“We always thank God for all of you and continually mention you in our prayers. We remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.”
– 1 Thessalonians 1:2-3
Once a year, I would go to my children’s school and pick them up to take them home. I just wanted to see what their daily life looked like. While I was standing there with a good friend, Rick, I noticed a large number of other parents waiting as well. Rick was a stay-at-home parent. When his children were born, he and his wife made the decision that he would stay home, and she would work. Rick had a Ph.D. in Chemistry, and this friendly and intelligent person certainly could have done well in his career but chose to be there for his children.
The crowd of parents was about 80% women, which is the national norm. I asked Rick why so many were here on this day. Rick, in his usual humor, explained that when the children get out, we all become bus drivers! From 3 pm until dinner time, children were dropped off at sports practices, music lessons, or maybe a doctor’s visit. Then there was always the effort to get dinner made and ensure homework was getting done.
Despite the busyness, questions were asked, like, “how was your day?” Or “how did you do on the latest test?” Questions designed to stay informed and also to measure how the children were doing in life.
Earlier in the day, there was breakfast, and then the normal tidying up of the house. Followed by visits to the cleaners, the supermarket, or other important errands. Perhaps the bills had to be paid or visits to the gym to stay fit.
The more I listened to Rick, the more impressed I became with his discipline and effort. A stay-at-home parent had to be self-directed and forever flexible. Their life isn’t a box of bonbons, rather an endless day of doing something for someone else. And each morning the day was filled.
In a world that often measures success by income or career status, the role of stay-at-home parents can sometimes be overlooked or undervalued. To parents with children, however, it is one of the most important and selfless roles anyone can take on.
The decision for a parent to stay at home is personal and depends on various factors, including financial stability, career aspirations, and personal preferences. It is important to recognize that there is no one-size-fits-all approach, and each family must determine what works best for them. For some families, having both parents working outside the home is necessary to meet financial obligations. For others, it may be feasible and desirable for one parent to stay at home. I have a wife, brother-in-law, friends of both genders and a mother who performed this role.
I do not write this to say one parent should stay home. Rather, I think it is important to praise those who are sometimes overlooked for the many intangible benefits they bring to our society. When I first read today’s verse, it struck me that the verse so aptly supports our feelings toward these wonderful people of sacrifice – stay-at-home parents.
Honoring the dedication and hard work of stay-at-home parents is something we should do as a society. Perhaps we could have a Stay-at-Home Parents Day. Nationwide, close to 25% of households have stay-at-home parents, with 20% of those being dads. There are already 26 other family-related days. Certainly, we know about Mother’s and Father’s Day, but there are also days for brothers, cousins, daughters-in-law, mothers-in-law, etc. So, why not?
These parents are the family’s errand runners. They act like bus drivers, taking children to after-school events. They wait in long lines or on the phone to accomplish their daily tasks. They have little power other than a smile to get things done. Yet they do complete their to-do lists, which are often long and varied. No day for them is the same. They are self-motivated and driven by an intensity to perform at a high level without getting raises, promotions, or awards.
Perhaps, as the verse in Thessalonians says, “We remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ,” we can say this to the stay-at-home parents we know.
Today, let us show our appreciation for this important part of society with a simple ‘Thank You!’ These unselfish people would appreciate this recognition.