For the week ending 23 December 2006 / 2 Tevet 5767

Babysitting the Babysitter

by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach zt'l
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Question: My daughter has reached the age at which neighbors have begun asking her to serve as a babysitter. She is flattered by this recognition of her maturity and enticed by the financial reward available for such a relatively easy effort. We are very protective parents, however, and are somewhat hesitant about giving our approval. What is the right thing to do?

Answer: Your fears for your daughter's physical and spiritual safety are not unreasonable. Before you allow your daughter to take on a babysitting offer you should ascertain a few matters.

First of all, limit the hour until which your daughter may be away so that going to bed very late does not harm her ability to function in school the next day. (It goes without saying that bringing her home is the responsibility of those who hire her!)

You should also make sure that she would not be exposed to any influences that you do not permit in your own home, such as books, magazines, TV and films.

Your babysitting daughter should be limited to the company of one girl who has been approved by both you and her employers. There is a tendency among some young people to turn a babysitting responsibility into a social evening. This must be firmly discouraged because such gatherings without adult supervision can degenerate into frivolity or worse.

In conclusion, remember that you are still the "babysitter" for your grown-up babysitter.

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