It’s not Babysitting, It’s Parenting

I believe in feminism.  I believe women are strong.  I believe women are independent.  And I’m a hard-core women-can-do-it-too believer.  We live in a wonderful time of equality and opportunity, with a notable exception surrounding child-rearing.  Primary childcare still seems to be seen as a ‘woman’s domain’.

My husband and I have set up our work schedules to be 50/50 parents.  I am self-employed, and am thankful for the flexibility of setting my work hours accordingly.  We work opposite hours, and one of us is always able to be with our children, now 4 and almost 1.  He takes the kids to extended-family-dinners on Monday nights, to skating lessons on Wednesdays, and to Costco on Thursdays.  He takes them to doctor’s appointments, the library, and on neighborhood walks.  He feeds them supper, gives them baths, and reads them books.  However, when I am at work, his solo-parenting is still seen by some to be ‘babysitting’.  I was grocery shopping with both kids in tow one recent morning, and my conversation with the cashier went something like this:

Cashier:  “What lovely children you have.  Are you a stay-at-home mom?”

Me:  “Thanks.  I work part-time.  I’m home with the kids during the day, and when my husband gets home from work, I head in to work and we switch off kid-duty.”

Cashier:  “Oh, that’s great.  It’s nice that he can babysit.”

Me:  “Drew, please stop poking your sister in the face.  Pardon me?”

  • Here is the definition of babysit: “to take charge of a child while the parents are temporarily away.” 
  • Here is the definition of parenting: “the rearing of children; the methods, techniques, etc., used or required in the rearing of children; the state of being a parent.” 
My husband is not a babysitter, he is a father.  He does not get paid $10/hour, he gets paid in children’s smooshy hugs and slobbery kisses.  He does not get driven home after a night out, he gets woken up early by energetic, vibrant kids.  He does not spend time with our children only on Friday nights and occasional Saturday afternoons, he spends time with our children every day.  He is not doing me a favour by looking after them, he is doing himself and them a favour by being together.My husband is an exceptional father.  But he’s not a babysitter.


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6 thoughts on “It’s not Babysitting, It’s Parenting

  1. Wendy

    Thank you, my Neil used to get angry when he was “babysitting”. It’s such a strange thing to have this discussion still in 2013. You guys are raising your kids with strong, thoughtful parenting and they will be better for it. Children thrive with parents that are present in their lives.

  2. Shannon

    Ian gets this a lot as well when he’s out with the kids…..Don’t know if it’s something just against men with children alone in public but it’s pretty ignorant. I love the post, thanks.

  3. Erick & Carol Landmark

    I totally agree, Ash, it always bothers me when I hear that comment ‘babysitting’, find it difficult to bite my tongue!

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