It's the Jelly Residue

Categories: Family

NOT the wholesale lack of societal support, or the cost of good daycare

A new study shows that parents are at greater risk for depression than non-parents, according to the heretofore undiscovered (by us anyhow) online publication LiveScience.com.

"Parents have more to worry about than other people do--that's the bottom line," said Florida State University professor Robin Simon. "And that worry does not diminish over time. Parents worry about their kids' emotional, social, physical and economic well-being. We worry about how they're getting along in the world."

Haven't we seen this particular bit of research replicated time and time again? And read credible explorations of its sister hypothesis, having children makes you more susceptible to financial ruin? Why are these stories always 300 words long--as if the children themselves were the agents of unpleasantness?

Apropos, I was talking yesterday to a local child development scholar who was ranting about something she called "the family bubble": The popular paradigm that holds that every family is an island onto itself and its inhabitants are solely responsible for the family's welfare. She was particularly irked that no matter what science--hard or soft--comes up with, our collective reponse is to immediately conclude that individual parents (read=mothers) need to change their ways.

A couple of years ago the Search Institute, a local nonprofit, published research showing that the strongest families aren't shy to ask for help--with the side benefit that kids are treated to productive relationships with outside adults. Yet the same study, done in conjunction with the YMCA, revealed that most families in fact very rarely reach out for support.

Why? My hunch: In an "Ownership Society," we're supposed to own our own problems, dontcha know. It frosts my kiester that it was Hillary who popularized that damned village business. (Empty platitudes from the nation's then-ranking working mother! Sisterhood my ass!) It doesn't take a village, it takes a body politic--and preferably one populated with generators of great ideas, not lame rhetoric.


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