From Children and Family to Work and Careers?



Mother with child on vacation in Pacific Grove, California.


“CHILD-CENTERED”?
The social changes stemming from women entering the workforce in large numbers towards the end of the 20th century and the rise in the cost of living find more American families nowadays juggling the world of family and the needs of family. American women, in particular, find themselves struggling to juggle the demands of career and the those of family. Not surprisingly, contemporary couples have fewer children than in the past. Families don’t need more kids to help on the farm as in the past, and Americans barely replace themselves — a bare 2.1 children per couple.
It is in this context that I read the following in the newspaper today:

Children have become investments who need to be read to, Einsteined and schlepped to tuba lessons and Mandarin classes. They need their own rooms, the latest toys and college funds. And it all has to be done while both parents pursue increasingly challenging careers.

“We changed from a child-oriented society to a work-oriented society – people are on call 24 hours a day.” Professor Steven Mintz said. “And that changes your attitude towards who you may love and care for, but they can’t take up too much of your time because that will conflict with your work obligations.”

Is it true we Americans have replaced as the main priority in our lives “children” and “family” with “work” and “career”? Could such a sweeping generalization really hold water? In what ways might it be true? In what ways might it be false?
If so, when did this become true? Did we vote on it? Did it just happen?
Was society really so “child-oriented” in 1907? Is it really all about work in 2007?
To what final effect?


Mother at work with children other than her own.


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