Happy Father's Day, Dad. You're Worth 1/3 as Much as Mom.

BlogHer Original Post

One of the BlogHer Voices of the Year honorees, Hello Ladies, wrote, "Mothering isn’t the hardest job. Parenting is. And if we’re ever going to get past the gender gap in this country, we need to shift our thinking about mothering vs. parenting." And then Time covered a study discussing the quantified value of dads versus moms, with dads being worth approximately two-thirds less in today's dollars. Progress! Not!

father's day card

Image: edenpictures on Flickr

According to Time:

If you were going to pay someone to “be dad,” it seems, you’d have to pay $20,248. Things like cleaning, cooking and helping with homework are all included, with 13 different standard parental activities measured. It’s a cold, hard look at the dad life. Eesh.

Now, if you really want your mind blown, compare this figure to the 2012 Mother’s Day Index. Mom’s household value is (drumroll please) $60,182 per year. Yep — you’d need to pay someone nearly three times as much to be a mom than to be a dad.

Salary.com piled on with SAHD and working dad comparisons, complete with green-tie and blue-tie infographics. Salary.com upped the ante for dads, saying their unpaid work was worth only half of what moms' unpaid work is worth in completely imaginary dollars. But guess what? If you compare the SAHD with the SAHM, you get pretty much the same number, around $60-something-thousand, when the average annual salary in this country is around $40,000, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. So now my mind is blown because apparently NOBODY is getting paid what they are worth, phhhht.

OH MY GOD. I am so sick of these studies. Who, who, WHO?? would actually hire someone to do every single thing a parent does in terms of manual labor around the house? If something happened to the other parent of your children, would you hire someone to do all that? No, you'd do it yourself, you'd ask for help, you'd figure out what needed to happen to get you through the day. But short of maybe Prince Charles, can we think of anyone who would outsource the other parents' ... parenting?

I understand the need to quantify time. I flump around my house every weekend thinking about how my time is, like, totally WAY too valuable to be spending it cleaning my house, doing my laundry, mowing my lawn, making dinner, cleaning up dinner, driving my daughter to ballet lessons, etc. If only I had the money that I think my time is worth to give to someone else, right? My husband is a road warrior who is either out overnight or getting home after my girl goes to bed at least two nights a week, pretty much every week. Do I miss his incredible cooking skills? (He's the usual cook, not me.) Do I miss him reading my daughter bedtime stories so I can read a book or finish up work or write? Do I miss him doing drop-off and pick-up at summer camp? Do I miss him doing laundry and scooping cat poop and watering the flowers? Yes, and yes and yes. But normal people don't hire a gardener when there's no one else around to water the flowers. They just water the flowers and move on down the road. Studies saying what mom and dad do in unpaid work is worth three times as much as the average annual salary of an actual domestic worker isn't doing either sex any favors, it just pisses everyone off. Women get pissed because how the hell are we doing two-thirds more? And men get pissed because nobody's taking them seriously as dads. Yay, us.

I wish we as a society could stop measuring personal worth in terms of how much the free market would or would not pay for someone's contributions. If something happened to my husband tomorrow, no amount of money could replace his presence in my daughter's life. There is no quantifying the value of a parent, whether it's a woman or a man. And such a small percentage of the U.S. population could afford any sort of domestic help that it seems ludicrous to me to discuss the possibility of paying someone to do everything a parent does, whether it's ferrying about children to school activities or making their lunches or whatever, in fact, it seems almost insulting to insinuate it could happen in an era in which minimum-wage earners are still below the poverty line.

I agree with Hello, Ladies. Parenting is tough. Keeping up a house takes a tremendous amount of time, energy and money, whether you're married with children or single or in a sandwich situation with multiple generations gathering at the table. The work is just as hard whether a woman does it or a man. This what-he-does versus what-she-does should be played out in individual relationships, in my opinion. As a society, we should be focusing on getting everyone balance, affordable healthcare and childcare and a fair shot at honest pay for a day's work, no matter what that work is.

Happy Father's Day, Dad. You're irreplaceable. Enjoy your day, and tomorrow please pick up the kids on your way home from work. Love, Mom.

Rita Arens authors Surrender, Dorothy and is the editor of the award-winning parenting anthology Sleep is for the Weak. She is the senior editor for BlogHer.com.


In order to comment on BlogHer.com, you'll need to be logged in. You'll be given the option to log in or create an account when you publish your comment. If you do not log in or create an account, your comment will not be displayed.

Trending Now

More Like This