Bugging the Babysitter

16 Mar

Letterbalm Girl Hugging BabysitterDear LetterBalm: My daughter is 10 years old and has had the same babysitter, age 16, for three years. They get along beautifully, and the teenager is a mature and responsible girl. She lives down the block. My daughter is crazy about her, so much so that she phones her and goes over to her house unannounced. So far, the girl hasn’t said anything, but I’m concerned that my daughter is becoming a nuisance. Should I leave it to the two of them to work it out, or should I say something to my daughter?

–Polite Mom

Ms. L.B. recommends you use this opportunity as a teachable moment. Your daughter needs your guidance in establishing courtesy boundaries. If you don’t, your daughter may be putting her babysitter in the difficult position of tolerating her behavior or losing her patience and, annoyed, telling your daughter to leave or hanging up on her, which would break her heart. A 16-year-old girl doesn’t have that much in common with a 10-year-old, as we all know. So, you must do two things: First, tell the babysitter privately that while you appreciate her patience and kindness, she should not hesitate to tell your daughter when she’s becoming too clingy. Second, have a casual chat with your daughter, just the two of you. You might take her for lunch. Teachable moments can go down better with spaghetti and ice cream:

Hailey, can we have a talk about Debbie? She’s a wonderful babysitter, isn’t she? We’re lucky to have her because she’s a nice person and she takes great care of you. I know you love her very much but we have to talk about something. You’re calling Debbie every day and going over to visit her uninvited. Sweetie, when you have good manners, you don’t do those things because people are busy. It’s not polite. Debbie loves you, but she’s too busy to see you all the time. You’ll see her when she babysits. I know you might feel sad, but you’re a big girl. You have to wait for people to ask you to their houses, and you can’t call them all the time. If you feel really bad about this, let’s talk about it.

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