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Samantha Kemp-Jackson

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"Daddy Daycare" and Other Misconceptions

Posted: 05/24/2012 4:54 pm

You can't babysit your own kids. That's fairly obvious.

At least in the case of women, or so it seems.

Apparently those in possession of the double-X chromosome are the only ones that are the true "parents" of their children; men are merely "caregivers," if you believed the U.S. Census bureau.

This topic was recently brought to light via the media. Read all about it right here.

Women with children are "moms," pure and simple, if you take this somewhat misguided argument to its logical conclusion. Men? Well... they help out every so often. This is the subtext of such a mindset and, lets admit, the continuing inequality of the sexes, both male and female.

We've had a long and entrenched history of assigning roles, rules and rights to a sacred few. Perhaps its how we have managed to maintain our sense of order and, to some of us, our sense of superiority. Ironically, we as women have long suffered the blows of a patriarchal society that has diminished both our rights and our sense of importance. Yet a large number of women subscribe to the philosophy that men just don't make the grade when it comes to the case of their children.

Case in point: When I'm away from home, my husband takes care of our children. I am perfectly confident that everyone will be fine, yet I can tell you that more than one person has asked me if my husband will be "babysitting" our children.

Babysitting. I'm still shaking my head.

No one would ever ask a man if his child's mother was "babysitting" their children, but yet the inherent message of asking this question to a woman is two-fold:

a) That women are the primary holders of responsibility when it comes to child-rearing

b) That men are incapable of fully assuming an equally adequate and loving parental role

Both of these assumptions are not only downright wrong, but insulting, to boot. Insulting not only to the man who has been slighted in the equation, but to the woman who has to bear the brunt of pressure, responsibility and the ins and outs of parenting.

We as women have worked hard to be viewed as equals with our male counterparts and yet many of us are perpetuating the stereotype of men being inefficient and ineffectual. Could it perhaps be that we may be collectively threatened by fathers' abilities that may be on par with our own? Or perhaps the fact that the very close bond that exists between many mothers and their children may be thwarted by the dad who is ready to change yet another poopy diaper while mom is away on a business trip?

Whatever it is, it isn't good and it helps neither the mother nor the father in changing the long-standing stereotypes about the day-to-day duties of "real" mothers and fathers.

For as long as people continue to perpetuate the myth and stereotype of not only men as inadequate, ill-equipped and insufficient parents, but women as the do-all, be-all supermoms of an alternate reality, we all suffer. No one can live up to unrealistic standards and everyone who tries will be invariably frustrated and disappointed in the process.

So if my point isn't clear in this long preamble, I'll simplify it by saying this: "babysitting" is a task that is performed by individuals other than the mother or father of a particular child, ergo you can't babysit your own kids. The perception of men as mere babysitters of their children and mothers as the only ones who are able to adequately care for the the kids is one that needs to stop. It diminishes the importance of both parents in playing a key role in the raising of their children and does injustice to us all -- mothers and fathers alike.

 

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