Parentingideas Blog

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Written & curated for parents by the Parentingideas team

Emotional labour

Blog Post Teaser Image Labour takes many forms. The guy with the hard hat and shovel repairing the road is doing labour. It's physical. It's takes a certain fitness to spend work with a pick and shovel all day.

The writer who spends all day banging away on a keyboard is doing labour. Hammering out great text can be exhausting. It's mentally taxing.

A parent who spends all day with young children, and then gets resistance when they should be in bed is doing labour. It’s emotional labour.

You need to bite your tongue when your child just won’t listen. You want to scream at the top of your lungs, “JUST DO IT NOW BECAUSE I WANT IT DONE.” But you don’t because you know it will only make matters worse. That’s emotional labour.

You need to absorb the children’s frustrations and fears. When children go to school there can be new pressures placed upon them, and you. Saving their best behaviour for school they show you their worst face, behaving in ways they’d never do at school. So we parents must do the emotional work - smile, nod, agree, listen, gently provoke and absorb the mix of emotions that are directed your way.

Emotional labour is the hardest work of all. But just don't tell that to people who don't do emotional labour. The person with the pick and shovel won't appreciate how hard emotional labour can be. It's draining.

It helps if your partner recognises the impact that emotional labour can have on you. You need to support each other so you can do the emotional work.

You also need to look after your own energy levels to stay fit. Regardless, you need to do the emotional work if you are going to be effective with children.

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