Nutty Golfers Find Sanity

Finally, my faith in male humanity has been restored -- by the National Golf Foundation.

Over the years I've known many a smart, likable man who golfed with excessive passion. Friends from business school and my 10 years at Johnson & Johnson hit the links every weekend and often on weekdays before work. I golfed exactly once, on a Leo Burnett client outing. That was enough for me (and the three colleagues in my foursome).

Men's golf obsession puzzled me at first. But once my acquaintances had kids, their continued pursuit of breaking 90 gradually undermined my faith in men's collective sanity. They were away from their families for 60 hours during the week, then they'd get up early on Saturdays and Sundays and disappear into the black -- um, green -- hole for another four or more hours? Where were their priorities? I know three men who came within minutes of missing the births of their children because they were on the golf course faithfully abiding the no-cell-phone club rule. (To be fair, I need to disclaim that 25 percent of American golfers are women, but I know only one mom who golfed excessively -- my 70-year-old grandmother whose kids had long left home and was looking for ways to fill her time.)

I don't know a solitary mom with young children who golfs on a regular basis unless it is her paid profession. It's always seemed peculiar that dads with young children could find a half-day on a weekend to skip out on their kids and partners. I don't know any moms who would choose golf (or any other massively time-consuming hobby) over children.

So, imagine my relief when I opened The New York Times last Thursday. Splashed across the front page, right under a huge picture of Obama to herald its significance, blared the words Pressed for Time and Money, Americans Are Giving Up Golf. The National Golf Foundation released the news that the total number of people golfing has dropped from 30 million in 2000 to 26 million these days, with the number of heavy users (people who play 25 times a year or more) dropping by one third. "The problem is time," the piece reported. "Men won't spend a whole day way from their family anymore."

The angels sang above my head at the breakfast table. I turned to the The Wall Street Journal, our bible for businessmen, and found the same findings in John Paul Newport's Golf Journal, which ran a follow-up a week later with a helpful suggestion: shorter tees to reduce the time spent on the course (and to increase the challenge and excitement of the game).

Do you share my excitement that this is on par (tee-hee) with pay equity for single moms or tax incentives for companies offering flextime work schedules for parents? Do you play golf or have other hobbies that interfere with family time? How have you resolved (or avoided) leisure time/family time conflicts?

By Leslie Morgan Steiner |  February 25, 2008; 7:00 AM ET  | Category:  Conflicts
Previous: The Amazing Mom Song | Next: Passion, Work and Motherhood

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I play golf very rarely and very badly. (Those two probably go together. :-) But I like it anyway.

Growing up, my father played a lot, and it was a family activity. My brother and I used to love getting up early to go with him and caddy for him. Sometimes he'd take us both and one would caddy for another golfer. I have fond memories of those times - and a few not-so-fond ones. In addition to just spending the time with my Dad, the fond ones include having to stop play on a course in Bad Tolz, Germany while the Special Forces completed a practice parachute jump onto the golf course (it doubled as their training range). Cool - especially when the 2nd Lieutenant landed in the water hazard. :-)

The not-so-fond memories include the lesson that, when Dad is in a foursome with the Colonel and Mrs. Colonel, you really have to be on your best behavior. Mrs. Colonel Williams did NOT like disrespectful teenaged sons of NCOs. ("Disrespectful" including pointing out that she was cheating.)

Dad used to walk the courses, never use a cart unless he had to. When they first got married, Mom used to like to go with him and walk the course - it was great exercise and she enjoyed it. (Well, except for the course that doubled as a ski slope in Berchtesgaden.)

These days, when I play golf it's mostly with my brother or my son, and getting out on the course with my son is an activity I thoroughly enjoy.

Golf can be great - just make it a family activity, not a "Dad hides from family and friends" activity.

Posted by: ArmyBrat | February 25, 2008 7:57 AM

Wow - "first"

Posted by: ArmyBrat | February 25, 2008 7:58 AM

Hey -- I LIKE golf! Just wish I could play more often. But time and money, ya know?

My husband and I trade off sleeping in Sat. and Sun. Sometimes, he uses his "sleep in" day to get up at an ungodly hour to play golf. So it's really not much more time away from the family -- he's just trading off sleep for it. Me, I'm waaaaay too lazy for that. :-) Plus he has a group of friends who will go play with him; I don't, and I don't enjoy playing by myself enough to sacrifice 3 hrs of precious sleep.

I'm really looking forward to when the kids get old enough that we can make it a "family" thing. Of course, that would mean Doppler Girl would have to learn to keep her mouth shut when other people are playing. . . .

Posted by: laura33 | February 25, 2008 8:20 AM

This story has such a negative mean-spirited overtone to it. Yes, some men are away too often from their families while they play golf. And, yes, golf is suffering because men don't want to be away from their families as often. But to say "tee hee" and that this is on a par with "pay equality for single women" is ridiculous. (And, I'm not sure that SINGLE women have any more problem with pay equality than married women do).

I personally am glad that golf has been given a wake-up call - because they are recognizing that they need to change to attract more players. Golf needs to be less snobbish, less expensive and have more flexible schedules.

But I really don't get the tone of this blog.

Posted by: jjtwo | February 25, 2008 8:29 AM

Actually, I think everybody should be encouraged to have a time-consuming, engrossing hobby that takes time away from their family, at least occasionally. It's called being three-dimensional or maybe even balanced.

I know a lot of women who still find time to sing in a choir once a week, serve on a board that's important to them, assemble massively complicated craft projects, go antiquing or see their friends at least once a month. I don't begrudge my husband the occasional golf game, hunting trip or whatever he needs to stay sane -- and he is usually the one who actively encourages me to take a break when I need it.

I think it's important for our kids to see that we are full-fledged people with other hobbies (besides them)and that we're also individuals with our own interests. I hope it will encourage them to do the same some day. The solution to the gender issues isn't for BOTH sexes to become "mommy martyrs" with no interests other than little Junior. It's for both to become full well-rounded people.

Posted by: justlurking | February 25, 2008 8:41 AM

Call me crazy, but I don't see any cause for celebration at all. The article defines "heavy" golf players as those who play 25 times a year or more -- that's what, every other weekend? 1/2 day every other week of "me" time for anyone (male or female) doesn't strike me as all that unreasonable. Doesn't everybody need a little time to do something they love, even if they have a family?

FWIW, DH is a sailor. That means that he spends about half a day every other week out on the water (somewhat more during the summer). He comes home relaxed, recharged and ready to spend the next 13.5 days being a great husband and father. Why on earth would I want to deny him a few lousy hours to do something that makes him so happy?

Posted by: newsahm | February 25, 2008 8:49 AM

justlurking: no kidding. I think the idea of kids in our society has gone kaflooey. Like the parents who brag about how their kid has never stayed with a babysitter - i mean, excuse me? I can see a 3 mo old, maybe - but when do mom and dad get to have time to themselves? To define themselves without kids (okay, so when we go out together, that's what we mainly talk about, but still...).

Our society has become all about the kids - so we're raising kids that think it's all about them. No, I'm not advocating a hobby that would make it so you never see your kids (tho possibly that's best for the kids in some situation...;).

Posted by: atlmom1234 | February 25, 2008 8:50 AM

Amen to all of you with children for saying what I was thinking -- hobbies, including golf are NOT a bad thing! Some of my past running partners have been moms with small children -- their kids saw it as normal that mom got up early on Saturday morning.

Posted by: tntkate | February 25, 2008 8:58 AM

Hey, Army Brat - totally off topic, but I thought you might be the one to help me. I'm installing new fridge and freezer gaskets later this week. I understand it seems easy, but can be hard. Any tips? Thanks.

Posted by: moxiemom1 | February 25, 2008 9:10 AM

Woooow -- some of you really think it is a good thing to be so engrossed in a "hobby" that you almost miss your child's birth? I can't recall any women who got so involved in knitting or their church choir that they missed labor.

There is a big, big difference between doing something for yourself (which I agree, is good, but very challenging when you are working fulltime and raising young children) and being unable to put a pastime aside for a few years. It's a sign of maturity and balance to play the shorter tees, metaphorically, while your kids are young and need constant care. There is always time to hit the links (maybe even with them) when they are older!

Posted by: leslie4 | February 25, 2008 9:12 AM

I agree with the general idea of the piece, which is that both adults in a family need to adjust their time to deal with the new reality of childrearing, not just the mother. So whoo hoo.

Having said that, I wish my husband would take a little more time to be involved in outdoor, healthy activities. And me too. I think the answer here is family-friendly golf courses or equivalent (our old, shared passion was kayaking and canoeing and we are waiting for our son to be a little more water-safe before renewing that one).

Posted by: shandra_lemarath | February 25, 2008 9:22 AM

I don't like the tone of this piece at all. People have passions. Some are passionate about sports, others with family life, others about knitting or making miniatures. How dare any of us judge others on their passions? Soon to be dads missing the birth of their kids is very very rare as most of us give tales of long labors (full disclosure: not me...3 1/2 hours for my second and they made me wait for the yes I did almost miss my own labor. It was that short). Just because you don't share their particular passion doesn't mean you should knock it.

Posted by: dotted_1 | February 25, 2008 9:33 AM

I would knock any non-essential passion that means leaving young children alone for HOURS when you don't have to, on top of being away for 60 hours at work during the week. It's selfishness, plain and simple. Don't care what you are doing.

Especially for kids under 12 or so, time is the currency of love. (And for some adults, too!) I would not want to be the kid whose dad declares, every weekend, that golf was more important than me.

Posted by: leslie4 | February 25, 2008 9:44 AM

Leslie, I just don't think too many people have the same experience in knowing SO many people that ALMOST missed their child's birth due to golf. I know a few people that "almost" missed their child's birth for various reasons, most were job related, and that means?? Not too much, they are still good parents.

My dad played golf at least twice a month for decades. He went on 4 day golf trips with several buddies annually for many years. I am sure he missed some things as we were growing up, but I never thought golf was bad or some conspiracy to drive my mother crazy or break up our family. It was just a hobby that he truly enjoyed and he came home refreshed and energized. I think there are many people on this board that have parents that had similar hobbies that took up just as much time as my dad's golf, and can appreciate the necessity of doing something for yourself - esp as an adult.

If you are going to pound golf about the time it takes away from families, be fair - what about those horrid adult Soccer, flag-football, baseball and rugby leagues. Or the quilters - sheesh - what a waste of time away from your family! Don't get me started!

Posted by: cmac | February 25, 2008 9:49 AM

CMAC -- my point exactly. it's not the hobby itself i'm pounding. it's the excessive time away from young kids (and often, from wives). it's always puzzled me. my mom always said, your kids are young for such a short time. why miss it? especially for golfing or knitting or whatever!

Posted by: leslie4 | February 25, 2008 10:05 AM

Agreed, Leslie. But my mom did a great job of raising 3 kids, and hardly did it alone (live in help til I, the youngest, was about 5, which would have continued if we could have afforded it - babysitters EVERY saturday night). Then she took up a hobby that took her away from us a bunch - BRIDGE. Which I just saw a story about how buffet and gates play ALL the time - and how they want to bring it back as a game kids love.

So she was completely and totally devoted to it - took trips away when my dad had business trips - and during the end of the marriage, when he didn't - NOT ONE of the six kids of her and her bridge partner play - none of us even learned how to play. But it can be an all consuming addictive hobby. It definitely took mom away as much as golf can, I imagine. It was something she was passionate about, though, and part of her, and I don't begrudge that she did it. She turned it into something that allowed her to travel the world (you know those people who teach stuff on cruise ships, they get 1/2 price on the cruise). She wasn't home when we got home from school - even tho she was a 'stay at home' mom.

I'm glad she found something she enjoyed. In another day and time she could have been a wall street whiz, as she was a grand master at bridge - ask those in the know what that means. I bet it's possible bill gates and warren buffet are, but it's highly possible they haven't yet achieved that.

So what's wrong with it? She was present at most stuff, but it's good she had her own life outside us. It's great, in fact. We in our society are so tied up in our kids - we all need to take a step back and realize it's okay if they miss a season of soccer, or don't get into the 'best' school or hang out with their friends and we're not involved.

Of course, I do think that my sister was insane when she told me that with her first kid - that she had on a friday night - her husband didn't even take a day off from work. As if it was some kind of prize that she won. But realistically - I think it's good for HER kids that their dad is commuting 2 hrs each way and not so interested in them on the weekends...

Posted by: atlmom1234 | February 25, 2008 10:19 AM

Well, I was being sarcastic about the Quilters - they are usually at home quilting. Although I have heard those Quilting Conferences are pretty WILD.

I actually don't know too many people that take (or took) excessive time away from their little kids for their hobbies, even golfing. My experience is that this is not an epidemic, however I think the higher the income the more expensive are your hobbies. Higher income couples also tend to have the resources to hire domestic help that allows them to spend more time with their kids, as in a cleaning or lawn service. If you save time on that end, taking time for a hobby is a bonus as well as spending more time with kids.

Posted by: cmac | February 25, 2008 10:21 AM

Leslie, while I agree with you in theory and my husband has essentially given up his beloved golf until the kids are bigger, the argument "your kids are young for such a short time. why miss it?" could be applied to the moms or dads who choose to work during these young years as well and yet, few would be too upset with a woman who worked full time because she found it fulfilling. Just playing devil's advocate!

Posted by: moxiemom1 | February 25, 2008 10:27 AM

Rejoicing that people don't have the time or finances to enjoy a luxury? Way to kick people when they're down. I think it's important that parents have hobbies or interests outside of their kids. It teaches kids they're not the center of the world. And it keeps things interesting for the married couple. I'd drive my wife nuts if I was constantly in the house. Sure, don't play 36-holes every weekend if you have other responibilities. But if junior can have a hobby so can I. And my wife. And if he can't participate in every sport or hobby so I can have a hobby, that's fine too. Don't know about you, but I'd call that balance.

Posted by: NoVAHockey | February 25, 2008 10:36 AM

moxie, re: freezer and refrigerator gaskets - I learned the hard way NOT to take the old gasket all the way out first, because then things can get out of alignment and it can be hard to get the new one on right. Do it half-way - take the old gasket half-way off and put the the new one half-way on, then do the second half.

is a good explanation, with good pictures. It's really not that hard.

Posted by: ArmyBrat | February 25, 2008 10:37 AM

agree with both points above -- the trick is balance.

and it's easy to make blanket judgments from the outside. harder to decide what is right for you -- and to feel at peace with it.

neglecting or ignoring your family when they need you is bad, black and white bad. and although the golf obsession is ridiculous in my mind -- really extreme, because i cannot understand it in the least -- it is a good example of placing a hobby over time with kids when they need you.

Posted by: leslie4 | February 25, 2008 10:38 AM

Don't pick on Leslie *too* much today, folks. She's anti-golf; I know a number of people who don't like the game. (My sister considers it the biggest waste of real estate in existence.)

I agree that you shouldn't come close to missing the birth of a child by playing golf, unless maybe you're a professional golfer and you're playing The Masters. But then, you shouldn't come close to missing the birth of a child for any other reason other than work/duty, IMNSHO. I throttled down all of my activities when DW got close, all four times.

And yes, sometimes you have to cut back or give up on a hobby because of a young family. I have a private pilot's license, but haven't flown since my oldest was born because maintaining currency on your airman's certificate takes a lot of time and money, and I no longer had either one. I'm hoping to emulate my father in law, who quit flying when his kids were born and went back to it when the last one had left the house. He's now in his 80's and flying almost every day.

There are legitimate excuses for a father to miss the birth of a child. My father missed the births of all three of his. When my sister was born in Denver, he was in Stuttgart, Germany because the Army sent him and my mother was too far along to go. When I was born, he was out in the field because the Army chose to put his unit on alert in response to some action of the Soviets. When my brother was born in Denver, Dad was in Korea. That's the price you pay for being in the military; my brother-in-law was on a destroyer in the Persian Gulf when his second daughter was born.

Posted by: ArmyBrat | February 25, 2008 10:46 AM

thx, Army Brat. Flying is one of those time consuming passions that perhaps need to be downsized, temporarily, for kids sake. Has it been hard to give up?

And you make a good point -- sometimes fathers and mothers HAVE to miss important milestones in children's lives. But that's very different from choosing to miss them. Kids can tell the difference.

Posted by: leslie4 | February 25, 2008 10:58 AM

Leslie, I'm curious - do you actually KNOW three men, or had you *heard* of three men in an urban legend like fashion?

Because I know a lot of golfers, some rabid enough to name their children after their favorite golfers (though not Fuzzy Zoeller, at least ;) ), and none of them would intentionally miss the birth of their children for a golf game. Some would even turn the cell phones onto vibrate, just in case, course rules be damned.

Also, it's not fair to confuse men who "play at" golf, instead of "playing" golf. My husband is the former; in our short golfing season here in NW Wisconsin, he and some his colleagues at work go out for "Thursday afternoon productivity sessions". This translates into leaving the office at 3 or 4 for a round of 9-holes and then a quick burger if there's time.

The guys are more productive for getting some fresh air, sunshine and a walk across the links, they rarely keep score since it's done in fun, and fees out here in the Midwest are reasonable, so it's not even that expensive.

Some people know how to keep it in perspective, you know?

Posted by: Chasmosaur1 | February 25, 2008 11:08 AM

It made my skin crawl to read in the Golf article about older generation dads who would spend the whole weekend playing golf, presumably leaving mom to watch the kids all weekend. It certainly matches my own childhood, where my dad was out watching sports all Saturday while my mom cleaned the house and helped us kids with homework. I think it's a good thing that dads now are sharing weekend childcare so that the burden isn't all on moms. If the golf world wants to keep their clientele, they can provide kidplayrooms in the clubhouse, so spouses can play together and have couple time. Perhaps they can also have kiddie courses where children learn how to play. Hence, they'll breed a new generation of golf lovers.

Posted by: jcadam | February 25, 2008 11:16 AM

Leslie, giving up flying was very hard at first, considering all the time and money I put into getting the license. And then I quit with less than 200 hours of air time - I barely got to enjoy the darned thing. :-)

But hey, priorities are priorities.

Chasmosaur - hate to break it to you, but the guys are always "keeping score". They may not be writing down numbers on a white card using sawed-off pencils, but they always 'keep score' one way or another. :-)

Posted by: ArmyBrat | February 25, 2008 11:17 AM

"I would knock any non-essential passion that means leaving young children alone for HOURS when you don't have to, on top of being away for 60 hours at work during the week. It's selfishness, plain and simple. Don't care what you are doing."

I'm going to have to disagree with you here. Just because someone (male or female) has a hobby that takes them away for a few hours a week or month doesn't mean they're selfish, at least not in a bad way.

Once again, I'll retreat to anecdote: My husband works probably about 50 hours a week. As soon as he comes home in the evening, he's all about our daughter. He plays with her while I cook dinner, then he gives her her bath and puts her to bed. On the weekends that he doesn't sail, he takes her down to the lake or they just hang out at home, enjoying each others' company. He spends plenty of time with her. I don't see the 12 or so hours a month that he spends pursing his hobby as wrong.

Now, I'd understand if you were condemning golfers (or anyone else) who's so hobby-obsessed that they consistently put family last. But you seem to think any time-intensive hobby is inherently bad, and that's where I disagree.

Posted by: newsahm | February 25, 2008 12:04 PM

I'm with newsahm. I do a Wednesday sailing series - the boat owner has a 3.5 year old son. His wife yields Wednesday evenings from May to September to the series -- in exchange they don't always use their boat as a family on the weekends due to other committments, nor does the boat compete in most weekend racing events. As with everything else in life, balance is key. ;-)

Posted by: tntkate | February 25, 2008 12:12 PM

I gave up a time consuming hobby when my son was born. I plan to go back to it when he's older and either can do it with me or when he has his own hobbies and won't miss the time away from me as much.

I don't regret my decision at all. Because I work all week, I *want* to be with my son on weekends, and would rather not spend a half day (or more) away from my family on weekends.

I do have other hobbies and things I do for myself. I'm just trying to find the right balance, and I'm choosing activities that fit my family life, but still satisfy my need to be my own person.

Things are never the same after children are born -- and that's fine with me. I knew what I was getting myself into.

I think we have to be pretty careful though. For some people, golf (even at 4 hours a pop) is a reasonable activity, and they can still find balance and golf. I think it becomes a problem when it's excessive golf, or golf plus other activities.

For instance, I have a friend whose husband golfs almost every weekend. Then has drinks with the guys after. And watches football almost all day on Sundays. It's like he's still a single guy. If it worked for them I wouldn't even bring it up. But the wife is often resentful that he doesn't spend time with his daughter, or her. (BTW, they both work full time outside the home).

I think if you choose a time consuming hobby you generally have to give something up someplace else (this is an overly simple way to look at it, but you only get one big hobby instead of 3 small ones, for instance). We're all passionate about different things and we all recharge ourselves differently. So I don't think any of us can judge how other people balance the need to be ourselves as adults vs. the role we play as spouse/parent.

Posted by: sandiego_mama | February 25, 2008 12:14 PM

Are you kidding me with this post? As a woman and (full disclosure) an avid golfer I just don't see what all the fuss is about. I play golf maybe once a weekend every few weekends I don't think it is at all terrible to take a few hours away from the grind of family life. It helps me regroup and plan while getting exercise and enjoying a little quiet time. If you don't like golf, fine, but a multiparagraph ode to cutbacks in a game you don't understand is a waste of space.

Not to mention the follow up comments which seem to imply that parents should do nothing but parent until the child is over 12. Seriously? As my children age I want them to spend more time AWAY from the family so they develop friendships, networks, and can exist independently. Who's to say I can't hit the back nine while my kids are off at some birthday party? Lets get a little perspective about priorities.

Posted by: polianna | February 25, 2008 12:26 PM

ArmyBrat - thanks so much for the tips and the link (I'll check out the link tonight!) It seems so straightforward, but I've heard so many horror stories, I'm a little intimidated. That said, I refuse to pay some guy a hundred bucks to come do something I can do myself (or at least something I think I can do myself!) I'll let you know how it turns out once I get the courage to take the old one off. My worst fear is just completely ruining the whole thing AND ruining the meat in the freezer too!

Posted by: moxiemom1 | February 25, 2008 12:35 PM

ditto polianna ditto Well said.

Posted by: dotted_1 | February 25, 2008 12:41 PM

Since I don't drive, (or putt), I'm the one who always get stuck at home babysitting my kids, not that they mind all that much. However, Every now and then the wife and kids will gang up on me and kick me out of the house for an evening with my party friends. I'm not so sure that the kids think that having daddy around all the time is all that it's cracked up to be. As for me, I've lost interest in doing almost everything entertaining that takes me away from my family or the house. Some dads are homebodies, some dads aren't.

Posted by: DandyLion | February 25, 2008 12:50 PM

Are golf courses becoming "greener", using more gray water and fewer chemicals and less gas-powered lawnmowers? Also fewer illegals as landscapers? They probably already use electric carts. But what about all of those golf balls and tees made in China?

Posted by: gottabeanon1 | February 25, 2008 1:24 PM

Maybe I'm just not getting it, but what exactly in this situation is excess? And why exactly is putting away a serious hobby for a FEW YEARS going to help everyone's long term life fulfillment?

My issue would be making sure that EACH guardian gets a chance every week for some alone fun me-time.

OMG teaching kids that their parents have their own lives, that it's important to stay true to yourself, learn to balance that with raising children well, and that they need to respect those boundaries and not let work or family overwhelm? Yes, obviously horrible ideas and lessons.

Posted by: EmeraldEAD | February 25, 2008 2:32 PM

Off-topic to Moxiemom: I have not had to fix a refrigerator gasket but if you want to check out a great website for parts and help go to They will help you find the part and have helpful hints for almost any appliance. Reasonable prices too.

Posted by: KLB_SS_MD | February 25, 2008 2:53 PM

I'm not getting Leslie's golf-bashing either, and I don't play golf. Nor does DH -- he's a fly-fisherman. Being a fly-fisherman in the desert means that, instead of being gone all weekend, he's gone for 2-3 days at a time, 4-6 times a year during fishing season.

And that's JUST FINE with me. He has a hobby about which he's passionate. He covers for me when I'm at Wednesday-evening choir practice, doing something about which I'M passionate. And now that DD is older, he takes her with him on a trip once a year and is teaching her to fly fish.

I'm not getting this attitude that our every spare (non-work) moment must be spent with the precious children. That's not healthy for parents OR children. Give the kids some room to breathe and develop independence and hobbies of their own!

Posted by: vegasmom89109 | February 25, 2008 3:49 PM

Thanks KLB will do. The gaskets came today and I'm petrified - but really c'mon, how hard can it be? ........ famous last words! Yikes, wish me luck.

Posted by: moxiemom1 | February 25, 2008 4:11 PM

"I would knock any non-essential passion that means leaving young children alone for HOURS when you don't have to, on top of being away for 60 hours at work during the week. It's selfishness, plain and simple. Don't care what you are doing.

Especially for kids under 12 or so, time is the currency of love. (And for some adults, too!) I would not want to be the kid whose dad declares, every weekend, that golf was more important than me.

Posted by: leslie4 | February 25, 2008 09:44 AM "


This is one of the most judgmental columns I've seen Leslie write, and she's typically first in line to say, "Thou shalt not judge." What makes it a sin against God to play 9 holes every other weekend? If this is selfish, is it also selfish for a mom to take a daily one hour jog (7 hours a week) or drop her infant off at her mom's house two mornings a week just for mental health? In fact, by this logic, any parent who works but doesn't "have to" in order to meet the family's financial obligations is being selfish. If memory serves, Leslie has railed on and on about the unfairness and inappropriateness of "judging" moms who work for personal fulfillment rather than because the family needs the income.

The new definition of "selfish" appears to be, "any pastime or hobby Leslie Morgan Steiner doesn't like."

Posted by: mn.188 | February 25, 2008 4:15 PM

Hello all. What's shakin'?

Leslie, you're right and you're wrong. :-)

Too much of anything is bad.

But, Proud Mama has recently convinced me to take up golf (yes, you read that right) to replace my regular sports leagues that leave me tired and some times injured. I presently play golf (badly) only a few times a year, but I'm likely to replace that with an early morning tee-time every Sunday, weather permitting.

Believe me, I won't forget what my son looks like.

Posted by: ProudPapa15 | February 25, 2008 4:17 PM

Count me in with those who don't get the attitude that being away from your kids for a few hours once a while is such a terrible thing. I suppose if your job is something that you like well enough that doing it feels like "me time," you might not need that.

For myself, my husband, my brother and sister-in-law and just about every other working parent I know, a few hours on a weekend is a sanity-saver. Time alone, time engaging a different part of your mind and/or spirit, time without feeling of obligation to anyone else - that's what that time is to me. I don't have one hobby that does all that, but every few weeks I want a good chunk of time to sew, to play piano, to go paint something at a pottery store, work in the garden - whatever. Something that is different, quiet and peaceful. And thankfully, neither my husband nor anyone else I love would dream of making me feel guilty for that.

Posted by: LizaBean | February 25, 2008 4:19 PM

I am totally comfortable being judgmental about people who work fulltime (or more )and then leave their partners and children alone for long stretches of leisure time hobbies.

Judgment does have its place at times.

And ha ha about the question whether I *know* three men who nearly missed their kids' births due to golf. Yes! Two from Johnson & Johnson and one from b-school. But I'm laughing because DH had the same question: Do you REALLY know three men blah blah blah? Sadly, I do!

Posted by: leslie4 | February 25, 2008 4:20 PM

"I am totally comfortable being judgmental about people who work fulltime (or more )and then leave their partners and children alone for long stretches of leisure time hobbies.

Judgment does have its place at times."

Gee, Leslie, so I guess in that vein you can't begrudge all those who say they are totally comfortable being judgemental about people who leave their children alone for long stretches while working only for their own self-fulfillment?

I seem to remember you posting in that past that you work because you can't imagine being a full-time SAHM, you would go crazy. How fantastic for you that you can decide to work for your own pleasure and judge those who work to pay the bills and still need some time to themselves.

Judgement has it's place apparently whenever it serves your needs.

Posted by: LizaBean | February 25, 2008 4:25 PM

It IS fantastic, Liza Bean. That's exactly how I would describe the freedom to juggle my work-life balance the way I want to. It's just what I hope for you, me and every other woman in the world.

Also -- to stress again -- a few days every month is very different from what every weekend, to the extent you could actually come close to missing huge life events because of a HOBBY. I wouldn't want to be that guy's kids. And another point is that it IS largely guys doing this. Whenever there's a big gender skew it gets me wondering.

Posted by: leslie4 | February 25, 2008 4:45 PM

Right on LizaBean.

And a great big Haxian WOW to Leslie. I am speechless.

Posted by: vegasmom89109 | February 25, 2008 4:47 PM

Thanks, Leslie, but I'll try skip the judging part should I attain the working for pleasure.

Anything can be taken to an unhealthy extreme, and yes, golfing through a child's birth would strike me as a sign that perhaps something else is amiss. But far be it from me or you to decide how much time is too much for someone else. I don't know, and neither do you, what else is going on for that person or that family. I fail to see how your judgment serves them in any way.

Posted by: LizaBean | February 25, 2008 5:09 PM

Judgement has it's place apparently whenever it serves your needs.
Posted by: LizaBean | February 25, 2008 04:25 PM

It's just what I hope for you, me and every other woman in the world.
Posted by: leslie4 | February 25, 2008 04:45 PM

This judgement is just sexism, pure and simple. Read the piece agian, she's not judging golfers, she is judging male golfers.

Posted by: daves000 | February 25, 2008 5:20 PM

If you don't need to work to pay the bills or otherwise support your family - work is a hobby, right? Something you do because you find it rewarding, fulfilling, relaxing, etc.?

Leslie apparently draws the line somewhere between working full time when you don't (economically) have to and working full time, yet still having a hobby that takes you away from your family. That's convenient for her, I suppose, but doesn't appear to have any sort of principled basis.

Leslie, I don't know which is more astonishing - that you're being such a hypocrite, or that you don't realize/refuse to admit that you're being a hypocrite.

Posted by: wgm | February 25, 2008 5:21 PM

Judgement is ok sometimes? Sure. Apparently, though it's only ok when it fits your own personal prejudices which range from sexism to discrimination on this post. Lets look at the three men who are supposedly so horrible for almost missing their children's births. Unless these women were all scheduled for a cesarian that went exactly according to plan, I don't necessarily have a huge issue with this. Birth can happen almost any time toward the mid to end of a pregnancy. Are you saying that these men shouldn't have left their wives side from conception to birth?

If they were in a board meeting and unable to take calls would it have been acceptable? How about a hobby you approve of? Maybe at a movie where cell phones are supposed to be off? Or perhaps a personal growth workshop since hobbies are so non-essential to you?

It's completely rich that you're going on about this while it's clear you work a full time job and yet anyone who doesn't do the juggle your way with your approved activities is off the mark? My husband works hard, very hard, I'd rather he goes off for an hour or three after and blows off some steam rather than have him blow it off at home. He doesn't help out any less, and I'll still go hit 18 holes on saturday. Sometimes he watches the kids, sometimes we *gasp* have the audacity to hire a sitter. I'd rather spend quality time with my children where I'm focused on them and not every waking hour while I'm focused on other things and only tangentially them. You also seem to imply that outside of work you're never separated from your children. If we're all ok with judgement here, I find THAT unhealthy. Being a helicopter mother is just as bad as being completely out of the picture. It's hardly a declaration that my children are less important because I value time without them to develop as a person. How are they supposed to learn from me if I've arrested my own development to serve theirs?

Posted by: polianna | February 25, 2008 5:35 PM


I'll answer that one -- what's most astonishing is that she doesn't understand she's being a hypocrite and, furthermore, doesn't recognize that these self-same arguments are the ones that have been used to judge working moms of all stripes, including single moms, for years -- this despite LizaBean's best efforts.

Dave, you're spot on about the sexism. This despite the fact that many of those golfers use golf as a way to connect with clients and future clients. For the sorts of golfers Leslie faults most, golf is inseparable from work. What's most laughable about this double-standard is that she likely approves of girlfriends who are at the gym 7 days a week staying hard-bodied for those golfing hubbies.

Finally, if one bought this absurd argument, why does being around for your kids matter only until the kids are 12? I am much more concerned, and wish more parents were concerned about, being a constant, observant, participatory presence during their kids' junior high and high school years -- not during kindergarten.

ProudPapa, I'm glad to see you're back, but wish it had been for a column deserving of your attention. Good luck with your game!

Posted by: mn.188 | February 25, 2008 5:36 PM

I'm perfectly supportive of people making good judgements about others- it's a necessary skill to be a mature responsible adult and stay true to yourself.

But I have to agree that Leslie seems awful double standards about this particular issue.

Possibly missing a single big event because you're enjoying your hobby isn't good enough to completely not enjoy the hobby for a few years. The big events tend to mean MORE to kids when they get older.

Now, if a mom schedules her spa day on the day she KNOWS her kid is having the science fair awards, then that's different. But that's not what you're talking about here.

I also agree that one guardian being allowed time for hobbies and the other not is a problem as well- but the solution isn't to not let ANYONE have fun time, but to make sure EVERYONE has fun time.

Posted by: EmeraldEAD | February 25, 2008 5:45 PM

The pieces of my life that need balancing are work, family, and self. It seems to me that 60 hours of work per week upsets the balance more than time for self.

I am not a fan of golf, but completely disagree with Leslie. She clearly can afford to stop working to spend time with her family but can't see that someone's hobby may be as important to them as work is to her.

Having said that, I do realize that work is a necessary reality for most of us. If it is not possible to reduce work hours, then I do agree that reduction in playtime may be necessary in order to meet the proper balance of family time. Playtime should never be completely eliminated.

Posted by: bettyj | February 25, 2008 10:08 PM

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