study of modern American families - Mothering Forums
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#1 of 41 Old 03-21-2005, 06:40 PM - Thread Starter
 
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http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/7184763/

disturbing...

Quote:
The UCLA study isn’t ranking families from best to worst. Instead, scientists are asking how families are coping.

In a word, barely.
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#2 of 41 Old 03-21-2005, 07:17 PM
 
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I find this makes me really sad. Especially the spending time together and greeting each other part.

I remember how excited my mom always was whenever we got home from school and we would talk about the day over a snack.

Our goal is that I can stay home by (at the latest) the time Charlie reaches school. Right now my mom watches him for us.

We're reprioritizing things, downsizing, cutting back so that our family life can benefit. I love to see my dh come home with Charlie in the afternoons. It's the best time of my day and I'm glad to see that we aren't the "typical" family.

I know that they said the study was done so that it would apply wherever you are in the U.S. but do you guys see the majority of families are like this in your communities???
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#3 of 41 Old 03-21-2005, 07:20 PM
 
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Oh, one more thought. I want to insulate Charlie as much as I can to protect his childhood from being over scheduled.

The dad in the story says he wants his son to learn how to multi-task but I just see BURN OUT being an issue.
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#4 of 41 Old 03-21-2005, 07:23 PM
 
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Who are these folks and why are they dumb enough to allow this to happen?

Kids do need a couple of extra activities, but not several a day or a week's worth. Ugh, uh!

My kids have two activities each, that keep us on the road one afternoon a week and twice a week once a month (scouts). The rest of the time, we have play dates, down time and plain old homework and help Mom (me) cook dinner.
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#5 of 41 Old 03-22-2005, 03:07 AM
 
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oh man, it's stressful just reading that. Our life could not be more different. And may it never be that way!!! YIKES.
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#6 of 41 Old 03-22-2005, 04:35 AM
 
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#7 of 41 Old 03-22-2005, 05:13 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by philomom
Who are these folks and why are they dumb enough to allow this to happen?
They are some of my in laws, and they are not letting it happen because they are dumb. They are letting it happen because they are well-off and ambitious. What's at the root of it is materialism, which is to say, a fundamental belief that one can buy love and happiness by buying enough of the right stuff. All the lessons and sports and fancy schools and such are really just another kind of thing to consume, just like fancy clothes and cars and houses.

I believe the reason they let it happen is because they have internalized the messages of consumer culture and they believe (wrongly, I think) that they would be LESS happy if they stopped consuming and started participating in their own lives. They are so unhappy already that they absolutely can't bear the idea of being even less happy.

--AmyB
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#8 of 41 Old 03-22-2005, 06:18 AM
 
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Very interesting article.

I’m surprised they didn’t mention more about time ‘wasted’ in the car. I hear the national average for a TODDLER is 2 hours/day! I imagine for an over scheduled teen that’s more like 3-4. I know this sounds crazy but where my parents live it’s NOT an exaggeration with traffic and multiple trips/day.

I also think this gets down to this thing in US culture (“mainstream” and “AP”) of wanting only the “best” for our kids. “Average” parenting is no longer the goal ~ it’s all about better…best. You see this message all over the place from feeding choices, toys, education, leisure time, clothing, health, options and choices for the future. It’s parental consumerism and it’s all over the place.

Another thought is that it has to do with not living in the *now*. I think we have problems with that as a society.

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#9 of 41 Old 03-22-2005, 11:20 AM
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Some things that stay with me.

Two kids and the mother needs a palm for their schedule.

Can't fit the cars in the garage; more stuff than most of the Pharohs.

Sad interpersonal relationships.

This is so sad and apparently typical??

Where's the balance? Where's the soul of these families? We are not the sum of our possessions.
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#10 of 41 Old 03-22-2005, 12:40 PM
 
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It seems to me that American culture rewards children who do a zillion activities. Look at the criterea for getting into college - high school students have to have straight As and be involved in community service, sports, church, and numerous other activities.
Here in Europe life is much more slow-paced. One of the biggest differences I see is that families eat together for most meals. Sundays and dinner during the week is particularly important. My family back in the States NEVER ate (and still doesn't eat) together. This cut down on quality discussion time and a time just to relax and 'be'. Another memory I have from childhood is my mother nagging me to 'get up and do something' when I would be curled up on a chair with a book. I was (and still am) a book worm, and I never considered reading 'doing nothing', but my mother did.
IMO US parents and peers push children to be involved in activities as a status symbol (look how much my child does, knows...) and the push for better and better is taking its toll on children. I recently read an article in the NYT web about 13 and 14 year olds having severe muscle and tendon problems from practicing sports too hard. Parents want their children to be Olympic athletes or something?
I believe it is very important for children to be at home, only involved in maybe 1-2 activities and to spend time creating their own activities. This is an important process of child development, but one not recognised by 'society'.
My two cents.

Single mama to a 5yo and 8yo

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#11 of 41 Old 03-22-2005, 01:14 PM
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And it isn't even necessary to have material (or worldly) success.

My children generally have one activity, two at the most. Generally karate and an instrument.

One of my older children is a first year med student.

She didn't need to by hyperscheduled nor did she need to be treated for sports injuries or put on prozac.

And, yes, we eat together most of the time (if we're not in karate and that's a family activity) and having meals with the extended family makes the weekend special for all of us.

Debra Baker
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#12 of 41 Old 03-22-2005, 01:23 PM
 
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Help me with this. Why does a child need to learn to multi-task????
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#13 of 41 Old 03-22-2005, 01:33 PM
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Cranberry, I guess when they're nursing and trying to twiddle the other tit :LOL

db
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#14 of 41 Old 03-22-2005, 01:38 PM
 
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*My* child could nurse, twiddle with one hand, kneed my armpit with the other hand and pull my pubic hairs with her toes :LOL

And the point is…





















She’ll probably be a good waitress!

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#15 of 41 Old 03-22-2005, 01:41 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DebraBaker

Where's the balance? Where's the soul of these families? We are not the sum of our possessions.
OT: I just saw Fight Club for the first time. That reminds me a lot of what he says in it. I can't believe I had never watched it before. Silly me, I thought it was about people, ya'know, fighting.

Sorry for the derailment.
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#16 of 41 Old 03-22-2005, 01:42 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DebraBaker
Cranberry, I guess when they're nursing and trying to twiddle the other tit :LOL

db
:LOL :LOL

I always hated when DS did that! But I guess that makes him a multi-tasker!
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#17 of 41 Old 03-22-2005, 01:42 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AmyB
They are some of my in laws, and they are not letting it happen because they are dumb. They are letting it happen because they are well-off and ambitious. What's at the root of it is materialism, which is to say, a fundamental belief that one can buy love and happiness by buying enough of the right stuff. All the lessons and sports and fancy schools and such are really just another kind of thing to consume, just like fancy clothes and cars and houses.

I believe the reason they let it happen is because they have internalized the messages of consumer culture and they believe (wrongly, I think) that they would be LESS happy if they stopped consuming and started participating in their own lives. They are so unhappy already that they absolutely can't bear the idea of being even less happy.

--AmyB

I think you hit the nail right on the head. I hadn't considered the consumer culture being the cause of this, but now that you've said that, I totally see it and agree.
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#18 of 41 Old 03-22-2005, 01:53 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cheshire
I know that they said the study was done so that it would apply wherever you are in the U.S. but do you guys see the majority of families are like this in your communities???
I have had co-workers whose lives were like this. Get off work, take the kids to their activities, eat dinner in the car, get home and do homework, put kids to bed, stay up until midnight doing laundry and preparing lunches for the next day, start over again at 5 am. The very thought of it made me vow that I would never be a working mom, but here I am (posting from work as we speak ) ...things don't always work out how you plan. My son is only a toddler, he has no "activities" and he is cared for by family but I *still* feel like I rarely have time on weekdays to decompress and just be. Weekends are a little better. I do hope I can be a SAHM or even WAHM at some point, even if DS is in school by then. I want to be home to greet him when he gets out of school. I want to take care of the mundane chores and errands during the weekday and let nights/weekends be family time. Need a fingers-crossed smilie right about now...
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#19 of 41 Old 03-22-2005, 01:54 PM
 
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Has anyone read _Hold On To Your Kids?_ He addresses this exact topic - it's a fascinating read. One of the top 3 parenting books I've read ever.
Amy in YS
mom to 3 boys, 10,7,1
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#20 of 41 Old 03-22-2005, 03:06 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gethane
OT: I just saw Fight Club for the first time. That reminds me a lot of what he says in it. I can't believe I had never watched it before. Silly me, I thought it was about people, ya'know, fighting.
OMG! Me too! I caught it on TV a few months ago by accident; I'd never wanted to watch it between the name and that my brother liked it so it must be pointless drivel. And yeah, I ended up loving it.

Ahem. Back to your regularly scheduled topic.
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#21 of 41 Old 03-22-2005, 03:36 PM
 
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My oldest is only three and people always ask if she is in some kind of class. She can't draw a picture without someone asking if I've put her in an art class, or tiptoe around the house without someone saying "I see ballet lessons in your future!" I just want her to be able to play without having to turn it into a class!

And some of this stuff is just a myth - no you do not need straight As or many activities to get into college! I dropped out of high school, never played sports or anything, and I am in college!

It's really hard to believe that people are working longer and harder hours just to put food on the table. I think they are working so much to maintain a standard of living that they've gotten used to because of their work! Dh and I are friends with a couple who earn $2 million a year. They are selling their 20+ room mansion and getting something a little smaller...because their house costs too much for them to live in! It's so big they can't maintain it themselves, so they have to hire people to live in it and care for it. Now, $2 million a year = $5,000 a day, so it's really hard to believe something could ever cost too much for these people! But they want to maintain the standard of living they have become used to.
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#22 of 41 Old 03-23-2005, 12:24 AM
 
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thank god I am so lazy, this will spare me from leading such a stressful life forever

Life is too hectic for me here, I nearly fell of my lazy cloud when I head how many activities my daughter's friend has in 2 nd grade.

swimming,basketball,horseback riding,,,all this with a school that ends at 4
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#23 of 41 Old 03-23-2005, 03:24 AM
 
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I guess this is one area my kids are better off that we don't have a lot of money. :LOL

They don't have 200 activities since I can't afford any classes or lessons. My 2 older girls are in scouts & my oldest dd bowls with the school in the fall. We don't have any video game systems so they go play outside. Gasp, they don't have some high tech ride on toy for outside, so they play kickball with our neighbors. Since I can't afford to buy a home, I live close to my neighbors in our apt complex. This "forced" us to get to know them & all the kids play together outside daily in our community courtyard. We all have the same size apt, so there's no pressure to have the bigger & better home. I think it's safe to say that most of my neighbors & I just drive what we can afford, so there's no pressure to get the bigger & better car either.

People keep asking if I'm sending my youngest to preschool in the fall (she's just turning 3 then). I just smile & say no. Really I don't have the money but I don't think she needs to go either. Soon enough she'll be in kindergarten. I'd like to have more time with her at home. My take is that many of us are at an age where we all didn't go to preschool & have 8 million after school activities. I think it's safe to say that we aren't a bunch of morons whose lives are suffering from our lack of excessive childhood activities.

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#24 of 41 Old 03-23-2005, 06:51 PM
 
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Greaseball, What you said!

DD is 6 mo. and I have comments from a few neighbors (I am the only SAHM) that I need to put her in day care to "socialize" her. I see a lot of parents running home after work to then run their children to whatever activities and everyone seems so stressed out. There is a couple that live on our block who seem really relaxed and their son is soooo sweet. The Mom goes to school during the day or I would try and hang out with her.

The same Mom who told me to put my DD in daycare (WTF? I stay home for a reason! I think she feels guilty on some level), also takes her VERY YOUNG kids to kindermusic, NO OFFENSE to anyone who does this, but it just isn't my thing. For one it is way too expensive and two, I can do the same thing with DD for free.

I also don't get all this "socializing" what in the world? If you are going to the store, going to the park etc...your child is getting socialized and it shouldn't be forced.

I get sooo tired of being asked "how do you afford it" when I tell people I am a SAHM. The latest was from my married hair stylist with no kids, who was wearing a very expensive outfit. It makes me angry. I told her "we share one used car, we don't go out to dinner very often, we enjoy time at home with friends and/or do potlucks, we don't belong to an expensive gym, we don't buy a ton of new things/cloths all the time, I don't go out for coffee every day etc..." Just amazes me what people spend money on and then complain that they dont' have any.

We had friends that live in a neighborhood that has those "rules" and you pay a huge monthly fee/dues I guess. They brag about how they like that every house looks the same and they like knowing no one can paint their house any color they want" and I said that is what I LOVE about my neighborhood, every house is different and people can do what they want with their house!

They also have TIVO, Satelite, playstation, a gardner, two cell phones, a super expensive alarm system (I know all this because they brag about all of it), two new cars, every piece of furniture from Pottery Barn blah blah blah (and I really do have to say my house with all of it's "eclectic taste" (that was from my MIL) looks a heck of a lot better), All the white walls etc..and then she says "I would love to have kids and stay at home but we can't afford it". Whatever. If ya really wanted too, you would.

I would rather be poor and stay at home with my kids and not go out to dinners, be constantly entertained etc...than constantly be rushing around and "doing things". I also am so sick and tired of EVERYONE trying to get me and DD into different "groups". I am not a group person and I have friends from before I had my DD, I am not going to find new friends and dump them just because I had a baby. O.K. I am done kevetching.

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#25 of 41 Old 03-24-2005, 03:56 AM
 
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bunsmom ~

see, i could sit here and but everyone has covered the important stuff already.
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#26 of 41 Old 03-24-2005, 04:38 AM
 
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um, just to head off the wohm bashing I can already see trickling into the coversation:
Having two working parents does NOT mean life HAS to be this way.
I assure you we all greet each-other lovingly and eat many home-cooked meals together in my home, even though I am a wohm.

I do agree that consumerist culture is responsible for much of this.
I also think it is about a lack of mindfulness and balance.

There is nothing wrong with wanting your kids to be successful, and to expose them to sports, art and music etc. There is nothing wrong with kids participating in activities that make them happy. Ballet class and kindermusic are not evil, as long as the kids enjoy them, do them without pressure, and also get plenty of unstructured time for imaginative play, along with family time.

The key here is BALANCE.
And balance is different for different families and different kids. One needs to know one's kids, know one's family, and try to thoughtfully, mindfully strike a healthy BALANCE.

Mindlessly plunging your family into a rat-race, and forgetting quiet time and family time is unhealthy. Though unlike many of YOU... I think the parents who do these things genuinely love their kids and believe they are doing what's right to help them succeed. Because they have bought into the pressures and values of our mindless, consumerist culture without questioning them. Or, without taking action if they HAVE questioned them. And change does come hard.. so does swimming against the culture, as many of us know.

My life is a bit more rat-racy than I would like... but we are constantly taking steps to prioritize and balance. Sometimes that means simplifying and giving things up...
sometimes it DOES mean buying some convenience.

I am GLAD my work affords us some luxuries and classes and enrichment activities and I don't apologize for that.
But we are not mindless and we do not go to extremes either way.
It is a learning process for us.. prioritizing, balancing, making mistakes, correcting courses, struggling, rejoicing...

It is one thing to criticize the values of our culture.. another to offer solutions.. to reach out a hand to help.

The article makes me want to think about building community and striving harder for balance..
It does NOT make me feel superior and want to finger point at others, however.
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#27 of 41 Old 03-24-2005, 05:26 AM
 
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i haven't had a chance to read the posts here except the op and asherah's (which I loved) and i wanted to add my thoughts here...

i agree with balance but i really don't know what that means in my life. my kids are still really young and only the 6yo has one activity which we make once, maybe twice a month and have struggled to afford that at times.

i am a sahm and struggle with many of the same emotions of mothering that wahm or wohm....somedays i want to be a sohm. :LOL

i think what is important is LOVE. Are our hearts open with our kids whether we are physically busy or not? Do we talk, listen, struggle together? Or do we try to control them through our own agenda, whether its a full one or not, whether its obvious or not, whether it is PC or not or AP/NFL or not?

This is just something I think about a lot. My heart is enough for my kids. And if I had to work, my heart would be enough for my kids. And if we were blessed, not that we aren't blessed persay, with more income for special activities to honor our children's personalities and gifts...could i do those activities in a way where my heart is open and kind as i run around town busily and on a schedule...that is how i would want to mother whether i worked or not.

Peace.
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#28 of 41 Old 03-24-2005, 05:53 AM
 
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The article isn’t talking about a few activities for our kids and they aren’t talking about WOHPs and they aren’t talking about whether these families love their kids.

Yes, they are talking about families that are out of balance and they’re talking about consumerism, yes. I do think this is a greater social issue. These families don’t appear out of nowhere ~ it’s part of our culture.





Quote:
Originally Posted by asherah
It is one thing to criticize the values of our culture.. another to offer solutions.. to reach out a hand to help.
I would normally agree with you but I think this article is really good for just getting us talking about the values of our culture.

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#29 of 41 Old 03-24-2005, 06:11 AM
 
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We talk about the values of our culture here all the time.
Though many seem to spend most of their energy just bashing those who buy into them.

Unfortunately, those who NEED to have such conversations are like the people IN the article.. and they are perhaps too mindlessly caught up in those very values to do so.
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#30 of 41 Old 03-24-2005, 06:15 AM
 
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[QUOTE=IdentityCrisisMama]The article isn’t talking about a few activities for our kids and they aren’t talking about WOHPs and they aren’t talking about whether these families love their kids.

Read a little more closely, ICM. The article SPECIFICALLY mentions the cultural sea-change of mothers going to work.

And in response, some here HAVE put down outside activities in general, saying they are not needed because parents can provide them at home.

My call is for BALANCE, that's all.
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