Labor Day & Family Balance/ Doherty in Australia - 9/1/06

Smartmarriages smartmarriages at
Fri Sep 1 10:55:31 EDT 2006


AFM Calls for Divorce, Says Workers Shouldn't Be Married to the Job
Workers Want More Flex-time, Comp-time, and Control Over Work Schedules
For Immediate Release
August 31, 2006
Contact: Bob Adams (202) 669-0940
MERRIFIELD, VA - If you feel like it's getting tougher to balance all the
competing pressures of life, you're not alone.  In fact, more than three of
every five workers find it difficult to balance work, family and other
personal interests, according to new polling data released today by the
Alliance for Marriage (AFM).
American workers were recently asked the question: "How difficult do you
find it to balance, work, family life and other personal interests?"*
   Difficult  Not Difficult
Workers   62%    38%
Moms    77%    23% 
Women ages18-54   75%    25%
Kids at Home   69%    31%
Homemakers   65%    35%
Dads    61%    39% 

The costs of this breakneck speed are steep:  poor mental and physical
health, low productivity and morale, and too many kids who don't spend
enough time with Mom and Dad, according to the new report:  AFM's Second
Annual Report on the Workplace. The complete report and findings from this
new poll may be found at:
<> . A conference call with Dr. Matt Daniels,
President of the Alliance for Marriage, will be held on August 31st at 1:00
 Conference call information is as follows:
 Call-in number: (866) 802-4364
 You will be asked for your name and news outlet.
"It's not healthy, productive or beneficial when workers are married to the
job, and based on this troubling new data, it's time to file for divorce.
We should end this unholy matrimony for the sake of ourselves, our kids and
our economy," said Dr. Matt Daniels, President of the Alliance for Marriage.
Workers, AFM, and experts say the solution is a workplace that adapts to
workers, not the other way around.  Policies like flex-time, comp-time and
counseling are just some of the many ways employers can help workers improve
the work-life balance.
In the same survey, people were asked. "Which of the following policies
would help you best balance work and family and personal life?"*

Flex time, or control over when you work  29%
Comp time, or time off for working overtime  17%
Day Care provided at job site     17%
Job Sharing         8%
Telecommuting        7%
Expanded Family Leave Policies     4%
Longer Maternity and Paternity Leave    3%
Other        2% 
Fortunately, offering such policies to workers helps us all:  companies
report higher productivity, reduced absenteeism, higher profits and greater
retention; children who spend more time with parents are healthier and do
better in school; and workers are happier, more productive, and loyal.  A
more flexible workplace has other benefits, too, like helping to ease
expected labor shortages caused by retiring baby boomers, and ting work
stoppages caused by a potential pandemic outbreak, terrorist attack or
natural disaster.
"On this Labor Day, the question we're asking employers is simple:  if
you're not offering flexible workplace policies, what are you waiting for?
It will be better for your bottom line, better for your employees, and most
of all, better for families and children, not to mention our country as
whole.  So let's all pledge to make this happen, and soon," said Daniels.
*Polling data based on a national survey by Public Opinion Strategies,
August 14-16, 2006. N=800 Likely Voters.  MOE +3.46.
The Alliance for Marriage is a multicultural coalition whose Board of
Advisors includes Rev. Walter Fauntroy - the D.C. Coordinator of the March
on Washington for Martin Luther King Jr. - as well as other civil rights and
religious leaders, and national legal experts. <>
The Sydney Morning Herald
August 24, 2006
Miranda Devine 

..... more and more it is women who don't want to wait around for the
"happily ever after".
WHEN 42-year-old mother of two Helen Kirwan-Taylor wrote a newspaper article
last month saying she finds motherhood boring, she became the most vilified
woman in Britain. "Sorry, but my children bore me to death" was the title of
her article in the Daily Mail in which she confessed to hating reading
bedtime stories and spending two hours texting her girlfriends while
watching a movie with her children.

Readers condemned her as a selfish princess who shouldn't be allowed to have
children. But her confession also broke a taboo around the modern female's
dissatisfaction with family life. Whether it is offloading the kids to day
care or filling their hours with structured activities, mothers may be
losing the art of enjoying their children.

But to William Doherty, a professor of family social science at the
University of Minnesota, Kirwan-Taylor's crie de coeur may have been part of
a healthy backlash against "excessive child-centredness".

Doherty, who is in Sydney this week to speak at the National Christian
Family Conference, is the marriage therapist who coined the term
"overscheduled kids" to describe the phenomenon of children whose parents
make them the centre of the universe.

But at a forum on marriage yesterday he explored the more fundamental
problem of modern families - marriage breakdown.

It is not so much female unhappiness with motherhood that is causing
problems for children, but the increasing willingness of mothers to walk out
on marriage. As the latest Bureau of Statistics figures show, more than ever
it is women who are the ones filing for divorce. The shift of power in
marriages over the past 40 years has led to a stampede of women leaving the
institution. How to put the genie back in the bottle without reversing
female emancipation was the question hovering in the background at the

Doherty says the first "divorce generation" of young people, now in their
20s and 30s, "still aspires to marriage, across all income levels". We live
in such an "atomised world" where wider community social connections and
extended families are disappearing so there is more hunger than ever for the
intimate institution of marriage. Certainly, a rise in marriage rates here
and in the US, and corresponding dip in divorce rates, would suggest
marriage is coming back into vogue.

Anne Hollonds, the chief executive of Relationships Australia, says she
perceives a real desire by people to form a "solid, sustainable
relationship". There has been a 50 per cent increase in inquiries about her
pre-marriage education courses this year. "These are younger people in
first-time marriages, who are highly educated and value education as a means
to ensure success in later life."

Others at the forum discussed the idea of pre-marriage education at school,
focusing on how to nurture friendships, an art that may be lost to
generations with iPods connected to their ears.

Researcher Barry Maley, whose Taking Children Seriously project for the
Centre for Independent Studies has been the best of its kind in Australia to
state the case for marriage, says family law is fundamental to the strength
of the institution. He advocates re-introducing the concept of fault, in
some form, into divorce. "The most egregious conduct by one of the spouses
is completely ignored at the moment. The justice of taking it into account
is unarguable Š A victim of misconduct in marriage would have the
possibility of a settlement that mitigates that loss of investment."

Some discussion at the forum revolved around a six-year US study of 65
married couples that found the secret to a lasting marriage was a husband
who did what his wife says. While the idea of advocating husbands become
doormats is doomed to fail, clearly tension in marriage has emerged as power
has shifted from men to women.

Doherty gave the example of a post on an online chat site,, in
which a mother complained that her husband had smacked their toddler. She
did not believe in physical punishment for children and reprimanded her
husband, saying if he did not change his behaviour she would kick him out of
the house. Of 19 mothers who responded, only one was not supportive. But
what made her think she had the sole right to throw the husband out? Her
attitude, said Doherty, was as if "she were hiring a babysitter who did
something you did not agree with".

Doherty is most concerned about the ever widening "marriage gap", in that
highly educated, high-income people are sustaining lifelong marriages with
involved fathers, leading to the emergence of a two-tier society - the
marriage haves and have-nots. Lowly educated, low-income women are "apt to
try serial relationships with multiple fathers - the kinds of complex family
forms which would tax people who had more interpersonal competence than most
of us have".

He believes the social change required to reinvigorate marriage could take
cues from other grass roots movements such as the push against drunk driving
or domestic violence. But it is vital that in a secular society, religious
groups aren't seen to hijack the conversation.

Best, says Doherty, to base the "marriage movement" on common language of
research which shows that children raised in an intact marriage do better in
general on all scales than those who aren't.

A new generation burnt by the experience of their parents' failures, yet
longing for love because of it, are on the threshold of embracing marriage
or rejecting it. This makes more urgent the task of "selling" the
institution as the foremost protector of children and ultimately the best
vehicle for human fulfillment, even if reading bedtime stories gets tedious
at times.

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