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Opinion Editorials

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.

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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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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13 Comments

13 Comments

  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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Opinion Editorials

New USPS duck-shaped truck design has mixed reactions

(OPINION / EDITORIAL) The USPS is getting a fleet of electronic delivery vehicles. We’re wondering if the actual design got lost in the mail.

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New USPS truck in a fictional neighborhood delivering mail.

So the USPS is getting new trucks and they look like ducks and maybe that sucks… or maybe it wucks. Like “works,” if a duck said it. Just give me this one please.

Anyway.

I don’t know how mean I can be here – there has to be something said for objective journalistic integrity – but I have a feeling most people are going to have a rather sarcastic reaction to the new design. I’m not so sure I can blame them – it has a kind of stubby little nose with a shortened hood and a boxy frame and super tall windshield, which gives the wheels a disproportionately large look compared to the rest of the silhouette. It’s sort of like a Nissan Cube but less millennial cool, which A) is discontinued (so maybe not so cool), and B) is not the car that had those giant hiphop hamsters running around, but I’m still going to link to it anyway.

Elon Musk must be breathing a sigh of relief right now.

The contract was awarded to Oshkosh Defense (which I was thrilled to find out is NOT the adorable kid’s clothing company, even though I personally think that would be hilarious if there was a factory making overalls for tiny humans alongside tactical defense trucks) and officially announced on February 23rd, 2021 to the tune of $482 million. Seriously though, someone is going to mix those up for the rest of all time and eternity; I’d never not think about my own baby pictures if some contractor from Oshkosh Defense showed up.

The release mentions that, “The historic investment is part of a soon-to-be-released plan the Postal Service has developed to transform its financial performance and customer service over the next 10 years through significant investments in people, technology and infrastructure as it seeks to become the preferred delivery service provider for the American public.” It’s called the NGDV – Next Generation Delivery Vehicle, which I happen to adore, and will pronounce as Nugduv, and you can’t stop me anyway. The old one was called the Grumman, by the way.

Some credit this as a radical change, and keeping in mind that radical doesn’t necessarily denote positive or negative, it seems like the perfect word to use here. Then there are those who correctly identify “a mixed bag of responses,” sort of like when you get a bag of candy at Halloween that has at least one thing no one likes. Some call it strange, while others defend it as something every new big vehicle should look like (this is where – as one of many – I found it called a “duck” which oh man do I love, quack quack).

We can also hit up the ever fair public opinion of Twitter, because why wouldn’t we?

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This is how I would draw a car. That is not a plus for this design

I really can’t get over that last one. But I mean, whoa. That’s quite the spectrum. There’s less disagreement on pizza toppings I think. But luckily I think we’re safe there – Domino’s makes people drive their personal cars.

Taking a step back and putting snide commentary away for a moment, there’s some areas that should be discussed. First – and what should probably be obvious – there was a laundry list of requirements and restrictions from the USPS, which made Nir Kahn – design director from custom carmaker Plasan – offer up his own tweets that give some insight on dimensions and design:

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I was involved in an early proposal for the USPS truck so I know the requirements well. They pretty much dictated the proportions – this package sketch shows that to meet the ergonomic and size requirements, there wasn’t much freedom 1/2 #USPS pic.twitter.com/Fk35g98Z83

Kahn mentions that “there wasn’t much freedom,” but also that “it could have looked much better,” and this sort of underlines the entire discussion I think – there were goals in place, and possibly some more aesthetically pleasing ways to meet them, but the constraints won out and drove (hehe) the design more than style did.

Certainly, there are other concerns – the ability for USPS drivers to reach a mailbox while seated is paramount. Others have pointed out that this design – with its large windshield and shortened front – should help with safety around small children (all the better if they are wearing Oshkosh B’gosh, because that implies they are tiny and may not be at all concerned with the dangers of streets). The open field-of-vision will aid in making sure drivers can navigate places that might be frequented by any number of pedestrians, so that’s a plus.

Further, if you get struck by one of these, you’ll basically “just” get kneecapped versus taking it square to the torso. The duck article is the one making this call, and I think there’s some merit there (though it makes me question how the USPS fleet is going to do against the SUVs and big trucks out in the wild). It then goes on to point out that this design has more cargo space, fitting into the idea of “rightsizing,” where the form and function of the vehicle meet in a way that is downsized, but still punches above its weight.

“From smaller fire engines to nimbler garbage trucks, making vehicles better scaled to urban tasks can make a huge difference, not only for keeping other cars moving on narrow streets, but also to ensure that humans on those same streets can access the bike lanes, sidewalks, and curb cuts they need to get around.”

I didn’t try too hard to find stats on crashes in mail trucks, but seems like something that should be addressed.

Maybe the biggest point here is that we sort of have to get new trucks – they are outliving their 24 year expectancy and catching on fire. On FIRE. I mean a mail truck might be the worst place for a fire. I’m not even sure I can’t think up a better answer… Ok maybe toilets would be worse.

The new vehicles can be either petrol or electric powered, have 360 cameras, airbags, and automatic braking. Oh, and air conditioning, which the old vehicles did not have. So yes, literally the worst place to have a fire. But due to the taller vehicles, someone can stand in them now! So escape is even easier! Hooray!

A series of delays pushed back the introduction of new vehicles from their 2018 projected date, with poor initial prototypes and the pandemic being major setbacks. Aggressive bidding led to extended deadlines, which had been narrowed down to a small list of candidates that included Workhorse (who unfortunately suffered a large stock plunge following the announcement). It’s been in the works for at least six years.

In the end, I don’t think we can discount all the advantages here – more efficient vehicles that are safer and provide drivers with modern amenities. That’s a LOT of good. I think once the initial goofy shock is over, the design will be accepted. Everyone thought Nintendo’s Wii was a hilarious name (still pretty much is regardless of being in the public book of acceptable nomenclature), and Cybertruck sales are brisk, so I think we can set a lot of this aside. The Edsel these are not.

So hey, new USPS vehicles in 2023, like an exceedingly late birthday present. All I want to see is a bunch of baby ducks following one of them around oh please let that happen. The USPS kind of has an identity crisis in the modern era, so maybe a funny little cute silly boxmobile is just the right way to get some attention.

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Opinion Editorials

Declutter your quarantine workspace (and brain)

(EDITORIAL) Can’t focus? Decluttering your workspace can help you increase productivity, save money, and reduce stress.

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decluttering

It’s safe to say that we’ve all been spending a lot more time in our homes these last few months. This leads us to fixate on the things we didn’t have time for before – like a loose doorknob, or an un-alphabetized bookshelf, or that we’ve put off ‘declutter’ on our to-do list for too long.

The same goes for our workspaces. Many of us have had to designate a spot at home to use for work purposes. For those of you who still need to remain on-site, you’ve likely been too busy to focus on your surroundings.

Cleaning and organizing your workspace every so often is important, regardless of the state of the world, and with so much out of our control right now, this is one of the few things we can control.

Whether you’re working from a home office or an on-site office, take some time for quarantine decluttering. According to The Washington Post, taking time to declutter can increase your productivity, lower stress, and save money (I don’t know about you, but just reading those 3 things makes me feel better already).

Clutter can cause us to feel overwhelmed and make us feel a bit frazzled. Having an office space filled with piles of paper containing irrelevant memos from five years ago or 50 different types of pens, has got to go – recycle that mess and reduce your stress. The same goes with clearing files from your computer; everything will run faster.

Speaking of running faster, decluttering and creating a cleaner workspace will also help you be more efficient and productive. Build this habit by starting small: try tidying up a bit at the end of every workday, setting yourself up for a ready-to-roll morning.

Cleaning also helps you take stock of stuff that you have so that you don’t end up buying more of it. Create a designated spot for your tools and supplies so that they’re more visible – this way, you’ll always know what you have and what needs to be replenished. This will help you stop buying more of the same product that you already have and save you money.

So, if you’ve been looking to improve your focus and clearing a little bit of that ‘quarantine brain’, start by getting your workspace in order. You’ll be amazed at how good it feels to declutter and be “out with the old”; you may even be inspired to do the same for your whole house. Regardless, doing this consistently will create a positive shift in your life, increasing productivity, reducing stress, and saving you money.

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Opinion Editorials

Online dating is evolving and maybe networking will too

(OPINION EDITORIALS) How has the online dating industry been disrupted during the pandemic? And can we apply a few pointers from this evolved model to networking?

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Woman networking through Zoom video call with two other women.

We are often reminded that hindsight is 20/20 – a proverb that means “it is easy to understand something after it has already happened”, and how ironic that is since we are in the year 2020 and not sure we can fully comprehend all we are learning and what hindsight this will bring.

Reflecting back to six months ago, there were many of us that didn’t have much of a clue about what the rest of 2020 would look like and how we would have to adjust to a more virtual world. We’ve updated our ways of working, connecting with colleagues, socializing with friends, networking with those in our industry, or looking for a new job.

Microsoft suggested that we have seen two years’ worth of digital transformation in about five months. For example: MS Teams, Zoom, and Google Meet have become the new way to host networking sessions, work meetings, and “chats” with colleagues; Tele-med appointments became the norm for routine or non-911 emergency doctor appointments; curbside pickup at grocery stores and food to-go orders via online ordering became the new normal (they existed before but saw tremendous growth in number of users).

We also had to learn how to create engaging and interactive ways to connect solely through a screen. We are already Zoom fatigued and wondering how online meetings have zapped our energy so differently than in person. It turns out, looking at ourselves and trying to talk to a group is a lot for our brains to process.

The Atlantic shares a great article about why the Zoom social life might feel so draining, saying that “Attempting to translate your old social habits to Zoom or FaceTime is like going vegetarian and proceeding to glumly eat a diet of just tofurkey”. No offense to vegetarians, of course.

You could argue though, that we’ve all been interacting via screens for years with the dominance of social media channels – whether it was posting our thoughts in 140 characters on Twitter, or sharing photos and videos of our artisanal sandwiches/cute kid/pet pictures on Facebook. But this seems different. Times are different and we will not be going back soon.

In this interim, many people are trying to make the best of the situation and are figuring out ways to connect. We will always need human connection (and without the germs, even better).

What about our single friends? If they don’t have anyone in the house to already drive them crazy, then where can they go to meet new people and/or possibly love interests?

While many experts are trying to predict the outcomes of this global shift, it may be hard to know what will change permanently. We know many industries are experiencing major disruptions – online dating apps being one of them.

According to Digital Trends, Tinder still ranks as one of the top dating apps. However, now that people are sheltering in place and/or social distancing, there’s a new app taking over as a way to “meet” someone a little faster, while also allowing you to stay behind the screen, sans mask.

Slide is a video dating app that changes your first-date frustrations into real connections and instant chemistry. Explore video profiles, go on first dates via Video Calls at your fingertips, and find that chemistry before dating IRL.”

So, while Tinder, Bumble, and Hinge play quarantine catch-up, Slide is stealing their market share.

How? With video.

Slide recognized the massive success of short-form video platforms like TikTok, and have translated it to dating. They focus on features like:

  • “Vibe Check”, which gives you the option to video chat immediately after matching with someone to see if there’s chemistry. This will save you from long or misinterpreted text conversations and money you may have spent on that first date.
  • A video-first approach that lets you see the real people behind the profiles so you can pass if they aren’t really who they say they are.
  • AI-assisted creation of “future bae” profiles that help suggest your best matches and spare you extra swipes. If Netflix can find similar suggestions…

As of August 2020, the Department of Labor and Statistics estimates about 13.6 million people are currently unemployed and searching for a new j-o-b. Is it possible that some of these newer ways of connecting online could be included in how we network for a new job/career opportunity?

For example, instead of sending a connection or networking request on LinkedIn, what if we could send a quick video about our story, or what we’d love to learn from that person, or how we’d like to connect?

Would that create a faster, better, possibly more genuine connection?

This would seem worth exploring as many job connections are created by in-person networking or reaching real people vs. solely online applications, behind a screen. Some other formats that have seen increased use are Marco Polo for video chats (you don’t have to both be available at the same time) and FaceTime group calls.

It might be worth exploring how short-form video platforms could assist job seekers in networking, outreach, and connecting with others. These are just some ideas as we continue to watch this digital transformation unfold.

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