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Barbara Kingsolver describes something mothers in this country know all too well: children are considered a burden and an inconvenience instead of the nation’s treasure. As a former teacher to teenage mothers, I’ve seen this stark reality. While Congress squabbles over funding for food-assistance programs, low-cost childcare, preschool education, universal health care, and affordable housing, parents struggle alone, and our children pay the price. The nuclear family is not a sufficient basis for building a healthy, thriving society.
Kingsolver’s essay is not the first writing on the subject I’ve come across, but she is the kind of writer Goethe described when he wrote, “The most original authors of modern times are original not because they produce something new, but only because they are capable of saying things as if they had never been said before.”
I agree with Barbara Kingsolver that Americans do not prioritize children the way many other cultures do. I have witnessed firsthand how they are valued in other parts of the world. In Greece my children were regarded with joy. In Spain my grandson is treated like a gift. And when I am in Canada, I can’t help but notice all of the swimming pools, play areas, and athletic fields. Kingsolver’s experience on an airplane — where a fellow passenger spoke about her daughter as if she weren’t human — is sorrowful. Isn’t kindness, above all, a reason to help?
I read Barbara Kingsolver’s essay “Somebody’s Baby” [The Dog-Eared Page, October 2022] on election-day morning, when I woke with a familiar angst in my stomach. I wish that all voters would read Kingsolver’s words. I refuse to abandon hope that someday we will elect officials who make sure all children receive the support and services they need.
Thank you for printing Barbara Kingsolver’s essay “Somebody’s Baby,” about how children are not valued in the United States. Like her, I am dismayed at the dog-eat-dog attitude that parades as individual freedom. Putting personal rights above what’s best for society is heartless, destructive behavior. I’ve worked with children all my life, and I’ve often thought if we could raise even just one generation to be less selfish and more empathetic, the world would be a better place.