When a mother looks after her kids, everyone will agree that she is parenting. When a father looks after his kids, he gets called a babysitter. Let me tell you now, he is definitely not a babysitter.
My husband is a parent. He is a caregiver. He is a legal guardian. He shares in the decision making process. He changes nappies. He bottle feeds. He entertains. He does bath time. He does bedtime. He does daycare drop-off. He does doctor visits. He cooks. He cleans. He does just as much as I do. He, like me, is simply parenting.
I would be offended if someone said I was babysitting my child while I was with her. Not because being called a babysitter is demeaning, but because when I am with my own child, I prefer to call it parenting. Yes, a babysitter can do all of the above. But a babysitter can clock off. There is no on/off switch to parenting. Being a parent is a 24/7 job whether you are around your child or not. So why does society give the label that a father looking after his child is babysitting instead of being a parent?
Does society still have a traditional view of parenting roles? Traditionally, women were the caretakers and men were the breadmakers. Back then, men didn’t do things like ‘take care of the kids’. You would have thought we’d be pass that by now. Nowadays, men play a more active role in the raising of their children. Dads have come a long way in fighting the perceptions, and we need to help fight against the stereotypes too.
My husband and I both work fulltime, so it made sense that we share all the parenting duties. Some people are shocked that we do it this way. “Must be nice to have a husband who helps like that,” they say. Well, I didn’t just have this child on my own. We both made a choice to bring a child into this world and it is the responsibility of both of us to raise her. At the end of the day, we are both her parents. We are a team. We are a family.
While not everyone maybe offended by the babysitter comment, I believe it is disrespectful to those great dads out there parenting as best they can. Dads bring just as much to the table as mothers. These men are not given enough credit for how much they contribute. I know my husband is an amazing father and in many ways, is probably a better parent than I am.
The next time you go to ask if dad is babysitting, stop and think. Friends, family, nannies, helpers – they are babysitters. Dads are simply parents.