What Do You Bring to the Table?

Measuring the value of a life.

My spouse and I recently went about setting up something we probably should have long ago: life insurance. As we will be welcoming another baby into our family this summer, we wanted to have that extra peace of mind in case the unthinkable should happen. To understand this story, you should know that my spouse is the earner in our family and I am the stay-at-home, child-rearing parent.

We were told by our insurance agent that a life insurance policy is tied to a specific individual. So my spouse would have one policy and I would have another. While our agent “got the paperwork going,” we were advised to take some time to think about our particular situation and to determine our policy amounts based on a best guess as to how much the surviving spouse would need to financially cope. The next day, we gave our agent our desired policy amounts and the life insurance applications were submitted for review by underwriters.

A few days later, I received a call from our life insurance agent. My spouse’s application had been approved, I was told, but then a slight pause ensued. The agent continued, saying that my application, on the other hand, was denied by the underwriters as the requested policy amount did not match my current financial situation. The life insurance agent then chose this exact wording to phrase an explanation:

Financially speaking, you just don’t bring a lot to the table.

Life Insurance Agent

Dumbfounded, I was left speechlessly processing those words while the agent continued to say that, in the black-and-white world of life insurance, the value of a life is determined by dollars and cents, not by how many diapers you change. Since I had no income streams of my own, I could only be approved for the generic policy minimum.

I continue to be both infuriated and haunted by those words. In the daily grind, the drudgery, that comes with being a child-rearing parent, the last thing I need is for someone else to determine my own self-worth. The last thing I need is for someone else to scrutinize my life, only to deliver crushing blows to my self-esteem. How exactly is a stay-at-home parent of three supposed to have income streams, or the time to pursue their own income? It was a poignant and sad reminder that, in the world we live in, at the end of the day all that matters is money.

At least my spouse and children know what I bring to the table (even if my children only care that it’s chocolate milk and chicken nuggets). Because the people who sit at my table – they’re the center of my universe. Doing everything I can for them and making their lives better is how I measure the value of my life.

How do you measure the value of your life, or your self-worth? Let me know in the comments below.

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