parent opinion

It’s time we kill off the 'primary caregiver'. It's as outdated and divisive as 'housewife'.

It’s time we kill off the “primary caregiver”.

Well, not the literal person. But the term. It’s as outdated and divisive as “housewife”.

Marriage is a communal affair. Sure, one person usually spends more time parenting and the other spends more time at work. But the 1960s are long gone. Women are no longer expected to remain at home for multiple years while their partner works. We live in a world full of couples who share parenting, who strive for balance and equality, who tag-team their way through life as if their lives depend on it.

If that’s what you want, then why impose a label that ranks you?

In a healthy relationship, the roles blur and change so rapidly that it’s often difficult to decide who even is the “primary” caregiver. The happiest couples I know say they simply don’t think about labels. That’s probably why their relationships are so successful.

LISTEN: Sean Szeps opens up about postnatal depression on The Baby Bubble. Post continues after audio.

So let’s eliminate archaic titles and refer to these magic people as – wait for it – parents.

Because that’s what’s happening, right? Parenting. We do whatever it takes to keep the family happy and healthy. Sometimes we work. Sometimes we watch kids. Sometimes we sit on the toilet for 17 minutes longer than we should to check Instagram.

I was a “primary caregiver” myself. I hated the label. I felt it made other people assume I’d take on tasks my partner was fully capable of performing. It’s as if the title, spoken or simply implied, meant I was the only person capable of doing anything child-related. (Hello, 21st-century? Nice to meet you.)

But worse than that, calling myself “primary” made my husband… secondary? Inferior?

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Hell no. These are divisions we simply don’t need and shouldn’t stand for.

The word “caregiver” was only invented in the 1960s. “Primary” got added in the 1970s. Let’s make the term extinct in the 2020s, shall we?

For more from Sean Szeps, you can find him on Instagram and Twitter.

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