The work/leisure class divide

by L

We have discussed here before – what do Totebaggers think of this article?

The Free-Time Paradox in America

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91 thoughts on “The work/leisure class divide

  1. About 20 years ago, I read a book call the Overworked American:The Unexpected Decline of Leisure. The portion that was highly discussed in my book group was that while technology was thought to create more leisure time, instead the threshold for good/acceptable work/standards increased.

    For example, at home, at one time most people washed their clothes by hand (wash board and wash tub) clothing was worn multiple times before it was washed. Now, many people wash/dry clean any item they have worn, even for a few minutes, after each wear. Other than something like a winter coat, many people “hide” the fact that they come home hang it up and wear it again.

    Another example is the workforce – when you actually typed something on a typewriter, typos were fixed, bad grammar was fixed, but rarely an awkward sentence, because a change on page five could mean retyping the rest of the 50 page report. With computers, we can edit and tweak and then reprint without much pain. The result is we edit and tweak much more than in the past.

    Are some of these increased standards better? I think everyone has areas of life they would argue for and against.

    Over time we have gone from you only need a degree for some higher skilled jobs to needing one for almost every job. I have often wondered if that was a baby boom effect….(1) more workers coming into the work force than leaving (plain demographics), so you increase the hiring requirements to reduce your applicant pool, and (2) healthier people able to and wanting/needing to work longer exacerbates the demographic problem. Keeping people in school longer to is one way to reduce your applicant pool. I have always wondered as we get to the end of the boomers, if we will see the education requirements come down as the pool of applicants decreases.

  2. Austin, I recently learned a funny word for clothes that are not clean, to be put back in the closet or dresser, but not dirty enough to wash either. Those clothes are clirty. That’s not a “d” at the beginning. It is the two letters “c” and “l”. Around our house, it’s a pretty useful word!
    Your comment about the ability to proofread and make changes is interesting, because I think (with no empirical evidence) that the quality of writing in published sources has gone down. Maybe that’s due to the widespread availability of the technology to publish. I certainly never carried a typewriter in my pocket! Or maybe writers who don’t fully make the change from casual writing in a text or plot post to other, more formal materials expect that readers won’t full make the transition either.

  3. The point about the low cost of entertainment was interesting to me. Even in radio-only days, once the radio was purchased, the subsequent entertainment was no-cost. Different entertainment than playstation, Netflix, online porn, sure, but still no/low cost. So maybe it’s because there is such a wide variety of entertainment vs any real cost reduction.

  4. When I was a kid in Germany, not only did clothes go multiple times between washings, but you normally wore the same outfit for 3 to 5 days in a row. I doubt that is true any more.

  5. I read the Atlantic article. I was already so depressed about the state of the country, my kids hitting college/draft age, and other stuff of that ilk, and this didn’t help. The guy who wrote Bowling Alone is giving a talk on campus tonight, to boot. Can I just go slit my wrists now?

  6. For me, weekends are a long slog of chores, cleaning, doing some work, and leisure. About 60% non-fun and 40% fun. It seems the chores, errands, and work never end. Austin’s comments seem correct–we have higher standards now.

  7. S&M – I think there are at least two groups – those who have access to technology and release information (website, blog, hardcopy letters/reports) without ever having another person review it or taking the time (or in some cases having the skill) to self-edit. That is different from organizations where the information released goes through at least one layer of approval before going out. It is the latter that I am talking about.

    For example, I write a letter for my boss’s signature. In the typewritter days, my boss would take one editing pass at it, then check the revised version (usually just reading, but if it had data changes would check those against the edits made) and out it went. In more recent years, that process takes place several times because its only a word change or two and print again. I am not sure if it isn’t because the boss isn’t as focused (thinking oh I’ll see this again before it goes out)/

  8. “I think (with no empirical evidence) that the quality of writing in published sources has gone down.”

    I agree.

    I’ve heard from people in the newspaper business that one reason is that proofreading has largely gone away, a victim of reduced readership leading to cost cutting. I suspect the same rationale has also affected magazines.

    I’m glad my kids read the NYTImes online. I believe they still have higher standards than most news sources, although even they have eliminated the column in which they discussed their grammar errors.

  9. Fred, just to be contrary, an example of continuing costs of entertainment from my grandma’s youth: sheet music. They loved to stand around the piano and sing, and bought the latest songs to play on the piano. And then on our parents’ day, before tvs were common, didn’t people go to movies more often?

    Finn, speaking of grammar corrections, do your high schoolers still get “find the errors” assignments too?

  10. “The guy who wrote Bowling Alone is giving a talk on campus tonight, to boot.”

    I’d like to hear him (in all seriousness). My new friend, whom Denver and I were joking about, invited us to go bowling last weekend. We had a great time, and the kids were entirely self-sufficient in their own lane with bumpers and the dinosaur platform thing that my 4 yo could use to roll the ball down.

    But somewhere along the way, bowling has become $5 per person per game, plus shoes. If it’s just a couple going, that’s not too bad, but for a family of five, it’s $25 per game! We played two games for $50, plus snacks and pizza and a pitcher of beer, and I think they forgot to charge us for the shoes. So for something that’s supposed to be the quintessential recreation of the working class, it’s fairly pricey.

    It was Friday night, and the alley became crowded while we were there, mostly because of league players.

  11. I like the article and think it makes some interesting points about Rhett’s periodic observation that low skill jobs will continue to be automated, leaving few employment options for people with limited skills. Such articles also make me think of “soma”, the drug in the book Brave New World.

    I agree that the boundary between work and leisure has blurred. Work has also become less onerous. My free time includes watching soccer games, going to church, going to the grocery store and kid activity pickups. My children do almost no physical work, unlike my Dad, who did farm chores. Their household chores are minimally physically demanding, as are mine. None of us are cutting grain with a scythe and then threshing it.

    For me, and perhaps for other parents, the increase in child supervision standards has meant a decrease in what used to be “leisure” time, because now you have to take your child to the park rather than send your child to the park. Once my kids are beyond the toddler stage, being at the park with them is still pretty leisurely.

  12. Milo,

    But look at the cost of a movie! Even the matinees are roughly $9. For a family of 5 (of course ages can help reduce the price a bit), its $45 even without any popcorn. So, I think its about the same cost and at least you are interacting with each other.

  13. This horde of unemployed young men may be drugged out on video games as the article seems to indicate. But generally speaking, societies with large numbers of unattached, unemployed, idle young me are unstable societies. Nazism in part was an outlet for the hordes of unemployed young men in Germany of the 20’s Some analysts attribute the disorder in many Middle Esatern countries to the many unemployed young men in those countries. Even in this country – the brief period in which outlaws roamed the West was largely a result of a large number of suddenly unemployed Civil War veterans. Once they had been reintegrated into society, things settled down. This trend does not bode well for our future stability, even if they do seem all drugged out on video games

  14. This horde of unemployed young men may be drugged out on video games as the article seems to indicate.

    Does what they’re doing actually matter? Is attaching an endless supply of lower door brackets to and endless supply of Model Ts all that different from accumulating gold in World of Warcraft? Of course it mattered when man power was the only way to get those brackets attached. But, now that robots can do it much more cheaply and accurately…?

  15. I feel sorry for the women–There is a large group of women who cannot find a decent mate due to the fact that so many men are undereducated and underemployed.

  16. Well, the difference was that when young men spent their time attaching door brackets, they were earning a paycheck that, at least in union times, let them get married, have kids, and become part of society. That doesn’t happen if they are spending all their time playing video games. That reminds me more of the many men who ended up addicted to opium in China of the late 19th century, or today in Afghanistan.

  17. “Does what they are doing actually matter?”

    Yes, because if they are attaching door brackets, they are getting paid and technically are not idle. If they are only playing World of Warcraft, they generally are not. Someone is paying for their food and shelter, which may be their parents or older relatives. At some point, the older generation will not be able to support them (ill or dead) and who will support them?

  18. Rhett: The difference is that the men at the Model T factory earned a decent living and could support a family.

  19. “Some analysts attribute the disorder in many Middle Esatern countries to the many unemployed young men in those countries.”

    I’ve heard similar things about how, more generally, large numbers of young men unable to find work have been pools of rebellion and instability.

    However, my guess is that for that to be the case, large numbers of those young men must also be dissatisfied with that situation. The high rate of satisfaction among such unemployed young men, mentioned early in the article, suggest that this is not likely to be the case in our society now.

  20. “The difference is that the men at the Model T factory earned a decent living and could support a family.”

    FDR seemed to understand that and put them to work in CCC and WPA, etc. At least that’s history’s take on it.

  21. “At some point, the older generation will not be able to support them (ill or dead) and who will support them?”

    Perhaps their sedentary lifestyles leads to health issues that lead to short lives.

  22. Perhaps these men will become caregivers to their parents, as they age. I know one millennial doing this (serving as caregiver to his elderly grandmother). This could benefit society, if it happened.

  23. The large numbers of (mainly) men addicted to opium in 19th and early 20th century China ultimately proved very destabilizing. I don’t think you can have a stable society with so many disconnected men, even if they think they are happy.

  24. In the home country, the young men would be pressured to find work or if the family were wealthy enough they would be assigned a job in the family business. Then, they were married off. I can’t really say if it all worked out fine, but the problem was recognized. The goal was to get them past their 20s without them getting into trouble.

  25. Given the family based economics of my home country, most young unemployed men lived with their families…forever. True, they might have had jobs in the family business, but they were not expected to do real work–they just showed up. There was usually a bread winner in the family who was successful and was expected to support everyone else. FIL and my father were assigned these roles in their respective families.

  26. Milo, I went out with my new friend last week to Top Golf. I don’t know how national these places are yet, but they are driving ranges married with bars. We just hung out in the bar, but if you want to hit balls, it’s $45 an hour to rent a “bay.” This allows unlimited balls for up to 6 people, plus there is a table or couches in each one and you can order drinks and foods.

    I agree with you about how expensive bowling is. If you sign up for the brunswick zone’s email coupons, you can get some pretty good deals. But regular price here is $6 a game plus shoe rental.

  27. King Abdullah of Jordan on 60 Minutes last night said the thing that keeps him up at night is the young men with no opportunities. Given what’s going on in his country, that says a lot of the weight of that concern.

  28. Denver and Milo – nice to know those new relationships are working out well. I haven’t gotten around to a follow-up friend date since my wine tasting a few weeks ago. I guess I should make the next move, since she invited the first time. We did email several times after, and I’m pretty sure she still likes me…

  29. Given the family based economics of my home country

    I thought you were born-and-raised in the U.S. — am I wrong on that? Or was that just a shorthand reference to your parents’ home country?

    Also, I saw the news — I hope your friends and family, and MBT’s, are all unaffected!

  30. “shorthand reference to your parents’ home country”

    This is correct. I seem to have skipped a few words. : )

    Regarding the news–that happened fairly close to DS2’s school in a very UMC neighborhood. Luckily, other than heavy police presence at morning drop-off, we were unaffected.

  31. Any new show recommendation for this season? I got sucked into Designated Survivor which doesn’t seem too bad.

  32. Rhett, The Good Place is pretty funny. I think Son of Zorn is hilarious but I’m the only one in my family who likes it. And Lethal weapon is good for some mindless entertainment.

  33. I watched the first episode of Designated Survivor and loved it. And I am someone who usually hates all the new shows.

  34. “As Hurst and others have emphasized, these young men have disconnected from both the labor market and the dating pool. They are on track to grow up without spouses, families, or a work history.”

    The vast majority of these disconnected guys are still having sex and often living with their girlfriends, at least some of the time. And they are still bringing children into the world. They may be disconnected from the marriage pool, but who needs marriage when you have willing sexual partners and a couple of kids floating around so that you can play dad when you feel like it and disappear when you don’t?

    And though the article mentioned “narcotic” entertainment, it didn’t mention actual narcotics, which could be a big part of the picture, explaining both what these young men are doing with their time, and why they aren’t working (because they can’t pass the drug tests).

  35. +1 for Designated Survivor

    Bull (about a jury consultant extraordinaire) was ok, maybe a little above average. I might watch this week, but I don’t remember when it’s on and we’re out every Wed-Fri night.

    I looked at what’s new / interesting for Sunday night and found nothing, so I started reading a new novel, Darktown. Good thru the first 40 pages or so.

  36. I liked Designated Survivor and I’m going to continue to watch. I tried Pitch, and I’m not sure if I’ll stick with it.
    I started to watch blackish because of all the award nominations. I think it’s funny and smart so I’ll probably watch it.

    I went to the street where the Americans film the exterior of the houses. It is exactly like the show. It was creepy and cool to see what it’s really like. It’s a one street development and it’s a dead end. Cut de sac turnaround thing at end.

    We just finished season 3, but I realized we will have to pay to watch season 4. It won’t be “free” until Season 5 is out next year.

  37. Hijack….last week we got a tentative diagnosis of Crohn’s disease for my 13 year old son. Does anyone have any experience with Crohn’s or any advice? DS is actually fairly upbeat, since we have a diagnosis and the prospect of medicines to make it better. I, however, have been asking Dr. Google and am not reassured.

    A few years ago, I remember someone, maybe Scarlett, had experience feeding a child who was loosing weight because of sports practices. One of his issues is weight loss. He has started drinking ensure and pediasure, but I’m concerned that he will get tired of it, so I’d like some alternatives to switch out with the ensure/pediasure.

  38. I didn’t hear news, but assume there was another shooting? There are too many to keep track of these days! ‘Saac was very frightened for a while, but now is holding up well, simply refused to engage when cops shot the boy his age in Columbus in the back a week or two ago. The goodness Tulsa decided to prosecute. Let’s hope some others do as well!

    More shootings: I was planning to go to Ross, remembered that I had heard on the news that there was a shooting in Ross in that neighborhood, so tried to google it. I eventually found that it was a different store in that neighborhood, but along the way I came across an “oh Florida!” story that’s fairly recent. Two guys wanted to test a bullet-proof vest, so one of them put it on and sat in a chair. The other one shot. Guy in the chair died. In the end, it turned out not to be a bullet proof vest anyway; it was a flak jacket. Oh, Florida!

  39. Anon: I’m so sorry that your son is going through this. I hope the medicines work and that symptoms are minimized.

  40. Anon – one of my kids is really skinny. Things that have been suggested to us: Carnation Instant Breakfast, peanut butter, butter on as much stuff as possible, half and half instead of milk in everything, Cheerios fried in butter (these are delicious, btw, but maybe too much of a little kid food), avocado, nuts, for breakfast I often make scrambled eggs made with half and half cooked in butter and then cheddar cheese melted in to them, smoothies made with full fat yogurt and a banana, milk shakes

  41. “I looked at what’s new / interesting for Sunday night and found nothing”

    Ahem – Poldark is on Sundays at 8 pm. =)

    And on Netflix, Longmire is back.

  42. Anon, my sister whose husband has Crohn’s says to search for “low residue diet” also

    “Nothing with seeds, nuts, strings etc. no fresh fruits no fresh veggies no whole grains basically, white rice and grilled chicken”

  43. I should add – My suggestions are for a FTT kid. I don’t have any experience with Crohn’s, so maybe they are totally off-base. In any event, I hope you figure out some alternatives and he feels better!

  44. “Nothing with seeds, nuts, strings etc. no fresh fruits no fresh veggies no whole grains basically, white rice and grilled chicken”

    I’ve been seeing this sort of thing on the internet, and I’m basically, hmmmm, every dietary guideline for the past thirty years out the window.

  45. Anon, exactly! My sister was quietly critical of her MiL for all the canned food they are, including all their veggies. They hadn’t been married very long and she was proud of herself for getting his diet switched over to something much healthier that she thought would be better for him. Then came the Dx and all of that went out the window

  46. Anon, sister has texted me more info. Do you want me to post it here, or can you email me and I’ll send it to you?

  47. Yikes, that Houston shooting is very close to my sister’s house! I have to get more details – was anyone killed?

  48. Thanks, Finn. Just looked at the news and it seems that one person is in critical condition, the rest were more minor injuries. And they found a bit of Nazi “stuff” in his car.

  49. To add weigth with variety – Look into Medifast. It is technically a high protien diet to lose weight, but their meal replacements are also used by some who are trying to gain weight to supplement their diets. If they do not contain other ingredients that aggravate the condition, they have a decent selection of gluten-free products.

  50. Cheerios fried in butter

    That sounds like something a trendy brunch place would use to coat french toast or as a garnish for a yogurt parfait.

    My uncle had/ has Crohn’s and he had to start eating meat (was previously a vegetarian) because of it. That was years ago; maybe they have better ways to deal with it now.

  51. “Nothing with seeds, nuts, strings etc. no fresh fruits no fresh veggies no whole grains basically, white rice and grilled chicken”

    Pasta?

    If a low-fiber diet is called for, my guess is that it will be important to drink a lot of water and get regular exercise.

  52. HM, does this sound better than your uncle’s situation?
    “He has been on medicines for 15 years for it.
    He has been able to taper off of all but one, which he only needs 2 times per day. ”

    There are still flare-ups. She sent info on those too, but I think I’ve posted enough about it unless OP asks.

  53. On the main article, I read it a week or so ago when it came out and had mixed feelings. The underlying issue of plummeting labor participation rate among younger men is concerning. I guess what I found off-putting was the way the whole issue was framed, as a “we, the professional-middle-class worker bees, are busting our humps all the time and meanwhile these guys are getting all the leisure time; something’s backwards here.” I mean, I definitely understand the sentiment, but I think framing it as an ‘unequal distribution of leisure time’ issue really obscures the important question of what the heck is going on with so many young men. So the article ended up seeming a bit concern-trolly, like it was more aimed at allowing those of us with minimal leisure time to feel superior than at raising an important sociological issue.

  54. S&M, I’m afraid I couldn’t say. My uncle and I don’t the kind of relationship where he’d share information about his bowel movements or even his medications with me.

  55. The “low-residue” diet (no nuts, popcorn, raspberries, strawberries – things with tiny hard bits) has long been a recommendation for people with diverticulosis/diverticulitis. However, there is really no data to support it in diverticulitis or Crohn’s (as far as I know). It fits a nice narrative – the lining of the intestine is more uneven in these conditions, so having little hard things floating on by might make things get caught and cause infection/inflammation. It’s a lovely medical just-so story. Without any evidence to support improved outcomes in people who follow the recommendation.

    I specifically address this with patients who have a new diagnosis of diverticulitis (I am never a diagnoser of Crohn’s). We know high fiber diets are good for the general population. I would not recommend removing foods that we know are good for you (and that you may enjoy) for a theoretical benefit. Speaking to Crohn’s disease in children, “Neither diets low in sugar and increased in fiber content, nor diets with reduced fiber content (“low residue”), altered the clinical course of the subjects as compared with a control group.” (from utdol.com – my preferred aggregator of medical information).

    If I had an underweight kid who needed to put on weight, I would increase frequency of eating and increase fat content. Whipped cream on everything! I would not increase sugar content (Carnation Instant breakfast, for example). It looks like there is good evidence for supplementing Crohn’s patients with liquid “elemental” nutrition – like ensure. One way to get those things down a bit easier is to mix with frozen bananas or ice cream in the blender. Long term, obesity is also a problem in Crohn’s disease and is associated with a more severe course of the illness.

  56. Lauren,
    We had to pay for the Americans season 4 when an electrical storm fried our DVR with about half the episodes unwatched. It was definitely worth the cost.

    Anon, no real advice on Crohn’s, but IME message boards can be a mixed bag with these kinds of conditions. Until you have some experience working with your doctors and seeing what works for your son, you may be putting yourself through unnecessary worry by reading the worst-case scenarios that often appear online. For what it’s worth, I read at least 3 college applications referencing Crohn’s, each of them saying essentially “I was really devastated at first but now I am able to manage.” Also, check out this story about an Olympic medalist swimmer with Crohn’s. http://www.nytimes.com/2016/07/15/sports/olympics/kathleen-baker-crohns-disease-swimming-olympics.html?_r=0

  57. HM, Your post brings to mind a chart, like one might make for a toddler. That’s obviously what I meant. I see this guy about twice a year. Sometimes he looks fine, other times he is really drawn and has recently lost some huge number of pounds, and doesn’t eat with the rest of us.

  58. Anon, if you decide to try Ensure, icy cold and with a straw makes it much easier to tolerate straight.

  59. DS’s pediatrician, when we started this journey, suggested that internet stories would be highly biased towards people with bad outcomes. Which is likely true. The docs have also been very supportive and reiterated many times that this disease typically goes on for a while before parents realize that something is wrong. Apparently, I am not the only parent who watched their child starve and did nothing.

    The last time we talked to the doc, she suggested protein and fat. I know that getting sufficient calories really isn’t an issue for most people, but if anyone has any high protein, high fat recipes, I appreciate sharing. Maybe a preholiday recipe sharing since that seems to be the time of year for calorie dense tasty foods. And then maybe an extreme exercise routine so that the rest of the family doesn’t turn into the Goodyear blimp?

  60. Anon – does he like eggs? My skinny kid will devour a quiche made with half and half and cheese. I make the pie crust with butter. Tons of fat and lots of protein. Sometimes I throw in ham and veggies. Sometimes just cheese. It is good warm or room temp, so that it convenient.

  61. Kate,

    Yes, scrambled eggs with cream cheese, butter, and cheddar cheese have become a breakfast staple.

  62. What about chicken pot pie? I have a recipe that uses heavy cream and is really tasty. I usually make it with puff pastry and I don’t eat that part because there is so much fat/calories in it.

  63. Anon – Paula Dean has a yummy bacon/swiss quiche recipe that uses heavy cream. I make it with whole milk, and it is still delicious! Also, I have a friend who has very tall, athletic sons. She used to whip up milk shakes for them to drink after practice, while they were taking a bath/shower, pre dinner.

  64. “high protein, high fat recipes”

    Cheeseburgers without buns? Perhaps with fries and milkshakes (made with whole milk) on the side?

    It’s great that your DS appears to have a positive attitude. If he didn’t, you might spin it as being given license to eat a bunch of food that most others might like to eat but are warned against, e.g., burgers, fries, milkshakes.

  65. Most teen boys don’t like yogurt, but Noosa is full-fat and nearly 300 calories in a small tub. Nutella on a bagel plus two glasses of whole milk was a staple bedtime snack for my skinny swimmer. His basic approach was, as Finn suggests, to eat the foods that people on diets avoid. The problem was that he had to eat when he wasn’t really hungry, which is a lot harder than most people imagine. If your son has that issue, then you have to make sure that everything he DOES eat is calorie-dense.

  66. I would look at nomnompaleo – paleo food tends to be very high fat, and high protein and this is a blog that spends a good deal of time looking for kid-friendly food.

  67. I looked at what’s new / interesting for Sunday night and found nothing,

    You don’t have a DVR?

  68. I guess roasted marrow bones wouldn’t be the most practical food to be serving all the time . . . but they’d qualify!

  69. Kate, is it really a problem?

    My family has a history of childhood skinniness. As an infant, DS was >90%ile height, and ~1%ile weight. But I had a similar build as a kid, as did my dad, so we didn’t worry about it as long as he had no signs of health issues related to his weight. We just fed him what we considered a normal, healthful diet.

    My dad was considered too skinny, and was sent to a skinny farm as a kid and fed, among other things, lots of whole milk, with negligible success in making him gain weight.

  70. Finn – I don’t really know. My husband and I were both skinny kids. So, I think a lot of it is genetic. But his pulmonologist thinks it is very important that we give him a lot of calories to help encourage lung growth. My daughter is actually much smaller/skinnier, and no one is worried about her. They just think it is how she is. I think some of the issue is that he is followed closely/doctors are always looking for things with him.

  71. Finn – also, I mostly don’t push too many calories on him. He is growing fine height-wise, so I tend to think he is doing fine. I do find that giving more protein helps all of my kids behave better, maybe because it keeps their blood sugar more steady. So I try to make sure they get protein at breakfast. If left to their own devices, they would eat some cinnamon toast and orange juice.

  72. Kate, I agree on the protein at breakfast. DS usually eats an english muffin with some scrambled egg whites and cheese. DD is always in a rush and just gulps down a smoothie, so I make sure to put a couple big scoops of Greek yogurt in them for some protein.

  73. “Finn – I don’t really know. My husband and I were both skinny kids. So, I think a lot of it is genetic.”

    If there are no issues and kids are growing fine, IMO they should eat as normal without extra calories. I have seen unhealthy eating habits become a big problem when formally skinny kids move into adulthood. At that point they cannot continue to eat as they did when they were kids and it becomes very hard to change their food habits.

  74. My kids are all skinny, even the non-genetically related one, and it seems that we are always getting flak from doctors about it. My oldest is on Concerta, so he has to get followed by a developmental pediatrician, who complains about his weight at every visit, and gives a long list of dietary advice. Same for the regular pediatrician, but he only has to see her once a year. But he is skinny because his parents are skinny. I was my full height at age 12, but did not make it to 100 pounds until my senior year of high school. My husband was similar. As for DD, she is short and skinny most likely because she comes from an area of China where people tend to be short and skinny, She is the same height as the other little girls who came from her orphanage at that time (they are all the same age) and she is the same height as her Japanese and Chinese friends here. And she is tracking her growth curve correctly. Yet, I couldn’t get the developmental pediatrician to put her on effective medication for her severe ADHD for years because he kept saying she is too skinny.
    DS2’s height and weight of course are scrutinized heavilly, but at least it is done by the late effects team, who don’t criticize or bombard us with unneeded dietary advice. My kids eat a lot, and they mainly eat well, though sometimes strangely (this morning’s breakfast for two of them was left over pork chops from dinner)

  75. On baking – where can I watch The Great British Bake Off ? Seasons 1 to 3 are on Amazon but can’t find Season 4 and 5.
    I love the show !

  76. @anon – I assume the dr tested for celiac disease but wanted to mention it in case he/she didn’t

  77. I agree with Louise. DS2 was a really skinny kid–3-5% in weight. Now that he hit puberty, he is eating more and putting on weight. Just donated 6 pairs of jeans, some with the tags still on, as he moved from “skinny” size to “regular” size.

    I am glad that we resisted grandparent pressure and gave him a balanced diet when he was younger and “too skinny”, because he doesn’t have to make any big dietary changes now that he weighs more.

  78. @Houston – it is a no win situation with the traditional older generation. It is either too skinny or too fat. And don’t get me started on what to feed kids. I am convinced I don’t care for eggs now because I was forced to eat them every which way, when I was a kid. I just began to eat oatmeal again after years of aversion.
    Two perfectly good food choices put aside due to pressure to eat them as a kid.

  79. I honestly think most kids intuitively know how much and what to eat (this a.m. my very skinny DD ate 2.5 chocolate chip pancakes and sometimes she picks and doesn’t eat anything). It’s just when we get to be older and get messages about what’s healthy and what’s not that people tend to go astray. I let my kids have ice cream for snack twice per week and sometimes they don’t even eat it all, it’s fascinating. I just rarely stock processed foods but they are allowed to snack on Haggen Daaz ice cream (no soy or vegetable oil in that brand), potato chips fried in coconut oil, cheese, yogurt, fruit and veggies and they tend to be pretty balanced about it if I leave them to it.

  80. I think most kids do eat what they need to eat to grow. My kid who we worry about had a feeding tube for 2.5 months, so the studies show that can sometimes mess things up (but there wasn’t really an alternative). The preemie studies on eating post-NICU are kind of interesting. They almost all show better outcomes for kids who gain more weight (increased IQ, increased lung function, developmental milestones reached earlier) but the trade off is worse cardiovascular health and higher bp. Life can be complicated when you start it at 2 lbs.

    And sorry Anon- I didn’t meant to get this off track. Was just trying to give you some ideas of what was suggested for weight gain for my kiddo.

  81. My grandkids are offered very healthy foods in a grazing rather than formal mealtime mode, but they self regulate. The youngest is built like me, so she may need to be very active and keep an eye on intake in adolescence and beyond. The eldest is so skinny with stick legs and arms she would be at home in a photo of near starving depression era children. They did offer supercharged whole milk for a while to try to put weight on her and it had no effect. The kids now decline pizza at home because it gets served at parties and outside the house so often. Bedtime is rigid, food is not in that house. You pick your battles.

  82. How long ago was your kid on the feeding tube? My kid was on TPN (nutrition by IV) for the better part of a year, and it was hard to get him eating again. He had a lot of food and other aversions for a couple of years, and had to use Pediasure. He did get over his aversions, though, and 3 years later, was able to eat whatever he was given in China. He is still a little fussier about food than my oldest but not too much.

  83. MM – he is 6 now and it was when he was a newborn. Did TPN and then fortified breastmilk/formula in an ng/og tube until right before he came home. He actually gained weight quite well at first. As he has gotten older he has gotten a lot skinnier/dropped on his curve. He eats well. His pulmonologist has said that kids with decreased lung function often burn more calories because they have to work harder to breathe. So, maybe a little of that and a little of genetics. My husband is still very thin. I do feel really lucky. So many of our preemie peers had g tubes for a few years.

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