No Exit: What Parents Owe Their Children and What Society Owes Parents

No Exit, What Parents Owe Their Children by Anne L Alstott, book cover

In No Exit: What Parents Owe Their Children and What Society Owes Parents, Anne Alstott argues that those who choose to parent are ethically obliged to provide stable, continuous care until the child reaches adulthood.

This benefits society—so what support does society owe parents who sacrifice their future security to ensure they can fulfill their stable caregiver role now?

Rather than our current system of tax subsidies for wealthy parents and welfare for poor parents, Alstott suggests a benefits account for the primary caregiver that accrues $5000 yearly, which can be used only for workday childcare, education, or retirement–all designed to ensure that caregivers can build capacity (work experience, degrees, or pensions) to take care of themselves later.

Knowing that choosing to continue parenting children with disabilities adds significant burdens to families while relieving the state of foster or institutional care responsibilities, she also advocates extra support for parents of children with disabilities. This wouldn’t fix everything, but it would buffer the economic sacrifices parents make for the sake of their children and society. Most charmingly, Alstott thanks her childcarers and pediatrician for giving her the space to research and write on these issues, as her own child encountered challenges as she was writing this book.

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