“Hi Hun, come over for coffee. Let the Dad babysit the kids today”
A perfect sentence, right? But does it convey the right thing? What are we implying? I tell you what’s wrong with this sentence,
- Dad is not a babysitter
- The father of a child is a parent too.
No, don’t shoot me yet. It’s not because I am hinting that a man should not take care of his baby, so you can have some down time or “me time”. I am saying, dad is not filling in for you when the child is under his care, he is not helping, he is parenting, that’s all.
I am a stay at home mother and there is a lot of time that I get to spend with my little one. Obviously, I am in sync with all her needs, wants and dreams. I have personally witnessed all her milestones and I have washed her bum more times than anyone else in the family. But no one will call me a babysitter. It is assumed that I am a natural, hands-on mother. I am a parent to my child. But so is my husband. He is the FATHER of my child, a hands-on dad, a parent and not a babysitter. And no, I have not made him a great father by giving him the opportunity to look after our child, it’s him. It’s his choice. It’s his instinct too to parent.
To prove my point, let me define babysitter for you.
verb (used without object), baby-sat, baby-sitting.
1.to take charge of a child while the parents are temporarily away.
Now you know what I am trying to convey?
The moment you ask your partner to babysit your child, you are projecting that you don’t believe he is a parent. He is a mere helper who helps with the child, while you are away, and to any parent, that’s demeaning. Yes, I am aware that there are many dads who are not connected with their child. They do not spend enough time with their children and they are terribly preoccupied. But, I am also aware that there are some Moms like that too. As a thumb rule, we cannot make a statement that reflects that dads are any less of a parent let alone, a babysitter.
Fatherhood is different from motherhood. It’s more free-spirited, beyond our rule book of broccoli for lunch, beyond our sense of timing and hygiene, I give you that, but it’s this difference in the way they act and play with their children that bring up a unique perspective, fun, and joy in the life of your child. Isn’t it?
“Wow! Is your husband feeding the baby tonight? Lucky girl!”
Heard that one? That’s wrong too.
If a Dad does what a parent is supposed to do, it is also not a reason either to put them on the pedestal. For example, for the first 2 months of my child’s arrival in our life, my husband cleaned the baby, changed diapers and I breastfed. We took turns sleeping and were both equally exhausted too.
My friends would tell me, “What, your husband changes the diaper at night? Poor thing, but he goes to work the next day, right? And I would grin and be grateful but also think, that yes, he goes to work the next day, but I work too- to keep the baby alive. Which means, I need to be physically, mentally and emotionally at work too, at home, raising our baby. So, I think, he is a great father to realize his duties and multitask but that’s what is expected from a partner, isn’t it? It would be nice to live in a world where men didn’t get put up on a pedestal for “helping” take care of their children. It would be nice to live in a world where men took care of their children and it wasn’t considered exceptionally exceptional.
It may be a bit different for families, where both the mom and dad go to work. So probably there, the expectation from a father to parent is high, well, because the mom is also clocking enough time at work. So, parenting is a team work that both the partners must take on their head, shoulder, knees & toes. Though, even there, I have noticed that Dads get brownie points for putting the kids in pajamas and singing them to sleep, while the mom does laundry outside. Why? The man is parenting! Would it bring additional accolades if the mom was singing her baby to sleep, no right? because it’s what’s expected of her and it’s a bonus point for dad. Sigh!
We want a “Gender Equal” world. We aim to create a gender equal society. Look at your family, is it gender equal? Do you consider your partner an equal parent or do you think, he “helps” you with the child? Is he expected to parent or a bit of help here and there is the expected norm in your household too?
For my husband and I, equally shared parenting was a conscious choice. It resonated with both of us. We knew that I would have to gestate the baby and feed it in its earliest days, but beyond those technicalities, we were both in this game together. Yes, we have a division of duty. I do cooking too on most days and he does not, I put the baby to sleep and he does not but he does a lot of things that I do not, like going to work and earning a monthly paycheck to pay for our lifestyle, our kid’s education, care & expenses -that’s parenting too. Since our baby is an early riser, my husband gets up with her. They play/learn/spend time for good one hour before I even wake up. They love their father-daughter morning while I catch on my beauty sleep. When we go out, it’s my husband who always wore the baby, now that she is a toddler, daddy runs after her in the mall, in the park, at the beach. He feeds her, he gives her bath, he listens, he disciplines, he nurtures, he loves and no not like a Mom, but like a parent. Like what dads do. They parent too.
In general terms, women still do more of the housework and spend more hours with their children, but men are also not doing nothing. They bring a lot to the table. The more we emasculate them, the more we put them on a pedestal for doing the ordinary and the more we incept in them that they are helpers or babysitters, we will be held guilty for undermining their efforts and alienating them further from their role as a parent, and that’s a big loss!
Let us stop, using the word “Babysitting” when a child is under her father’s care. Friends, help, nannies, and grandparents babysit. Not the father. Let’s not call it “Daddy’s day care”, when the mom is away for work, or pleasure and the kids are with dad. Let us not dissect this precious thing called parenting and put it in gender slots by diminishing the role of a Father, who is as good a parent as a mother.
It’s time that we trust Fatherhood like we revere motherhood. It’s time we give daddy their due but not with an exclamation mark and cheers that they can parent. But with the knowledge and awareness that most men are capable of loving.
Most men want to take care of their children.
Most men bring love, care, nurturing along with the quintessential bread to the family and that makes them a parent.
NOT a babysitter.
PS: Sharing with you the links to some amazing Fathers day gift ideas as a BONUS for reading this. Happy Father’s Day!
- The ultimate father’s day gift guide
- Father’s day gift ideas he is sure to love
- Best blue collars father’s day gift