Best of everything, except love

By WND Staff

You know, I’m regularly criticized by reporters, columnists and interviewers for my stance on working couples with children. The antagonist (often a feminist or a feminist sympathizer who thinks I’m a woman-hater!) usually tries to undercut my position by pointing to an extreme case of a working mother – such as a widow, or a very low-income couple stuck in minimum-wage jobs.

I always respond, that in my experience, it is precisely these women who manage to put their children first, even with all the very real constraints they have to deal with. They don’t argue with me. They desperately wish their situations were different, because they long to spend more time with their children. And, because of this deep desire they often find a way to do it – by working from home; working alternate shifts with their spouses; sharing job and baby-sitting responsibilities with another mother, etc.

These are not the parents I am talking about, and everyone who interviews me knows that! But it’s more appealing to appear as though one is speaking up for the underdog, rather than defending one’s own selfish choice to see their children for a few hours each day as they pursue careers in journalism, medicine, the law and business.

Sadly, as the discouraging data from surveys of families and children begins to pile up, it offers overwhelming support for my very politically incorrect and painful nagging. Our children are lost, bewildered, rude, poorly educated, immoral, unethical and depressed because they have so little meaningful, sustained contact with adults – primarily their parents!

I remember an earlier study of affluent children that asked them what they most wanted. An overwhelming number said, “More time with my parents.” Now comes a new study of affluent 6th and 7th graders in a community in the Northeast where the median income is $102,000, compared with the national median of $40,816 (1999, U.S. Census).

Conducted by researchers at Columbia University’s highly regarded Teachers College the study found “unusually high” incidences of depressive symptoms among girls, compared with national averages, high occurrence of substance abuse among both boys and girls and a connection between sustained use and distress levels.

After referring to the relationship between kids’ ragged emotional states and the intense level of pressure parents exert on them to succeed and excel, the researchers observed, “Also of apparent significance is isolation from adults, particularly perceived closeness with mothers, and for girls, the presence of adult supervision in the hours immediately after school. As a matter of fact, the 7th grade girls surveyed were about twice as likely to show signs of clinical depression as are their peers in general” (emphasis added).

This phenomenon of “perceived closeness to mothers” also surfaced in another little reported research project, that showed up recently reported in a small story in the New York Times (of all places!). It revealed a significant gap between mothers’ and their daughters’ perceptions of closeness. The mothers believed they were very close to their daughters, while the daughters most decidedly disagreed.

These children are telling us loud and clear what I’ve been saying for years. There is no nanny or daycare center in the world that can be to a child what their mother ought to be – what they expect, need, want and deserve in a relationship with their mothers! Motherhood is such a critically important, exalted, revered and gratifying calling. How did women allow themselves to become so brainwashed and to stay that way even after they have experienced the miracle of birth and the utterly unique, intense pleasure that comes from relationships with one’s children?

My heart goes out to these “poor little rich kids.” They call my radio show quite frequently to discuss a problem they are having with a parent, a step-parent, a missing parent, a parent who has abandoned them in favor of his/her “new” family, a sibling or a step-sibling. I often ask them to put a parent on the phone, and there isn’t one at home, which is probably why this poor child is calling a talk show looking for guidance and direction.

It’s all I can do to maintain my composure on the air (and sometimes, I don’t) while listening to them matter-of-factly state a family situation which is just this side of criminal, in my book. And these are the kids who are trying to do the right thing, if only I can help them figure out what that is!

The Columbia Teachers College study also found “an ubiquitous emphasis on ensuring that children secure admission to stellar colleges [and] … excel not only at academics but also at multiple extra-curricular activities, with these pressures beginning as early as the middle school years.”

No wonder these kids drink and use drugs at alarming rates in 6th and 7th grades – all pressure, all the time, plus no nurturing, no supervision and no emotional support equals children who will fill up those empty spaces with anything they can find, including substances, sex and cynicism. And all the money in the world doesn’t make a dime’s worth of difference.