The Public Interest

The demise of child-rearing

Lyric Wallwork Winik

Fall 2000

CHILD-REARING is America’s cultural third rail. It is the gateway for debating everything from family structure (or the lack thereof) to exactly who should care for those regarded as the most vulnerable and malleable among us: very young children. And it has become far from a private debate, to be had around the kitchen table after the kids have brushed their teeth and gone to bed.  Today, there are all manner of mental health professionals, child developnaent experts, counselors, researchers, authors, and radio call-in hosts ready and waiting to dispense advice and guidelines. Even various arms of the federal government have weighed in with their estimations of what’s best for their smallest citizens. In the name of the children, federal tax law offers a $500-per-child tax credit (interestingly enough, a similar policy was first proposed by Theodore Roosevelt for the same sum), and federal law enforcement made armed raids to snatch Elian Gonzalez and to save the supposedly abused children in the Branch Davidian compound at Waco.

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