Morning Ed: Family {2018.08.16.Th}

Will Truman

Will Truman is the Editor-in-Chief of Ordinary Times. He is also on Twitter.

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46 Responses

  1. Murali says:

    Fa2: The noisiness of children is not inevitable. Especially if we are talking about 3 or 4 year olds. My nephew got most of his crying out of his system by the time he was somewhere between 1 and 1 1/2. He talks loudly sometimes and forgets to use his indoor voice. Hell, so do I. But he is a good boy. He listens to his elders (at least often enough). When his parents remind him to lower his voice he does so. And he knows how to behave in public. And he is not yet 4. And his parents don’t allow his screen time*.

    Walther sounds like a parent who has just given up on disciplining his kids. He shouldn’t excuse his bad parenting as our intolerance.

    *His mother is a paediatrician who has done research on the effect of screen time on young children. The conclusion of the research seems to be that it rots their brains.Report

    • dragonfrog in reply to Murali says:

      There’s nature and nurture there. Some kids are calm or introverted by nature. I suspect your nephew’s quietness is at least as much about genetic lottery numbers as it is about good parenting.Report

      • Oscar Gordon in reply to dragonfrog says:

        Bug is very extroverted and energetic, but he knows how to be polite and he understands when he can be loud and squirmy, and when he has to try to remember to sit still & keep it down.

        Of course, with kids, it’s about setting them up for success. If we know he’s going to have to be quite and sit still, we hit a park before hand and left him run some of it off. We aren’t afraid to put one of the phones in kids mode and let him play Codapillar or watch PBS Kids if we have to.

        Last night, we had to get a document (that we both had to sign) notarized on short notice, so all 3 of us went to the public notary. We let Bug grab a Lego toy, and then while one of us dealt with the notary, the other kept Bug engaged and minimally disruptive. In the end, the notary was all too happy to spend a minute letting Bug show him how cool the Lego was.

        It’s all about having a plan or two at the ready.Report

      • bookdragon in reply to dragonfrog says:

        As a parent of two, I second this. My first was a quiet, easy-going toddler. I can count on one hand the number of tantrums she had in her whole life. She was easily entertained with a book and good about taking ‘no’ for an answer.

        Naturally, when comparing her to other little ones my husband and I congratulated ourselves on our awesome parenting skills.

        Then we had a second child. Despite being raised by the exact same parents with the same rules, etc., our son was her polar opposite – loud, mercurial, prone to throw himself on the floor and scream when anything upset him. Oh, and stubborn as an ox.

        Now, he has grown into a pretty nice 14 year old. For which I credit both the empathy developed by being involved in animal rescue and the self-discipline developed through martial arts. BUT his first 4 or 5 years were a real trial.

        So, I look at people with only one child talking about how behavior is all a matter of good parenting and just shake my head…Report

        • fillyjonk in reply to bookdragon says:

          I remember numerous times during my childhood when my mother would look at me and say sadly, “You did not prepare me for your brother.”

          (I was the kind of child where if you gave them a stack of paper and a box of crayons, you would literally not hear from them for hours. My brother was….not)Report

      • PD Shaw in reply to dragonfrog says:

        True, but the writer is universalizing a situation where his kids are screaming 14 hours a day as normal. I feel compelled to respond that our kids were pretty well behaved. Also, while he’s normalizing the essentialism of screaming to young children; I think he should consider that a lot of things adults enjoy, like sitting down and have a relaxed meal at a full service restaurant can be quite boring to three year olds.Report

        • bookdragon in reply to PD Shaw says:

          I’m only pointing out the error in saying that loud children are the result of bad parenting.

          I’m definitely not agreeing with the author that other people should have to put up with screaming kids in any and every circumstance. We gave up on eating out anywhere that wasn’t a Chuckie Cheese level of kid friendly when our son was little.Report

          • Kenb in reply to bookdragon says:

            A question from a quiz by Dave Barry for new parents:

            When is the best time to take a baby to a nice restaurant?
            a) During a fire
            b) On Easygoing Deaf People’s Night
            c) After the baby has graduated from medical schoolReport

          • PD Shaw in reply to bookdragon says:

            Yeah, I agree and wasn’t really trying to address the larger nature/nurture and parenting/disciplinary issues. I wouldn’t consider us disciplinarians, and think the kids were pretty easy with respect to this particular issue, so I don’t think we merit good-parenting status w/ respect to noise.Report

    • fillyjonk in reply to Murali says:

      I am a non-parent, and therefore probably not allowed to have an opinion on this, but: There are places where you have to expect child-noise (like: a fast food restaurant, a movie aimed at kids, the Target on a Saturday afternoon) but it seems a bit rich to tell other adults they have to put up with child-noise EVERYWHERE (the adult reading room of the library, a fancy restaurant, an otherwise-quiet clothing store) or that we should put up with an excessive level of noise and never want parents to rein it in (I curse the designers of places like Wal-mart; they put in high ceilings and many hard surfaces. Certain children learn their vocal sounds echo *really well* and they decide to test that out by screaming)

      But yeah. I cut slack for kids being tired (I once looked at a small boy having a meltdown in Target and thought in his direction, “I feel where you’re at, and if it were socially acceptable, I’d probably be there with you”) and kids with certain disabilities and the like. But for parents to just shrug as their kid screams in the grocery because the kid thinks it’s funny….please, give me child-free hours or something to shop.

      Maybe I’m just salty because my parents really hammered on the “good public behavior” thing and actually wouldn’t take my brother or me certain places until we could prove we knew how to behave…Report

  2. atomickristin says:

    Fa3: Just to be nitpicky, the article is dead wrong that “almost every person undergoing IVF ends up with leftover embryos”. In fact, many people end up with NO viable embryos for transfer and as maternal age increases, the likelihood of walking away with nothing also increases dramatically.

    This myth keeps people who could benefit greatly from IVF from pursuing it. “What would I ever do with all those leftover embryos?” they ask. But for many couples it’s totally a hypothetical concern. People who have leftover embryos on ice are considered lucky because they have backups in case a first pregnancy (and second, and third) does not work out. It happens and not rarely, either.

    Clearly there’s a need to have a plan in place in case of leftover embryos but the notion that every or even most couples will have a plethora of leftover embryos that they then must decide what to do with is much less a problem than that article makes it out to be.


    • Yeah. If I had to guess zero is not only the most common number, it actually is more common than more than zero.Report

    • Oscar Gordon in reply to atomickristin says:

      The age & health of the mother is a huge factor when it comes to leftover embryos. By the time we gave up and started IVF, we were in our 30’s, and endometriosis had been doing a number on my wife for years. We did 3 harvests with only 1-3 viable embryos each time, and three implantation attempts, with one live birth. Our doctor said this was very common in women over 30.

      So to agree with @atomickristin, leftovers are not a common issue, unless the woman did the harvesting when she was still in her early 20’s.Report

      • jason in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

        I had an earlier reply, but it got zapped for some reason. The short version: we had 6-9 embryos left after two unsuccessful cycles (it sucked). We had to stop after two because we just couldn’t afford it: we had to refinance our house and then my in-laws gave us the money. The drugs were about five thousand and the procedures about eleven. The cost of each went up by about a grand for the second time. My wife was in her late 30’s. Leftovers may depend on the clinic’s policy: ours implanted two embryos each time, but some places will do more to increase the chances. I would want to see actual research about left over embryos before we say they’re not common.Report

        • Oscar Gordon in reply to jason says:

          I would want to see actual research about left over embryos before we say they’re not common.

          I would want to see actual research about left over embryo quality before we say they’re not common.

          Having 10 leftover embryos that are of questionable quality is often as good as having 0.Report

          • jason in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

            Yes and no. The doctor’s told us that even in perfect cases it’s a 50 percent chance. The clinic we went to Denver is supposedly one of the better clinics in the country, yet the doctor could only shrug when it didn’t work–he couldn’t explain it. And regardless of quality, couples have to decide whether to save them, which costs, or have them used for research.

            As far as scaring away IVF patients, that seems a bit silly. (Not your comment, I know) I guess my point in disagreeing is that we probably need better policies and the AZ policy in the article seemed really FUBAR.Report

            • atomickristin in reply to jason says:

              Well, I am actually a fertility counselor and talk to lots of women about this very issue as they decide whether to continue trying naturally or to pursue IVF. It absolutely is factoring into women’s decisionmaking process. Either they or their husbands, or both, have ethical concerns about what they’ll do with “all” the leftover embryos that they assume they’re sure to have. So they’ll go on and on doing medicated natural conception cycles, or IUI, and will expend years of time out of their fertile windows in pursuit of natural conception based on a fear of leftover embryos when they may not even have them (and in fact many do not). Odds of success with IVF do not improve with age so people postponing IVF based on bad information, even if it’s only a year or two, means more people will walk away from the table without a baby.

              My issue with the article was that it said point blank that almost everyone has embryos left over (paraphrasing here) and that is simply not the case. Some people have embryos left over. Others don’t. Like I said, it was a nitpicky observation but it seems to me to be sloppy journalism and should not have been published that way. I wasn’t making any comment about the overall policy, I was referring to the misinformation in the first paragraph of the article.Report

        • atomickristin in reply to jason says:

          Actually, there are very few clinics transferring more than two any more and more than one is getting rarer. Aside from the ethical questions, new data has become available that has indicated that for the average couple, transferring more than one embryo actually leads to fewer live births and so while it feels counterntuitive, a couple’s odds may actually be better if they stick to transferring one.

          There’s a huge difference between the author of the piece saying “almost everyone will have leftover embryos” and me saying “no, because many people have no leftover embryos” and you now saying “Kristin is saying it is not common to have leftover embryos”. I’m not saying it’s not common to have leftover embryos. I never said that.
          It’s common, clearly it’s common. Some people have leftover embryos. I simply said that it’s untrue that almost everyone will have leftover embryos and in fact a pretty fair number of couples won’t have any leftover embryos.Report

  3. bookdragon says:

    [Fa1] I couldn’t disagree more. I have had dogs all my life and had two greyhounds when I had my first child. The comfort their presence provided to a stressed new mother was invaluable. They were not another set of demands but a sympathetic support system – always ready with a snuggle or reassuringly adoring look as I wrestled through the post-partum roller coaster. When I was also handling a husband going thru chemo 8 months in, those dogs were vital to my emotional stability.

    They were so much *not just things* that we started fostering greyhounds again only a year later and continued past the birth of a second child. In fact, we adopted out 3rd greyhound, a 9 year old retired broodmama, because our son had all-out 2 year old epic tantrum on the floor right in front of her – on the second day she was with us! – and she calmly, got up, licked his nose and then walked away with this little canine shrug. Like ‘eh, I raised 16 of these. This is nothing.’

    Granted, this may be related to [Fa6] since greyhounds are big dogs known for calm “45mph couch potato” personalities. I had a midsized (under 30 lb) dog as child and a pair of shelties as a young adult, but I am hooked on big dogs now. Sadly, many large breeds do die earlier, but greyhounds tend to live 12-15 years and stay pretty healthy into their senior years, maybe because they were top athletes in their youth.Report

  4. Maribou says:

    Fa1: I think that people who feel this way about their pets with their first kid (and I’m not judging them for doing so) will probably also feel this way about their first kid with their other kids (and I’m not judging them for doing so IFF they don’t let those feelings show to their first kid). But I think they should at least try to figure out the underlying issues and fix them. It’s a symptom of something more meaningful.

    Also, I reckon the real problem is that the person writing the article either doesn’t recognize the need for or isn’t allowing themselves or just plain can’t have actual *alone* time.

    I remember when I was in grad school more than halftime, working fulltime, and dealing with the initial fallout from my dad going to jail, at one point I started to hate the cats, virulently, which was utterly strange and new for me (I’m ridiculous about animals, all animals, but especially my own family pets). It bugged me so I looked at my life and realized I hated them mostly because they were “tempting” me to slow down and relax into them once in a while and I didn’t think I had time to do that, with a side of I literally hadn’t been alone in a room by myself in more than 3 weeks. Once I started regularly going into a room with a closed door, and the rest of the time, giving them at least 5 minutes any time they zoomed in on me wanting attention, I stopped hating them *like that*.

    Not saying it’s that easy with a kid in the picture, but I think it’s important to move past that first stage of “I hate (whomever/whatever) that I used to love” to actually understand the *real* reasons (it ain’t that they have needs), and then figure out what to do about it. Relationships matter, even your relationships with your pets.Report

  5. dragonfrog says:

    Vaguely [Fa6] related – we really need to get on breeding bigger housecats.

    Dogs go from barely-over-guinea-pig to what-is-that-a-bear size. While there are larger and smaller breeds of cat, we can clearly do better.

    It may not be in my lifetime, but I hope my descendants one day get to cuddle with a big dumb floofy housecat that’s at least as big as a golden retriever. Otherwise what do we even have science for?Report

    • Maribou in reply to dragonfrog says:

      @dragonfrog They are working on this but mostly bigger means also fiercer so far. (Bobcat hybrids bred for size and *relative* sweetness.)

      However this video gives me hope.

    • You do realize that the size differential is the only reason your cats don’t try to eat you?Report

      • dragonfrog in reply to Mike Schilling says:

        That and the fact that we’ve loved them since they were kittens, yeah.

        Feral dogs run in packs and attack people too, and they’re no bigger than – well, dogs. But dogs that have been in loving human homes since they were puppies, they’re good.

        Though if we were to genetically engineer some capybara tendencies in there, I’d be down with that.Report

      • Oscar Gordon in reply to Mike Schilling says:

        The fact that they’ve figured out to yell at the human for food is why they don’t eat us. Seriously, I don’t think I’ve ever had a cat that didn’t just come up and yell at me if they were hungry and the food dish was empty.Report

      • Maribou in reply to Mike Schilling says:

        @mike-schilling @dragonfrog FWIW, having tamed several feral cats, converted a couple “unadoptable” fear-aggressive abused/neglected kitties to healthy household family members, and raised feral kittens from weaning age that are now lovely affectionate 10 year olds, I don’t so much worry about being *food* as I worry about being played with too hard.

        Like, my 10 year old lovebug pokes holes in me on a regular basis because he’s constantly trying to groom my skin because he LOVVVVVVVES me SOOOOOO much. Dude! Dehook yer dang claws. (We clip all of ’em every month or so, but they seem to regard that as a personal challenge.) The others try pretty hard not to scratch or nip hard enough to break the skin while playing, but catnip means all bets are off in that department, and sometimes sheer exuberance will trip them up.

        Were any of them my size… ugh. Every cat that big would be wearing those nailcap things from birth, that’s what.Report

        • Troublesome Frog in reply to Maribou says:

          I have an awesome mini dachshund who is very sweet, but I’d probably be nervous if she weighed 110 pounds instead of 11. Jaws like an alligator on an animal bred to corner badgers in holes probably wouldn’t mix well.Report

          • In the horse world, the big draft horses are — and long have been — bred for temperament as well as size and strength. No one wants to be around 2,500 pounds of horse that gets antsy about something.Report

            • Maribou in reply to Michael Cain says:

              @michael-cain We had one of the rare exceptions to that in our pasture for a year or two (Belgian, excellent brood mare, chill babies, but a jerk) and it is VERY WISE that they breed them to be non-temperamental as a general rule.

              She was a total asshole. Not so much antsy as “OH, let me step on your foot and *lean*, shall I?”

              Luckily the actual leader of the herd was a 20 year old gelding with the heart of a large sheepdog 🙂Report

  6. Saul Degraw says:

    When wives earn more than their husbands, both partners are in denial about it:

    • Oscar Gordon in reply to Saul Degraw says:

      Error: CRCReport

    • Oscar Gordon in reply to Saul Degraw says:

      PS I am not even remotely in denial about the fact my wife makes more than me. On the contrary, I’m ridiculously proud of the fact. She took a history degree and an MLIS and leveraged that into a six figure salary where she has managed to amass not only a healthy paycheck, but a wealth of experience that continues to allow her to demand more money and more challenging assignments (or, should the Big B ever decide to stop letting her have her pick, she’ll be in high demand at a large number of other companies).

      Hell yeah she makes more than me. Clearly I married up.Report

    • j r in reply to Saul Degraw says:

      I’ll add my name to the list of men whose wives earn more money than me and who, far from being in denial about it, is very happy about it and tells anyone who will listen.

      I don’t know what @saul-degraw was trying to link, but it was likely regarding a recent Census Bureau paper that showed a difference between what some couples reported on Census surveys and what they reported to the IRS. I can’t get on the Census Bureau web site right now, so I have no comment on the paper, but dollars to donuts if I compare the findings of the paper to the reporting on the paper, I’m going to find a whole bunch of spurious claims about caustion and meaning.Report

  7. Anne Chilton says:

    As an identical twin I find [Fa9] absolutely horrifying (link is broken remove everything before http to read) They separated twins and triplets in adoptions to separate families to study nature vs nurture. the kids had separation anxiety issues among other things and no wonderReport

  8. Brandon Berg says:


    But overall, those most familiar with gene editing are also more likely than those with no familiarity to see downsides ahead.

    Wait…really? Experts?

    For example, 64% of those who have heard a lot about gene editing believe its widespread availability will very likely lead to increased inequality because the technologies will only be available for the wealthy, compared with 53% of those who have heard nothing about gene editing for babies.

    Oh. She means people who read some garbage article on Slate or in Time.

    Every time a new technology comes out, people freak out about how only the rich will have access to it, and every time they’re wrong, because technology rapidly gets commoditized. Remember the “Digital Divide?” As was obvious to anyone paying attention, making computers cheap was the easy part — the real divide is between people who have the cognitive skills and personality traits needed to utilize technology effectively and those who don’t.

    Gene editing has the potential to close that divide, which is the only one that really matters in the long run. On average, the rich already have a genetic edge over the poor, which is why they’re rich and the poor are poor. Once it’s commoditized, gene editing will help the poor much more than it helps the rich. Before that, it’s still unlikely to have much of an effect on income inequality, because the rich aren’t competing with the poor anyway. Making doctors and engineers smarter isn’t going to hurt poor people, and will plausibly help them.

    Also, obligatory disclaimer that cognitive ability and personality traits are highly polygenic — hundreds, if not thousands, of genes — and even once we perfect the ability to safely edit many genes in a single cell, we simply don’t know which genes to modify for more than marginal enhancement of intelligence.Report

    • Oscar Gordon in reply to Brandon Berg says:

      On average, the rich already have a genetic edge over the poor, which is why they’re rich and the poor are poor.

      The system is rigged enough to make this statement difficult to prove.Report

    • Chip Daniels in reply to Brandon Berg says:

      On average, the Sneetches with stars on their belly have the edge over those who don’t.

      In the future, belly star enhancement technology will benefit those Sneetches who are poor, and allow everyone to possess belly stars.Report