A couple years ago my former brother-in-law said something that had a profound effect on my views on being a dad. My sister was preparing for a girls night out that weekend and my brother-in-law told me he had to "baby-sit" his son Friday night. Baby-sit? The word itself struck me as odd, but after thinking about it some I realized many Dads use the word to refer to alone time with their own kids. I thought that was called parenting.

Dads Can't Baby-sit

I know over the years, before I had kids myself, I used to joke with older guys, or married friends that they had to "baby-sit" this weekend if I knew their wives were away. I'm not sure when this became the accepted phrase, but I would sure like to see men stop using it. Spending time with your children, feeding them, bathing them, and preparing them for bed is part of our responsibility as parents. None of these particular parenting tasks are limited to be performed by moms. If a guy is heading out on Saturday morning for a round or two of golf, moms don't say, "Great, I'll be here babysitting the kids."

Not Just Semantics

One of our nation's most discouraging statistics is that over half of marriages end in divorce. Many times after a divorce fathers lose track of their children, moving on with their own lives and leaving the lives of their children behind. This was the case in my own life, and I vowed to never let anything or anyone come between the relationships I would one day have with my own kids.

I wanted to be an involved dad. I wanted to be the kind of dad that can get down in the floor and wrestle, or act silly on the trampoline. I wanted to be the kind of dad that could hug and kiss his kids without feeling less "manly" for it. I wanted to be the kind of dad who knew everything about his kids - their fears, their dreams, their favorite colors, their favorite flavor of ice cream, and their favorite Hannah Montanna song (as an added bonus, I've even learned some lyrics!). I never wanted to be the kind of dad that thought spending time with his kids would be relegated to babysitting, as if it was some kind of chore.

Dads, Change Your Vocabulary

The next time someone jokes with you about "babysitting" the kids, correct them. "No, I'm parenting Friday night." It is fun to watch the reaction, and you may have to explain yourself if they don't get it right away. But that's ok, anything to avoid being labeled a mere babysitter.