This is a sad era when the average American father no longer brings home an income to match his modern family's "modern needs." More importantly, it means the average mother has to work and this puts a strain on everyone in the modern household, especially the future of this nation - our dear children.
The U.S. Census Bureau reports the median annual income of a single provider family in Ohio (with a stay-at-home mom) to be $41,000 or about $2,733 per month after subtracting income and sales taxes (at only 20 percent), assuming the money will be spent by the end of the month.
Many a politician will claim $2,733 is plenty to live on for a month, but that's mostly because they have never tried it. Imagine a modest $600 mortgage payment ($1,295 is the national average), two $250 car payments, gasoline, heat, electric, water, sewer, phone, family cell phone plan, Internet/cable, and a routine visit to the doctor - all of which would leave the average family with less than $15 a day to eat. And our hypothetical single-income Ohio family has not yet saved a dime for retirement, Christmastime, a summer vacation, sports/hobbies, a night out (dinner and a movie), or general home and car repairs.
If you have finally conceded that the average mommy must work in our modern era, I have one complex question for you: While mommy and daddy are working, who is making sure the kids have a moral compass; wear clean clothes, have finished their homework, are reading books, know how to write a thank you letter, have eaten their vegetables, are exercising regularly, have finished their chores, are off the couch and experiencing a larger world, are joining a team, are developing meaningful relationships with trustworthy friends and are becoming socialized but aren't running buck wild?
Admittedly, nobody could ever do this job properly, except of course a full-time, God-fearing mother.
Furthermore, this explains much of what teachers have been seeing on a daily basis for decades. For example, in my science class when I wish to explain a phenomenon such as "energy in a wave," I can no longer use swimming in the ocean as an example to connect with most of my students because roughly half of my high school students have never been on a beach. Instead, while mommy and daddy are at work the children are surfing the web, watching TV, and playing video games if not going buck wild. And to further complicate an already bad situation, young children no longer hear the words "go outside and play!" in the modern era because the perverts have more rights than our children. Where are our priorities?
Confidentially speaking, just last school year an unnamed local teacher took an unnamed bright young student aside for intervention because she had demonstrated an ability to grasp the hardest material in class but regularly failed her tests and quizzes. The girl simply refused to study at home and when her teacher did not relent she finally volunteered, "Alright, the reason I don't try is because my antidepressant medicine makes me feel like doing nothing." When her teacher offered to coach her off the pills through a series of goal-setting activities and therefore inquired about her perceived need for antidepressants, she bluntly made it known that she had been raped by her stepfather for years while her mother was at work. Good Lord, it just doesn't seem right to judge a working mother or her teacher when she refuses to learn. But if we, as a society, change nothing in response to her story, then we become part of the problem.
There are no easy solutions to such problems. For the past 17 years my wife, Amelina, and I have chosen to struggle as a single-income family with a stay-at-home mom and although money is tight, so far the results have been very good. All four of our children enjoy books!
My wife has taken our children to the library so often that the personnel know them all by name. However, a couple of years ago I ordered cable and Internet TV. Since my wife had started college, she didn't have as much time for supervision and gradually we noticed our two youngest slowly substituting the TV for reading books. A few weeks ago we made the difficult decision, in spite of much whining and protestations, to cancel our cable and Internet-based TV programming. Within two weeks both TV goons had rediscovered good books.
But, again, what can society at large do to help the up-and-coming generation of kids when nobody seems to be looking out for their best interests? America is about to enter uncharted waters when these children become the primary adults of our society. I know the media like to blame our schools and lazy students are now parroting this excuse, but maybe society in general is to blame.
Few citizens would contend the assertion that American society values a growing economy more acutely, albeit unintentionally, than our spiritual lives or even what's best for our children, but deep down in our souls we all know money could never replace a mother's nurturing love for her children.
Herman is a Howland resident. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org