Poll: Using Male Babysitters

A and TAfter I had my first son, we used about half male babysitters and half female babysitters. I was careful to make sure I had a balance. A’s first sitter while I worked was my brother who came to live with us for the summer and be our “manny.”

We moved to Arizona, and I only found one male babysitter that I liked and would be able to sit consistently when I called. He went on to BYU a couple years ago and is now on his mission.

I don’t have any male sitters right now. I think it’s complicated by the fact that my youngest is a girl, and I am more picky now about a male sitter.

I’d like to do better, but I feel like in my area, we’re in the minority when it comes to families who are willing to hire male sitters, and when I find a boy who will babysit, he usually only does once or twice. So, I have to polls this week. The first question speaks to hiring preferences. Keep in mind this first one is so generalized I don’t know if it will do any good, but it’s mostly as a jumping off point. Why do you (or people you know) think it’s safe (or not) to use a male babysitter?:

The second question speaks to the supply of male babysitters. (I’m wondering if location and local culture has something to do with the willingness of men to babysit.)

EmilyCC

EmilyCC works for a national non-profit and lives in Phoenix, Arizona with her spouse and three children. She is a former editor of Exponent II and a founding blogger at The Exponent.

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12 Responses

  1. anon says:

    You might want to poll if people are comfortable hiring a male; this is a hot button topic. My uncle is a pediatrician with five sons, and won’t let them babysit after seeing accusations and situations with molestation involving male babysitters. Observing his caution, I never have had a male babysitter myself. Just not worth any risks, with three little daughters. Obviously, girls can perpetrate abuse as well, and most boys are fine, but I didn’t want to provide the opportunity.

  2. Grace says:

    Raised in a conservative Mormon family with 3 girls and 2 boys. Growing up, when I wasn’t around to babysit, my mother would offer my brother would take over for me. I ended up never getting those jobs again since my brother did such a good job!

  3. Libby says:

    We’ve had some fantastic male babysitters, and I’ve found myself much more likely to hire them now that I have a boy. Which galls me a bit, and makes me realize how much I’ve internalized those gender roles.

    On a brighter note, I have a 16-year-old neighbor boy who comes over once in a while to play with my 2-year-old son. They get a real kick out of each other — I’m not sure who enjoys it more!

  4. Emily U says:

    Great poll! I had a few male babysitters as a kid and I thought they were a lot of fun. My full-time day care providers and evening babysitters have all been women (this is over 6 years so far). I was glad when my son had a male preschool teacher for a while (they taught in teams of 3 at his school) because I think the variety is good for the kids. When I’ve looked for child care I’ve only ever had women apply or be easy to find. But if a man did respond to an ad, I admit I probably wouldn’t go for it. I feel bad about that, but it’s the truth.

  5. spunky says:

    I have to admit, I have never thought of a male sitter before! I never had a male babysitter when I was a child, and can’t think of anyone who is male and looking for baby sitting jobs. It IS a gender bias– but I even wonder if the church plays a part in it? I can recall having side discussions in lessons on babysitting and house cleaning, whereas the males had side discussions about mowing the lawn and shoveling snow.

    That being said, I am aware that there are male au pairs (mannies)…though I have yet to hire one.

  6. el oso says:

    I had my first babysitting job before I was 10. I and my brothers were never in high demand, but we all took some jobs. Especially once our sisters had regulars who just asked my mom to send over whoever was available.

  7. Kirsten says:

    We used both male and female babysitters. When the kids were around 8 and 5, we let them choose who they wanted to come and babysit. The ones who were fun and really played with them were asked back– those who spent more time on their cell phones were not. They had three favorites- two were female and one was male.

  8. Amanda says:

    This is a really interesting question, and one that kinda gets me going. I would have never thought to hire a male babysitter, except my AMAZING visiting teacher had a 14 year old son and she suggested one day that I use him to babysit my 2 young daughters (they are 2 and 6 months). It was great! He’s usually avaliable, and I know his mom well so I can make sure things are good on her end. I once mentioned this to another ward member (who I did not know well) and she said, “Oh, you feel comfortable using a boy? I don’t think I would ever do that for my kids” which I felt insinuated that I was putting my kids at risk! How unfortunate that using a young man as a baby sitter would cause this reaction.

  9. Alisa says:

    Family and close friends aside, as I would trust my son’s grandpa to be totally as safe as his grandma since I know them and prefer someone I know, I realize that I’m a little bit sexist in that I don’t want a male stranger, even one with a clear background check, to babysit my non-verbal child. This bias is based on statistics. It’s that in any group of 60, one of them is likely to be a rapist, and it’s likely to be a man. (See this interesting inversion: http://kateharding.net/2009/10/08/guest-blogger-starling-schrodinger%E2%80%99s-rapist-or-a-guy%E2%80%99s-guide-to-approaching-strange-women-without-being-maced/)

    But I don’t think that child molesters only target girls, and little boys need looking out for just as much as little girls do. My best friend from high school (a man) was molested by a female baby sitter as a child, and I know there are female sex offenders. But I’m talking about published stats and ratios, and it’s just true that men are much, much more often sex offenders, and that sex offense is largely a crime of opportunity. Since my child cannot tell me what happens when I’m not there, I have to make a choice somewhere, and when I have to choose a stranger with a clean background check from an online service or my company’s back-up care program, I leave the male applicants alone. No guarantees, but I can look at the stats and try my best.

  10. Alison says:

    In our current ward, where we have lived for a year, we have two young men that we use. I have three boys, so in my mind it kind of just makes sense! When I asked about sitters after we first moved in, I was told that the boys are just as good, if not better, as the girls. We chose the young man that we did because he was our home teacher so my kids were familiar with him (the other one we have used is his younger brother). They both play very well with my kids and leave the house clean and my kids get so excited when they hear that either one is coming, so I am happy with their services! When I was a teenager, my brother would sometimes take on the baby-sitting jobs that I couldn’t do, so hiring a male to watch my kids doesn’t seem like an odd thing to me.

  11. April says:

    I investigate child sexual abuse cases for my county and have worked as a therapist treating child sexual abuse victims. An older child perpetrating on a younger child is the most common sexual abuse I encounter in treatment. I have seen a few cases of teen girls perpetrating on younger children, but most of the perpetrators are male relatives/ family friends in their teens. I’d recommend caution with adolescent male babysitters, but would consider professionalism and qualifications over gender in hiring an adult Manny or Nanny.

  12. Ken says:

    I think you guys are completely missing the fact that many females are child molesters too. If you ever watched the show “To Catch a Predator” on Dateline NBC, they even state that the reason they weren’t getting female sex offenders is because most of the internet predators were men, but the female predators target children they know well, which are likely babysitters. I’m a guy and I babysit and I have been great at it. One of the little boys I babysat for even told me I was the best babysitter he ever had.

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