Quote of the Week
Posted by sanityinjection on August 27, 2009
“Obama didn’t have a father. Maybe that’s why he sees the government as Daddy.” – Actress/comedienne and Saturday Night Live alumna Victoria Jackson
Jackson isn’t being snide here, she’s being serious. The question of whether President Obama’s unsettled childhood and single-parent upbringing affected his views on the role of government as caretaker is an interesting one and will no doubt be addressed in detail in some 750-page biography written after he leaves office. Jackson’s point is that if we as a society did more to try to encourage two-parent families, maybe we wouldn’t have so many people in need of government assistance.
In saying that, I am acknowledging how difficult it is for a single parent to raise a child. There are of course people who do so successfully, and they are amazing and admirable. But we should not, based on a minority of remarkable individuals, have come to the point where we now view single parenthood simply as a “lifestyle choice” that is no better or worse than anything else. A single parent family may be the best (or only) option when one parent is deceased, has abandoned the family, is abusive or has deleterious issues such as drug or alcohol abuse. That’s in sharp contrast to the young women who believe that they can have a child, career, and active single life all at once. Experience suggests that when you try to do too many things at once you end up doing some of them badly.
If you think I am exaggerating the prevalence of this view among women, you haven’t been to the movies or watched TV lately. And let’s not forget last year’s “Gloucester dozen.”
We are told that preventive medicine can reduce the need for emergency medicine. and economic opportunity can reduce the prevalence of crime. We are encouraged to shift resources to such preventive measures. Why then, is it incomprehensible that shifting resources to the encouragement of stable, two-parent child rearing can decrease the need for government social services later on? Is there not a similar savings to be had?
You may well ask how we are supposed to go out about this. After all, we believe that people have the right to make their own choices about partnership and reproduction. But a good start would be to stop treating those areas of life as simple vehicles for self-discovery that are devoid of consequences. Maybe sex education classes could include the idea that you should only have as many children as you can financially support. Maybe our television and movies could revive the idea of parent characters as models to look up to (in the vein of June Cleaver, Mike Brady, and Bill and Claire Huxtable) rather than bumbling buffoons to be sneered at.