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The cost of two-income parenting

"Two incomes are increasingly required for any family to make ends meet, even if most of the second paycheck goes to child care."

So says Susan Reimer in her column ("Child care's high cost — for all of us," Aug. 29). How misguided can she be? What "end" is she referencing? Is it a second car, another cellphone or a big-screen TV? Is it entertainment tickets, jewelry or a new patio set? Is it a two-week vacation, a cruise, a house-cleaning service, a pretty new dress or a cord of wood? A weekly massage, a personal trainer, a fine wine, a lottery ticket? These "ends" align themselves into an infinitely long list because the appetite for them knows no limit. And yet, Ms. Reimer sees them as "required." And having labeled them as requirements, she recommends a strategy to foster their pursuit — fund child-care so that both parents can engorge one end (income) so that the other end (services, goods and the like) can likewise be engorged.

Follow her advice at grave risk. For neither husband nor wife — and surely not children — require these ends. What they do require is the security of a two-parent home, a place of honor and respect, peace, reassurance and comfort of a loving family, the ineffable joy that everyday love so freely and liberally bestows — the kind that greets you at the door or kisses you on the cheek or sets the table at dinner.

Set your children in front of the new TV, greet the day-care agent brightly, toil the daylong. And do so day upon day. And one day come home to your family, now become strangers, to love squandered and lost. Don the beautiful silver necklace, pour yourself a glass of that sauvignon, flick on the 55-inch "smart" TV and sink into the plush down of that new recliner. Soak in them, dance with them. Gather them about you and try to thank them.

Do not notice the estrangement of your family members, their distance and silences, their absorption in a TV show or a cell-phone key pad. Do not for a moment wonder why or how these "things" you so tirelessly pursue have become "requirements." Do not. For if you do and find no answer, you might just start to cry.

Leo Otterbein, Lutherville

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