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Opinion: Celebrating fathers for ‘babysitting’ their kids must stop

By Winnie Mabel September 27th, 2023 2 min read

Have you ever come across content or a situation where a father is praised for taking care of their children when they do mundane tasks such as carry them in baby carriers, wash their hair or bathe the kids, cook for the children, cleaning up after the kids and other routine tasks? And how often did you roll your eyes when you heard or read the gushing comments of how he is such an amazing dad, a hands-on father, a caring father, a present father and all other praiseworthy comments?

Did you also note how such commentaries portrayed the dad as a super human in doing chores commonly and traditionally done by women but are never praised for doing the same because it is expected of them? Did you also feel that these comments made such a father sound like a baby sitter for taking care of his children especially because the ‘missus’ was not around and because it is not his traditional role as the head of the home?

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By definition, a baby sitter is an individual responsible for caring for and supervising children temporarily, typically when their parents or guardians are not available. They ensure the safety, well-being and entertainment of the children under their care. Their duties may include feeding, playing with and helping with basic tasks such as bedtime routines. Babysitters are often hired for short periods, such as evenings or weekends and they provide an essential service for parents who need assistance with childcare during those times.

So, why would society praise a man for taking care of his kids; temporarily or not-, basically doing everything a mother does but does get any accolades for her role? Why aren’t both genders celebrated equally? Here’s why we must stop celebrating fathers for taking care of their children and not doing the same for mothers:

  1. Such kind of praise for fathers creates gender inequality. Parenting is a shared responsibility and it should not be alien to see fathers step up and do what is expected of them in the home as well.
  2. Praising fathers for taking care of their children will create a society that lowers expectations of men with children and place higher expectations on women, therefore resulting in inequitable parenting.
  3. While it may positively serve to encourage fathers to take up more roles with their kids, this sort of widespread praise implies that what mothers do for their children is not worth recognition and value because society expects them to take care of their children whether they like it or not.
  4. Again, this praise may put pressure on fathers to live up to certain expectations and if they do not, then feelings of inadequacy and stress settle in him.
  5. Excessive praising of fathers will definitely shift the co-parenting relationship between two parents and this will place a strain on the relationship, especially for the mothers.