Last weekend a teacher friend of mine paraphrased, half jokingly and while laying on a deck by a lake, the idea of having children as a strategy to produce free labor. This is not a new idea, but it reminded me of an article that Zeteo published last spring. In “Parenting: Infinite Responsibility,” William Eaton describes different scenarios of this same idea:
There have been and there remain economic and political reasons to have children—for their labor and loyalty and for the alliances that can be formed through marrying them off and through their friendships and business relationships. Children are also produced out of a desire or compulsion to reproduce, to make a life together with another human being, to keep a marriage together, because reproduction is the conventional thing to do, because a condom broke, because of a need for companionship. There are parents who were looking for someone to teach, and others who needed someone else to take up the task of chasing their dreams, to try to become the athlete, lawyer, or artist that they have not become. There are parents eager to have a small, cute, growing, achieving child who can make them, the parents, again a center of conversation or win them praise and admiration.
In this labor day, it seemed proper to honor adults’ awareness that children sometimes “do things” for them. . . and that parents may want to charge their children for what they do for them. Nearly at the end of the article, Eaton adds:
I have heard of a modern mother who, in asking her daughter to rub her shoulders, or while eating all the good chunks out of her daughter’s bowl of ice cream, would speak, light-heartedly, of a “Parent Tax.”
—Alexia Raynal, Zeteo Managing Editor
To read more posts in the fields of children and childhood by Alexia Raynal, visit her ZiR page here.