Have you ever used the term “babysit” when you talk about a guy watching the kids? Please, stop. Dads don’t babysit, they parent their kids.
Society judges fathers both more lightly and more harshly than mothers.
A single dad I know says, “All I have to do to be deemed Dad of the Year is show up at the park with my kids and remember a snack. Women do allthethings and it’s barely enough in society’s eyes.”
On the other hand, dads are subjected to judgment and criticism and a general belief that they are barely competent at caring for, let alone parenting, their kids. And popular culture loves to show us the bumbling, barely-holding-it-together Dad while he fakes it til Mom gets home. My sons’ (amazing!) father points out these guys to our kids, in places like Berenstein Bear books to sitcoms and movies. “Hey, what are they saying about fathers?” he asks. The boys notice right away the derogatory messaging. One of our sons pointed out, “They make him make all the wrong choices.”
It’s important to give dads the space to parent without worry if they are doing it “right.” We need to respect their parenting decisions and not make a jokes about them.
So, how do you do this? Here are a few Dos and Don’ts:
Do recognize dads as the experts they are in their own kids.
Do ask a Dad “What does your daughter love doing?”
Don’t ask a Dad “Oh! Are you babysitting today?”