It looks harmless enough, but this simple statement shirt that reads "Dads don't babysit. It's called ‘parenting.'" has ignited a passionate discussion amongst parents the world over about the father’s role in raising kids.
The man behind the unexpectedly viral post is U.K.-based dad Al Ferguson, founder and editor of The Dad Network, an online support network for fathers.
"I bought the shirt, really, because it is appropriate to the message that we as an organization aim to promote, but also to support the At-Home Dad Network,” Ferguson told TODAY, referring to the U.S.-based online dad support group. "I think it's a fun way of communicating a wider issue about parental equality that society is still getting to grips with."
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His goal of shedding light on this rarely talked about facet of parenting paid off.
Many dads started speaking up on Reddit. One dad said: "It hurt really bad when I was a new, stay-at-home, dad and people would say or ask about me babysitting.”
He shared how being with his daughter all day made him “super territorial”. Though he was the main parent, he would come close to tears thinking how he was seen as nothing more than a caretaker.
But, it’s not just dads who are getting in on the conversation.
One mom wrote on Reddit: "My husband is a really great dad, I stay at home but when he's not at work we split everything 50/50. I can leave for the weekend and I know everything will be completely fine. I can't tell you how many times people have said, ‘The kids are home with their dad? How long until he calls you to come home?' Or the nurse at our pediatrician's office, who said, 'You've got a good helper here!’"
"He is not my helper," the Reddit user added. "He is my partner and my children's father.”
Ferguson told TODAY how people are “starting to see that dads play a crucial role in the upbringing of their children, and more and more dads are choosing to stay at home and look after the kids.” He adds, "Even those that work are coming home and getting stuck in to parenthood in a more active way than generations before.”
READ: ‘Sexiest dad alive’ Ryan Reynolds reveals strong suit: ‘I always do the dirty work’
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