There’s this notion. This little bit of language that people use when they see a dad out and about with their kids–alone. What is it? It’s the idea that because there is no mother present that the dad is babysitting. Have you run into this situation before?
You’re walking through the mall, or Target, or are at the park with your kids in tow. And a stranger stops you.
“Oh, your kids are so cute. How’s Daddy doing babysitting you?”
Or, you’re out in public and one or all of your kids are having a meltdown. Someone approaches.
“Don’t worry kids, mommy will be back soon.”
It has happened to me. Thankfully it hasn’t happened a ton. But it has happened enough that it pisses me off to no end. I’m sorry? Did you just ask me if I was babysitting MY OWN KIDS?! Walk away. Walk away now.
This isn’t something that was planning on writing about, to be honest. But it’s long been something that annoys the hell out of me. Yesterday I read a post on Scary Mommy that is asserting the same thing that I am–and it really got me thinking about the subject again. Admittedly, I don’t usually care for most of the content that Scary Mommy puts out. But this one? It hit the nail on the head and I was really glad they published it. Dads are not babysitters. We are parents.
Is there somebody else giving me money that I am not aware of to take care of my children? That’s a big bag of nope! If someone wants to give me money, though, that’s cool. I like money.
But Nick, you say, why is it so bad to ask a dad if they are babysitting? They don’t mean anything by it. No. Just no. It doesn’t matter if you aren’t trying to be insulting or aren’t trying to insinuate that I’m less of a parent than my wife. But guess what? That’s exactly what you’re doing. I bust my ass to be the best damn dad I can be to Sophia and Maddie. And I’m damn proud to be their dad. If you haven’t noticed by the things I’ve written or the insane amount of pictures, quotes, and videos that I share of them, being a dad is my life. So, if you want to devalue that by calling me a babysitter, we’re going to have a problem.Look, I’m not saying that I’m going to explode in your face if you call me a babysitter. But you’ll get a death stare from me and probably a few words that you’ll wish I hadn’t said. Stop perpetuating the archaic stereotype that dads are the lesser of the parents. Guess what? Parenting is typically a team sport. And the team is usually 50/50. So, call me a dad, a father, ask me how my day of parenting my kids is going. Just don’t call me a babysitter. You’re better than that.
10 thoughts on “Call Me a Babysitter One More Time”
I totally agree with you. Unfortunately it seems to be the norm that moms are the ones that do the ‘dirty work’ and shoulder most of the responsibility for the child while dad gets the fun, easy stuff. So it’s automatically assumed that daddy is giving mommy a break, hence the ‘baby sitting’ theory. In my household, kid duty is split between myself and my husband. Heck, he changes more poopy diapers than I do!
While moms carrying a good deal of the “dirty work” was how things were, I believe that has changed. Especially among the younger generation of parents. I mean, you said yourself that it is split evenly in your house, as it is in mine. And I think that is becoming the norm. And why being called a babysitter aggravates me to no end.
Right there with you Nick. I usually try to be nice with my reply but still show their ignorance, “that’s funny! Here I was thinking I was doing a great job as a parent. Looks like I’ve been downgraded to babysitter!” Then they usually stumble over themselves and I say what I was waiting for, “maybe next time don’t assume a dad is less of a parent m’kay?”
Also – every time it has happened to me it’s been some little old lady, same for you?
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My reaction tends to be the same as you. For me, who says it has varied, but the little old ladies do like to say it, that is for sure.
It’s even worse when you get it from your in-laws who automatically assume that you are incapable of caring for their grandchild without the direct and constant supervision of your spouse.
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Great post Nick. I just wrote something along similar lines over at Aussie Daddy Bloggers. Science has shown that the involvement of dads in their kids lives is critical to their growth from infants to adulthood.
Keep it up.
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Thanks James! Science knows what’s up, that’s for sure. What’s the link for your post? I’d love to give it a read.
Thanks Nick. Would love your opinion on it.