Being a dad is a full time job, just as much as it is for mom. Dads carry the weight of being a parent just as much as mom does and when he is home or out with the kids, it should not be considered “babysitting.” This is often an issue that crops up when mom is the full time caregiver at home and dad is the full time financial provider. Even the term “Mister Mom” can come across as insensitive and demeaning; why can’t he be “Mister Dad,” a guy that loves his kids?
Even while dad is at work 40+ hours of the week, you can bet that part of his brain is still at home with mom and the kids, wondering what their day is shaping up as. Society often paints a picture of dad being a clueless parent, not knowing the first thing about parenting. When mom is out with the girls, the question is always framed as, “Oh, is your husband home babysitting?” No. He is not, he is parenting. He is spending time with his kids which he loves.
The emphasis that mom is the main parent may originate from that facts that she carried the baby for 9 months, breastfeeds with her own body, and possibly stays home with the kids while dad is at work. This can make dad feel as though he is in the role of Junior Varsity Parent which is unfair. Moms have a unique place to empower and encourage dads, letting him know that she sees how good he is with the kids, confirming that he is just as much a parent as she.
All too often, dad is used as a threat of discipline when a toddler or child is misbehaving. “Wait until your dad gets home;” “I am going to go get dad;” “Your dad isn’t going to be happy about this.” Not only do we as a culture tend to place dad as a back-seat parent, but we also use his hand as a threat, creating this disconnected fear in our children.
Let’s work hard on changing the tide of this misconception that dads are just babysitters. This starts even before your baby is conceived, continues on during your pregnancy, and lasts through a life time. Dad’s can kiss owies, wipe bottoms, pack snacks, cook meals, read stories, and snuggle a fussing baby. Most dads are eager and willing to step up to the plate; he is just as excited as you when you discover that positive pregnancy test and will often engage as you allow him to during the pregnancy and into the baby years. When you see him doing things you find attractive as a dad, be sure to encourage and call it out in him, empowering him to continue in that very deserved role and identity.
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