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Fast Company/January - Jill Herzig
I read the article entitled, "What Parents Seem to Be in Denial About is the Effect That Their Pressured Lives Have on Their Kids," by Tony Schwartz with some trepidation. The article paints a portrait of the working family today. The author quotes findings and responds to a book titled, "Ask the Children: What America's Children Really Think About Working Parents" (William Morrow, 1999) written by Ellen Galinsky. My interest in this article is definitely personal, as I have become increasingly busy in my job and with our master's program and don't feel I spend enough time with my children. I agree with the author, " I was afraid the information in this article would fuel my guilt and break my heart." We live in a busy time and most parents are spending many hours outside the home. Even when parents are home other responsibilities need to be addressed and time is taken away from the children. (Like now for example, as I write my paper, I can hear my children playing upstairs) This is a fact of life. We can still be loving parents even if we work. I do not feel that as a parent I am in denial about how my busy schedule effects my children's lives. I believe we are more aware of it and are willing to do something about it. The most important variable is what we do at home when we are there as a family. There are families with stay at home parents that do not spend any time with their children and families with parents that both work that give quality time every day. I believe the key to having a successful family structure is to provide the children with a loving caring environment. When the children are not with the parents a grandparent or a carefully selected daycare person can provide this. It will reinforce the values you have set in your own home and maintain the parenting style you as the primary caregiver have laid out. Quality time and a positive atmosphere can be achieved by following certain guidelines outlined by the article. They are as follows: 1. Pay more attention to family routines and rituals. Routines make life predictable and understandable, they create traditions that we carry from childhood to adulthood. 2. Create boundaries in your life by incorporating transition rituals to keep work life and home life separate. 3. Be there when it counts. Make sure that you attend all key events in your children's lives. 4. Talk more about your work life. Explain to children what you do and why it is important to you. 5. Find out how your kids are feeling, even if they seem to resist telling you. Children always have things they want to discuss. They may initially push the parents away, but they appreciate when you hang in there and try to understand them. These guidelines are important, the article states, because children are very aware of how their parents are feeling and are in tune to the stress level the adults demonstrate even if they don't speak about it. If we are open with our children when times are difficult, they will respond better because they understand where the parent's behavior is coming from and are able to identify with it. Upon completion of the article, I realize that as a parent, I am doing the best I can, and this busy time in my life will pass soon enough. I will be able to look back after this year is over and see that even if I didn't spend as much time as I wanted with my family, I made sure my children were well cared for. It is also good to know that I am not the only one going through these feelings and others who work have maintained a healthy caring family.
-- Anonymous, January 11, 2000