17 different women, 36 crazy children, 0 babies in utero
Adventures, Advice and Questions from a group of Mormon women who met in Queens, NY and have now scattered all over the place.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Protecting our Children

I have always had this internal struggle with wanting to do everything I can to protect my children from all the bad in the world versus the costs of being overly cautious in certain situations.

I can't stop thinking about today's post over at Daring Young Mom. She recounts a story of being concerned about leaving her kids at the gym child care because the caregiver was male and she has a "family policy against leaving our children alone with men.” Now if you go and read her situation, there were far more reasons than just the caregiver being male to warrant concern for anyone (including me), but it is her general policy and her commentors support of this policy that has kept my mind running all day because our family doesn't have a policy. At least not yet.

Implementing this kind of rule is something that most of the commentors seem to have done (at least to a degree). And based on child molestation statistics, it's not hard to see why. This is serious business here. Some rules say no male babysitters outside of the family, some say no male babysitters except for immediate family and really close friends. Some say no male babysitters at all. A few women commentors at DYM even took it so far as to say their sons would never be allowed to babysit other children or even their own siblings--something I had never even thought of before.

I am having a hard time figuring out where to draw the line. Based on the statistics, leaving my children with strangers would actually be safer than leaving them with a family member. What do I do with that? It looks like the only truly "safe" option is to never leave my children alone with any male--friend or relative. Do I really want that? I don't want my children to live a life where they are taught to be suspicious of all men. I don’t want to live my life that way either-viewing all men first as a potential child molesters. I think it is hard to make a blanket statement like no men/boys are allowed to care for my children without that being the implied reasoning. It also seems a side effect could be effectively pushing out all males from taking a more active part in child rearing because we fear a few "bad guys".

I just can't seem to pin down my thoughts on the matter very well. I want to be a "smart parent". I want to protect my children. I am on board with discussions about appropriate touching, no secrets, etc, but on the subject of male babysitters and what kind of child care I will allow my own son to do, I am not sure at where it truly becomes "better safe than sorry".

What is (or will be) your policy?
Is there a line between "smart parenting" and being overly cautious in this situation?
Will you let your boys babysit other children and/or their own siblings?
What can we do to make sure boys and men remain actively involved in caring for and nurturing children even when our rules might imply, we can't really trust you to do so?


  • A couple of points to consider: first, according to these statistics, most offenders exhibit other antisocial behavior, often from an early age. I think you can take that into condideration when making these decisions with regard to family members.

    It is unusual for men to choose childcare as a profession and I believe that the risk that one who does is doing it as a way to gain access to victims is too high to take a chance. It's unfortunate, but I wouldn't leave my child with a male caregiver at the gym for that reason.
    posted by Anonymous Anonymous at 9/07/2006 08:20:00 PM  

  • Whewwwwww... I'm with you, Carrie- I can't make heads or tails of this, and I read DYM's post and all the comments.

    I am also the mother of sons, and prohibiting them, blanket-like, from caring for others, is more than just an implication- it is almost an accusation. And what about dads, grandpa, uncles and such? That could be emotionall crippling.

    While I understand what the statistics say, and the horror of molestation is something I hope to never know in our family, I cannot see alienating an entire gender as solving the problem. Choosing carefully whom to leave my children with, keeping communication open, taking frankly with my kids about touching, secrets and sex, using the right names for body parts, and my own sense of what/whom is right/safe, all seem like a better policy than treating my sons and male family members as potential criminals.

    No matter what you do, there are no guarantees, no matter what the statistics say. Just not so sure on this one...
    posted by Anonymous tracy m at 9/07/2006 08:28:00 PM  

  • I never had a problem with male babysitters, until my SIL had one for her kids.

    Nothing "major" happened, but he did pull down her pants briefly as a joke. ("Pantsing" is the term, I believe? and we're talking like 3 seconds max, but still....) He didn't molest anyone,and probably never will, but the parents were still uncomfortable with it. As I would be as well.

    My friend's brother molested my friend's daughter (the uncle molesting the niece). My friend had a policy of never leaving her daughter alone with him because of his history with drug use, but when she left her daughter at grandma's, grandma didn't see any reason not to let him be alone with his niece and broke the policy. (Plus, folks, it doesn't take long!) The abuse was sustained over about 3 years (age 3-6).

    So I am good with no male babysitters. Boys rarely want to babysit anyway, and if people ask why, I just say I am super overly cautious because of my friend and her daughter. I don't think it does any real damage as to the male psyche, because it so rarely comes up in our family.

    I think clearly the answer is to never work out. :)
    posted by Blogger The Wiz at 9/07/2006 08:47:00 PM  

  • Using a mothers gut instinct (aka: Holy Ghost) can not be emphasized enough. There's no other way to judge who may be harmful vs. harmless. I think of some of the faces I saw on the Sex Offender website (which I looked at very carefully when we were choosing a new home) and I would *never* have pegged some of them to be sexual predators. Like Tracy said, as a mother of only boys, I can not imagine discriminating against a gender like that. Of course, I've never been in a situation where I've felt uncomfortable with a particular male caregiver. I even asked a boy from church to babysit once. He didn't, but I wouldn't have been uncomfortable with him at all. It's hard to know what to do in this siutation, isn't it?
    posted by Blogger Julie at 9/07/2006 09:54:00 PM  

  • The no males outside our family rule is largely a protection for me against hurting our friends' feelings if we feel okay with one male but not another. I don't want to say, "I have a bad feeling about your son." I'd rather just have a flat policy. It's not something we're entirely comfortable with, but we needed to do something with the babysitting offers we were getting from males we knew, some we felt good about, some not.

    As far as the message it sends to the kids, I'm not going to tell my kids that we don't allow male babysitters until they're much older. My parents didn't hire male babysitters and it wasn't until years later that my mom even told me that. It had never occurred to me.

    My mom told me a couple of stories when I was older that made me head in this direction. One was that she had been repeatedly pressured to have a certain friend's son babysit for us but she didn't feel good about it. It later came out that he was a repeat offender and had molested several of our friends' children. Thank heavens she listened to the spirit.

    In support of not having my male children babysit for other people's kids, I once knew a man who was falsely accused of molestation and it ruined his life, only to have the girl admit later that she had made the whole thing up. It's not worth the 7 bucks an hour to put my son at risk like that. It's just not. I hope I will be able to explain that its for his protection and not that we don't feel that any man can be good.

    I hope our love and reverence for the priesthood and the many wonderful men we know will teach my children that.

    Also, most of your readers are LDS and should know that the church has recently disallowed men from teaching children alone. This is to protect both the men and the children. Is the First Presidency saying (gasp!) that the bishops won't always be perfectly in tune and catch every possible thing that might happen because they are not directly channeling the Spirit at all times?

    I know I'm not, even though I work every day to keep the Spirit with me, so I'm choosing better safe than sorry. It's one more liability I can hack off.

    I don't think there's one true answer and I definitely think staying close to the Spirit will help. This is just our family's choice. The kids have plenty of interaction with good, worthy males, just not unsupervised interaction with males who we do not know well.

    Also I think the conclusion you draw from the statistics about kids being safer with strangers than with family members is a mis-reading of the data. People are MUCH more likely to leave their kids with family members or acquaintances than to leave them with strangers. Hence the increase in offenses.

    Good luck figuring it out.
    posted by Anonymous daring one at 9/07/2006 11:28:00 PM  

  • anon-according to Oprah these men aren't THAT anti-social, often they are PARTICULARLY social with those they want to make their victims, they woo them etc. Thus, a red flag goes up for me if a male pays specific attention to our daughters. They go on the list.

    julie, I so agree with using your instinct...I once booked a babysitter who was the husband of a girl I had been using often, and I just didn't feel good about it in the end, and cancelled.

    Carrie, it is so coincidental that you posted this today b/c I called one of our young women yesterday, we'll call her Tristen, and she couldn't sit for me but offered her older teenage brother, who I haven't seen at church in a while. I told her I wouldn't have him b/c he was male, and no offense. She said she understood. The truth is, I haven't seen him in months, and I don't know where he stands. And this day and age, kids can change so quickly and be influenced by their peers, I would almost be more fearful of say a plot to steal my television than the possible molestation of my kids.

    Just a few weeks ago I flew my 18 year old brother out to my house to care for my two girls for 4 straight days. My DH would go to work and come home at night, but he was in charge all day long. Ever since my brother started getting older, I really watched him around my girls and listened to my gut about his relationship with them, and I had no qualms about him coming to watch them for the week.

    I have also left them with my male cousin (age 26), after some serious checking around inside my guts...

    I am currently searching for new babysitters-all women, and I am giving them the exact same gut reading as I do the males. So, I personally think you should judge on a case by case basis, and not have a hard and fast rule.

    And use common sense. I recently went to a dance studio looking into their piano lessons. They told me about a man who teaches, and then showed me a closet-like room where he teaches with the door closed and no windows. Now, that's just common sense people.
    posted by Blogger Kage at 9/08/2006 03:54:00 AM  

  • While I do know that most molesters and sex-offenders are male, you can't rule out the fact that there are women too. We rarely had babysitters when I was young, but many years later it came out that a young woman from our ward molested my little brother when she babysat us.( I never knew, she always sent me to another room, or to a friend's house). I think you just really have to listen to the Spirit and pray for your children to be protected.
    posted by Anonymous Anonymous at 9/08/2006 07:18:00 AM  

  • Since I'm not a mom yet I'm not sure what my policy will be, but like many of you I can't see eliminating all males (since, for example, my MIL is disabled and can't watch a baby or child without help, my FIL often watches the grandkids and is someone I would trust), however I can also see that making a blanket rule about males would eliminate a lot of problems. But like anon said, there are some female preditors out there as well . . . I mean look at all the headlines of teachers seducing and sleeping with their male students. While reading anons post I was reminded of the fact that 2 guys I knew in in college had their first kisses with their babysitter! I believe they were 8 and 10 and the babysitters were older teenage girls. I mean, I don't think it went further than that, but still I'd be mad if I found out my babysitter was hooking it up with one of my kids.
    posted by Blogger miggy at 9/08/2006 08:49:00 AM  

  • I had a friend who would not leave her child with my DH, who I am pretty sure is not a child molester. She just had the same policy--her children were not to be cared for by men, period. We were not offended at all, she was just trying to protect her children. So DYM is not the only one with such a policy.

    I haven't thought much about this, either, although I too would be uncomfortable with a male babysitter. My girlfriend has offered her sons to babysit, and, well, I love my girlfriend, but I haven't taken her up on it, and probably never will.

    I think it just comes down to what we as mothers feel comfortable with, and that goes for both genders. Heck, I had a 14 year old female neighbor who was always asking if she could babysit for me, and I never once let that girl inside my house. Why? I really couldn't tell you, other than a feeling that my child wouldn't be safe with her. And yet I let the 12 year old who lived down the street babysit quite often. I felt like I could trust her. Turns out she was one terrific kid.

    I think we as mothers can be tuned in to who we can trust, and who we can't. That may be a naive statement, given how much abuse actually goes on, but I'm not sure how else to handle it.
    posted by Blogger Heather O. at 9/08/2006 09:04:00 AM  

  • I'm taking a sex offenders course this semester and we we're just talking about pedophiles. Of course it's only the second week and so we haven't gotten into huge details about what to look for, but often sex offenders are highly intelligent males. We haven't gotten to women, but women are sex offenders and molest children also. Truly they do go into professions where they can have access to children. They are often highly social and good with children.
    We have a blanket rule of no male babysitters. One reason is I was molested by my brother, and so was two of my three sisters for a number of years. The repentance process took place and he went on with his life. He got married in the temple to a horrible women. They got involved in pornography in there home and they are now divorced. I don't know he if still has a an attraction to young children. (many pedophiles get this attraction in there teen years and continue to act it out, and other forms of sexually deviant behavior as an adult.) We have the blanket rule of no male babysitters unless their wife is present. I leave them with my sister and her husband, but only as long has she is there. We trust him anyways, but rather then single out this uncle who may or may not ever offend again, we rather just say no males, not even family, because often it is males that are acquaintances or relatives that are the offenders. This is hard. We've kinda made the exception for Grandpa. But mostly because we don't know how to bring up that we don't want any exceptions, and that would mean he wouldn't be aloud to take his grand kids on errands when they happen to babysit. (they use to watch my sisters kids, and he only worked 3-4 days a week and often he would take one or both on errands with him, so when we're over for the day sometimes my daughter wants to go on errands with him.) Honestly we've been able to avoid saying we have this rule, that's one reason e still let grandpa watch them if the need arises. It is hard and you can have boys come into the house and help you, but maybe it's always supervised. There are some males who could babysit and there would be no worries. The spirit is one way to tell, but what if you're wrong...just once it all it takes.
    posted by Anonymous Anonymous at 9/08/2006 09:22:00 AM  

  • Man, this just makes me want to lock my kids in our home and never leave. Ugh.
    posted by Anonymous tracy m at 9/08/2006 10:12:00 AM  

  • I don't have time to comment on everything right now, but I did want to say that I know that more than DYM has this policy - it is easily seen by all her commentors, I hope I made that clear in my original post. And I hope DYM, you don't feel like I am picking on you in any way or that you are offended. After reading your post I realized I neede to make a policy of my own, I just need to work out all the implications before I decide what exactly that policy is.

    And, you are right, the way I presented the stranger statistic was bad. But I think my point is still valid--while pretty much everyone would feel uncomfortable leaving our kids with a strange male, the statistics remind us that we need to be just as worried about those men who are closer to us-family and friends.

    Please keep commenting, reading everyone else's thoughts are really helpig me work through this really hard subject.
    posted by Blogger TftCarrie at 9/08/2006 10:41:00 AM  

  • oh my, there should be a disclaimer on your website to read at your own risk. ahhh, just when I thought I could kind of imagine myself having kids eventually (after finally recovering from that bloody picture of the placenta). I don't know if I'll ever feel ready...
    posted by Blogger tamrobot at 9/08/2006 12:19:00 PM  

  • I've waited to comment on this for a bit just because I don't want to offend. Well, I've been thinking about it A LOT and now I really don't care. My feelings come from a personal place and if they could save one......it's worth it to me. No, I wasn't molested, but my baby sister was. For 3 years, when she was between 3-6 and she's now 16. Talk about messing up someone's life. It's just sooooooo not worth taking the chance in my opinion. Satan is amazing, and our children deserve to be protected. So, this happened to my sis with her BEST little friend and it was the dad that was doing it WHILE mom was home. It is soooooooo easy ladies! Let's play a game, blah blah. Yes, she was made to promise not to say anything and didn't for THREE years. Can you imagine!!? I think it's so important for us moms to not put those young/old men in the position, let alone our children. God has created us different than men for a reason (still wondering why :) SEX is different for the male species and so is the way they think about it. It just is. No, they aren't all pigs, I wouldn't ever go that far. Statistics do speak the truth, at least I believe they do.
    I just can't imagine having to suffer what my sis did. I know I've suffered just being her sibling. So.....I'm 100% with the "no male babysitter" club, until death for me. And, for those that say they've "watched" the interaction between children and a male before hiring or asking them to tend their kids......that means you were there, of course nothing is going to happen...no one is THAT stupid, I hope.
    K, I can breathe now. Bottom line, these are the days we've been warned about! DYM...kudos to you! :)
    posted by Anonymous cali at 9/08/2006 12:21:00 PM  

  • No offense at all Carrie. I'm learning a lot from the discussion and we're continuing to develop our family policy. Everyone's given me a lot to think about. My friend Mary is also discussing this on the BlogHer site today.

    I'm thinking I may just have my kids cryogenically frozen until the second coming.
    posted by Anonymous daring one at 9/08/2006 03:05:00 PM  

  • One good tip a wise mother/teacher told me was to differentiate between secrets and surprises. It is okay to keep surprises (don't tell what you are giving sister for christmas) it is NOT okay to keep secrets. The other is to differentiate between telling and tattleling. It is okay to tell to help someone be safe.
    posted by Blogger julieP at 9/08/2006 04:09:00 PM  

  • My kids are all too old to need babysitters anymore, but we were always really careful who we'd let our kids stay with. But honestly, I think we rarely left them with babysitters because we couldn't afford to.

    However, a lot of their friends when they were younger ended up being bad influences. And you know what? I always, always had a bad feeling about those kids. Once I didn't act on my bad feeling and boy was it a mistake.

    I don't think I would've left my kids with a gym daycare type of thing, male or female. Once I think I did leave my kids at an Ikea kids play area thing, but they were older, and there was more than one caregiver there watching the kids.
    posted by Anonymous Susan M at 9/08/2006 04:36:00 PM  

  • What an akward but important subject. I, through experience know how important it is to be careful about these things. I have a 10 year old step son, who recently started hating boy scouts. He LOVED it before, and now cries when we bring it up, and suggest that he goes. Being the STEP mom, I have tried to let his dad handle a lot of these situations, but my gut instinct on this one was to talk to my son one on one, and let him express to me how he felt. He is much more open with me than he is with his dad, and even his natural mom. One morning when it was just he and I, I asked him why scouts was so scary, and why he didn't want to go. He responded that 'he didn't know'... I waited a little more and he finally started to cry and said he had a scout master that would always touch him on his shoulders, and on his back, and tell him how lucky the girls would be someday. He didn't even know that men would take advantage of little boys, but he felt akward, and so instead of talking to us, he just decited to boycott scouts all together. It was terrible, and I felt horrible as his mom, and emotional caretaker. We discussed some of the things that Heavenly Father has taught us, and that he will take care of us when we listen to the spirit. The bottom line of all of this is that there is always going to some threat to the welfare of our children. In becoming a mom, and knowing that I will have my own little one soon, I have come to the conclusion that I am going to teach my children what it means to stand up for themselves and communicate with mom and dad when they feel violated. My son and I had a great talk, and it opened the lines of communication so that instead of hiding, he can be sure that I won't judge him, and mock his feelings. You are all wonderful mothers, and great examples. I know that we will be blessed for teaching our children the very innocent essence of the Gospel. I know that protecting them is important for a time but letting them fly on their own accord will teach them more about life than sheltering them will ever do. I know that if we teach them now, they will remember the teachings throughout eternity. It's up to them to choose how to use what we teach!!!
    posted by Blogger Emery and Jen Layton at 9/08/2006 04:51:00 PM  

  • You sure did open my eyes to this "policy". I have never truly given it thought until today! Thank you all!
    posted by Blogger Zinone at 9/08/2006 08:12:00 PM  

  • Also, most of your readers are LDS and should know that the church has recently disallowed men from teaching children alone. This is to protect both the men and the children. Is the First Presidency saying (gasp!) that the bishops won't always be perfectly in tune and catch every possible thing that might happen because they are not directly channeling the Spirit at all times?

    I haven't read all comments, so forgive me if this is a repeat. I think part of the reason the church has done this is for legal reasons. If there are two people in a classroom, there is always another witness. Sometimes the law will take a child's word over an adult's to err on the side of caution. A case of child-said, one-adult-said could be devastating to an adult if the child is one to make up stories. For this reason, my husband has his own policy that he will never be in a house, car or any other place alone with children.

    I have to say, too, that I know someone personally who is going through a false-accusation based lawsuit right now and it has been costly in time and money and energy, taking months to get resolved. Nevermind that the prosecution has some sort of agenda.... Seems that taking a few precautions against risks of such a mess might be warranted.
    posted by Anonymous Anonymous at 9/08/2006 09:37:00 PM  

  • I haven't had time to read the comments (and I'm sure I'll regret it later as my foot slowly comes out of my mouth) but...

    We have 3 male babysitters that are Priests in our ward. They are a frequent presence in our home and feel comfortable to hang out here, bring their dates/girlfriends and often seek me out for advice about all kinds of things. We've known them for a long time and know them really well.

    My brothers have also babysat my children frequently. As well as my father.

    That said, we have had very frank and open discussions with our children about what is NOT appropriate touching --what they are supposed to do if ANYONE, whether they are supposed to be "nice" or our "friend", touches them --and to tell us ESPECIALLY if someone has told them NOT to. I have this discussion with them every few months, just because I know they are young and can forget things and I believe this is important enough for them to hear.

    Do I ever worry about our male babysitters? Not really. But I find myself still being cautious --they aren't allowed to give them baths and such. And I usually only call one of them if I'm desperate.

    I do think we can take away great learning responsibilites for YM when we tell them we can't and won't trust them with our children. Yes, there are predators. Yes, it could be the boy next door who passes you the Sacrament, but honestly? Statistically? I don't see that happening in every neighborhood and in every ward.

    Where do you draw the line? I don't know. But I'll tell you this: if you feel awkward or uncomfortable with ANY babysitter --no matter if the sitter is male/female, a relative or not --don't leave your kids with them. My FIL has never babysat my kids for that reason, although I KNOW he would never hurt the kids. Anyway, to me, it seems to be that simple.

    ~sigh~ At least I wish the world could be that simple...
    posted by Blogger Cheryl at 9/08/2006 10:10:00 PM  

  • a very thought-provoking post. cheryl- kudos to you. i was curious as to what your comments would be on this topic. i dont think it is healthy to raise children to be afraid of men. however, i am not a mother yet so feel free to disagree with me.
    posted by Blogger brenbot at 9/09/2006 11:05:00 AM  

  • My husband and I had a long discussion last night spurred on by this post, and the one at DYM... He had an interesting and different point of view...

    By his thinking (we are active, worthy and he holds the preisthood)disallowing your sons or your male family members to watch your children, blanket style, is not protecting them, but actually accusing them of wrongdoing, and could even cause issues where none were originally. Bear with me here... I know you all may want to flame me....

    Statistic are statistics, and you can often interpret them in many ways. I'm not discounting anyone elses choices either- if this works for you, great. I'm just struggling with why it feels wrong to me.

    Again, as the mother of sons, I can't fathom not letting, even teaching them to care for one another. We hope these boys grow up to be caring, tender, loving husbands and fathers; if we disallow them the opportunity to learn that in our home, where shall they learn these valuable skills?

    What I find myself keep coming back to is that this decision needs to be made on a case-by-case basis. Follow that gut-instinct, boy or girl. Listen to the Spirit. I understand some of you have your no-male policy to ease tension, or make things more uniform and easy. Again, not judgeing you.

    But for our famiy, I cannot see how acting as if my boys are guilty or might be guilty if given the change is a good avenue to take.

    Flame away.
    posted by Anonymous tracy m at 9/09/2006 05:49:00 PM  

  • tracy-
    I doubt people are going to think that your decision is somehow wrong or bad...just like your thinking that they are not wrong or bad, either. :)

    But I really have to admire your point because I think you described my feelings a little better than I did. I agree with you.
    posted by Blogger Cheryl at 9/09/2006 06:32:00 PM  

  • I'm with you tracy m. I just gave birth to a boy, and the last thing I would want to do is make a blanket rule that he could never care for children, or that a male could never care for him. I certainly understand the impulse to be careful, but I'm afraid that such a rule would imply (at least to me and my kids) that it's the female's role to care for children and not the male's. Not to mention that males are inherently dangerous. I'm uncomfortable with that.

    Like others have said, I'll simply try to be careful about who I leave my children with, male or female. And I'll encourage my son to babysit, if that's something he's interested in (and if he doesn't turn out creepy.)
    posted by Blogger Caroline at 9/09/2006 06:51:00 PM  

  • This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
    posted by Blogger Deborah at 9/09/2006 08:09:00 PM  

  • I extoll the need for caution, vigilence, and eyes-wide-open . . . but I'm feeling slightly sickened after wading my way through both threads.

    Children are great anthropologists -- they watch our choices, absorb our biases, and I wonder what we are telling our boys about their innate selves when we declare men unfit to watch our children. Each year, I take seventh and eighth grade boys to volunteer at a low income day-care center near the school. Being with children awakes a tenderness, goodness, and playfulness in many of these young men that is unparalleled in other activities. I would worry for our daughters and our sons if we distrusted men who enter the teaching and childcare profession such that it became a less desirable profession for men than it already is. Because it fosters an awful cycle: we are robbing children of direct male role models -- expecially young boys with no consistent man in the home. As it easy, many children make their way to junior school having had no male teachers or day care providers to help nurture their intellect and character. They don't have a chance to see how men can interact beautifully and appropriately with children. They learn that working with kids is something that guys don't do. By all means be saavy and smart -- but let's not forget to protect who our boys are becoming . . .
    posted by Blogger Deborah at 9/09/2006 08:11:00 PM  

  • Make that "junior high" and "especiallY" -- time for bed.
    posted by Blogger Deborah at 9/09/2006 08:15:00 PM  

  • I think if I have a son, I will use that same gut instinct when I allow him to babysit for certain families...like an anon. reader pointed out...he has been falsely accused...could there be a mother out there trying to hit on my son? Or a not quite teenage daughter who might be curious and trap my boy when he was babysitting? I totally agree with tracy m....
    posted by Blogger Kage at 9/10/2006 04:31:00 AM  

  • My response over at my blog:

    posted by Anonymous D. Fletcher at 9/11/2006 08:30:00 AM  

  • I would like to take a moment to recommend this book Protecting the Gift by Gavin DeBecker. (DeBecker is a expert in the field of child preditors) I just read it two days ago.

    It talks a lot about how to pick babysitters. It talks about the types of behavior we should be wary of in preditors, and the signs we should look for in our children. He is explicit that male babysitters are more of a risk (gay men are actually safer) but he also talks specifically about not teaching children to fear all men because baseless blanket fear will dull their (and our) instincts for when they really should feel fear.

    I don't have a problem with male babysitters so long as parents are very careful in the selection process, yes, more careful than with a female babysitters.
    posted by Blogger fMhLisa at 9/11/2006 12:36:00 PM  

  • ah look, I just read DYM's origional post and she recommended the same book, doh!
    posted by Blogger fMhLisa at 9/11/2006 01:20:00 PM  

  • Each year, I take seventh and eighth grade boys to volunteer at a low income day-care center near the school. Being with children awakes a tenderness, goodness, and playfulness in many of these young men that is unparalleled in other activities.

    I think young men should have opportunities to care for children, and this above shows that they don't have to be in a babysitting-in-a-private-home mode. There is little to no risk when in a group, because you have others around and witnesses to protect against false accusation, etc. Not that that couldn't or shouldn't ever happen (all personal choice there, I think) but....

    I also think it's a stretch to say that having female babysitters is somehow going to instill mistrust for men in children. I personally don't want to have young men watch my little ones, but I don't think they have some distorted view of male caregivers, either. They have a dad who watches them all the time, grandpas who pitch in, awesome uncles who play with them, and male teachers at school and in Primary. We don't HAVE to have male babysitters to help our kids be comfy with males, IMO. (Apologies to those with sons...I am sure you have great boys and maybe if I knew you I would change my mind, but I am just more comfortable with female babysitters. I do think it's great to find ways to give boys that experience somehow, like the above example.)
    posted by Anonymous Anonymous at 9/11/2006 04:43:00 PM  

  • I was raised in a truly disfunctional home with abuse from brothers and cousins and with liaise faire parents deep in denial. Fortunately, when I was 15 my Bishop jerked me out, got me into BYU early, got me couseling and got me on a different path. I was extremely careful choosing a husband who had none of my family's problems in his family.(they have a whole different set of problems, but that's another story) I was sure I would never leave any of my children with a male caregiver. And then I had a daughter and five sons. They were not left with ANYONE, except my husband's mother or sisters while they were preverbal. They were taught the correct names for everything and encouraged to be open. After they were older I had a standing weekly appointment with teenage girl babysitter who I trusted.(My husband traveled a lot then). When she got old enough to want a "real job" I paid her more than I could afford so she would continue with us. I never left them in the care of each other, or anyone from my side of the family. Even as young teenagers they had a sitter, so that no one could have the opportunity to exercise unrighteous dominion. When they were old enough to talk clearly I did leave them with my father-in-law and one bro-in-law. I never left them with one of my husband's brothers because my gut, the Holy Ghost, mother's intuition, whatever, was uncomfortable with him. My biggest piece of advice is to err on the side of caution if you are uncomfortable.
    My husband is better with children than almost all men. My boys are all healthy adults now, and they are all wonderful with children. Before his mission, one worked as a lifeguard and taught swimming lessons to children. The facility asked him to work in their understaffed daycare when he wanted more hours. There were always 3 or more employees in the daycare and there were video cameras. The potty was in an alcove around a corner without a real door. The boys who needed help prefered him as much as the girls preferred a woman. Imagine that! It was a great experience for him and for the kids. I about died on shock when he first told me but I kept my mouth shut and I'm glad I did. My attitudes have softened since then. I know any of my grandchildren would be safe with any of my sons. Still, however, would never leave small children with any teenage boys. Teenage boys in the throes of hormones are curious, and still figuring out who they are. Why give them an unsupervised opportunity to try out anything that might hurt them or the children so much? Statistically, teenage girl caregivers are exponentially safer.
    posted by Anonymous Anonymous at 9/14/2006 07:35:00 AM  

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