I’ve seen this topic tackled on several other blogs in the past. Frankly, I never wrote about it because I really hadn’t run into anyone who thinks like that in real life. Until this past week.
I was talking with a woman in New Jersey over the weekend who had a baby a little older than Will. She was flying solo at the wedding, so I asked her who was taking care of the little one.
“Dad is babysitting for the night,” she said.
I was pissed. I couldn’t say anything because it was a wedding and it really wasn’t my place, but I was seething on the inside.
The thought of a father “babysitting” his child is the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard. Grandparents babysit. Aunts, uncles and friends babysit. A high school student babysits when she watches over the kid for a few hours. But a father? A father does his job and cares for his child. That is not babysitting. Not even close. Besides, babysitters get paid to provide a service. Do you really want to be in the same class as the people who need compensation to care for your kid?
But apparently that’s exactly what some people still think, and it’s probably the fault of both parties. Maybe dad is a lazy douchebag who’s only changed a half dozen diapers in his life and has no clue what a onsie is. He’s probably too busy playing World of Warcraft or Halo when he comes home from work to play with or care for his kid. So perhaps, on those rare occasions he is alone with his baby, maybe it really is babysitting. Which is just plain sad.
And maybe it’s mom’s fault too. Perhaps she’s so overbearing and everything has to be her way, that she completely shuts dad out. And since nothing he does is good enough, he gives up and stops trying. It’s only when he’s “allowed” to watch the kid alone (no doubt he’s left with detailed instructions and barraged with phone calls every 10 minutes while she’s gone) that he gets any opportunity to really bond with his child. But are those few hours really enough to become anything more than a babysitter? Probably not.
It’s just a mindset that society as a whole really has to get out of. Dads should not be babysitters. Dads are caretakers. They are parents. They should be equally adept at caring for their kids, no more or less qualified than moms.
So if you’re a dad out there and the thought of flying solo and taking care of your kid for a whole day with no help scares the living crap out of you, get your head out of your ass because you’re a babysitter and not a parent. And if you’re a mom who can’t/won’t accept differing opinions on how to care for your child, which in turn leaves dad twisting in the wind as a third wheel, you’re part of the problem. Stop it.