Last night I mentioned that I had to juggle things a little bit as my wife was going out in the evening and so I was looking after my son. As I was writing that I realised how many men would then call that “babysitting” – and that infuriates me.
Babysitting is what you do for other people’s children. If it’s your own kid, then you are just being a parent.
Yet in offices and pubs up and down the country you hear men talking about “babysitting” their own children. For many it’s a shorthand term to say that “I don’t really do all this stuff, obviously it’s the wife’s job. But I’ve been generous enough to let her go out tonight…”
I’m not saying I’m perfect in this and one that has surprised my wife and I is how quickly we fell into the accepted gender “roles” once we had a child. However, we try to both acknowledge and understand that we are both active parents, it’s just that most of my work is outside of the house in a paying job, while most of my wife’s is in the house in an unpaid job. Both jobs are just as important as each other to keep the house going and to be able to raise our son. And when I’m around I try to spend as much time as I can with my son.
When people (almost exclusively men) say that they are babysitting their own children it assumes that it is not really something they should be doing. And that is a terrible, terrible thing to think about the raising of your own children.
Fortunately I think it’s getting better as many modern fathers want to be there as much as they can.