It’s a blessing when family members and friends are able to support someone in their role as parents. A friendly chat over a cup of coffee, a surprise neighborly casserole, an offer to babysit the little munchkins for a few hours—it’s the small things in life that make parenting that much easier. But some parents grow to rely on these acts of kindness a bit too much. So much so that they can even resort to pressuring and guilt-tripping their part-time babysitters.
One redditor recently shared a truly stressful slice of family drama with the AITA online community. She explained how she’s been looking after her brother’s kids for ages (for free, of course), only to then realize how little they were truly thankful to her for her help.
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Due to some extremely upsetting circumstances, the redditor wanted to have some time all to herself and asked to take a break from babysitting. However, her brother and sister-in-law were far from accommodating. Not only did they start guilting her to change her mind, they actually asked her for financial ‘compensation’ (say what?) for her not being able to take care of the kids.
It can truly feel like it’s a clown world out there, ladies, gentlemen, and Pandas. Read on for the full story, how redditors reacted to the super weird circumstances, and let us know what you personally think in the comments.
Bored Panda got in touch with comedy writer and single mom Ariane Sherine, from the UK, to get her opinion on what makes for a great babysitter, what she thinks about child independence, and what parents can do to thank the kind folks who do them a favor and look after their kids. You’ll find her thoughts below.
When you babysit for free, you’re doing the parents a favor. However, some entitled people take it for granted
Image credits: charlesdeluvio (not the actual photo)
A redditor turned to the AITA community to share what happened when she said she needed some privacy and couldn’t babysit for her brother
Image credits: Ashley Byrd (not the actual photo)
The woman later clarified that she had never been paid for her babysitting services
According to mom Ariane, who has an 11-year-old daughter, there are plenty of ways to thank somebody for babysitting. “If they won’t accept money, or it doesn’t feel right to offer it, how about giving them gifts? My friend John looks after my daughter for me a lot and I gave him an iPhone and Apple Watch as he wouldn’t accept money. He’s an Apple fanboy so it made him happy!” she shared an example from her own experience.
We were curious to get Ariane’s take on kids wanting to be a bit more independent and where the lie lies where children might no longer need a babysitter.
“My daughter’s 11 now and she wants to go out alone but I’m not happy with that. I know in the next few years she’ll want more independence because she wants it now!” she opened up to Bored Panda.
“Kids usually tell you what they want and grumble at you for being overprotective. But I’m always going to be overprotective when it comes to her because she’s my baby,” she said.
For Ariane, at the core of being a great babysitter lies genuine focus. The babysitter has to truly care about what they’re doing and the child they’re supposed to be taking care of. Babysitting’s more than just switching on the telly and microwaving some sad mac-n-cheese.
“I think the main thing is to focus on the child and give them lots of undivided attention instead of being absentminded and distracted,” she said that babysitters ought to be present.
“Lily loves being babysat by John because he’s very funny and makes silly jokes. He’s also totally willing to get involved in whatever she wants to do, whether that’s playing a game or doing a quiz. He doesn’t just sit there on his phone and ignore her!” Ariane shared some of the positive qualities that make a huge difference.
You realize that there’s a lot of toxicity in a relationship when you feel guilty for having a personal life and drawing common-sense boundaries. When there’s an emergency, when the going gets tough, then you really see what the people closest to you are like. You might realize that you have far fewer trustworthy friends than you think. (Unfortunately) people tend to be very self-serving when their interests are even remotely threatened. Sometimes, all it can take is asking for a couple of weeks off from doing someone a favor to get them to drop their masks.
It’s… absurd. Frankly, it’s utterly absurd that you should be asked to pay someone because you temporarily can’t do someone a favor. A favor that you’ve been doing without compensation, out of the goodness of your own heart. This reeks of entitlement, hypocrisy, and downright nastiness.
Nobody should have to tolerate this type of lack of respect. Especially from the people who are supposed to always have your back. Is being driven to so much guilt that you’re forced to write a post on the AITA subreddit ruly the reward someone deserves for years of dedicated babysitting service? This is common-sense ethics, not rocket science, people. It’s as simple as not being a [whoops, can’t use those words here] jerk.
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The OP took part in the discussion in the comments of her post
Parenting blogger Samantha Scroggin, from ‘Walking Outside in Slippers,’ previously explained to Bored Panda that boundaries and good communication are what ensure that most family disputes don’t happen.
“I think when establishing boundaries with family members, being clear and using good communication are the best routes. You wouldn’t want a family member to misinterpret your actions for rudeness or lack of appreciation for their help with childcare,” the mom of two told us.
“I would hope that close family members can communicate freely about expectations for child care, but I know that personalities differ and some would rather take on an extra burden and avoid conflict,” she said why some folks completely avoid the issue and downplay any brewing conflicts.
Samantha stressed that all families are different and that there isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach to babysitting and asking for a favor looking after the kids.
“Some families are very close, and the aunts and uncles and grandparents are practically other parents to the kids. Others are more distant. Once again, I think good communication is important to set the ground rules and ensure everyone is comfortable with the babysitting expectations,” she said.
“My husband and kids and I live several hours away from both sets of grandparents, and other family members. Because of this distance, we are rarely if ever asked to babysit. However when we visit family, the grandparents often take our kids so we can go on a date for dinner, and maybe even a short weekend away alone. I think the distance makes the grandparents more eager to spend what time with our kids they can. My husband and I try not to abuse this privilege and expect too much, but it is such a relief to have occasional help with feeding and caring for the kids.”
Meanwhile, a former professional nanny shared with Bored Panda her insights into the sometimes peculiar mentality that some parents who. She noted that some parents are unwilling to take anyone’s advice about parenting, even if they’re a professional, becomes it’s all such a personal thing. That’s actually part of the reason why these parents tend to not want to pay babysitters as much as they deserve. They believe that looking after their kids is a privilege and that anyone would be happy to do it for free.
“That’s the same reason I believe they often don’t want to offer adequate compensation: it’s personal. They’re (most likely, in my experience) paying you under the table, they’re trying to get a good deal, and they love their child. They don’t think that looking after their ‘precious angel’ is a job; it’s a treat. They would love to be home with their child all day, so I think they feel like it’s not a real job. It’s something you get to do, and they’re mad they have to pay someone to do it,” the nanny told us.
“They love their child, they’d do anything for their child. There’s a connection there that someone else could never have, and they can’t imagine not having that connection, so they treat it like it’s not a job, it’s a privilege. The ‘you’re so lucky you get to stay home with my baby while I have to go to work’ mindset, when in reality we leave our families to take care of yours; we don’t want to leave our families in the morning for work any more than you do, but it’s our job.”
Here’s what other redditors had to say about the family drama