Before I complain about Chris Christie, the governor of New Jersey, I want to say that I love him. I love that right before Hurricane Sandy, when the people in Atlantic City wouldn’t evacuate, he screamed on television: “Get the hell off the beach!” That screamed authenticity to me.
I was so happy when there was a convergence of two of my favorite things: People magazine and Chris Christie. The article is basically Christie’s PR team introducing him to the Iowa voter. But his PR team blew it when they decided that the way to show that he is a good dad is that he does homework with his kids.
The kids don’t want to do the homework, because if they did, they wouldn’t want help. And Christie doesn’t want to do homework, because it doesn’t help him advance his person power. So he is spending time doing stuff with his kids that no one wants to do. And somehow we have convinced ourselves that this is what good parenting is.
It’s messed up. People want to feel useful, even kids, and the act of parent and child doing homework together is damaging to both parties because they know it’s useless because they hate it. But also, its damaging because what the parent is really modeling is, “It’s okay to just go through the motions of being together. And that “Doing something stupid is fine. Pretending it’s not stupid is fine. Pretending it’s emotionally satisfying is fine because we can subvert our real emotional needs to the needs of the education system.”
But look: kids come home from school and they eat and do homework and sleep. When do they do family? Christie is a governor—he doesn’t have a lot of time with the kids, so the time should at least be doing something they like. We back ourselves into a corner so that we have to convince ourselves that a measure of good parenting is if you do homework. It’s sad that parents are so trapped. Even parents as powerful as Chris Christie.