Sunday, January 20, 2008

The Morning Paper

Is your newspaper this ridiculous?

Item 1: In response to Ontario's recently-declared "Family Day" scheduled for February 18, an expert on work-life balance explains that government-mandated holidays cannot solve the well-documented problems arising from longer workweeks, shorter vacations, and increased stress. The reason? People don't actually want to spend time with their families. "Just go to any hockey arena and look at how many dads and moms are on their Blackberry when their kid is playing and tell me the government can solve that problem," he urges. Parents pick business meetings over dinner with the kids; they skip vacations and stay at the office until seven, all because they don't actually like their children. (Hence the popular expression, "Thank God it's Monday.") If parents really wanted to be with their families, he claims, the lazy bums could actually WORK at work instead of chit-chatting and web-surfing all day.

Does it comfort you to know that this "work-life expert" is a professor at a well-known business school, responsible for training the business leaders of tomorrow?

Item 2: The House and Home headline reports that the latest trend in wall-paint is shades of grey: stone, graphite, charcoal, and biscuit. "These are not true greys," a designer explains, "they have overtones of brown, inspired by the Iraq war."

Huh?

For design advice that won't make your living-room look like a war-zone, check out Antique Mommy's Inspired Spaces. (In her latest post, she answers all my questions about paint and flooring!)

Edited to add: There's still time to vote in Round 1 of the Canadian Blog Awards. I'm in the Best Family Blog and Best Blogosphere Citizen categories. You can only vote once, so make it count!

47 comments:

Chaotic Joy said...

Well I say "Poor thing!" to the man that wrote the first article. He is obviously quite bitter about parenting, worth ethics and morality in general. It seems he is taking some personal experiences, or observations and reporting them as a widespread epidemic, or ahem, news. I absolutely agree there are parents who "don't like their children" and I will even go so far as to say, some days I am a member of their group. But to make a randomly asinine statement that the parents piddle away their days at the office so they don't have to go home and see their children is preposterous and unsupported.

Besides, why would they do that when I have proven it's fairly simple to piddle away your day in neglect of your children here at home? :)

And the second item just made me laugh out loud.

wheelsonthebus said...

I wonder if it's not so much that they don't like their children or that they find spending long chunks of time with them mind-numbing, which we all do sometimes.

Gwen said...

All my decorating is inspired by the Iraq war. Hence the rough and tumble beauty of my home ....

Okay, but seriously, am I the only person who goes mad seeing all the parents who are on their phones/Blackberries, etc. when at children's events? And I don't mean the Chuck E. Cheese kind, because yes, do what you must to survive that. But a third grader's hockey game is usually interesting enough to pay attention to. Not that I agree with your newspaper man that parents don't like their children. I just think he has a point about the electronic devices strapped to us.

bubandpie said...

I guess it's just awfully convenient from the employer's point of view to assume that employees are

(a) lazy

AND (at the same time)

(b) workaholics who CHOOSE to let work invade their family time.

Either way, the employer bears no responsibility for work-life balance, according to the work-life balance "expert" who is training future employers.

Heather said...

O.K. I'm guilty. Sometimes I check my mail or write an email while at one of my kid's events. But that is the nice thing about technology. Without my Treo, there are many events I simply would not be able to attend at all. And, my sons see me there, I can wave to them and mostly watch their game, and I am not checking email out of boredom but to keep my job and enable me to attend an event of theirs where in the past I would not have been able.

BTW, I tagged you for a meme over at my blog. If you like participating in that sort of thing, go check it out. I found this one kind of fun.

Aliki2006 said...

Just what I've always wanted--to surround myself with the colors of war...good grief. How about decorators start urging us to throw buckets of red paint all over the gray, to *really* drive the point home?

And yes, our newspaper is always filled with ridiculous drivel...

Beck said...

War-inspired decor! How cozy.

I actually kind of agree with the author of that article - many, many parents I know prefer the organized, rewarding world of work to their chaotic and poorly maintained home lives. A lot of us don't know how to have pleasant home lives anymore, and I do think that a lot of this over-scheduling of children comes from a desperate desire not to spend time with them.
But there's also how much more horribly expensive life is now, so many people I know work all the time just to survive. Life is hard.

Veronica Mitchell said...

I am always curious about people who publicly despise children. Is this guy a parent himself?

And yes, convenient how his theory requires no actual change from employers. I'm guessing he's tenured.

War decor? We've gone with a Neo-Assyrian theme. The reliefs of corpses on the wall set just the right tone for the unwanted guest.

Marla said...

Hmmm...yesss...I HAD noticed your question over there, and was wondering whether the flooring query indicated a decision in favour of the new versus the old? Have I missed anything? Inquiring minds want to know.

Jess said...

Our newspaper is the renowned Washington Post. But sometimes it is still quite ridiculous. Still, I think your newspaper trumps.

Mimi said...

Ha! My local newspaper had an article last week about how immersive second language training IS NOT HARMFUL TO CHILDRENS' FIRST-LANGUAGE COMPETENCE.

Mimi said...

Ok. I wasn't done. On the hockey game blackberry question, I know that my sister is out and about to about 4 hours of hockey games / practices a week for just one of her sons, and that's not counting what amounts to about another four or five hours of travel. It's too many activities, and she only calls me from the office, because it's the only place she has five minutes in a row of quiet. She loves her kids, but they spend all their time driving, or sitting in arenas.

bubandpie said...

Marla - It's a few posts down ("Three Old Houses and a New"). The short version is that the Old House we loved needed to have a lot of windows replaced before it would be livable in the summer, and there was no room in the budget for that kind of expense, so we're building new (and are now fully immersed in the many dilemmas of floors, colours, cabinets, etc.).

Teah said...

I say Boo to the author of the first statement...regardless of the fact that he is probably correct, in some cases of families. The day my husband prefers work to coming home...will be a day to be reckoned with! Unless, of course, it is a first time father who hasn't slept in 7 weeks. ;-) Then, I'd totally understand if he'd rather take a nap at lunch and work late! haha

SuburbanCorrespondent said...

Hey, we just painted our main floor in shades of gray! But the decision was not at all influenced by the US's unfortunate attempts at nation-building, I must say.

Jennifer said...

I think it's funny that you mention those two articles in conjunction... my theory is that we are CREATING warfronts in our homes by lack of discipline, lack of warmth (using concrete, brown, gray, and stainless stell in our homes, for goodness' sakes!), lack of cooking and good smells coming from our kitchens, and generally a lack of PRESENCE... no one is home to make the house "homey."

So, who WOULD want to come home to that? What husband would not rather stay in his quiet office with other quiet adults where he can close the door and turn off the phone instead of coming home to an exhausted, resentful wife and 3 uncontrollable children or sulky teenagers, and no good meal, either? I suspect this writer is one of those men.

One of my goals as a wife and mother has been to create a place where my family wants to be. Hospitality is important not only for guests, but for family members as well.

So, that's my two-cents, for what it's worth. :)

Mad Hatter said...

Interesting comments.

BTW, isn't it a truth universally acknowledged that families are the true enemies of the state and of capitalism? Too bad we keep consuming so much damn stuff. Kinda makes us hard to snuff out.

Chaotic Joy said...

I wanted to come back and see what people had to say about this. And then venture to ask

Is it really the end of the world if we do not make it to every single practice and game our children have or if, God forbid, we are not glued to watching them the entire time we do? Isn't the point of these "activites" to allow them to participate in something they enjoy, not to provide them with even more proof that the sun rises and sets on their performance?

I have four children, and my husband and I do our best to divide and conquer to make sure someone goes to each game/performance our children particpate in, but if we cannot, which is sometimes the case, is this really the end of the world? And as for practices...pffft! I am lucky if my kids get to all of them, forget me actually watching them. I am typically out in the hall entertaining the babies or occasionally, if I am really lucky, out in the van reading a book.

I guess as a stay at home mom I have a different perspective on this. I see so many children grow up in homes where their parents have rearranged every moment of their own lives to accommodate their children and I cannot help but wonder what kind of superegos we are creating in the process? Isn't there a difference between growing up secure and loved and growing up the center of your families universe? Shouldn't we also be teaching our children that other people's (even their siblings and their parents) needs and time are important as well?

While obviously there is another end to this spectrum which is what the "expert" was referring to, This has been bothering me for a while, this concept that as parents if we don't sacrifice everything of ourselves to give it to our children that we are in someway deficient.

Okay...fire away.

letter9 said...

Can you vote if you're not Canadian? What if since childhood you wished you were Canadian?

bubandpie said...

Letter9 - Everyone is welcome to vote - only the nominees have to be Canadian.

Joy - I have never understood why the benchmark for parental involvement is supposedly watching games. In movies, on TV, it's always missing the soccer game that functions as a measure of the too-demanding workplace. I would place a much higher priority on activities that involve INTERACTING with my child.

Patois said...

Dang, now that's something to be inspired by.

Heading over to vote right now.

Magirk said...

What the!? I'm baffled. Simply baffled. Speechless, really.

That has to be one of the biggest loads of 'malarky' I've heard in a while - and 'malarky' is abundant these days!

Though, it seems to me that most newspapers are mainly idiotic.

I'll add my vote for you! Good luck! (I hope you'll win!)

cinnamon gurl said...

I was going to guiltily confess that I do enjoy the relative quiet of work and sometimes have been lazy (although I am CONVINCED that I work faster than a lot of people and so am somehow entitled to a slower pace in between bursts of extreme productivity) but that I never work late because of it and generally don't work late at all except for a couple times a year.

But I love the comment you made here highlighting the commentary this makes to employers. You're so right.

I voted for you on the very first day for Best Blogosphere Citizen but Best Family Blog is killing me! I don't know how to choose for my one vote! Ack!

Eva said...

Voted!

I was about to pull our our Sunday paper and share some of the lame things there, but decided I don't have time. But take my word, equally perturbing.

Jenifer said...

I love what Antique Mommy put together for you, so warm!

My husband works extremely hard and does on occasion need to have his iphone (previously a Blackberry) on during non-work hours. It allows him to be with us and be accountable for on-going jobs. He is our sole provider at the moment, his occasional call or email is hardly a problem.

He busts himself all week to make sure we are all together on the weekend.

I agree that I would place more value on playing a game of Scrabble together than watching a soccer practice.

painted maypole said...

well, i've been looking for a way to make my living room say "war zone" because "welcome, please sit down" was just causing my visitors to linger far too long, so I shall run out and buy some of this new paint right away.

Swistle said...

HA HA HA!

If any of my children were athletic enough to play organized sports, and if I were obligated to attend the endless, endless practices and games, I would DEFINITELY bring something with me for entertainment. There is only so much attention a loving parent can give to a child who is a non-moving speck on a playing field of a sport she is not even slightly interested in. And SO! Many! Hours! I would consider it an act of pure love to be there at all.

Now please pretend I made a cynical remark about how at least Iraq-inspired wall colors communicate "Please, come in and stay a long, long time!" Because I am too tired to think of anything, and must go to bed.

Nora Bee said...

How depressing, to have paint inspired by a war. Now I'm sad so I think I shall vote.

nomotherearth said...

I don't mind the Blackberry so much if the person is actually working, but ifthey're just surfing or playing games then I say "be in the moment". Stupid Crackberry.

Chantal said...

OMG what universe does that man live in. That is insane. I honestly don't know anyone who would chose to be at work over being with their kids.

And decorating to reflect war... Just sick.

anastasia beaverhausen said...

Inspired by the Iraq war??? How absolutely grotesque. I guess it says quite a lot about our house in that there isn't one single wall that is even close to being gray/charcoal/putty/biscuit/beige or brown. Not one.

Pieces said...

Inspired by the Iraq war. I admire designers and their artistic talents but it has always struck me as ridiculous that they attach meaning beyond what something really is. "I added pencil-thin skirts to this year's line to emphasize the plight of the world's starving children." Absurd.

the end of motherhood said...

I have always used the quality of my relatedness with my kids as the barometer for whether or not they are getting "enough" of me.

Mardougrrl said...

That's exactly the way I took it too, bubandpie...this article puts all of the onus AGAIN on the workers, and not, say, on the employers who now expect 24/7 availability, thanks to handy cell phones and email eand everything else. No, its those *workers* who manage to be both lazy and work-obsessed. Not that there aren't people who occasionally prefer the peace (and adult conversation) of work, but overall, most of the push for 24/7 work connectivity is coming from the employers' side. That way they can get away with hiring one person to do what would have been two or three workers' jobs.

Magpie said...

My local paper - the New York Times - has a column in the fluff section every week answering "questions" like "How do I buy a coffee table?". Please.

Anonymous said...

People using their work responsibilities to get away from their kids? Seeing someone checking their e-mail at a hockey game and passing judgment on them as not being a good parent? Is this guy insane??! Maybe he’s secretly letting out his own frustrations about not liking his own kids. For anyone that wants to see more crazy things that come out of the way we view work, I stumbled across a great blog by the creators of ROWE – you can find it at www.caliandjody.com/blog. And for everyone that will be celebrating Family Day – well, I won’t even start with that!

Stimey said...

I like brown. Does that mean I'm inspired by the Iraq war?

What a bizarre thing to say.

Janet said...

TGIM?

Never heard of it. That *is* ridiculous.

ewe are here said...

I am happy to report that we are not one of those families the work-life balance expert is talking about. We live for vacations, family time, getting things done at home as opposed to work...

And I don't want walls inspired by a war, thank you very much.

kgirl said...

one more reason why i don't subscribe to any of our papers. they are useless with undertones of stupidity, like the iraq war.

b*babbler said...

eeesh,,, Reminds me once again why I stray further and further from mainstream media. Oh, the idiocy.

Angela said...

Journalism has gone so downhill. The design article is just odd. Good luck with the blog contest.

JCK said...

O.K., both of those newspaper entries are extremely disturbing. I do find some truth to the first one. Too many parents out there not being in the moment with their kids (or anyone else unlucky enough to be with them) because of a blackberry or cell phone.

I voted for you!!

Alpha DogMa said...

Well, I mostly decorate in any manner mocked by Lynda Reeves.That woman is a freak.

I agree that many parents don't actually want to parent. They see childhood as trial to be endured or a problem to be conquered. And yeah, government holidays are NOT the solution to work-obsessed lifestyles, they're just a bone to throw to voters.

DaniGirl said...

Having once lived in your fair city and lamented the lack of, erm, depth of the local paper, I'm sadly not really surprised. It's part of the Sun chain, no? 'Nuff said.

Our paper also featured an article on the Family Day, but skewed to the fed gov't workers who won't get it, and how much of a strain this "family day" will pose for the average Ottawa family with fed gov't employed parents at work and kids out of provincially mandated schools. Not that I'll have to worry about THAT this year! *grin*

Her Bad Mother said...

yeah, um, that is my paper. and my magazine of choice these days (sharing your new house design obsession over here. so much so that I didn't even blink at the 'Iraq' reference - I just thought, mmm, SAND might be a good colour for the dining room...)

kittenpie said...

Or you could just go straight for the camo. Or a spackled sandy finish. Jeepers.