Dads are NOT “babysitters”
Referring to dads as “helpers”, “babysitters” and anything else that implies that they aren’t actually parenting their own children, that they’re just standing in for the mother for a few moments, is not a good thing.
It massively undervalues their role as a parent and it puts all the responsibility of raising children on mothers.
The more we perpetuate the idea men aren’t capable parents, the more it remains a self fulfilling prophecy. If we tell mums that they have to do it all, and tell dads that they suck so bad at being parents that they need a pat on the head and a bickie every time they change a nappy – like, one nappy for every two dozen mum changes “OH WHAT A GOOD DADDY!” – the more it appears to be true.
This needs to stop.
Parenting Is So Much More Than Babysitting
Babysitting it is not at all the same thing as parenting. Parenting is something you do because YOU ARE A PARENT. It’s something you do for your child, and for yourself, because you love your children, and you want to take care of them. Also because you are actually responsible for them.
Sometimes it is about team work, and helping each other with your own schedules, whether it’s working, or equally dividing up the down time; whatever it is, but it’s still parenting as a partnership; not babysitting for the other parent.
Women With Partners Who Parent Are Not “Lucky”
The other thing that irritates me is telling women that they are lucky, blessed or privileged, because the father of their children behaves like the parent that he is, or even JUST because he is capable of taking care of himself (and basic household tasks by extension.)
Doing housework is just part of being an adult and having a penis really shouldn’t get in the way of it… and if does, just go and put on some pants… problem solved.
A few years ago we had a friend come and live with us for a couple of months, and in that time she saw me cook, clean, generally take care of our child; and one time my partner picked up the vacuum cleaner and had a whip around the lounge room she turned to me and gush “Oh, you’re so lucky he vacuums.”
Of course I think I’m lucky to have him, he’s a great guy. We’re both lucky in the sense that there’s 7 billion or so people on the planet and we found each other; N’awwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww…..
But no. I’m not lucky that he can use a vacuum cleaner. Or that he can put on a load of washing. Or that I can leave him with his own children.
He’s just being an adult; so I’m no more lucky to have him than he is to have me.
Mothers Are Not Responsible For Facilitating Relationships Between Fathers And Their Children
I’ve also noticed the other side of this discussion is often still focused on telling mothers that they’re totally responsible for raising children, but in a much more subtle way.
When mothers are told to “step back” “lean out” “hand over the reins” “let him handle it”, it’s still essentially saying that babies belong exclusively to their mothers and it’s still up to the mums to not only take care of them, but also facilitate their relationship with their other parent.
Which frankly just sounds exhausting to me.
I’m sure there are some mothers who don’t “let” their partners parent, who fuss and hover and micromanage them with the children, but there are also a lot of dads who just don’t get in and do what needs to be done, because odds are, if they don’t do it, she will.
Because someone has to.
You can’t tell mothers to drop the baby – in the hopes that he might catch it.
Father’s Just Need To Step Up And Be A Parent
I’m going to say it straight up; that doesn’t necessarily mean feeding. Feeding isn’t the one and only thing that babies need – and babies are only babies for such a short amount of time, so breastfeeding is the biggest load of BS of lame excuses not to parent your child.
Babies need clean clothes, bathing, nappy changes, cuddles, eye contact, fresh air, play times and someone who’ll chat to them and keep them out of danger.
Basically they just need someone to be with them, who loves them, who’s dedicated to doing whatever it takes to keep them generally happy, healthy and safe. (Which continues more or less throughout their childhood – just what they need changes over time.)
Dads can do that. ALL of that.