Dollars and Sex

How economics influences sex and love

Why Do Mothers Care More About Their Children Than Fathers?

Paradoxically, the more you believe that male and female roles in the family are biologically predetermined, the more you should be willing to support the idea of women working outside of the home. And the more that you believe that women’s caring role has been socially imposed, the more you should be in favor of women staying home to care for children. Read More

What it sounds like your

What it sounds like your saying is that money is the only thing that matters in caring for children. But most kids, when asked, would rather have their parents time than their money, especially when they are younger. There's no discussion here of bonding, or being there for or being with children. I'm not saying that women should or shouldn't work outside the home, but pointing out that money isn't the only, or even necessarily the most important, factor in child-rearing.

The most important factor in child rearing

I am not necessarily trying to describe the experience of most kids. I don't doubt that for the many children who have everything they need to lead a healthy and happy childhood that having a mother who is able to allocate more of the families resources in their favour will not improve their welfare. For the children who live in poverty, those who do not have everything they need to have a healthy and happy childhood, the difference between having a mother who can see that their needs are met first and one who can not would make a substantial difference to their welfare.

I would never argue that money is the only thing that matters, but to say that it is doesn't matter is to assume a higher standard of living that many children are experiencing in reality.

I didn't see anything in the

I didn't see anything in the article that mentioned families in poverty. If a family is in poverty, then whether or not a mom works has nothing to do with being biologically wired or socialized to care more. If they need the money, they need the money.

Deciding whether or not to work based on biology vs. sociology is a decision only people with options get to make. People in poverty don't have those kinds of options.

And for families in poverty, there is a strong possibility that the mom doesn't have enough earning power to afford daycare and have enough left over to contribute substantially to the household income. If she did, they likely wouldn't be in poverty. Very few families will choose poverty when other viable options, (such as mom being able to earn a livable income) are available.

Having been both a married, stay-at-home mom and a single, full-time working mom, and earning just enough to make ends meet in both situations, I do understand how family finances work, how it affects power in a relationship and how it affects children.

There are a lot of

There are a lot of conclusions coming from the reading of this article but I think the bottom line is:

If you are in poverty and have children. The most beneficial thing to do for the children is to have the mother work instead of the father.. Because while both work to bring home $600 a paycheck, the mom will spend $300 of it on her children while the father would more likely only spend $200 on the children - keeping the extra $100 for himself.

It is in the child's best interest to have the least selfish person attaining and allocating the resources because women will be more giving of those resources whereas men would use it as a power play to benefit himself over his offspring.

Honestly, I think some people

Honestly, I think some people really don't have a clue what poverty looks like or feels like up close. Maybe it's because it's being viewed from a distance. We were never quite in poverty, but always a paycheck or two away from it. The ideas mentioned here and in the article are so far away from the reality of poverty it's almost silly.

People are coming up with ideas off the top of their heads about what they think will cure poverty, with no studies, and nothing to support these ideas that have nothing to do with practical, day-to-day issues.

First of all, what if dad can earn more money than mom? This happens a lot. He may bring home $600, but she only brings home $400. Kids are better off when dad works.

Second, if mom is the more caring one, then she is the better one to spend all day with the kids. The dad who spends money on himself is also going to spend time on himself... in front of the TV or computer, feeding the kids cheetos for lunch. If mom is more caring, she'll be the one more likely to give the kids nutritious meals, make sure they're cleaned up and involved in stimulating activities.

I've been a stay at home Mom and I can tell you, most dads are not going to let their children be hungry or go without things they need. If they do, bigger problems exist in that family than who is biologically wired or socialized a certain way. I also know that, breadwinner or not, most moms will make sure they get their kids what they need and then some. You don't know stay at home moms if you think they can't make it happen.

And it's the at-home parent who needs to control much of the spending, anyway, since they are the one involved in most of those decisions. Stay at home parent is most likely the one buying the shoes, the jackets, the school supplies, the groceries, the snacks. They may want to take the kids on an outing which costs money. Whether that is mom or dad, the other one is going to have to give them money. So, if mom is working and has to give the dad grocery money and spending money, based on this article, how exactly do you think he will spend it? Do you think he is going to stick exactly to the list mom gives him? Do you think she should control all the spending to the point that he has no say in it? That is considered financial abuse, by the way. And if she does give him some control over the finances, as she should, based on this article, he's going to spend that selfishly anyway.

I assure you, most moms will make sure dad gives them money they need. And most dads are not going to withhold money for necessities. And the ones that do withhold for necessities, have much bigger problems to address than the biology vs. socialization issue mentioned here. Anything beyond necessities, moms and dads will squabble over anyway, and has nothing to do with families in poverty.

Parental Roles

I'm kind of wary of the statement: "It follows that if maternal altruism is biological, freeing women to enter into the workforce should improve child welfare because maternal caring is not reduced and household resources allocated to children increases."

First, is the increase linear, exponential, or logarithmic?
Secondly, do household resources allocated to children increase indefinitely? Because I suspect there are going to be diminishing returns in the long run.

This also depends on how you define: "resource." For example, I consider money to be a resource; but, as with Kim, I also consider time, and love to be resources too. A mother from a family with low income may work to earn more money to increase the overall amount of resources available to their children. Beyond a certain income level; however, and the amount of resources available to children begin to diminish. Those who earn more tend to work longer hours or perform more labour-intensive work. That will consume time and energy that would otherwise be allocated to children and the rest of the family.

Also, I think breaking down parental roles into either being biologically imposed and socially imposed is a false dichotomy. Why can't it be both? If women should work outside the home if parental roles are biologically predetermined, and if women should stay at home if parental roles are socially imposed, then what should happen if it's actually both?

Women are biologically prewired

Why is there even a doubt about that? Even dads will admit that mothers ( working or not) are by biology, made to be the parent most close to the young child. The educated, modern dad is not far behind. But that's only in the richer section of society.
A mom working outside home, may do so out of two reasons: 1. she has no choice in which case this article is pointless. 2. she chooses to. If she does so, then she must really love her job, if that's so, she is happier person when working and will translate to a happier mother. Beyond the very young years ( and those years are crucial and I believe the woman with choice must stay home during that phase), children will do better with a happy-not-at-home mom than a unhappy-stay-home mom.
Bottomline: A woman is biologically pre-wired, but she can also through education, get herself to a position to choose what's best for her family.

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Marina Adshade, Ph.D., teaches at the Vancouver School of Economics at the University of British Columbia.


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