‘What Do You Do?’

I like this essay, I understand this essay, far more than her first, (“Why I Regret Being a Stay-At-Home Mom.)

‘What Do You Do?’: A Stay-at-Home-Mother’s Most Dreaded Question – Lisa Endlich Heffernan – The Atlantic.

This essay speaks to the real issue that fuels Mommy Wars and gaffes by political pundits (Ed Rollins: “bored housewife,” JuanWilliams: “corporate wife).

Parenting has no explicit monetary value.

Note, I didn’t say “no value.” We all feel great about parenting. “It’s the most important job a person can do.” “Children are our future.” We think parenting is invaluable, in fact.

That’s a problem.

I just googled “economic value of parenting.” I was led to this:

The Economic Value of Unpaid Housework and Child Care in Nova Scotia.

It was published in 1998. Fifteen years ago. The authors advance a “Genuine Progress Index” to accompany GDP, or Gross Domestic Product, when trying to see how productive (and sustainable) a nation or economy is. They put a monetary value on parenting, because:

“In sum, failing to measure and value unpaid housework and parenting renders it invisible in the economic accounts from which policy makers take their cues and which guide the behaviour of governments, businesses and individuals. What is not counted and measured is insufficiently valued and given secondary priority in policy planning. By making the economic value of housework and parenting more explicit, the Genuine Progress Index can draw attention to hidden factors that directly impact our quality of life, our wellbeing and our prosperity… As the economic dimensions of our social and environmental assets are quantified and measured, they necessarily will become more visible and valued, and thus incorporated more readily into the framework of policy discussions on the provincial economy.”

“What Do You Do?”

I, like Ms. Endlich Heffernan, am asked that often, countless times over the past 8 years. And as I noted in the comments section on an earlier post, I have decided to answer that question in the following way:

“I work at home, raising my children. And I need a raise.”

I am my own first defense against any who might accidentally or intentionally undervalue what I do.

We each are our own first, and best, defense.

5 thoughts on “‘What Do You Do?’

  1. One of the unfortunate outgrowths of feminism was that it reinforced the already-prevalent notion that work outside the home is more valuable than work inside the home. Much of the focus has been to have women perform jobs previously only done by men, while there was no counterpoint that seriously encouraged men to perform jobs, including being at home with the children, traditionally done only by women.

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