Many years ago, I was a child to a stay-at-home mother. From my conception well through my 20th birthday, my mother was never employed. It was only after my younger sister and I were grown and moved out that my mother acquired work. However, by this point in her life, it was more out of domestic boredom than the need to accrue additional finances. Modern society has evolved in such a way that most two-parent homes indeed have two working parents. It is more common in this day and age for both parents to be employed, often full-time.
How do you explain the concept of “work” to a toddler? Toddlers know nothing of work nor do they need to. The life of a toddler revolves around his or her basic needs i.e. food, shelter, sleep, social interaction, etc. Additionally, the cognitive development of a toddler is dependent on its environment and in scenarios where both parents are working full-time jobs, the child is rarely exposed to both parental entities simultaneously. The crux of this issues is contained within the following question: When your child wants to know where you go all day, what do you say?
Another, perhaps easier way to examine this question is to ask: If aliens landed on Earth and asked the question, “what is work for?” what is the appropriate response?
The lone function of employment is to generate personal income. The political and capitalist class has twisted this around and through many years of benign, clandestine direction, and coerced most people into assigning value to their work. Value that is supposed to generate intrinsic pleasure. The remarkable success of this ill willed guidance has created generations of people who have been trained to believe that what they do all day for money actually enhances their happiness. Ask yourself this: if you didn’t need money, what would you do all day?
The only real reason people endeavor to excel professionally is the potential for more income. Outside of the possibility of a financial raise, there is nothing to gain besides maintaining the reputation you’ve established for yourself inside your place of employment. When there is no potential for a salary increase, workers excel based only on the potential backlash from stigmatized mistakes. The capitalist leadership calls this motivation or productivity. What it really is, however, is a fundamental system of guilt based on predetermined rights and wrongs within a particular industry. After all, without the potential for a financial boost, there is genuinely no incentive for the average person to exert any effort into their job. By creating a system of stigmatized mistakes accompanied by penalties and transforming it into an ideal known as “pride” or “motivation,” employers can cultivate a pseudo-intrinsic happiness based solely on the ability of the employee to escape consequence. The weaker the consequences for errors, the less incentive an employee has to perform at a high level. Through years of conditioning, employees learn to excel based on professional pride and eventually, they reach the point where a false happiness is achieved simply by doing someone else’s definition of a “good job.”
Because we live in an economic system based on cyclical debt in exchange for goods and services that we are unable to generate ourselves, the only rationale one can give for work is to accrue fiat currency in order to intentionally promulgate our own personal debt in exchange for items that are essential to our existence like food and shelter. The system of work only exists insofar as individual households are not self-sustaining. As society continues to devolve in this way, people have less and less personal utility over the availability of essential goods. It is within this construct that the fabricated “intrinsic value” of work is at its most malicious. The average person is willing to knowingly accrue more debt, even with the knowledge that they are not going to be compensated in congruence with their performance at work. Because the false happiness of “a job well done” is alive and well in so many conditioned workers, they forget that the sole purpose of work is based on the need for income and suddenly, employer expectations sit right alongside financial goals in the eyes of the brainwashed employee. This deceit has escalated so quickly and been embraced so wholly, that fathers are missing the births of their children because they had to work.
This simple observation from an admittedly simple mind is in no way suggesting a means for change or improvement, however it does give one an adequate answer to the question of a toddler. When your youngling has reached the age where they can understand that you go somewhere for something all day, be sure to explain to them how the entirety of the developed world has been co-opted by the capitalist underbelly into assigning value to something that is inherently valueless. And as you reach for your jacket on your way to work in the morning, be sure to look your child in the eyes and explain to him how important the approval of your superiors are. So important, in fact, that you’ll spend 1/3 of your life away from their development, laboring for greenbacks and the approval of people who wouldn’t care if you died after your shift, as long as you were productive during it.