I have decided that one of the keys to effective parenting is this: know your limits. It sounds simple in theory, but it is so much harder to practice. It is the art form of constantly balancing everything in a manner not unlike the plate spinners on the boardwalk. In American society we all suffer from a great time suck. The fact remains that Americans work more hours, with less sick/vacation time than almost every other industrialized country. We fight obesity by condemning fast food, and yet our entire society is based around a fast-paced lifestyle. We have not built into our schedules anything that care for the basic needs of the family.
Because we work so much, gone are the days of the 9 to 5 job. Now we have the 8 to 6 jobs that require a rush home to somehow cram in dinner, homework, housework, extra curricular activities and quality family time all before bedtime. It isn't really feasible to cram it all in, hence the popularity of convenience foods. So we nuke our dinners, or grab yet another drive-thru meal, all in an effort to maximize time with our families before we have to get up and put our nose to the grindstone for another day.
Add to this the rising costs of feeding families, rising costs of childcare and lack of support from the workforce (not just with the inflexibility of most full-time jobs, but the serious lack of quality, well-paid part-time options). America simply does not have the time or inclination to care for its own families. We are too busy engaging in the rat race of consumption. To take it one step further, we even push our families into the realm of consumption by feeding them, caring for them and cleaning up for them by purchasing these services from third party providers.
In the wake of the whirlwind of political nonsense we have all been subjected to recently with the upcoming November elections, I would like to propose that one of the candidates (at this point, I really don't care which) start addressing the fact that families need help. And, before you, the reader, assume that I am strictly referring to families with young children, I am not. I am talking families who have elder care responsibilities, families with young children, families who have special needs children of any age birth to adult, families where one parent or spouse has a disability or illness and anyone who does not fit into the dual-income, no children model we seem to assume our economic system is based on.
As we once heard in high school speeches for class president, "If I were elected I would promise to increase revenue and taxes to benefit our abandoned education systems. Good schools create increased property values, which last time I checked benefit even those who do not have children, or children in school.
I would encourage the workforce to add quality part-time jobs to their employment offerings so as to provide adequate time for each family to meet its own needs.
I would institute a program by which to encourage employers and families to work together to make time for proper food preparation. I believe that this would not only decrease American obesity rates by controlling what goes in our mouths better, but allow for more family meal time. Studies have shown regular family meals have decreased the likelihood for all sorts of negative social behavior such as drug use, eating disorders, depression, and truancy, which like quality schools, benefits all of American society. While there are many changes that could be made to improve the lives of all families, if I were elected, these are the three that I would change first"
"A vote for me, would be a vote for Valuing Families"
Alas, you will not see my name on the ballot come November. And, as far as I can tell, there is little to no chance that the current candidates will start espousing real valuation of parents in this country anytime soon. It seems we, as Americans, instead only value the almighty dollar. We have built an entire society that circulates around the idea that someone is home taking care of things, and when no one is or no one can and there is no money to hire someone....there is no time, in fact there is negative time and it affects all aspects of health and sanity. The only thing left for stressed parents living in this country is the critical coping mechanism.....KNOW YOUR LIMITS! And find a way to work within them as best you can. But, if you find you ever have extra time on your hands, maybe you can help me run for office in 2016. Then again, I might not have time.