Kin Keeping: Finally A Definition For The Busy Work

When I first learned about the term “kin keeping,” I was amused. The quaint term aptly labeled what so many women think is naturally just their duty as a wife, friend, daughter, sister, mother—labeling it seemed like such a formality.

But as author and women’s studies instructor Katie McLaughlin pointed out, providing a label also legitimizes the often incredible amount of work associated with “kin keeping.”

Is buying birthday presents, sending holiday cards, scheduling appointments, setting up lunch dates and organizing parties really work? No, because you don’t get compensated for it. But for the kin keeper, it certainly requires time and mental effort.

As I researched my kin keeping further, I realized quickly that I am a kin keeper in my family (immediate and extended), at work and in many friend groups. When I asked on Facebook if any other people were or knew a kin keeper, friends pointed that out to me:

Tracy post
(In fact, I have a note on my desk right now with the names of friends or former co-workers I haven’t seen in awhile so I can reach out to set up time to meet for lunch or coffee.)

But that’s also why I wanted to write the article. I hope writing about the burden of being kin keeping inspires other people (both women and men) to start talking about the work of kin keeping to make sure families are dividing the duties as fairly and evenly as possible.

It seems easier to assume the “nurturer” in a family will always assume kin keeping duties, but is that fair? I hope bringing kin keeping into the discussion demonstrates that every family member, friend and co-worker has a responsibility to nurture relationships; it shouldn’t rest on only one person’s shoulders.

Read the entire Forum article here.

Kin keeper

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