Is It Normal Not to Hire Boys as Babysitters?

Readers — Any kind of prejudice is distressing. The only thing possibly more distressing is prejudice that persists even in the face of  knowing better. (Boldface is mine.):

Dear Free-Range Kids: I recently had a strange conversation with a friend.  He and I  have known each other for nearly 25 years, we are both married (to other people ;-).  I have a son who is almost 13, he has a daughter who is 7.  I said, “Hey, you know, we four (meaning he and his wife, and me and my husband) could actually all go out together some evening because my son could very easily babysit your daughter!”  Frankly, it’s hardly babysitting.  She’s SEVEN.  Seven-year-olds don’t need a lot of “personal assistance,” they just need someone a little older to hang out with who would know what to do if there were an emergency.  I think the biggest problem would be that they stayed up past bedtime, ate too much snack food, and played too much Flappy Birds while we were out.

Now, he has known my son for a long time.  He knows what kind of kid he is.  However, my friend’s immediate reaction was: “Oh, no, we would never have a boy babysit our daughter.”

What?  Did I hear you right?

“No, my wife would never permit a boy to babysit our daughter.  It’s not safe.”

I know that he and his wife disagree on a lot of issues, so since he is a man, who was once a boy/tween/teen, I was really surprised that he was in lock-step with this bizarre assumption. What on earth?  What does he think my son is going to do to his daughter?  Is he implying that he thinks my son is a child molester?  Or that all “tween” boys are felons?

Is this typical, or just one family’s paranoia?  Have you addressed this issue before? (If so, send me the link to your blog post!)

Not sure whether to be bewildered or insulted, so sign me,  Bewildered/Insulted Mom

Dear B/IM: Well, I’d be insulted but not bewildered because we are living in a society beset by  worst-first thinking (thinking up the worst case scenario first, and proceeding as if it’s likely to happen), as well as predator panic. So here’s what I wrote about the male babysitter topic a while back. But really what I want to say is how extremely sorry I am that your friends are so blinded by fear they can’t even see what’s in front of them: your son. – L 

A BOY BABYSITTER??????

A BOY BABYSITTER??????

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109 Responses to Is It Normal Not to Hire Boys as Babysitters?

  1. Dr. A April 27, 2014 at 12:32 am #

    As a psychologist who hears secrets told to nobody else, I have seen many patients who were sexually abused by male babysitters or teen neighbors. Granted it’s a restricted range, but it seriously impacts people nonetheless.

  2. Nico April 27, 2014 at 12:35 am #

    I would of course, if they were any vetted, trusted babysitter. But then, my experience growing up was that some of the girls my mom hired to watch us from time to time would invite their friends over, trash the house, have sex in the bedroom and basically ignore us so I fail to see how a boy would be really any worse, all things being equal.

    I am also not comfortable with the presumption that all men are potential abusers. I have a 9m old, if I could FIND a good sitter, male or female, I’d just be happy.

  3. Emily April 27, 2014 at 12:37 am #

    Dr. A, how many more patients have you had who were sexually assaulted by their brothers, uncles, fathers or grandfathers? I’m willing to bet it’s far and away more than the number of male babysitters who have abused. Sexual abuse seriously impacts people regardless of who the perpetrator is.

    My son will make a fantastic babysitter when he’s older and I’ve been practically begging for male sitters for years to no avail.

  4. Loreen April 27, 2014 at 12:42 am #

    This is something i have debated in my heart. I would hire a young male babysitter if I knew him well, but I would hesitate. You see, I was molested at the age of 5 by my 14 year old babysitter. He gave no signs of being untrustworthy. As soon as the adults left, he locked me in his parents’ room and tried (unsuccessfully) to rape me. Luckily, I was able to tell my parents and I never saw him again. However, this experience made it very difficult for me to trust and it took many years to overcome the feelings of fear and guilt associated with sexuality.
    My mother swears she had no reason to suspect this young man. She feels awful about what happened.
    I love free range philosophy, but at the same time, I was subject to child sexual abuse by men on this and several other occasions. These were not the creepy predators of popular culture – in several instances they were married family men and respected business leaders. I know that child sex abuse is not an overblown myth. Quite a few adults are turned on by kids ages 5-12, judging from my experience. So how do I balance my caution born of hard experience with my desire to raise a child who can explore the world freely? It is not easy.

  5. @Kanga_Rue April 27, 2014 at 12:48 am #

    I’m slightly horrified at this reaction, particularly since he has known the boy for years. I know a single father of three boys and wouldn’t hesitate for any of the three to loom after my Pickle… Though I’d preference the middle son as he is the most sensible.

  6. Yael April 27, 2014 at 12:50 am #

    My 15 year old son babysits for a lot of our friends and the parents and the kids all love him.
    If one of my friends told me they wouldn’t hire him because he is a boy I would be personally offended.

  7. tc> April 27, 2014 at 12:55 am #

    Not only do boys not get hired as babysitters, men don’t get to hire babysitters.

    I remember trying to hire a babysitter to watch my daughter for a surprise night out with my wife, and having parents of sixteen-year-old-girls suggest I get my wife to call. They really didn’t want a creepy old guy arranging to hire their daughter.

  8. SOA April 27, 2014 at 1:13 am #

    I would hire a boy babysitter as long as I knew him really well and trusted him. In your situation being they have known your son forever, I would be fine with it.

  9. SOA April 27, 2014 at 1:16 am #

    I think it should be said though that I would not let my sons babysit girls. Because I am too afraid of accusations. Just too many cases of women and girls calling false rape and false molestation, I don’t know if I would want my sons being set up like that.

    It has gone to that degree that I fear a lot that my sons will be accused of that.

  10. Wendy W April 27, 2014 at 1:38 am #

    When my boys were small, I would have been happy to have a teen boy babysit them, but my husband would not allow it. He babysat himself as a teen, and would not give me a good reason. He wouldn’t even discuss it, so I suspect there is some distasteful story to explain why.

    My older son babysat on a few occasions for younger boys, but they were rare occasions when one of my friends was in a pinch, not hired by strangers or acquaintances.

    I would not have hired a teen boy to babysit my daughter when she was little. I do NOT believe that all teen boys are potential abusers, but I do think that SOME teen boys, a demographic known to be particularly capable of really bad judgement as well as raging hormones, are probably more likely to be capable of doing something stupid when given an opportunity, even though they will probably grow up to be perfectly normal adults.

  11. Melanie April 27, 2014 at 1:45 am #

    I have three sons all under 10. Their babysitters have nearly always been male. When they were little it was a friend’s son in his late teens (who had previously babysat a number of other young boys and girls in the neighbourhood). Since he moved away it has been a young man in his mid 20s who works with our kids at their childcare centre. That childcare centre also has another young man in his early 20s working there.

    If I had young daughters I would have been equally likely to hire these guys. I think it’s great for kids to see and experience men – especially young men – as both informal and professional carers.

  12. Scott April 27, 2014 at 2:09 am #

    When I was in high school, I was the ONLY person my neighbors would hire to babysit their baby boy. Sweet deal for me. Worst thing for me was changing diapers, but got paid in tickets to the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.

  13. anonymous this time April 27, 2014 at 2:28 am #

    Oh, this one really kills me. KILLS me.

    For so many reasons.

    Okay. Number one: Are people so delusional that they don’t realize that FEMALE babysitters can abuse kids? I think it’s fairly safe to say that there have been cases of teen girls and women who have been entrusted with the care of children, and abused the power difference. Interestingly, though, it’s such a far-out notion that women might do sexually abusive things to children that it would take a sledgehammer to drive the truth home to some parents who would never, ever, EVER suspect that it was going on. Just sayin’. Sexual molestation comes in all sexes.

    Number two: EDUCATE YOUR KIDS. Give them all indications that you will be a trustworthy source of support if they experience anyone, ANYONE touching them where their bathing suit touches, being asked to touch someone else, being shown ANYTHING that leaves them feeling scared, confused, excited in a weird way that just feels weird, etc. Make it crystal clear that if they EVER feel creeped out by someone, even someone considered a friend, or a blood relative, that they are free to say so, and enjoy protection.

    Number three: Calm down. Yes, being overpowered is not a pleasant experience for anyone, but it’s not necessarily a life sentence, either. My brother was fondled by a male babysitter who was the son of my dad’s colleague. My brother always felt mad at this guy, but he never TOLD anyone. I think so much of the damage done in situations where kids get overpowered is that they don’t TELL anyone and internalize the sense of shame and guilt. If you are making yourself a safe person to talk to, about ANYTHING, and you can trust your child to tell you if they’re feeling bad about something an adult or older kid has done, whether it’s pulling their hair or pulling some seriously twisted sh•t, then you are automatically ensuring that your child can HEAL from whatever befalls them in this category. We can heal from experiences, even sexual molestation. A friend of my parents’ have a son my age who was fondled by a neighbour when he was about five. The mom pressed charges, but throughout the process empowered her son by helping him acknowledge ALL of the feelings he had about what happened… and guess what? They weren’t all negative feelings! We are REALLY hung up on sex in our culture. Being sexually molested as a one-off is not the end of a kid’s life, if they HAVE SOMEONE TO TELL AND TELL THEM ABOUT IT without the parent FREAKING OUT and acting like it’s the end of the damned world.

    Number three: I have two boys, 11 and 13. The 11 year old is an amazing nurturer. He is amazing with his younger sisters. He is kind, caring, almost like a father in some ways, and has been like this all his life, really. He’s not a creep, he’s not a pervert, he’s got a gift. He’s a GIFTED NURTURER. I am appalled that a boy like this would be regarded with anything but awe and celebration. Suspicion? Give me a break. He’s like gold. Our neighbour across the street hired him to help out with her toddler daughter and learned so much from him about how to be more playful with her so she would cooperate more. Seriously. Some people have a gift. And even if they’re just a warm body who will make sure the kid gets out if the house is burning down, so what if they’re male?

    Number four: some kinds of power-abuse scenarios have nothing to do with sex, and GIRLS are especially good at them. I had an older neighbour girl who was an outright SADIST and did things to scare me and my little friend so badly that I was afraid to go into my own basement for YEARS. Did I tell on her? No. We didn’t tell our parents anything back then. THAT’S WHAT WE CAN CHANGE. Not the possibility that something unexpectedly unpleasant might happen to our kids, but WE CAN BE MORE APPROACHABLE AND CLEAR WITH OUR KIDS ABOUT THE NATURE OF OUR SUPPORT (see number two).

    Number five: My 13-year-old is not that interested in babysitting, but I still want to encourage him to work with young boys because he is an amazing athlete and all the sporty little kids who’ve seen him play sports worship him. I think it would be amazing for him to combine sport-coaching and child-minding and offer either small clinics or one-on-one sessions with little boys who would love nothing more than a couple of hours (or more) getting advice on their hitting and pitching from my superstar son. What stops me? Well, nothing, really, but I know there’s this “vibe” out there about male babysitters and here it is again in this forum. My kid is hyper-sensitive about what people think. The LAST thing he wants to do is offend anyone (except me, of course. He has no trouble with offending me).

    Lastly, I’ll say that one of my happiest memories is one where my favourite babysitter in the world, Cindy, wasn’t available, and her younger brother came over instead. What a riot! He tried to make french fries in the oven with a bunch of raw potato chunks and nearly burned the place down. We all loved telling that story over and over again. Was I scared of him? Hell no! He was the perfect foil for his angelic sister. We loved them both.

    I OBJECT TO GENERALIZING THAT BOYS ARE DANGEROUS AS BABYSITTERS. And I object heartily to the idea that just because some of us were traumatized and never told anyone about it, and suffered for decades, this doesn’t mean this has to be our children’s fate. Instead of trying to run interference between them and anything that resembles the circumstances that might have traumatized us, we can ENCOURAGE OUR KIDS TO BE SELF-AWARE and encourage them to be authentic with us. And practice being NON-REACTIVE if they come to us for help.

    Okay, rant over.

  14. anonymous this time April 27, 2014 at 3:49 am #

    P.S. Wow, is the internet replete with grown-ups recounting their experiences having FEMALE babysitters abuse them sexually.

    THIS DOES NOT MEAN YOU CAN’T HIRE BABYSITTERS!!!

    It just means you must trust your gut, and teach your kids to trust *their* gut, and to trust you with whatever might be going on for them that feels weird, or good, or both, or whatever. And most likely, there won’t be issues anyway. It’s like buying a snow blower at the beginning of winter. Tends to make all the major storms hit to the south of you…

  15. Andy April 27, 2014 at 5:57 am #

    @Emily I doubt there were enough boy babysitters to generate substantial amount of molested kids. Doing babysitting was not manly thing in the past. Average boy would be ashamed and made fun of a lot if he would do it.

    So, I suspect he is a troll.

  16. BL April 27, 2014 at 6:00 am #

    @anonymous this time
    “Are people so delusional that they don’t realize that FEMALE babysitters can abuse kids?”

    Apparently.

    Although this involved people older than the usual babysitter/babysat, when I was in school there were a number of cases of female teachers seducing boys who had barely hit puberty. Mostly the situations were dealt with very quietly when discovered; nothing so crass as the public shaming/firing/legal prosecution men get in those situations.

  17. anonymous mom April 27, 2014 at 6:52 am #

    I would not let either of my son’s babysit, due to fear of accusations. Sad but true. My concern would be that parents, primed to think that sexual abuse was likely if a male babysitter was there, would misinterpret innocent comments their child made or even ask the child leading questions. We know, from the sexual abuse scares of the 1980s and 1990s, how quickly those situations spin out of control.

    However, on a slightly off-topic note, while I don’t see any problem with males babysitting children, I do get frustrated with how we seem to have no problem throwing together young adults (say, adults 27 and under) and post-pubescent teens (teens 15-18) and then freaking out when the inevitable sometimes happens. I have a friend who was ranting the other day about the “pedophile” running coach at their local high school, a 24 year old man who apparently had a consensual relationship with an 18 year old on the track team.

    No, he’s not a pedophile, by any definition. What he did was illegal in that state, because of laws regarding teachers and students. However, I think it’s ridiculous to even create the potential for those situations–having a single young man just out of college coach a bunch of 15-18 year old post-pubescent female teens–when we have zero tolerance for any relationships that might result. Because, historically, relationships have resulted from those kinds of situations (young coach and teen athlete, young teacher and teen student, young youth group leader and teen member, young camp counselor and teen camper–I know people who have long-term marriage that resulted out of each of those), and I think we’re just creating a recipe for disaster if we put, say, a 22 year old guy in charge of a youth group full of girls 15-17 but then say that, if something romantic should develop between him and one of those teens, a horrific abusive crime has been committed.

    I’d rather, if that’s going to be our attitude, we were more careful about these things. There is nothing sick or unnatural or perverted about a guy in his early twenties finding a post-pubescent teen girl of 15-17 attractive, and nothing weird or sick or “daddy issue”-ish about a girl that age finding a young man in his early 20s attractive. Such relationships would have been the normal just a few generations ago. So we should not create situations where close bonds are going to be formed, and a lot of time is going to be spent together, between people who left to their own devices might very well start relationships if we are going to have no tolerance and extremely harsh legal penalties for those relationships. It’s not fair to either side. (And, it goes both ways. I think having a 23-year-old female teacher in a situation where she’d be spending a lot of time alone with and in a relatively friendly, unstructured setting with 15-18 year old boys–so not in normal classroom teaching, but as a coach or private tutor or camp counselor, etc.–would also be unwise, if we believe that, were feelings to develop between her and one of those teens, it would be a horrific case of sexual abuse that would scar the boy for life and should result in her having a harsh legal sentence and life on a sex offender registry.)

    Anyway, off the soapbox. But, given our culture of absolute paranoia about sexual abuse, especially about men, I’d be very wary of allowing my sons to babysit, or really to have much unsupervised contact with minor girls (even if they are minors themselves) at all.

  18. Violetmom April 27, 2014 at 7:14 am #

    It doesn’t take much for parents to get freaked out. Many years ago when i was in college, I was babysitting these 3 kids. The youngest was the sweetest girl but very sensitive. I had to put them to bed almost every night and one night it was raining and she was scared so I lie down with her to help her sleep. I woke up to hear the mom sternly summoning me. Once I came to, she said “lets not lie with the kids ok. You don’t need to get in bed with them.” Her tone was surprisingly offensive and accusatory. I left feeling shocked and weirded out. I’d been babysitting these kids for months and I was in school to be a teacher. Left a really queasy feeling in my stomach…. And I’m a girl!
    In the post, I don’t even know why you would offend someone with that information. She really could have kept that to herself. All of these fear mongerers always need to speak up because they believe they are doing some sort of justice to society like a hall monitor.

  19. Gary April 27, 2014 at 7:41 am #

    @ Emily “I’m willing to bet it’s far and away more than the number of male babysitters who have abused.”

    I am willing to bet “Dr.” A isn’t a doctor…

  20. Heather April 27, 2014 at 7:46 am #

    My two daughters had a male babysitter for a while. They were about 8 and 9 at the time, and loved having him come over. It honestly never even crossed my mind that there would be a problem, until a friend brought it up. I told her I wasn’t worried about it, because I had checked the guy out just as I would have if he was a female babysitter. Interestingly enough, the same friend had been molested by a female babysitter as a child. All babysitters need to be accountable, not just the “scary males”.

  21. Gary April 27, 2014 at 7:48 am #

    @Nico ” I have a 9m old, if I could FIND a good sitter, male or female, I’d just be happy.”

    care.com

  22. Gary April 27, 2014 at 7:57 am #

    Disclosure: I am signed up for care.com but have as of yet not used it. My in-laws live with us so we have “built-in babysitting” so to speak when needed, but even they need a break now and again.

    It’s funny tho, you bring it up to them and they…esp. my MIL…wonder why we would use strangers when we have them.

  23. Cynthia812 April 27, 2014 at 8:21 am #

    Anonymous mom, I agree about the coach thing. We live in such a weird culture when it comes to sex. And I think the young men/teenage girl thing is particularly a problem because it is such a natural pairing biologically, and the girls are probably mostly naive enough to not realize what they are setting the men up for legally.

  24. Crystal April 27, 2014 at 8:24 am #

    I frequently share my sitters with my friends. Once, a friend asked me for a recommendation when our normal sitter wasn’t available. When I recommended the sitter’s brother, who had also sat for us several times, my friend asked if I was sure that was safe, as watching her preschool-aged son might be “too great a temptation” for the teenage boy to overcome.

    After several seconds of awkward silence, I asked her if she thought her husband was a molester at the same age. To her credit, she ended up using the boy to sit and reported great results.

  25. BeccaK April 27, 2014 at 8:57 am #

    I think you have to know your babysitters, and listen to what your kids tell you about them after they’ve gone. I used to have a houseful of small girls, and amongst the regular babysitters were a couple of boys. I knew them, I knew their parents, and my kids reported favourably on both of them (‘He’s really funny!’ of one and ‘He’s sweet’ of the other).

    A babysitter of either gender can torment or assault your children, or get them hammered on cider, or eat all the ice cream. All you can do is all you can do – and one of the things you can do is encourage your kids to make up their own minds about things, and be happy to talk to you about things that concern them.

  26. J.T. Wenting April 27, 2014 at 8:57 am #

    I wonder how many people “Dr. A” has talked into believing they were sexually abused when in fact they never were.
    Every “psychiatrist” and “psychologist” I ever met tried to talk me into thinking I had been sexually abused, some refusing to take no for an answer (they just see the fact that you deny it happened as proof that you have “suppressed memories”).

  27. Donna April 27, 2014 at 9:19 am #

    anonymous mom – Don’t have much confidence in or expectations for young adults do you?

    People are attracted to each other all the time and don’t act on it because it is not right, despite it being perfectly legal. Professor and student. Boss and employee. Co-workers. Married people. Professionals and clients. We fail to do things all the time that we would like to do because they are illegal.

    Now I don’t necessarily expect the teen involved to have the life experience to say no, but by the time that you are a college graduate working in a professional position you absolutely should have the maturity and self-control to understand that a relationship with your student is inappropriate and refrain from acting until the teen graduates. You should really have the maturity and self-control to understand that this is illegal and refrain from acting. If you cannot, I can’t say that I have a whole lot of sympathy for you. I don’t think that you should go to prison since I am opposed to all stat rape laws, but I certainly think that you should be fired and unemployable with teens since you have bad decision-making abilities. But that doesn’t mean that ALL people between the ages of 22-30 should never coach, mentor, etc. Most can actually keep it in their pants despite being attracted to or having feelings for a student.

  28. Nina April 27, 2014 at 9:33 am #

    My children, one boy and two girls, were lucky to have the most fabulous boy teenage/young male babysitter as they grew up. It started because he was the only teenager of the right age in our large apartment building. It grew into a blessing for our entire family. Not only did he develop special relationships with each of my children but he could throw (and of course catch) a baseball and a softball. He would have thrown himself in front of a speeding car or bullet for my kids, no doubt. We were privileged to attend his graduation from the Police Academy and his wedding. He is now the father of two girls and always had said that taking care of mine would be good practice for his life.

  29. Donna April 27, 2014 at 9:35 am #

    I’ve never used a young male babysitter, but a 50 year old co-worker occasionally babysat my daughter in A. Samoa. She also had several playdates, and one sleepover, with friends while the mother was not home. Never thought twice about it. I knew all these people well enough to be secure in them being alone with my child.

    We had other friends, a couple, in A. Samoa who were so afraid of child molestation that they would never allow a man, no matter how well they knew him, to be alone with their children or for the husband to ever be alone with their children’s friends, or in fact to ever be alone with his own daughter as far as I could tell (although he very occasionally took his son places alone, I never remember hearing about him being alone with his daughter). They believed it wrong for a man to share a bed with his own children so his wife largely slept with the children. When other kids came over for sleepovers (almost every weekend), he would largely go into his bedroom and stay away from the kids. And it was actually explained to me that this involved some convoluted beliefs over child molestation, not a lack of interest. I wonder what would happen if his wife suddenly died and he was left with kids to raise alone. I actually think he may give them to relatives to raise. It is such a sad way to live.

  30. Longtime Lurker April 27, 2014 at 9:45 am #

    I just had to finally come out and comment on this, because its so ridiculous. I have had only positive experiences with male sitters, both as a child and as a parent. When I was a girl, my favorite sitter was a teenage boy from our synagogue. His father had passed away and money was tight and his mother couldn’t afford to give him any pocket money. He was always the first one my parents called when they needed a sitter. He was great, and we stayed in touch through the years, attended each other’s weddings, and have kids roughly the same ages who play together. He even helped my husband get his current job (they are in the same industry).
    As a parent, I have also had good experiences. My 3 year old’s favorite sitter is my best friend’s younger brother. He doesn’t come much anymore since he graduated college and got a job, but he will occasionally come for a Saturday night and my son is always THRILLED to see him walk in, and he does not feel that way about any other sitter. This guy is the second of a very large family and knows what he’s doing. Bottom line, you have to do your homework regardless of gender. If they are competent and caring, it shouldn’t matter whether they are male or female.

  31. Beth April 27, 2014 at 10:08 am #

    I will never understand why the mere fact of having a penis causes one to be sexually attracted to children.

    Could someone explain this to me, slowly and using small words?

  32. Maggie April 27, 2014 at 10:09 am #

    I was at a safety class for kids, and the lady teaching told the kids, if lost, go up to a mommy for help (woman with kids). The only father in the room said “or a daddy” and she immediately chastised him and said “NEVER a man! Men are 75% more likely to be molesters!” it was terribly insulting to say in front of a father taking care of his two kids.

    I have two teenaged boys now. It makes me sad to think that for the rest of their lives, they will be viewed with suspicion as possible rapists and pedophiles, simply because of their gender.

  33. E Simms April 27, 2014 at 10:10 am #

    Dr. A, if you really are a doctor,

    Do you realize that you are dealing with a tiny subset of the population? If all patients treated by an oncologist have cancer, does that mean that everybody has cancer?

  34. Nicole R. April 27, 2014 at 10:11 am #

    I’m so glad nobody treated my brother this way! He used to take my “extra” babysitting jobs – when regular customers called me and I was already booked – all the time. It was a great arrangement for both of us because I didn’t lose families for being unavailable, and he got a chance to make a little money at a job he might not have gotten into on his own. He was (and still is!) great with kids, and rather than judging him for being in the “wrong half” of the population, everyone just appreciated that I had a back-up person for them.

  35. Andrea April 27, 2014 at 10:20 am #

    I don’t have anything to add to the discussion of male babysitters since it’s already been said, but I do have a comment on the friendship of these two couples. If I were in this situation with my two best friends that are married and whom I have been friends with for over 15 years, I would begin to question the friendship. It would be so insulting to me to have either of my friends refuse to have my son babysit just because male gender automatically equals potential child rapist.

    And God forbid any teen of the male sex identify as any gender other than male – people like the writer’s friend would probably run out of the room screaming at the very thought of a non-binary person babysitting their child.

  36. Christina April 27, 2014 at 10:21 am #

    I have a nephew who is amazing with kids. He also possesses a lot of common sense, and I have no qualms having him watch my kids. I have a niece the same age I would never allow to watch my kids. It’s not the gender, it’s the perso n. FWIW, I have female and male sitters for my kids.

  37. SOA April 27, 2014 at 10:28 am #

    When I worked at a fancy highly rated daycare we had one male worker. He was college aged and would come in the afternoons and work with the three and four year olds. He died not want to change diapers so we did not put him with younger than that. The kids LOVED him! The boys just worshipped him because he was so cool and came up with fun games and played sports with them. He always did a great job with the kids. As far as I know none of the parents had a problem with it.

  38. gap.runner April 27, 2014 at 10:42 am #

    When my son was young, his favorite babysitters were teenage boys. Male babysitters were more “fun.” They would do more typically male things like throw an American football or kick a soccer ball. One male teen babysitter gave my son good tips on how to play Yu-Gi-Oh or Pokemon. My son was always more excited to have a male babysitter than a female one.

  39. Buffy April 27, 2014 at 11:23 am #

    There is another problem with this prejudice and that is it continues to perpetuate the immaturity of men in general in regards to children. Society seems to see men as capable & strong in a board room but put them in the house full of their own children and chaos & danger is about to ensue. That father’s can be trusted to provide but not to care for their own children.

    As a mother to almost 7 (expecting in August) I frequently leave ALL of my children with my husband, and have since from the beginning. My husband is fabulous with our kids and has never had to take them to the ER (I on the other hand have, multiple times). Yet, when I tell other mothers in my acquaintance the things that my husband does with the kids, the trust that I have in him to properly care for our kids and they are SHOCKED. Truly, they want him to teach classes on it to their husbands because “I just can’t trust my husband to care for our kids.”

    I wonder if by perpetuating this sickening prejudice we are ultimately teaching our sons that they can’t be trusted with kids and that our daughters that men can be trusted with kids.

    Yes, molestation occurs in babysitting settings. Sad, but true. However, I doubt very much that it is excluded to the male gender alone. This knowledge should spur us on to using REASONABLE precautions when hiring a sitter of any gender, not prevent us from hiring one at all.

  40. mystic_eye April 27, 2014 at 11:47 am #

    Not to be dark, but if your best friend’s kid is a pedophile and is going to molest your child they do not need the opportunity of babysitting. There wouldn’t be a lack of opportunities. There are certainly things you can do to minimize the odds of your child being a target, but that’s it.

    Also, yes, teenagers in this society can have truly poor judgment and make fanatically poor choices – male or female. My babysitter (and mom’s best friend’s kid) and I used to get up to some horrible shenanigans. Including riding double, when neither of us could ride well, and the inevitable happening (with the of course “how did that happen” accident happen to me… when we fell over my foot ended up through the wheel spokes even though it didn’t fit). Many of you may now be thinking “Well boys will be boys” but we were both “girls”.

    I say “girls” because it has become clear to me that gender isn’t binary and gender roles do nothing but cause harm. But in general anyone who doesn’t understand that would have no issues calling us girls then or calling me a woman now.

  41. MichaelF April 27, 2014 at 12:29 pm #

    So it’s more of a male uneasiness when it comes to children, we are ok as fathers and expected to do our part but once you step outside of that “safety zone” that has been media created then it’s a whole ‘nother problem. It’s really sad that things like this happen but I guess it’s to be expected in a hyper-stoked fear society that we impress our worst fears on others.

    I have baby sat for my niece a couple of times and oddly we are both still around, talk and there were no incidents that would need to be reported. Although I did, at that time, learn a new meaning about the 5 year old attention span, and how short it could really be.

  42. sanjay April 27, 2014 at 12:30 pm #

    Such a funny topic. All the same people saying they’d never hire a boy babysitter are the same ones who live in the 50s who believe men should never get custody of their children because only moms should be raising them. The bias against men/boys has become a joke. It’s okay to make male bashing jokes any day o the week, or show tv shows where it’s the main punchline that the dad is raising the child(ren). However, women are ALWAYS heroes for doing the same thing. Because after all. ALL abusers are men/boys. Do you know why more men/boys don’t come forward about abusive women, because the stigma is we should be able to “take” it as men.

    The bias extends to family court. Couple gets divorced. The man gets “visitation” the woman gets the kids. Almost NEVER questioned. Think back to the last thing you ever said to a divorced dad. “How often do you get to see the kids?” Never say that to a divorced mom do you?

    The male bias that all men/boys are abusers sets a pretty strong precedent that all men are untrustworthy. Even from a young age. Girls are babysitters. Boys are abusers and molesters.

    As for “Dr. A”. Do you remember all the “doctors” who in the 80s were getting so many women to “remember” (falsely) of how their fathers were abusers and molested them? How many lives did those “doctors” ruin with their own agenda?

  43. SOA April 27, 2014 at 12:34 pm #

    I actually know several Dads with custody over the mothers. Around here that does not mean anything. Or in the case of my friend neither parent got awarded custody and the kid went to the father’s Aunt to raise.

  44. sanjay April 27, 2014 at 12:39 pm #

    One story comes to mind…

    After a soccer game many years ago wit ha mom of 2 girls and my daughter, sh e realized she had left her keys at home. I invited her and her daughters to spend the night and we all had a sleepover. Mom and her girls in one room, my daughter and I in the other. Next morning after breakfast, as I was walking them to their place, I suggested a sleepover with her girls at my place. Now, I’ve known the mom for years. The mom’s reaction, without a moment’s hesitation, “oh, no, I’d never leave my girls in a place with just a man to watch them, it’s not safe.”

    I could have said my piece to this woman I thought I’d known so well after all these years. Even my daughter of 7 was shocked to hear this. She asked me later, “why couldn’t you be the only person to watch us?” Since the, we’ve had numerous sleepovers with my daughter’s friends. This woman and her daughters were never invited to any of them.

  45. Michelle April 27, 2014 at 12:45 pm #

    Our kids love their male babysitter. He’s an ace with video games so they learn a few new tricks. My son prefers him to all other sitters.

    I don’t even mind if they play video games the whole time we are gone. If I want to micromanage their time…..I can stay home to take care of my own kids.

  46. Reziac April 27, 2014 at 12:56 pm #

    By this logic, no father should ever change his baby daughter’s diapers.

  47. Karon April 27, 2014 at 1:06 pm #

    @Beth, you said it better than anyone else!!!

  48. Jenny Islander April 27, 2014 at 1:15 pm #

    I have encountered this logic before in a slightly less fraught situation. I used to work for a financial planner. I was responsible for calling prospects, most of whom I knew because this is a small town. I was trying to set up an appointment with a nice older lady who had known me from childhood. She told me, practically in the same breath, that she knew me and knew I was perfectly nice and trustworthy, ditto for my boss, but all financial planners everywhere were just out to take people’s money and leave them old and poor. This is the same logic as the article about the bus driver who was fired partly on grounds that she might have done things in a not-bus vehicle that she would not have done in a bus.

    People, in this worldview, aren’t people; they’re like chemicals. Put them together in the right medium and bam, bad stuff will happen, inevitably. So you could trust me and my boss with everything except our jobs. You could trust the bus driver to be alone with kids in the bus, but put them together in an SUV and molestation and murder would inevitably result. And a young teenage boy who has apparently always been trustworthy and kind will find himself inevitably molesting the 7-year-old he sees socially if there are no adults around. Because regardless of the kind of person he is, he is a boy.

  49. Sean April 27, 2014 at 1:18 pm #

    It goes back to the assumption the women are intrinsically better at handling children than men. Only now, we’ve combined that assumption with the worst-first thinking assumptions, and boom.

  50. Donna April 27, 2014 at 2:16 pm #

    I am fully aware that this is paranoia, and I hope to hell that I get over this irrational feeling, but: I’d be hesitant. We had an issue where my then-12 yr old (male) cousin tried to molest my then-4 yr old sister.

    I don’t WANT to automatically apply that to all tween/teen boys. I really don’t. But I have a VERY hard time not remembering how much we trusted him.

    I’d like to think that should an appropriate male babysitter arise that I would get over it and keep an open mind, after he was properly vetted. I REALLY hope I do. Because I think of the HUNDREDS of other men I know who would have made excellent babysitters at that age, and I don’t want to let ONE messed up kid ruin my whole mindset.

    So, this is a bit of “lizard brain vs rational brain” trying to fight it out. I sincerely hope that rational brain wins. Because honestly, I know full well that a girl babysitter is no more guaranteed not to be messed up and fuck with my kids.

    But I admit that I’ll probably vet a boy more than a girl. I just wouldn’t say it out loud…

  51. lollipoplover April 27, 2014 at 3:12 pm #

    I would tell this close friend that their sexist view is offensive, just as I would tell someone who expressed racist or homophobic ideas. The “all boys are child molesters unless proven otherwise” is ridiculous and ignorant. Does this mom not trust her husband with her daughter either?

    My son has babysat our neighbor’s kids for almost a year (two girls and one boy). He says it’s the easiest money he’s ever made, getting payed to sleep on a sofa after the kids are put to bed. The little boy(6) idolizes my son. There aren’t many boys on our street and this kid is very active and always seems to be at our house playing sports with the older boys who include him in games (he’s very small but tough as nails). Having a little guy around keeps the older kids in check too. My son has no problem yelling a his friend who wants to use curse words to watch his language around the little dude.

    We ran into our neighbors yesterday at the baseball fields after their son finished his game. My son’s team was playing and the little boy wanted to stay and watch. During the last inning, he hit a homerun. This little boy ran to get the ball over the fence for him. My son let him keep it (you should have seen his face) and said he would hit his own homeruns soon and could give him back the ball when he did. It was they type of moment I needed that day after my kids have been bugging the crap out of me with losing items (uniforms, cleats, their heads) and generally being little sh!ts. Babysitting is a wonderful responsibility for both girls and boys. The only downfall to a teenage boy babysitting is they can eat their body weight in food and maybe put restrictions on your pantry.

  52. Linda April 27, 2014 at 3:17 pm #

    When I was young my sister and brother and I had a male high school student as a babysitter. He was the absolute best! Kind, patient and funny. He also helped out with the little kids in Sunday School.

    This was in the ’60’s. Now he would be viewed with suspicion.
    It’s a shame, really.

    On the other hand, I was molested at age 7 by a trusted older male cousin when we visited their family farm. A close relative of mine was molested by the older brother of a friend when she was a that friend’s house for a sleep-over.

    I understand these parents’ fear. But it leads to tarring all boys and men with the same brush in the name of protecting our daughters and sons.

    I don’t know the solution. My children were free-range kids, and are doing their best to raise their children the same way. My daughters kids have a lovely male 14 year old cousin who babysits them regularly. They adore him. (they are 3 and 6) Sometimes you just have to trust, use your best judgement, follow your instincts and take the risk.

    Otherwise you would have to raise your children in a bubble.

  53. Linda April 27, 2014 at 3:21 pm #

    My apologies. I left out the apostrophe on daughter’s.

  54. Betsy in Michigan April 27, 2014 at 3:39 pm #

    FACT: My boy cousin was raped at 12 by the 15 year old girl babysitter! (he didn’t need a sitter, but his 4 younger siblings did).

  55. cate April 27, 2014 at 4:27 pm #

    When I was little (I’m 44 and a girl) we had male sitters as often as female. Our next door neighbor had two sons who are 10 and 12 years older than me and moved there when I was 2.They watched my younger sister and I regularly and we LOVED them! Unlike most of our girl sitters they played with us, ran around outside with us, read us a million stories and were simply the best. My older cousins had been molested when they were young so my parents were very cautious with us but even they weren’t a worse first couple seeing bad everywhere. We still are close to the neighbor family – I watched the boy’s kids when they had them and their kids watched mine. I trust their sons as much as their daughters.

  56. Nadine April 27, 2014 at 4:37 pm #

    I see al the reactons on hiring a male babysitter are putting stipulations on then “” if i knew him really well” . But isnt that what you would want with any baby sitter. someone that you know and trust with your kid in your house. Or are you pickier when it comes to boys?

    To Dr. A:
    And what about all the people that don’t make it to your couch? And all the patients that dont talk about their babysitter molesting them, had babysitters too. And some of those were male. But there was no trauma so you don’t hear of it.

  57. Heather April 27, 2014 at 4:42 pm #

    Oddly, my first reaction was not to worry about the gender of the sitter, but the age. I’d probably wait for 14-15 for evening sitters, although to be fair I don’t know that many teens socially. If you know the kid, you can decide if you trust them younger. In this case, that should have applied.

    I’d be happier with a younger child, girl or boy, looking out for my son during the day. Our main sitter is a boy, and he’s great with my son.

    H

  58. TaraK April 27, 2014 at 4:43 pm #

    I have a 13 year old son. He babysits his three younger siblings. ONE of my friends has asked if he could babysit her kids (which he couldn’t because we were going to the same event and I needed him!)

    This friend? She works full time and her husband is the full time stay at home parent. :)

  59. Bose in St. Peter MN April 27, 2014 at 5:40 pm #

    I’m mid-50s now, but it would have been heartbreaking for 12-y/o and teeanaged me to have been written out of consideration for being a guy.

    And yes, my first non-sibling babysitting job was at age 12, a short evening and also a memorable highlight of my life still.

    On top of that, my charge was a 6-week-old baby girl whose parents were leaving their first-born behind for their first evening out without her.

    Was that scary for them? A nail-biter amidst all of the worst possible outcomes? I’ll paint the rest of the picture for you, and you can decide.

    I was the eldest of 5, with the youngest 10-1/2 years behind me. I was excited for him to arrive. My year-younger sister and I occasionally fought for diaper-changing rights. For the year before the babysitting gig, the baby and I had shared a bedroom, which I thought was pretty cool, not a burden.

    We lived across the street from each other, as well, so if anything came up with the infant, my parents were a shout away. I took it as a huge privilege and compliment, though. The parents were the pastor of a local church and his wife, so if anybody had a sense of other, older (even female!) options for babysitters, they did.

    But they had also spent time with my family, seen how I was with my sibs, seen that I was running my own paper routes, balancing my own checking account, doing well in school and self-managing assorted musical commitments. I don’t think I was a scary choice.

  60. Kelly D. April 27, 2014 at 6:03 pm #

    I haven’t encountered a babysitting bias, but I have encountered a child care bias. I have been told, in almost every center I’ve worked in, that “male teachers are great but they are not allowed to work with XYZ group.” Sometimes that group is infants, sometimes it is preschoolers. Considering that our state has background check requirements for every child care provider, I don’t understand the prejudice, especially since it seems to vary from place to place as to which children they are more likely to “endanger.”

  61. anonymous this time April 27, 2014 at 7:24 pm #

    Quoted from an article on a UK Child Abuse organization (I am not a freak about hiring babysitter, BTW. I have hired many! I am Free Range with my kids, but I do believe there is a double-standard with male vs. female babysitters, and issues relating to power abuse / sexual abuse of children, meaning that we are absolutely hysterical about males but absolutely blind about females):

    “In a 1981 study, 60 percent of 412 male and 10 percent of 540 female undergraduate psychology students at the University of Washington who recalled childhood sexual contact with a post-pubescent person at least five years older than themselves said their abusers were female. (Fritz, G., Stoll, K., and Wagner, N. “A Comparison of Males and Females Who Were Sexually Molested as Children,” Journal of Sex and Marital Therapy, 1981, vol. 7,54-59.)

    In another study, doctors at a New Jersey medical clinic found that 11 out of 25 teenage males who revealed that they had been sexually molested named females (ages 16 to 36) as their assailants. These perpetrators were “usually acquaintances of the victims — most often a neighbor, baby-sitter, or other trusted adolescent or young adult.” (Johnson, R., and Shrier, D. “Past Sexual Victimization by Females of Male Patients in an Adolescent Medicine Clinic Population,” American Journal Of Psychiatry, 1987, vol. 144,650-662.)

    Finally, a study of 582 college men found that up to 78 percent of those abused as children had been abused by females. (Fromuth, M., and Burkhart, B. “Childhood Sexual Victimization Among College Men: Definitions and Methodological Issues,” Violence and
    Victim, 1987, vol. 2, no. 4, 241-253.)”

  62. Nicole 2 April 27, 2014 at 7:42 pm #

    I know someone who was abused by a male babysitter.

    I’m very pro nanny cams for any sitter. They’re your employee, you deserve to know what’s going on. As a sitter, I much prefer that a camera be there than not, to protect me against any false allegations. My only thing about it is to tell the person up front about it, being sneaky about it seems incredibly unnecessary.

    I plan on making my brothers babysit. I’m planning on having kids in my early 30’s, which will make them teenagers (I was an only child until I was 18…), which is just sort of great.

  63. Anne April 27, 2014 at 8:09 pm #

    Hi Lenore,
    As a mother of two sons, I have a full time woman nanny, when the boys were very small. When I no longer needed a full time nanny, I employed several boy/man babysitters or Mannys, as I was informed. The first when both boys were in elementary school and the second a couple of years later. They were both wonderful and both have remained family friends. Both boys have babysat for other children, both girls and boys.
    Perhaps parents of girls are more protective.
    Cheers,
    Anne

  64. John Scanlan April 27, 2014 at 8:50 pm #

    This is beyond outrageous! I assume this mother in question wasn’t born in 1895, so didn’t she hear anything about males and females being equally capable of doing the same job? How about when this I’m guessing well-educated woman applies for a job and is told, “it’s not a job for a woman, it wouldn’t be safe,” what would she do?
    I’m 55 years old now and had the good fortune to babysit for a neighbor when I was 14 and 15 for her son and daughter who were both well under 10 years old at the time. About the only problem associated with my babysitting was my burning a frying pan one night! The kids were fine, the frying pan died though – LOL

  65. SteveS April 27, 2014 at 8:51 pm #

    I worked in the mental health field for about a decade. Dr. A touched on issue that is supported by data. I treated dozens of kids that were molested. Out of those, I can recall only one or two that involved female abusers. Does this mean that I think all men are pedophiles? No! Data also shows that most criminals are male. By that logic, only women should be given positions of responsibility. If someone actually suggested that, they would be laughed at and ridiculed.

    The unfortunate result of this perception, combined with the few males that take up babysitting, ends up making some people feel uncomfortable.

  66. Jennifer L.W. Fink (@jlwf) April 27, 2014 at 9:00 pm #

    Such a sad and misguided assumption! Both boys and girls (and men and women) are capable of caring for children, and both boys and girls benefit from being care for and caring for members of the opposite.

  67. anonymous this time April 27, 2014 at 9:12 pm #

    Ah, Steve, there you go, referencing “data.” I’m assuming you mean both law enforcement data (female abusers are so rarely reported that only the most egregious cases are prosecuted) and data from informal, anecdotal “counsellors” saying, “Gosh, I only hear about male abusers.”

    Ya know, I’d think that people who study psychology would totally get this, but I’ll elaborate: Boys are encouraged to think that if a woman or older female “comes on” to them, they should get a shoulder punch, a wink, and congratulations. There are probably an equal number of boys who received sexual attention from older females in a power imbalance situation, and yet, they’ve tried to convince themselves that they were “lucky,” and are totally loathe to report this as “abuse,” since they know they’d be laughed at anyway.

    For some boys and men, they just can’t see it as being “lucky,” but instead of reporting the disturbing feelings they have, they just “suck it up” because again, they figure no one will believe them, or they will be told that they are somehow responsible, because boys are supposedly the dominant force in any heterosexual encounter.

    Please stop assuming that females don’t take advantage of children younger than themselves just because those who have received their advances haven’t reported it. Yeah, yeah, there have been hysterical fixations on sexual abuse for a few decades now, but if we’re going to start talking about the incidence of things, let’s open our minds and our eyes.

    If a boy, aged between 6 and 10, has a female babysitter, age 13 – 18+, and that female babysitter fondles his genitals, undresses in front of him, or coerces him to touch or penetrate her, this is sexual molestation, even if the boy remembers it, or tries to reframe it, as something good for him. But because he’s so damned confused, and ashamed, and sure that he won’t be received with support or compassion, he tells no one. Ever.

    Reverse the genders and it’s a whole different story. Hell, when I was 25 or so I went to have counselling about a habit I was trying to break, the therapist tried to convince me that I had been sexually abused as a child, so biased was / is your profession that all troubles female adults have must be rooted in sexual abuse (at the hands of a male) in childhood.

    It’s false. Just like the assumption that there is a terrifically low incidence of young boys and girls experiencing being overpowered, at times sexually, by FEMALES.

    Trouble is, it’s not seen as criminal, it’s a nudge-nudge-wink-wink kind of amusement, or strangely, point of pride. No woman sees her sexual molestation at the hands of a male this way, hence these incidents are reported more frequently.

    I am sick of hearing mental health professionals decry the existence of females who “offend” this way, especially adolescent females, especially babysitters! Holy crow, your kid is really no more likely to be abused by a male babysitter than a female babysitter. He’s just less likely to TELL you, or tell ANYONE, if the abuse comes from a girl.

  68. anonymous this time April 27, 2014 at 9:22 pm #

    Oh, and in one study done on victims of female sexual abuse, 70%+ of the subjects were seeing a counsellor, and HAD NOT TOLD THEM ABOUT BEING ASSAULTED BY THE FEMALE.

    Told the researchers, but didn’t tell the counsellors. Hmmmm…. how’s that for “data”?

    Boys are getting the short end of the stick in both directions. They are all assumed to be dangerous to kids, and yet, they have two choices if they are molested by females as children: tell no one, or frame it as a sexual initiation story / boast. Either way, they’re not telling counsellors about it as “abuse.”

    How many counsellors hear men tell stories of sexual initiation at the hands of a older female cousin, babysitter, older sister’s friend, etc, but because the man tells it as an anecdote of sexual history and not abuse, this is how it’s framed and recorded. Perhaps it just doesn’t come up… they’re too busy dwelling on the predictable relationship disasters they’re having instead of realizing they were overpowered and never healed from that properly.

    I am dominating this thread, but I can’t say it enough: We are blind as a society to the fact that adolescent boys and girls likely “offend” in this way in equal numbers, just like we were blind a few decades ago to the fact that children ever came to harm at the hands of their caregivers. “Honour thy father and thy mother”… and anyone older than you, especially anyone who threatens you if you tell. We’re emancipating children from this prison of denial and silence, but we haven’t gotten there yet as far as gender equality on this issue. At all.

  69. Lyndsay April 27, 2014 at 9:34 pm #

    One of the most beloved preschool teachers in my daughters’ day care is a young man in his early 20s. He briefly left and tried to go to college and the kids and parents alike were crushed. There was practically a party when he came back. He’s a very popular babysitter and has a special.gift for getting through to some of the wilder three year olds. I look at a male sitter the same as a female on. My girls have good instincts. If someone makes them uncomfortable, I’m suspicious. If it’s someone they are comfortable with, I’m happy to hire them.

    My husband is a stay at home dad. We have a dear friend who has refused his offers to babysit because “she isn’t allowed to be alone with men.” I can’t help but wonder what this attitude is teaching her 7 year old son.

  70. kae martin April 27, 2014 at 9:41 pm #

    I would not hire a male sitter.

    Nor would I put a child in a day care that had a male day care worker.

  71. John Rohan April 27, 2014 at 9:44 pm #

    As a boy, only one night did I ever have a male babysitter. He was a student at a local boarding school.

    Anyway, we had so much I couldn’t believe it. My own father didn’t spend much time with me, and I guess I needed someone to look up to. I begged my mom to find another boy babysitter, but she advertised at the school, but he wasn’t interested in coming back, and no one else wanted the job.

    The girl babysitters I had were fine, but not nearly as fun.

  72. John Rohan April 27, 2014 at 9:51 pm #

    I just can’t believe the amount of prejudice in this thread. For those who would not hire a male babysitter, would you likewise not hire a black babysitter??

  73. Michelle April 27, 2014 at 10:12 pm #

    Beth, I’m always amazed when I go run an errand on my own on the weekend and run into an acquaintance. The first question is always, “Where are the kids?” Like it makes any kind of sense to drag 8 kids to the grocery store when they could just stay with their father?

  74. anonymous April 27, 2014 at 10:59 pm #

    I hired a male teenage babysitter. He was well respected, we knew his family well. He molested my then 6 year old daughter. That said. Any person can be an abuser. No matter how well you know them or their families. I had a female college roommate who tried to molest me and she was an early childhood education major. I only use close family as babysitters now. People are people and some are good and some are not and as parents we can only do our best to protect our kids. They have to live in the real world and there will always be some risk to them. You can only do so much to protect your kids and demonizing one gender will not make them any safer. I have seen the way my kids uncle gets treated when they ask him to come watch at gymnastics or ballet. The other mothers all are afraid of a man watching their girls dance etc. It is just wrong to scare kids of one gender. By the way my kids uncle is their favorite babysitter hands down.

  75. SKL April 27, 2014 at 11:13 pm #

    My brothers used to be regular babysitters, so it is not strange to me. But I need to know the person who babysits my kids. So far it just hasn’t happened to be a male alone, other than my dad.

    I have many personal (first-hand and close family) stories of being sexually bothered by unrelated boys, men, girls, and women. My parents stopped hiring the next-door neighbors’ daughter after she broke our couch romping with her [lesbian] girlfriend when she was being paid to babysit us.

    That said, I would not hire a boy just to prove I’m not prejudiced. I’m not in a big hurry to leave my kids with a 13yo who doesn’t have any younger siblings.

  76. Rachel April 27, 2014 at 11:42 pm #

    One of our son’s first sitters was a teenager who had been one of my students. He’s now an honors student at his university. He was always a fantastic babysitter, and my son loved to see him. A male neighbor, the dad of three, also provided daycare for our son for several months. He was fantastic. He’s a terrific dad. Both my kids love him. There are male teachers at my daughter’s daycare. I work with a male teacher who has taught kindergarten and enjoys working with primary students. The kids love him. Yes, a VERY SMALL MINORITY of people (not just men!) are molesters and pedophiles. The solution is not to keep our children from any male presence, ever. Wanna know the solution? Teach your children, with frequent reminders, about their bodies. About good and bad touches. About what a person who wants to do bad touches will say, and what to say to him/her. Repeat often, without terrifying them, but helping them feel confident and in charge of their bodies.

  77. anonymous this time April 27, 2014 at 11:56 pm #

    Yes, yes, YES Rachel. Empower kids to be self-aware and self-advocating, and make sure they know that you will listen if they tell you whatever is up with them.

    This is a FAR better plan than “only having close family members babysit” or “never hiring a male babysitter.” You are deluding yourself if you think that you can ward off all the evil spirits in the world this way.

    PREPARE YOUR CHILDREN FOR THE WORLD, because you cannot prepare the world for your children.

  78. Christina April 27, 2014 at 11:57 pm #

    I am waiting, WAITING!, I tell you, for some rando to tell me they would never let a boy watch their precious snowflake. Because my knee-jerk response is – So, all teen/young adult males are total pedos, but you want your husband to be a full partner in parenting? How in the everloving hell do you expect boys/men to gain experience in caring for kids if they are totally banned from the childcare arena unless and until they have kids?

  79. C.J. April 28, 2014 at 12:01 am #

    I always said I wouldn’t hire a boy babysitter, mostly because my cousin was molested by one. Then it came time to hire a babysitter and I hired a boy to watch my 2 girls. All the girls nearby were not very responsible and the boy was very responsible. We were lucky that we didn’t need to hire a babysitter at all until the girls were 6 and 8. We traded babysitting with friends or my parents watched them. I wasn’t against hiring a babysitter it was just cheaper. The times we needed to hire someone we called my friends son. He was 13 the first time he babysat for us and had an 8 year old little sister so he knew how to play with little girls. He showed up at the door with board games and left his cell phone at home, I was impressed. He always tidied up whatever mess they made and the kids loved him. He also wasn’t afraid of my 100 pound dog and all the neighbourhood girls were. He would play with the dog after the kids went to bed. I would come home to find him and the dog curled up sleeping together, it was pretty cute. Now that my older daughter is 11 and my younger one is 9 they just stay home alone together but they still miss him coming over to babysit.

  80. SOA April 28, 2014 at 12:04 am #

    Family is statistically more likely to molest your child than a friend or random person. So I don’t get the whole attitude of “I only trust my family!!!” I have heard of plenty of people being molested by family members.

    I would trust plenty of friends I have known a long time with my kids before I would certain family members. I always got insulted when I would offer to watch someone’s kids for them and even though we have been friends for years and years, they only trust family to watch their kids. Even when said family has things like mental illness which I do not. It just does not make sense to me.

  81. SOA April 28, 2014 at 12:10 am #

    nicole 2: how can you make your brothers babysit? You have no authority over them as they are not your children. I am assuming you did not mean actually “making” them but meant you would ask them to right? It is bad enough when parents make their kids watch younger siblings but I cannot imagine making an uncle watch his nieces and nephews.

  82. Walter Underwood April 28, 2014 at 12:54 am #

    Wow. I babysat kids (including girls) for several years in my teens. One was just out of diapers. It was pretty boring, but it was good money.

    As a parent, we hire babysitters we trust, male or female. Delegation is part of parenting.

  83. Sarah April 28, 2014 at 9:14 am #

    I have been trying for years to get a male babysitter for my son, because he has been asking me for one – with no luck. Maybe this is why. Aargh!!

  84. Sarah April 28, 2014 at 9:24 am #

    Also, when I was a kid, we had two babysitters (both neighbors). The teenage girl was very responsible, kept us safe, did her homework, etc. BORING! The teenage boy played with us and was totally awesome. In adult retrospect, he probably should have been doing his homework, too. But as a kid, guess which one I preferred?

  85. Hels April 28, 2014 at 9:36 am #

    I think I would hire a boy for a boy and a girl for a girl. Not for safety issues but just because a 7 year old and a 13 year old of the same sex will find something to do that is fun for both of them, while it might be difficult if they are opposite sex. Just based on my own experience with my cousin who is male and seven years older than I am… I understand that babysitting is not a playdate, but still, I would rather have it be fun for both parties.

  86. LTMG April 28, 2014 at 11:12 am #

    Two points. [1] And we wonder why there is sometimes sexism in hiring. [2] Given a choice, are these the same people who would not accept care from a male nurse?

  87. MJ Person April 28, 2014 at 11:13 am #

    As someone who did a lot of babysitting while I was in middle school and high school, I’m deeply confused by the people who are saying that “the average boy would be ashamed and picked on” were he a babysitter. When I was in school the thing the “average boy” wanted was some cash in his pocket to do things with and babysitting provided that. Once old enough for a “real job” babysitting fell away, but it was never anything looked down on. It just made some people harder to schedule (and wealthier) than others.

  88. SteveS April 28, 2014 at 11:35 am #

    If you want to cherry pick data, we can go back and forth for weeks, but are you just going to say that there is this huge number of unreported female abusers out there. I agree that there is a huge double standard, but crime statistics support what I said. If you want to argue that the number of female offenders is the same and that it is not being reported, you can, but there doesn’t appear to be any evidence beyond a theory that supports this.

    Regardless, I am not arguing that boys/men shouldn’t be hired. I am just trying to show where this is coming from. I have no problem with hiring a male for child care.

  89. Dhewco April 28, 2014 at 1:04 pm #

    Prejudice against males isn’t that new. Nor, is it really surprising…One of my fondest childhood memories is of the boy who lived down the dirt road from me. I was the only teen boy in the neighborhood (if 3 mobile homes and an old house count as a neighborhood), and this kid loved me.

    Our school bus route was about an hour long and he and I were on the end of it. I loved the boy, it was the little brother I never had. We did a lot of rough-housing together…wrestling and the like. (He had a cousin who lived with him at the same time and was the same age.)

    Here’s the relevant story. On the bus, the driver initially put us in the same seat. The boy would lean into my shoulder or fall asleep with his head on my lap, completely innocent. The driver, a woman (not sure if it’s relevant..but whatever), spent a few weeks staring at us in the mirror as she drove. It was so intense, I got creeped out. One day, without explanation or warning, she moved me to the back of the bus and my friend to the front.

    It really affected me. I wasn’t doing anything except being the kid’s big brother, but I felt like I’d done something wrong. It scared me. I stopped allowing the boy into my home. If we did anything, I made sure everyone I could was around. If the boy tried to come into my house without his cousins, I sent him home.

    I was an outcast at my high school and only had one age-appropriate friend. I tried to make others, but I was poor, fat, and had low self-esteem. The friendship between that little boy and I made me feel better about myself. It proved that someone outside of my family could give a (insert expletive here).

    I was smart at the time (No idea where it went), I’d done papers on child abuse and knew what that woman must have suspected. I didn’t understand why, but I knew what.

    All that’s a round-about way of saying this: It’s not a hunky-dory thing for a boy to know people don’t trust him. It can be crushing. Yes, it happens and yes, by all means protect your kids…but don’t forget what an innocent boy can go through when he realizes your thought process.

  90. Buffy2 April 28, 2014 at 1:13 pm #

    “I would not hire a male sitter.

    Nor would I put a child in a day care that had a male day care worker.”

    Thanks troll. That was a super contribution. Did you use a male to create your child? And is the child a boy or a girl?

  91. tdr April 28, 2014 at 1:56 pm #

    I have a 13 year old girl and 15 year old boy. My daughter gets called all the time and my son almost never. It’s yet another source of jealousy and competition between them. :-(

    I have heard other people say they would not be comfortable hiring a boy sitter.

  92. Annelle Godwin April 28, 2014 at 2:40 pm #

    Definately a no vote from me. As James Dobson said, curiosity is a strong force. Boys and girls are not in the same galaxy when it comes to sexual curiosity, boys are just naturally driven by a stronger sexual inclination. We also live in a highly sexually driven society where even Little Mermaid is sexy and looks like her tail draws attention to her below naval area, not to mention what the PG13 movie is encouraging me to think about. I have a boy. But even at 7 years old he is to leave his door open when the neighbors come to play. Even when I was 7 I pulled my pants down in the backyard when the neighbor dared me to, no harm done but a swat on the butt from my Dad and a little embarrassment from being caught. When my daughters enter dating age I will not trust them to be alone with a boy because they are just as prone to sexual curiosity, afterall, it is pretty fun. – yes, I’ll let them go but hell if I won’t be praying. But a boy babysitting may be sexually curious just for a moment, and no matter how small the body he or she has all the parts in place.

  93. Annelle Godwin April 28, 2014 at 2:50 pm #

    John Rohan: Your prejudice accusation that hiring a boy babysitter and a black babysitter have a common prejudice link doesn’t make sense. Just because they are black doesn’t mean they are inclined toward a sex drive, whereas male testosterone makes them more sexually inclined than a girl. Your reaching for devisive language in trying to bring black race into this conversation.

  94. Annelle Godwin April 28, 2014 at 2:54 pm #

    A male nurse/doctor is not alone with a patient during the examination portion

  95. KSP April 28, 2014 at 3:20 pm #

    My twins (boy/girl, now 16) preferred their male teenage babysitters to female teenage babysitters. I’ve had them with both, both for short term (Friday night out) and for long term (every day during summer vacation). They said that the boys played sports with them, swam with them, took them to the park and to other outings, and played video games and liked the same tv shows they did. The girls wanted them to play quietly inside or in the back yard while they watched teen-girl oriented TV or talked on their phones. I’m sure that we just lucked out with the boys we found and didn’t with the girls we found, but that was my kids’ experience. My kids (both, my son included) have, in turn, babysat a disabled adult so that her mom could run errands and also their younger nieces and nephews. My son is not a natural at babysitting because he lacks the patience and focus that his male babysitters had, so I would not be offended if people didn’t want to consider him a viable babysitting option. Meanwhile, an adult male close to me confided that he had been molested by two of his female babysitters growing up. He never made an outcry as a child and only realized when he was older that what they did was improper. So, I think the risk is more in leaving your children with people who haven’t been properly vetted.

  96. anonymous this time April 28, 2014 at 3:41 pm #

    “Properly vetted” is a bit of a false security in this area, I would say. When most boys don’t even realize what is going on in the rare case when their female babysitters exploit them sexually (and this takes MANY forms, including voyeurism, exhibitionism, fondling while bathing, etc), so even your friends’ daughter, or the neighbour girl you’ve known all her life, may not treat your children the way you would hope.

    No, sorry, the key here is teaching your KIDS to understand that they are safe to tell you about things that bother them. Things will bother them. Here’s hoping they don’t get sexually molested, but please understand that if this happens, it’s not the end of the world IF YOUR CHILD TELLS YOU and you can support him or her without freaking out and sending the message that something TERRIBLE has happened.

  97. Dhewco April 28, 2014 at 3:46 pm #

    I hope I’m not incendiary, but I don’t agree about ‘curiosity’ being a gender thing. The first time I had a sexual experience (if you call it that) was when my cousin (my age) grabbed my privates as a kid. There was only one year age difference and I was 9 (She was 8). It was all I could do not to freak.

    We were at the beach, in the water. My parents were uptight about sexuality, before that moment it had never occurred to me that a girl would do that. (Never got the birds and bees speech, lol) A couple years later, at another beach, I had another encounter and it was another girl (2 years younger..I was 13). Girls are just as curious as boys sexually…girls just don’t get reported.

  98. Dhewco April 28, 2014 at 3:59 pm #

    PS. To my last post, at no time were me and either of those girls talking about anything ‘dirty’…they just struck.

    My story is one which proves that you should talk to your kids about this stuff. My parents didn’t say anything. I was naive as all get out. The only thing my dad said when I tried to talk about my changing body was…”Don’t touch yourself there, it’s wrong.”

    Sorry if this is somehow off topic, but give the birds and bees speech. Let your kids feel free to ask you anything. If they feel free to do that, they’re more likely to tell you if that family friend violates your trust.

    I was assaulted myself at 13. I was scared…of the way it made me feel, the guy who did it, and my parents’ reaction. The abuser told me that he’d tell them I was gay and that I wanted it. I believed him…didn’t know better. I didn’t tell my parents until I was 39.

    I’ll say it again…make your kids comfortable about talking about their bodies with you. So many parents shy from this for various reasons and I think it constitutes a disaster.

    my two cents

  99. anonymous this time April 28, 2014 at 4:51 pm #

    SteveS, this guy says it all for me, and with far more authority behind him. Basically, girls / women get away with it because, for so many documentable reasons, their victims don’t necessarily identify what happened as “abuse” until much later, if ever.

    http://www.jimhopper.com/male-ab/

  100. Cin April 28, 2014 at 4:54 pm #

    I’m hiring a “manny” — a male university student — to watch my kids all summer. He has amazing references.

  101. Warren April 28, 2014 at 5:48 pm #

    According to my former mother in law, whenever the kids were with me, I was babysitting. AAAARRRGH, I hate when people say dads are babysitting.

  102. Amanda April 28, 2014 at 6:42 pm #

    I brought my children up in the African bush where having local “nannies” are the norm. We struggled finding consistency and each time one left, our “house boy” stepped in to help. In no time at all, I broke down what can only be described as a weird prejudice and saw merits in having a “manny”. He cared more, played more – and in a lot of ways, thought more about the overall well being of my kids.
    Yes – I had concerns in the back of my mind – but I bet so many parents of abused children never suspected the uncle of neighbour they so comfortably left their children with either.
    So yes – for the right kind of boy – I’d have him “baby” sit my kids any day!

  103. JP Merzetti April 28, 2014 at 7:43 pm #

    You know – when I was a kid, I remember the young dudes who were “kid magnets.” Here’s how it went: There were an awful lot of Roman Catholic families in my neighborhood, with huge numbers of kids – that climbed from infants to elder teens like stepping stones. In many of these families,the eldest was a boy (with a ton of younger siblings.) Believe me, more often than not he understood child psychology from the inside out.
    So what made them kid magnets? Fun. Humor. Strict with a powerful sense of fair play. Competence. Caring. Kindness.
    Funny how you can find all this in the “wrong” gender.
    As male as it all was, it was even more human.

    And what was the biggest magnetic attraction of all?
    (irony of ironies)
    The kids felt safe.
    Imagine that.

  104. Peter April 28, 2014 at 10:31 pm #

    I have a son who is almost 13, he has a daughter who is 7.

    Well, if your 13 year-old has a daughter who is 7, I’m not sure I’d trust him, either. I mean, he was a father at 6!

    (I actually had to read the sentence twice–that can’t be right! Oh, I see what he was saying…)

  105. Emily April 29, 2014 at 6:54 pm #

    >>According to my former mother in law, whenever the kids were with me, I was babysitting. AAAARRRGH, I hate when people say dads are babysitting.<<

    @Warren–Me too, and you know what? I hate it even more when the dads say it themselves. So, when I was in university, the vocal coach for the choir, and one of the theory profs, were married, and they'd recently had a baby boy. One day, the theory prof (who also taught chamber ensemble) was helping me sort out some rehearsal scheduling issue or something (I forget what), but then he said he had to leave, because his wife had to teach a voice lesson, and he "had to go be a parent." I really admired his choice of words, because he was owning the fact that, regardless of gender, his son was his responsibility just as much as his wife's responsibility. Shortly after I graduated, they had another child (a girl this time), and I have no doubt that both children are being raised in a family that values gender equality.

  106. Lyndsay April 30, 2014 at 7:47 am #

    “I would not hire a male sitter. Nor would I put a child in a day care that had a male day care worker.”

    It’s this attitude that drives me nuts. My older daughter was in one of the first classes the current male teacher at our day care assisted with. There were certainly parents on Back to School Night that were a little apprehensive. Mr. Sean was not there and the lead teacher got grilled about who he was, where he came from and what he was doing teaching pre-school. To her credit, the lead teacher answered everyone’s concerns and made it clear that she had trained him herself since he came to the center straight from high school, that the children all adored him, that he was very gifted with them, etc. She did not openly say anything about the fact that these concerns came from him being male, but she made it clear that she was not concerned about that.

    I often feel sorry for him because I see how he is a little more cautious about being alone with the children. In a center where the staff are all very warm and affectionate with the children, he is a little more hesitant, especially at the beginning of the school year.

    However, it kills me to think that there are parents that would refuse to even send their children to this day care just because one of the teachers happens to be male. To assume that a young man who has been background checked and trained and vetted and now spent three years working in the same preschool classroom is any more a danger to these children just because he is male is ridiculous.

  107. Brooke April 30, 2014 at 11:39 am #

    I hire boy babysitters anytime I can. I have 2 very energetic boys myself. I have found that girl babysitters sit around and play on their phones while the boy sitters play games and engage my kids. I prefer my kids outside playing than watching tv while I am away. So if a boy is available I am up for hiring him over a girl!!!

  108. Emily April 30, 2014 at 2:48 pm #

    To all those who say that male babysitters actively engage with their young charges, and female babysitters don’t, that’s not necessarily true. My brother and I had a variety of “active” and “passive” babysitters growing up (all female, but I think just because of availability, not because my parents were sexist), and some of them played games and did crafts and went to the park and stuff with us, and others just sat in front of the TV, or on a bench or swing if we were at the park. When I got older, and I started working with kids myself, I remembered my experiences with childhood babysitters, and really tried to actively engage with the kids.

  109. Mark April 30, 2014 at 3:21 pm #

    Wow, this just reminded me that I used to babysit my neighbors two girls. I must have been 12-15 when I did this. The older girl was four years younger than me and the younger one maybe five or six years younger. The girls were basically going to bed for the night so there wasn’t anything I really needed to do. Looking back, I wasn’t even thinking anything at all related to what these parents are concerned about.