Posts Tagged ‘ American culture ’

American Families Have Dual Incomes, Yet Less Time Than Europeans

Monday, January 28th, 2013

2 years, 2 months.

Dear Jack,

Two years and two months ago when you were born, we moved away from Nashville where Mommy and I had secure jobs and a great network of friends.

Why? Because life in the big city was too busy for us. We felt so starved for quality time, that we wanted to expose you to a slower pace of life.

So we moved to my hometown in Alabama, where, guess what? We were unemployed for the majority of our 8 months there. Sure, we had plenty of quality time, but it wasn’t really quality time because we weren’t actually making any money to justify our existence.

As your dad, it devastated me, knowing that I brought you into this world, only to not be able to provide for you.

Obviously, we moved back to Nashville, got even better jobs than we had before we left, and now life is wonderful.

Except for that one thing: Finding quality time for our family is still a struggle.

Mommy and I both work full-time, plus I have a part-time job. While your parents are at work, you spend nearly all of your waking hours with paid professionals and your peers at daycare.

Granted, it shows. You’re highly socialized: You know how to eat with proper utensils, you use the potty at school, and you don’t suffer from separation anxiety.

Yet Mommy and I have about 20 quality minutes together with you on weekdays, if we’re not counting getting you ready for school and getting you ready for bed.

We really do have so little time with you. Sure, we’ve got the whole weekend with you…

That’s when we buy groceries, clean the house, take the recycling, catch up with friends, and go to church; all based around your nap schedule.

If we were in Europe, I guess things would be different. I just read this article in The New York Times called What We Have Less Of, by Paul Krugman:

“So what we have is a situation in which American families have more stuff, but they have managed to afford that stuff only by being two-income families, with ever less family time — unlike their European counterparts, who have gained in shorter hours and vacations what they lost in stay-at-home wives.”

It’s a nice thought, to actually have a comfortable amount of quality time, as a family. We tried that and couldn’t afford it.

I know it sounds strange that we don’t have cable TV or smartphones, but aside from the obvious financial savings, we also have a few less distractions in our house.

Quality time is a rare currency. As your American parents, we are always desperate to figure out ways to get more of it with you.

However, working less isn’t an option.





Photo credit: Time money quality text on black disk, Shutterstock.

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No Such Thing as Illegitimate Children, Part 1

Sunday, January 29th, 2012

14 months.

We all know what the phrase means: an “illegitimate child” was born to parents who were not legally married.

The phrase originated from an English and Welsh law that said if the oldest son was a “illegitimate child” he could not inherit if the parents of his younger brother were married. Coincidentally, another particular word referring to illegitimate children has become an intermediate curse word over the years.

There are probably five good reasons you won’t find me using profanity.

One of them is because sometimes in order to call someone a profane name, even and especially jokingly, it puts me in a position to judge a person based on an insensitive stereotype or demographic to which I am indirectly validating.

By calling someone this particular modern day curse word I am referring to, it is insinuating that person’s parents were never married; that he was conceived outside of a committed, loving relationship; and therefore, he is not capable of treating people with respect and decency.

But really, which is worse: the phrase “illegitimate child” for tying the word “illegitimate” to the word “child,” or that particular inglorious curse word I keep referring to because it has gained the status of profanity in our culture?

I think the first is worse. Again, this is me being overly analytical and taking things too seriously (and deep) because that’s what I do as a writer, but it’s a crazy thought to consider any child being “illegitimate.” Right?

Sure, I totally realize we don’t literally mean a kid is illegitimate in a literal, overall sense. But it makes me wonder if we really do see certain children as illegitimate.

Maybe part of the reason I am so passionate about this concept that no child is illegitimate is the fact that, like Ron Paul, I am an avid pro-life supporter.

It’s easy to say that no child is illegitimate, but I’m not sure we are convinced about that. At least not until he or she passes through the birth canal.

Be on the look-out next month for No Such Thing as Illegitimate Children, Part 2.

Image: Red stop button in a machine, via Shutterstock.

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Why This Dad Approves of the Brat Ban

Thursday, October 20th, 2011

Eleven months.

Back in July, a restaurant in Monroeville, Pennsylvania started banning children under the age of 6 from entering its restaurant. Evidently, this event sparked a trend called the Brat Bana ban in which a certain demographic of adults want to keep kids out of their favorite public places (at least during certain hours). In addition to restaurants, this also includes swimming pools, theaters, planes, and grocery stores. This trend has evidently fired up a debate with parents.

As a dad, I’m evidently supposed to be offended. I’m supposed to go on about how the Brat Banners are selfish, whiny, bratty people themselves who just don’t understand the reality and necessity of having to take kids into public places. I should also defend us parents by saying we can’t always completely control our children in public.

Here’s the thing: I say if a business can afford to ban kids, let ‘em.

In this economy, if a restaurant or store or entertainment venue finds more monetary value solely in adults as opposed to families, then let them capitalize on that. Honestly, if I showed up at a grocery store where they ban children during the hours I shopped, I would simply take my money and my kid elsewhere. That’s simply it- no drama from me.

Something I particularly like about the Brat Ban is that it raises social awareness of two extremes: A) the parents out there who let their undisciplined kids run around unattended in public and B) the adults who generally see children as a rude nuisance. I represent neither; instead, I am one of the normal people not taken into consideration in these scenarios.

I think that the more people talk about socially extreme situations like these, the more it creates a snowball effect where many of the extremists begin to conform to the expected social norm. These days, if a semi-celebrity publicly makes an allegedly racist, sexist, or anti-gay comment, all Twitter will break loose over it. But there’s a pretty good chance that 50 years ago the same statement would have barely raised an eyebrow.

So I say let businesses ignore the civil rights of children. Let that action speak for the company itself and what they value. I say let irresponsible parents keep doing their thing and let those who are annoyed by all children keep running their mouths.

Meanwhile, I’ll sit here watching from the bleachers with my well-behaved kid.

Passing the Mic:

What do you other normal parents think about the Brat Ban?

Do you agree with my take on it? If not, why? 

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