Sean Fuss offers tips on how men can stop being seen as babysitters and start being seen as active, involved parents
Let me get something off my chest… I am not a babysitter. It drives me nuts when people, even family members, refer to me staying at home with my daughters as babysitting. I AM NOT BABYSITTING. I’M PARENTING.
It amazes me that, as dads everywhere are making more in-roads to playing a more involved role in parenting, men are still seen as being incapable of caring for children. I wipe, potty train, feed, play, and most importantly GEEK out with my children all the time.
With that said, there are many dads that I hear about that make me shake my head in shame. The cruise director (insert wife) will come home from being with her friends and tell me how they are saying what a saint I am. I grocery shop, clean, change diapers, cook, etc. This ain’t sainthood. Thanks for the compliment, but it’s called being in a relationship. Last I knew, a relationship was 50-50. Yeah, I know that sometimes it is 60-40, or worse 90-10, but the majority of the time it’s supposed to be 50-50.
After hearing these comments, I thought, “Ladies, if you don’t like this, then fix it.” As time has gone on, I now direct my feelings toward both genders—ladies, say something, and gentlemen, step up. Be a part of your relationship. Don’t be a bump on the log. Communicate your needs. I know we guys don’t know how to talk—society has done that to us—but, gentlemen, stop cowering behind that excuse and express yourself. Regardless of your situation, help out in some way. One person cannot physically, financially, emotionally, and spiritually carry a relationship on their own.
Don’t know how to do it, dads? Here are some thoughts:
1. Grocery Shop: The place is full of food, what’s not to like? Even more fun, take your kids. Have them count the cans of beans you need to buy or even run ahead and get that bag of chips you need for the football game. Kids love to help, so let them.
2. Cook: The cruise director and I alternate weeks. I am definitely not as good a cook as she is, but I am a lot better since we started dating. It takes time. Be ready for failures and start small. You don’t need to be all fancy and creative. Just taking something off the plate of another (no pun intended) will be appreciated.
3. Do the Dishes: Turn on some music and let the water run. I find it actually relaxing washing the dishes; loading and unloading the dishwasher. A time to immerse in some music and escape the chaos that might be going on around me.
4. Give the Kids a Bath: Shaving cream is so much fun. It’s harmless and it washes down the drain. They will play with it, “paint” with it, and can even write on the walls with it.
5. Take the Kids for a Little While: Go for a walk, play outside, go to a museum. Read a book. Do something. They will cherish it.
Whatever you do, take small steps. I am sure that as you do more, the easier it will get. It may seem daunting at first. Life seems packed already, but step away from the social media and offer help where it’s needed. The end result will be paid back in more ways than you can even anticipate.