were not those with the greatest relative parent happiness. Rather, according to the study lead, Dr. Jennifer Glass of the University of Texas, "Policies that made it less stressful and less costly to combine child rearing with paid work “seem to be the ones that really matter.”
A New York Times article about this study went further through interviews to conjecture that in the U.S., there is an incredible anxiety about parenting for a number of reasons. We don't have the support networks. We have to compete for activities because a child's entire fate seems to depend on going to the right college and so many factors lead to that. We are constantly afraid of abductions. We worry about our kids being hit by cars.
The article interviews Christine Gross-Loh, the author of “Parenting Without Borders,”. Gross-Loh says “In Japan, my 6-year-old and my 9-year-old can go out and take the 4-year-old neighbor, and that’s just normal,”. In the United States, of course, that kind of freedom usually draws heavy criticism and can even lead to interventions by Child Protective Services.
Living in a cohousing neighborhood, where my kids were free to roam the neighborhood in packs by age 4, I feel like I'm definitely outside the norm. With cars out of the picture and in knowing all our neighbors, I could feel safe to do so.
My neighbors with young children free up time for each other sometimes by taking turns watching each others' kids. And a short walk away are several teens and preteens who are happy to babysit and don't have to drive over to do so.
Photo by Watchcaddy, Flickr Creative Commons