I come from a family of more or less unwitting feminists. My grandmother consciously taught me from early childhood that women should always own their own homes and are responsible to have education and career enough to support their children on their own — whether they think they need to or not.
My mother’s philosophy is somewhat less altruistic: Children must go to daycare as soon as you can send them.
While I suspect this was a credo born out of her personal preference for adult company and work-world accomplishment over the daily ups and downs of full-time, at-home parenting, she couched it in terms of health advice for kids: being surrounded by their snot-nosed compatriots in preschools and daycare builds the immune system, she’d say, citing my own pediatrician’s assertion that an overclean, pet-free house was probably the source of my laundry list of childhood allergies.
It seems that Ellen Sandbeck, author of "Green Barbarians: Live Bravely on Your Home Planet," would agree with my mom and my doctor on this point, given her book’s premise that our 21st-century, super-sanitized, compulsively consumerized and convenient-at-all-costs social and domestic standards are actually making us sicker and driving us nuts, in one fell swoop.