Childrearing

I Get A Rage Headache When The Father Of My Children Calls ‘Parenting’ ‘Babysitting’

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p2fst__1383068833_142.196.167.223In my three years as a mother, I have never once referred to the time I spend caring for my children as “babysitting.” Babysitting is something you get paid for. Babysitting is something you choose to do for reimbursement. Babysitting is caring for children, but when your genetics have made those children – it’s called “parenting.” Parenting.

My partner and I share all childcare responsibilities and admittedly it gets a little stressful at times. The most stressful time for us was when my first child was an infant and I went back to work as a waitress. For some reason, he thought those hours I was spending away from the house were some kind of super-fun-party-time for me. A typical conversation sounded like this:

Him: Am I babysitting again tonight?

Me: Are you babysitting?  No, you’re not babysitting. Babysitting is what you do when the child isn’t yours. You’re parenting tonight.

Him: Okay, well it’s the fourth time I’ve done it this week.

Me: Oh, so I should cancel my dinner plans in Chelsea? Oh wait, I don’t have dinner plans in Chelsea. I have plans to serve people dinner in Brooklyn. Also known as work. At my job.

When you are both consumed with raising an infant, sometimes even when your partner is leaving the house to go to work, you can get a little envious. I know I would get antsy when he spent the whole day away on a gig. Being in a small apartment with an infant in the dead of winter is pretty claustrophobic. But I never claimed to be babysitting.

I always wanted to go stock up on some chips, cookies and nail polish and get a copy of Twilight that I could put out when I left for work with a note that said, “Have fun babysitting!” But I never had the balls. For the record, he hasn’t made the dreaded “babysitter” comment in years. It’s good to know my “death-stare” works on someone, because it sure is going to waste on my toddler.

(photo: memegenerator)

45 Comments

  1. Eve Vawter

    October 29, 2013 at 3:03 pm

    hahahah nail polish

  2. Bethany Ramos

    October 29, 2013 at 3:08 pm

    My husband hasn’t made the “babysitting” comment, but we did have a conversation about this exact same thing. Babysitting just happens to be actual parenting when you made the baby! Not to mention that our teen babysitters are flaky as fuck. If only I had the option to cancel watching the kids for an evening because I forgot about my other plans…

    • Andrea

      October 29, 2013 at 5:15 pm

      He wouldn’t call it “babysitting” but he would say he was “watching them” for me. What in the actual fuck man, they are YOUR kids, you don’t “watch” them, you parent them!

  3. Snarktopus

    October 29, 2013 at 3:16 pm

    My husband made that comment once. Apparently I’m pretty frightening, cuz he hasn’t done it again.

    • Simone

      October 29, 2013 at 8:41 pm

      Come visit. Apparently I have insufficient cojones to get my point across.

  4. Kate

    October 29, 2013 at 3:27 pm

    We call it “watching the kids” around our house. But as long as calling it “babysitting” isn’t symptomatic of a farther-reaching problem, it’s just semantics. There are better things to get mad about, like when he leaves his dirty cereal bowl in the sink for the umpteenth time. Seriously dude. The dishwasher is RIGHT. THERE.

  5. Kate

    October 29, 2013 at 3:27 pm

    We call it “watching the kids” around our house. But as long as calling it “babysitting” isn’t symptomatic of a farther-reaching problem, it’s just semantics. There are better things to get mad about, like when he leaves his dirty cereal bowl in the sink for the umpteenth time. Seriously dude. The dishwasher is RIGHT. THERE.

    • Rachel Sea

      October 29, 2013 at 3:45 pm

      Language is important. Words have connotations that shape the way we think, and using “babysitting” is indicative of the mindset of the speaker.

    • Simone

      October 29, 2013 at 8:41 pm

      Mm. Like how I request that my son and partner participate in household labour. I am not asking them to ‘help mum’, I ask them to ‘participate in managing our home’. Participation infers a level of investment, ownership and shared activity, whereas ‘helping’ is something you slyly persuade a toddler to believe they are doing so they don’t wreck stuff while one is cleaning.

    • Ginger

      October 30, 2013 at 9:26 am

      Oooooh I love that…not asking to help Mom implying that everything is Mom’s job. I’m going to remember that 😉

    • ElleJai

      October 31, 2013 at 8:40 am

      Me too, I was just thinking the same thing when I scrolled down and saw you beat me to it 😀

    • ElleJai

      October 31, 2013 at 8:40 am

      Me too, I was just thinking the same thing when I scrolled down and saw you beat me to it 😀

  6. allisonjayne

    October 29, 2013 at 3:28 pm

    Ah I have a friend who does this (“stuck at home babysitting while the wife goes out, lol!”) and it irritates me so much. It’s your kid! You can’t babysit your own kid! You’re not getting paid!

  7. Emil

    October 29, 2013 at 3:36 pm

    Don’t get me started on this one. I was the breadwinner for a while and my husband was a stay at home father and you would never hear me say I was “babysitting” my children. Another one that annoys me is when people talk about how great fathers are when they “help out,” really? Where’s my gold star for changing a diaper or doing a load of laundry? You would never hear someone say “What a great mom, she helps out home, babysits when her husband needs to go to the store! She even changes diapers! She’s terrific!”

  8. Emil

    October 29, 2013 at 3:36 pm

    Don’t get me started on this one. I was the breadwinner for a while and my husband was a stay at home father and you would never hear me say I was “babysitting” my children. Another one that annoys me is when people talk about how great fathers are when they “help out,” really? Where’s my gold star for changing a diaper or doing a load of laundry? You would never hear someone say “What a great mom, she helps out home, babysits when her husband needs to go to the store! She even changes diapers! She’s terrific!”

    • personal

      October 29, 2013 at 4:05 pm

      They don’t even say ‘What a great mom! She takes out the trash, rakes leaves and has a paying job!’ so even if they’re stereotypical sexists, they still aren’t fair.

    • personal

      October 29, 2013 at 4:05 pm

      They don’t even say ‘What a great mom! She takes out the trash, rakes leaves and has a paying job!’ so even if they’re stereotypical sexists, they still aren’t fair.

    • Andrea

      October 29, 2013 at 5:14 pm

      I KNOW RIGHT??!!???

      When my children were little, he could not step out of the house with them in tow without 20 people oohing and aahing about how great a daddy he was for “helping mom” and “giving mom a break” and whatever the fuck. I’m like SERIOUSLY??? They are his children too for pete’s sake! Don’t nobody give me kudos for “watching” my kids, it’s called parenting.

      UUUGGGHH.

    • CrushLily

      October 29, 2013 at 6:11 pm

      Oh god I know. I remember my MIL telling me how great it was my partner/her son was such a “hands on” Dad. Based on the fact he was photographed holding the baby after he was born. Apparently the mere fact he hadn’t bolted out the door after the birth made him the greatest Dad in the world.
      Which is actually really sad when you think about it.

    • Emil

      October 29, 2013 at 6:48 pm

      Hands on dad- that one irritates me too. And really? We need to celebrate fathers for not abandoning their children at birth? Are our expectations really that low?

    • jendra_berri

      October 29, 2013 at 6:59 pm

      Well, yes. It would appear so.
      I was out with another mom and her husband and he was feeding the baby. A woman came out of nowhere to praise him, said she wished she had a camera, and then talked about how black men now needed to start caring for their babies too.
      So, just remember, when it comes to sexist comments, it can always get worse (And racist)! Low bar indeed.

    • Larkin

      October 29, 2013 at 7:10 pm

      YES! Thank you! This is one of my pet peeves. I have so many women friends who posts things on Facebook like: “My husband is the best! He watched the kids ALL AFTERNOON so that I could go grocery shopping and run errands. He even made them dinner! I sure am one lucky gal.” And they’re dead serious. It actually makes me kind of sad that they are legitimately excited about their husbands doing the basic things they are supposed to do. I would never see a man post that about his wife.

  9. Annona

    October 29, 2013 at 3:49 pm

    Yeah, that bugs the shit out of me, and I hear dudes say it all the time. It also bugs me when I hear divorced men refer to their ex-spouse, who they have children with, as their “baby mama” as if to gain some kind of sad middle aged divorced dude street cred.

  10. jendra_berri

    October 29, 2013 at 3:50 pm

    The word babysit means you’re temporarily taking over someone else’s childcare responsibilities. Using that word when you’re the parent implies the job of childcare is always someone else’s, someone who isn’t you, and you’re just doing a favour or picking up the slack. Hence totally understanding of the irritation. If the child is yours, so is the responsibility, even if you’re not the primary caregiver parent.
    I’ve heard many a man make this sort of comment and it never stops sounding ridiculous!

  11. Guest

    October 29, 2013 at 4:43 pm

    Last year someone in our neighborhood was handing out full size Godiva bars. I convinced then four year old they could only do that because it was really bitter and cheap. I ashamed for maybe a minute.
    We also have the rule that big-size candies are for full-size people.

  12. Katia

    October 29, 2013 at 4:56 pm

    I used to work at night too, at a call centre. I’ve worked in restaurants and this doesn’t make as much as high tip serving but it’s much easier and cleaner and i loved the benefits (always good to combine benefits for 100%coverage and i do need eyewear now and then) After we had 3 kids my husband couldn’t handle the 3rd baby who was needy for my 5 hour shifts plus the commute. He complained a lot so I just quit. Cest la vie. I’m much more relaxed now. It was a bad corporate culture so every now and then id have a terrible mgr, the main thing I miss is the benefits – otherwise I’m kind of happy he made me quit so I don’t have to deal with the phoniness and inconsistency, among many other issues.
    Also I don’t love working in general so I’m grateful he’s willing to take care of that.

  13. Blahblah

    October 29, 2013 at 5:37 pm

    I was always confused by “baby sitting’ or ‘watching’ your own kids. They’re yours. You don’t pet sit your own pets, do you? Of course not. Why are kids any different? You’re not a maid for your own house (although I will say sometimes I feel like it…), you’re tending to your responsibilities like an adult. No gold stars, no stickers, no damn cookie.

    On a somewhat related note, my father in law thinks I need to hire a baby sitter so my third shift partner can sleep all day! Because it isn’t ‘fair’ for my partner to go to work tired. When I asked if we’d get one for nighttime as well so *I* could sleep and not go to work tired, he said that was different. I almost punched him.

  14. Jallun-Keatres

    October 29, 2013 at 5:59 pm

    Reminds me of some jerk on Judge Judy who thought the same thing… and that his ex should have PAID him to watch their kids when he had visitation!!

    • Maria Guido

      October 29, 2013 at 8:51 pm

      Oh my God. I bet Judith let him have it.

    • Jallun-Keatres

      October 29, 2013 at 9:39 pm

      Hahaha she did indeed. Something like “YOU DON’T GET PAID TO WATCH YOUR OWN CHILDREN!!!!” which she must have said like 4 times lol

  15. Alex

    October 29, 2013 at 6:04 pm

    In conjunction with the article advocating awards for menial housework, I don’t think anyone deserves extra praise or credit for doing what’s expected. Save the cookies and gold stars for going above and beyond the bare minimum standard.

  16. Alex

    October 29, 2013 at 6:04 pm

    In conjunction with the article advocating awards for menial housework, I don’t think anyone deserves extra praise or credit for doing what’s expected. Save the cookies and gold stars for going above and beyond the bare minimum standard.

  17. Ann B.

    October 29, 2013 at 6:31 pm

    My husband stopped using “babysitter” when he realized that attitude led to me treating him like one. You want to be trusted without being micromanaged when alone with your own children? Then stop saying that you are babysitting them that once in a blue moon I have plans. He’s now switched to a more generic “I get the kids,” which kind of sounds like we’re separated, but I’m more comfortable with the wording.

  18. pineapplegrasss

    October 29, 2013 at 7:21 pm

    An actual conversation I overheard this Sunday while visiting the mancave (which is really just our enclosed garage with football posters, a fridge, couch, and cable tv lol) and my hubbys friend was on the phone giving some dude a hard time for babysitting and not coming to watch football and drink with the guys. Seriously heard the word babysitting multiple times and something about being stuck with some chicks kids… (my assumption was they were gf’s kids) then the phone gets passed to my man and he really said to his friend that its not babysitting when their your own kids (I was so proud) and invited him to bring the kids anytime, which I didn’t like haha bc then I get stuck babysitting. Guess you cant have it all!

  19. pineapplegrasss

    October 29, 2013 at 7:21 pm

    An actual conversation I overheard this Sunday while visiting the mancave (which is really just our enclosed garage with football posters, a fridge, couch, and cable tv lol) and my hubbys friend was on the phone giving some dude a hard time for babysitting and not coming to watch football and drink with the guys. Seriously heard the word babysitting multiple times and something about being stuck with some chicks kids… (my assumption was they were gf’s kids) then the phone gets passed to my man and he really said to his friend that its not babysitting when their your own kids (I was so proud) and invited him to bring the kids anytime, which I didn’t like haha bc then I get stuck babysitting. Guess you cant have it all!

  20. Christine

    October 29, 2013 at 7:36 pm

    My husband used to get so angry when people said to him “babysitting the kids huh?”. He would tell them, no he is not babysitting, they are his children and fathers do not “babysit” their own kids. Good man.

  21. Litterboxjen

    October 30, 2013 at 8:12 am

    Hah, deathstare. I grew up getting ‘the look’ over the tops of the glasses from my dad, and I have started doing the same to my kid. She’s picked up the habit of giving me ‘the look’ over the tops of her nonexistent glasses, so I end up just getting this weird evil look that’s borderline creepy instead.

    I have had people make the “babysitting” comment, but I think usually it’s just “dad’s in charge tonight?” or “dad duty.” Still not great, but not as bad as babysitting.

  22. Litterboxjen

    October 30, 2013 at 8:12 am

    Hah, deathstare. I grew up getting ‘the look’ over the tops of the glasses from my dad, and I have started doing the same to my kid. She’s picked up the habit of giving me ‘the look’ over the tops of her nonexistent glasses, so I end up just getting this weird evil look that’s borderline creepy instead.

    I have had people make the “babysitting” comment, but I think usually it’s just “dad’s in charge tonight?” or “dad duty.” Still not great, but not as bad as babysitting.

  23. R Zhao

    October 30, 2013 at 9:24 am

    I agree that “baby-sitting” is beyond annoying to hear. I admit I’ve used the word “watch” before when talking about my step-daughter (which evidently is nearly as annoying to some commenters). What do you say when people invite you to do something but you are busy parenting? Do you say you are parenting or taking care of the kids or need to be at home with the little ones or what? I’m just curious.

    • BigBlue

      October 30, 2013 at 10:08 am

      I’ll just say something like “I don’t have a babysitter for tonight.”

  24. Jenna Nieves

    October 30, 2013 at 12:37 pm

    I thought I was the only one! I finally got him to stop calling it “babysitting” after I screamed at him several hundred times. I would seriously have a meltdown when he would complain about “babysitting” our daughter. The worst part? He complained about doing it while I was cooking him dinner, doing the dishes and doing the laundry.

  25. nikki753

    October 30, 2013 at 3:49 pm

    Ditto. I cringe every time I hear someone saying that about their kids. Sometimes I don’t manage to keep my mouth shut. “Oh, are you watching a friends children, too? No? Oh, I was confused because you said ‘babysit’ and that’s a word for when you’re watching someone else’s kids.” The other morning my husband said something about how he was “helping me” when he was bussing his own breakfast dishes. “Buddy? You taking care of your dishes is you taking care of YOUR dishes. Not you ‘helping’ me. Because it never was my job.”

  26. Calypso

    March 10, 2014 at 12:04 am

    So far I have yet to hear a logical argument for being upset at a dad calling it babysitting. Oh sure, in the examples he’s ALSO treating it like the woman’s responsibility. But seriously? Nitpicking the word is getting upset over nothing.

    If he’s “babysitting ‘for you'” or complaining about spending time alone with the kids, then obviously he’s got the wrong attitude. If he’s just “babysitting tonight”, there’s no good reason to get bent out of shape, cause it’s just one of the hundreds of ways to say “time alone with the kids”, “watching the kids”, etc.

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