Because I don’t care if someone says I “babysit” my kids.
I do babysit my kids.
I also chauffeur my kids. And chef my kids. And maid my kids. And personal shop my kids. And tailor my kids. And coach my kids. And doctor my kids. And teach my kids. And on and on and on. I don’t get paid for any of those things because they come with the gig.
I get it. You’re confused because I’m a man. After thousands of years of social programming and cultural tendencies and only a few measly decades (if that) of something more like actual gender balance, you’re still having trouble with the idea that men are parents too. That’s okay. I don’t have a problem with that. It’s not an easy transition for everyone.
It doesn’t offend me. Dads do babysit.
Are you implying that I’m a lesser parent? I hope not, but I don’t care. Besides, I may well be, but that has less to do with my gender than it does with my individual shortcomings (and how amazing my wife is). I’m working on it.
Are you assuming that I’m a lesser parent merely because I’m a man and not a woman? I hope not, but if so, that’s less insulting to me and my fellow fathers than it is to women. As a man, my role in my son’s life is determined by me and my wife and no one else, regardless of your outdated perspective. As a woman, my wife – and mothers everywhere, often faces the challenge of having her role, both inside and outside of the home, dictated and reduced by strangers and society. To me, that seems much worse. In the face of actual discrimination and systemic inequality, I can let the occasional tone-deaf “you’re babysitting today?” go.
(Which isn’t to say that the belittlement of fathers isn’t a real thing, or that I don’t understand the impulse many of my fellow dad bloggers have to stay vigilant against those dinosaurs who want to keep fathers – and mothers – in their pre-enlightenment boxes. It just doesn’t bother me personally.)
My wife babysits the kids sometimes too. No one ever says that to her, probably because it seems weird to suggest that a part-time job like babysitting would be done by what they assume is the full-time parent, but it’s true. Babysitting is one of the many aspects of being a parent, whether you’re a mom or a dad, and it’s one of the many for which parents don’t get credit. Credit isn’t why we parent. But it’s also true that dads are often the full-time parent these days as well. In fact, in my house, we’re both full-time parents. Actually, we both have full-time (office) jobs too, so maybe we’re both part-time parents? Eh, it’s semantics.
Who cares? At my house, my wife and I are both just parents. She might be my oldest’s favorite (she is definitely my oldest’s favorite; jury is still out on number two! FINGERS CROSSED!) but that has nothing to do with my gender, other than the fact that hers made it possible for him to both develop and survive. We’re both babysitters. We’re both doctors and disciplinarians and schedulers and soothers. We’re everything to our kids all the time, some of it fun, some of it less so, some of it rewarding, some of it less so.
Someone else’s goofy idea that we fathers “babysit” our own kids has a lot less to do with me than it does with that someone. More people than should think that way probably still do, but no one I know seriously thinks that way.
The general population (and Madison Avenue) might be a little behind, but when is that not the case? Someone is always on the wrong side of herstory. I don’t mind when they out themselves.
The fathers in my world, the dads I interact with, are almost all hands-on, fully engaged parents. And the mothers I know are almost all full-time, ambitious working professionals. Together, the current generation of parents are changing the old perception, from the inside.
So no, I’m not concerned when someone refers to dads as “babysitters,” or with anything else a similarly misinformed person might call me. Just so long as my kids call me “Daddy”.