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Policy Update: April 3,2015


Photo credit: The Washington Post, Bigstock

A quick look back at events this week impacting women and families, from Valerie Young, a public policy analyst with Mom-mentum.

Spring has arrived and Washington is calmer this week as many families head away for the holiday weekend.  Congress is on recess, but the world of mother-news never sleeps….

New research suggests the amount of time parents spend with children is not so important as what they spend that time doing.  This precipitated a firestorm of comment.  Writing for The Washington Post, Brigid Schulte noted that the mother’s educational level and income were more closely correlated with a child’s success in The Washington Post.

A roiling debate followed, unleashing relief, indignation, and controversy, indicative of our deeply conflicted feelings about the roles of women, motherhood, and mothers who “work” for pay or not.  A subsequent article appeared – Does parent time matter for kids? Your questions answered.

The topic was given an hour of air time, with Ms. Schulte, the study’s author Melissa Milkie, and two other experts on maternal and child well-being on The Diane Rehm Show – you can listen to the audio, and read the comments which run the gamut.

High profile economist Justin Wolfers wrote a column debunking the study for The New York Times entitled Yes, Your Time as a Parent Does Make a DifferenceAs I write this, Ms. Schulte and Professor Wolfers are engaged in an impassioned conversation on Twitter about the value of the study.

The teen  years are different, though.  Ms. Schulte wrote in her initial piece that the new report supported the contention that parental time does seem to result in less adolescent delinquence.  Jennifer Senior picked up this aspect and went to town on it in her New York Magazine piece The Case for Taking Parental Leave When Your Kids Are Teenagers.

Lots to think about as we spend more time than usual, perhaps, with family this week  Is intensive mothering good for women and their children?  Are mothers somehow superior to fathers as family caregivers?  Is there an optimal way to mother?  And why are there so many differing opinions about this hot button issue?

Follow Valerie on Facebook (Your (Wo)Man in Washington) and Twitter (@WomanInDC) and find her on the blog at Mom-mentum.

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