The Corner

Do Families Provide “Unpaid Care?”

This year, I took my mother into my home for the last five months of her life as she was dying. Was I providing her with “unpaid care?” NO! I was being her son.

Yet, in our technocratic era, it seems that family members caring and providing for each other is increasingly perceived as a monetized activity. From the Reuters story:

Millions of U.S. children with special needs receive care from family members that would cost billions of dollars if it was instead provided by home health aides receiving minimum wage, a recent study suggests.

Researchers examined data from a nationally representative sample of about 42,000 parents and guardians of children with special needs surveyed from 2009 to 2010. Overall, they estimate that approximately 5.6 million children with special needs receive about 1.5 billion hours a year of unpaid care from family members.

Really? What about mothers providing “unpaid care” for their babies? Or spouses for each other? Should such care also be measured in terms of the cost of having services provided by professional caregivers?

I don’t think so. Measuring family love in dollar terms could corrode the importance, place, and purpose of family in society.

Of course, I am not saying that we shouldn’t create public policies that promote intra-family care-giving and which ease the difficult tasks family members carry out for their dependent loved ones. We definitely should.

But the societal expectation should also be that families are the first line of care-giving, with civil society and government providing assistance services. 

Arguing that families provide “unpaid care” objectifies and devalues the love and commitment that are the essence of family.

Wesley J. Smith — Wesley J. Smith is a senior fellow at the Discovery Institute’s Center on Human Exceptionalism.

Most Popular

Politics & Policy

Students’ Anti-Gun Views

Are children innocents or are they leaders? Are teenagers fully autonomous decision-makers, or are they lumps of mental clay, still being molded by unfolding brain development? The Left seems to have a particularly hard time deciding these days. Take, for example, the high-school students from Parkland, ... Read More
PC Culture

Kill Chic

We live in a society in which gratuitous violence is the trademark of video games, movies, and popular music. Kill this, shoot that in repugnant detail becomes a race to the visual and spoken bottom. We have gone from Sam Peckinpah’s realistic portrayal of violent death to a gory ritual of metal ripping ... Read More
Elections

Romney Is a Misfit for America

Mitt’s back. The former governor of Massachusetts and occasional native son of Michigan has a new persona: Mr. Utah. He’s going to bring Utah conservatism to the whole Republican party and to the country at large. Wholesome, efficient, industrious, faithful. “Utah has a lot to teach the politicians in ... Read More
Law & the Courts

What the Second Amendment Means Today

The horrifying school massacre in Parkland, Fla., has prompted another national debate about guns. Unfortunately, it seems that these conversations are never terribly constructive — they are too often dominated by screeching extremists on both sides of the aisle and armchair pundits who offer sweeping opinions ... Read More
U.S.

Fire the FBI Chief

American government is supposed to look and sound like George Washington. What it actually looks and sounds like is Henry Hill from Goodfellas: bad suit, hand out, intoning the eternal mantra: “F*** you, pay me.” American government mostly works by interposition, standing between us, the free people at ... Read More
Film & TV

Black Panther’s Circle of Hype

The Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) first infantilizes its audience, then banalizes it, and, finally, controls it through marketing. This commercial strategy, geared toward adolescents of all ages, resembles the Democratic party’s political manipulation of black Americans, targeting that audience through its ... Read More