15 Comments
Mar 25Liked by Jim Dalrymple II

Thank you for this piece! You have put into words what I have been thinking about for a while, especially as I take a huge step back from Instagram - all these accounts like Dr. Becky Kennedy (who I used to follow, by the way, and bought her book, though I never read it) offer a “solution” to a lack of a village. Monetizing parenting. But isn’t that our whole culture these days? Nothing is worth doing if you can’t monetize it? (Including parenting, apparently). Your #2 footnote is such a good point! I feel like I should read the article now…

Expand full comment
author

Thank you!! And yeah, the universal monetization gets exhausting to me tbh. I understand why people have a good idea and then opt to try to sell it. But like, so much of this stuff used to be baked in!

Expand full comment
Mar 29Liked by Jim Dalrymple II

Thank you for your writing! This is my first time reading Nuclear Meltdown. I'll be following you closely and looking back at your archive.

My husband and I have finally settled into stable careers and sat down to start talking about what it would look like to have kids. We both grew up with a "stay-at-home" parent and have agreed that it would be nice for me to spend a few years doing that. Plus, it'll save money on childcare.

The thing is - we can't. Housing in our mid-size midwest city has just become too expensive. Together we make 6 figures, but neither one of us is a particularly high earner. We each for local institutions - what we thought we respectable middle-class jobs when we chose them. Even if one of us steps back to go part-time, that's still not enough to cover a 2-bedroom home or apartment plus part-time childcare. So we're forced to both work full time and fork over $1600 a month for childcare. If we want two kids close in age, then one of us will have to seek a higher-paying job because we can't afford two kids in childcare at our current level of earning.

Realizing this has been incredibly angering, and I'm brought to many of the realizations that your Substack seems to be about. It's so obviously heinous to me that I'm "forced" to spend exorbitant amounts on childcare and I don't have the freedom to just raise my kids myself. We need to be doing something different. I don't want this individualistic, constantly striving society to be what I pass down to my kids. It might be too late for me in some sense - the ship of being a stay-at-home parent might have sailed. But we can name it and recognize that it's messed up and color outside the lines where we have the chance.

The push for free/cheap childcare is frustrating, too, because it just reinforces this professionalization of raising kids. Whatever money is offered to the daycare center if I send my child there should also be offered to me if I choose to raise them at home.

Anyway, thanks for letting me soapbox in your comments for a little while. Thank you for your sustained writing on this topic.

Expand full comment
author

Thanks so much for sharing! Housing is such a huge issue, and it's sort of the round about way I started writing about families etc. (Researching housing supply and building types led to family compounds etc etc etc). And I can definitely relate; we moved to a new city in part of cheap cost of living, then cost of living rose and we're back where we start ha.

Expand full comment
Apr 22·edited Apr 22

"Housing in our mid-size midwest city has just become too expensive. "

--- Are there any low income neighborhoods in your city you could more cheaply buy or even rent in?

"The push for free/cheap childcare is frustrating, too, because it just reinforces this professionalization of raising kids. Whatever money is offered to the daycare center if I send my child there should also be offered to me if I choose to raise them at home."

--- But who would offer it? You would be paying for childcare but if you did your own, who would pay that?

Expand full comment
Mar 26Liked by Jim Dalrymple II

Great piece. I know plenty of mums who follow a Dr Kennedy style approach and hire sleep coaches, potty training coaches etc. I’ve always found it slightly bemusing that they spend so much money to get advice that is usually easy to find for free, but hadn’t thought much about it. I personally rely heavily on my mum for advice and for occasional childcare, and I also have two sisters who are local and happy to help out if needed. I also was the second eldest of 6 kids so I got a lot of practise with babies and small children as a young adult, it still felt like a huge shock when I had my own, but perhaps less so than for others.

Expand full comment
author

I'm the oldest of 8 and thought I knew it all, but yeah it was a shock to me as well when we had kids!

And with Dr. Kennedy et al, for folks who can afford it, it may well be great. To each their own. But one thought that comes to mind is a question: Even if I could afford that, will my kids be able to do the same if/when they're parents? In other words, should I be modeling for them how to buy a village, or how to build one?

Expand full comment
Mar 25Liked by Jim Dalrymple II

I wonder if part of the decline of teenage babysitters is not just access via a community (like church) but also a community where learning to care for others is standard (um, like church?). I started babysitting when I was 11 and was angry that I wasn’t allowed to start at 10 when I was asked- by a mom who saw me volunteering in the Church’s nursery. If lots of people are having lots of kids, and the community is pitching in to help, it’s normal that teens learn how to care for babies. But if no one has more than 1 sibling who is only 2 years younger than they are, let alone being surrounded by lots of kids, of course teens won’t know even the basics. I’m always shocked when I meet adult women who don’t know how to care for babies. But they didn’t grow up doing it, so how would they know (unless they signed up for a course or something)?

Expand full comment
author

Yes this 100%. In a similar, if somewhat flipped version, via church I ended up visiting a lot of older people when I was a kid/teen. Honestly I didn't love it at the time, but it was a useful lesson in helping others. With both kids and the elderly, that aspect of the community teaching care is such a great point.

Expand full comment
Mar 23Liked by Jim Dalrymple II

It's my personal experience that parents and children need families (extended not just nuclear) and then those families can become a village. It feels like so many around me have lost the connection to their own families becoming atomized nuclear units. This is due to a variety of factors, mostly children move away then have their own children then realize, wait I need a support system and I'm sure most build up where they are, I'd imagine it's hard. We've relied on our extended family, all the way to the great grandma and great great uncle. And then we have friends from our church and military community so it feels like a decent village.

On babysitters, I've been a nanny, and would prefer a qualified, credentialed adult watch my children if it's not family. My son is only 2. Sites like care dot com help you find people and I'd rather pay a stay at home mom than a teenager.

Expand full comment
author

agreed. We were that family that moved away, had kids and realized we lacked a village. We moved back to be closer to our family, but that was only possible because I got a remote job — which many people don't have.

Expand full comment
Mar 22·edited Mar 22Liked by Jim Dalrymple II

That #6 footnote is important! I think there's really just people for whom they *would* rather pay a fee than have communal or relational strings attached, as a true village does. (Which bleeds into childcare/eldercare and the like).

Expand full comment
author

Yeah, I think that's a good point. My short response to that would be to each their own; there are options for that.

My slightly longer response would be that I think the relational strings — aren't a bug, they're a feature. I know a lot of people hate the idea of having any strings attached, and find the idea of a persnickety little village suffocating. But those strings also mean tie people together in times of need. If I have to take my kid to the hospital in the middle of the night, will the parenting coach of the app-based babysitter be there for me? Not to sound too much like a movie villain, but giving up a bit of personal freedom might ultimately be a good thing.

I was an English major, so my mind turned to a literature analogy: A sonnet is a fairly rigid poetic form, but it's useful not in spite of its formal restrictions, but because of them. Sometimes you can say things better with a sonnet than with free verse.

Expand full comment
author

That is an absolutely fantastic post! I LOVED this line: But, I am suggesting that since we have no idea what we want, but we also want a village, that we chill the hell out.

Expand full comment