Dads don’t babysit. It’s called parenting.

The Modern Mumma: A letter to my little humans.
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The Modern Mumma: A letter to my little...

Yes! Finally some sense coming from internet land!

Al Ferguson, from The Dad Network in the UK has won the affections of parents all over the world after a photo of him wearing a shirt with ‘Dad’s don’t babysit, it’s called parenting” printed on the front was shared in a Reddit forum of other father’s fed up with the parenting stereotypes.

Speaking to BBC Online, Al said that as a father he had come across some doozies when it came to poorly thought out comments from strangers. “I’ve had people ask me ‘Are you looking after the kids today’ or ‘I can tell that you dressed the baby today”. It’s just out of date”. He said. “The modern dad is more active in the family life than they were historically. It’s out of date to assume the mum is the primary caregiver”.

Al says that he believes it was time that society moved on from the typical gender stereotypes when it came to raising children and explained that for fathers looking after their kids, it can be difficult to get the job done properly, simply because of the way we look at parenting. He cited examples like baby change facilities being in ladies bathrooms which obviously creates a problem for a dad with a nappy situation.

I feel for fathers who are looked at as being 'less than capable' when it comes to their kids. Image: istock

It seems that Al is not alone. Over 3000 people responded to the Reddit thread to share their experiences.

Some users said that they were offended when met with insensitive comments on their parenting, others were annoyed. Some even said it was the father's themselves who painted their time with the children as more of a babysitter role.

"It hurt really bad when I was a new stay-at-home dad and people would ask about me babysitting… It really made me almost cry sometimes because it was like they couldn't see me as a caretaker."

"Single dad here. It's even worse when my seven year old wants to have a sleepover… I call the parents. I explain she wants to have a sleepover and your kid is invited. Then the awkward question, will mom be there? And when you explain, no mom here - sorry, there's that long pause. Sad to say to this day she still hasn't had a sleepover."

"It goes the other way too. My husband will occasionally say that 'You owe me for babysitting last Saturday'… You are their father, you were parenting!"

As the mother of three young children I have to say that this whole thing pisses me right off. My husband is a good father. In fact, he does certain things better than I do when it comes to parenting our kids. He can do everything I can do. Sure, I've had more practice because I am the one responsible for caring for them on a day to day basis but that's not to say that he is incapable of doing so.  It just might take a little longer- just as I would if I was to try and do all the things he does in a day.

A father's time with his children is not babysitting. Image: istock

If I walk out the door and leave him with the children I don't give it a second thought. I know they will be fed, dressed, cared for as any good parent would do- mother or father.

It annoys me to hear the comments he had had to endure in the course of his parenting life. If he takes the children to the shops, it's almost a given that a stranger will have a congratulatory remark about what a 'good husband' he is for taking the children out. Do I get thanked for dragging three of them to the shops while he is out with mates? Nope. It's patronising and unnecessary.

Just like Al I believe we need to move on from these outdated ideas of fathers being useless when it comes to looking after their kids or the idea that a dad's time with his kids is merely babysitting while mum has a break. I'm sorry but it took two to make them, and in my family, it's going to two two to raise them.

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