My partner rarely joins me on outings with my friends. This is for a few reasons. One, he's largely uninterested in most of the ways we choose to spend our time. Two, we like to have "one on one" time with our respective friends. Three, someone usually has to stay with our two small children. Every now and then, while I'm out, someone I don't know very well will say, "Oh, your husband is babysitting? That's so sweet." I still don't quite know how to respond when someone says my partner is babysitting. I mean, not only is it a completely absurd thing to say, but I don't even know where to begin.
Do I joke about it? Do I fly into a righteous feminist fury about gender roles and the diminished expectation we, as a society, have of male parents? Do I start an earnest and boring education campaign? Do I smile and ignore it because, "I know what they meant"? I find my answer usually comes at an intersection of most of these options, to varying degrees of wit or incoherent word-jumble.
How did we get here, you guys? How did we ever reach a point where a man caring for his own children is a kindly favor that would otherwise be worthy of monetary compensation? How do we move past this nonsense? Because dismissing "fathering" as "babysitting" sells everyone short and, honestly, families deserve more.
So the next time you're informed that your male partner is oh-so-sweet for "babysitting" his own children, here are some responses that, hopefully, will make the other person think twice before saying it again.