Two days ago, I wrote about how men’s roles in the household are changing. Studies have shown that, in general, guys aren’t ready for this. When men earn less than their wives, things tend to fall apart.
Men might not be ready, and it doesn’t look like our larger society is either.
Take Nicole Sprinkle’s story from the New York Times Motherlode blog.
A few weeks ago, she needed a babysitter for her three-year-old daughter. After going through her options, the best choice appeared to be a stay-at-home mom with a four-year-old daughter. But there was another option. He was overly qualified, except for one problem: he was a dude.
A 23-year-old, studying to become a paramedic, he’d lived in Sprinkle’s neighborhood his whole life. His mother ran a daycare, and he worked as a summer camp counselor at the preschool Sprinkle’s daughter now attended. If any man was qualified to be a babysitter, it was this guy.
Oddly enough, in his email to Sprinkle, he said he’d only babysit for a boy—not because he didn’t want to, but because most parents don’t want a man watching a young girl. Sprinkle called him and agonized over the decision, but eventually went with the stay-at-home mom:
I also told him that I felt really awful about having to feel this way, and that it was such a shame that society forced us to discriminate against kind, competent men as caregivers for our kids. Yes, I know that statistically a man is far more likely to molest a child than a woman but, really, what is the likelihood of it happening to your child when the potential caregiver comes replete with recommendations that you trust and a personality and career path you admire? I told him I needed to think about it for a day or two.
Sprinkle went on to talk about a single man with a four-year-old adopted daughter. That just seems weird to many Americans and, as a friend told her, “the adoption laws are stiffer now.” No one would give a child to a single man any more.
It’s a growing double standard (and one that would create considerable push-back if it went the other way, right?). Let’s be honest here: society isn’t forcing anyone to discriminate; Sprinkle is making the choice to discriminate.
What do you think? Would you leave your daughter with male babysitter you didn’t know? If not, why? Will these preconceptions fade away over time? Let us know.