When I first read about Monica Goodling's student essay about how poorly our society treats children, I thought it was an undergraduate essay which demonstrated decent writing skills. Giving her the benefit of the doubt, I thought that it might have been written as a persuasive paper as opposed to a balanced treatment of her subject matter. But even assuming it was meant to reflect the full scope of her research skills, it wouldn't be the first time an undergraduate fell into the trap of relying exclusively on sources that support his or her thesis, and believing that constitutes "research". Except, reading some more recent news coverage about Ms. Goodling's law school, I realized that I wasn't reading her undergraduate work. It was a paper she wrote while in law school.
This paper begs to be ridiculed.
For centuries it has been known that the greatest duty of being a parent is to raise the child. And yet, study after study shows that millions of America's children are neglected every day. The reason for this failure to act must be due to a change in parents' philosophies. It is there, in their innermost parts, that the devaluation of their children begins.She is seriously arguing that the modern concept of childhood existed from the dawn of American culture, and only started to fade away in the 1950's. Sure. The children who labored six or seven days a week in factories or in farmers' fields had it great, and we should all be so lucky.
From the time that America was first founded until around the 1950s, our society has been described as a "collectivist" culture balanced with a "communitarian" individualism.
These terms simply mean that while parents were individualistic in spirit, their own self-fulfillment and desires were secondary to the welfare of their social organizations and institutions. Hence, "doing one's duty" within a family was elevated above personal goals and independence.
Being a child of a single parent means that, often, one is deprived of many things a child needs to flourish and grow into productive citizens: attention, proper medical care, love, intellectual stimulation, financial support, security, authoritative guidance, structures, and time. The maxim that "quantity" is not important as long as a parent supplies "quality time," has been described mockingly as a satisfying delusion. Another author wrote, "Deeply embedded in the disorder of our society and the growing gap between the haves and the have-nots is the most poignant have-not of all--a child without two parents."What a school this must be where everybody automatically knows what Dan Quayle has asserted - yes, that's her first (and last) reference to him.
However, if Dan Quayle really was correct, then why would so many women be willing to give birth to a child absent marriage? For many, babies are a ticket to independence, a ticket sponsored by public assistance programs. But the ultimate cost falls on the child itself.
The "haves" versus "have-nots" observation is interesting, because throughout history that's probably the biggest predictor of how idyllic a childhood is apt to be. The wealthy have, on the whole, always provided a better childhood environment for their offspring. The poor, on the whole, do they best they can within their means. That has improved during the course of this century, where the children of the poor have access to public education and are restricted from working the types of jobs and hours of employment many of them would have historically suffered.
But wow... women choosing to have a child outside of marriage. Is Goodling presupposing that the fathers of their children are on bended knee, offering their hands in marriage, and these women are stubbornly refusing to consider that option? Does she think pregnant women are hot commodities on the singles scene, and that young men can't wait to meet and marry them? Because if she doesn't think either of those things, she is speaking of the exceptional case, not the norm. And then the question becomes, is she saying that single mothers shouldn't "choose life"?
In addition to the contributing factors of attitude changes, divorce, single parent homes, and fatherlessness, one other factor contributes to the devaluation of America's children. That is the increasing number of married women who leave the role of being a full-time mom in order to contribute to the Gross National Product. They toss their children into "child care," but often leave the job of mothering their child less than fully compensated. Like the children's game of hot potato, the child himself bounces from person to person, often undergoing development in the midst of casual acquaintances.Ah yes, the much anticipated screed against daycare. And Goodling speaks to a mythic history in which mothers didn't have to work and were free to raise their own children. She has, in the space of a few words, erased a history of the wealthy relying upon nannies and tutors to provide child care, and of poor women leaving their children in ad hoc care settings such that they could work. And as one would expect, she places no responsibility for child care on the father.
Some of Monica's incredible ideas to resolve these problems:
- Revising welfare to cut off additional aid for additional children seems an obvious economically valid goal, but it alone is not enough.
- Sex education classes should be abstinence-based, and students should be taught how to resist sexual pressure.
- [T]eenage mothers be required to live with their families or in a residential care group home, in order to receive welfare benefits.
- Parents should be encouraged to give up an extra income, unless it is absolutely essential to support the family.
- Christian education and development is thus crucial to all children, and should be supported by all parents.
Perhaps it is a bit ridiculous to dissect a ten-year-old essay written by a law student. But unfortunately, I suspect that this type of shallow thinking and regurgitation of platitutes helped her get her job, and helped advance her position within the Bush Administration. And I doubt that there's anything in this paper that she would presently repudiate.