Wow. Thanks, Spaw, for posting that story and your views. Gave me shivers, and brought tears to my eyes.
You're right. You can have all the right "stuff" as far as a house, minivan, parenting classes, good jobs, and still struggle with parenting. Or you can be living barely above the poverty level with peeling wallpaper and no training in how to be a parent, but still shine. My mom's a good example of the latter: married very young to an abusive man, left him as soon as she had her two precious children, and muddled her way along on instinct. I think we turned out okay; we didn't realize we were poor until we were in high school.
When I was going through my Religious Right phase, my pro-life views made my mother nervous, although she respected them. It took marriage and therefore membership in the "club" for me to finally understand her misgivings about my views; I spent my first three married years terrified I would get pregnant and screw up my residency program (and let my friends down). It took a gradually increasing exposure to poor and desperate women and children for me to finally come to accept legal abortion as a necessary evil.