Can you outsource parenting?

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Outsource parenting you say? That’s impossible! Well, according to columnist and father Mark Oppenheimer, every parent does it. Does too much support for parents mean they are being 'outsourced'?

Parenting responsibilities

Support for parents: surely it’s important to be with your child for moments like these.

So, what exactly is ‘outsourcing parenting’? We can look at it in two ways:

The first way involves the idea of ‘outsourcing’ individual parenting responsibilities.

The second way includes all the parental responsibilities together, and focuses more on the general idea of ‘being a parent’ being outsourced – something which most parents would argue is impossible.

‘Every parent does it’

The columnist and father Mark Oppenheimer wrote an article which discusses outsourcing parenting. In it, he says that ‘all parents do it, whether they realise it or not’. Oppenheimer is using the first definition of outsourcing. He’s talking about how parents seek external help for individual parental responsibilities and duties. Outsourcing certain tasks just acts as support for parents.

The most obvious example of outsourcing is education. All parents do this by sending their kids to school (unless they homeschool their children). Particularly technical subjects like maths and science, Oppenheimer argues, are best left to the teachers.

Support for parents is common in other areas too. Learning a foreign language, providing sports knowledge and playing chess are all further skills that Oppenheimer has sought external help for, or by his definition: ‘outsourced’.

“I wouldn’t want to outsource everything, but a good dad should outsource some things,” he sums up.

This light-hearted video shows how leaving education to the teachers is a good idea:

‘Parenting shouldn’t be outsourced’

In a separate article published online this week, Indonesian columnist and father Dalton Tanonaka discusses this issue in a very different light.

Tanonaka suggests that outsourcing parenting is not a good thing, and that unnecessary support for parents should be avoided.

He cites past experiences of seeing other parents not appreciating their child. For example, on one occasion he observed two parents in a mall, both on their phones, with their domestic helper following behind holding their child’s hand.

“Why in the world is an employee given such a personal and special privilege?” he asks.

Enjoying parenting responsibilities

Tanonaka reminisces about how he witnessed his daughter’s birth, her piano recital and helped her learn to swim. He even found joy in the less appealing parenting duties…

“I can honestly say that I even enjoyed wiping my daughters’ butts because I loved them so much,” he writes.

Support for parents - education

Which responsibilities should a parent take, and which should they delegate to a teacher?

Our take on ‘outsourcing’ and support for parents

Following Oppenheimer’s views, we could ask Tanonaka what he would’ve done if he couldn’t swim. Would he have haphazardly tried to help his daughter anyway? Would he have felt any less of a father? Would he have sought external help, thus (by his definition) outsource himself?

The same principle can be applied for those parents who hire nannies, babysitters or day care assistants. Just like some parents who can’t swim or can’t do math, some parents can’t be with their child all the time.

By seeking external help, a mother or father is not outsourcing themselves as a parent. The nanny is merely providing support for parents. They are working to provide a home, food, health and financial support for their child’s future. This is an undeniably important parenting responsibility.

We appreciate the sentiment made by Tanonaka’s article. Every special moment in parenthood should be cherished as much as possible. However, the reality is that without support for parents, some are unable to continue their demanding careers.

So, can you outsource parenting? No. Sure you can outsource parenting tasks, like teaching maths or playing sports. However, there is much more to being a parent that doing long division or catching a ball.

 

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