Dads Are NOT Babysitters
They are parents, just like mothers. But for some reason, society has a distorted view of a dad’s role as a parent. People tend to think of dad as more of a glorified babysitter than an actual parent. This point is proven time and time again when dad goes out with the kids (without mom) or when mom goes out without the kids. It is almost guaranteed that in these situations someone will make a comment referencing how dad is babysitting. He’s not! He is being a parent, and he is taking care of his own children, the same way mom would be taking care of the kids if dad was out.
Why are Fathers seen as Helping out and not as Parents?
Meredith Gordon from Momtastic Parenting perfectly explains the current societal view of dads as being a babysitter and not a parent:
“Recently, I had a work conference out of town. I dropped my daughter off at preschool before I headed to the airport. As I was leaving, I mentioned to one of the administrators that I would be out of town for a few days. She responded by saying, ‘Oh, will Daddy be babysitting?’ I couldn’t believe a woman — especially another mom — was saying this to me. So I politely responded, ‘No, Daddy will be parenting.”
“At the gym, work, or a girl’s night out, someone will ask, ‘Who is with the kids?’ It seems harmless enough, except it’s not. My kids have a father. Why isn’t it assumed that he is with his own children?”
For many, it is assumed that if mom is busy, someone will be babysitting the kids – including dad, a stereotype that shows we still have a long way to go to rid society of traditional parenting and gender roles.
Society Still Has a Traditional View of Parenting Roles
Society still seems to be caught up in the idea of dad being the provider and going to work while mom stays home and takes on the role of caregiver to the kids.
While mothers continue to be thought of as the primary caregiver, and in many cases they are, this doesn’t mean that dads are any less of a parent, any less of a caregiver, or are relegated to babysitter status. Dads do a lot more than just babysit the kids.
Plus, there are many moms who go back to work, and there are an increasing number of dads who choose to stay home. Many moms and dads split maternity leave, and they share all parenting duties.
Moms even go places without the kids. After all, you can leave the kids at home with dad – heck, dad can even take them out in public without mom – crazy, right?
Dads can pretty much do anything that moms can do, with the exception of being able to give birth and breastfeed. But there is no doubt that dads are great at getting up in the middle of the night to help with feeding.
They can do a lot more than just hold the baby for a minute to give mom a break, and play with the kids. Dads know how to install the car seat, they know how to change diapers, they know when to feed the baby, and they even know the calming techniques to soothe their children when they get fussy.
How Dads Are Portrayed in Mainstream Media Is Part of the Problem
Perhaps one of the reasons why dads are thought of by many to be glorified babysitters is because of how they are portrayed in the media. How many times have you seen a dad on TV portrayed as a bumbling idiot who knows nothing about parenting?
Jenny Witte, on Huffington Post, provides a great example of how dads continue to be portrayed as clueless parents in the media:
“I’m tired of the old-fashioned notion that mothers are always the primary caregivers and the only ones who know how to properly parent a child. You’ve seen the commercials,
the ones where the dad might be at, say, the grocery store, in the diaper aisle, like, ‘Huh? Diapers? What are these?!?!’ — as if he’s completely clueless and this whole ‘Dad’ thing is just beyond his comprehension. Or the sitcoms where the mom goes out for a night and finds out the dad was so incompetent he let the kids stay up way too late and eat
nothing but junk food ’cause, hey, he’s not a mom, he’s a dad. Such portrayals promote the idea that dads (AND moms) have to fit into these certain roles — each parent providing a certain brand of parenting (or in this case, babysitting) — and that those roles can’t be interchangeable, or one is inherently more important than the other.”
Conclusion: Give Dads the Respect They Deserve
While there are surely some dads who are not great at parenting, there are many more great dads who are offended by the fact that they are viewed by many as babysitters and are not given enough credit for how much they actually contribute.
The next time you are going to ask if dad is babysitting, remember that nannies, friends, family members and babysitters are helpers – dads are parents!
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