Latchkey Kids Just Want Better For Their Children

As an early-twenty-something, I discovered and became obsessed with a blog called The Art of Manliness. Not because I fancied becoming a man, but because the articles taught practical skills like how to open a stuck jar lid, how to firmly say no without coming off like a jerk, and how to read a topographic map. Those lessons allowed me to adopt the skills of past generations. Given the popularity of the blog to this day, I suspect I’m not alone.

A new counter culture seems to be emerging, and it’s not one of rebellion, mischief, and heavy eye makeup. Rather it’s a culture of tradition. Frustration with the modern world is drawing people away from modernity and all the comes with it, from social media and public schooling to 60-hour workweeks and brutalist architecture. A growing minority of young adults crave a simple life of self-reliance and rewarding work. They want to be part of a community and work with their hands.

Many of my peers were latchkey kids. They walked themselves to the school bus starting at age seven, then walked themselves home at the end of the school day. They let themselves into the house, knew not to open the door for strangers, and watched Pokemon until their parents came home and shoved some frozen lasagna in the oven. They had tons of neat gadgets and trendy clothing. They were raised by Nintendo and Nickelodeon. The reality was that their parents weren’t present.

Instead of allowing resentment over their youth to fester, many Gen X’ers and Millennials are intent on shaping a brighter future, starting in their own home. All of my friends with kids have expressed the sentiment–they want their prodigy to have solid morals, practical life skills, and a healthy curious about the world. And the parents are very active in teaching, engaging, and encouraging their little ones. For me, that investment in children inspires hope for the future.

However, nowadays, the lives our grandparents led would be labeled “extremist” by many. I just learned of the term TradWife, which is in reference to a traditional housewife or homemaker. A perhaps small subset of women want to stay home and raise a family and another subset of men are looking for just that. It worked for our parents, grandparents, and preceding generations. If two individuals are seeking the same type of arrangement–one which prioritizes attentive child-rearing–it hardly seems worthy of discussion.

According to Wikipedia, however, the concept is controversial because it’s been associated with the alt-right, white nationalism, and the Republican party, and because it rejects feminism. After reading through articles on the New York Times, the Guardian, and other politically biased media outlets, I see the concern. The authors of these articles seem to equate the relationship to that of an arranged marriage or extreme domestic control. But that’s not accurate.

I know a dozen couples in which the wife (or husband) stays home. The reason in every single case is because they want to raise their own kids. It’s not able control; it’s about raising well-adjusted children and prioritizing family. There are surely exceptions, but I believe they are just that.

The couples I know with a stay-at-home parent have shared some of their reasons and approaches with me in the past. The spouse who stay at home handles most chores during the day, so the entire family can spend quality time together when the working spouse comes home in the evening. The spouse who works has the job of increasing income, whereas the spouse who stays home has the job of reducing expenses; more often than not, the stay-at-home spouse manages the household finances. They employ teamwork to achieve the goal of increased time together as a family.

My partner and I hope to start a family in the coming years. He’s disabled and working to establish a new career, but if that doesn’t pan out he’ll be the stay-at-home parent while I continue working. It’s a partnership–it’s not about power, control, or being the bread-winner. When children enter the picture, it’s 100% about providing all the resources they need to thrive in the world. For those drawn to tradition, the right decision for their family may be passing on daycare and choosing such a stay-at-home arrangement.

I was excited to see young people today prioritizing the young people of tomorrow. Our modern world is in shambles and I think the return to tradition is an opportunity to change the course of history for the better. We need to take care of and guide our children, and steer them away from the ever-pervasive evils of the world. We need to teach them the skills that our own parents may have been too busy working to pass on.

Half of the stay-at-home couples I referenced are not White. Just in my network, the stay-at-home parents are Indian, Chinese, Hispanic, Pakistani, Filipino, South Korean, and Black, in addition to White. This is not a white supremacy issue, and I’m getting a bit fed up with the media slapping that label on everything willy-nilly. Yes, there are extremists on the fringe minority, but love for one’s children does not make one a national threat.

The new counter culture is about the prioritization of family. Full stop. There are no boundaries of color, culture, religion, or political affiliation when it comes to choosing how to raise a family. And the latchkey kids just want something better for their own children.

11 thoughts on “Latchkey Kids Just Want Better For Their Children

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  1. Love your post. Such a powerful and timely topic. Home, hearth and life skills. Speaking my language – and thanks for the tip about the ‘manliness’ blog re: skill building. I’m not aware of that site — but I like your references to tips about map reading and wrestling with stuck jar lids! 😊

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    1. I am obsessed with learning new skills and “making” things. I’ve been frequenting it less than a decade ago, but it’s a gem. Human have been evolving in small and tight-knit communities for millennia and I now thinking that, even with all the modern advancements, we still have that biological maternal/paternal nature and the urge to do practical work with our hands.

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  2. I’ll throw myself under the bus. My wife fancies the tradwife scene, I am a White Nationalist, although for what little it’s worth I don’t think of myself as Alt Right and I don’t blame anyone who does. Nor do I necessarily begrudge the average citizen who makes blanket assumptions about “Right ” leaning citizens such as myself (of which many would be wrong.) Such is life, you live what you know.

    We began as a dual income household but agreed early on that when the children came she would make mothering her profession.

    There’s blessings and curses. I might devote some blogpost to it. What I will say: society is very hard on those who withdraw. The first assumption was that I forced her back into the home with some fast white wing conspiracy. They then refuse to believe she doesn’t want to be a corporate drone, which as a rule you’d think is insulting because their disbelief implies a defugalty on her part. The unexpected benefit is that the devaluation of your income forces you to be more careful. Ideally. (We use the basic principles of Save Ramsey’s Financial Peace.)

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    1. I would be quite interested if you were to share a blogpost on the topic, as I’m hoping to be in a similar situation in the near future. I can only imagine how critical society would on those who reject career, money, and prestige for diapers and algebra. I have a successful career and, so long as the most basic bills are paid, I would give it up in a heartbeat to ensure any child of mine was loved, taught real world skills, and able to exercise critical thinking. I think of child-rearing as a long-term project, similar to saving for retirement, where the choices made today could make a difference for future generations. Extra money isn’t going to change the world, but a well-raised child can.

      I really respect your position, openly embracing your identity without concern over how other’s interpret and distort it. I would probably qualify as a White Nationalist–I’m of European descent, I love the history of my culture, I’m proud of my ancestry, and I fear the dilution of White (and all) cultures is going to be highly problematic–but I’ve never given myself the permission or space to consider it. I’m going to now, though, so thank you.

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      1. The criticism eventually fades into a sparky imperialism, like we’re somehow quaintly inferior with our outdated notions of marital roles, hierarchy and all that jazz. Which says more about “the culture” than us, that it’s considered strange for me to work, she to housekeep in a home without cable, as we balance our budget and stay out of dodge.

        As to Nationalism, I’ll give you some advice, do with it as you like. I’ve found in my “career” as a dissident that the optimal balance is conditional honesty. I don’t stick my opinions in everybody’s eye, but I don’t shy away from poking holes in the narrative. People know what I am, but it’s not an all consuming Crusade. That kind of intensity burns People out very quickly. Not hard to empathise – I get tired of Extreme Centre Left Crusades immediately and have very little stomach left for it. Luckily, I’m self employed.

        I’ve found that if you’re steady with people, they’ll open up eventually, meet you in the middle ground, or agree to disagree and throw up a neutral zone. If you can’t agree to disagree, there’s not much hope for lasting relationships.

        There’s a “conversion zeal” when one gives themselves the permission slip to embrace a taboo ideology. It’s natural, but it’s very easy to get lost in it, if that makes any sense.

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      2. Your approach sounds so very similar to my partner. There is never any mention of politics, but never shying away from asking questions, poking holes in narratives, and trying to help others reach their own conclusions. As you mention, the steadiness is key. You meet them where they are and start with some common ground. At least for me, the goal has never been to change someone’s mind, but instead to coax them into entertaining a new thought or critically dissecting their own assumptions. Each interaction feels like a win-win under that framework.

        Just this last week, we had a discussion with some left-leaning acquaintances about education and the suggestion that the powers that be are intentionally dumbing us down to be just smart enough to labor, but not smart enough to think for ourselves. They nodded zealously and then when on to criticize school choice and praise the teacher’s unions. It’s a bit like peeling back an onion, just one layer at a time.

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      3. Socratic Reasoning I think is the Occam’s Razor of debate – if your conversant doesn’t feel they are debating, you’re much likelier to win.

        I used to be much more upfront and blunt. It wasn’t a winning strategy. I’ve come to accept that destabilising the narrative is as much of a victory as you can want. If you can shake someone’s faith in the system, it’s harder to restore. Every subsequent violation of faith widens a vacuum of trust, which nature abhors. There’s always the danger of regression, but I think the stakes are going to ensure that the regressives are the utmost cowards and dullards moving forward, in the past there were excuses, not so much now.

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