After four years video taping 32 families and spending $3.6 million dollars UCLA researchers made some startling observations and conclusions. Mothers working matters to the family dynamics and families are suffering for it.
It's a poorly understood seismic shift in both the nation's economy and daily life. For some families in the study, it allows them to own a bigger house, drive better cars and take nicer vacations. For many more families, two paychecks are necessary to put food on the table.
It means parents and children live virtually apart at least five days a week, reuniting for a few hours at night. In this study, at least one parent was likely to be up and gone before the children awoke. When they are together, today's families tend to stay in motion with lessons, classes and games. Or, they go shopping.
Researchers contend this chase appears to erode families from within, like a rusting minivan dropping parts as it clatters down the highway.
In the observation phase the director noted the following
"We've scheduled and outsourced a lot of our relationships," says the study's director, Elinor Ochs, a linguistic anthropologist. "There isn't much room for the flow of life, those little moments when things happen spontaneously
I talked about Outsourcing Parenthood: When a parent knowingly gives the raising of their children over to another. But I guess I didn't get paid $3.6 million to make these observations so it doesn't count for as much. (Or maybe she secretly reads this blog?!?) Probably not. In any event it is a hopeful sign that someone is calling attention to this trend.
For Ochs, the most worrisome trend is how indifferently people treat each other, especially when they reunite at day's end. In her view, the chilly exchanges repeated in so many of the study's households suggests something has gone awry. "Returning home at the end of the day is one of the most delicate and vulnerable moments in life," Ochs said. "Everywhere in the world, in all societies, there is some kind of greeting. "But here, the kids aren't greeting the parents and the parents are allowing it to go on," Ochs said. "They are tiptoeing around their children."
Here is the observation of one father who doesn't seem too worried by the trend.
"The kids are doing well," he says. "They are getting good grades. They're not obese. At the end of the day, this is good for them."
The sad thing is they have gotten so accustomed to this lifestyle that they don't even know what their missing.