At times I do wish I could sit down with both my parents and reflect on my journey so far, but I am afraid I can’t do that because I lost them both few years ago. So now I keep them in my imagination, where I tend to keep most of my precious things.
I guess, it is quite safe for me to conclude that, whatever I am today, and wherever I am in my journey so far, is indirectly and directly related to the contribution made by both my parents . I would as far as to say that probably around 50% of the input, especially in my early years, in terms of helping me understand and also navigate the world around me came from my parents. Also as it goes with being a child, to a very large extent I was dependent on my parents especially my mother for everything. Be it, learning to walk, talk or eat along with everything else. Her contribution was immense, but very hard to measure or capture in terms of economic output.
Our society has learnt to live with an idea that the contribution made by parents is their moral and emotional obligation towards a child. And thus, parents have to make sacrifices. While being a religious priest, a soldier, care giver or a community officer is considered a paid profession somehow parenting isn’t. Perhaps because using the current metrics for measuring productivity and economic output, it is very difficult to estimate the economic contribution my mother’s or any mother for that matter made to the global economy by deciding to raise me by investing herself fully in me. Now just imagine if more and more people decide to stop having kids ? What will it do the global economy ? So no doubt parenting is an extremely important role.
But because of our limited intellectual capacity, we haven’t been able to conceive a model yet that is able to strongly demonstrate the economic input that parents, especially mothers make, when deciding to give up on their career to raise their children. Somehow being a mother or a parent is considered a profession without any economic output, but the fact suggests otherwise.
The economic output of parenting is very hard to quantify, but is it ? Perhaps, we should start discussing the issue, and plug in the existing gaps in the design of the current economic system that we have ? And this is doable.
Most parents happily raise their kids out of love and also a sense of duty towards their children. We know raising a child is getting more and more expensive, while parents end up being a giver and also a consumer of products and services focused on creating economic activities from children. Whether its a food item, children’s clothing, toys, healthcare, holidays among other things. Parenting is somehow not considered the real source of economic activities. Taking care of a child when that child is sick, going through the stress of being a parent is also not qualified as economic activity, but we pay a care giver to take care of a child or an adult.
For some reason, we have completely ignored the immense value of parenting to the global economy. A skilled, educated, happy and healthy child adds direct value to the economy. Also, the indirect economic activities that comes out of a child, who goes on to create an amazing business for example employing hundreds or thousands of people, or becoming a tax paying and law abiding citizen of a society among other things isn’t captured in our current economic model. Therefore, parenting isn’t considered a critical role.
Also policies like child support is considered a social spending, when technically it is an essential investment in the future of a society, which comes with real returns, so it isn’t a social spending at all. We should change the financials rules to link child support economic policies as investment in the wellness and the future of the society. It carries a real economic value, in terms of economic output.
We need to explore ways to measure and capture the productivity of parents and the economic outputs generated from raising kids. I know that by taking care of me and deciding to raise me, my parents not only contributed and fulfilled their parental obligations, but it was also an important investment that was never captured as a critical economic activity because of the flaws in the current economic modelling. For example, if they didn’t raise me then, the economic activities generated through me by simply living my journey and in doing so paying taxes, being a consumer, creating employment for others among other things wouldn’t have happened.
So therefore, parents are a very reliable source of generating long term economic activity. And their role is keeping the global economy sustainable is critical. In my view, being a parent should be classified as a critical profession, and governments should create policies that supports parents and parenting, because it has an immense economic impact.