Humans are dependent on others to care for them for the first several years of their existence. In addition, independent citizens can become dependent through sickness, old age, or misfortune.
Caregiving is as necessary for a society to function as are healthy political and economic systems.
In our justifiable concern with women’s rights, we have too often forgotten the caregiving performed by women over millennia. We made inadequate provision for it in the new system.
In the rush to give women the right to be “more” than mothers, we forgot the damage done to society when fathers neglect to be fathers. Children growing up without fathers compensate in often damaging actions, from drugs to gangs. We need both parents.
In a sense, mothers have followed fathers into a life not healthy for either parent. Both, in the words of Erika Bachiochi have chosen “to compete on a playing field designed for the unencumbered.” (“Embodied Caregiving,,” First Things; October 2016.)
For those who choose to be caregivers, what help do we offer them? Help may mean longer paid leaves, or part time work, or permission to drop out of a career for a while.
Caregivers need time more than any other gift, time to shape children’s lives and to provide services for the aged and the sick and the broken.