Family Manager: Profession, Occupation, Vocation

„The Home as Workplace”


For ten years we have been considering how to combine with one regulation, supporting the family unit, reducing unemployment and raising the social status and security of people functioning within and for the family.

According to available statistics, currently in Hungary there are between two and three million families. In each family there is one member who holds the family together, he/she is the „soul” of the family and the dwelling. In most cases the mother fills this role: gives birth to and raises the children, supplies the food, cooks, washes dishes and clothes, cleans, maintains order in the dwelling and often in the garden, takes the children to kinder and school, helps with studies, checks the homework, teaches them how to study, is pleased with their successes but offers solace for their failures, is the psychologist at the time of „puberty blues”, nurses them during illnes, while at the same time patiently listens to the husband’s workplace problems.
She nurses the elderly often helpless family members. Often she conducts the family’s official business, financial dealings, taxation, smaller/larger construction projects as well as sourceing the fitout. In many families this role is left to the father or substitute person.

A US researcher studied the activities of 18.000 stay at home mothers. He showed their average working week was 94.4 hours. Therefore if in paid employment they would earn about 117,000 USD per annum. (http://www.salary.com)

In contrast in Hungary today if someone owns up to being a housewife immediately she is asked „arn’t you working?” As if paid employment is the only activity classed as „work”. In our opinion in the near future we will have to reevaluate the concept of „work”.

Many households—in today’s vernacular—include the unemployed or people without health insurance who fall between the cracks. For many faceted activities, if they are lucky, they should receive thanks, but mostly they receive nothing.
Since in reality the Family is a „small enterprise”, we recommend that the person who organizes and holds the family together should be able to use the FAMILY MANAGER title.
„Family Management” should be added to the list of approved courses that can be taught and studied as a profession. In every family one person will accept the responsibility and attached training to enable him/her to function as a family manager. This person will be entitled to a moderate pension and health insurance as well as having the time counted as years of service.
For those thousands currently filling the role of Family Manager and in practice receiving nothing, the above would be a great step forward—at a modest cost. In a few years it would significantly lower the rate of unemployed.
For those undertaking home duties the Family Manager title would mean a lot to their self esteem, self worth and self awareness. Self aware citizens and well balanced happy families could contribute to the creation of a healthier society.
Implementing every new thing encounters obstacles, resistence, objections and opposing views. Over many years we have collected ideas and proposals from family members, friends and acquaintances and combined these into how we envisage the steps necessary to create the Family Manager profession.

The Necessary Steps To Reach The Goal


Parliament passes a law which acknowledges the political and social importance of the Family Manager profession and its practice.
The ministry putting up the proposal will be the one responsible for implementing once legislation is passed.
Once regulations are enacted, six to twelve months is sufficient for the national organization responsible for registering Family Managers, maintaing the register and setting up the direction and supervision of training, to be in place. It would be advantageous to position the organization within the current work placement centres. The curriculum for Family Management training and the text books would have to be developed in parallel. If possible training should take place as close as possible to the Family Manager’s place of residence.
The candidates will be tested at the end of the course and rated „exceptionally acceptable” „acceptable” and „not acceptable”. The course can only be repeated twice. The successful candidates will receive a diploma.
The most outstanding candidates can take part as trainers for the next generation of Family Managers. As in all professions so to in the case of Family Managers, quality assessment, inspection from time to time and home visits will take place. The most suitable for this task seem to be social workers, course trainers and community workers.

Family Manager Training

The infrastructure for training a Family Manager already exists in the form of High and Technical schools and institutes for further education. The training staff can be assembled in a relatively short time from practicing, retired or unemployed teachers, vocational trainers, guest professionals as well as social workers. The preparation of the curriculum should pose no great problem.
The minimum course length should be one year, which with acquired experience can be expanded into a two year course. During training those taking part would be entitled, on a scholarship basis, to the moderate pension contribution and health insurance. In each family one person will be entitled to register as the Family Manager and take part in family management training. The minimum requirement to apply is completion of primary school and to be over the age of 18 years.

In the following--in broad terms--we would like to list what subjects and within them the themes we feel are necessary in Family Manager training.

Nursing babies and raising children: breast feeding, feeding, cleanliness, healthy baby and child development, the fundamentals of child psychology, problems associated with puberty, education for family life, sex education and contraception.

Infant and child sicknesses: the most common symptoms of infectious and non infectious diseases, the dangers of obesity, when is it critical to summon a doctor or ambulance?, things to do prior to the arrival of the doctor (fever reduction, prevention of cramping, rehydration). The nursing, feeding and dispensing of medicine for a sick child.

The care of adults and infirm aged in the home:
the most common adult and aged chronic sicknesses, a basic knowledge of nursing, the recognition of serious symptoms, the problem typically associated with aged care, the prevention and care of bed sores, physiotherapy for the recovering and the aged.

A basic knowledge of domestic duties:
basic nutrition and food groups, calories, KJ, sourceing of food, storage at home, a basic knowledge of cooking techniques and ideas, how to preserve the nutrition value of food, the use of preservatives, preserving food at home, cleanliness in the kitchen, keeping the home clean and tidy, the safe storage of chemicals, common accidents in the home, their prevention and first aid. The things to do in the home and garden during the four seasons.

Basic economics and administration of ones affairs:
bookkeeping, planning of payments and receipts, how banks function?, payments of accounts, taking out and serviceing a loan, electronic transactions, what is the computer good for?, where for what and how much do we shop?, basic tax knowledge, tax returns and common mistakes associated with them.

Crisis situations in the family: poverty, becoming unemployed (seeking employment, the interview, CV writing), sudden and unexpected death, serious accidents, becoming disabled, funerals, mourning, alcoholism, caring for a drug dependent family member, worsening family conflicts, amicable divorce.

Family leisure activities:
religious, political, civic communities, rest days and public holidays, maintaining tradition, the joys and problems of annual leave, theatre, cinema, concerts, TV, reading, board games, computer games, excursions on foot, on bike, by boat, on skis and by car, the use of maps, compass and timetables, GPS, holiday resorts, village tourism, travelling abroad, music and sport activities, what sport to choose?


Who "pays" the Family Managers?

With the introduction of Family Managers we have to be mindful so that the government budget will be impacted to a minimal extent. The chief source of contributions will be from self funding.
The most common form will be from family members in employment (husband, wife, grandparents living with the family, older children) or the contributions from a supporting sponsor. These contributions should be tax deductable. By foregoing the tax on contributions to ensure a modest pension and health insurance for Family Managers, the state invests in the future. In reality the state gains as these monies would not have flowed into the pension and health insurance funds.
Another form of self funding could arise from the Family Managers themselves, from part time employment or working from home. The Family Manager pays the social service contributions and receives a tax deduction. In our opinion full time employment for Family Managers is out of the question.
It is natural and desirable that in families with higher incomes the Family Managers can opt for a higher level of health and pension cover. It is our hope that as society develops in parallel with a rising living standard the „Family Manager contributions” will gradually increase to the minimum wage level. We we would like to emphasize that the level of payments to ensure a modest pension and health cover for Family Managers as recommended by us is in addition to entitlements under existing law (eg unemployment benefit, regular social welfare payments, aged supplements, child support, nursing expenses, etc.) and independently of them, contributions be made into the pension and health insurance funds. The Family Manager does not receive these amounts but is notified of the balance via the receipt of regular statements.
The only Family Managers we see having problems are those where the whole family lives below the poverty line. It is an important goal of society that their number declines.
To reach this goal the creation of workplaces is an indispensible requirement. Only for those families below the poverty line it will be necessary to make the contributions (pension/healthcare) out of specially set up funds, European Union assistance or out of the government budget.

Quality Assurance

Family Managers are in fact „employees” of the family or the state. From time to time it is necessary to assess that service is at an appropriate level and to provide assistance. This task can be carried out via the local employment office with the aid of social workers. In smaller villages volunteers can fill this role eg retired teachers, community development workers, who via regular family visits become aware of the successes and failures of Family Managers. With appropriate empathy they could help establish friendships, smaller/larger communities and clubs. Even in the smallest of villages it would be possible to hold further development presentations and workshops. It is important that the Family Managers should consider these visits as help not harrasment. In many cases the „isolation syndrome” affecting the stay at home is preventable. Those Family Managers living close to each other—with the support of the visiting case worker—can increasingly provide mutual help and support. At the same time case workers will become aware of families in which there are problems so serious that to solve them requires outside intervention (eg local government, medical maybe even the police).

Expected Outcomes

The recognition of Family Managers as a profession and occupation could within a short time and at a reasonable cost, lead to a significant decline in unemployment. Many people could be encouraged to undertake further education. It would be a perfect fit with the family tax program. It would increase the numbers with pension entitlements and health insurance, in addition it increases the security at a social level of those functioning for the family and raises their self worth. It would strengthen families. In the long run it could lower the rate of divorce. It would mean great steps from the „nuclear” towards a united cooperative communal society. It would encourage part time work, work from the home and the establishment of these types of workplaces.

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Authors: Dr Julianna Farkas, ophthalmologist and Dr Lajos Molnár, radiologist, pediatrician and infectious diseases specialist

Eglish translation by Andrea Hegyesi and Geza Reisinger

Free to copy and translate.