Thursday, April 19, 2012

A Job By Any Other Name. . .

This one is For Men Only: (unless you'd like to pass it along to your husband).

So. Guys, I’m going to give you this one piece of marital advice for free. It will save your relationship, I promise. Write it down. Read it out loud. Repeat it to yourself in the bathroom mirror. Practice on the way to work. Here it is:

You don’t babysit your own kids.

Obviously I gained this insight the hard way. It happened not long after our first child was born. I'd “volunteered” to watch our baby while my wife went to the mall. She’d been stuck at home for a long time, and I felt she deserved a moment or two of freedom. I think my last words, as she headed out the door, were, “I sure hope she doesn’t mess her diaper.”

Not a good start.

And unfortunately those words turned out prophetic. When Raelene returned, she found me with a towel wrapped around my head, covering my nose and mouth from the smell, as I tried to change the messiest diaper I’d ever seen.

I was in the midst of a vivid hasmat-type description of the color and texture of the diaper contents when Raelene rolled her eyes and tuned me out. I don’t remember exactly how it happened, but I kept it up. I wanted to be appreciated for the sacrifice I’d made on behalf of our family. That’s when I first heard those fatal but important words:

You don’t babysit your own kids.

She was right, of course. And to my credit, I’ve never repeated that same mistake. For guys, when the babies are little, it’s so easy to see your family responsibilities as clearly divided. Childbirth: hers. Driving the car: his. Breastfeeding: hers. “Outside” work: his. Somehow, I got confused. For a moment, I guess, I’d put parenting in the “hers” column.

These days, young men are much smarter than I was. They’re more helpful too, springing to assist in ways that astound me. I had none of those skills as a young father. (That’s a blog for a different day). In the meantime, avoid my mistake. Volunteer for an afternoon with the kids.

Just don’t call it babysitting!

Dr. Greg Sutherland,
(with Bette Nordberg)


  1. So true! Hopefully some men read this and will take your advice! Thankfully my husband doesn't do this, but I know a lot of men do.

  2. Ah yes! How wise the human race would be if we would all learn from one another's "mistakes!" You're a lucky woman!