Chicago dad: The difference between parenting and babysitting

I’ll admit it. I am guilty of this. As are so many other fathers. It’s not necessarily a bad thing, and I am pretty sure most guys don’t think it through. But, I have heard plenty of people say it, as well as myself.


“What are you doing Friday?”


“I’m off of work, but I am watching the baby all day.”


My coworker pointed it out to me. She told me, “Kevin, stop saying that you are babysitting your child!” And that’s when I realized and actually thought about that phrase.


She’s right. We are not babysitting our own children. We are simply being parents.


How many times have you heard a parent, usually a father (sorry guys, but it’s true), say “Hey, I can’t do that this weekend, I have to babysit the kids.” or “I have to babysit my son today.”


NO. You aren’t babysitting anyone. It’s your job as a parent to be there for your kids. A babysitter gets paid. I would be willing to bet any money that nobody is paying you to watch your own children. Am I right?


I think a better way to phrase the situation would be more along the lines of – “I have the kids all day.” or “I will be with my kids.” You aren’t watching your kids, or sitting them, or taking care of them or whatever other term you can find to describe. They are a part of you now. Part of your family. Part of normal, everyday life.


Even if you are divorced, or separated from your child’s mother/father, spend that time with your son or daughter and cherish it. Separated families get even less time together. Don’t ever push off being with your children as babysitting.


Better yet, why don’t we hear the word “parenting” more often? I never hear it. It would be awkward to hear somebody say, “I’m parenting today.” But technically, it’s correct. You parent today, tomorrow, and everyday. You are constantly parenting. Try using it sometime.


There are big differences in the definitions according to Merriam-Webster.


Parenting is the process of taking care of children until they are old enough to take care of themselves.


Babysitting is to take care of a child while the child’s parents are away.


I’m making it a challenge. To anyone that has caught themselves using the forbidden word: babysitting. Swap that word with “parenting” next time. See if you can do it and how much better it will sound. Then see how the person on the receiving end of the conversation responds to it. I bet they will be impressed.


Dads, I’m speaking for us, here.


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