Every year I put out the word that we’re looking for reliable, kind, fun babysitters. I work from home, so solid babysitters are a very important part of how our life runs. I’ve got two friends who are both connected with college students through ministries they work with, so they have been a great source of referrals. This last summer one friend told me she had a babysitter option for me, but how did I feel about hiring a guy?
We’ve never had a male babysitter for our kids (six kids, ages 2-10 this summer). When we worked in the children’s home for five years, we worked with a few male interns/mentors who were college graduates that wanted to spend a year investing in kids. Those guys were some of my favorite people to work with and showed me the great value of a solid man (other than just the “dad” figure) investing in the lives of children. I came to learn that some men are uniquely gifted at caring for kids—a skill set that often goes un-encouraged or unrecognized.
We can tend to be suspicious of guys who are great with kids. We assume they may be up to something. Statistically speaking, kids are most likely to be abused by someone they know and trust. I’ve just learned to be suspicious of everyone and talk to my kids as though sexual abuse is something they should be prepared to deal with. I wish that wasn’t the world we leave in, but it is. So I am not naive about leaving my kids with a man, but I also don’t think we’re solving that potential problem by only leaving them with women. My solution (as much as you can have a solution) is to talk openly with my kids about what they should do if they feel uncomfortable in a situation.
Before agreeing to hire a male babysitter, I talked with my kids about how they felt about it. I asked my girls, specifically. My girls are past the stage of needing diaper changes or bathroom help, which also made me feel more at ease. I would be in the home most of the time the babysitter was there and I would be available to deal with any diaper issues from the toddler. It seemed like a relatively low level of risk and I felt confident the people who were referring this guy were a good character reference. So we decided to move ahead.
And I’m so glad we did.
Our experience with a male babysitter was 100% positive. I noticed something I hadn’t anticipated—he could get away with using a lot fewer words than our female babysitters. He was tall and imposing and could often quiet the kids by just saying, “Guys. . . ” Since I have four sons, they were anxious to please him and wanted his attention and involvement. They had a great time just having an adult guy to hang out with. He was active and adventurous. And he was surprisingly low-key that time he got peed on by our potty-training toddler. . .
Some of my favorite moments of this experience were the times I went to go relieve the babysitter and he’d end up staying a little longer to finishing the round of Mario Kart or the episode of “The Flash” with the kids. It was great to see somebody genuinely enjoy being with my kids and get into the things they are into. Our female babysitters have always been great about that, but there’s just something special about having another positive male influence in the life of my kids.
Our kids went to our babysitter’s baptism this last month. He spent HIS birthday at our toddler’s birthday party. He has been an active and ongoing part of our family’s support structure in ways I didn’t expect when we first decided to go with a male babysitter.
So many of the people who invest in our children are women. Sunday School teachers, their classroom teachers, my friends, their aunts, the neighbor moms—there are so many wonderful women who love them well and I’m so thankful for that. But there was something surprisingly sweet about having a gentle, fun, kind man care about them.
I married a man who loves kids. I can see throughout his life how God has used that love of kids for good. I’m raising young men who will be uniquely gifted at caring for children because they’re growing up in a home where that’s just what we do. It’s a shame that often men who love kids have to prove themselves or they’re denied opportunities to invest in kids because we live in a suspicious age. But we need to be suspicious. Our male babysitter continues to be part of the lives of our kids and I continue to touch base with them about their comfort level and experiences. I hope that I’m protecting my kids wisely and also providing them with the great experience of having another loving man in their world.
If you are considering hiring a male babysitter, do your due diligence. Get good referrals. Ask your kids how they feel. Continue to touch base and check in with your kids about how it’s going. Be a fly on the wall. Listen to your gut. Have regular, ongoing conversations with your kids about good touch, bad touch and healthy boundaries. And don’t neglect these steps just because you hire a female babysitter.
For our family, this has been a great experience and we’d gladly do it again.