You know what bothers me a lot about the Duggar thing, that I feel like isn’t always emphasized in news articles about it? The conclusion that the Duggar parents leapt to, that boys should not babysit kids. I see this being referred to as a “strict rule,” like their rules about courtship, but to my mind it is nothing like that. Babysitting is not dating. It is not and should not be sexual, regardless of the genders involved! If you tell a dating couple that their interactions must be supervised, it’s because you assume they have sexual feelings for each other. I think it’s ridiculous and horrifying to say teen boys can’t babysit or have siblings on their laps, because that implies that you think all teen boys will molest if they get the chance! It isn’t “strict”—it’s sick.
It both demonizes boys and relieves them of any responsibility for controlling themselves, which we already do with grown men.
Anyway, I would like to take this opportunity to share a story about one of my babysitters growing up. He was the teenage son of one of my mom’s friends, and he looked after me one summer while my mom worked and my brother was in camp. He looked after me, took me to fun places like the pool, and was a gentle, kind, and responsible guy. I really liked him! If my mom had been so scared of letting a teen boy, ANY teen boy look after her daughter, I never would have gotten those fun times with him, and he wouldn’t have gotten the benefits of taking on responsibility and having a paying job. (Ok, so maybe he would have found a different job and I would have had a different babysitter, but still—the situation was a good one!)
Do you think parents generally won’t hire boys because they think boys will be molesters? I hardly ever saw male babysitters growing up, but I always figured it was a combination of parents assuming girls will be more nurturing and responsible, and boys being socialized to not be interested in the “women’s work” of childcare (or just not wanting to do it for whatever reason). I used to babysit some neighbor boys of mine in high school, and it was obvious that they wished my brother would come and bring his legos to show them instead of me, but their parents never asked him and he never expressed a desire to do it. Have you parents ever hired a boy or young man for your kids? Have any male gt-ers babysat?
I am sure I am not the first person to bring this up but it seems like the convos I have seen have mostly focused on other (also very important) issues, like the victim-blaming, so I just wanted fo look at this one thing specifically.