Monday, April 16, 2007

Items of Note

Oh, people of the super information highway, I love you. Ask and you shall receive! (I don't mean that in a The Secret kind of way.) There are so many good stories of capable teenage mothers. See this post by Barbara Card Atkinson, for example. Or comments on Dawn Friedman's This Woman's Work, especially Lisa V's and Katerina's.

Although you can skip the first comment. This commenter believes that certain women shouldn't have children, although she's not suggesting anything extreme. Something reasonable, I imagine, like a conversation in which she approaches a poor and/or young woman. "Hi. Just wanted to let you know that I'd prefer you don't have any children. I'm not suggesting anything extreme, just, you know, that I don't think you should be allowed to be a mother. And you should listen to me because I THINK ABOUT THE CHILDREN."

I'd like to be there for that conversation.
Part of my financial quest was to learn about investing in the stock market. (The idea is you feel secure about your old-age cash flow, you'll be happier.) The whole deal made me nervous, living as we do in these post-Enron times.

I saw an article in the paper this morning about a study: The researchers found that there's a "strong correlation" between where CEOs live and how the stock of their companies do. "The bigger the CEO home, the worse the company's stock fares," says the AP article.

Quelle coinky-dink? Not so much. "Home purchases could be a ruse. If you are going to dump stock, you can buy a house to cover your tracks," finance professor David Yermack was quoted. The median price for a CEO's house is more than $2.7 million, with about 5600 square foot floor space.
Every once in a while, I get into a mild tizzy about what important conversations we might have neglected to have with Caleb. We were lounging on the couch last week when a commercial about Drugs came on. "Have they talked to you about drugs at school?" I asked him.

"What are drugs?" he asked.

"Oh, we can talk about it some other time," I said, quickly putting the worms back in the can.

We had sort of a two line conversation about drugs later, but neither one of us seemed particularly interested. Then the other day he tells me, "You know, I thought drugs were a kind of furniture."

Sure you can sleep over--we have plenty of Drugs! Don't jump on Mama's and Daddy's Drugs! Young man, you sit on your Drugs until you can behave politely! I can see where he got the idea.


Wendy said...

Wow. That was a really snarky comment about my comment on Dawn's blog. It's pretty disappointing to see you mis-characterize my comments that way.

I've been thinking a lot about your comments and others on Dawn's blog, and I read your article about teenage motherhood which was excellent and thought provoking. I'm trying to work through my biases about teen parents. But clearly, you and I are talking about different worlds. Your world of teen mothers has social support, resources and motivation. The world I work in has very little of that, which is unfortunate.

I was trying to speak from my experience, working with young moms who are poor and struggling with many, many issues. After reading your article, I realized that it's not fair to characterize all teen moms as "at risk" and your points about poverty are well taken.

But I never said anything about certain women not having children. Why would you say that I believe that? I don't think my comments imply that in the least.

I certainly believe that most of the young women I work with should delay having children or should delay having subsequent children. And yes, when a young mother is neglecting her current children, I really would like her to stop having children until she gets her act together. This is my opinion. Am I approaching random women on street corners and telling them this? No.

And is it so bad to think about the children? My point in that comment is that obviously, it's not all about the teen mom. I was just trying to remind people of the other part of the teen mom equation.

You're a writer I respect and I love your magazine. I'm pretty disillusioned to come here and read this.

Jennifer said...

Wendy, the short answer is: You're right. I should have engaged you in some dialogue instead of being a snot. I'm sorry for that.

This is the hottest button issue there is for me, and, to be honest, I'll probably always be unable to look at other perspectives dispassionately.

I'm off to the spring fair now, but I'll be back.

Jennifer said...

I'm back. (And, man, these children love their High Schhol Musical karaoke). Wendy, I don't think I mischaracterized what you said. You said, "I am advocating that people shouldn’t have kids unless they can take care of them in a reasonable manner or make a plan for someone else to care for them."

Which sounds to me like you're saying that certain people shouldn't have kids. Maybe you meant until they reach a different point in their lives, but I think things are structured in this country (post welfare reform) so that it's virtually impossible for some women to make it to a different income level. Ever.

And I'm not discounting what children go through. I wouldn't wish being abused or neglected on anyone, but being poor or having a young mother is an entirely different thing.

Like you, I'd want any neglectful or abusive mother to stop digging the hole deeper. But, again, that's different from a poor or young mother.

This is, of course, what I should have written in the first place.

Wendy said...

Thanks for your response and apology.

You're right that I do think that there are some people who, in my opinion, probably shouldn't have kids, but I know that's not my or anyone else's decision to make. But I think that's a very small group.

I think you read my concern about mothers not being able to provide for their kids as being about income and for the most part, it's not. I don't really agree with anyone having tons of kids for environmental reasons and if you can't provide for the kids you have, it does seem prudent to stop at one or two. I completely agree with you about "welfare reform" and the opportunities or lack thereof to move out of poverty.

I work with a population of teen moms that is fairly extreme, so I shouldn't generalize about teen moms and I try not to generalize about poor moms. My concern about certain people having kids is when parents are struggling with many and varied issues, such as mental illness and substance abuse and not doing much to address said issues. Please note that I'm not saying anyone who uses drugs shouldn't have kids or people with mental illness aren't capable of being good parents. It's many issues, combined with what appears to be a lack of willingness to address issues. Not that the resources to address substance abuse and mental illness are that great, but still.

Anyway, I appreciate your comments and I plan to check out the book you recommended.