How many times have you fielded that question from one of your brood, or asked some variation of it yourself, when you meet a dad out and about with his children? Have you ever considered what we’re really saying when we assign the term “babysitter” to a father, in regards to his own kids?
Well, we’re saying a lot — and none of it is positive.
Recently the US government, via the Census Bureau, did just that. They listed fathers who perform the daily caregiving for their own children, either part or full time, as nothing more than free childcare for mom, the de-facto “designated parent.”
Moms — would we allow the US Government to label us the same way? Are you the babysitter for your kids?
Should we let the US government define the job of stay-at-home parenting as a simple task that can be done by a teenager? Should we let them belittle the hard work of our husbands and partners — and all unpaid, daily caregivers? Of course not.
This dismissal of the caregiving work fathers do is more than insulting — it’s detrimental to mothers, fathers, and kids alike. Our friends at Daddyshome, Inc. advocate for fathers year-round and they’ve written a great letter, and accompanying petition, in response to the Census Bureau report.
Please read their letter below and then click to add your name to the petition. Their goal is 1,000 signatures and they need your help to get there.
Stand up for Dads! Don’t let the US Government dismiss caregiving fathers as merely “babysitters.”
The Team at The Parent du Jour
Daddyshome, Inc., the National At-Home Dad Network, is conducting a petition drive aimed at the U.S. Census Bureau in response to the agency’s recent and long-standing inaccurate representation of fathers and parents in general.
The petition and accompanying campaign dubbed, “Dads Don’t Babysit,” seeks to change the way the Census Bureau classifies and represents fathers and parents in the 21st century.
The online petition can be found at http://www.change.org/petitions/dads-dont-babysit and will be sent electronically through Change.org to the Census Bureau, the U.S. Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives.
At issue are several Census Bureau reports and depictions of fathers and the role dads play. Most troubling is the Bureau’s Survey of Income and Program Population (SIPP), which in nearly all cases labels the mother as the “designated parent” regardless of how much time she is with the children or spends working while fathers are considered a child care arrangement.
Yet a separate Census Bureau report, Who’s Minding the Kids? Child Care Arrangements: Spring states that 32 percent of men are the primary caregivers of children under age 15. Despite the fact that nearly one-third of fathers are caring for their own children for the majority of the day, they are still considered a secondary parent according to U.S. Census Bureau analysis.
“It is an insult to all parents to suggest the time dads spend caring for their children is considered temporary and similar to that of the teenager neighbor, but it is also providing policy-makers with vastly inaccurate data on how American families manage work and childcare arrangements,” says Daddyshome President, Al Watts.
Additionally, the Census Bureau continues to undercount the number of at-home dads in this country by only counting those who earn no income or aren’t looking for work. The 2011 figure of 176,00 is the highest on record but considerably less than the several million at-home dads Daddyshome estimates there are in the United States.
Ultimately Daddyshome’s goal with the petition and its Dads Don’t Babysit campaign is for the U.S. Census Bureau’s research and analysis to reflect the changing landscape of parenting, and to classify roles appropriately.
“I would add that we hope for the Census and the public to recognize that fathers are equal parents to mothers,” Watts says. “We think the Census can modify the survey to more accurately understand childcare arrangements in light of the shifting labor and child care duties families are navigating today.”
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Questions? Contact Hogan Hilling, Daddyshome, Inc. Media Relations Chairperson at firstname.lastname@example.org