Since Nov 9, 2000

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But, I Have To Work

I'm going to scream if I hear it one more time. It seems everyday you hear the same statement "We both have to work". This statement has become common among parents. But do both parents really have to work? In some cases it is absolutely essential, but it seems to me that in the majority of cases the parents simply put their wants in front of their children's needs.

I'm a baby boomer and when I was growing up things were a little different. Mothers generally stayed home and fathers went to work. In those days the difference was that the emphasis was on raising the children not acquiring material things.

I don't recall two cars in every driveway in my neighborhood. People had one car and they kept it for a long time. Boats or recreational vehicles were a rarity. We didn't seem obsessed with the latest fashion trends and even if there was one I can't imagine any parents I knew of shelling out big bucks for what they knew was a passing phase. Today's parents are self-absorbed and not only do they insist on wearing the best money can buy, but they outfit the children in whatever the media has brainwashed the kids into thinking they have to have. Even family pets can fall victim to such fashion pressure.
How many times have these whining parents come to work, sipping on lattes, with brochures featuring the latest vacation hot spots? A married couple years ago often went on their first "real" vacation in celebration of their 25th wedding anniversary. Now days it seems essential that the newlyweds kick off their wedding with an exotic honeymoon followed every years by that much deserved vacation.
Next comes the brand new home, perhaps custom built in an exclusive neighborhood with a gated entrance. Of course you must have new furniture and all the latest gadgets for your kitchen. You can't stop there.

The home must be outfitted with a communications center. Having a computer has become almost as common place as having a television set. A simple connection to the internet isn't enough. Faster is better and you're willing to pay for it. And speaking of television you just can't have basic cable. Expanded digital cable with premium channels or better yet a satellite dish. Top that off with a few phone lines, a fax machine, pagers for the teenagers and cell phones.

As these parents squawk about having to work they also complain about how much they pay in daycare. Many of them admit that after they take out daycare expenses and taxes that they really don't make that much. So what is the point?

Who are they trying to impress? Each other? My observation is that they don't seem happy. They seem frazzled, frantic and tired. Most claim they are not appreciated at work and that they are under paid. They incessantly go on about not being able to spend time with their families or enjoy their lovely homes. But we see them everyday in their new cars, cell phone at their ear, darting in and out of traffic, child strapped into the seat, eating a fruit bar on the way to daycare.

Today's parents want everything now. That's the problem. They are willing to go into debt to acquire all their worldly wants and most of all they are ready to give up the most important job in all the world and that is the raising of their children. They would rather entrust what supposedly is the most important thing in their lives to strangers.

Society is also responsible. We make women who choose to stay at home feel like they are stupid. That the only reason that they are at home is that they can't do anything else. What job could be more important than the nurturing, the guidance of one's own children? We tend to our gardens more than we do our children.

So if you're one of those parents, the next time you find yourself saying "I have to work". Think about it. Do you really? Do you really need all that stuff? Is all that stuff making you and your children happy? Perhaps you can step out of the squirrel cage you're caught up in. Simplify your life and really start living.