Time out: A message to all New Jersey dads who say they babysit their kids (Opinion)
Let's face it, dads can be pretty amazing. Being a father myself I can tell you there's nothing like it. Out of all the jobs I've ever had in my life, nothing beats being a dad.
And the old saying is true when it comes to time. In the blink of an eye, they grow so much older. What makes this even weirder is how slow it seems to go in the very beginning. If you're a new dad, I totally get it. You'll soon see that what feels like an exhausting stage forever will be over before you know it.
Now to be fair, mom certainly has it even harder. For as rough as it can be on dad, mom will almost always deal with the brunt of it. I say almost since I know there are some exceptions here and there.
Regardless, dads deserve the spotlight to have their own day as well. However, there is one thing a dad should never, ever say about their kid(s). If you do say this, then mom has every right to get angry with you and bypass Father's Day altogether.
OK, perhaps I'm being a little harsh here. I mean, if it's a one-time occurrence by mistake then you get a pass. But if you say this phrase constantly about your kids, then you absolutely deserve to be in the dog house.
So what is this phrase all fathers should avoid? It's when they say they have to babysit their kids. Yes, babysitting their own kids. I've heard this said by more than one dad here in New Jersey, and I'm certain it happens outside our borders as well.
But why is this so bad? Well for one, they're your kids. It doesn't matter under what circumstance you're watching them, as the father, you're never babysitting your own. You're the parent, so they're ultimately your responsibility.
You'll never hear mom say she has to stay home to babysit her own kids. In fact, that's pretty much unheard of. Just because your children grew up inside of mommy's belly doesn't give you an automatic pass to consider it babysitting when it's your turn to take on the responsibility.
Another thing that's problematic is the expectations between mom and dad. For a mom, watching her own child and being exhausted at the same time is expected. And if mom makes a mistake, watch out because here comes the judging.
But if dad gets the kid(s) alone for a while, he gets praised for what a great job he's doing. And even if he makes the situation ten times worse, dad would most likely get a pass, because he's dad.
I know, it's really more of a societal issue. Throughout time mom has always been the primary caretaker of children while dad goes out to provide.
But times are different now, and it's not uncommon for both parents to have to work just to be able to provide for their family. Especially in a state like New Jersey, where we all know how out of control the cost of living is here.
So yes, if mom is the primary caretaker and dad primarily works, then it's only natural he'll be rustier when it's his turn to care for his children. But the bottom line is you're both the parents, so you both have equal responsibility to care for your children.
This is why regardless of whether the parents are together or split up, that dad should never say he's babysitting his own kids. Nor should anyone say he's doing such a thing if it's his turn to have them without mom's help.
Of course, there's always an exception. If you're a new dad and say this by accident, it's ok. It takes getting used to being a dad, and you'll get the hang of it soon enough. So don't sweat it.
But if you're a dad who always feels he's babysitting his kids, then you're not being fair to their mother. You have kids, and you have to accept the fact that they're your responsibility just as much as hers. You're not watching your brother or sister's kids, you're caring for your own kid(s).
So to all my fellow dads out there, you're all awesome. There's nothing like being a dad and spending time with your kids. Just remember that when you're with them, you're not babysitting.
They're your kids, and you deserve better recognition than anyone thinking you're just a babysitter. Because you're not a babysitter. You're a rock star dad.