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Would you let a 13yo boy babysit?

post #1 of 343
Thread Starter 
I was asking around our hs group for recommendations for older teenagers who may be interested in babysitting. I heard back from a mom who used to hs her son, but he is in school now. He is 13, and has expressed an interest in babysitting. And, they live only a few blocks away. I have never met them though.

Having two sons I feel bad about this, but I am hesitant about the idea of leaving them with a male babysitter. Plus, I'm not sure if 13 is old enough to be watching a 5yo and a 2.5yo.

I don't think I'm going to do it, but I thought I would ask here to see what your thoughts were on it.
post #2 of 343
I started babysitting when I was 12 1/2. My first job was for 3 girls, the youngest was maybe 9 months. The mom had me read a book about babysitting (basic baby CPR & first aid) and spend a few hours with the kids while she was home before they left me alone with them. I watched those girls until I was 17 and found a "real" job. In my own experience I was a better sitter at 13 than at 16, when I was younger I wanted to play with the kids, when I got older I had different priorities (boys, homework).

I understand your reservations about a male babysitter, I was babysat by a not so great boy a few times, he was the back-up sitter for his (male) friend who was great. My brother loved our male sitters much more than our female sitters, when else does a 5 year old get to hang out with a cool older kid?

I suggest you give this kid a supervised trial run before you write him off, it might be a good thing for your kids.
post #3 of 343
Nope. Absolutely not.

You should read the book "Protecting the Gift" by Gavin DeBecker... in it, he talks about one of the best ways you can avoid having your children become the victim of sexual abuse (which, unfortunately, something like 1 in 3 girls are) is to not allow them to have male caregivers. Most people are abused by someone their mother trusts.

Not to cast aspersions on this boy -- he is probably a lovely young man. I just think it's a wise policy to have.
post #4 of 343
I'd be ok with the male part, but not ok with the 13 part. I babysat at 12, but looking back, that was not such a good idea. I'm afraid that a young child (12) wouldn't react properly to an emergency situation. I'm freaked about ds choking. Plus, what would a 12 yo do if ds decided to flip out (as, occasionally happens around here. . . )?
post #5 of 343
I did/do use a 13 year old neighbor (and his 15 year old sister) and my son LOVES it. HE plays soccer and baseball and basketball with them, where his sister usually plays more with our daughters. At 13, he's more of "mothers helper" in that I don't leave them for long periods of time, and our kids are VERY verbal about who they like/don't like in sitters.

I did read Gavin de Becker, and honestly, in my gut, I trust this family. I do have a son, and don't want him to feel like ALL men are abusers. A good friend of mine was abused by a female sitter, so I tend to go more on my gut rather than on the sex of the sitter.
post #6 of 343
No, but then i wouldn't let any 13 yr old babysit my lo's male or female 13 is too young imo
post #7 of 343
Yes, if I knew he was a good, responsible kid I would be ok with it.

One of our friends' sons babysits and is very good at it. He's very responsible, and he enjoys spending time with the kids. I guess I'm somewhat surprised that the gut reaction is always "no" in this case. Don't we want to raise our boys to be nurterers? Don't we want them to have concrete experiences in caring for young children? But if we tell them, subtly or explicitly, that we don't trust them to be alone with young kids, or we don't trust their abilities (but would trust a girl in the exact same circumstances), then how can we realistically expect them to assume involved fathering roles later in life? Obviously, I would take the same precautions I would take with ANY babysitter -- making sure they are responsible, knowledgeable about children and safety issues, etc. And with any sitter, I would have them over for a few times while I was still home to see how they interacted with my children.
post #8 of 343
It would depend on the kid. I had a friends ds, who was 11 or 12 at the time babysit my 3 kids for me, but it was when I was in the other room doing homework. I still paid him, but was available if something happened or if ds2 needed to nurse.
post #9 of 343
Quote:
Originally Posted by MsElle07 View Post
Nope. Absolutely not.

You should read the book "Protecting the Gift" by Gavin DeBecker... in it, he talks about one of the best ways you can avoid having your children become the victim of sexual abuse (which, unfortunately, something like 1 in 3 girls are) is to not allow them to have male caregivers. Most people are abused by someone their mother trusts.

Not to cast aspersions on this boy -- he is probably a lovely young man. I just think it's a wise policy to have.
Not every male is a predator and teenage boys are not predators-in-training. I do not think that is a fair assessment, and females are also likely to abuse.

My brother is 14 and has been babysitting for the past year and a bit. He took training to do so, we have a Babysitters course offered by St John's Ambulance which covers things like basic care, activities to do and First Aid training. And he would be very very hurt if he found out that someone was reluctant to use him as a sitter because of a gender bias. How upset would you be as a parent if someone dismiss your children because they were boys?

Sorry if I sound preachy about this, but I do not think it is fair to assume because a male choses to engage in a caring job then they must be a molester. I am an ECE and I worked with several men who were fantastic as early educators, and I was shocked and disgusted by some people's attitudes towards them. They assumed that they must be in the field so they can have access to little girls or they were gay and preying on little boys. It's that attitude which deters men from entering caring fields.

Before you dismiss him I would meet with him, find out if he has any training, and what he can offer you and your family as a babysitter. Get references from a few parents he has worked with. My concern would be more due to his age, not all 13 year olds are mature enough to handle very young children while others, like my brother, have a gift with little ones (very young children adore Evan, my daughter included, and he is fantastic with babies).
post #10 of 343
I would be okay with a boy babysitter, but not with a 13 year old to BABYSIT. I have used a 13 year old boy as a mother's helper - when my second son was born I paid the boy next door to comeover and play with my older son a few times - it was a wonderful fit and being a little boy my son enjoyed the activities that the boy came up with much more than the girl I have used a couple of times.

As the wife of guy who is great with kids who has a brother who is a middle school teacher & coach (and great uncle) and the mother of two sons I sort of bristle at the suggestion that boys are not to be trusted. I have heard it from several neighbors with girls and it always makes me bristle, but if you don't trust boys you shouldn't have one of them babysit. To me, it seems as if the boy who is babysitting is at risk if you view them as a potential predator. It actually makes me wonder if my boys will be safe babysitting someday, ykwim?
BJ
Barney, Ben & soon to be #3!!!
post #11 of 343
Quote:
Originally Posted by lesley&grace View Post
Not every male is a predator and teenage boys are not predators-in-training. I do not think that is a fair assessment, and females are also likely to abuse.
Females are actually statistically far less likely to abuse. Operating under your assumption, if both boys and girls are likely to abuse, then we shouldn't be leaving our children with anyone.
post #12 of 343
Sure. I'd want to have the boy come over and interact with my kids in my presence first. But, if I felt he was responsible and mature enough, and I didn't get any bad gut feelings about him, no problem. My sister has a 16-year-old male babysitter, and I don't like him at all...I don't think he's a predator, but I also don't think he takes the job seriously enough.

DS1 is almost 14. He'd like to babysit, but we don't really know how where/how to find kids for him to babysit. He's done a bit of it with his younger siblings (3.5, and 1.5) and has gone through the Red Cross babysitting course with flying colours.

As far as protecting my kids from sexual predators is concerned, I'm far more interested in paying attention to my gut reaction to people and teaching my kids to do the same than I am in trying to keep them away from 50% of the population, based on gender.

Yes - women are less likely to sexually abuse, or even physically abuse. I do not believe that women are less likely to emotionally abuse - and my ex-husband lost his virginity at age 11....to his 17-year-old babysitter. I know there are people who wouldn't call that abuse, and I don't think my ex did...but I do. I don't decide who to leave my kids with based on gender.
post #13 of 343
I definitely would not. Statistics serve a great purpose: helping us make decisions when we have little else to go on. This is a great situation for the use of statistics.

I also wouldn't leave a 13 year old with more than one child for any length of time. Sure, I babysat 3 kids at a time at that age. And I did a good job of it. Does that mean it was a good idea? Absolutely not.
post #14 of 343
I thought (but don't know for sure) that women are statistically more likely to physically abuse children than men? I know that more sexual abusers are male than female, but I thought physical abuse stats were flipped?

Either way, more men/boys (and girl/women) are not abusers than are abusers.

BJ
Barney, Ben & soon to be #3!!!
post #15 of 343
Quote:
Originally Posted by MsElle07 View Post
Nope. Absolutely not.

You should read the book "Protecting the Gift" by Gavin DeBecker... in it, he talks about one of the best ways you can avoid having your children become the victim of sexual abuse (which, unfortunately, something like 1 in 3 girls are) is to not allow them to have male caregivers. Most people are abused by someone their mother trusts.

Not to cast aspersions on this boy -- he is probably a lovely young man. I just think it's a wise policy to have.

What minute percentage of males are child abusers? And yet you paint all men with the same brush? Fully half of the earth's population? I find this attitude troubling.

I also am curious about your statistic of 1 in 3 girls being victims of sexual abuse. Can you provide a link? I know several women who were unfortunate victims of sexual abuse as children, but I find it difficult to believe that 1 in 3 girls are. That would mean an astonishing number of child abusers out there. I just don't believe that is accurate.

Yes, it is horrible that people prey on children sexually. Yes, we need to do what we can to protect our children. I don't wear blinders regarding the dangers out there. But starting out assuming that everybody is a sexual predator is just perpetrating a culture of fear, IMO.
post #16 of 343
Quote:
Originally Posted by wildmonkeys View Post
I thought (but don't know for sure) that women are statistically more likely to physically abuse children than men? I know that more sexual abusers are male than female, but I thought physical abuse stats were flipped?

Either way, more men/boys (and girl/women) are not abusers than are abusers.
You might be right about the physical abuse - I don't really know. (I also suspect that the fact that more women are full-time caregivers to their children, and thus more likely to "snap" could come into play there.)

I totally agree with your second point. We, as a society, get so caught up in "more boys than girls do X, Y or Z", that we often overlook that "more boys don't do X, Y, or Z" than do.
post #17 of 343
I would have to meet the kid before deciding. I started babysitting when I was 11, but the world was a much different place then. I can't imagine an 11 yr old being mature enough these days to babysit.

You could schedule a few mother's helper days when he is over interacting w/ the kids while you are home to supervise. That way you can get a better impression of him.
post #18 of 343
Quote:
Originally Posted by chinaKat View Post
I also am curious about your statistic of 1 in 3 girls being victims of sexual abuse. Can you provide a link? I know several women who were unfortunate victims of sexual abuse as children, but I find it difficult to believe that 1 in 3 girls are. That would mean an astonishing number of child abusers out there.
Not as many as you might think. The number of children that one predator can molest in a lifetime can be astonishingly high.
post #19 of 343
Quote:
Originally Posted by BelgianSheepDog View Post
I definitely would not. Statistics serve a great purpose: helping us make decisions when we have little else to go on. This is a great situation for the use of statistics.
I agree about the purpose of statistics. I disagree that this is a situation where the mom has little else to go on. She can meet the boy, watch him interact with her kids, etc.

I believe a large number of people have felt uneasiness around people who ended up molesting their children...and denied to themselves that they felt that way, because it wasn't "nice". If I get even a hint of a feeling that I don't want a particular person around my kids, I'm going with it. I don't care if it's unfounded...but it won't have anything to do with the person's gender.
post #20 of 343
Thread Starter 
Well, you have all summed up perfectly the debate in my head!

I have read Protecting the Gift, which is probably why I had an initial bad reaction to the idea of a male sitter. But I think the idea of him coming over as a mother's helper for awhile might be a good one - my older son would probably really enjoy hanging out with a boy that age. Plus, his mom offered to come with him the first time he babysat alone to supervise, if it made me feel more comfortable.

I also had a reaction to it because when I was 12, I was hired to be a fulltime babysitter for an 8 month old baby. I was completely overwhelmed and stressed out by it, and quit after two days.

Of course, the reason I was asking among our hs group is that I was hoping to find someone who was available during the day.
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