Morning Ed: Family {2017.12.01.Fr}

[Fm1] Coal families are less likely to divorce during bear times because, it appears, they’re less likely to rush into marriage during boom times.

[Fm2] A surprising amount of childlessness in the UK is involuntary.

[Fm3] This makes sense: Parents who are married are more likely to stick together in part because their pregnancies are more likely to be planned.

[Fm4] How co-parenting works between parents after a violent marriage.

[Fm5] A glimpse at the process of choosing a sperm donor. Relatedly, are women receiving the counseling they should on freezing their eggs?

[Fm6] With the economy in recovery, why aren’t we getting recovery babies? It’s easier to bring birth rates down than to bring them back up.

[Fm7] Science Magazine looks at a book on infants and how they modernized America by way of their actually surviving and becoming a more per tangible fixture in our lives.

[Fm8] Bethany Mandel writes about the oversharing parent problem. I figure I’m safe as long as I have a pseudonym. If nothing else, it will prevent them from telling their friends my secret identity!

[Fm9] There is something truly fascinating about our “from the mouths of babes” fixation. Ed West explains best why it’s so misguided.


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Will Truman is a former professional gearhead who is presently a stay-at-home father in the Mountain East. He has moved around frequently, having lived in six places since 2003, ranging from rural outposts to major metropolitan areas. He also writes fiction, when he finds the time. ...more →

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44 thoughts on “Morning Ed: Family {2017.12.01.Fr}

  1. Possible explanations for agreeing with an idea expressed by a five-year-old:

    1. People who disagree with you don’t yet have even a kindergarten-level understanding of the issue.

    2. You haven’t yet progressed past a kindergarten-level understanding of the issue.

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    • There are a number of reasons why the sayings of young children can be interesting, fascinating, and/or illuminating. But the idea that they hold some unique truths on the world is misguided.

      They have an understanding of the world predicated primarily on their brain development and what they’ve been exposed to. In many ways, they’re no different than adults. They just are at a different stage of brain development and have been exposed to different things. What they know about the world — what they have to say about it — tells hs alot about what we’ve told them and how their brain is making sense of it, but only so much about how the world actually is. Just like adults, actually.

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      • You are the expert, and I’m not disagreeing with you, but in my experience, little kids search for and process information differently than adults

        Kids seem to be hungry for factual information, for what, where, who questions, an awareness that there is a hole in their mind where they don’t know something, and this something it’s normally very specific: where is mum, who brings the mail, what is a dinosaur?

        They seem to care less about the how and the why questions, probably because they don’t have complete mind models that new information have to fit in. Hence they accept that the answer to t he question “Where do babies come from?” is “From Mum’s belly” without wondering much about “And how did the baby get there to start with?” (*)

        Older children (teens and preteens) are conversely all about the Why and the How because they are completing their mental model of the world and need to find a relationship between any new bit of information and all that was there before

        (*) And normally the answer “from a seed Daddy planted there” is more than enough

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          • When my daughter was around 4-5 she was curious like that. It took very few ‘why’ questions in a row to reach the limits of my knowledge of physics, astronomy, biology, etc – even from the most basic of general knowledge starting questions.

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            • Mayo is curious on steroids. We went to the local HS hockey game (he’s a sports junky)… I could answer most game-related questions. I could even answer some questions about the building’s architecture. What I couldn’t answer was why #7 wore #7… it was 90 minutes of questions. I don’t think he took a breath.

              And I *know* he gets that from me. And it’s exhausting. Which leads to another round of “Kazzy has to call people to apologize for being Kazzy.”

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        • Some of this is specific to the child. I’m increasingly thinking there is some genetic/inherent component to intellectual curiosity, leading some (like myself and my older son) to ceaselessly pursue “why” questions while others are content to just accept the world as it is presented to them.

          But the process of constructing knowledge… of assimilation and accommodation… is pretty much the same for adults as it is for children. Differences arise based on what we are able to understand (more for adults) and how willing we are to engage the process (generally moreso for kids).

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        • My younger daughter would, when confronted with some phenomenon, construct an extended narrative to explain it–all out loud, because that’s how she rolls. The narrative would generally be wrong, but not implausible, given its presumptions. She seems to do this less now that she has achieved the advanced age of eight.

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          • In a way, children’s understanding of the world mirrors the path of human development. When our understanding was less complete, we filled in the gaps… we invented gods and myths and magic to explain that which we had no obvious explanation for.

            Children do the same. They fill in the gaps. Sometimes they’re right and sometimes they’re wrong but they’re always working off what they know (and sometimes what they know is wrong… same as adults/humans); but they’re trying to make understanding from an incomplete knowledge base. As that knowledge base grows, certain gaps get filled in and others emerge. It is a focusing and adding of precision, a refinement process over time.

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      • Kids give us back what they have been exposed to which for young children is mostly their parents and family. The parents hear their own ideas or wisdom channeled through a young child’s mind and think it’s genius. It’s just a fun house mirror version of themselves. For some parents that is charming for others it’s frustrating or horrifying or unbelievable. But little kids are almost always just showing us the exact things we have given them.

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  2. Fm6 and fm7 have the same link.

    Fm8 is, er. Yeah maybe we resemble that a bit. You never so know what someone will consider too private. Kiddo as a toddler gleefully covering herself and the kitchen in molasses – I don’t know but dang if they aren’t the funniest pictures…

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    • I’m just overwhelmed by the sincerity of all the process-based complaints that the Republican Party made about the ACA.

      I’m looking forward to President Gilibrand passing Medicare for All, partly funded with a marginal tax rate of 70% on income over $500k, with the votes of 50 Dem Senators and VP Booker.

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      • I don’t hold the Democrats in particularly high esteem, but I don’t take such a dim view of them that I’d expect 50 to be willing to sign on to a big, steaming pile of legislature like that. For one, it sounds like Bernie math. As of 2015, there was about $1.15 trillion in taxable income over the $500,000-per-return line. It’s already being taxed at nearly 45% (39.6% + 3.8% for Medicare, plus 1.2% from the Pease limitation), but even if you mean 70% rate just for the personal income tax, you’re still looking at $350 billion in new revenue, tops. And that’s heroically assuming no diminishing returns from a tax rate right about where the peak of the Laffer curve is estimated to be.

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      • What I read is that reconciliation is only an option if it doesn’t add to the deficit over 10 years. If you are in reconciliation, 50+1 takes it; no fillibuster. If you are not, a fillibuster can be employed.

        I may be wrong. In fact, it seems I must be! So, I’m asking to be educated here.

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        • To be considered under reconciliation rules by the Senate [1], bills must be deficit-neutral for all years beyond the window included in the budget resolution. That window is typically — but not required to be — ten years. Within the window, bills must conform to (ie, be reconciled with) what’s in the budget resolution. The FY17-18 resolution says that the debt can be increased by no more than $1.5T over baseline over ten years.

          So, the Republicans start with permanent tax cuts for businesses and permanently removing the Obamacare individual mandate taxes. That didn’t use up the entire $1.5T, so they added temporary tax cuts for individuals. Those phase out later in the 10-year window in order to stay under the $1.5T limit, and to ease into the fact that, to make the bill deficit-neutral beyond ten years, individual taxes have to be increased above current levels to offset the business cuts. They could have opted for spending cuts to offset the business tax cuts, but decided not to open that can of worms.

          That’s the basic picture that every sane piece of analysis (the Joint Committee on Taxation, the CBO, assorted external bodies) shows: permanent tax cuts for business, temporary tax cuts for individuals, followed by tax increases relative to today for individuals in 2027 and beyond). An increase in the debt relative to baseline between $1T and $1.5T.

          [1] Reconciliation isn’t a big deal in the House, which doesn’t have the filibuster and has other means for limiting debate. Except that the House has to keep in mind the Senate rules so they don’t send over bills that can’t be handled under reconciliation.

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            • Congress, in the sense that the House and the Senate both approved by simple majority the joint budget resolution with that number in it. In more practical terms, the Congressional Republicans, as no Dems voted for the resolution in either chamber. Even more practically, it was a number that Ryan could hold enough of his caucus together on to pass; not all House Republicans voted for the resolution.

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              • Doesn’t that risk creating some perverse incentives? If one side has a simple majority in both chambers and have enough members who don’t care about the debt, couldn’t they set that JBR number at some ungodly sum and then squeeze anything they want in via reconciliation and bypass the filibuster?

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                • No more than the Senate filibuster — a 41-member minority in the Senate could, in theory, hold the entire government ransom — no budget set, no appropriations passed, no advice-and-consent appointments filled — unless some outlandish demand is met. Over time, exceptions to the filibuster have been put in place to avoid that: certain aspects of the budget, administrative appointments below Cabinet-level, judicial appointments (now including the Supreme Court).

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                  • No more than the Senate filibuster — a 41-member minority in the Senate could, in theory, hold the entire government ransom — no budget set, no appropriations passed, no advice-and-consent appointments filled — unless some outlandish demand is met.

                    See McConnell, Mitch

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  3. I think the issue with oversharing is less what you share and more who you share it with. If you have a billion followers, most of whom you don’t actually know, you should be rather judicious. If you’re like me and have 100 or so FB friends (all of whom I have an actual connection with) and like 30 Instagram followers (same), you can share a lot more. The idea of my kids’ friends looking up their potty training pics is an impossibility given I would *never* connect with their friends on social media. I also maintain pretty strict privacy settings. It isn’t foolproof. Hacking is a thing. But I’m not particularly worried given all the things that’d need to happen to actually make that harmful. And using social media allows the boys to be more connected with loved ones.

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    • Never say never. Most of my instagram followers are requests from my Children’s friends (who are in college, mostly). When my daughter was in Rome, I saw more of her from her friends’ posts than from her own.

      Of course, now that they are 20 +/- I try not to post pictures of them peeing.

      Part of our socialization of this new technology from the very beginning was that it was open and family oriented… one of the small things we did to pave the way (and I highly recommend for people with children 16 +/-) was to make the phone and various accounts Family phones/accounts… so all the children sharing the phone could see who texted whom and what…etc. etc. Fostered a habit of thinking about phones, internet, and communications as something that is still communal vs. purely individual.

      Now when the friends show up at our house I can talk to them about their trip to NYC, their war college internship, or the concert they were in because I saw it on Instagram…

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      • Fair point. Maybe when they’re adults or adults-lite. Working in education, I probably have to be more careful than most with regards to who I connect with on social media, especially so with anything that can even remotely fall under the guise of “education”. So while it is probably advisable that no adult connect with non-familial teenagers on social media, it is especially advisable that educators do not.

        Not all educators follow this rule. Almost all schools have policies that prohibit connecting with current students and most even prohibit connecting with current parents; these tend to only be invoked if/when an issue arises as no one wants to actively police social media. The rules around connecting with former students/families are murkier, usually following under “advisement”. I had colleagues that did connect with former students which struck me as weird. Our school ended in 9th grade, meaning some of these kids were as young as 15. Not only would I not want to self-censor because I was worried about what some teenager would do with something I put out there, but why the fuck would I want to follow a 15-year-old on Instagram? What possible value does that offer me? It seemed so obviously all-risk, no-reward but maybe I’m just weird that way.

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        • I’m facebook friends (at their request) with a few teenagers whose parents are my very close friends. Talked to their parents first about how I wasn’t going to remember to censor myself perfectly, parents were 100 percent okay with that and have known me since I was only a few years older than their kids are now.

          TBH mostly what I get out of it is that the kids can continue to feel connected to me as an adult they can trust, and I can continue to be part of the broad group of adults they learn things from, even as they spend more face time with their friends and less with their parents / their parents’ close friends. They’re often out and about when we come over these days, so I’m glad they still want to stay connected. And also, I do care about them and I’m happy to see the same things they want their mom, aunties, grammas, etc. to see. They all have a good grasp of privacy and I don’t end up seeing awkward between-teens-not-for-the-grownups things.

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          • That is a helpful perspective to have. I’d probably say that those kids aren’t “non-familial”… which is to say, they are essentially a form of family in the “close friends, family, and loved ones” sort of way… based on the description you offered.

            I also know that there has been some conversation at various levels about whether adults — and educators in particular (we are mandated reporters) — have any responsibility to report unsafe and/or illegal behavior that they observe minors engaging in via social media. I don’t know if any laws exist or any legal precedent has been set, but it does demonstrate just how complicated this all is.

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        • Yes, I can very well understand why you would professionally limit your social media to avoid students and/or young folks…and even Parents. Almost your own sort of Pence rule :-)

          I won’t initiate a follow of one of my Daughter’s female friends, but I’ll accept if I’ve met them… I also talk about it with my wife as we are bemused that these college kids want us to follow them… but hers (my daughter’s) is a very small community and our family is somewhat well known in it (for various reasons); my son just started at a State school… so we’ll see if his pals think we’re just as cool. So far, just his roommate.

          My personal accounts and professional accounts don’t cross. I post somewhat anonymously here because I get googled professionally (not because I’m interesting, but because of LinkedIn and people needing to get hold of me) and as a public representative of a business I don’t want to confuse those lines.

          I assume most of us naturally segregate based on Application… I keep Instagram open since it is just pictures about food, sunsets, and butchering – like everyone else. But then FaceGramLinkedSnap keep recommending across the divide – and some folks seem to like that.

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  4. [Fm6] I am adopted. My sister is also adopted. Our parents have long since passed away, but we still have reunions with all my cousins. They are in every way my family.

    Meanwhile my wife is adopted. She conducted a search at about age 19 and found her birth mother, and we engaged with them as her family. She does not get along with her adoptive mother in the slightest and has had no contact with her in decades. Her adoptive sister, though, is someone we regularly hang out with and see, especially now that she lives closer to us.

    My point is this: It is really, really clear to me that families are something that is created by care, by sweat, by tears, by touch, by sorrow, and by love.

    So are countries, or nations, if you will. America is not a race, it is an idea. We need to start acting on that, rather than fretting about the birth rate. The reason we are doing better than Japan demographically is that we admit immigrants at a higher rate. Our nation is constructed by our sweat, our toil and our tears. But not so much by our blood.

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