Family Values

This is not the next post I had intended to write but it’s been on my mind.

George W. Bush argued that because tax payments take up such a large percentage of families’ incomes, it effectively forced people to work more and spend less time at home. “Many middle class families work three jobs: his, hers and the joint responsibility of raising children. High taxes rob families of time to be with each other, and be with their children.”

He did cut taxes. He raised the child tax credit from $600 to $1,000. He also reduced the marriage penalty. I am not complaining about those things but that did nothing to help with having family time. His father used “family values” as a campaign issue repeatedly but I can’t tell he did anything to promote family values. I don’t understand how you can say you are working for families and then ignore the fact that American worker’s have no time with their families. I think we may in fact be moving backwards.

I was remembering my childhood. Both of my parents worked. My mom was a stay-at-home mom after my brother was born, until he went to school. Then she went back to work. I never felt like I didn’t get to see my parents. They would wake us up in the morning (both of them) and take us to our babysitters to catch the school bus. We may have spent an hour there in the mornings. Then in the afternoon we would spend about 30 mins there after getting off the bus. Both of our parents were home to help us with home work and to spend time with us. We watched tv in the evenings, we only had one tv so it was a family activity. I don’t remember them working weekends. I do remember going fishing and hunting together. Not things I enjoy as an adult but I do have found memories of spending that time with my parents. Every summer we would go on a family vacation to either Florida or Gulf Shores. We had so much fun on those trips. When I think about those times I can sometimes still smell the ocean and feel the breeze. If you here my mom tell the story we complained after being there for a day or two, we missed our toys, we got salt water in our eyes, salt and sand in our swimsuits and it was too hot. But I loved those trips, they are some of my happiest memories from childhood. There is nothing like seeing the sunset while out on a pier fishing or watching someone hook a sea turtle and everyone wondering what they got that is so big, or watching your daddy catch a sand shark while fishing on the beach and scaring everyone in the process.

We used to go swimming a lot at a place called Little River Canyon Mouth park. Sometimes we would camp there back when you were allowed to. My dad always wanted to hike farther into the canyon and we would complain and ask why we couldn’t swim at the mouth area. My mom would usually get stuck carrying everything and my dad would end up getting way ahead of us with his long legs, then have to wait on us to catch up. It probably wasn’t as much fun for them as it was for my brother and me, but I am so thankful to them for the experiences and the time we spent together. They really did a lot for us and with us. Toys were great but they are long since forgotten but time and memories are invaluable.

When I was a little older my dad started his own roofing business, he was then able to set his own hours. Sometimes I think he worked more but he still had time for us. He coached my softball team and my mom helped and kept score. Sometimes my dad missed my brothers games and sometimes my mom missed mine if we weren’t playing at the same place (he played baseball), but one of them was always there. Those were great times too. Girls I went to school with that played on my dad’s team even wrote in my senior year book about how much fun they had playing softball with us. There were times when my brother and I disliked how involved they were because my dad would always tell us on the way home what we could have done better. I still like to tease him that he would tell me I should have caught a ball that was on the other side of the field or get onto me for something someone else did.

I also got to do things with just my mom or my dad and so did my brother. I remember another trip to Florida after we were older. My dad and brother would fish and my mom and I would shop, sightsee or whatever. She found this little cheesecake place that we went to I think every day we were there just the two of us. To this day I still think that was the best cheesecake I have ever ate. I’m not sure if it was really that good or if it was going with my mom. I think we may have taken my brother and dad back a piece once, but it was mostly just our thing.

Getting back to the present day and wondering if we have gone backwards. Things are completely different for my family. We have only ever really had one family vacation and that was before our son was born. My husbands vacation time always gets put on hold or they change the terms of it before he is eligible to take a vacation. Then when he has gotten it approved he has had to take it in Dec. when we don’t have the money or time to go anywhere. We have taken our kids to that same canyon a few times and they love it there but we haven’t been able to go in a couple of years. We try to take them to the park when we can but it’s usually just me. My husband defiantly doesn’t have time to coach any teams (although he did get to one time, before the economy crashed and it was great). My husband works every Saturday unless he ask off and even then he doesn’t always get it. I didn’t think we were going to be able to celebrate our anniversary this year because he couldn’t get a day off. We ended up just having to go after he got off work.

I can say for certain that even with all the talk on promoting families and family values that for my family we are not better off than we were 20 years ago, we are actually worse.

I would love to hear from others? Do you get family time? Are you over worked? Even if you don’t live in the U.S I would still like to hear from you.

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