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Parents

Viral Post Explains Why Dads Aren't Babysitters

"I’m just doing what every parent should do, and what moms do every day without praise or adoration.”

Though studies have shown that dads are more involved in their kids’ lives than ever, many people still use the term “babysitting” when referring to fathers taking care of their children.

An Oregon dad decided to put a stop to that nonsense.

Jeremy Martin-Weber and his wife, Jessica, have six daughters, ages 5, 7, 9, 14, 16 and 18. They blog about their parenting experiences at Beyond Moi.

On May 9, Jeremy posted a photo of his wife at the airport on their Facebook page. In the caption, he explained that Jessica was about to head out of town on a multi-day work trip, leaving him alone with the kids.

Jeremy wrote that he needed to figure out who will cook and feed his kids, help them get ready in the morning, get them to school on time, offer support and comfort in tough moments, listen to everything they have to say, be a peacemaker through sibling conflicts, play games with them, model positive behavior and good qualities and more.

“Who is going to do all that stuff while their mom is away?” the dad asked.

“Me. That’s who,” he answered. “Because I’m not the babysitter. I’m not just their playmate. I’m their dad. And looking after them and guiding them and caring for them is my responsibility. And I love it ― with all of its challenges.”

The dad continued, “No the house will not fall apart or be trashed and the kids will not be ruined because dad is in charge. And no, I don’t deserve anyone’s special praise and adoration because “Wow! This dad can look after his own kids.” I’m just doing what every parent should do, and what moms do every day without praise or adoration.”

Jeremy’s post received over 3,000 likes and 1,200 shares. The dad told HuffPost he was inspired to share these thoughts after feeling irritated by the negative cultural assumptions about fathers he often hears.

“People have assumed all sorts of things about me as a dad,” he said. “I have been asked if I would be babysitting my kids while Jessica would be out of town. It has been inferred that I am no more than my children’s playmate, and directly stated that my wife always has an extra child (spoiler alert: it’s supposedly me). I have at times been pitied for having to care for my children on my own, as if I didn’t have to be a parent while my wife is around. And I have been told that I just don’t have that mothering instinct that is essential for being a good parent.”

Though the dad said he knows people aren’t trying to be hurtful, these statements often feel like an attempt to undermine his role as a father. As he drove Jessica to the airport that day, she suggested he post something about this issue.

“The assumption that I can’t handle the responsibility of parenting my kids in her absence and that I’ll just be hanging out with them as more of a sitter has been mentioned to my face many a time,” Jeremy said. “Her trip seemed like the perfect opportunity to share about how that’s not how I function as my children’s father, and to challenge that widely held belief about fathers in general.”

Jessica echoed Jeremy’s sentiments. The mom told HuffPost people often tell her how great it is that her kids’ father “babysits” when she travels for work.

“Moms don’t get those kind of comments,” she said. “It is assumed they can and will always be the ones responsible for childcare and the home, but dads are somehow heroes for doing the same thing.”

Jessica said she thankful that Jeremy is invested in raising their kids, just just as he is grateful she is. Jeremy doesn’t see his work as a dad as anything more extraordinary than care she puts in as a mom.

Jeremy hopes his post will encourage dads to embrace equal parenting and shared responsibilities. Though he didn’t expect such an overwhelming response to his post, the dad said he’s been touched to see moms tagging their partners in the comments and saying how happy they are to raise their kids with an involved parent.

Ultimately, Jessica has similar wishes. “I want people to realize that dads taking care of their kids as equals in parenting isn’t extraordinary, it’s normal. Or should be but we’ve lost sight of that,” she told HuffPost, noting that male parents are just as capable of handling parenting responsibilities as female parents and that she hopes the stereotype of the “bumbling idiot” dad dies out.

“No more onesies with directions for dad on how to use,” she said. “I hope that some moms to take a step back and give their partner room to be an active and involved parent sharing the responsibilities for child and home care, accepting that they may have their own way but they are still just as capable. It would be great if dads being competent parents was normalized.”