Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Unbalanced Pursuit of "Balance"

I've been subscribing to the On Balance parenting weblog at WaPo.

It has occasionally interesting thoughts on parenting, but I can't escape the conclusion that the basic premise is flawed -- that the most important thing about family life is achieving "balance" between parenting and other activities. Steiner actually touched on this last week. Parenting isn't just one activity to be "balanced" with other things. It is the most important, and ultimately most rewarding, thing we will ever do.

I'm not saying that people don't need a break, and that everything has to be about the kids, but this notion that happiness comes as a result of achieving the proper "balance" is hogwash. If you're kid's in the hospital, there isn't going to be any balance, and that's the way it has to be.

This cystallized for me with Steiner's pro-abortion (and don't dare tell me it's really just pro-"choice") column from today. Ramesh Ponnuru nicely and pithily summarized it as, "'Juggling Work and Family' is a lot easier if you get rid of inconvenient children."

Like Dana Stevens, Steiner claims to be quite secure in her belief in the necessity of abortion, but gets quite excercised that procuring or at least seriously considering terminating an unwanted pregnancy isn't a regular feature of popular entertainment.

An unwanted pregnancy is perhaps the most powerful factor in unbalancing a woman's work and family life. Most working women (at least the sexually active ones) need birth control, including abortion, to plan their careers -- sometimes, you need to say "no" to motherhood in order to build your reputation, get more training or an advanced degree, accept a promotion, or simply to work very hard for a certain period of time. Childless women often stay happily childless thanks specifically to birth control. Non-working moms also need the choices offered by all forms of birth control to space their children wisely, and sometimes to put off pregnancy in favor of a current family member's special needs (including their own).

"Balance" is the new God. If an unplanned pregnancy goes against "balance," then we "need" every tool possible to confront it, up to and including abortion. Question the morality of some of these tools, and you are opposed to balance.

Seems like we were just down this road with "security." The homeland must be secured, and the government needs access to every tool, including indefinite detention and "enhanced interrogation techniques" and preemptive war to do it. Question the morality of these things, and you hate America.

There's the somwhat tired old saying that nobody wishes on their deathbed that they spent more time at the office. I submit that even fewer people will say they wished their lives were more "balanced," particularly those who chose to welcome an unplanned addition to their family at the expense of balance.