Up Front by Emma Hart

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Up Front: You're Telling My Child What, Now?

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  • Lucy Stewart, in reply to Rich of Observationz,

    Isn’t that because they spend their 16-18 period getting ready for the prom, and then their first degree learning a diverse mixture of translated Proust, quantum physics for non-mathematicians and history of art?

    (unless they’re a jock, in which case they do translated Enid Blyton, basic algebra for non-mathematicians and history of baseball. With a tutor to do all their assignments. Allegedly).

    (I exaggerate based on novels and TV, but there’s a modicum of truth…)

    Check out this in-depth profile of how damaging the sports/university link can be for some student athletes - who theoretically are supposed to be its beneficiaries.

    I do feel for some NZ students I meet, for so much depends on finding a dedicated and skilled PhD supervisor, as well as the need to sustain enthusiasm for your chosen topic over three or more tees.

    As much as I gnashed my teeth over the mandatory lab rotation programme my department brought in between my acceptance and arrival, it's extremely valuable for a lot of people in terms of letting them pick a supervisor and project they can actually worth with. With only three years to finish your PhD, you have to get it right first time. That's hard.

    Amherst, MA • Since Nov 2006 • 2093 posts Report Reply

  • dc_red,

    Somewhat relevant personal anecdote:

    Undertaking a Sunday tour of my new Dept., the day before the first day of my PhD program, a stressed-looking prof emerged from her office. After I briefly introduced myself, I received the following 'advice':

    "Do you have any children? No? Good! Don't have any until you've finished your PhD and got tenure!"

    Whereupon she retreated into her office.

    Quite a lot for a young fella to take on board.

    By-the-by, a colleague working as a Postdoc in a particularly technical and demanding area of experimental science in the US just informed me that a minimum of 5 years, and easily up to 10 years, of Postdoc experience are required in his field to be competitive for the few tenure-track positions that are still advertised.

    That means you can easily be 40 by the time you land a potentially-permanent job and a real foothold in your chosen career. It's almost a bad joke.

    Oil Patch, Alberta • Since Nov 2006 • 706 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia, in reply to Megan Wegan,

    The thing I really don’t understand – even were her claims true, which they’re not – is that we don’t keep kids safe by giving them less information.

    So much of this, and being a gay man of a certain age I think New Zealand's comparatively sane response to HIV-AIDS information back in the day just might have saved lives. Didn't stop me from incredibly dumb, unsafe, there-but-for-the-grace-of-God-go-I sex stuff, but I came around to make better choices with access to good information than the weird "anal doesn't count" stuff coming out of the purity-ringed Bible Belt.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12052 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    They’ll love, and they’ll lose. They’ll break their hearts, and bruise their hips on hand basins. Any joy comes with the possibility of pain, of loss. That’s the point of living.

    Part of the package tour we call life is the inevitability of doing dumb shit that makes you writhe with shame in the cold hard light of hindsight. As I said to Jackie in another context children are generally poorly-socialized and annoying because they're frigging children; they're still figuring out how to live in the world. But the chain of trail and error, hypothesis and experiment, falling on your arse and deciding whether you want to get up again, never ever ends.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12052 posts Report Reply

  • Jackie Clark, in reply to Craig Ranapia,

    It certainly does not, does it? Even when you think you might have cracked it, something else comes along to change your mind, or open your eyes.

    Mt Eden, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 3123 posts Report Reply

  • Lilith __, in reply to Craig Ranapia,

    the inevitability of doing dumb shit that makes you writhe with shame in the cold hard light of hindsight

    Thanks for saying that, Craig. Glad I'm not the only one! I think growing up is a lifelong process...I thought I was grown up 20 years ago! Gah.

    Dunedin • Since Jul 2010 • 3470 posts Report Reply

  • DeepRed, in reply to Craig Ranapia,

    @Megan & Craig R: absolutely seconded. Scientific research has established that risky sexual behaviour thrives on ignorance.

    They may be libertarians, but Penn & Teller have done the homework so we don't have to. (NSFW Warning)

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 4403 posts Report Reply

  • Lucy Stewart,

    As a point of interest, I just stumbled across this blog post indicating the average age of graduation with a biomedical PhD in the USA is 30-31.

    Amherst, MA • Since Nov 2006 • 2093 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia, in reply to Lucy Stewart,

    Which I'm pretty down with, because fancy cheese isn't the only thing that takes time...

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12052 posts Report Reply

  • Steve Withers,

    I heard that woman talking on NatRad. I concluded it's the local version of the US morality nutbars trying to inflict their neuroses on us....and worse, our kids. It demonstrates a certain rigidity of mind that tends to reveal itself in other areas across the ideological and political spectrum. I'm increasingly sympathetic to the idea that one's politics is an extension of one's mental and psychological development.....and rationality has little do with it.

    Auckland • Since Mar 2008 • 280 posts Report Reply

  • Suzanne Shirley,

    I’d be horrified if one of my kids told me they wanted to marry the first person they’d had sex with

    I agree with your overall point, and fully endorse a liberal pro-information approach to sex ed in schools, and think that sex is a joyful and a wonderful part of life, but the above statement is depressingly small-minded. What's wrong with marrying the first person you sleep with per se? I'm a little biased because I have done just that - we didn't wait until marriage, we started sleeping together as horny teenage uni students and ended up marrying in our mid-20s after living together for several years. It's not common nowadays, but for some people, including myself, it can be very fulfilling to have one sexual partner for long periods of time and even life. My parents are not consevative moralists of the Family First ilk, they are lefty-liberal hippies who wanted me to be empowered to seek my own happiness and contribute as best I could to the happiness of others in society. So they taught me to go with what I know is right for me, and it so happened that marrying my first sexual partner turned out to be just that. I hope that if your kids happen to fall madly in love with their first sexual partners and decide that their life's happiness is best served by a committed monogomous relationship you will respect their choices. Kinda hypocritical not to.

    Wellington • Since Jul 2012 • 2 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart, in reply to Suzanne Shirley,

    I hope that if your kids happen to fall madly in love with their first sexual partners and decide that their life's happiness is best served by a committed monogomous relationship you will respect their choices.

    Absolutely. And of course any relationship you've seen in action is different from a theoretical one. But my gut reaction, based on my own personal experiences of how long it took me to discover that I wasn't naturally straight-vanilla-monogamous and the people who got hurt along the way, would be "oh god, really, are you sure?" Which is not how parents are ever expected to react.

    I have a dear friend who has been married to her high school sweetheart for twenty years, and they're very happy. I know it can work, but the odds of getting it right first time? Not high, surely.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4371 posts Report Reply

  • Islander, in reply to Suzanne Shirley,

    I hope that if your kids happen to fall madly in love with their first sexual partners and decide that their life’s happiness is best served by a committed monogomous relationship you will respect their choices. Kinda hypocritical not to

    Wellll, why on earth would you not expect someone like Emma - or anyone else on this thread-?not to TOTALLY have reguard to her /their own well-brought up children's decisions?

    I note it is your first posting, Suzanne Shirley. I do trust you are not a troll....

    Big O, Mahitahi, Te Wahi … • Since Feb 2007 • 5643 posts Report Reply

  • Suzanne Shirley, in reply to Emma Hart,

    Fair enough - it just seemed like an odd blanket statement to make.

    Wellington • Since Jul 2012 • 2 posts Report Reply

  • Lucy Stewart, in reply to Islander,

    I note it is your first posting, Suzanne Shirley. I do trust you are not a troll….

    Come on now, a perfectly polite first post which happens to disagree with one statement in the original blog post is a long way from trolling.

    But my gut reaction, based on my own personal experiences of how long it took me to discover that I wasn’t naturally straight-vanilla-monogamous and the people who got hurt along the way, would be “oh god, really, are you sure?” Which is not how parents are ever expected to react.

    As it so happens, that is almost the precise sentence my mother uttered when I announced I was getting married (to the first person I had ever slept with).

    Amherst, MA • Since Nov 2006 • 2093 posts Report Reply

  • Isabel Hitchings, in reply to Suzanne Shirley,

    If my kids married their first sexual or romantic partner I'd definitely have concerns, especially if they were also very young. I've seen it work and I wouldn't stop them but I know that my early relationships, and those of the majority of my friends, mostly served to demonstrate exactly how little we knew. It took a few goes to work out the differences between how I thought things should be , based on books and the media, and what actually worked for me.

    Christchurch • Since Jul 2007 • 706 posts Report Reply

  • Heather Gaye,

    As someone that got married youngish, to the first man I had sex with, and later got divorced, I need to ask a clarifying question. Is there something inherently undesirable about getting married, as opposed to, say, ...well, not getting married to a medium/long-term partner? Would you (that is, everyone expressing apprehension about the idea of marrying one's first sexual partner) have identical concerns if they (hypothetical inexperienced, possibly-too-young progeny) just moved in together?

    Breakups are rough regardless of one's marital status, and breakups of early/first relationships especially so, because they're informed so heavily by newness, raging hormones, and (still) perceived cultural expectations of heteromonogamy. I know there are domestic & financial issues involved when cohabiting partners break up, but what is it about getting married specifically that makes it such a bad thing? Surely the problems that someone faces after marrying young & breaking up would be very similar to anyone that was in a long-term relationship (intentionally or not) from an early age?

    Under the western motorwa… • Since Nov 2006 • 523 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart, in reply to Heather Gaye,

    Heather: I was constructing my initial comment in the light of the idea of marriage that Grossman is putting forward - that it's forever, one partner for life. In that light, a marriage carries far more weight than a de facto relationship. Personally, I think the thing that makes the biggest difference in a relationship breakup is quite simply whether or not there are children.

    I was twenty-one when I got married. I think the thing that made my divorce more traumatic than that relationship breakdown would have been if we hadn't married was that other people's expectations had changed. Particularly our parents'. There was cultural baggage around our having got married. There was more of a sense of having failed. Having done both, I really do think it's easier to extract yourself from a failed 'live in' relationship than a marriage, all other things being equal.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4371 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Heather Gaye,

    Surely the problems that someone faces after marrying young & breaking up would be very similar to anyone that was in a long-term relationship (intentionally or not) from an early age?

    I still think of my first girlfriend as my first wife, we were together that long, and breaking up was bloody hard. But I doubt I could compare to what it would be like if I broke it off with my wife now.

    Having done both, I really do think it's easier to extract yourself from a failed 'live in' relationship than a marriage, all other things being equal.

    Indeed. However emotionally hard that breakup was, in practice, she was out of my life by the end of the week. The social expectations of marriage are huge - one's whole family and friends come to a wedding, and you're kind of admitting you failed all of them too. That's a judgment people will put on themselves, I mean.

    As for early marriage, I'm of two minds about it (as about practically everything). The greater surety and life experience of late marriage is counterbalanced by the energy of youth. It's odd to think that at my age, my parents were watching their youngest child leave the nest. If mid-life is a time of priority searching, early child rearing means a real second chance. For me, with young children, it's very much expected that I'm stable and reliable, when I do feel anything but.

    I can't help but feel that economic circumstances put a cloud over young families now, which just should not be there.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 8675 posts Report Reply

  • Islander, in reply to BenWilson,

    I can’t help but feel that economic circumstances put a cloud over young families now, which just should not be there.

    That has *always* been a factor Ben- when my parents married - because they had to (my mother's family saw to that - and yep, first time etc. etc.)- they had v. little to go on except energy, love, family support & a need to make a go of -things.

    When my father died at age 42 - having expended a huge amount of his energy in providing for his kids (rather more than the 6 of us)- my mother, widowed, had only family to rely upon. I was 11- my youngest sibling was not quite 1.

    NO BENEFITS

    I find your comments, in this personal context, fucking stupid.

    Big O, Mahitahi, Te Wahi … • Since Feb 2007 • 5643 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart, in reply to Islander,

    NO BENEFITS

    Islander, when was this? I ask because my mother received the Widow's Benefit on the deaths of both her husbands, and I thought it had been continuously available since it was introduced - in 1911.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4371 posts Report Reply

  • Islander, in reply to Emma Hart,

    Emma - my father died in 1957 : to recieve a widow's benefit you had to have a*limited* amount of income/and or property. My father had - give him his due (I dont/didnt actually like him) had accrued quite a lot of property for, he thought, support
    of his families. He'd also mortgaged all of them to the hilt.

    So: my mother, as trustee sole & executrix, had - as her first duty - paying off his fucking estate.* Which, just by the by, none of his children ever benefitted from, & which caused my mother a huge amount of grief.

    My mother, with 6 young kids, went out to work to feed us.
    We went out to work to help. however we could.

    *O, I am a Labour Party supporter.So is all my family. In the late 1950s, they brought in death duties that really smacked my family. Which is why my mother was also coping with a huge additional mortgage when my father died -

    Big O, Mahitahi, Te Wahi … • Since Feb 2007 • 5643 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Islander,

    I find your comments, in this personal context, fucking stupid.

    wtf <sigh>

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 8675 posts Report Reply

  • Islander, in reply to BenWilson,

    You seem to think this situation is new when it is a very old matter.
    That thought is a stupidity.

    Big O, Mahitahi, Te Wahi … • Since Feb 2007 • 5643 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Islander,

    What situation?

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 8675 posts Report Reply

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