Dads are not just babysitters...
"When someone asks a father if he is 'babysitting' the kids while mum is out, it insinuates, among other things, that he is just a short-term caregiver of his children." Find out in this article why dads are so much more than just babysitters.
Whenever I’m out without my kids and partner and I bump into someone I know, I usually will get asked if my husband is babysitting. Yes, he always minds the kids if I have to go out, but no, this does not mean he is “babysitting” – he is, in fact, fathering.
Dads are not babysitters because…
We’ve come a long way in the world of raising kids from our grandparents’ and even perhaps our own parents’ time, when mothers did the bulk of parenting. Things are different now, with many men playing an active role in child-rearing.
And rightly so. After all, the decision to have a child is usually one a husband and wife make together. So it makes sense that both of them should be in the parenting game together and equally.
But a dad’s role in parenting is still downplayed in comparison to mum’s.
Things are not helped much by how the roles of a mother and father are still commonly stereotyped by the media. You just need to watch a TV programme like The Simpsons or even Peppa Pig to see a bumbling, mistake-making dad in action.
And of course there are the many TV commercials and other advertisements showing fathers looking confused and helpless while doing baby-related chores such as diaper-changing, feeding and dressing.
Given all this, it’s hardly surprising that there is a difference in the language that is used to describe a mum looking after her kids when dad is not at home, and a dad doing the same when mum is away.
But it really shouldn’t be the case, because dads these days are so much more than just babysitters. They are active and involved parents who are as capable as their partners of not just looking after their kids, but nailing their parenting role too.
Insulting to both genders
When we ask a father if he is just “babysitting”, it negates the abilities of a multi-tasking man by telling him that regardless of how capable he is at doing pretty much everything else in his life, he sucks at being a dad.
To break it down even further, just look at the meaning of the word “babysitter”. The Oxford Dictionary defines the word as, “A person who looks after a child or children while the parents are out.”
So when someone asks a father if he is “babysitting” the kids while mum is out, it insinuates, among other things, that he is just a short-term caregiver of his children.
This is insulting to the many stay-at-home dads around the world. It’s insulting to the many full-time working dads everywhere (such as my own husband) who are as capable as their partners of fully caring for their children.
And it’s also insulting to mothers, because by hinting that their partners are not as capable as they are of looking after the kids, it suggests that a mum’s role should indeed be restricted to full-time child care for the safety and wellbeing of their kids.
It’s time to stop thinking of dads as mere “babysitters” when mum’s not around. I know my husband is a brilliant father and is probably a better parent than I am in many ways. I can say the same about many of my friends who are also fathers — they rock at their role as dad.
So let’s give our men the credit they deserve as parents, as fathers — starting right now!