By Blake Bouza
Hi there, my name is Blake Bouza and I’m the Settler’s editor-in-chief this semester. I look forward to overseeing the paper working with our writers to deliver to you, the reader, the best content we can put out there.
I was sitting in a lifespan psychology class last semester when the question was posed to the male students: would you be comfortable letting your wife go to work while you stayed home with the kids?
The overwhelming majority of guys said no. Save for me.
The professor called on me and I made the argument that we live in a time where a woman is no more capable of providing childcare than a man is, and a man is no more capable of going out and working to provide for a family.
It does not impact my self worth, I said, to not be working and providing the bread. Raising children and impacting the next generation is just as noble a cause.
Though I grew up in a very traditional home where my father went to work and my mother raised the children, this could not have seemed more obvious to me, but I got labeled a “progressive.”
When she asked other guys their thoughts on it, they said that “staying home and taking care of the kids is not enough.”
After just making the argument that raising children is a noble cause that either gender can do, this flabbergasted me.
One guy said that he was extremely unqualified for the job of child rearing.
“I’d probably forget the kid in the other room,” he said.
A couple of the girls in the classroom said they would not be comfortable letting their husbands stay home “and sit around” while they were making money and providing.
Is this how both genders view the act of being a homemaker? I thought to myself.
Now obviously my thoughts that stem from this came from the situation where one spouse stays home while the other goes and works, and not both working, so my ideas on this take place within the bounds of the scenario presented.
I had the sneaking suspicion that men would not want to raise children because it may be an overtly feminine act, but I thought there was a lot more to it than that.
The answer came to me later that night: the only difference between going out and making money, and child rearing, which are both very necessary things to do in the 21st Century, is material difference.
See, the act of going out and working and providing money is a very material thing. It is “useful.” It has output. In a farming style of the act, you can literally see the fruits of your labor. Bills get paid. New clothes are bought. Loans are paid off.
Yet the act of child rearing is a very immaterial practice, one whose fruits may reveal itself in tiny ways when your child spells a difficult word correctly, or handles a situation in a manner you taught her to handle it.
Unfortunately, there is no way to measure the quiet, warm satisfaction of seeing a child raised the way you taught them to be raised.
This important act, viewed as “just staying home and sitting around,” is instead a very real, full-time, lifetime job. Someone coming home from work gets to clock out; a parent does not.
That does it for this week, but please come back next week as we explore society’s definition of usefulness with Part 2!
In the meantime, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Make sure you put “Letter to the Editor” in the subject line!