I am always saddened to read stories and blog threads questioning the fitness of male caregivers. I mean, if we want truly egalitarian parenting and society as a whole — shouldn’t that include men in nurturing roles?
Most recently, a mom at the Mamasource newsletter of Berkeley wondered if she should hire a male babysitter who happens to be the teenaged son of her friends. She wasn’t concerned about possible molestation — as many women who replied were — she was more concerned that since he was a boy he would engage in riskier behavior that would lead to a fire or broken appliance.
Eventually, she ended up hiring the son and his 11-year-old sister and it all worked out.
But here were some of the replies she received:
Use the same common sense you would use if you hired a female babysitter. Be sure you know the boy and his family. Weird? Not at all, perhaps if we involved our boys in caring for children at an earlier age, they would learn to be better fathers when they have their own children. I have 3 sons and always had a boy babysitter, he was great with them and very trustworthy. My boys also baby sat when they were younger and were very good at it. After reading more of the responses, I have to say that I am really offended by some of the remarks. Evidently there are those who think that females do no wrong and all males are monsters. I am amazed that these mothers even dated anyone with their attitude that all males are suspect. -Katannah D
Children are a precious gift and their innocence can be destroyed and they can be left scarred for life in just one evening. Yes, there are trustworthy boys…lots of them. However, if cousins, brothers, uncles (family) can’t be trusted, how can we begin to trust a neighborhood teenage boy? My best friend’s 4 &6 yr old daughters were both molested recently by their boy cousin 15yrs old). Grandpa was supposed to be watching the kids but thought nothing of letting them play all together in another room. Teenage boys have strong hormones and porn is so readily accessible nowadays (I hope all you moms have put filters on your child’s computers!) that they don’t always think with their brain, the little head takes over..call it mother nature making sure we procreate. You are the only one who can protect your children so don’t let your guard down for one minute. The are too important! -Jamie L
Hi Heather K.,
I moved in from Europe and didn’t know anyone in my area. I tried this new girl, from the School’s babysitter list. I used her a couple of times and all went well. Well…I got a part-time job, that required me to start work at 7am. I needed her for the mornings. She never called back. Under stress, I knocked on my neighbors door upstairs. He saw, the panic in my face. I asked if he could watch my kids. At the time they were 6 and 2 years old. He said, I am the brother of my sister that lives here and I do watch her kids. Her kids are the same age as mind. Remind you, I do know the sister. I met her a few times. That’s why I went up stairs to see, if she could help me.He answered to door, the sister was not at home.
The story is, until this day Mike are my children good buddy. They really admire him and me too. He babysitted my children for two years. I think it;s OK to have a boy babysitter and now my own child who is 13, a boy babysits my friend kids from the school. The extra money is great!
As the first letter-writer noted, there were a lot of these stories sprinkled throughout the thread:
Just had to throw in my 2 cents . . .
My husband and I have made a blanket decision to never let boys or males watch our kids alone. A good friend of mine was molested by her own brother when left alone. This is a wonderful, loving, church going family who lives their religion on a daily basis and is very involved in their kids daily lives. However, when her brother was 12, he found a porn magazine one day in a trash can when he was away from home. He secretly started seeking after those images online, and eventually his curiosity turned his attention to his younger sister. Amazingly, this boy actually realized how horrific his actions were a short time after he had molested her a few times (he was 12, she was 7), and went to his own father to confess what he had done. All has since worked out, the sister was able to forgive her brother and overcome the affects, and he is now a loving father, but it still happened.
I was also molested as a young girl by my teenage uncle. I have been able to overcome and heal from this, but I still just want to do what I can to protect my daughter. I like what another lady said about teaching your children to be assertive and confident because ultimately my molestation only ended when I told my uncle “no” one time. Shortly after I told my parents and the situation was dealt with.
For me, one of the big reason we won’t hire boys is because to me it doesn’t matter how wonderful of a boy he is, or how carefully his parents are raising him. My friends brother was one of those that everyone would think was a perfect candidate because he really was a very good boy. But when he stumbled upon that magazine, it gave fire to his hormones and things happened that were very regrettable.
Boys definitely can be good friends and entertainers to our children. Both my friends brother and my uncle were fun to have around. My parents liked what they saw with how my uncle interacted with us and therefore felt okay leaving him alone with us on occasion. However, the molestation never happened when my parents were around.
That being said, we are careful with girl babysitters too. More often than not we trade with other mother’s, but that is not always possible. We talk often to our daughter about inappropriate touch and how to protect herself.
I know that not every boy would harm my children, but like another reader said, I would rather be safe than sorry. -Jennifer K
Many of these women were mothers of boys. Again, I was saddened to read this.