I’ve been walking in and out of professional baseball locker rooms, stadiums, ball fields, and the like for most of my professional life. Although Major League players are more sensitive and aware of circumstances than they were 30 years ago, without question a child or adolescent hanging with ballplayers in those places is sooner or later going to get the kind of adult education normally learned on street corners. Locker rooms, much like pool halls, are no place for children to regularly hang out.
Thus we come to the strange case of first baseman Adam LaRoche who walked away from a $13 million contract because his employer, the Chicago White Sox, told Adam they no longer wanted his 14-year-old son, Drake, tagging along with his dad everywhere he went.
What got my attention was how this event generated so much passion among the general public. Although most people saw it from the White Sox’s perspective, there seemed to be a sizable minority who thought the White Sox weren’t being “family friendly” and this group included many of the players on the White Sox roster. So how did we get to the point in society where so many people believe it is the employer’s obligation to provide a “family friendly” work environment to its employees?
In modern America we are experiencing what the late comedian George Carlin called the era of child worship, which is essentially where adults now live to please and entertain their children. In the workplace this concept first began to manifest itself in 1993 when Take Our Daughters to Work Day was launched. Not surprisingly the driving force of this movement was a leftist organization, the Ms. Foundation for Women, whose founder was none other than Gloria Steinem. Soon businesses of every stripe were cowed into participating or else they ran the risk of being stigmatized as anti-girl and not being sensitive to children’s self-esteem. It wasn’t long till in our ever inclusive world that boys were included, and the event became Take Your Child to Work Day.
If you ever have had the displeasure of working for an employer who has a Take Your Child to Work Day you probably noticed that the day, for the most part, has sunk to keeping employee’s children entertained, where the office personnel pack the day chock full of fun projects for the kiddos with plenty of breaks for snacks. In other words, the one thing that assuredly doesn’t get done on Take Your Child to Work Day is actual work.
All of which takes us back to the White Sox and Adam LaRoche. As we all know, somedays at work don’t go as planned. If the White Sox drop seven games in a row and manager Robin Ventura wants to air the players out for their sloppy play, he shouldn’t have to worry about whether the players’ children are within ear shot, or be concerned that he’ll damage some child’s psyche when the kid overhears dad being sent down to the minors.
The most troubling aspect of the era of America’s child worship is, despite the pandering and obsessing over children’s self-esteem and happiness, American children by each successive generation seem to grow more neurotic and detached from society. The reason for this I feel is obvious: we are treating the symptom not the disease. If Americans really cared for their children, instead of obsessing over whether children are properly entertained we would concentrate on reestablishing the traditional family. In 1960 under 5% of children were born to unwed mothers; today that statistic has risen to over 40%. Studies have universally shown that children from a traditional family do vastly better than their counterparts in almost every definable category: economic, education, incarceration rates, welfare dependency, drug usage, and so on and so forth. We are setting up too many children up for failure from the outset.
Whether or not Drake LaRoche ever steps in a Major League locker room is probably insignificant to his future prospects. What does bode well for Drake’s future success, however, is that he was born into a two-parent home in which both parents have stayed actively engaged in his life. That is worth more than a 1,000 trips to the ballpark.
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