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My Husband Is Not a Babysitter. He Is Their Father.

July 17, 2018

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Jamie & JamesonOne day my husband and I were discussing our schedules in front of some friends and I mentioned that I had a meeting, so my husband would have the kids.  The male made a comment, “Bruh, it looks like you have to babysit”

I immediately thought of that old movie Mr. Mom with Michael Keaton.   You know the one when the dad loses his job, so the wife goes back to work and the dad stays home with the kids.  At first, the dad is horrible.   The house was a mess, the kids were dirty, and he nearly burned down the house trying to cook.  But eventually he got the hang of it and became a great caregiver, taking on the roles traditionally done by the mom, hence the name Mr. Mom.

It burns me up every time I hear someone reference a man who has his kids as babysitting.   A babysitter is someone who cares temporarily cares for a child. A father caring for his kids is being a father.

I remember years ago having a friend who said that her husband refused to change diapers and rarely kept the child on his own.  He was very antiquated in his thinking and believed that was her job as the mother. (Needless to say, they are no l longer married)

In 2015, actor Ashton Kutcher took to Facebook to express his frustration with not being able to find a men’s restroom with a baby changing station.   The lack of baby changing amenities in men’s restrooms was an indication of society’s view that a man caring for his kids was so unusual that it did not even warrant equal accommodations that is routinely given for the mother.

In 2018 are we still so adverse to seeing a man, especially a black man, in the role of a natural caregiver?

In our household, the child caring responsibilities are shared equally. My husband changes diapers, fixes dinner and does hair (or at least he tries to). And as an engaged father, practicing work life integration is also important to him. He recognizes the importance of being present for his kids and having that quality time with them while they are young.

Spending time with your kids is not a task but a privilege and it should not be minimized by referring to it as babysitting.

How do you see fathers engaging with their children in meaningful ways?

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Tameika Isaac Devine

2 Comments

  1. Tia on July 19, 2018 at 10:06 am

    My sister says this statement to me ALL the time! I have two boys 2 and 5. In the beginning, it was a hard transition for their dad to get involved in helping watch the kids when i had to work long hours, but thank God prayer changes things. Now he has stepped up and filled in anytime he is needed for our kids and has truly made my work life a little more less stressful since i am not struggling to balance my time as much. Just recently, he had them for 5 days straight by himself due to things i had going on and i was so grateful that he was there.

  2. Lind on July 19, 2018 at 11:08 am

    Love the blog on fathers as active participants in parenting. As the mom of 2 daughters, I naturally parented as my mother did. This was more so true since I began motherhood as a single mom. Wherever I went, my daughter was also. It was only after I was in a serious relationship (felt he was God sent) that I knew would lead to marriage that I let my guard down a little. Sad to say, my husband (then fiancée) had to bring this to my attention. He explained that he needed to form a relationship with our oldest daughter. Honestly, I was very hesitant due to events that occurred with others as depicted by the news. Thankfully, I did allow both of them time to bond.

    Fast forward, the topic for dinner a week ago was about the food my husband prepared and the hairdos that occurred when I was at work and the two of them were home. When she talked about the potato chip sandwiches on hamburger buns and the “side” ponytails, she beamed with pride at this very fond memory. He laughed relentlessly and said, “Hey, we had fun!” She also added that she never wanted him to reprimand her because it was also a lecture. Their time together is immeasurable and he would never lelavel it as babysitting!

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