I’m a little embarrassed to say this, but I read Parade magazine most weekends. I only read it because it comes with our Sunday New York Post, which I’m also a little embarrassed that I read. (Any entity that calls itself a newspaper should not be permitted to use Photoshop to put the President’s head onto other bodies.)
In case you’re not familiar with Parade, it’s a 20-page publication that is circulated within local Sunday newspapers throughout the country, but is really written for the heartland. About 13 of the 20 pages hold large, mostly mail order, ads offering things like “a life without belly fat” or a sterling silver and diamond cat pendant that can be yours for just $78 (plus $7.50 shipping and service), payable in two installments, available exclusively from the Danbury Mint, which is in Norwalk, not Danbury, so I can drive 20 minutes and pick it up in person to save the shipping charges.
In the Parade of February 14, of the seven pages of actual content, two full pages and small parts of four other ones were devoted to a quiz called “One Big Happy Family.” With 20 simple questions, this article purported to reveal the secret to making everyone in your household happy, presumably without the use of drugs.
I thought our family was pretty happy. I figured that, on the happiness scale, we were closer to the Kardashians than the Lohans while being somewhat less oblivious than both (see graph below). But I knew I was in trouble from the very first question:
When a team of psychologists measured children’s resilience, they found that the kids who ________ were best able to handle stress.
Before I could answer “are kept in a dark basement,” I realized it was multiple choice:
- A) Ate the same breakfast every day
- B) Knew the most about their family’s history
- C) Played team sports
- D) Attended regular religious services
According to the article, the correct answer is B. I believe, however, that the psychologists are not taking into account the number of genetic mutations in our family, most of which, I hasten to add, come from my wife’s side,* and which I don’t think our daughter Casey finds to be all that comforting.
Question 4 was interesting:
What do surveys show that children want most from their parents?
- A) To spend more time with them
- B) For the parents to be less tired and stressed
- C) A bigger allowance
The correct answer is B apparently. But where does that survey think most of the parents’ stress is coming from? If kids want their parents to be less tired and stressed, maybe they should stop whining, and talking to strangers on the Internet, and being of the age about which they publish drug and alcohol and fatal car accident statistics.
The author goes on to elaborate:
An effective way to cut down on stress is to hold a weekly meeting to review how your family is functioning. Sit together with everyone and pose three questions: “What worked well in our family last week?” “What didn’t work well?” And “What can we work on now?” The following week, adjust and try again.
Seriously? What world is this guy living in? First, meetings of any kind are a source of stress, especially if there’s a Powerpoint presentation. Second, who would be in charge of getting danish for the meeting? And third, how long would it be before someone in the family said “We have to think outside the box” or “We have to change the paradigm” and then I would have to kill them?
But perhaps Question 6 will help with the meetings:
To encourage conversation and draw your family closer, arrange your living room seating in a:
- A) U shape
- B) Circle
- C) L shape
The answer is B again:
A study of hospital patients in Saskatchewan, Canada, found that subjects were friendlier to one another when they were seated face-to-face.
What kind of hospital are we talking about here? There’s only one kind I can think of where patients would ever sit around in a group and talk to each other, and my family can be nutty enough at times without emulating that sort of institution. Not to mention Canadians. Also, if we’re sitting in a circle, who gets to face the television?
Let’s move on to Question 9:
The worst word you can say in a fight with a spouse is:
- A) Me
- B) We
- C) You
- D) Your mother
I don’t know about you, but I can think of words that are a lot worse than any of these. And, for the record, “your mother” is two words.
Anyway, that’s as far as a got, because I was then distracted by an amazing opportunity to acquire 44 U.S. stamps over 50 years old for only $2.00, which sounds like a great deal considering how much it would cost to get 44 new U.S. stamps.
Enough psychobabble anyway. Love your kids and you’ll be fine.
See you soon.
*In fairness, my side of the family can clearly be blamed for fat thighs.