The Caregiver

There’s always a female figure that plays the role “caregiver” in almost everyone’s life. That could be a mother, a grandmother, or a sister, who gives you love and care from the first day of your life. Women are known as having a caring nature, so it seems rational for some people to give women the responsibility of raising their children properly. In some countries, the woman is expected to give up her job once she’s married and only focus on the “most important” role of her life – the caregiver. Starting from that point to the rest of her life, she will be stuck in that responsibility, and trapped between four walls. When thinking back about her dream, her ambition, she doesn’t know what’s the point of her life now. The story is not about a specific person, and unsurprisingly, many other women are in the same situation – their only value is to take care of their family.

Looking at parenting, we can see how the responsibility of raising a child always counts more toward the mother. There may be many exceptions, but this is the fact in many countries. People don’t consider that both parents have the same duty; they think that the mother is the one who should take care of the whole family because “women and men are borned with different roles”. Because of that way of thinking, many women involuntarily quit their jobs just to fit in the society where caring is no more a choice, but a duty. From that point, motherhood becomes a full-time job. And if something happens to the child, it’s definitely the mother’s fault. When looking at news posted on social media about missing children, it is obvious that the first thing many people say before knowing anything is “the only job of the mother is to look after her child, and she can’t even do that”. Just recently, in Binh Duong province, Vietnam, a 2-year-old boy went missing and unfortunately, the child passed away because of drowning. Hearing this, it is heartbreaking for even a stranger, then how hurtful it is for the mother, who brought her baby to life? Sadly, many people criticized her to the point I can’t even imagine a person could say that to a mother losing her child, just like rubbing salt into her wounded heart. 

And when the child is not considered a good child, us Vietnamese even have an idiom to attribute women to spoiling them. “Con hư tại mẹ, cháu hư tại bà”, which means the mother and grandmother are the ones who should be blamed when raising a bad child, mentions about how women’s sentiment could result in a naughty child. It is understandable for this ideology to be created because it reflected how the society at that time was. And obviously, it doesn’t fit today’s society anymore. Both parents are placed in the same position and have the same responsibility when it comes to raising a child. Having motherhood as a full-time job should be a choice rather than a duty.

Looking at another aspect, of how women are shaped to become an ideal figure of a family, many are told to stand behind their men and “marrying a successful man is the best success of a woman”. Since they were young, they are taught to do “things that a woman should do”; they are not allowed to be clumsy because “no one’s marry you if you cannot take care of their family”. Therefore if you visit a family where girls have to do all the chores and boys just need to sit there, don’t be too surprised. However, this needs to be stopped. Women are individuals, just like men, they don’t need to become a particular figure that can only depend on others and play the role “the caregiver”. They have dreams to achieve as well as a life to live and enjoy; whatever they choose to do, it must be what they want, not what the society expects them to do.

In sum, every woman should be given the right to pursue their dream and ambition in life regardless of whether they are married or still single, just like men. 

Every human should at least know how to take care of themselves, and it is wrong to say that only women have a caring nature. Therefore, it is important for our society to stop taking the women’s role in the family for granted and men should get involved as well. The main reason why women were expected to be the one who stayed home and took care of the family in the past was because the main job that people did at that time required strength and men tended to do it better, so many women decided to stay home instead. Now it is no longer true, so this obsolete misconception needs to be eliminated in order to give women the right to seek true happiness in life.

My Vietnamese name is Phạm Phương Nguyên, which "Phạm" is my surname and "Nguyên" is my first name. However, it's quite hard to pronounce and is easily mistaken, so I use my English name Rosie, instead. I'm a 17 year old girl growing up in a small city in Vietnam. Living in a developing country where gender inequality still exists, I have to say that I'm very lucky to live in a family that values me for who I am, not for what my gender is. However, I know that not every girl has the chances that she deserves, and is treated unfairly, just because she's not a boy. When I was younger, I didn't think much about how different men and women are treated. But growing up, seeing how many women are automatically have the responsibility of doing all the housework beside their job, seeing how girls are told to be "as girly as possible" so that they can get married, seeing how a woman is told that her husband cheated on her because she's not beautiful, I know that I have to stand up. I have to do something. So I decided to write. I choose to write to express my emotion, and to use my words to fight for what I believe in. I believe in a society that women don't have to fight anymore, and I believe that we can make this happen, together.