“Daddy Daycare” and Other Misconceptions

by Samantha on April 1, 2012

You can’t babysit your own kids. That’s fairly obvious.

At least in the case of women, or so it seems.

Apparently those in possession of the double X chromosome are the only ones that are the true “parents” of their children; men are merely “caregivers” if you believed the U.S. Census bureau.

This topic was recently brought to light via the media. Read all about it right here.

Women are “moms,” pure and simple, if you take this somewhat misguided argument to its logical conclusion. Men? Well….they “help out” every so often. This is the subtext of such a mindset and, lets admit, the basis for the continuing inequality of the sexes, both male and female.

Dad playing with baby

In the First World, we’ve had a long and entrenched history of assigning roles, rules and rights to a sacred few. Perhaps its how we have managed to maintain our sense of order and, to some of us, our sense of superiority. Ironically, we as women have long suffered the blows of a patriarchal society that has diminished both our rights and our sense of importance. Yet a large number of women subscribe to the philosophy that men just don’t make the grade when it comes to the case of their children.

Case in point: I am currently away from home, attending a conference for a few days. My husband is taking care of our children. I am perfectly confident that everyone will be fine, yet I can tell you that more than one person has asked me if my husband will be “babysitting” our children.

Babysitting. I’m still shaking my head.

No one would ever ask a man if his child’s mother was “babysitting” their children, but yet the inherent message of asking this question to a woman is two-fold:

a) That women are the primary holders of responsibility when it comes to childrearing

b) That men are incapable of fully assuming an equally adequate and loving parental role

Both of these assumptions are not only downright wrong, but insulting, to boot. Insulting not only to the man who has been slighted in the equation, but to the woman who has to bear the brunt of pressure, responsibility and the ins and outs of parenting.

We as women have worked hard to be viewed as equals with our male counterparts and yet many of us are perpetuating the stereotype of men being inefficient and ineffectual. Could it perhaps be that we may be collectively threatened by fathers’ abilities that may be on par with our own? Or perhaps the fact that the very close bond that exists between many mothers and their children may be thwarted by the dad who is ready to change yet another poopy diaper while mom is away on a business trip?

Whatever it is, it isn’t good and it helps neither the mother nor the father in changing the long-standing stereotypes about the day-to-day duties of “real” mothers and fathers.

For as long as we continue to perpetuate the myth and stereotype of not only men as inadequate, ill-equipped and insufficient parents, but women as the do-all, be-all supermoms of an alternate reality, we all suffer. No one can live up to unrealistic standards and everyone who tries will be invariably frustrated and disappointed in the process.

“For as long as we continue to perpetuate the myth and stereotype of not only men as inadequate, ill-equipped and insufficient parents, but women as the do-all, be-all supermoms of an alternate reality, we all suffer.”

So if my point isn’t clear in this long preamble, I’ll simplify it by saying this: “babysitting” is a task that is performed by individuals other than the mother or father of a particular child, ergo, you can’t babysit your own kids. The perception of men as mere babysitters of their children and mothers as the only ones who are able to adequately care for the the kids is one that needs to stop. It diminishes the importance of both parents in playing a key role in the raising of their children and does injustice to us all – mothers and fathers alike.

To read this article on Huffington Post, click here.

Image courtesy of  http://www.inquisitr.com

 

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{ 17 comments… read them below or add one }

ElectraDaddy April 1, 2012 at 6:30 pm

As a dad, thank you!

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Samantha April 1, 2012 at 8:34 pm

You’re very welcome! This is something that really bothers me to the point that I felt that I had to write about it. If I can assist in opening up the discussion and making people realize that this type of attitude hurts more than helps men and fathers, then I’m happy to have done so. Thanks for commenting!

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Scott Wild April 2, 2012 at 10:06 pm

Samantha,

I will echo the sentiments of ElectraDaddy. “Thank You” for the thoughtful article. I really liked it.

With that being said, I do realize that there is a bond between mother and child that will never…EVER…be equalled by a bond between father and child. They shared the same blood, literally, during the pregnancy. I think it adds a “sixth sense” between the mother and child when it comes to well-being also. Very powerful. Almost Jedi-like.

While this incredible bond exists, I have never de-valued myself as a father and the gifts that I bring to the table for my kids because I see the way my girls interact with me. I wouldn’t trade that for the world. To me it doesn’t matter what others think. I can only change my level of engagement, that’s it.

I guess I’ve heard others comment from time to time about the well-being of the kids when Dad’s (myself and other friends) staying home with kids, but never gave it much mind. Sure Mom would do things differently. Mom would feed them better quality food (anyone up for McDonald’s AGAIN?). Mom would make sure they are in bed at a decent time (Just ONE more movie?). But in the end, Dad would walk on fire and/or water to make sure these kids see no harm. At least I would.

(Most) Dads rule…and this is because they had awesome Mommies to help give them their start. The bottom line is that Moms and Dads handle kids differently, sometimes. Not with less love and attention. Just differently, sometimes. :)

Thanks again for the great, thought-provoking article.

Make it a great week and keep the good stuff coming, Samantha!

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Samantha April 3, 2012 at 1:19 am

Thank-you so much for your kind words of support, Scott. I agree with you – mothers and fathers do things differently, we all have to realize, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. At the end of the day, we have to ask ourselves if the kids are well-taken care of when they’re in the hands of each parent and if the answer is “yes,” then we’re all ahead. As well, like anything, people should be judged individually, not as a group that is either good or bad, right or wrong. The sooner we all accept and put this into action, the better.

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Scott Wild April 3, 2012 at 3:43 am

Brilliant stuff, Samantha!

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Samantha April 3, 2012 at 11:49 am

Thanks again, Scott!!

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Christina April 8, 2012 at 3:46 pm

I agree on your viewpoint and personally know many fathers who take as active as a parental role as their wives. In fact I know several fathers who stay home to care for their children while their wives go to work as the primary income provider. I think when someone asks if the father is babysitting they are simply referring to the fact that the mother is the primary care-giver, not that the father could not be. If one was speaking to a stay at home dad, they could also ask if the mom was babysitting. Most households simply can not have equal roles in parenting because the fact is that one parent usually has to focus on work. In the case where both parents are working full time jobs and focusing equally on work, I believe the kids suffer as neither parent is the full time parent. It would be almost impossible for both parents to be a full time parent since if both parents were full time care givers there would be very little income, or else they come from a super weathly family in which working was not required.

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Samantha April 9, 2012 at 2:37 am

Thanks for your comment, Christina. I agree that it’s difficult when both parents are working outside the home to also balance the household responsibilities, especially when kids are involved. That said, millions of people do it the best way they know how.

My issue is the term “babysitting” because I still believe that when a man is asked if they are “babysitting” their kids, the subtext of the question is that the man is not fully or wholly able or committed to taking care of the child/children adequately. I think that this is wrong and that it perpetuates a negative stereotype about men. I also continue to believe that there are few men who are asked if their wives or partners are “babysitting” when the women are alone with their mutual children. This point alone indicates to me that there still exists a double-standard. We are fortunate that things are changing in our society, though not quickly enough, in my opinion. We still have a long way to go before the perception of women and men as equally capable caregivers is prevalent.

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Jen April 9, 2012 at 2:49 pm

Thank you, Samantha. I totally agree with the point of view you’ve expressed so eloquently here. I do think that this brings dads down. My husband may care for our daughter differently than I do, but he is still her parent. Not a babysitter. In our family it is also my in-laws (ie my husband’s parents) who ask if he is ‘babysitting’ when I have plans. My response has always been, “No one’s babysitting! My husband is taking care of his own child, it’s called ‘parenting’.” It is a disappointing attitude generally but even more so when it comes from one’s own family! I think they are starting to come around, and granted, my father in law, while a loving and caring dad, also seemed to take a very hands-off approach to raising his own kids when they were small based on the stories I’ve heard. Here’s to both parents caring for their kids as best they can!

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Samantha April 10, 2012 at 1:16 am

Thanks for your comment and insight, Jen. It is indeed frustrating when the comments about “babysitting” come from family members, no less, though I do cut some slack to grandparents and similarly older relatives who make these types of comments. In their defense, they were often brought up in a different time, and their own experience of parenting likely included the father not having much to do with the hands-on, day-to-day care of the kids. That being said, it doesn’t give them complete carte blanche to make statements about fathers “babysitting” their own kids, and good for you for correcting them and providing insight when it does indeed happen. It’s a bit of a long road for some folks but we can raise awareness slowly, one person at a time :)

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Emily April 10, 2012 at 6:54 pm

Needed to be said. It’s unfortunate that our peers encourage such things but I do think that in a lot of instances, it seems valid. And we can only try to influence the adjustments that need to be made in order to get this unfortunate way of thinking out of our minds.

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Samantha April 10, 2012 at 9:27 pm

So true, Emily. The more we speak about it and raise awareness, the closer we will be to changing this situation. Thanks for your comment.

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dad.co.uk April 16, 2012 at 11:42 pm

Daddy day care is my fav topic. Thanks for sharing information on that issue. Thanks, Ann-Christin :)

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Terri Anderson October 31, 2012 at 12:51 pm

Thank you Samantha! You are spot on. And it doesn’t do ANYONE any favors.

Jen, your response is perfect and I will be borrowing it ;)

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Samantha October 31, 2012 at 1:33 pm

Thanks, Terri! The more we push back against this type of sexism, the better off we’ll be – moms and dads alike!

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Hime85 November 7, 2013 at 3:23 am

My fiance just stated that he cant handle anymore stress on top of babysitting the kids?!?!? I was and still am extremely upset by his comment!

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Samantha November 7, 2013 at 1:55 pm

Remind him that if he’s taking care of his kids, he’s not “babysitting.” We need to remove the preconception that only mothers take care of kids and that men are peripheral to the process.

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