society was in its inflexibility to deal with new situations(especially as a result of the sociodemographic changes consequential to industrialisation). The left were the only party to offer any escape from the situation women found themselves in, whilst the right just dug in their heels. The Left's wrong solution was preferred to the Right's no solution.

Anonymous said...

@SP and Simon

One possible reason for the divergence between choosing part-time work and homemaking (Australia) vs careerism or homemaking (USA) is the minimum wage.

In America the average minimum wage is about $7.25 USD. In Australia it's about $15 AUD.

The pay is so paltry in America that working part-time just isn't worthwhile, whereas in Australia, if you are working for minimum wage you are likely to still be enjoying a middle-class income.

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