I know it’s just a phrase, but I can’t help myself, it irritates me! Too often to count I’ve been with a group of men talking about getting together. We might be talking about meeting up to play basketball at the gym or possibly planning a golf game during the weekend. Everyone quickly checks their schedules to figure out if they have some important meeting they can’t miss or reschedule. And then it happens, someone says the words that fire me up! Probably because I’ve done it myself. I’m sorry. I know it’s judgmental. I know it’s not fair, they don’t really mean it the way it sounds. But I still react when one of the men disappointedly looks up from his calendar and declares, “I can’t, I have to babysit my kids.” You babysit your neighbor’s kids, you babysit your brother’s kids, you can even babysit your grandkids if you must, but you aren’t your child’s babysitter!
And here are four reasons why dads should refuse to babysit their kids! I’ve blown it on everyone of these at one time or another. Dads, I hope you’ll learn from my mistakes. It’s never too late to start doing it better!
- It sets you up as the junior varsity parent. Whether your wife works outside of the home or not, you would never leave your kids and refer to her as the babysitter. If you had an evening meeting you won’t hear your wife offer to “babysit” the kids.
- A babysitters primary job is to keep your child safe until you return. Your primary job is to disciple your child. You are responsible for training them up in the way they should go. Calling yourself the babysitter puts you in a mindset of tending to your child as opposed to nurturing your child.
- You don’t want your child to hear you refer to your time with them as babysitting. You want them to sense your desire to be with them. Even as I type this, I realize how often I fell woefully short on this one. How many times I begrudged the game I was missing or the TV show I couldn’t watch. Now in hindsight how easily I’d give any of those things up for another night with my kids when they were young!
- It will mean a lot to your wife. One of the great ways we show love to our wives is how we honor their role as mom. The reality is women still tend to function as the primary caregiver to our children. The more dismissive we are about our time with the kids the more it devalues her time with the kids. I always wanted Kelli to know how much I valued the time our kids had with her. There is no comparison between her time with the kids and a “babysitters” time with the kids. If my message is, “Our kids are worth your sacrifice of time,” then how does that line-up if I consider my time with them as just babysitting.
The bottom line is this, regardless of whether it’s just semantics, consider dropping the word “babysitter” from your vocabulary as it applies to your time with your kids. I’d love to hear your thoughts on this topic. Who has the primary childcare responsibility in your family? Do you and your spouse use the word “babysitter” when referring to either of the two of you?