Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Marley & Me: Shocking

Yes, I found this movie shocking, and here's why:

1. Two young people get married, even though the woman is not pregnant.
2. When she does get pregnant, they do not immediately divorce and her husband does not desert her, so that she has to be a SINGLE MOTHER.
3. A successful journalist, she decides that she will put her career aside to stay home and take care of her children, since she feels that when she is working she is doing neither job well, and that taking care of her children is more important than her career. Her husband does not really balk but decides to figure out how to get more money so she can stay at home.
4. We see that as a mother at home, there is indeed enough work so that she is exhausted and frazzled, but has no regrets that she left her job.
5. Neither partner ever contemplates divorce, even when things get tough and they face real disappointments and problems.
6. The womanizing friend of the husband is portrayed for exactly what he is: a jerk.
7. Each partner supports the other and seeks their own happiness in the happiness of the other. (Where did this come from?)

The DVD should come with a warning: This film is about a FUNCTIONAL family.

And a real functional family, not like the dysfunction in Little Miss Sunshine that we are supposed to embrace as the NEW Functional Family.

Strangely, watching Marley and Me was a lot of fun. Hope you get to see it.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Dad's Not Working, But Mom Is

Michael Keaton in Mr. Mom gives his kids a bath. Cleaning was not his strong suit.

According to an article in today's Financial Times of London, in the United States, a full 80 percent of the layoffs caused by the economic downturn are men, creating the biggest gap between men and women employment rates since 1948, when the rate by gender was first measured.

The Times reports: "Men have been disproportionately hurt because they dominate those industries that have been crushed: nine in every 10 construction workers are male, as are seven in every 10 manufacturing workers. These two sectors alone have lost almost 2.5m jobs. Women, in contrast, tend to hold more cyclically stable jobs and make up 75 per cent of the most insulated sectors of all: education and healthcare."

The effects of this on the household:

1. Less money than if the woman had been laid off. Says the Times: "The widening gap between male and female joblessness means many US families are solely reliant on the income the woman brings in. Since women earn on average 20 per cent less than men, that is putting extra strain on many households."

2. A dad at home that is likely none too happy about his situation, translating into more stress for kids.

3. A mother with now the duty of being the sole breadwinner, putting her under a lot more stress.

Let's hope this is all temporary, and we can return to a trend that sees more mothers able to stay home with young children.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Trends of the Times

Mothers back to work earlier than they had planned.

My neighbor has two wonderful children, toddler twins, a boy and a girl. When they were born she was able to stay at home and take care of them in their infancy, and she did not plan to go back to work until they were in grade school. But the economic downslide has changed that. Her husband was laid off, and my friend trudged back to work in disappointment, although not resentment. In this she seemed to be part of the trend I had read about in the Wall Street Journal, which reported that women are being forced to cut short their maternity leaves or go back to work before they had planned, leaving their pre-schoolers, because the economic downturn had forced their husbands into unemployment. I was saddened by the trend and also for my friend, who loved being with her children. Now her major time with her sweet youngsters is on the weekends. I hope that when the economy is on the mend again and their husbands hopefully are able to re-enter the employed labor force, these women will be able to come back home. However, it is likely that many will opt to work longer to make up for lost income.

My neighbor also told me that her husband was using unemployment as an opportunity to go back to school, "so that when the economy is better, he can get a better job than the one he had." This plan also is in keeping with a trend across the country among newly unemployed, as I had also read in the Wall Street Journal. I think this is a smart move, and I hope it works out for my friend and her husband.

Another trend of the economic downturn, is that families in our neighborhood with young children are unable to carry out their plans to move to larger homes with more private yard space, because of the slump in the housing market. This is disappointing for them, but not for me, because I love having these young families around. Yesterday I woke up to the voices of little ones playing in the toddler lot--a sound delightful to my ears.