A "good enough" mom muses about alpha moms, adoption, computers, the State Of The World, Internet quirkiness, and the Kosmik All
All shook up

When I get really, really angry, I cry.

It's very embarrassing when it happens at work.

My mom (OmegaGranny) does, too.

I always figured it was a weakness, a failing, one of those weird things that was a personal quirk.

So when I glimpsed "When is it all right to cry?" as the header for a post at Cognitive Daily, I clicked through, read the post, and read the other posts that led to it--a bunch of female scientists and grad students discussing the times they cry in a professional situation, and how they, too, find that they cry when they get angry and frustrated, and they, too, feel that it leaves them at a disadvantage.

After all, crying is a sign of weakness.  An attempt to manipulate.  It's "inappropriate" to cry in a professional situation.

Or so we are socialized to believe.

I also cry at schmaltzy commercials and movies, too--but it's "appropriate" to cry at those times.  (Well, sorta.)  And at weddings.  And funerals.  And probably on the day OmegaDotter graduates from high school.

There are a lot of interesting comments to those posts--men admitting that they, too, cry--but in private.  Men saying that they've had co-workers cry around them, and they feel at a loss as to what to do.  Some discussion about the socialization process.  Some discussion about inherent differences between men and women.  Go check them out.

In the "Neener, neener, I'm so much better than you!" department, there's this study on differences between adoptive and biological parents.  Sociologists studied data from 13,000 households with first-graders, 161 of whom were adoptive families.  The study concluded that the adoptive parents spent more money, more time, read together more, ate together more, and talked to their children about their problems more than biological parents.

The researchers concluded that adoptive parents were more invested in becoming parents, and more likely to be trying to compensate for a society that regards adoption as "second best", and then compared these results to an expectation of what type of parents gays and lesbians might be.


Now, while I'm all down with the idea of being seen as "better", I've got to say that spending more money doesn't mean diddley in the world of parenting.  I've known plenty of parents who threw money at their kids in an effort to prove affection, in an effort to solve problems, in some weird way thinking that money equals love.

In addition, as Dawn points out in her discussion of the study, adoptive parents could be seen as "helicopter parents", and the publicity about the study seems to focus more on adoptive parents than the fact that gays and lesbians can do quite a nice job on their own, thankyewverramuch.

In the end, the whole write-up leaves me squeamish.  It's akin to the whole "adoptive parents are saints" mythology, the "Oh, you're doing such a Good Thing!" gushing that one gets from new acquaintances.  That sort of thing makes me feel like they're implying, in a weird sort of way, that it takes a mighty special person to even want my darling dotter.  Harrumph.  To me...well, she's my daughter, and I love her, and I find it hard to wrap my mind around the concept of it being difficult to love someone who isn't "your own".

I'm sure that the journalists have mangled the results of the study in some way, picking some point to emphasize that really wasn't the point the researchers were wanting to get across.  I'd be interested to know if the study controlled for income, social status, number of children in the family, etc.  Perhaps the correlation that is trumpeted here is more one of monetary influence:  parents who can afford to adopt might have more discretionary income to spend on their kids; they might have a higher socioeconomic level that promotes focus on reading and family time--goodness only knows.

And I find it simply appalling that the article says "The researchers said their findings call into question the long-standing argument that children are best off with their biological parents."  Oh, goodness, what a can of worms that opens up--what a splendid validation for all those adoption agencies who subtly (or not-so-subtly) coerce young unwed moms into placing for adoption because "the child will be so much better off in a two-parent family!"

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posted by Kate @ 2/14/2007 07:06:00 PM  
  • At 2/14/2007 07:30:00 PM, Blogger Miss Cellania said…

    Oh boy, this happens all the time. There is a statistical anomoly that any study like this should correct. The fact is that a lot of biological parents are accidental. There are no accidental adoptions.

    Its not that adoptive prents are better, but as a group they may skew a better average because the bio parent group includes folks who weren't ready or willing to be parents.

    If the people who did these studies disqualified all families in which the children were not "planned", I bet the results would show bio and adaoptive families are very close in most measurements. See, such a move would eliminate the youngest (and supposedly the less competent) parents. It would eliminate most substance abusers, and probably some low-income parents. What you'd have left is a population of bio parents who are a lot like adoptive parents.

  • At 2/14/2007 09:04:00 PM, Anonymous bh said…

    You might find some of this researcher's work interesting.
    B Sacerdote at Dartmouth

    I have not read any of this stuff carefully yet, though. And the study is mainly about economic outcomes, which is crude.

    Here's the abstract for one of the papers--- "The Nature And Nurture of Economic Outcomes"

    "This paper uses data on adopted children to examine the relative importance of biology and environment in determining educational and labor market outcomes. I employ three long-term panel data sets which contain information on adopted children, their adoptive parents, and their biological parents. In at least two of the three data sets, the mechanism for assigning children to adoptive parents is fairly random and does not match children to adoptive parents based on health, race, or ability. I find that adoptive parents' education and income have a modest impact on child test scores but a large impact on college attendance, marital status, and earnings. In contrast with existing work on IQ scores, I do not find that the influence of adoptive parents declines with child age."

  • At 2/15/2007 01:09:00 PM, Anonymous SBird said…

    Yeah, so I read the whole dang study, all 22 pages, and it makes the very point that miss cellania raises, that there are no 'accidental adoptions' (except the study says something like, every one who adopts wants their child). But the interesting canoworms is that even after controlling for children who were not "planned" (and so controlling for substance abusers, young, low-income, etc.), the study STILL concludes that adoptive parents are more invested than bio parents in their children. They suggest that perhaps adopting parents had to overcome obstacles to parenthood that makes them less likely to take it for granted...

    and, as you guess, they do not argue that money in and of itself makes you a better parent, only that you might better the opportunities available to your kids, and--have more time available for your kids.

  • At 2/15/2007 07:44:00 PM, Blogger Space Mom said…

    I haven't read the study, but it seems odd to try to use Money as a way to show who is better...

    I also cry when angry. Worse, I giggle when upset. When Luna was hospitalized at 8 months old and I was helping the nurses get a blood draw BEFORE they hydrated her I was laughing so hard I was crying. Now that gets me upset that I laugh when I am really really upset..

  • At 2/17/2007 07:52:00 AM, Blogger Maggie said…

    I'm a cryer too. I'd love to change that trait of mine, but what are you gonna do?

    I posted about that article as well. I thought it was awful the way the article essentially pitted biological parents against adoptive parents. The discussion that ensued on msnbc was disturbing.

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About Me
Name: OmegaMom
Home: Southwest
About Me: Middle-aged mom of a 4-year-old adopted from China. Love science, debate, good SF and fantasy, hiking, music of almost every style. Lousy housekeeper. "Good enough" mom.
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