All posts filed under: Family

The Problem with Kinship Care

Thanks, but no thanks. That was the message that aspiring foster parents got this fall when they sent inquiries offering their services to the New Jersey Department of Children and Families. According to an automatic email reply from Dawn Marlow, administrator for the Office of Resource Families, the state is not accepting applications from any foster parents except those who are willing to take care of children with “complex developmental or medical needs.” How is it that states from Georgia to Michigan are struggling to find enough qualified foster homes to take in children—especially during a pandemic when many homes have closed and recruitment is hard—but New Jersey is doing just fine? The letter explains that: “In New Jersey, the number of youth in foster care continues to be reduced each year because we are focusing first on kinship placements.” It’s true that the state has reduced the number of kids in foster care by two-thirds since 2003, from 13,000 to 4,000. But there are only about 1,700 kids who are being officially removed from their …

The End of the World as We Know It?

How is the world going to end? Polls consistently show that most believe the cause will be environmental. “Climate anxiety” has reached such a fevered pitch among young people across the globe that the Lancet recently issued a special “call to action” to help with the problem. Clinicians have even created “climate anxiety scales” to measure the runaway angst spreading through our children, and the rest of us. But what if the best, emerging science is actually telling us quite firmly that such fears are not only deeply misplaced, but that the most realistic cause of our collective human demise is likely the precise opposite of what most assume? This is the conclusion of a very interesting body of highly sophisticated and inter-disciplinary research. The greatest threat to humanity’s future is certainly not too many people consuming too many limited natural resources, but rather too few people giving birth to the new humans who will continue the creative work of making the world a better, more hospitable place through technological innovation. Data released this summer indicates …

My White Privilege Didn’t Save Me. But God Did

Following the furore over Netflix’s Cuties movie in the fall, Quillette editor-in-chief Claire Lehmann tweeted that the creepy conservative obsession with paedophilia is as bizarre as the feminist obsession with rape. I took umbrage, and noted my annoyance—though I knew what she meant. Sexual violence, particularly toward children, is becoming more of a marginal topic. Rape, while a serious problem in every society, has been in historic decline in the west. I am not naturally conservative, and I do not exhibit the required antagonism toward men to qualify me as a decent feminist. But in the area of sex, rape, and paedophilia, I am unable to separate my politics from what is fashionably called my “lived experience.” As a young girl, I was raped, as were other members of my family (not all of them female). It was only in my reaction to this tweet that I started to think of how those experiences, and the circumstances that surrounded them, shaped my politics. My experience is not uncommon among those who share my socioeconomic background. …

Forget What Gender Activists Tell You. Here’s What Medical Transition Looks Like

At a recent gathering, a daughter’s friend told us, “I’m probably trans because I don’t like female puberty.” This instantly got my attention, because I have known this child for years, and I never saw any indication of her being trans. I innocently asked her why she would say that. Was it a joke, perhaps? She replied, “I don’t like my boobs growing, and Reddit says I’m probably trans.” That night, I tracked down these Reddit exchanges, and my jaw dropped when I saw how many people and organizations were heavily pushing the possibility of her being trans. But perhaps I shouldn’t have been surprised, given the way such attitudes have gone mainstream. This includes the pediatrician mom whose recent opinion piece for the New York Times was titled What I Learned as the Parent of a Transgender Child. For kids Googling this subject, the overall effect is the equivalent of one big glitter bomb going off on their screen. I write all this as a 47-year-old transgender man who transitioned five years ago. I’m …

Neglecting At-Risk Children in the Name of Cultural Sensitivity

It started three years ago: a troubling case for a veteran mental-health professional that involved a young girl with serious health issues and a history of severe trauma. There were a multitude of protection concerns, including the girl’s low functionality, well below her chronological age. She was the equivalent of a five-year-old, but with the appearance of a young teen—a dangerous combination. A succession of partners to her single parent came in and out of her life. She was often the displaced target of their hostility, meant for a partner who was often absent. A string of child protection workers were involved, each less invested in her case than the one before. Phone calls and letters were directed to Toronto’s Children’s Aid Society (CAS), urging that the girl no longer be left at home for hours on end, or allowed to leave the house mid-winter without a hat, coat, or gloves. It was reported that many nights, the girl was making her own supper, and putting herself to bed; or left in the care of …

Is Foster Care Racist?

“We need to abolish the foster care system,” Charity Chandler-Cole, a member of the Los Angeles County Commission for Children and Families told her colleagues earlier this month. Chandler-Cole, a former foster youth herself, explained: “I don’t care how big your Office of Equity is, I don’t care how many black people and brown people you hire.” Meanwhile, in a recent op-ed entitled “Now Is the Time for Abolition,” Alan Dettlaff, dean of the University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work, and Kristen Weber, director of equity, inclusion, and justice for the Center for the Study of Social Policy, announced that their “respective organizations have formed upEND, a collaborative movement… [that] works to create a society in which the forcible separation of children from their parents is no longer an acceptable intervention for families in need.” The complaints of structural racism and a desire to abolish foster care will sound familiar to anyone who has been listening to the recent debate about policing. But the claim that the foster care system suffers from systemic bias and …

Long-Distance Love during Lockdown

I was going to start this essay by writing that, even at the best of times, long-distance relationships are difficult. But that’s not true at all. At the best of times, a long-distance relationship is wonderful, even ideal. After all, my boyfriend and I are both grown-ups. We have our own incomes, our own homes, and our own children. We have our lives figured out, and I am quite content to manage my affairs on my own, and to have my own space to breathe in. Spending time with him is always something to look forward to, and it is always exciting. He travels a fair amount for work, and that is usually when we see each other. What could be better for a hard-working single parent than romantic getaways to exciting cities, luxury hotels, and fine restaurants? Harried mom by day, Bond girl by night. That is how our relationship makes me feel. I’m happy with the distance, most of the time—even longing for someone who is far away has its own romance. Yet …

The Decline of the Great American Family Saga

In February, the Atlantic published a much discussed essay by David Brooks entitled “The Nuclear Family Was a Mistake.” Brooks noted that the conditions that once made nuclear families viable—strong unions, plenty of jobs that paid living wages, inexpensive housing and transportation and education costs, stay-at-home mothers, high numbers of churchgoers—were products of a very brief window of time that only lasted from about 1950 until about 1965. For centuries prior to that, Americans tended to divide themselves into extended families, vast networks of grandparents, aunts, uncles, and other relatives, all of whom remained connected to one another by some sort of family enterprise. Here’s how Brooks sums up the extended American family: In 1800, three-quarters of American workers were farmers. Most of the other quarter worked in small family businesses, like dry-goods stores. People needed a lot of labor to run these enterprises. It was not uncommon for married couples to have seven or eight children. In addition, there might be stray aunts, uncles, and cousins, as well as unrelated servants, apprentices, and farmhands…Extended …

Scandinavia: Can The New “Parental Team” Replace Marriage?

We all know the statistics: Children of divorced or separated parents underperform in school, are more likely to abuse drugs and alcohol, and have lower social mobility. A full list of the negative effects would require a lot of space. But the takeaway is that unless your partner is abusive or your home has become seriously dysfunctional, there are good reasons to stick it out for the children. But what if there were a way around these negative outcomes? Imagine some new, postmodern “parental team” that can take the place of a married couple when it comes to raising children. That is the new concept emerging from Sweden, where divorce has become common and socially accepted, with children moving frequently between two parental homes. According to the new book Divorcing With Children: Parents in Two Homes (Att skiljas med barn: föräldrar i två hem) by Swedish child psychologist, researcher and university lecturer Malin Bergström, research suggests that kids who move between two homes do almost as well as their peers with parents who live together. Her …

Polyamory Is Growing—And We Need To Get Serious About It

We need to talk about polyamory. It’s the biggest sexual revolution since the 1960s. It’s surprisingly common among Millennials and Gen Z. It’s often misunderstood and stigmatized by mainstream monogamist culture. Some people think polyamory is the best way to integrate sexual freedom, honesty, openness, and commitment. Others think it’s an existential threat to Western Civilization. We should take existential risks seriously. Global thermonuclear war, genetically engineered bioweapons, and artificial general intelligence could exterminate our species. But whenever I tweet about polyamory, my conservative followers react as if polyamory is a fourth existential threat. They view monogamy as the foundation of Western Civilization. Any threat to monogamy is, they think, a threat to love, marriage, family, culture, reason, nation, and gene pool. Are they right?   The Polyamory Revolution More people than ever are pursuing polyamorous, open, or swinging relationships. With the growing number of polyamorous relationships, we need to get serious about analyzing the costs and benefits of polyamory—not just for individuals, but for families, cultures, and nations.  Sex-positive activists often argue that sexual relationships …