In case you weren't aware, I'm in the middle of a job transition. My last day at my previous job was December 31st, and I'm still looking for where my family and I would go next. As a husband and father, this time in my life contains many implications, both positive and negative. One of the great ones is the amount of time I can spend with my family that has increased exponentially. Over the past week and a half, I've been able to go on numerous daddy/daughter dates, take care of the day-to-days when my wife was sick, and various other things that I wouldn't have been able to do (as easily) previously.
I was asked a very interesting question the other day, however, because of my new phase, that has caused me to do some reflecting. I had someone ask how it's going being a "full-time babysitter" to our two kids. I know this person believes that I am a fully-capable, dare I say, very good father, and so the question was not meant to be demeaning or belittling, but the terminology was interesting, nonetheless. I have come across articles like this or this that speak to the appropriateness (or lack, thereof) of the "dad as babysitter" mentality before, but had never come face-to-face with it myself.
Putting that babysitter label on fathers does, in fact, cause us to be looked at as secondary parents in the raising of our children, as if I'm really nothing more than a stop-gap at worst, or, at best, an acceptable alternative when their mom can't be with them.
And as vehemently as I disagree with that, I gotta admit, there are times when I see myself in a very similar vein. There are times when my wife leaves, and my main goal is just to make sure my kids don't die before she returns. Feeding them is a bonus, but as long as I don't cause them irreparable harm in the next two hours, then I've done my job. Granted, those times are fewer and farther between as I've had a number of parenting successes, and am also blessed to be married to a woman who is constantly encouraging me as a father, but that self-doubt still sneaks in.
Dads, if you're reading this right now and nodding your head in agreement to the struggle, hear me when I tell you that you are more than just a babysitter! You are a father! Next to husband, it's the most important role we will ever play, and I firmly believe the Lord would not have called you to it (which He has if you have kids), if He were not going to equip you to carry it out in an amazing way. So be more than a babysitter today. Dare to be Daddy!