The ever-present common elements in almost every story include:
- The busy, harried working mom who sounds annoyed by the demands her family places on her.
- The guilty parent who knows their kids are way more pampered, sheltered and coddled than they ever were as a kid, but does it anyway, while simultaneously piling a work/play schedule on the children that would kill a 50-year-old with stress in the name of “getting into a good college.”
- The desire to be like all the other professional working women whose opinions they value above all others.
- Almost exclusively upper-middle class to upper incomes and hometowns in the toniest suburbs or neighborhoods of Boston
- The phrase “Don’t judge me, but…” followed by an excuse for a display of conspicuous excess.
The story that prompted this post was her article on parents relying on Uber to shuttle their kids to and fro instead of doing it themselves. What’s ironic is that I just remembered that three years ago today, I wrote a similar post about an article Teitell wrote about the ways that pre-Uber carpooling had taken over the lives of these well-heeled families and I see how both articles unspool in the same ways.
As I read these articles, I’m left scratching my head. Who are these people? Is this supposed to be what passes for middle class family life in the Boston area? Because none of these stories ever look like me and my family or any family I know.
If these do reflect a widespread reality, they make me tremble for what we’re doing to ourselves. The disconnection among family members, the barely concealed annoyance with family, the me-first individualism, the entitlement attitudes, the life-altering stressfulness: Is it any wonder people are feeling fractured and unrooted and dissatisfied more than ever before?
I wonder if this is a coastal or big city or Northeast phenomenon or if it’s fairly universal. But while it makes me worry about our country, at least I feel pretty good about how we’re doing as a family.
- And by “ordinary”, they usually mean “families who make seriously north of six figures in well-to-do suburbs and Boston neighborhoods.” ↩
- BethTeitell-BostonGlobe: Own photo