Parenting’s pricelessness

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What was once called “responsible parenting” is now “unpaid domestic work” or “unpaid care”. PHOTO: Andrea Piacquadio/PEXELS.COM

There’s no price on parenting

Suppose you asked me to what “unpaid domestic work” referred. I would assume it meant some shady arrangement between backpackers and their dodgy employer underpaying them for time worked.

According to a recent article on the ABC, I would be wrong. What was once called “responsible parenting” is now “unpaid domestic work” or “unpaid care.”
For instance, the dinner you cooked last night, the bathroom you cleaned, and the bins you emptied, all unpaid work. Helping your child reach developmental milestones, taking your kids to the park, and serving up a bowl of chicken soup to your sick daughter, all unpaid care.

The insistence of calling responsible parenting “unpaid work” or “unpaid caregiving” demonstrates how the spirit of capitalism has crept into the family. At the same time, it fails to recognise duty, responsibility, and love of the family. What used to be signs of love and affection are now reduced to lost potential earnings. I can only imagine the resentment a parent develops who views their family in terms of economics instead of love.

If it is true that how we speak of things, the words we choose to describe things, affects our thoughts and behaviours then, by referring to what was traditionally known as homemaking as “unpaid domestic work”, the author, and those the author interviewed, attempt to change how people speak of and view the family.

For me, as a part-time, unpaid, domestic worker, and caregiver, the tender moments with my son, the post-nap cuddles, the laughs, and the dirty nappies have more than made up for the supposed loss of potential income.

Where homemaking may conjure images of order, refuge, baked cookies, and play; “unpaid domestic work” makes the family sound like an evil corporation in the business of oppressing the proletariat who coincidentally happen to be family.

Parents are not domestic workers

By cloaking the family in the language of capital labour, the author takes what is primary (family) and makes it secondary, while making what is secondary (work), primary, and the family suffers. For instance, when society reduces familial roles to economic contributions, children become unpaid labour instead of blessing and inheritance. When parental labour is separated from marital grace, labours of love can become burdensome labour.

Additionally, the authors fail to reconcile the reality that every married couple and parent must wrestle with: the giving up a lesser good for a greater good.

To put it another way, someone might have to give up all or some of their secondary vocation (work) and embrace some “unpaid” domestic work so that their primary vocation (marriage and family) can flourish. Someone might have to stop playing video games or binge-watching TV so their family can reach their full potential.

Failing at family has far more significant ramifications on the world than failing at work.

Suppose I must speak in economic terms for a moment. My son isn’t a loss of potential income. He is the most significant investment in the world and the Church my wife and I could ever make. For me, as a part-time, unpaid, domestic worker, and caregiver, the tender moments with my son, the post-nap cuddles, the laughs, and the dirty nappies have more than made up for the supposed loss of potential income.

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