These Are Family-Life Experts?

July-August 1999

Time magazine has a special section called “Personal Time,” offering advice from experts in the areas of technology, health, and personal finance. It’s safe to assume that the technology experts didn’t flunk out of M.I.T., that the health experts aren’t chain smokers who are fifty pounds overweight, and that the financial experts have lots of experience and aren’t dodging bill collectors.

In its May 24 issue, Time announced the addition of two experts who are to cover a fourth area, “your family,” and give you advice on how to be successful in your family life. Time introduces us to the experts. One is Amy Dickinson, 39, a former lounge singer who has one child (a 10-year-old girl). Does Amy have a husband? Where is her daughter’s father? Time doesn’t tell its readers, so the average reader will probably speculate that Amy never had a husband or is separated or divorced. The other expert, Michael Lemonick, 45, also has only one child (also a 10-year-old girl). But he does have a wife, who, however, has a 27-year-old son by some previous coupling who “lived with them in a shared-custody arrangement during his teens.”

How many parents will feel that Amy and Mike, given their credentials and experience, will have anything to teach them? To be sure, a financial expert might be dodging bill collectors because of circumstances pretty much beyond his control, just as a single mom might essentially be a victim of circumstances. Yes, people can learn from their mishaps and tragedies. Or an inexperienced financial expert might turn out to be a real hot-shot. And yet, if you wanted sound financial advice, would you turn to a virtual rookie who’s hiding from bill collectors or an experienced pro who isn’t — indeed, who has built up quite a pretty nest egg?


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New Oxford Notes: July-August 1999

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