Name: margalit
Location: Massachusetts, United States Professional writer, educational advocate, opinionated ultra liberal mother of 18 year old twins, living life in the slow lane due to hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, congestive heart failure, and diabetes.

email: margalitc at yahoo dot com

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Saturday, September 30, 2006

Parents of teens: What would you do?

My Girl has been babysitting for a year now. She works with a family that lives nearby so she can walk there. They have 3 children, 15 month-old twins and a 3 year old. She is more of a mother's helper than a sitter, as there is always one other adult there. Sometimes it's the mom or the day, but mostly it's Grandma. The Girl loves this job, and she's very attached to the babies. Tonight she came home and said that they had let her bathe the twins and put them to bed all by herself, so they're grooming her for sitting on her own. Which is great, and I really support this for several reasons, chief amongst them that she's earning her own spending money. She's definately learning the value of a dollar, and this makes me happy. I also think that it's important for young women to know what taking care of a baby is really like, and to learn realistically that it's not like playing with dolls. I also want her to know about changing diapers and feeding babies so when and if she has her own children, she'll feel comfortable about those tasks.

I babysat from the time I was 11 until I was out of grad school, and I think that's probably the reason why I didn't go through a lot of the new mom shock that so many other mom's go through. I took care of a newborn from birth until he was 19 months old, so I knew first hand all of the infant stages of poop and vomit, etc. My eyes were wide open going into this parenting thing. And that's been very helpful for me, as I'm hoping it will be for the Girl.

Today, when she got home, she was all excited. The family has to attend a wedding on Cape Cod in 3 weeks, and have asked her to go with them. She'll care for the twins while the older child and the parents attend the ceremony and reception. I think she can handle this, and I'm fine with it except.... the mom never asked me. She asked the Girl before she mentioned it to me, so now I feel like we're committed to this. I think she should have checked with me first.

I'm excited for the Girl, as this is a great opportunity for her to make some serious spending money, and it will be fun, too. The babies aren't tough to handle, they know her very well and like her, and she's very psyched to do this. I think it's great but.... there is this nagging thing that says, "Hey, don't I have a say in this?" I know it's part of her growing up that the Girl gets to make plans without my consultation, but this is going away for an overnight where she's going to be wholely responsible for the twins. I know she can do it. That's not the issue. I have implicit faith in her resources, and I know she knows how to ask for help when she needs it. She'll be fine. It's me... I'm not so fine.

Is this a separation thing, or is this just me being overprotective? I'm not sure. But it's going to eat away at me until the mom calls me and tells me the plans. I need to know what hotel they're staying at and what the room configuration is going to be. I need to know about how the Girl is going to get food, and if there is some downtime for her to explore the beach or anything fun. I need to know what they're going to pay her so I don't think they're taking advantage of her.

I just need to know the plans.

Man, I'm such a mom.
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Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree you do need to know...it is part of being the mom. Perhaps you should have a talk with the parents she is babysitting for about this.

Wendy directed me here today. I am glad that I got to see your blog. I will come back to visit again.

30/9/06 11:30 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm surprised the parents didn't ask you first.

Blogmad hit!

1/10/06 12:20 AM  
Blogger California Highway Guy - Daniel said...

I wouldn't be worried about her asking the girl first, unless the girl said "yes" and then asked you. If your daughter said she had to talk to you, then it was just that the other parent had more of a relationship with your daughter.

My suggestion would be to just indicate you want to talk to the other mom (whether your daughter is present is up to you) to figure out the parameters, since she won't be on the clock 100%. What is covered, what isn't etc. If you trust the other parents with your daughter, then it is likely OK

So just call up the other mom, say you heard from your daughter, and you want to talk.

Good luck

1/10/06 1:26 AM  
Blogger Tracy said...

I don't think the mom meant to step on any toes or anything by not coming to you first. She may have a lot on her mind and had planned to contact you or maybe she assumed you would be naturally thrilled with this opportunity for the girl and would'nt mind her asking the girl first and was planning on contacting you soon. Who knows what goes on in other people's minds..lol.

Either way I don't think you are being overprotective, I think you have every right to know all of these details. You ARE the Girl's mom :) I would give this mom a call to find out all of the details and then just for added parental measure I would say, "Okay I will discuss this with Girl and I will be in touch with you" or something like that...

I did a lot of babysitting from about age 11 on as well and this sounds like it would have been a dream job... I did get asked to go on vacation once with a family friend and her kiddos as a babysitter, but my mom would not allow me to. It kind of sucked and I still remember the missed opportunity. This is going to be such a great experience for the Girl!!

1/10/06 7:46 AM  
Blogger Ellen said...

Well, as I am the mother of a 20 month old daughter, and not a 14 year old daughter, you can take what I say with a large "Oh shut up Ellen you don't know anything" grain of salt. But I would be pretty darn concerned that the mother didn't clear it with you first.

First of all, what if you were against it? By asking your daughter first, the mother could have created unneeded conflict between you and your daughter. Second of all, it gives the impression to your daughter that you aren't in charge anymore, and you most certainly are.

What's done is done, so rather than bringing it up with the mother (which could potentially backfire and cause lost babysitting opportunities for your daughter), I would have a little discussion with The Girl and nicely let her know that you are allowing her to go, whether or not she thought that she had already made the decision.

1/10/06 7:52 AM  
Blogger Fizzy said...

This is a tough one and being a mum of a teen myself I understand the value of earning thier own money.
However, I totally understand your concerns and it was very remiss of the twin's parents not to confer with you first. In your situation, and if good parents, they would expect the same thing to happen. Probably what has happened is that they have not thought beyond the ages and needs of thier own children. they need to think what being a parent to a teen is like. (and personaly I think babies are easier! lol).Maybe just a quiet word with them explaining your feelings will put the matter straight for any future plans they have.
oooooo I have written loads I am so sorry, I was only supposed to say Wendy directed me here lol

2/10/06 4:58 AM  
Blogger Kristonia said...


Perhaps you can talk with Girl about it. Just tell her you would like to talk to the parents about it in detail and would like for her to arrange the conversation. I highly suggest Girl is with you for this discussion so she can learn that this request requires more than a simple yes or no, that there are many factors that need to be hammered out. Although the answer is ultimately "Yes, I would love to" it is important to ask specifics so that both you and Girl can make the appropriate arrangements.

Quite frankly, it is a great honor for Girl (and to your parenting) to be trusted with someone else's precious children. The fact that they also feel comfortable letting her make those kinds of decisions really speaks well of how she conducts herself. Since they spoke to Girl about it means that Girl needs to step up and make sure you are comfortable with it.

I have just sent the third teen to college and I can say that teens definitely step up to these responsibilities when you clearly define them and expect it of them.

BTW - Check out my post about "How to Respond to Teenage Angst and Live to Smile About It"

Also - bravo on your distinction of being pissed at the parents and not Girl! Hope Girl appreciates the subtle difference :)

2/10/06 10:04 PM  
Blogger Sadaf Trimarchi said...

I loved your perspective on letting your daugher babysit as a way of learning about babies and their care. You're right, it can be such a shock when you have your own, without having any experience in the past caring for little ones. (err..that would be me.) Once upon a time, I guess women had more exposure to children and infants in extended families, or large families or whatever. But most new moms I know, myself included, had little to no prior experience.

Echoing comments above re: asking your permission before hiring your daughter for an extended trip. I guess the plus side is that maybe they see her as an adult capable of answering for herself. Eh, if it were my daughter, I'd be wary too. Good suggestion about speaking with the mom re: employment issues - hours, fees, etc.

4/10/06 1:05 PM  
Blogger barbie2be said...

the mother should have talked to you before asking Girl.

4/10/06 1:52 PM  
Blogger panthergirl said...

I would be pissed. She most certainly should have checked with you first. How well do you know them? I'm paranoid about dads (having been a babysitter who had to dodge a few horny dads in my day...NOT to make you more paranoid, but this was my experience).

Anyway... I'd tell The Girl to hold off on her excitement until you've spoken to the parents and feel completely comfortable. You're not being overprotective. You're being smart.

6/10/06 7:53 PM  

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