Equality of the sexes is important to me not only because I have both boys and a girl, but because I am all about equality everywhere, I'm a champion of equal rights, a peace loving, green voting, soft lefty and a feminist (OK maybe not all of those things, but I do believe in equality), this means I eschew the often depicted stereotype of lazy, good for nothing, want away, bored, dads.
I like to think I'm an involved, hands on, parent, I share the parenting with my partner, we both look after the kids, we both play with them, feed them, clean up after them and we both do all we can to ensure we are bringing up wonderful, self confident, intelligent, loved, children (it's probably why I'm grumpy, there is a distinct lack of sleep in parenting).
During the years one thing I have NEVER done, never will do, and hate being accused of doing, is babysitting my own children. I don't, can't and won't, I'm their dad not some spotty teenager trying to make a few quid and maybe get some alone time with a girl (I remember those days).
So why then, do some people think it is OK to say this to me when I am out with my kids? What part of my anatomy is it that prevents me being equal to the mothers out with their children? You know the mothers who are parenting their kids and not babysitting, I'm doing exactly the same, deal with it!
I can recall a number of times I have taken my daughter or sons to the park, and, once I've got past the accusatory glares of being a lone man in a kids playground (thank you modern media for creating the myth that all men are predatory paedophiles!), I am asked if I am babysitting, or get "encouraging" pats on the back for giving my partner a break, dads like me will know the comments "Well done you for letting your wife have a break" or "ah, sweet, are you giving mum a rest".
Er... No... I'm doing neither of these things, in fact I'm doing what any good parent would do I'm looking after my child and spending fun, quality time with them. It's called parenting! And has nothing to do with giving someone else a rest.
Who is Commenting
Now I can almost, almost, forgive the oldies who say these things, it's generational, in their day men went out and earned a buck while wifey stayed home to cook, clean and manage the children, but times have changed grandpa, equality means women can go out and work and men can stay home.
But when it is mothers I want to grab them by the neck... shoulders and shake them until they realise they are perpetuating these stereotypes, they are teaching their kids that it is OK to not think of parents as equal and they are creating the next generation of "babysitting" dads or mums who don't allow the fathers full participation.
Worse, though, is when other dads are making the comments or thinking I'm part of their gang, they raise an eyebrow as if to say "You're stuck with the kids as well then" I literally want to slap... teach these men that they have wonderful kids who they should be enjoying not begrudging. Kids aren't a burden they are a joy, just ask anyone who can't have them or has lost one.
I know the media rams this typical dad stereotype down our throats, almost all dads we see in adverts are incompetent, barely able to dress themselves let alone the kids, but we don't have to live up to them.
And we don't have to put up with them, it is time us dads fought back, just as women have done through the years, while fighting for equality, we need to complain when we see these stereotypes being pushed onto our kids.
Fight the Stereotype
Dads it's time to fight the power, and stop calling yourselves babysitters, you aren't (you can't be you don't get paid), and reverse the modern sexism that is blighting dads lives everywhere (who'd have thought it would ever be dads facing discrimination, amazing how the world changes).
Spending time with my kids is not a chore, or job and it most definitely, one hundred percent is NOT BLOODY BABYSITTING!