Babysitters mind other people’s children. Parents mind their own children. Men who find themselves in the terrifying position of being alone with their youngsters are being parents, not babysitters. So why do some insist on referring to themselves as such when their wives or girlfriends have the audacity to leave the house?
Yesterday I made a snarky comment on a co-worker’s Facebook status update, which indicated that he’d be “babysitting the girls while M’s at such-and-such.” Reading that was like hearing nails on a chalkboard. Immediately, a friend of his, who I don’t know, commented to “back J up on this,” because he’d just spent the night babysitting his own kids. So, y’know, he’d been through the wringer (yet his logic remained intact, clearly). I told them they had no right to complain when their wives won full custody in their divorces – since they’re only the babysitters. Well the friend didn’t like that! He scolded me for ruining their Facebook fun and invited me to kiss his ass. Dad of the year.
This is what I hear when a man calls himself a “babysitter” to his own kids: “Their mother is the one who should be watching them.”
I assume it’s anxious masculinity that drives men to diminish their own roles as fathers. Maybe they’re unhappy they have childcare responsibilities at all, and “babysitting” prevents them from being further feminized by the role. I also have little tolerance for women who refer to their husbands or baby-daddies as “babysitters.” Shameful. Stop perpetuating the notion that fathers caring for children is a hilarious novelty act.