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Why Are Struggling Young Families Paying for Wealthy Seniors?
I know I usually post about marriage and parenting, but I thought given the economic crisis the world is facing I'd talk economics. Please forgive me, but I've had a thought, and I'd really like your opinions!

Here's the issue: right now, through payroll deductions in both Canada and the U.S., working families are paying for seniors through Social Security (U.S.) and CPP (Canada). As we found out in the debt ceiling debate, Social Security money isn't deposited into millions of little bank accounts; it comes out of general revenues. So your money isn't being saved for you; it's paying today for seniors. And many of those seniors have way more money than you do.

Eventually, with the budget crisis the Western World is facing, people are going to start to notice, and see that young people paying for wealthy older people, as young people receive fewer and fewer government services and older people more and more, cannot fly. So they'll HAVE to means test Social Security and CPP, meaning that the wealthy won't get as much. I don't think they'll have a choice.

I don't like that idea, because as soon as you means test, you give a disincentive for being responsible. If people know, "If I save for my retirement, like I'm supposed to, then I'll lose the government 'free money' ", then they'll stop saving.

We can't reward irresponsibility and punish responsibility.

But is there another way? I think there is.

Here's what it would look like. Instead of taking a portion of all paycheques and putting them into a vast account called "Social Security" and "CPP", the government could deduct 5% or 10% or whatever from your paycheque and then deposit it into your personal retirement account that you now control. It isn't going into general revenues; it's your money. You can't lose it. You're not funding other poeple; you're only funding yourself. But the government is forcing you to do it. If the government doesn't deduct the money, most people won't save. This way, the same amount of money is flowing out of your paycheque, but it's going to you, not to anyone else.

If your investments tank, or if you never made very much money, then government help would still be available to the elderly poor. No one would starve or freeze. But in general, people would be responsible for themselves now.

Of course, the transition would be hard, because I don't know how they'd wind down Social Security and then implement this. Probably for a few decades it would have to a mix of both.

But why isn't this being talked about? Doesn't this seem like a logical solution? Or am I missing something? I'm just genuinely curious what other people think, so I decided to throw it out there.

But one thing's for certain: expecting struggling young families to pay more and more of their paycheque to the wealthy, who currently have more resources, can't keep going on for very long. Something's gotta change. This seems like a good place to start. What do you think?

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Poverty of Relationship
'Loneliness' photo (c) 2009, Bert Kaufmann - license:
Every Friday my syndicated column appears in a bunch of newspapers in southeastern Ontario. Here's this week's!

We live in the one of the best countries in the world. We have unspoiled nature, but we also have beautiful, clean cities. We have freedom. We have relative prosperity. We have health.

And so it’s jarring when we see homeless people. How can we have such poverty in such a wonderful country? Across Canada we have opened homeless shelters and food banks. We have public housing. We have breakfast and lunch programs for poor children. We provide welfare, job retraining, legal aid, and more.

Yet despite decades of these programs, poverty is still with us. And so we continue to throw money at the problem. In fact, we throw so much money at it that we could likely bring each and every poor person out of poverty just by giving them the cash we spend on programs—though I wouldn’t advocate that. Despite poverty programs, poverty isn’t disappearing.

I recently heard a talk by Tim Huff, an author and homeless advocate, who posited that the reason we’re not curing poverty is that we don’t understand it. We think we’re talking about poverty of resources—people don’t have enough money, or food, or stuff, and so we try to help them get more money or food or stuff.

But what if that’s not really the problem? He went on to explain that in his work with the homeless, he has discovered that they suffer far less from poverty of resources than they do from poverty of relationship. When people have real community, they will weather storms like job loss or family breakdown. On the other hand, if someone has no community, then what should be a relatively minor setback can cause them to lose their home.

I was stunned as I listened to him, because it made so much sense and yet I had never thought of it that way. And my mind wandered to two women I know only peripherally. Both became pregnant at age 20. There, though, the similarity ends. One has supportive parents, who have set up the nursery, and are caring for the baby so that she can go to school for the next few years to become a nurse. The other has alcoholic parents. She is now living in a subsidized apartment, caring for her baby alone.

I thought of my own mother, who was penniless when my father left. We lived with grandparents for a time and then with my aunt and uncle for a few years while my mother got on her feet. We had a church community that helped with baby-sitting and the occasional gift when she needed it. And my mother managed to thrive, without ever going on welfare. Today, she spends her retirement days trying to be that community to other women who need help.

The problem with attacking poverty as a money issue, Tim said, is that you’re dealing with the symptom, and not the root of the problem. The real issue is that we have a breakdown of family and of community. Those with a close family and a close community are not harmed by occasional financial setbacks. Those with chaotic families are, because everybody is too busy dealing with their own issues to help you with yours.

We can keep throwing money at the problem, but it’s not going to fix it, because it’s not a poverty of resources. It’s a poverty of relationship. And government can’t replace the family. Until we can rebuild families, and rebuild communities, there will always be people who fall through the cracks. We need strong families to raise strong people, and today those are in short supply. So if you want to help with poverty, build your marriage. Raise great kids. Encourage community at your school or your church. Let’s build relationships, which really are the best weapon to fight poverty.

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Wifey Wednesday: Becoming One Flesh

It's Wednesday, the day when we talk marriage! I introduce a topic, and then you follow up either by commenting or by writing your own post and then linking up!

When we marry, inevitably this beautiful verse is read at the wedding:
And the man shall leave his father and mother, and cleave to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.
We all smile and gush, because now we are one flesh. Absolutely.

But here's the problem: just because something is a spiritual fact doesn't mean that we actually feel it. Before we are married, we only have ourselves to worry about. We don't have to consider another's feelings; we're all bent on making decisions that will make ME happy. I am the focus of my life.

At marriage, that feeling naturally continues. When we're first married, we start to wonder, "is he making me happy?", or "is he treating me well?", or "is he acting like a good husband should?". We're new at this, so it's only natural that we should question whether he's doing what he's supposed to. After all, we have images of what being the proper wife is, and we're doing our best to live up to our end of the bargain, but is he holding up his end?

We're focused on what he is doing, not what we are doing, because we're used to giving ourselves a pass. We can always find reasons why it was okay for us not to be giving in that particular situation. We can always justify ourselves. But we rarely are so generous when it comes to accepting or excusing our husband's transgressions.

The other issue, I think, is a gender one. Deep inside we want him to make the first move. So if we feel like he's not treating us appropriately, we may withdraw and wait for him to make it up. And we think that's okay because he's supposed to treat us better than that.

What we don't see is what he is feeling. Chances are he's just as disillusioned as we are, because he had expectations going into the marriage, too, that aren't being met. And while this situation is quite typical for many newly married couples, whether or not it keeps going on is up to us. Unfortunately, for many couples, this becomes the normal state. For decades this is how they relate to each other: judgment, justification, resentment, withholding. It's all about my feelings and my rights.

And so we face a choice. Our husbands will always disappoint us because they are not US. They don't have the same opinions or values or expectations, so they can never live up to ours. So are we going to continue this cycle, or are we going to truly become one?
Here is the key to turning on this "oneness" part of marriage: understand that his feelings are now your feelings. His cares are now your cares. His concerns are now your concerns. Spiritually, that is a fact. And when we recognize the spiritual fact, we can start to act on it. And when we act on it, we may eventually start to feel it.
He doesn't need to justify his feelings; they are his feelings. And now that you are married, they should matter to you just as much as yours do. It matters when he's upset. Don't try to get him to justify it or talk him out it; be concerned about it. Because when he's upset, part of you is upset. It matters if he feels lonely or frustrated (or even sexually starved!), because that means you are lonely and frustrated, too. You are in this together.

If you can start putting as much weight on his feelings as you do yours, you'll likely find that your marriage will improve exponentially, because you're reaching out.

When you start valuing his feelings and his opinion on things, he's likely to reach out to you more. And as he reaches out to you, you are going to start feeling like one. It doesn't happen overnight. And I'm not saying you should accept sin, or not confront him on things that are important. I'm only saying that his viewpoint counts, and you need to give it the weight it deserves. Then, and only then, will you begin to feel like you're one.

The ball, I think, is in your court. If you want to feel like one, don't wait for him to change. Take his feelings seriously. And you may just gain a whole new outlook on marriage!

Now, what advice do you have for us today? Have you ever had to confront your fantasies and throw them aside? How did you do it? Or do you have something else to tell us? Write your own Wifey Wednesday post that links back to here, and then leave the link of THAT POST in the Mcklinky below. Thanks!

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The Curse of Low Expectations for Teens
anna on the metrophoto © 2008 Evan Bench | more info (via: Wylio)

While I'm taking the summer a little more slowly, I've decided to rerun columns I wrote back a few years ago, before I was blogging. Here's one I was reminded of after all the kerfuffle about the prom. Hope you enjoy it!

When I was a teenager I had a curfew of 11:00. I don’t know why I complied, and I’m not quite sure what my mother would have done if I hadn’t (I don’t think she’s sure, either). Yet while I may have grumbled about it, I was always home by 11.

I think it all boiled down to this: I didn’t want to disappoint Mom. She had high expectations of me, though not the kind that drive you to despair. She knew what I was capable of becoming, and she wanted me to do my best. And, with a few exceptions, I tried.

All parents have expectations of their kids, but increasingly they are expectations of an entirely different sort. They go something like this: “Well, all kids will drink/use drugs/have sex. What are you going to do?” But there’s no reason to be so pessimistic. Here are the facts: most teens are still virgins. Most teens do not go to keg parties. Most teens do not use drugs. In fact, the rate of these behaviours is actually going down. Such behaviour is not inevitable, despite what the media make it seem.

And I find even many Christian parents giving in to this defeatism! One parent from our church recently questioned my 16-year-old daughter about her future plans. She told her about her plans to go to university in Ottawa, and eventually get an apartment with friends. "With your boyfriend?" the mom laughed. "Of course not!" Rebecca replied. Why would she even think Rebecca would live with someone? My daughter was flabbergasted, but that was how this woman assumed all teens would be.

I sometimes wonder if our defeatism encourages that behaviour. Perhaps the reason that many kids do engage in potentially dangerous behaviours is that we tell them that’s what we expect. We may yell at them when they do something stupid, but we don’t take steps to prevent it. All they’ve seen is our “what can you do?” attitude.

And many parents aren’t only sighing about their apparent hopelessness at controlling their kids; they’re actually encouraging their kids’ dangerous behaviours. They invite other teens over to their house and serve alcohol so that “at least I know where my kid is.” (Never mind what the other parents whose underage kids you are getting drunk think).

Then there are the parents who bring their young daughters to the doctor to get birth control. Their concern is not always that their daughter has begun to sleep around; often she hasn’t. But you never know what she’ll do, so let’s make sure she won’t get pregnant. Once you’ve taken that trip to the doctor, though, how can you turn around and tell your daughter “don’t have sex”, or at least “do so discriminantly”? You’ve already shown her that you expect her to sleep around. Once she’s in a relationship and confused about what she should do, she’ll remember that you expect her to say yes.

Having rules gives kids a safety net so that they have a way out. If they’re at a party that’s getting out of hand, they can always make the excuse “well, I have to leave or my mother’s going to ground me for life”. If, on the other hand, the kids are all at your house and you’ve opened up the liquor cabinet, it’s much harder for your teen to leave.

Maybe we need to try a different approach. I remember a comment my mother made in passing when I was 14. She had worked at a pregnancy home for young teens for a time, and she said the biggest heartbreak in her life would be if I ended up in that situation. She told me there was no reason why I should. That comment stayed with me. I was sure that if I did anything like that I would break her heart. And I didn’t want to do that.

It wasn’t only that my mother expected things of me. That was only one half of the equation. My mother also loved me. We can’t expect kids just to do what we want out of the goodness of their hearts, without ever deserving it. But if we’re steadfast in our love for them, and coherent in our expectations of them, they’ll understand.

We can’t eliminate the risk that they might choose poorly. Kids still have their own minds. Had I become pregnant, it would not have been my mother’s fault; it would have been mine. But just because we can’t completely prevent destructive behaviour doesn’t mean we should give up.

Most kids don’t want to disappoint their parents. But they can’t disappoint you if you’ve never expected anything in the first place. All of our kids have the potential for amazing futures ahead of them. Let’s make sure they believe that, too.

Linking up to Courtney's Women Living Well Link-Up Party!

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How Do Little Boys Play?
Little Boyphoto © 2010 insane gal | more info (via: Wylio)

I'm taking the summer more slowly, so I've asked a few friends to guest post. And I thought that it might be a good time to talk about boys, because I'm only raising girls. And I know most of you, dear readers, also have sons.

I saw a post recently by Shelly Roberts, and I asked if I could just reprint it here and then ask you all what you think. Shelly writes:

As a momma of three sons, I care a lot about little boys. Not just "little" boys though; I care even more about who they become as they near adulthood. What I've concluded over the years is that it matters what happens in the early years.

Recently we had a little boy over for the day. And it really got me thinking: "What are little boys {being} made of today?".
It started out simple. I peered outside to be sure all was well and saw the little boy playing with my little girl. Seeing their arms swinging through the air made me do a "double-take". They obviously weren't "fighting", but rather "playing". So I inquired: "What are you doing?". 

"Playing Star Wars", was the answer. 

HUH?, I thought. So the mean 'old fashioned/uncool' mom in me said:  "Don't play Star Wars". 
The little guy says: "How about Indiana Jones???". HUH? How does one play Indiana Jones, anyway? My kids haven't even seen the movie. "Nope", was my answer. 

"How about Batman!?". My heart kinda broke inside. It was obvious that is all the little boy even thought of to play. Finally I said: "How about play catch or tag?"

My mind drifted back to my years of raising little boys. How is it that we've drifted so far from "real life" play? Why is it that we have a growing culture of young men that often don't know how to relate to society and engage in meaningful relationships and be prepared to hold down jobs and care for their families? Is this coincidence? I'm not 100% sure. REAL LIFE calls for men who are prepared to WORK HARD to provide for their families ... not just be immersed in video games, movies and an imaginary world.

What happened to little boys digging in the dirt and making pretend forts and playing for hours with a pile of matchbox cars or a fun train set?

I'm not saying that everything about the above examples are bad, but I am saying that what I see all too often is really alarming. Our world is in need of little boys to grow up to know how to work hard and help to care for those around them. We need strong leaders who are grounded in truth with a heart of compassion for the hurting. We need men who will stand for justice and who take responsibility for their actions. We need men who are not afraid to sweat while still having a servant heart to tend to a crying baby when needed.

Moms of little boys ... I would love to hear from you. What are some ways you are cultivating these things in your little men? What are YOUR little boys {being} made of?

{photo compliments of a couple little boys that live down the road}

One day it'll all be over and you'll be sending them out in the big world. Will they be ready to embrace real life and not just a fantasy?

What do you think? Have you encountered the things Shelly has? What do your boys play? And how does play impact them? Let me know!

Shelly Roberts is a Christian speaker who blogs at Encouraging Family. You can also find her on Facebook!
Wifey Wednesday: What Your Husband Wishes You Knew

It's Wednesday, the day when we talk marriage! I introduce a topic, and then you follow up either by commenting or by writing your own post and then linking up! I'm taking the summer a little easier these days, so I've asked Rob Thorpe of Huzband to guest post today, to let us in on men's minds.

A Thinking Manphoto © 2011 Wesley Nitsckie | more info (via: Wylio)

I Corinthians 7:33-34 says, “one who is married is concerned about the things of the world, how he may please his wife, and his interests are divided. The woman who is unmarried, and the virgin, is concerned about the things of the Lord, that she may be holy both in body and spirit; but one who is married is concerned about the things of the world, how she may please her husband.

Pleasing one’s spouse assumes you know what it takes to please them – you know their needs and are deliberate about trying to meet them. Husbands and wives both have needs, and they get way off base assuming their spouse has the same ones they do. Sadly, most wives today think their man only has one need….want to hazard a guess? Yes, he does have that need, and it is a God-given physical and emotional need. But today, let’s talk about another need he is much more reluctant to discuss.

Deep down inside your husband has the same basic needs that you do – spiritual, emotional and relational. His physical needs may get top billing, but God created him with deep needs in other areas. Truth is – he doesn’t usually know how to articulate them, or is embarrassed to do so.

You already know that women tend to be more emotionally open than men....and women are more comfortable with their emotions. But your husband has real emotional needs too. Women tend to see feelings and behavior as the same. They act on their feelings. If a woman is angry, she behaves in that way. If she is elated, it's expressed in her behavior. Usually a woman's behavior is an open window to her emotions. But most men are not that way. They tend to hide their emotions. Men tend to embrace the philosophy that says that real men control of their emotions. This was usually reinforced early in his life by his father, grandfather, teachers and coaches.

Truth is - men are very emotional...we can be deeply moved by movies, music and beauty! Like you, we also have a deep need both to love and feel loved. And the love that is most precious to us, other than God's love, is our wife’s love.

In Shaunti Feldhan’s great book, For Women Only, she reports the results of a large survey of husbands that were asked the question – “What is the primary thing you wish your wife knew?” The overwhelming response was – “How much I love her”.

Over several years of counseling and mentoring husbands, I have heard firsthand accounts of husbands saying things like - “I want her to know that I love her with all his heart and soul." Others have said repeatedly, I love it when she is happy and hate it when she is sad or hurting." We may not admit it to our friends, or even speak it to you – but, the love of our wife is critical to our survival!

In his book, Man's Search for Meaning, Victor Frankl shared the account of his time in a concentration camp during World War II. He says that one particularly chilling night he and the other exhausted prisoners were forced to walk through snow to work the frozen ground with pickaxes until morning. Though few words were spoken, one of the emaciated men whispered, "If our wives could see us now! I do hope they are better off in their camps and don't know what's happening to us." Silence followed the man's remark, but Frankl writes, "...
each of us was thinking of his wife.....I looked at the sky where the stars were fading and the pink light of the morning was beginning to spread behind a dark bank of clouds. But my mind clung to my wife's image, imagining it with an uncanny acuteness. I heard her answering me, saw her smile, her frank and encouraging look. Real or not, her look was then more luminous than the sun which was beginning to rise. I understood how a man who has nothing left in this world still may know bliss, be it only for a brief moment, in the contemplation of his beloved."

Next to an abiding faith in God, Frankl says the love of their wives gave men strength to rise from their crowded cots and face another pain-filled day. You see, contrary to popular opinion, men do have emotional needs....they need to feel loved by their wives if they are to go out and "slay the dragon" each Monday morning. We husbands may not face Nazi prison camps...but as Thoreau put it men live "...lives of quiet desperation" as we face the hopelessness and exhaustion and a hard-edged world week in and week out.

So wives, please look behind the facade. We desperately need a wife who loves us so well that the memory of your smiling face and the echo of her encouraging words will keep us going in the face of our daily adversity. We need you more than you know.

Now, what advice do you have for us today? Write your own Wifey Wednesday post that links back to here, and then leave the link of THAT POST in the Mcklinky below. Thanks!

Rob Thorpe
Author – "husband": A User's Guide, and Renewed - A 30 Day Devotional Challenge for Husbands. Moderator of the largest blog devoted to husbands –

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Why I Hate Dick and Jane
A woman reading to © 2008 San Jose Library | more info (via: Wylio)

Throughout the summer I'm going to be rerunning some older columns of mine that I wrote before I started this blog. I'm too busy vacationing and doing nothing to come up with new posts! But I thought you'd really enjoy this one, from back in the fall of 2003.

Recently, my husband and I met with some friends whose third grade son was dreading school. Reading for him was tortuous, and so school had become a jail sentence. The teacher’s solution to this seemed to be to “share the pain”. He was now to read aloud to a parent for 20 minutes each night.

I don’t know about you, but if I were an 8-year-old boy who already felt that I couldn’t read, being asked to read out loud at home would be a nightmare, even if it were necessary. And can you imagine sitting through that as a parent? Why not simply bang your head against a wall!

Perhaps the reason we’re producing such poor readers is because we take all the joy out of reading. Two years ago, my daughter was in senior kindergarten with a wonderful teacher. The school had an admirable goal of encouraging kids to read with their parents, and so launched a “book-in-a-bag” program, sending home a new book every night. But listen to the type of book they chose: “Look! The sun. Look! A bunny. Look! A turtle. Look! A cloud. Look! It’s Mommy!”. So kids who are struggling to read learn that reading is not only hard, but that it’s also mind numbingly boring.

Of course, today’s schools aren’t the only ones to blame for this inane level of story telling. The Boomers grew up with the infamous Dick and Jane: “See Dick. See Jane. See Dick run. Run, Dick, run.” If I had to sit through that, I’d soon be having murderous dreams: “See Dick die. Die, Dick, DIE!”

I won’t go into a discussion about why these books are structured as they are, because that’s a subject for a whole other post. Let me just say here that many kids have little incentive to read: it’s hard and it’s no fun. Let’s see how we can take the school’s two ideas—to read with your kids and to help them practise reading, too—and make these actually enjoyable for everyone. Instead of banging our heads against the wall or keeping our eyes open with toothpicks, let’s huddle on the couch together with a good book. If you want to raise a reader, that’s the recipe. It’s quite simple: Read great books to your kids. Even when they’re older.

Too often we stop reading to them because we figure they should read to themselves now, but then we miss a wonderful opportunity to connect as a family. Do you remember your favourite books when you were young? I cried when Matthew died in Anne of Green Gables, laughed with Jo in Little Women, and rejoiced with Laura in Little House in the Big Woods. As I experience these adventures again with my own daughters, it’s almost like meeting long-lost friends.

We suggested our friends go to the library and check out classic books to read to their son—like C.S. Lewis’ Narnia series—and maybe some easier ones he can read himself. But some boys will always prefer the real and the gory over make believe, so non-fiction books on killer sharks, volcanoes or mummies may pique their interest better. Then we suggested our favourite trick: make his bedtime a firm 8:00 (it varies now between 8 and 8:30), but let him stay up until 8:45 if he’s reading. What kid will say no to that? As children read more, reading becomes a natural part of life and stops being so intimidating.

Some kids develop a mental block to reading because it’s so stressful at school. Sharing good books together at home and letting them read leisurely themselves takes the tension out of the activity, and lets them enjoy something for which there is no substitute. Then, when you do work on reading at home, it’s in the wider context of enjoying books together.

When your children fall into a book, they experience a world they may never be able to otherwise. Maybe if we introduce them to this magical world, they’d be more eager to read, and less likely to think of reading—and the schooling that goes with it—as an unpleasant chore.

The summer is an awesome time to read to your kids! One year, in our camping trailer, we read three books from the Little House series. When I was 14, I remember reading them on a sailboat to my younger cousins. Our first readaloud chapter book was Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, when the kids were 4. They could handle a chapter a day, and it only grew from there. Today they never stop reading (though Katie hated to read on her own until she was about 11).

What are you reading to your kids?Tell me in the comments, and let's compare notes!

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Clothing Allowance for Kids
sep07 086photo © 2007 mike wright | more info (via: Wylio)

I'm taking some time this summer just to rejuvenate, so I'm running this guest post by Patty DeLoach from Patty's Pen.

When our kids were small dressing them was a breeze. They didn’t have opinions on clothing. They were too busy walking the creek or playing street hockey with the neighborhood pickup team. But when they reached about 6th grade all that changed. Allie became very conscious of labels. She needed certain name brand things, or so she said. I had a real hard time with this as, to me, it indicated an unhealthy desire to project an image.

Then there was the day she broke down in tears and told me that she had to have a designer backpack or the other kids at school would make fun of her. *Lightbulb Moment* My sweet little girl wasn’t trying to make a fashion statement, she was just trying to survive the rigors of Middle School. So, did I run out and buy her that outrageously overpriced nylon backpack with the ridiculous sewed on icon? Nope, I didn’t.

Did I want her to fit in with the other kids? Sort of, kind of. I talked to her about friends being the folks who liked you for who you are not what you have. I reminded her that the reason she wasn’t in private school or being home schooled was that the world is a place of all kinds of people and Hutch and I wanted to help her learn to deal them while she was under our roof and authority. She nodded, but I knew she didn’t get it.

So Hutch and I came up with a compromise that worked for us all. We started giving her a small clothing allowance monthly, $25. With this allowance she was to save up to buy her clothing and accessories [read book bag here].

All of the sudden she was the mistress of her own clothing decisions. At first she squandered her small pittance on lots of little things. Hello Kitty’s stock must have risen several points just on her expenditures alone. Then after a month or two she buckled down and got serious about saving. Did she ever get that pricey backpack? Yes, she finally did. And maybe it wasn’t such a bad purchase after all. She carried the thing for many years until it literally burst at the seams. I estimate the final cost analysis was in the range of $8 dollars a year. Not too shabby.

By giving our kids that clothing allowance we taught them many different life lessons. They learned to identify what they really wanted based on a thorough examination of needs, value, & durability. They learned how to save for those things, taking responsiblity for their own decisions. But most of all they finally learned that designer labels don’t count for much.

In the end our kids both turned into responsible adults who buy for value. Most of the time they purchase second-hand.

Just a couple of weeks ago our son Jon, who teaches high school, visited us and made a trip to his favorite thrift store for three almost new dress shirts. Allie called me from Colorado last night where she lives with her sweet hubby. She related how they bought the baby crib they wanted for a 75% discount just by watching the sales, using a coupon, & having it shipped from a Ga. store to a Denver store. A $400 crib for $99 is a pretty great savings.

Anyhoo- It just goes to show that you can teach your kids life is all about being rich in the intangibles [love, respect, passion] and not about spending a whole lot of money.

Hope Summer is great for you and yours! Love Never Fails.

Want to learn more about how to implement clothing allowances? Read this post.

Patty DeLoach writes for newspapers, magazines, and film production companies. Currently she's blogging about her passions for faith, family, food, frugality, and fun at Patty's Pen. She has been married 35 years, has two grown children, and works everyday to live by the Biblical axiom - 'Love Never Fails'.

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Avoiding Tragedy
Every Friday my syndicated column appears in a bunch of newspapers in southeastern Ontario. Last week I was on vacation and forgot to post it! So here's my column from July 8!

Shortly after Osama bin Laden was sent to meet his maker, Rush Limbaugh lambasted the guy’s housekeeping. On his show, Limbaugh noted that with three wives, you'd think Osama's house would have been a little neater, rather than strewn with rotten food, soiled linen, and dirty dishes.

I think Rush got it wrong. Maybe one woman could have kept it clean, but add three to the mix, and a mess is the only logical outcome. It’s called the Tragedy of the Commons, and it’s human nature.

Let’s take a look at bin Laden’s pathetic brood to figure out why this is so. I hope it goes without saying that polygamy is absolutely, completely, and undeniably disgusting. I can't think of a worse type of relationship. It tells women that you're not really special. You're here to perform a role, which is basically a sexual one. You're not here to be a confidante or a friend, because I can't treat you any differently from any of the other wives. So I'm just going to use you.

In that environment, if you were one of Osama's three wives, would you clean anything? I sure wouldn’t, because nothing would be mine. Everything would be his, and if I made it better, then I'd be making life easier for two of my rivals and all of their children, too. A race to the bottom, then, is the only logical outcome: it’s a race to see who can get away with doing the least, so that nobody else benefits from our labour. So they all lived in squalor.

But this problem with human nature is not restricted to psychopathic Islamic extremist polygamists. Socialism has much in common with Osama’s lack of housekeeping. When everything is owned in common, then people don't care for it properly, because others can abuse it or can skate along with no effort on their own part. That's one reason, for instance, that agricultural output in the former Soviet Union kept decreasing every year, despite all the new agricultural policies. When people don't own the crops they produce, and when others can benefit from someone else’s work, then people will not work as hard.

Ownership matters. If we're going to have pride in something, we have to have a stake in it which cannot be taken away. We have to be able to benefit from the fruits of our labour, but, just as importantly, we have to be able to benefit only from the fruits of our labour. If we can get something for free, why work for it?

That’s why economic freedom is so closely related to happiness and well-being. The countries with the highest amount of economic freedom also have the happiest citizens, the safest citizens, and the wealthiest citizens. They are, on average, ten times wealthier than those from countries with the lowest economic freedom. Even the poor in Canada, for instance, are eight times wealthier than the poor in countries which are not economically free.

We just celebrated Canada Day, and every July 1 I feel humbled to live in this country. I don’t think we fully realize how wonderful it is to be as free as we are. But this will only remain a great country if we, its people, keep demanding that government do only what is necessary, and that we, its citizens, be permitted to pursue our own interests. That builds a country where we’re not trying to take from each other. We’re not trying to do the minimum. We’re working hard, because we get to enjoy what we work for. I’m proud to be a Canadian. Economic freedom, no polygamy, and thus much less tragedy. Sounds pretty good to me.

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Capture the Memories
Every Friday my syndicated column appears in a bunch of newspapers in southeastern Ontario. Here's this week's!

Photo Wallphoto © 2008 Travis Isaacs | more info (via: Wylio)

Certain moments occur in every parent’s life that we vow that we will remember: the way she sounded when she said "mama", the way he looks when he sleeps, or the way she skips around the house. Yet too often our memories betray us, and years later we can't conjure up those images or those voices, no matter how hard we try.

Today we have tons of aids to remember our kids’ triumphs and foibles, but we don’t always have the time to use them. Many of my friends are into scrapbooking, and I’m always amazed at the wonderful collages they can make of something as simple as photos of kids playing in the leaves or going to the beach. But all that work is way too much pressure for me. My best friend started scrapbooking six months ago, and she already feels as if she’s five years behind! Yet nevertheless, when I see her creations, I feel like a horrible parent for not wanting to join the fun, but I don’t want to start a hobby that will just induce guilt.

So what can we do to stop that memory sieve? After all, one day I’m going to want all those memories to embarrass my children with. I’m already planning the video montage and slide show at my kids’ eventual weddings. My own mother started the tradition. At a speech on my big day, she read aloud the little booklet from my grade one composition class: “I live with my Mommy. Her name is Beth. She sleeps a lot. A real lot.” I used to wake up at 6, and having to wait until 7 to go into her bedroom just about killed me. It defined our relationship at the time.

When my girls were younger, I kept a notebook by my bed where I could write down anything particularly funny my own girls say. One of my entries from ten years ago was when Katie asked, “Mommy, if God has the whole world in His hands, does that mean Australia is getting squished?” I don’t want to forget that. And I won’t even go into what she said when I told her about the birds and the bees. I wouldn’t want to spoil the surprise if any of you are ever invited to her wedding.

But that embarrassing slide show won’t be complete without pictures and videos. Too often, though, we only get the camera out for special occasions. I’m trying to start taking pictures of everyday things, like how they look curled up in bed reading, or playing the piano, or practising the guitar, or even blow drying their hair.

I always managed to remember to take photos when the kids were little of my oldest child. My younger one, though, was more like an afterthought. When Katie was five I realized I had no pictures of her that did not also include her older sister. My uncle, who grew up in a huge Irish family, once said that if the third child has more than 10 photos taken of him or her by the time he or she is 16, half of them are on file at the police station.

There are so many pictures I wish I had taken with they were younger, but it’s too late to get those years back. But I can still find plenty of embarrassing ones if I start snapping, even today. So this summer I’m being camera happy. And now that my kids are teens, and are well-acquainted with technology, I’m getting them to organize all the photos and videos so that I can find them if I ever need them. I may even let the girls prepare each others’ eventual embarrassing slide shows. But I’m still not taking up scrapbooking.

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Wifey Wednesday: Talk About the Real Issue

It's Wednesday, the day when we talk marriage! I introduce a topic, and then you follow up either by commenting or by writing your own post and then linking up!

Costa Ricaphoto © 2011 Renee Barron | more info (via: Wylio)

Recently I received an email from a woman who was desperate. She's pregnant, and her husband wants, for various reasons, to rent a house for the next few months until they can get their dream house in a year. She wants to be settled now, because she's tired of moving and the baby's coming. How do they resolve this fight?

Here's what I told her:

Let me try to sum it up. Your husband is looking long-term: we want to build a house, so let's just sacrifice for the next few months and get what we really want. What's a few months?

You're looking short term: I have a baby coming, I'm tired, and I need to be settled.

Both are very valid perspectives. One of the things that often happens in marriages, though, is that you debate the issue rather than the feelings that are making it an issue. In this case, they're debating real estate rather than their feelings about the future of the family. They're arguing about what would be the better housing choice, rather than just talking about their feelings for holding the opinions they do. What I would suggest is that they start talking about feelings and dreams instead.

When you're in the middle of an intractable problem with your husband, make sure you're talking about how you feel about the issue, rather than the issue itself. In this case, you could say to him, "I understand that you want what is best for our family in the long run, and I want that to. But I don't know how I can do this for another couple of months. I am just so tired."

Now the issue is that you are tired, and need help, and not real estate. If he could find a solution that involved his dream house, but did not exhaust his wife, then that may be a solution that they both could live with.

She could say: I could rent for a few months and build our dream home, but during that time life is going to be so chaotic for me with the new baby, and our current one, and the move, that I couldn't continue to do what I've been doing so far. I couldn't make dinner every night, for instance. I couldn't do the laundry. So if we could agree that you do the laundry, and that twice a week we ordered out, or we bought frozen meals, that would be better. And if we agreed that we wouldn't unpack everything, but just what we needed, and that you were in charge of the contractors during the building, and not me.
When you're looking at a big problem like this, break it down into what you are willing to do and what you just can't do. Talk about what you would need from him, and how much more it would cost (in housekeeping, grocery bills, etc.) Talk about who would be in charge of the contractors. If he can agree to that, perhaps she could go along with it?

In this case, the issue is that the woman is tired, and she wants a  place where she can feel settled because the baby is coming. She feels a lot of expectations on you to "create a home" and "keep the family going", and finds it almost impossible to think of doing that with two more moves coming up. So if she talks about her exhaustion and what she feels is expected of her, and see if she can work out more of a partnership, or get people to help you temporarily, then perhaps his plan is actually possible after all.

Whatever the issue is, identify your feelings, don't fight his logic. That way you're giving him a chance to solve your problem, rather than telling him why he's wrong, and getting into loggerheads because you both have different opinions.

You don't want to get into a fight about something like real estate when that's not the real issue. Then you both just dig in your heels and nothing gets done. Instead, try to get on the same page: we want what's best for our family, but we're tired and we're running out of time. What's the best way to manage our time, energy and money in the next year so that our family will be stronger and better off in the end? Talk about it that way, and figure out what you both need, and then you're on the same page again.

If you can find a new way to talk through this, then you put your marriage on much firmer ground for the future.

Many marriages get stuck in these conflicts because spouses are in a "win-lose" scenario when it comes to fighting. You both want opposite things, so obviously only one can "win". You need to find the "win-win", and to do that you need to identify what the real issue is (feelings) and see if you can figure out creative ways to deal with that so that you both are happy. I think if he could  understand how tired his wife is, and understand that building a house needs to also involve a budget for housekeeping and some frozen meals so she's not overwhelmed, then perhaps they could be on the same page.

So next time you face a decision where you both hold opposite opinions, try to find the real issue: the feelings. And then see if you can come up with a win-win!

Now, what advice do you have for us today? Have you ever had to come to a decision where both you and your husband held opposite opinions? Or do you have something else to tell us? Write your own Wifey Wednesday post that links back to here, and then leave the link of THAT POST in the Mcklinky below. Thanks!

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The Summer Car Trip Horror Show
Family waitingphoto © 2009 Quim Gil | more info (via: Wylio)

I'm really busy this summer doing things like vacationing (where I'm busy lying around in a hammock doing absolutely nothing). So I thought I'd go through the archives and publish some of my older articles and columns periodically that never showed up on this blog, because I wrote them before the blog started. Here's one from way back in 2002, when my girls were still very small. It was the very first column I published!

It’s that time of year again: camping, cottages, water skiing, boating and beaches all beckon us. Unfortunately, they all involve a particularly gruesome form of self-torture: car trips with children.

For those of us travelling this summer to fun-filled destinations where we can relax, getting there can be an exercise in frustration. Tiny ones repeatedly bleat “are we there yet?”, while older ones yell, over and over, “she’s on my side of the seat!”. How can we survive this nightmare?

Every summer, our family takes an eight-hour trip down to Pennsylvania, and a four hour one up to Muskoka. They’re not always pleasant, but we’ve found some ways to pass the time, many gleaned from other parents who have trod this path before us.

First, you must have a zero tolerance for fighting. My award for Shrewdest Mother of the Year goes to a mom with two girls who told them they were going to visit Grandma, some six hours away. She packed their bags, loaded the van, kissed Daddy good-bye and took off, with a stern warning that when the first fight broke out she would turn the van around and head home.

They made it about half an hour before she kept her promise, landing them once again in their driveway. The two girls were too stunned even to cry. When they realized this was for real, they sobbed and begged, but their mother would not relent.

A week later, after many promises, they set out again. This time, they made it the whole way. What the girls didn’t know was that mother’s vacation time was actually booked for that second week. She knew they wouldn’t make it to Grandma’s on the first attempt. That was only a trial run to make the point.

Like that mother, I can’t stand fighting or whining in the car. It infuriates me, and if I have to listen to that for eight hours, I’m not going. The girls know that, because at the first sign of whining we stop the car.

We’ve also played every game in the book to keep them occupied: look for all the provincial and state license plates, count the cows, and find things beginning with all the letters of the alphabet. These really do entertain younger children, though unfortunately they’re not the most entertaining for us adults. Coming up with a word for X, though, took a lot of brainpower last year. I’m better prepared this year. I’ll be on the lookout for a xenolith--a type of rock fragment—as we traverse through the Canadian Shield to Muskoka.

Last year, in a spurt of energy between packing the camper and doing laundry, I laminated some “picture” bingo cards, with horses, cows, railway crossings, signs, and other landmarks. These were big hits, and best of all, the kids did them themselves, so Keith and I had time to talk to each other.

But the smartest thing we ever did was to borrow books on CD from the library. You can borrow whole books on CD, like Charlotte’s Web, or C.S. Lewis’ Narnia chronicles. Many of them are entertaining for adults, too, and best of all, a lot of them last hours! Hours of not hearing “are we there yet?”, but only “it’s not over yet, is it?”. And to whoever lives in Trenton and is currently listening to Quinte West’s copy of Junie B. Jones and the Stupid Smelly Bus, I need it by the 19th!

I’ll leave you with my favourite summer car ride story. During a cross-country trip, one eight-year-old girl started to feel very carsick. She rolled the window down, but it didn’t seem to help. Her eleven-year-old brother watched her with growing concern as she turned different shades of green. Then, when it was obvious something REALLY BAD was about to happen, he showed tremendous forethought. Sticking out his hands, he caught his sister’s vomit and threw it out the window, so that they wouldn’t have to sit in a stinky car for the next few days.

So as you’re driving to the cottage, and the air conditioning isn’t working, and the kids are whining, just be thankful that at least you don’t have to catch the vomit.

Where are you heading this summer? What do you have planned to keep the kids busy?

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Why I Should Not Have Been Allowed to Cut My Daughter's Hair
There are some things a parent should not be allowed to do.

I should not have been allowed to cut my kids' hair. Take a look at this from when Katie was 6:

Don't you love the uneven bangs? I could never get those right. (Sorry the picture is so bad. It's in a frame and I couldn't take a good shot with my Blackberry because it doesn't have a flash).

Here's their hair today, when we have a hairdresser. They're with their grandma, but this shows off their hair best. No raggedy ends (except the deliberate ones!)

What should you not be allowed to do?


Today my First Boyfriend Turns 41
Teen Couplephoto © 2008 Jason Meredith | more info (via: Wylio)

Isn't it strange that I still remember my first boyfriend's birthday? We dated when we were 14, for a grand total of about 6 months or so. I was in grade 10, and I felt so important because I had someone who liked me. He gave me a necklace for Christmas that year and I never took it off.

I eventually broke it off with him (although I think he was about to break it off, too), because I had gone to a retreat where they were talking about purity, and I decided that our relationship wasn't going in a good direction. I needed to focus more on God. He agreed, and that was that. We remained good friends until I left for university, when we lost track of each other. He found me on Facebook a few years ago, and a while back, while going to a speaking engagement, my girls and I dropped in on him and his wife and I met his little kids. It was nice to see him all grown up.

He was always a nice boy, and now he's a nice man, but oh, how I wish I hadn't dated when I was a teenager. Looking back, I still almost cringe, thinking of all the ways I made a fool out of myself because I just wanted people to like me.

One's first "love", if you want to call it that, really does impact your life from then on out. It determines how you see yourself, and the more that you give your heart away, the more it hurts. I wish I could have been a strong enough person to not date as a teenager. I wish I could have waited.

My girls have both determined to wait until they're older, although my 16-year-old has gone back and forth with dating over the last few months. I think she still wants to wait, because she doesn't see the point in dating if you're not in the position to marry, something which I have preached to her for quite a while.

It's not that I'm just worried they'll get too physically involved, although obviously that is a factor. I really do trust them. It's just that I SHOULDN'T be able to remember this guy's birthday, and yet I do, because of the emotional impact that relationship had on me. Does that make any sense? I don't want my girls to date someone for three years, and then break it off, and feel hurt.

It's not just that I want to spare them hurt, though. It's also that I want them to figure out who they are without reference to someone else. So much of my teenage life was spent trying to figure out how to please guys that it took me a long time to figure out who I was and who God wanted me to be. I was completely caught up in other people, and worried about my future, and worried that if no one dated me no one would then want to marry me, and on and on. I would have been better off if I had just waited for university. I would have been better off if I could have trusted that God would bring the right person at the right time. I was always trying to rush Him.

I read a study recently that showed that one's chance of divorce increased if one's age at loss of virginity decreased:

Sociology professors at the school found that women who first had sex before age 16 were more likely to get divorced than those who had waited till after turning 16.

How much more likely? Of the female subjects who'd had intercourse at 15 or younger, 31 percent divorced within five years of marriage, and 47 percent split up within 10 years. While the women who had waited till at least 16 had divorce rate of 15 percent at five years, and 27 percent at 10 years.

This is hardly surprising; I've been telling people on this blog that waiting until you're married for sex is really the best thing you can do. God designed sex that way for a purpose.

But it is not just about sex; I think it is also that when we give our hearts away too young, it does damage to us at some level. It's better to wait, and to tell your kids that you expect them to wait. I wish I had. But nevertheless, I wish that man a happy birthday. He is a good guy--and I'm glad he found a great woman.

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Wifey Wednesday: Smiling Socks--Love from the Dresser Drawer

It's Wednesday, the day when we talk marriage! I introduce a topic, and then you follow up either by commenting or by writing your own post and then linking up! This summer I've asked a few people to guest post to give me a bit of a break, and this Wifey Wednesday is brought to you by Cari Kaufman from Strings Attached Ministries.

This week our Marriage Champions discussion group focused a very heavy topic, you ready?….duh-duh-dun….household responsibilities. And while at first, it may seem like small potatoes in the land of marriage enrichment (I mean we are discussing difficult topics like communication, conflict management and sexual intimacy here), what we discovered is that “neglect of home and family” is second only to “mental cruelty” as a stated reason for divorce. That’s right, household responsibilities are no small potatoes in marriage.

I don’t think that revelation came as a surprise to most of the women in the room. I pray that it didn’t come as a big surprise to most of the men. Get this: it is estimated that 86% of all marital conflicts are over division of labor in the household. 86%! More than money, or disciplining kids, or sex- more arguments are over who is going to do the dishes tonight. I knew it was a big deal, but I was kind of floored by the numbers.

As we were sharing about the common stumbling blocks that interfere with a healthy relationship, there were several that caught my attention. But I think my own personal revelation as I was telling a story about socks really drove home what this whole Marriage Champions thing is all about in a nutshell. It’s about how we show love. I know, deep epiphany, right? But hang with me here.

137/365: Disappointmentphoto © 2010 Madzia Bryll | more info (via: Wylio)
Early on in our relationship, Charlie and I had a huge fight about laundry. This one was a yelling, screaming hissy fit (for my part anyway).

Over socks.

Yep, I almost walked right out the door of the home that God had made for me….over socks.

It shouldn’t have been a big deal. Charlie approached me very gently with a pair of socks in his hand. A pair of socks I had carefully smoothed, rolled and folded together with the happy little smiling face shining out at him. He said calmly and sweetly, “Hey, Sweetie, do you think that you could not fold my socks like this? It stretches the cuff and they don’t stay up as well.”

To Charlie, this was a reasonable request. He was even helping me out by lightening my load a bit…he certainly didn’t expect the total meltdown that ensued.

“I guess the way I fold socks is not good enough for you! Do you know how long it took me to do that!?”

The conversation just went downhill from there. Then I proceeded to dredge up all the other recent discussions on laundry we had had in the last few months. (He and I do it very differently, to this day.) Charlie, for his part, reeling in the shock of my explosion, disengaged. Ugh! Not a good move. Disengaging only fed my anger and we began a vicious feedback loop which only went away after a four-hour cool down period.

My point to my ramblings is this. None of that was about socks.

It was about love.

You see my Daddy was a navy man. From the time I was a little girl, I had learned to fold socks with little smiley faces. It was how he taught me, and how he liked (and still likes) his socks folded. I don’t know if my mom likes to fold socks that way, I just know that she does. Because it is not about socks…It’s about love.

When Charlie rejected the way that I folded socks, in my mind, he wasn’t rejecting the socks…he was rejecting me. My love. My service. My smiley faces. He had no idea. To him it was just a sock that wouldn’t stay up because the cuff was stretched out. To me, it was an act of love. You see, it wasn’t the tip of the iceberg (doing laundry) that sank the Titanic. It was the huge hunk of ice beneath the surface of the water (my emotional attachment to that task) that ripped the hull in two.

Of course, at the time, neither of us understood that the laundry wasn’t the issue. It wasn’t until we started to do research on healthy marriages and put the effort into understanding our relationship that we were given the tools to identify the real issues behind the seemingly little things that can hurt or build a relationship. I encourage you to do some research and soul-searching in your own marriage. You’d be surprised how many tiny little things your spouse does everyday to say, “I love you!”

Now, what advice do you have for us today? Have you struggled with differences in doing household tasks? Or do you have something else to share with us? Write your own Wifey Wednesday post that links back to here, and then leave the link of THAT POST in the Mcklinky below. Thanks!

From Army officer to stay-at-home mom to professional speaker, Cari Kaufman's experiences give her a unique perspective into everyday life. Cari is using her ministry, Strings Attached Ministries, to bring groups and teams together to common ground to build up women’s ministry groups all over the world. Cari lives with her fabulous husband, Charlie in the heart of Northwest Arkansas and they have two amazing children, Alexander and Elizabeth.

Follow Cari on Facebook, Twitter, or visit her website for more information on booking her to speak to your group.

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Home Alone America
My blogging friend Terry wrote a series of posts a while back on why she came to see the world through a different, more family-centric, light. I thought this quote was particularly apt. Terry writes,

In recent years, however, I began to notice some of the same issues cropping up among these white, middle class, suburban kids that I saw in the neighborhood I grew up in. Teen pregnancy, drop-outs, drug use, etc. And in just about every case, I began to notice a  common thread: recently divorced parents or parents who were never at home leaving their adolescent kids at home all afternoon to get into all kinds of trouble. Some of these kids are the products of well-meaning, church-going, Christian parents.

Terry's right. A few years ago I read the book Home Alone America by Mary Eberstadt, who looked at what happened to kids once both parents started working in large numbers, so that there just weren't adults around to supervise, lend an ear, and in general know what was going on in their kids' lives.

One of the points that she makes is that life is not just harder for the kids whose parents work; it has an effect on the culture as a whole. Let's just look at one little area, like childhood obesity. One of the reasons they believe this is increasing is because parents aren't around to say, "no eating until dinnertime!", or to bother to come up with alternate activities for kids to do when they're bored, so they let kids turn to the potato chip cupboard.

But it's not only that. It's also that what was once commonplace in people's homes--eating a homemade dinner together as a family--has been displaced by eating takeout or prepared food, with everyone fending for themselves or eating at different times. I remember in the 1970s when TV dinners first came out. Every few weeks my mother would buy them as treats, and she and I would sit on the couch with TV tables and watch the Carol Burnett show.

But today we have so much more than just the TV dinners. With so many people working, consumers wanted easy frozen meals. And now a large part of the grocery store is these frozen meals. And since they're convenient, everyone is buying them, whether  you work or not. And so it has changed everyone's diet, for the worse. Homecooked meals are no longer the norm.

Other problems that Eberstadt notices? When more and more parents are gone, kids start to hibernate instead of playing outside because there aren't people to supervise, and this impacts even those parents who are home, because the norm is now to cocoon rather than to play outside. Hence, kids get less exercise. It also means kids don't play with each other unless you have specific play dates.

And since more and more kids are growing up with less supervision from parents, more and more kids are also developing behaviour problems, which means that a new norm is developing at school for what is acceptable behaviour and what is not. Teachers put up with stuff today they never would have put up with forty years ago because they have to pick their battles. And this means that standards worsen.

She also notes that the importance of parents in kids' lives does not evaporate when kids hit school. The idea, "well, I'll stay home until the kids hit kindergarten, and then I'll work" is still difficult for kids. Kids need the most supervision, after all, in those years that they can get into the most trouble, which tend to be the teen years. And yet that seems to be when we give them the least supervision.

Our society basically rests on the idea that each family will be a two-income earning family. And yet much of this is due to expectations. When my husband grew up in his one-income family, they had an old black and white television, they drank powdered milk, and they only had one car. They lived in an extremely small house for a family of six. They didn't have huge wardrobes or even a lot of toys; they mostly went outside. And that was normal.

Today we expect that we will eat expensive foods, have awesome furniture, have the full cable hookup or satellite hookup with a large screen TV, and have two cars. I'm not saying that every dual income earning family expects that; only that this is considered the norm, and to have less somehow means that you haven't arrived or you're not providing.

I think we need to change our expectations. We have more stuff, but worse relationships. We have bigger houses (they've doubled in size in the last forty years, on average), and yet higher divorce rates. I know some women need to work, especially in this economy. But I would encourage everybody to be very creative when you do so, to see if you can find a job that doesn't require you being out of the house from 8-6. Or find a way to work 3/4 time and have your husband work 3/4 time.

I know that this isn't politically correct to say, and I know I will get lambasted for it, but I really don't think you should have kids if you're also assuming that both parents will be working full-time and no one will be home to care for the kids for ten to twelve hours a day. Before you even start having children, talk about how you are going to pay for things. Learn to live with one income, and save the second income before the kids are born. Stick to a budget. We have lost so much in our "home alone" culture, and we need to bring back the importance of family. I hope that people realize that most of the problems in our society can be directly traced to a breakdown of family, and decide to start emphasizing keeping the family close before we look to consumer things. Relationships matter far more than stuff, anyway.

Other posts you may find interesting:
How to Make Money as a SAHM
Living Below Your Means Increases Your Means
On Debts, Bailouts, and Reaping What You Sow
On Day Care, Attachment, and God's Will

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Top Posts for June
Happy July 4th to my American readers! Hope you have a great day with your family.

But if you're just relaxing on your own, and you want some stuff to read, here are my top posts for June:

1. 50 Great Bible Verses to Memorize (still popular after quite a few months!)
2. Why Gender Matters
3. Don't Let Your Children Baby-Sit Until You Read This!
4. Wifey Wednesday: When Conflicts Don't End
5. VLog: When Expectations Kill Your Marriage
6. Women Have it Good
7. Wifey Wednesday: In Need of Conversation
8. Wifey Wednesday: When You Just Don't Agree
9. Wifey Wednesday: What Makes Men Romantic
10. Wifey Wednesday: How Important is Date Night

Thanks for visiting and reading my blog! And if you want to keep up with more marriage news, I send out a newsletter monthly on my top marriage posts and other great marriage links around the web. Just sign up below!

And don't forget to subscribe to my blog by hitting the "subscribe" button below! Thank you!

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About Me

Name: Sheila

Home: Belleville, Ontario, Canada

About Me: I'm a Christian author of a bunch of books, and a frequent speaker to women's groups and marriage conferences. Best of all, I love homeschooling my daughters, Rebecca and Katie. And I love to knit. Preferably simultaneously.

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