Friday, December 5, 2008

The B Word

This post has been knocking around in my head, and I had to finally write it because I saw a similarly themed post on the Rimbosity blog. He was pointing out the prevalence of comments about "daddy day care" that people make when a dad is out and about with kids. That's on my list of annoying reactions people have when they witness actual fatherhood.

At the top of my list, though, is the B word, babysitting. I mostly hear it from women. They probably mean no harm, but when they talk about their husband watching their kids without them around, they call it babysitting. And it's not. It's parenting. When I think about what I want from a babysitter, the bar is relatively low. I want
  • the kids to be breathing at the end of the night
  • the kids to be in bed if (s)he is watching them through bedtime
  • the house to not be a total and complete wreck
  • no evidence that any visitors I did not know about have been there
When I say parenting, I mean
  • engaging with the child in activities
  • enforcing the rules and a general moral order
  • caring for their needs in a way that prepares them and me for the future (e.g. demanding politeness when they request more food or help with something)
Calling a father's time with his children babysitting diminishes both his efforts and his responsibilities. This is a semantic danger that we should avoid.

Now, about the "Mr. Mom" comments...

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