"Being a mum is not a job!"
Mark Richardson, a former New Zealand cricketer and media personality, has made a valuable contribution by asking the "frilly undie crowd" to "shut up listen" to his latest attempt at mansplaining motherhood and parenting.
"Being a mum is not a job," he claimed.
Richardson acknowledged that it was hard work but had the view that it is simply a fact of life and what we have to do, but can't be considered a job.
I can understand his flawed reasoning that being a mum does not fit the normal definitions of a job: there is no formal employment process to take it on; no job description provided; no agreement to sign; no holidays or sick days provided and it certainly isn't automatically paid. However, by not viewing it as a job and a hugely valuable one at that, it has meant that it has little status or recognition. There is no training or qualifications needed to be a mother and it generally isn't considered useful to include on a CV under 'work experience'.
Looking after children then becomes no different from any other domestic tasks like taking out the rubbish, cleaning the toilet and washing the dishes, it is just part of life. We don't expect to be paid for cleaning the toilet despite it not being a pleasant task, why should looking after children be considered any differently? This reasoning is useful to some because it means that there should be no expectation of any income or support to do something that is just part of life and probably caring for any family members should be regarded in the same way.
We have a good deal of evidence that Richardson's widely held views have been partly responsible for the huge problems of child poverty and domestic abuse. For women to move out of paid employment to look after children it is considered as taking time out of work. Sole parents relying on a benefit are encouraged to return to paid employment as soon as possible and have their children placed in care.
Around 25% of New Zealand children lived in one parent families and the majority of sole parents are woman (85%). Children living in sole parent families are four times more likely to living under the poverty line. The majority of sole parent families have just one child and 53% have full-time or part-time employment. No mother is unemployed or working part-time in reality as their day will generally be filled with work, but with different percentages being paid.
Obviously fathers are parents too but all research supports the fact that woman shoulder the majority of parenting responsibilities and it is men who have been largely responsible for the economic decisions that impact on mothers.
Mark Richardson is wrong! Being a mum is a hugely important and unrecognised job. The level of care that mothers provide has a huge bearing on the sort of adults their children become. If we want a capable workforce and a civil society then we should invest in our mothers. We should ensure all mothers can feed their children well, have warm healthy homes and have the resources to support a good education too. Being a Mum is an important job that requires diverse skills and abilities to do it well. I have no doubt that motherhood will make the Prime Minister's job more challenging, but it will probably result in her becoming a more empathetic PM.