I am scared of male babysitters. There. I said it. Actually, I feel terror at the thought of them. It’s not fair, and it’s gender discrimination and if I was a corporation you could sue me and if I was a state agency I would be in H-O-T water. But, I am just a mom of two kids who I am trying to keep safe, and I am too damn scared to deal with a male babysitter.
It’s not about all men (though I have mentioned this before here). I trust my husband more than myself with my children. The same is true of many of my friends’ husbands and partners. But I read too many articles about Penn State and the Catholic Church, so when I encounter a male babysitter, my deep-seated inner panic siren flares.
Every Thursday I attend a meeting that provides childcare, so I bring my kids. We’ve been going to this meeting for years, so we know the kids and their mothers. It’s been a nurturing and safe environment for us. Recently, there was some turnover with the babysitter and the meeting is trying out some new candidates. Yesterday’s candidate, “Robert.”
I saw the email introducing Robert and my stomach lurched. Robert? What? A male babysitter? So many questions swirled in my head– none of which ever occurred to me when we were trying out Jessica or Katie or Olivia. I was uncomfortable with my fear, but I couldn’t see around it. It was bigger than me. I heard other mothers voice concerns. Per routine, a background check was performed, and it came back stellar. The only problem with Robert? He was a man.
To deal with my terror without punishing an innocent man, I suggested that my nanny, S., serve as the second babysitter. I trust her implicitly and believe that having a second adult in the room would give us a chance to get comfortable. I told my S. about my fears about Robert, totally owning that they were terrors born of my own experience and not a reflection on Robert.
I dropped S. and my two kids off in the childcare room, after introducing myself to Robert, who struck me as gentle and professional.
But, he’s still a man. I have no idea how to evaluate where risks are for my children. I don’t want to teach them that all men are molesters, but I don’t want to send them out in the world without tools or information. But what information should I give them?
Honestly, I don’t think I would leave my kids with a male childcare provider who I didn’t know well. It’s not fair but I don’t have to be fair when it comes to my kids.
When I got the letter informing me about Sadie’s new preschool teacher, I was grateful she was a woman, because….well, because of all this. If Sadie had gotten a male teacher, what would I have done? I have no idea. But you would have heard all about it.
Have you encountered the prospect of a male babysitter/childcare provider? Did you feel fear? How have you dealt with it? How can we teach our children without scaring them or unfairly setting them up to mistrust all men/women?
Click here for the Amazon link to Off Limits, by Sandy Wurtele.