Ironic that when you ask a child whose mom or dad who is a stay-at-home parent does not go out to work “what does your mom/dad do?”, the child answers, “my mom/dad does not have a job”.
Nothing could be farther from the truth.
Let’s admit one thing: raising children is kind of a job. Of course, it is the most important job a parent can have. You are responsible for not only their care, but you are also responsible for integrating them into adult society. You have to teach them the basics of living: using a fork, tying their shoes, staying away from skunks.
We do not realize it at the time we are doing these things, but these activities are work. It takes tremendous patience and effort to raise children, so much so that it truly is far more stressful than holding down a full-time job.
Parents who work a full time job have it just a tiny bit easier. Sure they worry about what’s happening with their kids but they are out of the house for eight to ten hours of the day, giving them a break from their children.
Stay-at-home parents do not have this luxury. They stay with the children, teaching them to do all those things that we take for granted as adults. They are feeding the children, clothing them, entertaining them, and keeping them healthy. Parents of little children that stay home do so much more. Yes, it is a job in itself.
Every stay-at-home parent deserves an award (and a standing ovation) for the following:
Putting Up with the Crying
Not just crying, but also shouting, screaming, whining, and pouting. Parents who stay with the children have to listen to all of this, sometimes all day long. And they will alternate throughout the day, going from shouting about wanting to watch Thomas the Train to pouting that they can’t have their favorite treat before lunch. While the stay-at-home parent must suffer through the bipolar tendencies of toddlers, the working parent is going over spreadsheets or talking on the phone. Clearly the two don’t balance out.
If there are siblings involved, don’t ask! When there are two or more kids in the house, not only do the opportunities for screaming and crying multiply, there is also the potential for disaster when they get together. While one minute they may be playing together just fine and the parent can go about their blogging or cooking, the next minute they are tearing at each other’s hair and yelling. If the only yelling the working parent has to hear in the office is the boss complaining about sales goals and percentages, they have it easy.
Taking Them Out for Events
The stay-home parent will want to get their children out of the house. They will need to get them out of the house. For one, the kids need to develop social skills, and the only way they can do that is by interacting with others. They learn how to play with other kids and begin developing an understanding for rules in society. They also build better communication methods, verbal and nonverbal. These are the things that a parent cannot teach, but the village can (from the saying: “It takes a village to raise a child”).
Secondly, the kids need to experience things beyond the four walls of the home. They need to climb and swing and squish. They need to feel the rain fall on them, or the sand between their little toes. The children need to interact with the world in which they live in, and it falls to the stay-at-home parent to make sure the children get that experience.
The parent also needs some adult interaction. Being at home all day with the children watching Sesame Street can cause the parent to go stir crazy. While the working parent may be at the office sitting in front of a computer the majority of the day, they have other adults nearby to interact with on occasion, taking breaks together and talking at lunch. The stay-home parent is lucky to do that for one hour a week, if that. This can be extremely stressful.
Disciplining When Needed
Children need to learn what is acceptable behavior and what is not tolerated, in both the house and in the world. Some of this will be established by society as a whole while some of this behavior will be determined greatly by the morals and values of the parents. At times, and quite often, children need to be disciplined.
The working parent disciplines employees through informal conversations and performance coaching, sometimes through written documentation. There is not enough paper in the world to document everything a toddler or young child does wrong.
In the business world, a third corrective action will result in terminating an employee, fixing the issues that the individual caused. There is no terminating children. They cannot be fired and replaced. Parents have to continue to coach their children about the behaviors that are and are not acceptable. And it is primarily up to the stay-home parent to do this.
This can get repetitive and tiresome, and it always makes the one parent the bad guy all of the time. This can be stressful on the villainous parent because they really are not the bad guy; it is just that their children misunderstand them. Disciplining is not something any parent finds enjoyable, but for one parent to have to do the bulk of it can be overwhelming.
Working at a Non-Paying Job
That’s right. There is no income earned for raising children. In fact, it is the only job that doesn’t earn a paycheck but is not a volunteer position. Raising children is a job with a lot of expenditure and relies on another source of income to cover that expenditure. This can be tough on both parents.
The stay-at-home parent can be burdened by the fact that they are not earning an income to help support the family. In times when work is slow, they are often not able to get out into the workforce because of the children. That is why so many stay-home parents have taken to blogging. It allows them to do something while the kids are home and potentially earn a little money to help pay the bills.
Meanwhile, as I mentioned earlier, the working parent, who usually has it easier in regard to the reasons listed above, feels just as stressed as the stay-at-home parent. The burden of supporting the family financially falls strictly upon them. For some, when work is slow, it can mean reduced hours. And when it is peak season, it can mean longer working hours – keeping them away from the family even more.
Truly, raising children is no cakewalk. But oh, the joy! Priceless!
Let’s rise and applaud all parents – especially those stay-at-home moms and dads!
What are your views on this? Tell me in the comments.