DAY 1448: Dads Don’t Babysit, It’s Called Parenting

June 17, 2016
By bethmordecai
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DAY 1448: Dads Don’t Babysit, It’s Called Parenting

The following is a preview of a conversation this Shabbat morning in honor of Father’s Day…

Dear Hevreh,

I’m not sure how to celebrate Father’s Day. Though this will be my third Father’s Day as a “father,” I don’t quite know how to approach the significance of this day. It it supposed to be a “ho-hum” day with the highlight being the giving of gag gifts and the telling of dad jokes? Or is it supposed to be something more significant where the role of a father is appreciated in a way analogous to (though not the same as) the way that Mother’s Day is celebrated as a High Holiday on our secular calendar?

I guess this question of how to celebrate Father’ Day goes hand in hand with how hard it is to fully appreciate just how much being a father over these past two years have changed my life, including but not limited to my work habits, my time management, and my priorities. It seems at times though from the perspectives of our tradition and our society that these changes are not appreciated. Instead, we are taught that the work a man does to be a father is less significant than being a man who contributes to society. In this line of thinking, mothers are put under enormous pressure to be the decision makers and primary care providers of our family units. When fathers take on these roles, especially in parenting, they are described as “babysitters” or providers of “daddy day care,” as if any stranger could play their roles, and with the implicit judgment that their real task is to go back to work.

I don’t agree. Just as when it comes to participation in Jewish life, our movement (Conservative) is the one that views egalitarianism as the equal obligation of both sexes to participate in the rituals of our faith, so too I believe that women and men, mothers and fathers, grandma and grandpa, have the equal obligation to share provider and parenting roles as they see fit. This does not mean there is a “one size fits all” way for all people and families may end up with more traditional models or less traditional models of sharing the burden and the joy of work and family. It does mean though that we should encourage, celebrate, and support the myriad of ways we create meaningful roles in our families because none of us are babysitters.

Shabbat Shalom,

Rabbi Ari Saks

Photo and title of blog post is taken from a t-shirt developed by the National At-Home Dads Network and produced by

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