Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Parenting vs Babysitting

The hubs and I play on Softball team, In fact we met on the team 9 years ago, I was playing third and he was playing shortstop.

This year we decided to take turns and play one game a week and stay home with the boy one night a week.  It's a great balance, we get to enjoy something we did before the boy arrived, but we also get one night of one-on-one time with the boy. 

Last week when it was my turn to play, one of the guys asked if the hubs was babysitting.  Another girl on the team retorted back, "No...he's parenting".  She went on to explain that when her children were young, it had been one of her pet peeves.  The double standard in society where a mother parents, but a father babysits...well it really irked her to say the least.

I'd never paid any notice to the distinction, but the truth is she's right.  Parenting is about the responsibility of raising a child whereas babysitting implies a temporary instance of watching over a child.  So why is it that when we talk about someone other than ourselves watching our children we call it babysitting?  I'm not judging you.  I do it too.  A lot.

I often say "it's the hubs turn to babysit"; does that somehow imply that his care is inferior to my own?  That its parenting for me but not for the hubs?  I don't think so, its certainly not my intent.

I think its simply that babysit is a more commonplace term, it easily fits into conversation and everyone knows what it means.  I suspect people might find me a little off if I said, "its the hub's turn to parent tonight."  It almost seems more derogatory to me, as if I'm implying that he doesn't parent the rest of the time.  That's not my intent either.

Perhaps we need to stick less to labels and more to descriptions.  I'm a fan of "watching the kids", despite the fact that it is more of a statement than a term.  I don't think there's any denying however, "it's the hubs turn to watch the boy" is an honest statement without negative connotations.  And its not awkward, its a perfectly reasonable thing to say.

So what do you think the correct terminology is when it comes to your spouse watching the kids while you have some Momma time?


  1. My husband probably thinks of it more as babysitting but I usually will say "my husband is watching him today" if I'm out. this post is so true though!!!

  2. I love this b/c my husband helps out at home often because I teach and half of his work hours don't overlap mine. I will often say (when people ask where my son is) that "he and Daddy are having some guy time together". Most people laugh and it reemphasizes the fact that kids need time with their dads because dads have something different equally important to offer than moms do. Great post.

  3. Karen Lisa - Isn't it amazing how a few small words can influence us so much?

    Kelly Jo - I LOVE it, I'm going to try and use that one too. "guy-time" what a great idea. Thanks.

  4. This is definitely a pet peeve of mine. I get quite irritated when people say that my husband is "babysitting" our kids. No, he's being their father; being a parent, spending time, raising them, etc. I love this post!!! I'm not sure what to say, as I'm not sure what to refer to it as when I'm home with the girls...???

  5. I agree 100%. I've known couples who use the "parenting" label and after hearing the explanation for it I just thought it was pretentious. I had the same thought that if you're scheduling time for one paren to "parent", does that mean they don't the rest of the time? No, but it sure sounds like it. Besides, it doesn't bother me - as a mom - to say I'm babysitting. Though I generally say I'm "staying with" my son while hubs is out doing whatever.

    I wish having kids wasn't such a minefield of PC dos and don'ts.

  6. Amy & Karen - Thanks for stopping by...and of course for commenting.

    Karen - suprisingly, I hadn't even started thinking about this from a PC-ness point of view. Too true though, thanks for the food for thought.

    Amber :)

  7. This is an awesome post, definitely oh-so-true! Thanks for stopping by my blog! I'm glad you plan to keep up with us. It's an adventure for sure ! :-)


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