Parental responsibility

I suppose it is not acceptable to wonder aloud about women who become who impregnated by tossers who don’t pay?

Why aren’t you wondering aloud about the tossers who don’t pay rather than focusing on the women?

Yeah, it would generally be seen as a bit tasteless. The law is there to ensure that fathers contribute towards their children, and it could be construed as inhumane to punish the children if they don’t or can’t.

In cases of rape or incest it wouldn’t be unusual for the father not to contribute, and in some cases the mothers mightn’t be comfortable with discussing those details in public. To suggest that such women should be excluded from social welfare might be regarded as sociopathic or needlessly cruel.

I still think the State should go after the fathers and garnish their wages or welfare. The Child Support Agency in the UK from the 90s was poorly administered but the principle is sound. Far too many men not supporting their kids and it’s the mothers who get vilified. I had an amicable situation with my ex where he did his fair share but I knew of so many men who didn’t pay a penny towards their kids, and not necessarily the feckless stereotypes you’d think.

Even in the US many of the state agencies do a decent job of chasing fathers. It does rather depend on the mothers identifying the fathers though, which appears to be a thorny issue already here in terms of birth cents.

This is fine in principle but throws up absurd levels of practical issues such as:

-forcing Ms Y to identify Mr X as the father
-proving beyond all doubt that Mr X is the father
-determining where Mr X lives, if in the country at all
-discovering Mr X’s income, particularly if he is in the informal sector
-contacting his employer to garnish income (privacy issues come into play here)
-monitoring and enforcement of maintenance payments

It is much simpler for the state to simply provide direct financial and housing support to the lone parent usually, of course, the mother.

You have (IIRC) argued in favour of a UBI elsewhere as it gets rid of the armies of bureaucrats needed to administer these kind of schemes.

I agree that it’s not straightforward. Some of those issues are already in play here now and others have been tackled in other countries with varying degrees of success.

Yes, I think that’s preferable. But if we decide that single parents are deserving of additional state supports I think that it’s worth expending significant effort to chase the non-participating parent, on principle of personal responsibility if nothing else.

Worth noting that there are claims that some people claim to be single parents when they are not, in order to receive these allowances. A robust enforcement regime against the absent parent would remove this incentive whether real or perceived.


Having children is a basic human right however.

There are pretty much no circumstances where the state should (or indeed can) censor the decision of a fertile woman to have a baby.

Policy has to be shaped around this.

And there’s nothing wrong with personal responsibility – I do get irritated at well-meaning knights on white horses defending all single mothers as saintly types who should be supported to stay at home for as long as they want. This is not the case even in lefty paradises like Sweden and Norway where the majority of single mothers work and are expected to work. I suppose it’s a kind of reaction to the extreme punishment formerly doled out in Ireland to single mothers, but it doesn’t fit in with European norms.
Of course, the housing clusterf*ck and most expensive childcare in Europe make welfare traps even worse for single parents than partnered ones, but that’s a whole other rant.

Leaving aside the issue of who pays, a parent working on low pay while their children are in professional childcare represents only a very marginal increase in net productivity.

Excessive use of creches feels a bit Brave New World to me, and I’ve used them myself for full-time care for two children.

So if I’m going to have pay (through taxes) either way, I’d be happier supporting parents to stay at home if that’s what they want. Or go out to work if that’s what they want.

Unhappy parents make for unhappy kids. Unhappy kids are more likely to grow up to make other people’s lives unhappy.

I’d prefer if the word “mother” was kept out of the policy discussion, though it’s relevant in this specific case. It only serves to further marginalise stay-at-home and single fathers.

I know a lone parent in her late 30s with two kids under five and zero support from the recently-departed husband (abroad, and for good).

She has an otherwise well-paying, secure job.

From what I can tell she is struggling from paycheck to paycheck though. Childcare in Dublin is punitive and public transport is slow and expensive. A car is close to a necessity with two small children and motoring is very expensive in Ireland.

The whole tax-benefit system provides her with next to nothing bar his tax credits and in recent years free under-5 GP visits.

Compare this with a woman who had never had a steady career or bought a house in the same situation:
-She would almost certainly have housing support if not tenure for life
-She would get jobseekers allowance (without having to actually seek work), qualified child payments and a medical card
-Access to community creches at very low rates

I think that basic difference between the single mother who works hard and isn’t ion the headlines v’s those who do eff all bar reproduce and expect everything for free…it mostly boils down to where they are from/how they are brought up.

If they grew up around other single mothers who got everything for free, they feel they are ‘entitled’ to everything for free also. They now no different.
Those that grew up in stable homes, had hard working parents etc are more likely to follow that route themselves despite having to rear a kid alone.
Not in every case of course!

This is indeed very true.

Over the long run however a career interruption of several years in a person’s thirties is very bad for labour income long run.

Studies generally show that professional men and women earn about the same until about 30 when women usually take time out of the workforce to take care of children. Even when women return their earnings never catch up.

I won’t keep the word “mother” out of the policy discussion because the issues around this disproportionately affect women, such as the impact of childbearing on earning power. Policy is shaped around political decisions about the role of men and women in our society and how children are brought up. Currently, we appear to have the worst of both laissez-faire capitalism, where the free market is allowed to dominate expensive childcare provision, and a sentimental veneration for the role of the mother, where any critical examination of lone parents in Ireland is met with a “ah sure leave them be, they’re doing the most important job in the world” (the latter was something said to me more than once when I veered off the standard leftie script that lone parents should be allowed to not work til their kids were 18).
As I said, it’s a clusterf*ck.

Nonetheless, women and men get treated differently as single parents. The stereotypical attitude is “poor him, his partner deserted him” vs “silly bint couldn’t keep her man”. I’m not pinning this attitude on anyone specifically, and nor is it universal, but I think that gender is simply a distraction and it’s easier to debate the policy without it.

The reason “the free market is allowed to dominate expensive childcare provision” (if that is indeed true) is mostly the same as everything else - laissez-faire government, weak institutions, short term policy making based on party political expediency, etc.

Essentially government achieves very little in this country, all noise and no action, and backs down at the slightest resistance. See water meters, FFS.

That plus a fairly backward culture, in the sense of policy following other developed countries but with several decades lag, with the odd exception like same-sex civil partnerships.

Well, because the tossers have absconded (if they even knew) so there’s not really much left to wonder about, is there?

I wonder about the women who choose to become pregnant by such tossers because they know in advance that they aren’t going to pay (of course, there will be some women who are abandoned by long term partners, raped, etc.,). It’s super easy to avoid pregnancy. Women do it all the time. If you can’t afford a baby and can’t find a partner who will provide, guess what, don’t have a baby. It’s not rocket science, and many, many women who would like to have a baby don’t have one for that very reason. Yet, there are women who put themselves in the position of knowing that they will be ‘single’ mothers who can’t make ends meet (not to mention that the child will be fatherless or have a rubbish role model for a father). I just wonder about the mentality of those women. I also wonder what we do as a society to encourage/discourage single mothers (and fathers). Generally, I believe that children are better off with both parents being active in their lives and encouraging a society where children grow up fatherless surely isn’t healthy (and I do think that single sex couples can make fine parents, before somebody leaps on that)? I don’t think it’s mean or nasty to wonder about that.

Coles, I find that you are attributing a lot of text to me that I didn’t actually write. I never suggested that raped women, or indeed any woman, should be excluded from welfare. In fact, I said the opposite earlier in the thread.

However, as I mentioned in my previous post, it is very easy to avoid pregnancy. Many women take such measures because they know they can’t afford a child, or they know that they man they are sleeping with would not make good father material. I think it is worthwhile exploring why other women choose to have unprotected sex with men who clearly are not suited to the responsibilities of fatherhood. And, how should we as a society best respond to those (irresponsible) decisions?

People are not rational. Young people particularly. And young people in love/lust…forget about it.

So treating single parents as rational economic actors is a bit of a stretch. Even if some of them might have crafted a story about how this was all a brilliant wheeze to have an easy life, people tend to post-rationalise and revise their personal histories to fit their self-image.

An awful lot of accidental single parents are very young when it happens. Teen pregnancy has dropped dramatically, due to improved education and access to contraception (it’s about half what it was in 2000, now), but it’s still a thing. The primary solution should be to continue to improve education and access to contraception IMO.

But ultimately, what is being done is working, to an extent. Rates of teen pregnancy have dropped dramatically.

Also, improvements around child support are necessary; enforcement is in many cases pathetic currently.

EDIT: By the way, it’s notable that some kids still don’t get sex education:

And there’s presumably a lot of variance in the quality.

I disagree to some extent. I believe there is a large cohort who see it as a lifestyle choice…they grow up surrounded by people in similar situations and thats all they know/hear about. They quickly learn that it’s a gateway to housing, regular income etc.
I know such people. And I fully expect some of their children to go the same route.