Which would have a more positive effect on your family’s future, an extra $10,000 in salary or an extra hour of quality time every day with your kids?
If you chose the money, feel no guilt. Most other parents did in a survey released today that reveals that America’s parents are deeply worried about their financial precariousness.
And, presidential contenders take note, parents feel abandoned by the government as they struggle to raise healthy, safe, educated kids.
“Parents have some very, very serious concerns about providing for their families,” said Mark McKinnon, the Hill+Knowlton Strategies vice chairman who oversaw the survey for the Center for The Next Generation and Parents Magazine.
McKinnon pointed out that when the time vs. money question has been posed by researchers in the past, more parents have always chosen time. This is the first survey to show the scales tipped for money. Tipped considerably, too: Two-thirds of parents chose the $10,000.
The survey is filled with other bracing statistics: About 20 percent of those surveyed reported that the recession convinced them not to have another child; more than 20 percent said the current economy has prevented them from providing a child with a quality education; 74 percent said the government is failing their children.
Jim Steyer, co-founder of Next Generation, called the results a “fundamental clarion call to the political leadership in this country.”
He and others involved in the survey spoke to reporters Wednesday morning, focusing especially on how the more than 2,000 parents surveyed said that kids have been essentially ignored by government leadership.
The survey comes on the heels of new U.S. Census data showing a rise in poverty rates across the country, with spikes in suburban family-oriented areas.
On Tuesday, The Post’s Petula Dvorak wrote about how this poverty, and the pull of it for those who hover just above, has consumed the lives of formerly stable families.
Political leaders have heard the message from the public that jobs and the economy are today’s top concern, as the presidential campaigns have focused almost exclusively on those issues.
But “what we’re not seeing connect up is about what this means to kids today and what that means to kids in the future,” said Next Generation’s Ann O’Leary.
She said what’s missing from the top is an acknowledgment that a child born into poverty today, or tomorrow, will face a life of much higher obstacles than one born into financial stability. The economic situation has a much stronger ripple effect for a child.
That’s what politicians are not talking about.
They might be touting their own parenting credentials, but they are silent on the issues within the economic crisis that concern parents most. There is no discussion of our child-care mess or educational disparity or lack of flexible work options or sorry family leave policies that, if improved, could ameliorate those ripples.
It’s not just about getting a job, the survey results practically shout. The vast majority of parents — 91 percent — said the lack of jobs that pay enough to support a family is a serious problem. The key word that leaders seem to have glossed over in that statement is “support.”
A reduced paycheck, in other words, is not enough to give a child real, lasting support.
How has the recession impacted your family? Do you think political leadership understands the economy’s effect on children?