Moms New Boyfriend, Again . . .
Guest Post by Noni Mausa
When you read a newspaper piece with a single mother’s new boyfriend in it, you know nothing good is coming.
Oh, he could be a sweet, caring man who loves her kids and has a good job, but as Damon Runyon famously said, “that’s not the way to bet.” In the usual story, he turns out to be abusive, wasteful, unreliable, criminal, vain, or at the very best, good enough with the kids to kind of watch them while she works two jobs to support them all.
The Boyfriend is definitely NOT a nanny. [Yes! A political/econ theme at last!] He isn’t hired or fired, trained or licensed. He is not capable, firm, caring, and chiefly concerned with the welfare of the house and family. The Boyfriend attains his position not by giving good husbandly performance, but by flattery, deceit, promises, insinuation, and good acting. He badmouths the previous boyfriend, painting himself as the best man for the role. He keeps it, if he does, through all these tricks plus fear, either through direct threats or through inciting fear of a world without him around to protect the family.
Once installed, does The Boyfriend keep the family safe, at least? Generally not. After the initial hopeful honeymoon period, things start to happen. Maybe she comes home and finds some essential bills haven’t been paid. Or he has bought a whale of a Chrysler Newport on which she will have to make payments. While she’s at work, he’s gotten into fights with the neighbors, or taught her kids to gamble, or sold off the appliances to pay those bills. The kids need schooling, but he only teaches them to shoot. They need good food, but he teaches them to like junk. And if any of the kids or their mother comment on his neglect and offenses, he slaps them around.
The Boyfriend thinks short term, always. He knows that after a few months or years, she will kick him out or he will leave. Much of the damage he did won’t get noticed till he’s gone. They say two can live cheaper than one, but he added to the family’s woes, he didn’t ease them. Her relief when he is gone is more blissful than her pleasure when he first moved in.
Yet, she still knows that a real husband would enrich the family and make her contented. So she goes looking again for the real thing, though if she could afford them, she would be better off hiring a traditional nanny, a housekeeper and a part time ~ahem~ gardener.
Now, a nation isn’t the same as a family, but in many ways elected officials are eerily like serial boyfriends. Those who protest the idea of a “nanny state” are oddly motivated, it seems to me. A nanny, like a traditional mom and dad, are devoted to the long-term well-being of the home and family and all the kids, not just the ones who are prodigies. The Boyfriend, by contrast, has his own agenda.
The voters are in the position of being courted every few years by candidates who will, when elected, receive the cheque book, the house keys, and a heavy leather strap for the naughtiest of the kids. We’d do well to look at candidates as though we were picking a husband for our favorite daughter. Is he vain, stupid, a liar or a cheat? is he violent or kindly, patient or impulsive? Will he maintain the household, repair the roof, water the garden, and make sure the kids get to school?
Or will you come home after four years to find that both he and the family silver (and that Chrysler Newport) are gone?
Noni I take your point. And it is by and large a good one.
But it seems to have been driven home by a sledgehammer. Not least because it seems to cast single mothers who remarry for love or otherwise to be the functional equivalents of child abusers. Not all blended families are dystopian nightmare equivalents.
“Course she doesn’t have to pick one of two at any particular point in time. We do.
Bruce: first out of the gate with a defense of metaphorical boyfriends. Funny how when people complain about the “nanny state,” absolutely no one leaps to the defense of nannies.
And nannies, unlike serial boyfriends, do not get the bank book, don’t get to change the house rules and hold wild parties on credit — or if they do, they are immediately fired. The only authority they have is over small children. The metaphorical serial boyfriend WILL try to assume the position of head of the family.
No wonder Penelope undid her weaving every night…
Well there is an element of sexism in the metaphor, but perhaps it is appropriate given the dominance men have in our politics. Regardless I agree with the premise that this country was not created to serve the interests of the 1% or specific religious beliefs but rather to provide the greatest benefits to the greatest number of its citizens and by and large politicians do not do that.
“We’d do well to look at candidates as though we were picking a husband for our favorite daughter. Is he vain, stupid, a liar or a cheat? is he violent or kindly, patient or impulsive? Will he maintain the household, repair the roof, water the garden, and make sure the kids get to school?”
Noni, Over all an excellent analogy. And Bruce, Noni wasn’t describing a woman who remarries, but rather a woman who allows a “boyfriend” to move in and sponge off of the household.
Back to the analogy and the quote above. I’m afraid that Noni must have been brushing up too close to some Chicago school economists. She’s made the assumption that the voters are driven by their “rational” view of the electoral process. Look at the Congress that we have and tell me that it is the result of the rational behavior of voters. I think not. Too bad.
In a way, the analogy is very apt. One of the reasons single women vote more liberal than married women is that some single women see the government as the provider that they do not have.
Sure, this is what every woman wants, a provider so they can sit and do nothing. Maybe what they want is a fair shot at being successful, allowed to provide for themselves without interference from people holding them back due to gender, with no need of a government intervening to level the playing ground, and not hearing the resulting complaints muttered from males who believe they are disadvantaged?
Interesting comments. And I thought this was an allegory about the President and progressives!
Did I say EVERY woman? No, I said SOME.
Please try to pay attention.
Still can not make that claim even for “some” as your point is anecdotal at best. The cited reason most women do not work is taking care of children. Please get your points together and based upon fact not something you may hear on Fox news.
Yes, I can make that claim, and I do.
But then you change the topic and move on the the reason most women give for not working — a total non-sequitur.