If you’ve ever been in the room when someone says “my husband is going to babysit” then you might have experienced some ruffled
fathers feathers. Using the word dad and “babysit” in the same sentence wasn’t something that I might have known not to say before becoming pregnant, but I’ve heard women respond with a number of times: “Dads don’t babysit; they parent!”
I totally get this. “Babysit” implies that they are only a temporary supervisor of their own child and perhaps not very involved in caring for the baby either emotionally or time wise. And it also implies that we women are somehow primary and the dads secondary in importance. Obviously this is not so! Dads are 50% of the parenting team, even if their jobs or lack of breasts keep them from spending 50% of the baby’s time with them.
I do understand why this phrase slips out of people’s mouths though. Based on the fact that women have breasts and the way our society evolved (which is thankfully changing – go women!), women are more often the full-time caretakers while stay-at-home dads are less common. But we all know this is just a stereotype and many families do things in whatever way works for them. It’s all about personal situations and what works in your household. Sometimes there are two dads or two moms!
So my question is this: if you are the stay-at-home mom OR dad talking, then anytime anyone else cares for your baby, the word “babysit” makes sense. But if this word now has a negative connotation, what can we use instead?
Matt is going to parent the baby this afternoon while I go for a run?
Matt is going to watch the baby this morning while I go to the grocery store?
Matt is going to father the baby tonight when I go out with my girlfriends?
Matt is going to care for the baby tomorrow when I go to the dentist.
Care seems the most appropriate to me, but is it all that different from “babysit”? I would expect that anytime only one of us is available we would use singular language like watch or care for.
Since I’m the author of this blog, I’ll be writing from my perspective. And I will be the primary caretaker time-wise due to our jobs. So if I say that Matt is going to watch the baby, I don’t want to be politically incorrect when I talk about our tag-team roles in parenting. And it seems significant to me to note that Matt will be the one watching the baby rather than someone else, so I don’t want to never write this at all. I want people to understand that if I say “Matt is going to watch the baby” it just means because I am going to do something else and not because he isn’t a good dad.
So my question for you all is – what would you say!? What’s the proper thing to say? Any more suggestions in best language practice?
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