My husband and I used to swap out who was with our son before he was school-aged. He was a teacher and worked during the day, and I saw clients, who were mostly children, in the evenings once they got out of school. Because of our job schedules, we would be with our son at different times several days during the week. This set-up had us eating dinner together late at night and me missing quite a few bedtimes. It wasn’t easy.
But we were lucky that our son never had to go to daycare or have a sitter. He was able to be with a parent at all times. Many people, however, didn’t see it that way. I found that most people fell into two categories in regards to our situation. They either thought that all of this time that my husband was around my son must make him an exceptional human being OR they thought of him as a babysitter. I mean, he is an amazing guy, but caring for our child doesn’t make him a saint! I always found the idea that I must be so lucky to have a husband that helps like that was a silly one. He SHOULD help like that!
My husband is more then just a sitter. He is a parent. He should not be praised any more then I should for doing what you do when you are a parent. You care, provide, and give them what they need. And I NEED him to be the one who goes to the playground sometimes. I NEED him to be the one to put him to bed and to watch over him when he plays outside. I appreciate it so very much. But I don’t he deserves a metal for doing it, just as I don’t feel that I deserve one (well maybe a small one.) This idea that dad’s are doing some amazing thing by just spending time with their child does a disservice to men and dad’s in general. He is doing so much more then merely helping out.
The time that dad spends with the kids is a special time. It is a time for them to bond and make memories. My husband has even watched our son for SEVERAL DAYS alone, on several different occasions! They went for nature walks, out to dinner, to the zoo. You name it, they did it. It was an amazing time for my son. He loved the one on one time with dad like that. The fact that many people will find that shocking says a lot. I get judged for doing something wrong by leaving my little guy, and my husband is assumed to be incompetent to care for our child beyond a few hours. Neither is the case. We are co-parenting in a way that works for us. My husband watching my son so I can go away for a few days is beneficial for everyone. I am a better mom because of it. He is a better dad because of it too.
This year, I propose that we dispel this “dad as a babysitter” myth once and for all. Let’s get rid of this idea that dad can only be viewed as a babysitter or as a saint. Let’s find a middle ground in there. Let’s recognize that as parents, we are all on this crazy journey called life. Our kids can only benefit from quality time spent with each parent. So the next time you are out alone and someone asks you if dad is at home helping, tell them that he isn’t actually helping at all. He is merely parenting.