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The rise of the neglectful yoga mom demographic

The rising trend of non-working non-engaged mothers that warehouse their children is small in this down economy, but could point to an overall shift in the American culture toward a common yoga mom demographic more focused on their gym time than quality time with their family.

I remember the first time I ever heard the phrase, “. . . kids from broken homes.” I was 12 at the time, a seventh grader in junior high. We, Mom and my little sister, lived in a blue collar suburb in Los Angeles. ‘Til that day, I hadn’t known I was who ‘they’ were talkin’ about. I was a victim — a child from a broken home. I didn’t understand it, not one iota. We lived in a home, in a neighborhood. I played YMCA baseball, flag football, and basketball. I played Little League. Even a year of Pop Warner football. Broken?

I couldn’t figure out in my 12 year old mind, what was, you know, broken.

It’s my experience that my life as a child of divorced parents was more or less typical, at least in the context of BoomerKids. My broken-home-kid status officially began in 1959. What do kids really know? They know if there’s food on the table, clothes in the closet, a roof over their heads, and a loving family, both immediate and extended. I had all the above. Mom did her best, worked her butt off, and raised two well mannered, successful kids, who consistently earned the respect of adults.

We walked to and from school. Our curfew was known as ‘Dark:30′. That was Mom’s way of sayin’ the street lights better not be on over half an hour before you’re home. Most of the time she couldn’t attend my sports games, unless they were on Saturday.  But she sure as hell knew the coaches, and they knew and respected her. She raised her kids, while divorced, in an early 1960s culture that branded divorced women as ‘wanton’. They were often kept out of neighborhood camaraderie, cuz obviously they were out to steal someone else’s husband. Sounds stupid now, but as I look back at those times as an adult, viewing vignettes in my mind from back then, many things begin to finally make sense.

Fast forward to today’s kids from homes with broken moms.

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My daughter, ironically also a ‘victim’ of a broken home, has worked in childcare for over a decade, even though she’ll only be 28 this summer. That’s how she made her own money as a teenager. She then earned a couple degrees in childcare, graduating from one of the local universities just a few years ago. Ever since, she’s worked at a long established, highly respected pre-school in town. Their standards are exemplary, demanding their teachers have the appropriate degrees, or are matriculating toward that end.

She’s been noticing a trend the last several years, which is bothersome to say the least. It’s women 20-30-something who’re married with small kids, not needing to work, who spend as little time with their kids as possible. She notes it’s a very small percentage, but larger than 10 years ago.

These mothers start their day by takin’ them to a preschool, somewhere between 7 and 11 AM. They pick ’em up usually in the 4-6 PM window. These aren’t women of wealth. Their husbands don’t print money. They make enough so Mom can either avoid having to work altogether, or work part time at a job she considers ‘fun’.

This in no way whatsoever includes women who choose to work while their kindergarten age and older kids are at school. That’s entirely different. Elementary school on up is compulsory. Those kids are sent to school by ‘at home’ mothers, and arrive from school with the same moms. The difference to which I refer? Those moms obviously have decided their kids are their top priority. They realize the whole ‘quality time’ school of thought is what comes outa the south side of a northbound bull. Ask kids. It’s ALL about All the time their parents spend with ’em. Kids needs as much time with parents as they can get. Quality time my ass.

Quantity is defined as the time each parent actually has vs the time they spend with their kids.

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She first witnessed this trend first hand in real life when she was hired as a nanny by a non-working mom in a middle class neighborhood. The little boy spent anywhere from a third of his waking hours with her, to more than half at times. So, when that little boy grows up into manhood, will he ask . . .

So tell me, how important was my upbringing to you, Mom?

That little kid is now in elementary school. He’s seeing how nearly all of his classmates’ moms interact with them. They’re always ‘there’. As he gets older, the evidence will mount, and trust me, Mom ain’t gonna like the verdict. Sadly, the son will hate the reality of that verdict, and what it conveys about his value.

Kids figure these things out, eventually. I know I did.

Apparently there’s a small percentage of married, non-working moms out there who’ve decided their kids are impeding their preferred lifestyle. After all, they have yoga, and the gym. You can name all the other things to which they’ve assigned higher priority than raising their own children.

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It’s my opinion these kids would be far better off in the situation in which I found myself as a seven year old. My mom loved us. She arranged in home care for us. We were disciplined, taught, rewarded, and not only knew we were loved, but that she was proud of who we were becoming.

Sure, the percentage of these kids we now find in preschool are probably no more than 2-3%. But if there’re that many now, in this horrid economy, which is far worse than a decade ago, how many will there be when the economy is in full blown recovery? What will the consequences be 10-30 years down the road? Once a son or a daughter has the terrible epiphany that they weren’t the highest priority of their parents, that knowledge can’t be unlearned. And for the record? The fathers are at least as much to blame as their wives. How does a father allow his kids to be warehoused, raised by others when it’s completely unnecessary?

Raising kids is a privilege. But most of all it’s a sacred obligation.

When these kids become adults, how will they view marriage and kids themselves? I have no idea. How can anyone know? But in the real world, what’s the chances they’ll have the same view as those raised by parents who made them a top priority in their lives? Gotta think when it’s framed that way, the potential answers we’ll live to see may not be pretty. Also, here’s a sobering thought for those mothers. How will their warehoused kids treat them in their old age? Talk about not pretty.

What makes a parent view their kids as impediments to their lifestyle? How do they justify their behavior? Look, I completely understand the reality of both parents needing to work. It is what it is. That paradigm has been here for quite awhile now. But we’ve all seen how those families make it crystal clear what’s important: FAMILY. Would it be better if Mom didn’t hafta work? Of course. But parents reading this, living that life, know they do their level best to raise their kids to be the best they can be. They’re loved to death at home, and experience the same with extended family.

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I hope and pray we don’t see this infant trend grow as the economy does the same. America’s a nation founded upon many core values, not the least of which is the sanctity of the family, and those same values properly instilled in our children.

Warehousing our kids? Not a core value. Heaven help us.

Written By

Jeff Brown specializes in real estate investment for retirement, has practiced real estate for over 40 years and is a veteran of over 200 tax deferred exchanges, many multi-state. Brown is a second generation broker and works daily with the third generation. With CCIM training and decades of hands on experience, Brown's expertise is highly sought after, some of which he shares on his real estate investing blog.



  1. Teri Lussier

    April 4, 2012 at 11:30 am

    No comments? Okay, I’ll bite.

    First, as someone who was a SAHM for many years, there ain’t a lot of us around these days so if you want your kid to hang out with other kids during the day, you pretty much have to get them into preschool of some sort or another because that’s where the kids are- simple math. Second, I was an awesome volunteer-type during that time. I worked with cancer organizations, helped some friends and family who needed odd jobs or care-taking, etc. These are those drudge jobs that get done and no one knows how. We are the cobbler’s elves. I’m just saying, things are not always as they seem. Another thing to consider, my dad grew up in a difficult situation and he’s the first to say that he succeeded as well as he did because his parents were not the ones who raised him. He was grateful that he spent as little time with them as possible. Just a food for thought. 🙂

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