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Do Moms Still Worry About Leaving Babies Home With Dad?

By Katie Allison Granju |


Daddy gives Baby G a bath while Mama is in NOLA

As I’ve mentioned before, I do travel some for my work, and I just spent the past few days in New Orleans, at a really terrific conference. While I was away for three days, my two older kids – 15 year old J and 13 year old E – were at their Dad’s, while Baby G and my 3 year old, C were at home with my husband Jon.
As it happens, the specific event I attended in NOLA was Mom 2.0, a conference around the topic of moms-who-blog. So there were several hundred mombloggers there, along with a small cadre of guy-bloggers including my fellow Babble-blogging Knoxvillian, John Cave Osborne. John was part of a panel discussion at Mom 2.0 on the topic of “daddybloggers,” and I found the presentation pretty darn fascinating.

The Dadbloggers of Mom 2.0 in New Orleans

A complaint voiced by all of the dadbloggers on the panel was that even now, at a time when one would think we would mostly be past all of this, these guys still frequently encounter surprise and even shock from moms at the idea that a father would be capable of caring for his own baby or toddler all by himself. While the mothers who have commented to these dads were probably trying to compliment them (“You must be an awesome father; I would NEVER leave my husband in full charge of the baby! He wouldn’t know how to handle it!), the fathers on the panel found this backhanded praise tiresome and kind of insulting.

It’s true that at this event of mostly women, almost all of whom were moms with male partners, I did hear some gentle joking among the female attendees about what a mess their homes and children might be when they returned home from the conference, given that Dad had been left behind to hold down the fort in Mom’s absence. On the other hand, all of these women were there. They had left their children – including babies and young children –  at home with the other parent so that they could go to an out of town event. I’m not so sure that even 15 or 20 years ago, most mothers of babies and young children were as comfortably willing to leave their male partners alone at home for more than one day, especially so that the moms in question could go off and pursue professional or entrepreneurial opportunities for themselves. Instead, there would have been babysitters and grandmothers brought along to the conference hotel en masse, or moms believed that they necessarily had to wait until their kids were significantly older before attempting to attend any kind of overnight conference.

In my own case, I have definitely worried before about how things would go for my husband when he’s been left home with the baby while I’ve traveled overnight, but my concerns weren’t gender based; they were solo-parenting based. (Or at least that’s what I tell myself….)

Obviously, my observations on this are totally anecdotal, but what do you think? Do the moms you hang out with socially and/or professionally still crack jokes or express surprise at the idea that a father could be capable of caring for a baby by himself if Mom goes away overnight? Is this kind of humor insulting to Dads? And do you think that women are now more comfortable than they were a decade or two ago with leaving Dad in charge back at the ranch? Tell me your thoughts on this in the comments below.

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About Katie Allison Granju

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Katie Allison Granju

Katie Allison Granju is the married mother of five children, ranging in age from toddler to teenager. In addition to blogging for Babble Voices, she also publishes her own blog, Big Good Thing. Katie also enjoys working in her flower garden, riding her bike, and feeding the chickens she keeps in the backyard of her family's large Victorian house. Read bio and latest posts → Read Katie Allison's latest posts →

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60 thoughts on “Do Moms Still Worry About Leaving Babies Home With Dad?

  1. Kristin says:

    I think there is a real divide on this. Many of us are perfectly comfortable leaving our young children home with our husbands, mainly because our husbands are very involved in the child rearing and it would never occur to us that they couldn’t handle it. But when I went to my 15th college reunion in 2007 I left my kids, who were then 6, 4, and 1 1/2, home with my husband for 5 days. When I was visiting with my college roommate (who is obviously my age and who is a working Mom, so you’d think her husband would be involved enough in child rearing to take charge for 5 days), she asked me, “So…who’s staying with your kids?” I looked at her quizzically and said in a confused way, “They’re home with [my husband].” She looked shocked and said, “You left them home ALONE with [your HUSBAND] for FIVE DAYS?!?!” I said yes. She asked if I really thought he could handle that and I said, “Ummm…yes… because he is their FATHER.” I found the whole exchange incredibly annoying.

    I have to admit, though, that among my friends where I live, almost none of them would leave their kids alone (and, what, helpless and in horrible danger?) with their fathers for five days. But I think this is because these women have chosen a much more traditional division of labor, so that their husbands work outside the home and they don’t (or at least don’t work many hours outside the home). Many of these guys do no cooking (other than grilling, for which their wives do all of the preparations) and actually don’t have a clue where many things in the house are kept. These guys change diapers and give baths, but do not have the experience of keeping the entire place running for more than a couple of hours. That’s the choice they’ve made as couples (consciously or no) and if it works for them, that’s fine. And my husband and I could have gone that route — I don’t think he would have found it strange at all if we’d gone that more traditional route. But I’m so glad — for all of us, not just me — that we are less traditional. I think it is great for our children to see that Mom and Dad both cook and cook well. Dad does all of the outside work that deals with grass (mowing, fertilizing, etc.), but Mom does all of the landscaping. Mom and Dad both do laundry, both clean bathrooms, etc. It just opens up all kinds of options for how things can be done.

  2. Diera says:

    My concern sometimes with leaving my children with my husband for extended periods is that while he knows where all the clothes are, and the food, and so on, he is one of those people who gets a cold and is seemingly completely incapacitated for days, while (usually) I have the same cold and get through things just fine. So I worry I’m going to go away and he’s going to get sick and then the children are going to survive on cookies and Capri Suns until I get back. He’d be fine as long as he was healthy though.

  3. Becky says:

    It would not even cross my mind to worry about leaving our two young children (a baby and a three year old) with my husband, and I’ve never heard any of my mom friends joke about this type of thing. I live in an urban area where everyone I know is dual-income and responsibilities are shared. I would find those types of jokes/comments sorely outdated, tiresome and cliched.

  4. mbmom7 says:

    When I was young, my mom would leave my dad in charge of the kids for a few days, and there were no back handed compliments. He was fully competent to cook, clean, and organize the kids. And he let us buy chocolate milk and Oreos when we went shopping! (And I was one of 10 kids, so there were always plenty of kids to manage.) My parents also made sure we kids were helpful and responsible so if either parent were gone, the kids would help out.
    Now, with my husband, I sometimes kid about how the house is a disaster when I’m gone for a few hours, but it’s okay. When he’s in charge, they play, build, read, and do fun stuff. And if he’s in charge for more than a day, he and the kids pick up the house and clean before my return. He cooks ( or helps the kids who might be in charge of meals) and changes diapers with the best of them. He even made chocolate chips cookies for me when I came back from a relative’s funeral.
    Most of the dads I know are good at being in charge of the kids. We wives might tease a little about the chaos, but mostly we know that they just parent a little differently than we do. It’s better to let them parent with their strengths, and if it means there’s just a little more dirt or laundry on my return, so be it.

  5. Lee says:

    I have a 2 year old and a 3 month old. The first (and only) time my husband has been left alone taking care of the kids was for about 3 hours once about two weeks ago, and that took a LOT of planning. It’s not that I think he’s a bad dad. He isn’t–He’s actually really great with them. BUT… he does two things that make it impossible for me to be 100% comfortable leaving them all alone overnight 1.) he can fall asleep sitting straight up–and yes, holding the baby–I’ve seen it happen–where I have literally walked in and caught the baby right as he was about to roll off the couch out of my sleeping husband’s arms And 2). The husband sleeps like the dead. Not only does he not wake up to baby’s cries or toddler’s cries, he will also sleep through a smoke alarm. (also seen that happen, so it’s not just paranoia on my part).

    Do I think it’s insulting to him that I don’t have that 100% trust? I can see how it could be construed as such. But until he develops the ability to “mama sleep” i.e. the ability to wake from deep sleep at the sound of your baby rolling over or a tiny sneeze from two rooms away, I’ll keep my overprotective “No One Can Take Care of My Babies Like Me” attitude..

  6. Gwen says:

    Hi there– I just did a random search about “blogging.” I am considering starting a blog but I have such mixed feelings about sharing deeply personal thoughts. On one hand, I would love to share and connect with people other than my family who I might not want to read what I am saying about them. On the other hand, putting my heart out there for just anyone to read would make me feel vulnerable, too. I would love your thoughts on this subject. Thank you.

  7. De says:

    For me, it’s not a question of whether my husband is competent to take care of the kids by himself. It is the guilt that I feel for “shirking my motherly responsibilities” and I need to get over it.

  8. Amy says:

    It makes me tired to hear women bashing their male partners’ abilities. I knew no more about child-rearing than my husband did: we both had younger siblings that we helped care for, but that was about it. Frankly, the house-hold/kid duties are easy – tiring, but easy – so it’s an insult to suggest that men can’t handle them. And, what does it teach our kids if we perceive men as incompetent and women as inherently the ones who do household work?

  9. mattie says:

    not sure that it’s fair for people to say that women who don’t trust their husbands with their children maintain more “traditional” roles in the home. my husband works outside of the home, i stay home with my son and work online a few hours a day. i trust my husband alone with kids and he is helpful when he gets home from work. i cook dinner, he does the dishes (but that’s because he does not cook one bit). sometimes i mop the floor, sometimes he mops the floor. sometimes i vacuum, sometimes he vacuums. sometimes i don’t like how he does the dishes, mops the floor, or vacuums, but i don’t complain because he is helping out when he could pull the “i’ve been working all day” card. i’m sure there are moms out there who work outside the home and who don’t trust their husbands alone with their children. i just don’t think it has to do with that.

    anyway, i’m just glad i can trust my husband alone with my son (and soon-to-be daughter). i’d go insane if i couldn’t go anywhere without my son, or have to find a separate babysitter every time i went somewhere!

  10. Abby says:

    I think that people who worry or won’t leave the dad in charge create that cycle. I am a working mom, and I decided when I went back to work after maternity leave that I would get to decide WHO was with my child which meant I did not decide the HOW of the child watching while I was away. If I left the baby with the dad and I came home and baby was still in pajamas because my husbands rule is “if we don’t go anywhere and they are still clean, less laundry!” then I don’t get to say anything. If the babysitter feeds the kid something I wasn’t quite ready to feed her and she doesn’t break out in hives and instead thinks it is delicious, then that is fine. I trust the babysitter. But some moms can’t help but worry (and comment) about the HOW of it all, all the time. So the dad ends up never doing anything because he can’t do it “right” and three years later the mom resents having to ask grandma to come help out when she wants a girls weekend. From day one you have to let dad do it….or he won’t be able to.

  11. Amber says:

    Two weeks ago, I left my 22 month old in the care of my husband for a week while I visited London, UK (our new home come this summer, so there was a lot to prepare). It was the first time I’d left my son, but I would have left him with my husband much earlier if the chance had come up. I did have a moment flying over northern Canada when I thought I was completely stupid, but it didn’t have anything to do with my husband’s competence. I wouldn’t have married him if he wasn’t fully capable of parenting, and I’m sure he feels the same about me.

    It was actually well-timed, as our son had gotten into a very ‘Mommy focused’ stage (and almost rude toward Daddy) before the trip. Now he seems fully comfortable again with Daddy, as he has typically been since birth. And, of course, they were perfectly fine when I returned.

    Seriously, ladies. We would never put up with our husbands saying that we weren’t capable of meaningful work outside the home, or changing a tire, or picking the correct candidate to vote for. Why do we continue to degrade them with comments of “You’re not capable to care for the children”? It’s ridiculous.

  12. Kathleen says:

    When my eldest was a baby, we worked opposite shifts and shared baby care– but he would bring the baby to me to nurse or I would run home briefly. So we shared baby responsibilities. Now, there are non-gender-related reasons I wouldn’t leave infants or toddlers with him for long periods — age and energy level. I wouldn’t leave babies with my mother anymore either, and my husband is closer to my mother’s age than mine. For me, part of sharing household responsibilities involves playing to each parent’s strengths.

    I nurse my infants and toddlers, and they are very attached to me. They’re also very attached to my husband, but it’s a different kind of attachment when they’re young. It’s not that my husband could not take care of them, but it would be very difficult for all of them if I were gone overnight. He cared for babies a lot, but not for overnight. That said, he frequently does supervise them when I am at business-related events now that they’re older, and I wouldn’t hesitate to leave him now that the kids range from 7 to 15.

  13. BeccaV says:

    My husband does an excellent job taking care of our son. When our son was 9 weeks I went back to work and my husband watched our son one day a week, by himself, and was just fine. I was worried the first day, but I knew that my husband would do a great job of taking care of our son. He still takes him to Dollywood by himself and quite a few other places. He’s also taken care of him overnight when I’ve went off for a girls weekend. Honestly, I can’t imagine NOT leaving my son with my husband, we don’t have any family in the area and I would not get a break if I didn’t think my husband could take care of our son on his own.
    It amazes me that there is still the thought that husbands can’t take care of the children on their own. Let’s have a little confidence for our husbands!

  14. MrsK says:

    I have a coworker who raised her kids in the 60′s and 70′s tell me I don’t know how good I have it. I corrected her politely and said I have exactly what I expect from my co-parent. We both wanted a child so we BOTH parent her. As in 50/50. He does morning drop off, Ipick her up after school. We split sick days. He took my 1st and 12th weeks of maternity leave off work and then 2 more months when she was 10 months old to care for her. He changed dirty diapers and wiped a runny nose. And bathed her and fed her and put her to bed and woke her up. He works 2 jobs and we both help with homework. It’s a joint effort but one that we both wanted, expected, and needed. He is more capable of certain parenting duties than I am and vice versa. Some things I am just better at. My Dad did it with my sister and me. I’ll have to ask if they got any comments then, I don’t remember. But yes, it irritates me.

  15. joni says:

    It has always driven me nuts when my friends say that their husbands are “babysitting the kids today” while we are out for lunch. I always reply “no… they are being Dads”.

  16. Miranda says:

    My husband is our daughter’s fulltime care giver. He owns his own business and she goes to work with him everyday. She’s just getting ready to turn 2 and they are thick as thieves. I’ve left her with him overnight several times…the only reason I hesitate to do it is that she is still nursing at night so he has a long night if I’m not there. :)

  17. Melissa says:

    I’m totally fine with leaving my 4 kids with their papa while I leave for a few hours. We haven’t had the opportunity to leave all four of them while I travel, just yet. But, in years past, I haven’t had any problem leaving the older 3 while I traveled for work, or for fun. I think Wives and Mothers must be wiling to accept that the hubby won’t do everything exactly like we do – BUT, in his own way, he accomplishes what needs to be done. If your kids are fed, bathed, clothed, the house isn’t a biohazard, and he still has most of his hair left when you return home, it’s a win isn’t it? There is no reason why any father shouldn’t be able to do so – at least for a day. If he cannot handle it, I blame the mama! No excuses! It’s 2011, not 1950.

  18. Moi says:

    I can really relate to a comment made earlier about feeling uncomfortable leaving a small child with a partner who sleeps very soundly. The first (and it turns out, only) time I left my oldest in his dad’s care when he was about four months old, for a few hours while I got a haircut (this took a while since we relied on public transportation), I came home to find dad zonked out on the couch and the kid having **crawled into the cat’s litter box**. And screaming.

    I can also relate to the comment that it’s not so much that dad is incapable, it’s the personal/social pressure involved in being perceived to be shirking our responsibilities.

  19. M. says:

    This entire debate annoys me to no end. Men aren’t inherently inferior as caregivers, women aren’t inherently better. I was raised by a single father, as I’m sure many people are, and I didn’t receive substandard care. He was my only parent, 24-7-365, and it really upsets me when women imply that leaving their kids alone with their dad for a weekend is a huge deal because men aren’t capable. This debate over gender roles is inherently sexist and offensive; would these women argue that two gay men can’t adequately parent a child? That single dads are inferior to single moms? It’s totally untrue, and frankly ridiculous to still be having this debate in 2011.

  20. James says:

    It might be more of an issue of who is normally at home with the kids, regardless of gender. I’m a stay-at-home-dad and I always worry about how my wife will “hold down the fort” when I’m gone. If you’re not used to the routine, it can be stressful whether you’re a man or a woman.

    http://www.fallofjames.com

  21. A.K. says:

    A few years back, I was busy writing my dissertation. Hubby took the 3 year old and the 7 year old off too Hawaii for two weeks so that I could write uninterrupted. It’s one thing for me to leave them at home — that’s EASY. It’s another thing to take kids across the country and an ocean for a long vacation. And my hubby did a fabulous job; today, both boys remember that vacation with Dad. So, no worries here.

  22. radmama says:

    I have been parenting much longer than my spouse (my older children are not his biological kids) and I wonder if I have set up my own frustration. On days I work from home with my toddler, I get paid work done, care for her, pick up/drop off older kids, tidy up and have dinner on the table. On a day he’s home NOT doing paid work, only toddler care and feeding gets done. He finds multitasking stressful. Are my standards for myself too high and for him too low?

  23. blablabirdie says:

    Where we live in Sweden, it is pretty much the norm for Dads to take care of little ones. But I still remember the first trip we took the the US – LO was 4 months old. I went out with some friends and left LO at home with Dad.

    “You left LO where? And that is a good thing?” For a minute I thought maybe they thought we had divorced and it might be difficult for me to leave my LO, but it turned out they just couldn’t figure out how I was happy to have left my infant with its father.

    That said, DH helped raise a bunch of little ones in his family, and I did not. He knew how to change a diaper, put on the tiny clothes and he wasn’t totally terrified of the tiny human who entered our lives, as I was. I caught up pretty quickly – but I’m not a big fan of the idea that women are natural nurturers and men are not.

  24. KGP says:

    I can’t imagine being married to/co-partenting with someone who I didn’t feel was completely competent in raising children. My husband and I have a 3 year-old and were living in NYC when he was born — Daddy was responsible for daycare drop-off/pick-up every single day (daycare was in his building) and usually had at least an hour of alone time with our son every night (I had a longer commute/longer hours). And I never worried about our son when I had to travel, sometimes as long as five days at a time.

    Yet I know friends who have a much more “traditional” division of parenting duties. I can’t help but shake my head at one couple who refer to the times when dad is on solo baby duty as “babysitting” — it drives me insane.

    And the older generations in my family love to remind me how “lucky” I am that my husband is so good with our son.

  25. DKM says:

    My husband and I both work and we are both capable of taking are of the kids, though my husband refuses to wash hair and it is helpful for me to lay out the clothes and prepare a menu for the days I am gone, though I feel that has more to do with the single-parenting than incompetence. I also try to come backwithin 3 days bc of the hairwashing!

    Tha being said, I’m not tremendously comfortablle l eaving my babies under6 months old with their dad overnight. Mostly, this is because they are still very high needs at night, and my hubs doesn’t handle the whole night waking very well and I don’t want him cranky and exhausted for the older kids while I’m awa. SO, onthe business trip I am going on in a fe weeks, my 3 month olde will stay with my parents and the 2 year old and six year old will stay with dad.

    i had to correct my mom though,- she used to carry on about how impressed she was with the neighbor dad who “babysat” his kids every afternoon while his wife worked!

  26. steph says:

    I agree with Abby in that many women who do not trust their partner to watch the children have created this situation themselves. From the beginning I expected my husband to pitch in 50% and he’s done that and more. That means letting go of my control issues like what they eat, wear, etc and simply believing that while it might not be exactly as I would have done it, the baby is safe, fed, warm, etc. However I have many friends with children that essentially pushed away attempts of help from the beginning and didn’t trust their spouses to learn. These moms are generally the ones I’ve seen worry about leaving them. I even have a friend whose husband has never changed a diaper or fed their baby. When she HAS to be away, baby stays at grandma’s. So while most of the time the stereotype is old and cliche, there are still many situations where it is very true!

  27. Emily says:

    It truly irritates me when I am out for an evening alone or away for work or pleasure and somebody says to me, “Who is staying with your son?”. These people know that I am married, so it truly seems like a stupid question. I realize that there are ingrained but albeit old-fashioned social issues at hand, but it’s 2011 and about time we get over it. My husband and I are completely co-parents – he actually takes on more than 50% given the fact that I have a demanding full-time job – and is perfectly capable of taking care of our son under any circumstance. Although I have to admit that I am most annoyed at the implication (in my mind) that I have somehow abandoned my motherly duties by leaving my son, rather than the implication that my husband is unfit to take care of him in my absence. But that’s another issue…mother’s guilt!

  28. drhoctor2 says:

    I can’t feel sympathetic towards any woman who pulls the ..my husband is incapable of caring for our kids on his own card. You procreated with a person you don’t trust to care for your mutual children. REALLY? Anmd you will make that statement known to virtual strangers. How arrogant/ignorant can you make yourself sound?

  29. drhoctor2 says:

    As I re-read this, I realized why the comments are grating on me. Many of these include statements on …if the “stuff” isn’t done right but the kids are ok , it’s all good. INCREDIBLY arrogant. You are saying that you are the only one in the house capable of parenting the “right” way. So disrespectful and crazy making. 90% of the right way/wrong way examples are of things that do not matter a whit in the long run. A kid growing up in a house where one parent blatantly and constantly demeans the other parents abilities, or style or task prioritizing ? Matters. A lot.
    I never like condescending jokey put downs of one partner to or about the other. When they do it about the partners parenting ? Passive aggressive ploys for attention and compliment fishing. It is immature, self aggrandizing behavior that is harmful to your family. .

  30. Sarah says:

    My reason for not wanting to leave my son overnight have nothing to do with my husband (or another caregiver) and everything to do with my son and me. For a long time it was that he woke frequently, and wanted me and only me as he was still nursing. I couldn’t and wouldn’t contemplate leaving him high and dry when we was so little. So every where I went, he did too.

    When he was an infant and I went back to work, Daddy took child rearing duties one day a week. Gramma had three while we both worked, I had one alone and hubby and I were both home all weekend. My husband was and is fully capable of caring for our child and our house in my absence. No ifs ands or buts. I still haven’t left them alone together overnight yet.

  31. pb says:

    Leaving my 6-month-old daughter with my husband for a few hours or even all day is no problem. Overnight is another story.

    I have done every overnight with her since she was born. Not because I want to and not because I don’t think he could handle it, but because he doesn’t believe it is his job. He has never offered to do night duty and if he gets less than a great sleep, he grumbles and complains all the next day. Meanwhile, I am bleary-eyed and stumbling nearly every day. He just doesn’t see it. I have asked for help and the most I’ve been able to get is that he will get up with her when she wakes up on Saturday mornings so I can sleep in a bit. He’s done that twice — we’ll see if it keeps up.

    Yes, I am breastfeeding, so it is more convenient for me to do night duty, but I would gladly pump and store for the prospect of a complete night’s sleep. I get so jealous when he goes on week-long business trips. He says that they are work, not pleasure, but a full week of work with uninterrupted sleep sounds like heaven to me.

    He is a wonderful dad. He is great with our daughter. But he is not willing to take on 24-7 parenting and I don’t know how to change that. Maybe I should just take off for a few days and see what happens.

    Maybe some women who joke about their husbands being incapable (I don’t) are covering because it hurts less than admitting that your husband chooses not to hold up his end of the co-parenting bargain.

  32. Leah says:

    Baby G is so cute in this picture! Kuddos to your hubby for being camera ready! My husband and I never seem to be ready with the camera ever! Baby G is just gorgeous!

  33. Amelia says:

    My husband is fully respectful and aware of our baby’s schedule. He is very involved in her upbringing. But, I am the stay at home mom. Therefore no one can do it as well as I can. In my own brain. So I stress when I leave her with him. Hopefully this will go away with time. :)

  34. jzzy55 says:

    Many years ago my sister & nephew (who was about eight) came to to visit when my husband, son and I were renting a summer house far from home. While they were with us a relative of my brother in law died, so he and my niece attended the wake/funeral. My brother in law must have called 10 times asking about her clothing and other details. It was PATHETIC.

    But this was a man who did as close to zero childcare/childrearing as you can get without being dead.

    So it depends on what’s going on before the mom leaves…

  35. Opus says:

    I remember a time many years ago when I was in junior high – maybe even early high school (mid-70′s anyway). Mom had to go in the hospital for something so the three of us girls were left in dad’s care. Only the youngest was not in school so it wasn’t all that bad. I distinctly remember my dad cooking supper for us. I had no idea that he knew how to cook! I don’t remember what it was, but I think it came out of the oven – perhaps a casserole of some sort. I expressed my great surprise at his cooking ability and he responded with something like “Well how do you think I survived until I married mom?” It never occurred to me that he had lived on his own for a number of years before marrying. . . .

    If I’d ever had kids, the dad would have been the primary care giver or none of us would have survived. Sometimes I think even my cat wishes there was another human around to do its bidding!

  36. Timmy's mom says:

    My husband always did great with our daughter (who is now 19), even though her clothes never matched if he dressed her! She always loved “daddy time” because daddy would cook. Mommy just got takeout – lol!

    BTW – what did Baby G have for dinner in this photo? Adorable!

  37. kate says:

    I work in an ER, so I work overnight shifts weekly. I confess to having been nervous about leaving my husband in charge of my 10-week old and 3 year old for my 17-hour shift on my first overnight back…but it was about ME, not about HIM. He can be and should be expected to be entirely able to do this, as he is THEIR FATHER. I, however, had massive amounts of guilt about going back to work, feelings that somehow I should be responsible, I am a control-freak in general, unconsciously repeating what my mother did when I was growing up, etc, etc. One of my male friends called me out heartily the one time I referred to my husband as “babysitting”, and I took it to heart. So I kind of forced myself to get over it (mostly), and it has been good for both of us, actually. I did end up altering my schedule to avoid the double shift – but that was mostly due to the painful logistics of pumping breastmilk. Which is an awful drag, and complicates any prolonged period away from the baby.

  38. Cath Young says:

    My brother is the stay at home parent. He worries when he leaves the kids home alone with the mom. He says there schedules are out the window when he returns. My SIL has a tough job with too many hours away from her little ones and she just pampers them every minute she can, whereas my brother is retired military, and keeps things pretty organized.

  39. Jenn @ Juggling Life says:

    I don’t think it has anything to do with whether or not the woman works–I was a SAHM for over 20 years and I never doubted my husband could take care of the kids; and I don’t mean “babysit”–a term which frosts me when used on a parent.

    I had no problem at all leaving my husband home for a week with four children when a friend had a medical emergency. I wonder how anyone could stand being in a marriage where both parents weren’t capable partners.

  40. MIO says:

    My husband and I work oppposite schedules, so that we do not have our kids (3 yo and 15 mo) in daycare (not that there is anything wrong with daycare!!) He does bedtime 3 nights a week, and on the weekend, I work a 12 hour shift and he does care on those days. He does fine. They enjoy their time with Daddy. I have tried really hard to adopt the attitude that he may not do it how I do it (cooking, cleaning, dressing etc), but who says my way is the right way? I traveled for work a few months ago and left him with a stocked pantry and lots of meals and time fillers, because he get overwhelmed with the planning. He did great, the kids were fine, the house did not burn down.
    Still I do worry. He is not a details guy, and is also unable to drive, due to having very limited vision. All of those things make me nervous for a real emergency. Not a messy kitchen emergency, but a fever that won’t break etc. Without family and friends in the area, these things scare me.

  41. bridgitt says:

    When my daughter was born, my husband worked a job that wasn’t steady, so he was home with her a lot during the days. Currently, we both work, although I do 50% of the time from home. I leave him alone with the kids during the day, but have never done so overnight. Not because of him, because of me. My daughter is 18 months old and I’ve only been away from her overnight twice – two nights while in the hospital having my son. Hubby does more than 50% of the cleaning and grocery shopping and 100% of the cooking. He also worries more about making sure the daughter eats well and enough. I think he’s just as uncomfortable leaving me alone for long periods as I would be leaving him. He has been gone for weekend trips twice since the little one was born, and both times, my mom came to help. I think once the kids are older (they are 18 months and 4 months), either of us could be gone longer without the worry.

  42. lolismum says:

    I don’t know Katie, isn’t it a little disingenuous to write a post needling women who cannot leave their babies with their dads not 24 hours after writing a blog post about how your husband “dispatched you” to New Orleans ” with the only credit/debit card” which you displaced? You are a professional working woman who travels and occasionally buys things, no? So why does anyone dispatch you with a single means of payment? Women handle babies, men handle finances?

    As for fathers… I can see how if you are an involved parent, all the ribbing would definitely piss you off. But just because we want and desire our partners to equally partake in responsibilities of rearing children or running a household does not mean it works well for everyone (Check out PB’s comment). My husband runs a tighter ship and plays with the kids more than I do, but he cannot cook, so I cook a few things for him and the kids before I leave on a trip. He, on the other hand, worries about home invasion when he is away, because I am prone to passing out on the sofa and then getting up to find my way to bed, without usually locking up and setting the alarm, which drives him mad. I think the question is not about capability, of course all parents can be become capable parents if they want to and care to, but that does not mean they all choose to. Just like I am perfectly capable of locking doors, but do I care enough to remember to do it when he is not there to do it? I suppose the answer is no.

  43. Amy says:

    I posted earlier about my thoughts on dads/kids, but I forgot to say just how darn cute Baby G looks in that picture! Those huge blue eyes – that messy baby face. What a sweet kid.

  44. heather says:

    First of – Baby G! Soooooo cute!! Oh my good gracious!

    Second of all – my husband is absolutely a 50/50 parents. He insists on it and, honestly, I wouldn’t deal well if he wasn’t. Those stories about coming home and your husband has fallen asleep while “on duty” – yeah, that would happen ONCE in my house. I would hit the roof and it wouldn’t be pretty. In fairness though, if my husband came home and found the same situation with me his response would be exactly the same. I guarantee it. That said, I know enough about marital compromise to know that just because a father isn’t as comfortable being on his own with very young children doesn’t automatically make him an awful father/husband/man. I do agree with Katie’s assessment that this is becoming more and more a generational issue (though obviously not entirely).

  45. Voice Of Reason says:

    I actually think it’s irresponsible to have children with someone you wouldn’t leave your children with… first of all, why would you WANT to have children with someone so incompetent?! (It’s a lot of work, all this childrearing.) Secondly, and I’m sorry to be morbid, what on earth do these women think is going to happen if they die?

  46. Kata says:

    Sure I’d leave my son with his Dad overnight, I did so a few times, and it was great! I’d go mad not having a bit of child-free time. He is well capable of caring for him, he has been doing it from the first minute – he was the first to hold and dress him, as I lay paralized with epidural. :) ) They have a very strong bond with each other, a completely different one to mine with my son. He does 50/50 parenting as we both work, sometimes more, as when asked, who does some household chore while the other takes care of son, he always picks son. :) ) Would I be worried about them? Yes. Even though he knows basically everything about child and house-care, he doesn’t pay attention, cannot multitask (meaning to keep the house okay-tidy whilst minding the child, he just doesn’t think 5 mins ahead (eg. it is sunny at the moment but it could be breezy and really cold in half an hour, as this is Ireland… so take an extra jumper for him… Or extra food, if they go out for a few hours, not to mention drinks and nappies), he doesn’t cook – for a day it’s ok, but for a week… Constant junk food, not waking up for crying baby at night (what is it about men sleeping through hours of wailing cries????), inappropriate and too much telly, lack of outdoor fun, as he hates walking and such stuff… Well I’d be worried about those. I know, these are no big deals, but I’m a strict mommy, strict about my own parenting too, so I expect the very best from anyone who minds my son, even from daddy. He tries real hard though, and is a great father, once I remind him of basic stuff, he is the more fun, more creative of the two of us. :) )

  47. Jeanne says:

    Many of us who take a grandmother or someone to watch the baby while we’re there are doing so in order to stay close to our nursing babies and toddlers. Pumping may work well for some breastfeeding moms, but it’s difficult for some, especially over a few days. I considered my nursing babies to be indispensable to my travel, and I’d rather see mom groups and working mom meetings become more accommodating to non-separating babies and toddlers rather than to accept the usual model of outsourcing the child away from us as always the ideal. This was never, for us, about the kids’ dad being less than a 50-50 parent, but about our embracing our unique gifts with our children. And I know people work it out different ways – that’s great, too.

  48. El says:

    I have no problem trusting my DH with the kids (we have 3: 5,3,2), but I do miss them when I am away. He does things different than I would, but they kids are happy, healthy, and fed…does anything else matter? He does more than enough helping around the house and adores his children. I have no problems at all with leaving, except missing them all like crazy!

  49. Richard (www.headsupdad.com) says:

    I find it amusing the amount of women who think it is “so cute” or an isolated incident when they catch me loading the kids into the van and taking them to piano lessons in the afternoon, ballet classes at 8:30am on Saturday morning or buying groceries on a Friday evening with three young kids hanging off my cart.

    The cold, hard reality is, that traditional family dynamics have been morphing over the years— so much so that modern fathers are wearing many hats and increasingly evolving in their roles from hunters and gatherers to become primary nurturers, caregivers, support workers, cooks, cleaners, shuttlebus drivers, psycho-therapists, guidance counsellors and still, expected to excel in a successful and rewarding career.

    I am not offended by it, just amused because it seems odd that these things are still being said, at a mommy blog convention or otherwise. It occurs to me that I am not alone. Active and engaged fathers are everywhere. We are out there every day pushing baby buggies, buying tights and tutu’s for our daughters, cooking wholesome and nutritious meals (my kids would get cornflakes if dinner was in the hands of my wife) for our busy families and the list goes on.

    Cheers to the Modern Family!!

    Oh, and by the way, if your husband, partner, co-parent, or not so engaged father does need some motivation and inspiration on how to embrace his role and get more involved as Dad, then by all means, send him over to http://www.headsupdad.com

  50. Sue says:

    Perhaps my husband is part of the first wave of involved fathers because we had our first child more than 23 years ago and I’ve always said the only thing he can’t do that I can is breastfeed. I’m one of the lucky ones who, when I would come back from a trip, would find the house cleaned and straightened, floors mopped, dishes done and put away. Actually, he seemed to do a better job than I, the stay-at-home-Mom did! He’s just a very productive individual and I love him for that. So what if the kids ate breakfast for dinner or grilled cheese because he doesn’t cook much or their clothes didn’t match because he’s not into fashion. In the overall scheme of things it didn’t matter. They had some alone time with their dad and I came home to a house that probably looked better than it did when I left.

  51. Erika says:

    My great grandmother asked my husband 13 years ago why he was babysitting. He looked at her as if she had three heads! He calmly told her that he doesn’t babysit, he does take care of his child though because he is a parent. Those thoughts are outdated in my opinion.

  52. Janine @ Alternative Housewife says:

    Hmm, I would say that I am nervous but probably shouldn’t be. I see a commenter above who mentions how her husband can barely handle a cold and this is true BUT I have the feeling that my husband would suddenly become much more capable was I not around to pick up the slack. To be honest, I think that I too am generally a better parent when I’m doing it solo and pressure is on.

  53. Lauren says:

    I am a SAHM and do most of the daily duties with the kids, but I would never hesitate to leave them with my husband. Before they are weaned (12-15 months), I wouldn’t leave them overnight just for my comfort (I always hated pumping), but after that, my husband could handle it indefinitely, and sometimes, like when I went on bed rest with my third child, he had to.

    New moms just need to relax and let their husbands find their own style and way of taking care of the kids. The kids benefit from both methods, as long as the dad has enough common sense/experience/education to know basic safety, like not leaving the kids alone in the bathtub or avoiding food choking hazards. Beyond that, who cares what they eat and wear when Dad’s in charge. Once in awhile, my husband needed a nudge. Like, when I was on bed rest, and it had been how many days since they had taken a bath? But even then, would they die without a bath in the wintertime for 4 days? No, they were still happy and healthy. Dads just have to do it their way sometimes.

  54. Joanne W. says:

    I am one of those women that wouldn’t even think of leaving my husband in charge of our toddler for more than 2-3 hours at a time. I love my husband but he is kind of unreliable (something we’re working on) and extremely absent minded. I had to give my husband a chore list. really, as in a giant board hanging on the wall with his weekly chores. If i didn’t he would spend all the hours he’s not at work or sleeping on his computer. also something we’re working on. my son just turned 3 and i have not left him overnight yet with my husband and the idea scares the daylights out of me. I mean if he can’t remember that a diaper needs to be either checked or changed at least once in a 5 hour period then how is going to handle the tougher stuff.

  55. LIndsey Leon says:

    we don’t have kids yet (hopefully soon!) but whenever we babysit our multitude of nieces (all under 4) my husband tells ME how to do everything! Not because I don’t know what I’m doing (and mind you, it can get annoying) but because he knows exactly what he’s doing! From feeding to rocking to diapering to throwup- he knows how to do it all. I don’t anticipate ever being worried about leaving our kids in his capable hands. do i think he is one-of-a-kind? Not really! I think most men know how to do the basic baby care, i think it is us women who tell them they don’t know what they’re doing and take the baby away because maybe they’re doing it differently then we would. That’s OUR mistake!

  56. sarah says:

    While I wouldn’t want to leave my children at home with my husband for that long, I would be perfectly comfortable doing so with my own father. They are two very different men. It isnt that I don’t think my husband could handle it either. I am sure he could. My husband just happens to be able to focus on only one thing at a time and gets frustrated quickly. I don’t think of it as a gender issue at all. Just as some women are more nurturing than others, some men are more nurturing than other men. I would never be shocked at a woman leaving her children at home with their father, but at the same time, I would hope people would understand that it is not a gender statement that I would not. The children’s grandfathers, yes. My husband, no. Of course, I also must state that he has returned from Afghanistan and has ptsd and we have 4 children two of which are under two.

  57. Kim says:

    Wow, I agree with everyone. I would leave my boys with my husband for a week. I had to leave my 2 year old with him for 24 days while I was in the hospital with baby #2. There are some dads I would NEVER leave my boys with, not even for a couple of hours, but the same goes for some moms. The dads who take an interest in raising their kids and have been allowed to by their wives do a great job! As for our house, we are in a “traditional” setting until 6:30 when he gets home from work. Then, we turn into a partnership. We’ve both had busy, hard days, and it takes the both of us to parent. If I leave for an extended period of time, the house will be messy. He likes to make a mess & then clean it up all at once. I like to clean as I go. If I tell him that we have something going on as soon as I get back, then he and the boys will clean up as they go. It’s all about communication.

  58. Michael says:

    After a fairly nasty divorce, I had full-time custody of two children – aged 5 and 7. For 10 years, I was a single parent and held a demanding professional job. The purpose of my comment is to remark that I, too, became weary of the endless expressions of surprise that a man would/could take care of children “all by himself.” The kids grew up very well – healthy, good students, at least as well dressed as their peers and for all sorts of reasons, probably a bit more resourceful in taking care of themselves now that they are grown. They turned out to be (I think) terrific adults. And I am proud of them. Yes, I had to learn to do things I probably would not ordinarily have learned how to do. Remember that as a single father I had rather more options than most single mothers. But don’t think fathers are helpless. With regard to many things, fathers don’t know how to do things because they do not want to learn how to. They know that if you learn how to do things, eventually, you will have to. Changing diapers comes to mind.

  59. Amy says:

    i agree that husbands should be able to watch there own kids while we are out or whatever but my boyfriend does the same thing that someone said before he falls asleep and u cant wake him up. my son who is 10 months has fallen off my couch on his head and off my bed on his head so i dont know what 2 say. but yes i have left him alone with his dad ( my bf) before and he was fine.

  60. Mommyto3 says:

    I love my husband dearly and he is a great father. But I do worry about leaving all three of our kids with him. He get’s distracted very easily and like others have said he sleeps like a log. He isn’t the type that falls asleep on the couch, but if the kids are alone with him overnight I worry that he won’t hear the baby cry (14 months old). I probably shouldn’t fret but it’s an honest feeling and I have hurt his feelings several times with my concerns. But there have been incidents like one time I took our daughter to the bathroom at a pizza restaurant and I asked him to watch our 3 year old son. When I got back hubby was engaged in a conversation with a family member and our 3 year old was nowhere to be found. He didn’t even realize our son had left the table. I did find him at the games, but it’s things like that that worry me. Plus my son would of never of gotten up from the table had I been sitting there because he know’s momma is watching and won’t let him, but he know’s daddy isn’t paying attention and he took advantage of that opportunity.

    Another thing, recently twin 7 year old boys drowned in our local lake. Their father was supposed to be watching them, but he got distracted visiting with friends. So very sad and heartbreaking. That has got to be my biggest fear with my husband. He would never do anything on purpose, but he just is too scattered brain and easily distracted. We don’t have cable in our house because he can’t function when there is a TV on (his idea, because he realizes it’s an issue). Another big thing is he will often not shut a door good behind him. Sadly that is how a lot of run over accidents happen. I have never understood that and I have even gotten red in the face yelling at him about how important it is to make sure doors are closed. So now we have gates everywhere in our house as an extra precaution to keep the baby from getting outside and I have trained my older two kids to never ever ever go outside with out an adult knowing and to never ever ever get behind a car or next to a vehicle. I just drilled it into their heads and I will do the same with the baby. I truly love my husband but it frustrates me I don’t feel more confident leaving the kids with him. :(

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