If the New York Times is looking to cut costs, maybe it's time to cut back on its lifestyle coverage. It's increasingly unreadable, and recently two style stories struck me as hoaxes. One was definitely a hoax, about the nonexistent "Dating a Banker Anonymous" group, supposedly established for women having to cut back because their banker boyfriends are less flush or out of work. Last week the Times had to apologize for falling for a spoof. Today, Thursday Styles struck again, with a new faux-trend story: "When Grandma Can't Be Bothered," about grandmothers who won't take care of their grandchildren.
Based on the real-life testimony of exactly ONE grandmother who admits she won't baby-sit for her grandkids, Judy Connors (who must love being the face of the New Selfish Granny!) the article is sourced to psychologists, a Web site product manager and some complaining moms, mainly complaining about their mothers-in-law.
Even though the New York Times only identified ONE woman who doesn't care to care for her grandkids, we learn that this "trend" has a name -- "so-called 'glam-mas'," says the Times, though the writer doesn't even bother to tell us who uses this so-called term.
I don't want to be a trend story based on anecdotes, myself, but in my entire life, I have literally never met ONE, not ONE, grandmother -- or grandfather, for that matter, but as in the world of Styles, the bad behavior of women is usually under the microscope -- who didn't want to care for their grandkids if they were able. Geography, health and other family issues may interfere; sometimes Mom or Dad isn't totally happy with the "care" grandparents may provide, but this has never been a topic I've ever heard anyone complain about. My own mother-in-law was astonishingly involved in caring for my daughter from the day she was born and I miss her every day.
But once again, women are misbehaving, and they must be called out by the Times. It reminds me of Lisa Belkin's "opt-out revolution" that wasn't. I clicked on the link to Urban Baby, the Web site that's the Times' main source for the selfish granny trend, and the lead item was this blog comment:
"I feel so emotionally ragged. DH transfers money to an account for me each month for expenses- last month he missed the date to transfer and my nanny's check bounced...I just feel horrible about this, I'm SAHM right now but can't wait to go back to work so I don't feel so dependent and powerless."
I wonder how the nanny felt. Where's her Web site?
Especially with the economy tanking, the Times needs to stop being the house organ of whiny privileged people, or it will skid to oblivion even faster than it already is.
(This article is also posted on Open Salon.)