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Dads Aren't "Babysitters"

Dads and moms alike are equally responsible for spending time with their children. One-on-one time should never be considered babysitting.

One thing that really gets me going is when I hear moms say, “My husband is going to babysit the kids so I can get some 'me' time.”

Last time I checked, the creation of a child required a mom AND a dad. The upbringing, however, can vary of course. There are now single parents, same-sex parents, and grandparents involved with child-rearing.

In a traditional home, both parents should be (in my opinion) equally responsible for their child’s care and development until they become responsible adults. It shouldn’t be a one-parent job unless there's some legitmate reason. And I do understand this happens.

But, I struggle when I hear moms talk about how great their husbands are for “babysitting” the kids.

Oh, I’m so lucky! He’s going to babysit the kids for me tonight so I can go get my haircut,” or “Bob babysat the kids so I could do the grocery shopping in peace.”

Really?? It makes me want to gag – just a little bit. And yes, I'm talking about the term "babysit," not the actual act of spending time with the child.

Dads are a critical element in a child’s life. They are NOT babysitters. They are role models, caregivers, and providers.

I am a stay-at-home mom, but I am not June Cleaver. I fully admit to this. I'm not the best cook and I can't sew very well, but I'm proud to share the responsibilities of running a home and raising children with my husband.

We are a team.

We are trying to set an example by having dad cook while mom pays the bills. Dad washes the laundry while mom folds and irons. We share in the household duties with hopes of showing our boys that nothing is a man's or a woman's "job." (Well, except for cleaning the chicken coop which I simply prefer not to do!)

The nature of our society is that dads typically are the main breadwinners, although it seems we are starting to make a shift.

I know many stay-at-home-dads who are proud to be the caregivers while their career wives bring home the bacon. I think it’s pretty neat!

The funny thing is that I don’t recall hearing them say, “Donna is going to babysit the kids so I can go bowling this weekend.”

When I was in the dating phase of my life, one of the main qualities I searched for in a husband was his love of children and a dedication to being a father.  

Somewhere in the depths of my being I had enough sense to recognize this key quality in a life partner. I actually valued that more than sexy abs and straight, pearly teeth. Call me crazy!

Parents should WANT to be involved with their own flesh and blood. Perhaps I'm too idealistic in this day and age. But in my opinion this is a critical factor in a child's healthy development.

Working dads have a lot on their shoulders. However, working or not, moms also carry a heavy load. Stay-at home-moms are overwhelmed with the juggling act of being everything to everyone on a daily basis.

So moms and dads, let’s try to eliminate the term “babysitting” from our vocabulary when it comes to referring to one another caring for our children.

Instead, say something like, “Sam is spending some amazing quality time with our kids tonight while I get some quiet time to re-energize.”

No more babysitting please. It’s called being a parent.

Naomi Winch May 29, 2012 at 11:21 AM
Great article! Just sent it to a friend of mine who recently had a baby. The father and her had a silly fight and he told that he refused to watch their 8wk old daughter that Sat. while she went to work. I couldn't believe it!!! They did end up making up and he agreed to watch her, but this in my opinion is a lousy way to start off parenting.
Harrison T Williamson, Jr. May 29, 2012 at 12:58 PM
Opie from the opie and Anthony show on Sirius XM Satellite radio has a theory when the kid is sleeping it is baby sitting as there is no interaction but his activities are curtailed as he must "baby sit" the kid
Harrison T Williamson, Jr. May 29, 2012 at 12:59 PM
...and what happens when there is no father in the picture? Grandfather watching a kid is baby sitting.
Jenae Holtzhafer May 29, 2012 at 02:27 PM
As a mom, if I'm home and my son is sleeping, I wouldn't ever call it babysitting. It should be no different for a dad. If it's your child, it's not babysitting. (In my opinion of course.) Touching on the grandparent issue ... I think it's more acceptable to call it babysitting since it's not actually that person's child, but when I ask my parents or in-laws to watch the kids, I will make an effort to phrase it, "Would you like to spend some time with the boys while we go to dinner?" or something to that effect. I was a babysitter when I was a teenager. I watched children who weren't mine and got paid for it. Should dads get paid to be alone with their children? I guess that's the bottom line.
Jenae Holtzhafer May 29, 2012 at 02:28 PM
Here's a definition of "babysit." 1. To take care of a child or children in the absence of a parent or guardian. There you have it!
martha vines May 29, 2012 at 03:06 PM
My sons should have been so lucky. They were 6 & 17mons. When their dad died. I will always be grateful to the male friends who kicked soccer balls, tossed baseballs' did Dorney, played chess, chauffered for big dances, just talked over lunch or dinner, etc. So that there were always men my sons could turn to. And it wasnever any of those dear friends who "had" to be there for my sons. One is now a wonderful dad of two himself. Dad's don't babysit. They participate and love their children.
Mom of DnNnD May 29, 2012 at 04:22 PM
Thank you for this article. This has been one of my pet peeves for a long time. Whenever I hear a dad say he has to babysit the kids tonight. I say with a faked surprised expression "I didn't know those weren't your kids, they look just like you."
Jenae Holtzhafer May 29, 2012 at 04:29 PM
Ha!! Mom of DnNnD, thanks for the chuckle. I'll have to start using that line. :)
Chuck Behn May 29, 2012 at 07:10 PM
Interesting article. My wife and I switched roles a few years back when she took a job that required a lot of travel. Happy to give up the nomadic lifestyle, I started my own business while becoming the primary driver, cook, and band aid provider during the week until my wife came home. Neither of us ever "babysat" for the other but we did plan activities that just one of us enjoyed with the kids while the other received a much needed break. DazedDad.
tamarya May 29, 2012 at 07:41 PM
My pet peeve is when kids get hurt in dads care, yet it was the mothers fault also. I finally told someone off on the article of where the dad let the todllers home and they started the fire. This woman was saying both mom and dad should lose them but yet they were home in dads care while mom was working. I finally said to my knowledge of 33 yrs of life dads are more than a sperm donor and he is the only one that failed his responsibility.

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