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Fox News Fact Check: Is it bad for lower-income kids if Mom has a job outside the home?

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.

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Last week, the anchors at Fox News made headlines when they covered the recent Pew Research Center finding that 40% of all households in America have a female primary breadwinner. About 1/3 of these households consist of two-parent households where the mothers make more money than their husbands, and the remaining 2/3 consist of single mothers. Left completely in a tizzy after learning of this statistic, Fox assembled an entirely-male panel to mourn, in no uncertain terms, the downfall of society as we know it. This was quickly followed by another segment in which lead mouthpiece Erickson doubled down on his statements, and a third in which female anchor Megyn Kelly criticized the men for their backwards, offensive views. Many of the things said on these segments were hurtful to thousands of men, women, and children who were essentially being told that they are responsible for society crumbling into ruins. However, in addition to being offensive, many of the “facts” and much of the “science” on these videos were not quite correct. In a series of blog posts this week, I will be comparing what the Fox news anchors have claimed in these segments with empirical reality.

The Claim: In response to Megyn Kelly citing a 2010 study released by the American Psychological Association stating that there are no differences in positive outcomes between children whose mothers work and those whose mothers stay home, Erickson says he tends to “discredit” the data because the samples are largely “self-selective” and higher income. According to Erickson, “when you study higher-income families, you’re absolutely right, working mothers who are very high income, their children, there really isn’t a big difference…but when you go into the middle class, where a lot of these issues are bubbling up, when you have a Mom who’s working 12 hours a day and a Dad who’s working 12 hours a day, and they come home and they’re also trying to be good parents, you can’t have it all, and they’re making compromises.”

The Reality: If Erickson had read the 2010 paper cited by Kelly, he would have found that the actual data tell a completely different story. In fact, they tell the opposite story.1

As Kelly mentions, the paper being discussed is a meta-analysis spanning 69 studies including 128,738 children over 50 years. You can access the paper itself by clicking the link here.

To understand how this study gets its data, it’s important to understand exactly what a meta-analysis is. Imagine you were to sit down and write a literature review on a topic that interests you — say, the effects of moms working outside of the home on their children’s later development. If you wanted to look at this qualitatively, you could search a bunch of databases and find every single relevant study conducted over the past 50 years or so. You could then write up a nice report summarizing what each of these papers found, somewhat like a scientific book report.

But this could get a little complicated, especially if you started to wonder how you should treat each of the studies. For example, what if one study sampled 50,000 families in different states all across the country, and the second study only sampled 100 families in one specific college town? Should you treat both of these studies equally? Probably not. But how should you treat them unequally? Should you just write all of the details for every study in the report and allow people to form their own judgments? That might get tedious, especially if you have to do that for hundreds of samples.

So a meta-analysis is basically a quantitative method of addressing this problem in a systematic way. It’s something like combining this idea of a “scientific book report” together with the concept of a weighted average. It takes all of the effects found in every single study that you’ve gathered and averages them together so you get one, final “THIS IS YOUR EFFECT” measure of the relationship that you’re interested in studying — but it goes one step further and weights each effect differently before it gets entered into the average, based on how many people are in the sample and how large (or small) the variance in the sample happens to be. So, in our example above, if the first study found a correlation of .6 and the second study found a correlation of .2, an average of these two effects would give you an “overall correlation” of .4. But, because the first study was so much bigger, that correlation of .6 might get a little more weight in your average — so your “overall correlation” would take that into account and might be something more like .45 or .46. Now imagine extending this logic over dozens or hundreds of studies, weighting each one to account for differences in sample size, variance, etc. This is the bare bones of how a meta-analysis works. It’s like a literature review with numbers — or a weighted average of the effects in every single study that you found — that treats the effects that you get from better-powered studies more seriously.

So what do the samples involved in this particular meta-analysis look like? Are they all wealthy, Caucasian, two-parent families? Not quite. Although a little over half of the samples were categorized as “mixed SES,” 30% of the samples in these studies were primarily working/lower-middle class, and only about 15% of the samples were primarily middle/upper-class. Almost 20% of the samples came strictly from single-mother households, and about 20% of the samples consisted of families on welfare. With regards to racial diversity, approximately 20% of the samples were primarily Black or African-American, and approximately 10% of the samples were primarily Hispanic. So, while these numbers could be higher, it’s certainly not the case that these studies are only recruiting wealthy families — there’s a fair representation of economic and racial diversity.

Now we can see that there are plenty of lower-income families in this sample. So does Erickson have a point? Is it the case that the kids are doing OK in wealthy families, but struggling if they have working moms and they’re not as financially stable?

One of the real benefits of doing a meta-analysis is that you can actually look for important moderators of your effect of interest. So, let’s say you have 20 studies that look at the effects of maternal employment on child IQ in families that are on welfare, and 20 studies that look at the effects of maternal employment on child IQ in families that are super wealthy. Long story short, you can basically sort those studies into groups that you want to compare (i.e., “Welfare Families” vs. “Wealthy Families”) and then run some statistical tests that will let you know if the effects in those two groups are significantly different from each other. So, if maternal employment is really bad for one type of family but not so bad for another, this moderator analysis will let you know that information.

The authors of this meta-analysis — knowing full well that the effects of maternal employment on children might differ based on socioeconomic status, as Erickson insinuates — actually did compare the studies based on whether or not the majority of the families involved in the study were on welfare. If Erickson were correct, children from families on welfare (aka the poorest families) should be struggling the most, so you would expect to see lower levels of achievement and more behavioral problems if mothers in those families work while their children are young, whereas those from higher-income households should be showing no real effect.

However, when looking at samples where the families were on welfare, children whose mothers worked while they were very young (1-3 years old) actually performed significantly better on measures of overall achievement and had significantly higher IQs , although there were no differences when it came to performance on formal achievement tests. On the contrary, when looking at samples where the families were not on welfare, there were no differences in overall achievement or IQ between the children whose mothers worked and did not work during their early childhood years, although higher SES children whose mothers worked while they were young actually did slightly worse on formal achievement tests.

What if we look at whether or not the child is coming from a single-parent household? Same story. Children who lived with single mothers performed better on measures of overall achievement and IQ if these single moms worked while the kids were very young. Children who lived in two-parent households, on the other hand, showed no differences in overall achievement or IQ, but did worse on formal achievement tests if their mothers had worked.

And what about behavioral problems, like externalizing behaviors (aggression or impulsivity) or internalizing behaviors (depression or anxiety)? After all, if lower-income children whose parents work outside the home have higher IQs but also have higher rates of depression and anxiety, that’s still a problem, right?

Sure, it would be a problem — if that were the case. But it’s not. Once again, the pattern is the same. Children who lived with single mothers who had worked outside of the home while the kids were very young actually exhibited significantly lower rates of overall behavior problems, significantly lower rates of aggression and impulsivity, and marginally lower rates of depression and anxiety. Children from two-parent households showed no such difference in overall behavior problems, aggression, or impulsivity, though they also showed lower rates of depression and anxiety. So, across the board, when mothers worked outside of the home where their babies were very young, it didn’t matter if they were single mothers or members of a two-parent household. Looking across a wide variety of racial and socioeconomic groups, studies either found no relation between employment and behavioral problems, or they found that children whose mothers worked while they were young actually had fewer behavioral problems and better academic outcomes than their counterparts whose mothers stayed at home.

The data keep telling the same story, no matter how you look at it. According to the data (which, again, covers over 100,000 children across almost 70 different studies conducted over 50 years), having a mother who works outside of the home, if anything, might actually be MORE BENEFICIAL for children from lower-income families or single-mother households than having their mothers stay at home. For children from wealthier families, there is either no difference between the children of working and stay-at-home Moms, or the children of stay-at-home mothers fare a bit better.

The authors have a painfully simple and obvious explanation for this difference, which makes sense as soon as you read it. Erickson assumed that children from higher-income families will probably do fine in the world regardless of whether or not their mothers are employed, but children from lower-income families will suffer if both parents are working long hours and then coming home stressed. After all, as Erickson notes, you “can’t have it all,” and mothers who work are “making compromises.”

But the problem here is that Erickson is forgetting one very crucial thing — if there’s anything more stressful than being a single mother with a full-time job, it’s being a single mother without a full-time job. As the authors note, the “added financial security and health benefits that accompany [maternal] employment [in lower-income households]…improved food, clothing, and shelter because of increased income…[and] the psychological importance of having a role model for achievement and responsible behavior” are all really important things for vulnerable, lower-income children to have in their lives. If Mom is not outside the home working, sure, she is staying at home with her child — but if that family has little to no income coming in from other sources, that child is really going to suffer. Mom can only do so much to raise that kid well if he/she is starving or doesn’t have warm clothing in the winter. The added financial security from having a working mother more than makes up for the detriments of not having Mom around all day. Turns out, it’s more important to have food, clothing, and a roof over your head than it is for a two-year-old to avoid the perils of daycare. For wealthier families, on the other hand, Mom often returns back to work because she wants to, not necessarily because she has to. Although this is certainly not always the case, higher-income households likely have more financial security than their lower-income counterparts, regardless of Mom’s employment. Because of this, however, Mom returning back to work likely doesn’t raise the family income level so much that it makes a meaningful difference in the child’s quality of food, clothing, and shelter. It might mean that the child can get a few extra toys at Christmas, but it certainly doesn’t mean the difference between going to bed full or hungry. The increases in family income from the wealthier Mom working and the provision of a positive female role model in the household don’t always offset the challenges to bonding and attachment that maternal employment might also pose. For the lower-income Moms, on the other hand, that source of income is so crucially important, and it is so potentially devastating to a family if that income source is removed, that it certainly better for the kid’s future prospects if Mom goes back to work.

So, there don’t seem to be strong differences in children of stay-at-home and working mothers. When there are differences, they actually trend towards the children of working mothers having more positive academic and behavioral outcomes, and these positive benefits are especially noticeable in lower-income households, where the added financial security provided by Mom’s income does a whole lot to improve a child’s prospects.

1. This is actually a great example of why funding for the behavioral sciences is so critically important, and you can’t simply argue that it’s all just an exercise in proving “common sense.” When Erickson first said this, I had not read this paper and I’m somewhat embarrassed to say that I completely bought the idea that this effect was what they had found. I even wrote out a long argument in a comment that I posted on Facebook about why you would expect to see negative effects of maternal employment in lower SES (but not upper SES) households. When I read the actual paper, I felt incredibly silly and immediately understood why the effect could (and does) go the other way. However, let this be a lesson that hindsight bias is a cruel beast, and if you attempt to ridicule social science research by saying it’s simply “common sense,” you’d better make sure that you’re not actually claiming the opposite of what empirical studies have found.

APA Press Release:

Lucas-Thompson, R.G., Goldberg, W.A., & Prause, J. (2010). Maternal work early in the lives of children and its distal associations with achievement and behavior problems: A meta-analysis. Psychological Bulletin, 136 (6), 915-942 PMID: 20919797



Image Credit: Fair and Balanced slogan via Wikipedia and available under free use, as the purpose of this post is “for identification and critical commentary on the station ID or program and its contents.”

Melanie Tannenbaum About the Author: Melanie Tannenbaum is a doctoral candidate in social psychology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where she received an M.A. in social psychology in 2011. Her research focuses on the science of persuasion & motivation regarding political, health-related, and environmental behavior. You can add her on Twitter or visit her personal webpage. Follow on Twitter @melanietbaum.

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.

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  1. 1. rationalrevolution 3:48 pm 06/3/2013

    Actually there are even more explanations for why children of poor and middle-class parents do better when the parents both work.

    This may sound harsh, but I think it has some merit.

    The reality is that poorer parents are likely less capable than wealthier parents in the first place, i.e. likely not as intelligent themselves, not as creative, and certainly without the resources to expose their kids to as many experiences.

    Thus, staying “at home with mom” when mom is poor or even lower middle-class likely means staying at home, watching TV, sitting around a house with relatively few activities, little engagement in learning, and getting regularly punished by a stressed out mom who doesn’t have good child raising skills.

    On the other hand, if that poor mom goes to work and then either puts the child into a cheap day care, gets subsidized day care, or leaves the child with a relative for child care (like a grandparent or something), then the child is probably actually going to get better care than they would from their own mother, not to mention that if they go to day care they will have far more socializing experiences.

    The difference between poor and wealthy parents is not only the parents themselves, but also the experiences they can expose their kids to. A wealthy stay-at-home mom is busy taking the kids to play groups, parks, museums, etc. and may have the help of a nanny, and is likely going to be teaching the child things like counting, the alphabet, etc., doing many of the same types of actives they do in pre-school.

    The poor parents are less able to take their kids to stuff like museums and even free parks if they lack transportation, and less likely to go to play groups all over the place as well. They are probably also less ambitious and intelligent, hence the reason they may be poor, and thus also less likely to engage tier kids in learning.

    In short, it’s probably a good idea to get kids out of poor homes and into day cares and pre-schools where they will have a much more enriching experience than they would at home.

    Link to this
  2. 2. gooner 6:13 pm 06/3/2013

    Facts and Fox News are three words that mix like oil and water.

    Link to this
  3. 3. ultimobo 6:14 pm 06/3/2013

    yep – and my observation that single parent nuclear families tend to raise little tyrants who have worked out how to manipulate their sole caregiver and is good at throwing tantrums in public to humiliate their mum to giving them what they want.

    anything that gets either or both out of the house will be a good reality check / escape valve from the hothouse of one-to-one mum-and-child engagement that tends to raise delicate flowers that quickly wilt outside.

    Link to this
  4. 4. Poj 6:18 pm 06/3/2013

    While I can agree with some of what you are saying, I think you may be in error: you are assuming that poor = low intelligence. Poorly educated might be closer to the truth, but not always.

    Link to this
  5. 5. MRC06405 6:57 pm 06/3/2013

    The study has the data to tell us something about the benefit to children of having a two parent family. Why is this not discussed.

    The advantages to poor children of having two parents should be significant. Two parents gives two chances that at least one of them will be working. In fact it makes sense that the “old fashioned” nuclear family with one stay at home parent (not necessarily the mom)is very practical. The stay at home parent can often give much more valuable service cooking, cleaning and taking care of children than the net benefit to the family of a second low paying job. This is especially true if you consider the added costs of child care, transportation, prepared foods, eating out, etc.

    If you care about helping young children, one of the most important things you can do is convince young women of the benefits they can provide to themselves and their children by finding a man who will stay and help raise a family.

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  6. 6. JHela001 7:41 pm 06/3/2013

    To the person “rational revolution”:
    That is harsh, and its quite out of line.
    You make the statement that ‘poor people’ are generally going to be worse at parenting. This is a huge assumption, and you did not cite anything. If we go back to the data, it wouldn’t seem this is the case at all, and completely based on your own skewed perspective.

    Also, you make the statement that they can’t bring their kids to parks or museums, because they are more likely to lack transportation. Yet you don’t realize that day care & child services cost money. How would you account for the ability to give your child to a day care or child service facility, but cannot afford a bus ticket to get their children somewhere?

    Also, and this is strictly personal observation, I see more ‘poor’ looking families in parks, museums, and outside than those that look ‘wealthy’. This is an assumption, as I cannot tell completely how they dress, but often it seems that the most successful families are often MORE busy with work, since they take it home with them and are very involved in their work (hence their success).

    Lastly, although I could go on, you make the assumption that day cares and child services are of good parenting quality, in comparison to a mother who’s ‘stressed out’ I don’t know about you, but taking care of >5 children who are not of your own gene pool is very stressful. I was in a variety of daycares and child care places, and they all sucked, they were all terrible and I couldn’t wait to go home everyday because they aren’t PARENTS they are doing a job.

    In short, your post is paralleled with FOX news quality-logic and although I know you probably won’t, you should analyze why you think such things.

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  7. 7. RSchmidt 8:01 pm 06/3/2013

    Wow a republican propaganda media outlet lying about the facts!? That’s like totally expected. The only time a ring wing fanatic doesn’t lie is…well there is no time. Lies are all the republicans have because the modern world no longer fits their world view which was formulated sometime back in the bronze age. You want to make news, find an example where a republican was more scientifically accurate than a democrat. Or even one where a republican told the truth, an inconvenient one would be more impressive.

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  8. 8. phalaris 1:48 am 06/4/2013

    …and the left, including Melanie Tannenbaum, censor what doesn’t suit their agenda.

    I presume I’m not allowed to say here what I think about the value of these studies.

    Link to this
  9. 9. Melanie Tannenbaum in reply to Melanie Tannenbaum 8:19 am 06/4/2013

    Go for it. You’ll only be making yourself look dumb, not me.

    You might want to read the new post that just went up today on “political bias” before you start crying it, though.

    Link to this
  10. 10. Scienceisnotagenda 9:03 am 06/4/2013

    Rational rev….there is some merit to your comment however stop being logical and get back on the political correctness train. We claim to embrace science except when it conflicts with our ideologies.

    Link to this
  11. 11. Scienceisnotagenda 9:08 am 06/4/2013

    JHela…you are defeating your own premise. This is not about what should be but the reality of what is. Science is not about solving social issues but describing what is. In general wealthier families do do a better job of parenting than poor people. Whether this ‘should’ be is not a scientific question but a normative social value.

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  12. 12. rationalrevolution 11:51 am 06/4/2013

    To those who disagreed with me:

    I’m a current parent of 2 kids. My wife and I both work. We have friends up and down the economic spectrum. My degree is in biology, I’m a software developer, and politically I’m a far leftist, but I’m also a realist.

    What annoys me about may so-called “liberals” is their blindness to biology and realistic views of human nature, in addition to their seeming lack of comprehension of statistics vs anecdotes.

    So, don’t get me wrong, I’m well aware of the fact that not everyone who is poor is an idiot or incapable, but it is an absolute fact that ON AVERAGE, the poor in America have lower intelligence than the wealthy and upper-middle class.

    I absolutely don’t blame people for this, in fact I’m basically a commie and agree with “from each according to the ability to to each according to their needs.”

    But it’s simply a fact that if you take the poorest 20% of the population and the richest 20% of the population, then those in the top 20% are going to be statistically more intelligent, creative, and engaging than those in the bottom 20%.

    I absolutely think America has an unfair economy, but I also acknowledge that generally speaking our population is sorted from least to most capable along economic lines. Generally speaking, the poor in this country are less capable people, and the rich are more capable people.

    My position is that we should be taxing the hell out of the rich and using that money to provide free pre-school to everyone, from the poorest on up, from age 2 to kindergarten.

    And I’ve worked with plenty of poor people, in fact my sister (who is also very intelligent on paper, but whose life is a total mess), has 3 kids, which she struggled to care for while homeless and on government assistance for years before abandoning them, is exactly the type of person whose kids would have been better off at day care than spending time with her, and I’ve seen many more such families.

    The absurd claim by the FOX people is the claim that kids are always “better off” at home with their parents than they are in pre-school.

    That’s totally bogus, and I know because I’ve been there. Both of our kids went to daycare/pre-school starting at 6 months of age, because we both work. We have many friends with a stay and home mom who has “home schooled” their kids from age 0-5.

    Of those, I’d say that our kids (anecdote alert) are much farther along and better off than the ones who have stayed at home with their moms. In fact 2 of them ended up sending their kids to half-day care at a community center to try and help socialize them because they were having so many behavioral problems with them at home, and in both cases the kids have gotten much better over the past year or so.

    Pre-school is a good thing, it is beneficial, and it’s something I think everyone, regardless of income, should have access to.

    People aren’t “designed” to be raised in isolation, yet for many “stay at home moms”, especially poorer ones, that’s exactly what being raised “by mom or dad” means these days. People tend to have small families, 1-3 kids, they live more in isolation than in the past, and today often live away from family. This means that for many kids being raised “by mom”, it means simply staying at home “doing nothing”.

    And let me clue you in, many non-working poor parents who are going to stay at home with their kid probably aren’t doing that kid any favors. They are sitting on the couch watching soap operas, while the kid poops on itself and eats bugs. They aren’t taking the kid to museums because they can’t afford it. They don’t have two cars in the house, so if they are with someone, when they go to work they are left at home with no car. Many live in apartments, and might be lucky to have a pool or an open space the kid can play in, but most likely they live in some 500 sq ft place that’s dirty with little in the way of good play spaces.

    Get over the idealized vision of “mommy” and wake up to the fact that there are plenty of people out there with kids who can barely take care of themselves, and yes, most of these people fall into the “poor” category.

    As someone in the top 2% income bracket, with 2 kids that have been in pre-school since 6 months old, with two working parents, I can honestly say that I think putting kids into pre-school as early as possible is a good thing, it socializes the kids more, they have more fun, they learn more, they build better immunity, etc. My wife and I both agree that even if she could stay home full time with the kids, we think they are better off in pre-school anyway.

    We are highly engaged parents, with plenty of resources, living in a nice neighborhood with a nice home, with grandparents on hand, who take our kids to special events and stuff every week and spend hundreds of dollars on them a month on top of pre-school, and I think that our kids are better off going to pre-school than staying at home with a parent. If it’s better for them, it absolutely has to be better for kids of poor parents, no matter how well meaning or capable they may be, not to mention the poor parents out there who aren’t very capable or well meaning.

    And if you think I’m being harsh or whatnot, then take a trip to the ghetto yourself. Believe me, I grew up in Arkansas and have lived in all kinds of trashy poor places and have helped my sister who has hitchhiked and bummed all over the country and picked up her kids from “friends” of her’s that were taking care of them when she was drunk or whatever. I’ve seen dozens and dozens of kids living in poverty, and trust me, getting them the f* out of those houses and into a pre-school is the best thing that could ever happen to them.

    Link to this
  13. 13. phalaris 12:38 pm 06/4/2013

    Melanie Tannenbaum
    You removed my posts on the mothers day thread, even though, unlike you, I didn’t resort to personal abuse, but stuck to the substance of the case.
    So it was fair to wonder whether the left gets to prove its case by eliminating any evidence to the contrary.

    Meta-analyses are flavour of the month nowadays, but there seems just as much dispute about their value, if not more, than individual studies.

    As the above post suggests, for younger kids there may be a positive effect of them being away from home in a structured environment for some of the day. I wonder though whether any positive effects of a non-working parent come later, when the kids need more encouragement to stick to it, and to do their homework.

    Link to this
  14. 14. yeahbaby 12:45 pm 06/4/2013

    As a former child of a poor single mother who grew up with babysitters and daycare, I have relevant experience and this article and many of the comments struck some nerves.

    Yes, we lived in a trailer park for a while and ate macaroni and hot dogs a lot. Our mother refused welfare out of pride even though we qualified. Father was barely in the picture, financially and otherwise. No, we weren’t able to afford ballet or trips to Disneyland. However, both my sister and were reading by age 4, possessed above average IQ’s and test scores growing up, graduated high school near the top of our respective classes, and were considered some of the most bright and respectful girls by our teachers and friends’ parents (often of much higher income). I think it has less to do with our mother’s financial status or daily presence (I was a daycare kid who became a latchkey kid) and a lot more to do with the standards and expectations held for us by her. Our mother had a college degree, strong work ethic, and high moral standards, likely from growing up in a devoutly religious home. We were expected to do chores from age 5, without which we couldn’t enjoy privileges like tv time or playing outside. We were expected to stay out of trouble and do the best we could in every endeavor. If we did not meet these standards, if we didn’t study and performed poorly, if we acted like brats in the grocery store, etc, we were denied privileges and freedoms. I am not saying that we might not have been better off with a second parent in the home or more money, although a point could be made for my mother growing up in a two-parent household and transferring her expectations to us (her mother and father both worked full time). Still, I’m not sure that either is really the crux of the issue. We were taught critical thinking in the home and that learning is fun. When we didn’t follow the rules, we faced consequences. It seems to me that instilling values and expectations as well as demonstrating them, is the key for successful parenting. It may be more difficult to do as a single parent, working or no, but there are many two-parent homes who miss the boat despite ample pockets.

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  15. 15. rshoff 2:47 pm 06/4/2013

    Let’s cut to the chase. Low income kids have it bad no matter what their parents do. All this window dressing obscures the real problems in our society.

    Link to this
  16. 16. Melanie Tannenbaum in reply to Melanie Tannenbaum 3:13 pm 06/4/2013

    Phalaris: Your prior comments were removed because you were actually accusing the NICHD of publishing fraudulent research as a result of political bias (a fairly serious accusation) and also leveling overblown accusations about the entire field of social psychology and everyone who conducts research in it based on a small number of publicized, notable cases. Those sorts of accusations are offensive at best, and could actually be construed as libel if seen by litigious eyes. They will not be tolerated on this page. You were explicitly accusing researchers of fraud without any actual evidence to support your claims. You should probably thank me for not allowing those statements to be permanently displayed on the Internet.

    If you would *actually* like to stick to the substance of the case, as you have here (I don’t agree with what you say, but I completely respect your right to say it), you can comment to your heart’s content. As you see, I am happy to allow dissenting – and even potentially offensive – comments through moderation.

    And P.S. Deleting libelous claims or overblown accusations of fraud being leveled at an entire field of science is not “censorship.” It’s respectful moderation, and it’s actually protecting YOU. I’d encourage you to look up the backlash to the Nature News story that you actually posted in the comment section of this blog to claim that social psychology is filled with “fraud.” They received so many complaints about how irresponsible they were with these claims that they had to issue official corrections to clarify that they reported this incorrectly. You can go look at the corrections issued by Nature News at the bottom of the piece you so happily linked to last time:

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  17. 17. rationalrevolution 3:30 pm 06/4/2013

    @yeahbaby That’s all well and good, but you fall into the same trap that many of these conservatives do, basically saying, “The key to raising successful children is good parenting.”

    Yeah, duh, the problem is that you can’t enforce “good parenting”. There are lots of bad parents out there, and the reality is that, (if you were raised poor I’m sure you can attest to this from some of the friends you had), statistically speaking, poor kids experience bad parenting more often than kids of wealthier backgrounds.

    We can’t make parents be good parents. Not all of them are capable of it, and not all of them care about it. Sounds like you had a good mom, and that is great, but we can’t guarantee all kids will have good parents, so “good parenting” isn’t a policy solution to anything.

    A policy solution is providing free quality pre-school to everyone, so that even the kids with bad parents will have exposure to a richer learning environment.

    There is another article over on Salon right now about income inequality and the education system, and in the comments there is someone who was an elementary teacher at a poor inner city school, talking about how when the kids came into kindergarten and first grade most of them had no education at all and were completely wild.

    The majority of her kids couldn’t identify a single letter of the alphabet or count, many didn’t know shapes or colors. Many weren’t potty trained. This is what its like for many poor kids growing up in bad homes, and of course for kids in those situations, yes going to day care is going to be a heck of a lot better than staying at home “with mom”.

    In my kid’s pre-school all the kids are reading by age 5, some as early as their late 3s. They are doing math, they go on field trips, they plant and tend a garden, they learn geography, they learn biology, they learn about electricity, they work on 3 dimensional puzzles, they work with computers, etc.

    And like your mom, we also provide a lot of encouragement and support and reinforcement at home, as do I’m sure all of the parents at our pre-school, but I know that even if we did stay home with our kids as opposed to sending them to pre-school we wouldn’t be able to provide the quality of education that they get at their school. We just couldn’t do it.

    We don’t have the experience and knowledge that these teachers have, so I’m saying that I think pre-school is generally better for kids than staying at home.

    Link to this
  18. 18. phalaris 2:40 am 06/5/2013

    well, it looks like I should thank you for saving me from arraignment. I would have thought though that referring to the Nature article about the poor replicability of studies in this field (which would apply to those in the meta-study in dispute on this thread) would be protected by our outdated standpoints on freedom of speech.

    But I worry about you now, laying into Fox-news. But then again, it would be only right if those nasty conservatives didn’t enjoy any protection under the libel laws.

    Link to this
  19. 19. rshoff 12:59 pm 06/5/2013

    @rational – “statistically speaking, poor kids experience bad parenting more often than kids of wealthier backgrounds.”

    While there are a lot of good points in many of these comments that I cannot address, I’d just like to comment on the statistical concept you introduced above. If that statistic is true, then consider that behaviors of a wealthy parent must be different than poor parents. The measurements used to determine ‘good’ parenting may be biased toward those with resources. For example, feeding a child rice on a dirt floor could be considered good parenting when the alternative is to starve the child. But if a wealthy parent did the same, it should be considered very bad parenting because the available alternatives are much healthier for the child.

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  20. 20. metavirus 12:56 pm 06/6/2013

    the reliably backward governor of mississippi stuck his foot in his mouth today on this topic.

    having a Sad over women unshackling their va-jay-jays 50+ years ago is ALWAYS relevant with the kiddos today.

    oh, and by the way, the governor of **Mississippi** should know a LOT about the biggest factor in low educational performance: POVERTY.

    hmm, maybe i should look at some facts. OH NOES! Jeebus-fearing Mississippi, where I’m sure more wimmins than elsewhere tend the brood in the homestead as Gawd intended, has the worst child poverty rate in the country (50th out of 50) AND clocks in at a miserable 50th out of 50 in state math and science education rankings!!

    Quelle surprise! and, faint! Quite a correlation there, hrmmm?

    Link to this

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