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luuknam

In your (sub)culture, is it normal...

  

165 members have voted

  1. 1. If elementary age kids are spending a week with relatives, for those relatives to use someone you don't know as a babysitter without your knowledge/consent?

    • Yes, normal
      11
    • Not normal, but not a big deal
      25
    • Not normal, and frowned upon
      120
    • Other
      9


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Let's assume there isn't an emergency or anything.

 

ETA: if your (sub)culture thinks this is normal, could you list what (sub)culture that is?

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It never even occurred to me they would until they did. Especially as they rarely got to watch my kids themselves (by their own choice) and made a big stink about having them stay. Then I find out they weren't even spending that time with the kid?!

 

I'm not sure how to answer the poll bc obviously they felt just fine doing it and we were not okay at all with it.

 

So they don't have those opportunities anymore.

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If I trusted someone enough to let a child spend a week with them, I would trust them enough to choose an appropriate sitter. If they couldn't choose a sitter, they shouldn't watch the kids for a week.

 

I would appreciate it if they told me about it (like when my mom set up for my kids to go to preschool for a week - she told me and I was completely on board). However, I know that four kids is exhausting, especially to someone who isn't used to it, and I wouldn't be surprised if someone watching them needed a break.

 

Emily

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Not normal and frowned upon. I would be extremely upset if this ever happened and would never allow that person to watch my children again. I can't imagine anyone I know being OK with that.

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I don't even recall if that ever came up.  However, I would never leave my child with a relative for a week unless I trusted them completely.  That means I would also trust their decision to get a babysitter if a situation required it. 

 

 

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I answered for my subculture of birth--the subculture into which I was born and in which my extended family still operates. It is not normal, but also not a problem for them. The assumption is that if I trust them with my children, I trust them to make good decisions with regard to who else can be trusted with my children. They see absolutely no problem with it.

 

It would make me uncomfortable. It has not come up with my daughter, because she doesn't like to be without me, so she doesn't do extended visits without me. It's unlikely to come up ever, because my family all (1) are too old, (2) have both adults working so there would be no use for my daughter to stay with them, as she wouldn't be spending time with them anyway, or (3) tolerate children well only in small doses.

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I send my DD to my mother for a spell every summer. She runs it by me before sending them to my sister's or my dad's, let alone an unrelated person. Last summer she asked before putting her in a one day gymnastics camp.

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I chose Other because I would say it's more than frowned upon.  I can't imagine any of the parents I know being OK with their child being left with a person that they would consider a stranger.  

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I might not have anticipated this coming up, so I voted "not normal" -- but now that I'm thinking it through, it's quite reasonable to anticipate that a grandparent who was "parenting full time" for a week to maybe want some time away from the child/ren -- like any normal person parenting for a week woul (especially given that they are older and have less energy). I can see why it would have struck them as 'within expectations' even if it hadn't occurred to me during the planning phase.

 

Maybe they wouldn't want to have any time away, but I see no flaw in them wanting to lead a balanced life while their grandkids were over. If they did want to go do something alone (shop, swim, dinner out, whatever) I'd trust them to choose a good babysitter... because if I thought they lacked that kind of good judgement, I wouldn't have done a week's care in the first place. [This seems to be where a sub-culture difference could be. In my sub-culture 'being related' is not enough reason to be given the care of a young child for a week. It has to be 'being related' + 'being implicitly trustworthy'.]

 

However, I wouldn't expect childcare plans to be a surprise or a secret. I'd hope to be in the loop about plans like that. (Unless the circumstances came up in a way that was reasonable, but not foreseen -- ie: didn't know how tired I'd be, was invited to a late baby shower.) I'd try to see it from their perspective and probably feel chagrined that I hadn't anticipated a need for some relief care during a full week. Not a big deal.

 

Getting a babysitter is not an error of judgement, if it's a reasonable response to an ordinary situation. Getting a babysitter without due diligence could be one, and keeping secrets definitely is.

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Other: It's not normal for an elementary age kid to spend a week with someone else in the first place.

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I had to vote "other" also, because it's not normal for my kids to be away from me overnight, even with grandparents. I do have friends that allow that, but it would be expected that if another sitter was needed, the grandparents would ask permission from the parents first.

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Even if I trusted the person entirely to pick a trusted babysitter I'd still not be OK with it because how it might affect my kids. They are very aware of strangers. When a parent is around they will chat it up with strangers and tell them the oddest things. But if mom or dad aren't around they will say hi and be pleasant, like in line at the store but they are clearly not as comfortable when they don't have the security of their parents. I wouldn't want them to feel uncomfortable with a stranger watching them knowing mom and dad are very far away.

 

The babysitters we have at home have known my kids for years. My kids know them and are comfortable with them. I might be OK with knowingly allowing a stranger to watch my kids if I was able to talk to my kids and make sure they were OK with it, but that isn't the case with this poll.

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I chose other. The subject never came up. But if I was trusting my children to stay with a relative then I must trust their judgement in regards to an appropriate sitter. I would want to know about it ahead of time.

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Could anyone who voted "normal" please state what (sub)culture they're in?

 

Obviously, this happened. I dropped my kids off late Sunday evening. I FaceTimed them on Monday, they were fine and my in-laws were there. I FaceTimed them on Tuesday, and it turned out my in-laws weren't there and some 60-something (I'm guessing) friend of theirs was there while the kids were playing on the iPad. Obviously, the kids were fine, but the babysitter wasn't very clear on what was going on beyond that she was a friend of my in-laws. The kids said something about getting spaghetti when grandmommy and gramps were coming back, so I think they maybe went to the store? I have no idea why they would *both* have to go to the store and leave the kids with someone I don't know, less than 48 hours after I dropped the kids off (for the record, *they* were the ones who wanted the kids to come visit them - it's not like they're doing me a favor by looking after them).

 

My wife is kind of w/e about it all, whereas I'm kind of like "where does this end?". If I'm looking after someone else's kids, and I give them to someone I trust to look after them, what's then to keep that person to hand them over to someone *they* trust to look after them, etc? It's all just very weird to me. If you need a break, go to the store alone, taking turns. Or ask for permission to let your friend babysit. Why on earth is there a need to do this less than 48 hours after getting the kids? I'd get it if the sitter said "your mil cut her thumb off so your fil took her to the hospital". I don't get *this* though.

 

Now, on to the next question... how do I deal with this when I talk to my in-laws again?

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I missed the week long criteria.

 

In my case it was just over one night. So they didn't ever get a week.

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It truly would depend.  If they asked for the kids, probably not normal, but I wouldn't give it much of a thought.  If the kids were visiting so dh and I could have a vacation, I would trust their judgement on balancing that week with their own needs.

 

 

ETA: My subculture is BRAT.  I don't know if that colors what we consider normal in this situation, but I do know in others it certainly does. 

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As to why: Often people who are 60+ish are living with low-level health issues that they compensate for through doing everything together. It's extremely common. My MIL has arrhythmia attacks. It's not serious, but it is upsetting, and she certainly does not go shopping without my FIL. I think this is probably the case in many older adults who keep unusually close tabs on each other.

 

To them, popping out to the store, without kids, and having a neighbor-or-someone keep an eye on them for 45 minutes probably seemed perfectly normal -- and better for the kids than dragging them to the store. Especially in 1st and 3rd grade, these people probably left kids that age home *alone* for a quick trip to the store in their day. So, getting a sitter was probably 'extra careful' in their eyes.

 

It's also possible that there *was* an emergency or serious obligation (funeral, clinic visit) and they had some idea that they shouldn't disclose the truth to children, and so lied about going to the store.

 

Seeing it from that perspective, I wouldn't find fault or 'frown on' the choice. I'd just say that I noticed, and I want them to do something else instead, "When I called earlier, i noticed that you weren't home, but you had someone watching the kids. I really need to know who is watching my kids, and I don't know any of your friends well enough. That means you should take the kids with you when you go places. )r -- if it's really necessary to get someone to watch them, be sure to call and introduce me. That will be much better."

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At elementary age, why not?

 

As a PP said, if I trust them to keep my kids for a week, I should trust all of their decisions concerning my kids.

 

I would assume I'd be told eventually (by the kids if nobody else), but I don't need to be told or asked in advance.

 

My "subculture" is just midwest USA mutt.

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IMO being in charge of kids does not mean being the only person supervising the kids.  It means you are responsible if anything happens, so if you leave them with (or without) someone, you remain accountable.

 

If you are against having your kids ever supervised by someone you don't know about in advance, make sure their grandparents know this in advance.  They probably did not think you would mind.

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No, I don't want my sitters getting a sitter, lol. 

 

I will say that  leaving them with a friend to run to the the store would freak me out much less than hiring a sitter for the evening, but yeah, honestly I would not be thrilled. 

 

When I trust people to keep my kids, I am not then trusting them with any and all decisions related to them. My rules on the big stuff are still in place, and that includes 'no babysitters that I don't know.' 

 

If someone doesn't want to have them over under those conditions, that's perfectly fine, I'm not offended at all or in any way expecting that they should do it my way. But my way is the only way it's going to happen, lol. 

 

The very few times someone has had my kids for several days (never as long as a week for us), it was never because I was asking them to do it as a favor. It was because they wanted it, so I'm fine with enforcing my rules. 

 

We also found out the hard way that there is no such thing as being too specific - the one thing we didn't say explicitly is the exact issue that came up. We didn't let our kids wander in and out of neighborhood houses in early elementary at home, but that's what we found them doing when we came to get them. They knew this, plus why insist on having them for a longer period of time if you're not going to be with them?? 

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I'm not really sure how most people in my culture or subculture would react to this, but it wouldn't bother me. There are only about 8 people I would trust to take care of my elementary-aged kids for a week, and I trust them enough to let them make this type of decision.  

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As to why: Often people who are 60+ish are living with low-level health issues that they compensate for through doing everything together. It's extremely common. My MIL has arrhythmia attacks. It's not serious, but it is upsetting, and she certainly does not go shopping without my FIL. I think this is probably the case in many older adults who keep unusually close tabs on each other.

 

Except they don't. They do plenty of things alone. If they had that many (low-level or w/e) health issues there is no way I'd let the kids stay with them for a week.

 

A just-turned-5yo and an 8yo with high-functioning autism are not okay to be left home alone by the standards of when I was a kid (of course, they're a little older than *my* parents' generation, but younger than my grandparents' generation). So, adding a sitter isn't some *extra* diligence.

 

But, you're right... it's possible something happened and they didn't want to worry the kids and "went to the store" as a cover story.

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Except they don't. They do plenty of things alone. If they had that many (low-level or w/e) health issues there is no way I'd let the kids stay with them for a week.

 

A just-turned-5yo and an 8yo with high-functioning autism are not okay to be left home alone by the standards of when I was a kid (of course, they're a little older than *my* parents' generation, but younger than my grandparents' generation). So, adding a sitter isn't some *extra* diligence.

 

But, you're right... it's possible something happened and they didn't want to worry the kids and "went to the store" as a cover story.

You're right: just-turned-five and special-needs-eight are not who I was imagining home alone, even in my parents' generation.

 

I was thinking more of a solid six and a neuro-typical eight/nine. I guess my mental scale is not quite calibrated for grades and ages any more.

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It's never come up for us.

 

I know my one sister has left my other sister's child with friends before, but that has more to do with being put in a crummy position by the parent than any "Hey, I feel like going out" kind of stuff.

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 Now, on to the next question... how do I deal with this when I talk to my in-laws again?

 

I would say, "I'm sorry I didn't think of bringing this up before, but I don't leave the kids with people I don't know. Could you split up trips to the store so you don't have to leave the kids with someone else?" 

 

Or, if there is a nearby friend that you do know and are okay with, you could say that it's fine to leave them with Mrs. X for up to two hours, if they would follow those parameters. 

 

I wanted to add a bit to the idea of trusting someone with all decisions if you trust them with your kids: I will ask questions and make requirements of people I know and love when they are watching my kids, that they are very unlikely to do if they get someone else to watch the kids. 

 

For example, in order for my kids to sleep somewhere, I had to be comfortable saying, "Do you have fresh batteries in the smoke detectors?" I check and fill the batteries at my parents' house, but they aren't going to check and fill the batteries at someone else's house. 

 

If someone is old enough to be unable to go the store by themselves, that would make it more likely to me that they also would not think of some of the less obvious concerns. Will they remind the secondary sitter not to turn on Law and Order: Special Victims Unit in front of the kids? Will they ask about smoke detectors, guns, loose dogs? Will they make sure the secondary sitter is on board with car seats? And so on. 

 

Some of these things are more important than others, obviously, but I definitely wanted the chain of command to be as short as possible when people watched my kids. I want to tell the person directly, not tell one person and have them tell another. 

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You're right: just-turned-five and special-needs-eight are not who I was imagining home alone, even in my parents' generation.

 

I was thinking more of a solid six and a neuro-typical eight/nine. I guess my mental scale is not quite calibrated for grades and ages any more.

 

The just-turned-5 is accelerated. He'd be in pre-K or K depending on state cut-offs (K here).

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My son went to stay with my parents last summer for 3 weeks. During which, he spent 1 week at a camp near them -- but I was in the loop and it was part of the whole deal. (I filled out the paperwork and signed a consent form for them to contact the grandparents first if something happened at camp -- and they STILL called me as well when he got hit by a cue ball there!)

 

He also went to church with them, where he went to Sunday School in a separate class. That was not explicitly okay'd with me but perfectly okay.  I think he spent an afternoon with a friend of theirs who has two kids about his age, as well. Not sure if my dad was there the whole time or not. SHe's a facebook friend of mine though we had not met in person yet. So still perfectly fine even though I was not told it would happen ahead of time.

 

If there were any other sitters, I was not made aware of them. So I guess I trust my parents' judgement and nothing has come up that would make me doubt that trust yet.

 

(Oh and we'd already figured out my parents next door neighbors would be the emergency contact for my son if something happened at camp and they could not get a hold of my parents.  I don't know these neighbors well but they have been good friends with my parents and I know they would do the best they could in the circumstances. So leaving him with them would not have upset me either.)

 

 

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I would say, "I'm sorry I didn't think of bringing this up before, but I don't leave the kids with people I don't know. Could you split up trips to the store so you don't have to leave the kids with someone else?" 

 

Or, if there is a nearby friend that you do know and are okay with, you could say that it's fine to leave them with Mrs. X for up to two hours, if they would follow those parameters. 

 

Thanks. On the bright side, it looked like they were probably in my in-law's house, and not at the sitter's house, so several of the concerns you listed are not concerns. One of the problems is that since they moved to Alabama 4 years ago or so, we've been there to visit only once (Alabama was mighty far away even when we lived in TX), so we don't know *anybody* there (MIL grew up in Alabama and decided she wanted to move back to Alabama, even though she obviously didn't know anybody in Alabama anymore and is living in a different part of Alabama than she grew up in). I'm not sure what I would've done if they'd asked about letting a friend babysit for a bit, but the lack of even asking really threw me for a loop. I totally did not expect that. Sometimes I feel like I'm in the twilight zone. I think I'm just DONE letting the kids visit them unsupervised until I feel the kids are old enough to be alone for an indefinite amount of time (so far, I'm willing to let the oldest be alone for only about 1.5 hours, and not together with the youngest), at which point my in-laws will probably be too old to look after them. The only ray of sunshine is that they actually were at the airport on time when I dropped the kids off.

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That's never come up, but I would not be okay with that. If we were to leave the kids with someone for a week, we would put a backup plan in place including who could watch the kids if the caregivers had to go out or needed a break.

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The only people my kids spent a week with when in elementary school were my parents. If they needed to go do something, it was fine to leave them with someone they trusted. Since I don't live there, I couldn't help them select someone. I know they did it a few times. I trust my parents to keep my kids, and I trust them to choose a sitter if they need to do so.

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We have not left our kids for more than a couple days at my in laws house. When we have been gone longer, the kids have stayed at our house and we have given them the phone number for a sitter and a trusted family friend in the event that they had an emergency or needed a break from the kids.

 

I would be upset if my in laws left my kids with someone I didn't know without notice. Their hearts are in the right place but I do not always trust their judgement.

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When we have left the kids for an extended period of time with grandparents (a week or two, one time they actually drove the kids across country to bring them back to us) - we have always had a number of people who could be 'back-up' care givers.  Both of our families live in the same places where we grew up and honestly I can't imagine them leaving our kids with people that I (or my husband) have not known for years.  When we leave them it is with the understanding that they are going to care for them as if they are their own kids (and they are grand kids) which includes making reasonable and prudent decisions about who can care for them. 

 

I am positive they have done things like take the kids to church and let the kids go to Sunday School.  Is this something like a 'babysitter'?  I would not personally think so, but then again, this is at the church where our families have attended for over 30 years, so we actually probably know who is running the program, ya know?  And would have sent our kids off if we had been there anyways.  And they also live in places with quite a number of extended family members in close proximity, as well as long time family friends, so I feel like my kids are in good hands with either my parents or in-laws and they both would have a number of people to turn to for help that I am ok with being around my kids.

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 I think I'm just DONE letting the kids visit them unsupervised until I feel the kids are old enough to be alone for an indefinite amount of time <snip>

 

Yes, I decided I was done after our incident.

 

They did say they wouldn't do it again, but, eh, I never expected them to do it in the first place, and decided to just not give them the chance to do something similar.

 

For us, it was possible to to always go with them, and if they wanted them to themselves, they could just take them off for the day. 

 

Again, it was never a situation of asking someone to watch them so we could go off by ourselves (ie, it was not a favor to us). If they are truly babysitting, as opposed to simply wanting time with the kids, then one might need to negotiate a bit more and expect them to need a break. 

 

Even when everyone agrees on big issues, a lot of small issues can crop up due to different expectations and family cultures. I mean, I don't think it's wrong to require kids to only play in a certain room, but I also don't see why you want them to sleep over if they're going to be by themselves on a completely different floor for half the time! Just have them over for a visit and be done, lol. Nothing wrong with that. 

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It depends upon the relative.  some, I would trust to choose someone responsbile, and with whom I would feel comfortable if I knew them.

 

then, there are the relatives that give me pause . . . (we were staying there too! we left my boys with my mil for the day - we were returning that evening.  we thought she could handle "part of a day" (apparently not), an opportunity for her to get to know her grandsons. . . . . they were older elementary/middle school.  we'll just leave it at - that was the very last time she was left alone with my kids.)

eta: dss though it was great - she paid them off so much that trip for the things she did (and the haircuts she arranged for them while we were gone :mellow: :scared: :ohmy: :svengo:  . . . . . all I could think was - it will be grown out by the time school starts), they pooled their money and bought a computer.

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I would say that in my culture, it's not normal to send your kids away for an entire week at that age.  But if I did, it would be with adults I trusted absolutely, which would include trusting them to make decisions about where to leave them, and with whom.

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If I trusted someone enough to let a child spend a week with them, I would trust them enough to choose an appropriate sitter. If they couldn't choose a sitter, they shouldn't watch the kids for a week.

 

I would appreciate it if they told me about it

I agree. It probably wouldn't come up, and I'd prefer to know, but I wouldn't entrust my children to someone if I couldn't trust their judgement, so if it did happen it wouldn't be a big deal.

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I guess the cultural weirdness for me is the idea that we question our parents' ability to be temporary parents for our school-aged kids.

 

Unless my parents (or in-laws) had serious issues, I would not question their ability to parent.  After all, they had more experience than I have had.

 

Even telling them "this is how *we* do things, please comply."  I mean, it sounds like "what you did as a parent was wrong, wrong, wrong.  My kids are too good for that."

 

If I had some things I wanted them to do differently, I'd lay it out in advance and make it as easy as possible.  For example, when my kids were very young, I would bring the food I wanted them to eat.  (I don't do that any more.  :P)

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I mean, if I die, by law my parents will essentially become my kids' parents.  It would be a sorry state of affairs if I didn't trust them to make minor decisions.

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I mean, if I die, by law my parents will essentially become my kids' parents.  It would be a sorry state of affairs if I didn't trust them to make minor decisions.

 

If we die, my in-laws wouldn't get my kids over my dead body. My parents would get the kids. Maybe I shouldn't have let the kids visit them (my in-laws). There's a difference though between a week and 18 years.

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It never came up. My children are blessed to have three sets of Grandparents in the area so if they had something come up they would call the other Grandparent. Even so and even though they know my children are allowed to stay with the others they would call me out of courtesy.

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Not the norm for our circles, and I would not be happy at all.  However, our kids did not spend a week with anyone else at that age.  We weren't extremely trusting parents..lol. 

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