Parents Perspective

A Round of Applause for Dads (and Stop Calling Them Babysitters!)

Parents editors share the moments they knew their husbands/partners would be great dads. 

dads don't babysit t-shirt
Have you ever laughed on a girls' night out saying that your husband or partner is "babysitting," freeing you up for a night of fun? I confess I may have used that term in the past. But, one dad's frustration at being considered a second-class parent is going viral. 

This awesome T-shirt is created and sold by the National At-Home Dad Network, and it's spot-on.

When it comes to parenting, we still live in a pretty mom-centric world. Maternity leave is more the norm than paternity leave, stay-at-home parents are much more likely to be moms, and, heck, even Parents magazine is created with moms in mind. 

Slowly but surely these attitudes are changing. Most of the dads I know are really into being a dad. I'll start at home. Today is my wedding anniversary, and I started thinking this morning about my husband, Dave, and how lucky my daughter and I are that he is such an invested, loving father. Even before we got married, I instinctively knew he would be a good dad when I met Dave's three-year-old niece and nephew for the first time. I was unsure how to interact with them, but he was down on the floor, rolling around, and playing make-believe like it was the easiest thing in the world.

I asked some of my colleagues if they had experiences like this, either before they were married or after they became parents. What were those little aha! moments that made them realize they'd made a good choice in a partner, at least when it came to parenthood?

Here is what they said:

"I knew when I first saw my husband-to-be interacting with his mother. She was so nurturing towards him, and he was so sweet with her. They had such a strong family bond, and I just knew that being a dad would be something he'd take seriously." —Grace Bastidas, Editor, Parents Latina and Ser Padres

"I was a single mom of a 7-year-old when I met Daniel. I knew he'd be a great dad when he helped Abby make her very first snowman." —Diane Debrovner, Deputy Editor

"Seeing how my husband, Stephen, takes care of our dog, Fergie. He brushes her teeth every day and has a routine where he brushes her fur regularly before he feeds her. He's just really clued in to her every need. When it gets really cold out, he's managed to fashion his coat so he can carry Fergie inside to make sure she's 100% warm, even if it means he gets a chillier chest." —Julia Dennison, Managing Editor, Parents Digital Network (and mom-to-be!)

"I knew my husband was a great dad when I saw him wanting to participate in every aspect of parenting. He has fed the kids, cleaned up after them, caught their poop in his hands, bathed them, sang to them, laughed with them, listened to them, reprimanded them, read to them, and snuggled with them. He continues to amaze me with his patience and his innate sense of what to do at any given moment." —Emily Furlani, Art Director

"My son has just gotten his first teeth. My husband promptly went out and bought baby toothpaste and a brush. (I normally handle most of the baby purchases, so this was unique.) Now he's taken it upon himself to brush the little guy's teeth every morning and night, and the sight of him with that goofy silicone toothbrush on his finger as he says, "Okay, first we do the bottoms," and 'You only brush the ones you want to keep,' confirms my suspicion that he is the best dad." —Laura Fenton, Lifestyle Director

Back to my house, last night Dave took our daughter to a Bruce Springsteen concert. During the show he texted me, "We're having a great time. I love this girl so much." It made me melt. 

So, yes, like many moms I may complain that I'm the one that makes all the doctor's appointments or figures out all the summer camp schedules. But when it matters these dads are on it. Our kids are lucky to have them, and it should go without saying that they are much, much more than mere babysitters.

When did you know that your husband/partner would be a great dad?

Jenna Helwig is the food editor at Parents and the author of Real Baby Food. Follow her on Instagram and Twitter.