Thursday, November 04, 2004

Parenting Lifestyle

It's no coincidence that I started this lifestylism project while I have two young kids at home. Having kids completely changes the equation of lifestyle choices and values. Time management and financial decisions get a lot more complicated and difficult. Rob Paterson pokes into some of these issues in Early Childhood or Early Parenting. I've added some comments there -- if you have any ideas on the topic, please contribute your thoughts too.

I was interested in a related report the same week: The New Realities of Earning and Caring. Instead of proposing more money for daycare programs, they're looking at some of the root causes and concerns surrounding why families feel they have no choice but to put their kids in daycare:
"A single earner and a stay-at-home spouse is a luxury few families with dependent children and seniors can afford.
Therefore, families 'struggle to care' as well as to earn."
Rob also discusses a provincial program on the way out in PEI called Best Start -- it's worth the read if you're at all interested in how helping kids early can pay dividends later on.


Phil from the UK said...

I agree. For most people, everything changes when you have children. Lifestylism takes on a completely new hue.

A couple of thoughts:

1. To me a happy childhood is far more important than a childhood steeped in formal achievements, examinations passed, musical instruments learnt, hurdles jumped etc. These formal metrics and happiness are not mutually exclusive I know, but my experience is that too much formal pressure of any kind on a child is generally not conducive to real happiness and a well rounded, secure adult.

A couple of great books on bringing up kids: "Raising Boys", (not much good to you J with 2 daughters!!!) and The Secret of Happy Children", both by Steve Biddulph.

2. I also do not think there is any such thing as alloting "quality time" to kids. For kids, all time is quality time. You can't marginalise your children and fit them in around work, your hobbies, the pub etc. They can see straight away that they are playing second fiddle and will despise you for trying to kid them on. Kids are far quicker at sensing this sort of stuff than adults realise. For me, they are INTEGRAL to your life.

By example, take a kid and how he or she develops a sense of humour - one of the most important assets in anyones life.

A child doesn't learn it from a book or from an hour here or there from it's parents. Rather, it is a long process of almost osmosis. It seeps in from long term time spent with parents and other children. You have to just have lots of time laughing together and let it take it's course and happen. You can't instill it by alloting a bit of quality time here or there.

I think this applies to the really important things for children to have. Social skills and social adeptness generally are also picked up in the same way. It is a long process. Bringing up kids is as much about process, how you do it; as it is content, ie what you are doing or saying.

A great website by the way. You have got a really phenomenally interesting collection of ideas that you are choosing to call Lifestylism. I don't like the name much, but for the life of me can't come up with anything better for what you are describing here.

I have got a list of excellent literature and articles on this whole area. I have been interested in the area of lifestyle development, soft systems and how they are applied in a business or corporate context for years. Quite a bit of this thinking maps across to what I would call "Real Life" as opposed to corporate life. I did an MSc in Management Systems. Not IT type systems, but mostly spent on holistic methodologies for solving complexity, (sometimes called subject neutral systems). This thinking and many of the approaches are generic and can be usefully applied outside of corporate life. Lots of the thinking I heard about can be applied to real life issues.

I've got many thoughts on Lifestylism and how life and work can co-develop, (I also dislike the phrase work/life balance). I'll post again when I've got a bit more time. For me though, work and life are still quite separate. Life is far more important than work everytime

Jeremy said...

Wow, Phil. Thanks for this extensive response!

Looks like we've got lots of common ground here. I like what you've said about happy childhoods and quality time. The humour example is excellent -- difficult to quantify or measure, of course, but I think you're onto something.

I don't really like the Lifestylism label much either, but it seems to be working ok as a bucket to throw these ideas into. Glad you're seeing some value. Please comment whenever you feel like it -- I always appreciate feedback. It sounds like you've got the basis for a great site on your own! Let me know if you get one up and running.

Thanks again!