Does the package contain what the wrapper says?
We are in the era of proclaimed family values. Politicians have grabbed hold of the concept with gusto. Implicit in the term “family values” is the idea that we put the interest of the family ahead of personal ambition. Further, we place a high value on time spent in family activities.
As refreshing as our commitment to family values sounds, many people are not acting out the part. Surveys show that the work week has gotten longer over the last two decades. Americans have succumbed to easy credit and are now deeper in debt than ever before. The longer hours are required to keep the bills paid.
What message have we sent to our children? We tell them that family time is important to us but we work ever longer hours which leaves less time for them. We preach the evils of materialism while constantly struggling to acquire more and more things.
THE NEW `DAY CARE GENERATION`
We’re entering a new era of self-consciousness on the topic of family values and family commitment as the day care generation – born after the mid-1970s during the sharpest rise in paid employment among mothers – comes of age. As these children raise their own children, their parents’ juggling acts will be a hot topic.
A new book titled “Ask the Children: What America’s Children Really Think About Working Parents,” by Ellen Galinsky (published by the Families and Work Institute, New York) addresses the issue. The book concludes that the effects of work-family conflict on children are complex and all too easily over-simplified. However, as a general rule, if parents are fulfilled and their work-family roles reflect their true values, children are likely to follow suit. On the other hand, when parents are torn between work and family, children can become anxious or confused.
Children can see through any charade their parents choose to act out. They often rewrite life roles to resolve conflicts they’ve seen in their parents. Many young adults grew up with parents who claimed to value equality for women, for instance, but saw their mothers shouldering housework at home unassisted. Many try to resolve that inconsistency by sharing housework.
WHAT TO DO?
First, acknowledge any inconsistency between what you proclaim and what you do. If you find that you are not living your life in “priority order,” resolve to make changes. If changes cannot be made, at least acknowledge the conflict and discuss it openly with your children.
Children who are raised in a positive environment, even where parents work long hours, tend to grow up balanced. Striving to re-balance your life pays dividends if the kids understand what you are doing.
THOUGHT FOR THE MOMENT
Stocks have reached what looks like a permanently high plateau.
– Irving Fisher, professor of
economics, Yale University, Oct. 17, 1929
Joe D. Jones, CPA, is publisher of the Mississippi Business Journal. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.