Three factors--the belief that child care is female work, the failure of ex-husbands to support their children, and higher male wages at work--have taken the economic rug from under that half of married women who divorce.
Just as the archetype of the supermom--the woman who can do it all--minimizes the real needs of women, so too the archetype of the"superkid" minimizes the real needs of children. It makes it all right to treat a young child as if he or she were older.
If in the earlier part of the century, middle-class children suffered from overattentive mothers, from being "mother's only accomplishment," today's children may suffer from an underestimation of their needs. Our idea of what a child needs in each case reflects what parents need. The child's needs are thus a cultural football in an economic and marital game.
Has Bill Clinton inspired idealism in the young, as he himself was inspired by John F. Kennedy? Or has he actually reduced their idealism? Surely part of the answer lies in Clinton's personal moral lapse with Monica Lewinsky. But more important was his sin of omission - his failure to embrace a moral cause beyond popularity.
In response to our fast-food culture, a 'slow food' movement appeared. Out of hurried parenthood, a move toward slow parenting could be growing. With vital government supports for state-of-the-art public child care and paid parental leave, maybe we would be ready to try slow love and marriage.
The more anxious, isolated and time-deprived we are, the more likely we are to turn to paid personal services. To finance these extra services, we work longer hours. This leaves less time to spend with family, friends and neighbors; we become less likely to call on them for help, and they on us.
Most women without children spend much more time than men on housework; with children, they devote more time to both housework andchild care. Just as there is a wage gap between men and women in the workplace, there is a "leisure gap" between them at home. Most women work one shift at the office or factory and a "second shift" at home.