Dads Do Not Babysit!

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.

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26 thoughts on “Dads Do Not Babysit!

  1. Totally With You.

    My husbands greatest peeve is when people (usually his friends) ask him if he’s babysitting when Im out/working.

    HE”S PARENTING you cromagnon dolts!!

  2. Dad is caregiving tonight
    Dad is babysitting tonight
    Dad is watching the kid tonight

    ? Sounds to me that you got your shorts in a knot over semantics. They all mean the same to me. The father is taking care of the kid.

  3. Probably the same feeling when someone says to me “So you’re not working right now?”

  4. I think sometimes you get way to riled up over stuff like this, almost defensive. No one claims you are babysitting, and maybe that is just her way or wording it. Calm down there killer.

  5. Meh,

    Not almost defensive, I am defensive about these things. I fully admit that. And I feel there’s good reason to be defensive. And if you don’t believe me, try Googling “dads babysit” or something along those lines. There are many people out there who feel strongly about this.

    The fact of the matter is, I’ve never heard anyone ask a mom if she’s “babysitting” her kids. It just doesn’t happen. Yet it happens to dads a lot. If I wasn’t defensive about this I’d be worried for myself.

  6. You are right dad’s don’t babysit. I have to admit that I called myself babysitting once. My wife corrected me quickly. It is just a term I misused. I have a track record with picking my words poorly. My wife and I share the work as equally as we can. I didn’t feel like a paid caretaker. I love caring for my son and do it every day. I guess I have heard the term often and reused it incorrectly.

  7. It semantics. My children’s father doesn’t live with me. When I go out and he has the kids he’s “watching them”. Some people say it meaning, I want to make plans ahead of time for the other parent to be with the kids. I hear it sometimes but it’s not with the malicious intent you perceive it to be. It’s usually because one parent takes it for granted that the other will be home if they want to make plans.

    Babysit may be the wrong term but it’s also not the correct term when the children are no longer babies. Doesn’t stop people from calling them babysitters when the kids are all over 5.

    I understand where you’re coming from but you’re dealing with centuries worth of “gender roles” and the accompanying stereotypes. You’re also a dad who breaks a lot of those stereotypes. I hate it when people make comments about black people and drugs or violence but I also recognize that if I can’t reasonably expect perception to change as long as there are still high rates of drug use and crime in our communities. Most stereotypes have some basis in reality. That’s just how it is.

  8. My husband get’s upset about similar things too-We get upset when people say things that we don’t understand and we can go on and on about it…it’s one of the things we do as parents to confirm that we are doing the right thing-to point out someone else’s wrong…

    I understand the word “babysit” makes it sound like your a stand in for mom…but it is not disimilar from the post about the comment the lady made about “Mommy will be right back…” I guess because you feel you are a good and involved Dad that you deserve the right to not “babysit” your kid…but you’re just being Dad?

    LIke I said before…when people say things like “so you’re not doing anything right now?” Or “You’re not working right now…” it does sting to belittle the merit of parenting on both ends…
    Vent away…if it makes you feel better…but again, just poor wording probably.

  9. You are right, most people don’t ask if the mother is babysitting. When the father is out, most people don’t ask where the kids are AT ALL. They “know/assume” the kids are with the mother.

    On the other hand when women go out, they DO get asked who has the kids….

    So again, you are right, most people don’t ask if the mother is babysitting, because when it is just the father/husband thats out, they DON’T ASK.

  10. That’s a damn good point rmt. If I were a mom, I’d be equally as irritated that I get asked where the kids are if I’m out alone, while that question never is asked of guys. You’re absolutely right.

  11. Good post! It drives me CRAZY when someone says their husband is babysitting. I babysat for other people’s kids when I was 11, My husband takes care of our kids just as I do. Not babysit.

  12. I was not saying you did not have the right to say father’s should never be considered as babysitters, because that is true. All I am saying is that you seemed to assume alot of this woman and her husband just because she used those words. Some people are just so use to hearing certain sayings used by everyone else that they find themselves using it too without really realizing the true meaning of it.

  13. I do agree that babysitting may not be the most appropriate word, but I think its semantics. We call it baby duty in my house.

    Sometimes I have baby duty, sometimes he has baby duty, most of the time we share baby duty.

  14. Meh: I don’t know what that woman meant. Before that night I had never met her so I have no context. Maybe it was an innocent remark. But I’ve heard and read about other people who have run into this and I really do take issue with it.

    RMT: Baby duty. Much better. Like it!

  15. rmt1234 – you don’t even know how badly I want to make a baby doodie joke right now…I won’t because it’s way too corney, but the urge is strong.

  16. Not sure how my husband feels about this, but as a wife and Mom, the term annoys the crap out of me. Why? Because it almost makes me feel like he’s only responsible for our children when he’s “babysitting”…at specific “planned” times when Mom can’t be there. Luckily my husband understands that those little munchkins are his just as much as they are mine (if not more…since they look and act like him…HA!)…but when I hear that term thrown around by other people, it’s like nails on a chalkboard. I’m not an overly sensitive person normally, but on this issue, I think parenthood is such a tough job both people need to take responsibility…and both people deserve credit for successfully keeping their children alive and happy.

  17. By the by….you have no idea how badly I wanted you to be the one covering the craigslist sting, lmao.

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