Society generally portrays dads as having it pretty easy. I am not going to lie – sometimes I think they do too. Raise your hand if you don’t think you occasionally do more than your partner, and I will personally nominate you for sainthood.
I am the default parent of our daughter in that I look after snack-day, what needs to be in her daily backpack, or when it’s time for her next shots. This is not because I am the mother, but because my partner has a memory like a sieve and the poor kids at daycare would never get their cupcakes.
There are more than a few areas where dads get the shaft, though, and one major area is being called a “babysitter” when they are alone with their children.
If someone said I was babysitting my child while I was with her, I would take serious offense. Not because being called a babysitter is derogatory, but because when I am with my own child, I prefer to call it parenting.
Not very many people who know a mother would say she is babysitting her children; if you are one of the few who would, you wouldn’t get away with it for long.
So why do we do it to fathers? He is not babysitting his children; he is co-parenting. He and his partner are raising children – sometimes together, sometimes apart! Never co-babysitting.
When I am alone with my daughter, am I babysitting her? No. And my partner isn’t either, when he is home alone with her. He is not “watching,” “looking after” her, or “taking care” of her. I mean, of course I hope he is doing all of those things! He is being a parent.
Dads have come a long way in fighting the perceptions, and we need to help fight against the stereotypes too. More than a few of my favourite parenting bloggers are fathers, and I love hearing their voices shouting their worth from the rooftops.
As mothers, we should be shouting with them. If we demand equality, it should mean exactly that.
There certainly are parents who have little to do with raising their children, and there are both men and women who have children and outright disappear. There are other names for those parents though, and it is still not “babysitter.”
Dads bring just as much to the table as mothers. If you wouldn’t say a mother is babysitting her own children, then stop saying it about a father.
If I still haven’t convinced you, here are five seriously compelling reasons to stop calling fathers a babysitter:
- He won’t have secret parties while you’re out. **
- You don’t worry about your husband being attracted to himself.
- He has no interest in rifling through your drawers.
- He has a vested interest in not giving the kids chocolate at 9 p.m.
- He installed the nanny cam.
** He might, but it probably won’t involve spin-the-bottle or drinking underage.
Disclaimer: This post bears no ill-will towards babysitters, and the use of the word babysitter is in no way meant as derogatory. Please don’t boycott me- I have a toddler and desperately need you.