While the news coverage around the birth of the Jacinda Ardern’s baby might be seen by some to be a little over the top, here's hoping that it marks an opportunity to shift to a more positive discussion around parenthood in general. Because, apart from this notable exception, recent language and discussions seem to frame the idea of having children and looking after then in consistently negative terms.
There is, of course, the ongoing discussion around the pay gap between stay-at-home parents and those who keep working. A recent article described the difference in pay outcomes as the motherhood or fatherhood “penalty”.
It’s vital to continue these discussions, and for mums and dads to feel that they have a choice around this important issue. But I can’t help but feel that the role of the stay at home parent is portrayed in very negative terms. The conversation always seems to imply that the stay at home parent is somehow the loser in this equation.
Add to that the complete lack of empathy for the plight of children I have heard during the immigration debate in the USA and I wonder whether we need to rethink and revisit the priority we attach to children in our society.
Other headlines to throw into the mix include the increasing obesity and overall weight of our children due to the lack of activity in our their lives as well as poor diet. Yet another depressing read, was a story about how children are losing the art of playing in the absence of their digital devices. This all leads to a sense that any problems future generations might experience are going to entirely our own fault.
So perhaps, it’s time to push back against the notion that the parent who works fulltime, while maintaining their pay trajectory, is somehow the winner here. I could also mention the not-so-ancient piece of modern wisdom that no-one on their deathbed regrets spending too much time with their children.
But that’s the issue.
We are increasingly a generation of parents who are outsourcing the raising of our children to third parties and digital devices. We are brilliant at justifying our distractions when it comes to paying attention and spending time with our kids, but I think an honest look at things would tell us that on many levels we're failing.
How many of us might even catch ourselves out from time to time, energetically discussing in front of our kids who should look after them, as if it was the worst thing in the world? How many times have we left our children sitting in front of the television or other screens and devices for what is a little longer than really necessary?
So perhaps, we take the news of our Prime Minister’s baby as a little ray of sunshine, in an otherwise miserable discussion. It’s a chance to think about what priority we give our children and maybe spend more with them now, rather than looking back with regret.
Humility, and probably reality, should dictate that I declare my wife's superior multi-tasking abilities. But I have been very lucky that my career has allowed me to spend more time looking after our children than the average full-time parent. It is certainly something I’m beginning to appreciate more and more as time goes on.
So while we often look to the government to legislate to provide better outcomes for our kids, perhaps now is a good time to also take a good look at ourselves and the priority we give our kids, because spending time with them is definitely not the short straw.