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When Every Child Is a Choice
As a normal life becomes more difficult for middle class parents to acquire, optimizing a child’s upbringing for educational and career success has become the norm—but at great expense.
Palladium correspondent Ginevra Davis has come out with a new article on what the patterns of elite fertility can tell us about the material conditions of families across the country.
For the first time in history, people are having less children than they would like to. There are a variety of reasons for why that may be the case. But when Ginevra spoke with elite parents on how they invested resources into child-rearing, something became immediately clear:
In the public imagination, we have mostly held onto the Baby Boom-era idea that wealth is a matter of scale: a larger income might mean a bigger house or more clothes. But the real privilege of professional success is increasingly not any particular possession, but access to a social functionality that is now limited to the upper classes.
The increasing costs of baseline social functionality, like decent housing, safety, and food, drive the idea that one’s children will only be able to have a good upbringing after the parents reach a certain income bracket. Fixing the problem of family formation in the United States means breaking out of this frame. Many of the real costs of child-rearing are much lower than advertised. A good deal of the truly high ones are dues you pay for entering your kids in a social race to become psychosocially exhausted careerists. Discussions around children often fixate on numbers and demographics, but the real reward of a family might just be creating your center of gravity beyond that doom loop:
You forget that, when you talk about “children” in the abstract––they become Sarah. David. Richard. Kacie. Lawrence and John. Max is back from college. Amelia writes plays. David wants to be an investment banker like his father, although his parents hope he tries something else. Uncle James had Sally, who is playing with Ben in the ocean. And the parents are looking on, and they know they paid for it all––the burgers and beer, and maybe too many schools––but they created a whole unit, with its own energy.
Here’s what’s been on the front page lately:
When Every Child Is a Choice by Ginevra Davis. As a normal life becomes more difficult for middle class parents to acquire, optimizing a child’s upbringing for educational and career success has become the norm—but at great expense. Is there another way?
The Answer Is Better Gangs by Seth Largo. As long as criminal enterprises offer the best gangs around, kids will continue to enter them. The question is where the better gangs could be.
Why I Live in San Francisco by Chris Robotham. San Francisco is upstream of America, and its social crises are spilling across the country. It is also the best place to find a path out.
“At the Edge of Life” With Pietro Boselli. Pietro Boselli is a model, mechanical engineer, and adventurer. He discusses the value of many sources of experience, trusting your instincts, and death-defying solo trips into the unknown.
School Is Not Enough by Simon Sarris. Children need purposeful work to develop agency and self-possession. That education is unlikely to happen in school.
That’s all for now.