General chatter - Don't want to babysit. Advice?




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LovesToTravel
01-26-2014, 02:14 PM
I was hoping to get some advice on a delicate family matter.

Background: I have a SIL (my husband's sister) and a little niece who live nearby. We never saw much of them because SIL's husband was controlling and abusive, he kept her pretty isolated from her side of the family. He's since moved out and she's started divorce proceedings.

Now my SIL wants to spend more time with us, which is great! She has indicated that she'd like to come over to our house periodically to chat- I think she feels safer not socializing in her home where her husband has access and pops in frequently to keep an eye on her. My husband and I are absolutely fine with this.

The problem is that my SIL has been dropping a lot of hints that she'd like us to play a major role, especially when school lets out in the summer, as babysitters. These hints will probably become outright requests in the coming months (last year she asked another family member to quit their job and watch my niece for free).

This is an issue because a.) my niece is a small child and we are childfree people who don't feel comfortable being responsible for small children and b.) my niece has some emotional/behavioral issues that she's seeing a therapist for, but it makes it extra challenging. She's like a little tasmanian devil when she visits our house, terrorizing our pets and demanding that she be the center of attention at all times. She has tantrums and hits, threatens to hurt people, that sort of thing.

The biggest factor though, is that she has a habit of accusing adults of hurting her on purpose. She's being doing it for a couple of years and accused my husband of hitting her in the face last time we visited with her, even though we were all watching them and nothing of the sort happened. She hit him in the face and he told her firmly to stop, which is when she came to me and made the accusation. She keeps a perfect poker face and insists it's true, it's very convincing. It's also very scary! I don't want the police on my doorstep because my niece told someone that we abused her! My SIL brushes it off as Not A Big Deal when I bring it up...but yeah, it is a Very Big Deal in my book.

We don't want to drive them off- we'd like to support them both by spending time together as a family. We just don't want to be pressured into babysitting. At least not now- we're fine watching well-behaved older kids that we can play a game or watch a movie with, you know? My little niece just isn't there yet, but we hope she will be someday soon.

So, any advice on how to approach this without coming off like we're just terrible people who don't want to be supportive? :?:


smashlers
01-26-2014, 02:29 PM
I think honesty is always the best policy. I would probably just tell your SIL that you are not 100% comfortable watching kids and not make it a discussion. If she really wants to talk about it and keeps pressing the point, I would say something like, "maybe once she gets a little older and is able to behave better when you are not around, we can bring up the subject again. But until then we would rather not be 100% responsible. We love you, and we love her, it's just how we feel." United front. She might get a little mad or offended, but it shows that her behavior is being noticed by family members and might encourage her to work on that aspect of parenting a bit more.

OR just pay for the kids summer camp! Ha!

carebearx3
01-26-2014, 03:07 PM
Oh definitely do NOT babysit. The relationship with your SIL would deteriorate terribly. Just tell her that you don't feel comfortable with little ones and that your house is not child-proofed. And also throw in the dog and say you are afraid as to what he would do all day and youd have to lock him up. Play it up as it is your problem and not your nieces.


vealcalf2000
01-26-2014, 04:07 PM
Unfortunately too it sounds like your niece would need more than just a regular babysitter to watch her :( I'm sure your SIL is anxious to move on with her life, and maybe isn't realizing that due to her daughter's problems a regular babysitter probably won't be adequate. It's such a touchy subject. Hopefully she is bringing this up during her daughter's therapy and they can guide her along. Good luck to you, I hope you can let her down easy! I hate to hurt people's feeling, but in situation like this it's better to be kind but very firm.

EasySpirit
01-26-2014, 04:18 PM
I think you need to say, "NO, that is not something we could do." When she asks why, just repeat that or add it does not fit into your schedule, about your home not being child-proof, your dog, etc.

Quiet Ballerina
01-26-2014, 04:33 PM
You absolutely have to be nice, but firm in this situation. It's incredibly unfair of your sister to expect family members to watch her child all summer.

I'd do research on summer camps. Print out information.

Also, I'd suggest once a week/once every two weeks/once a month (something), setting up a regular "let's hang out" day where your SIL and niece come over for a few hours. You can play in the backyard, have a picnic, etc. It will give your SIL time with adults, having conversations, without burdening you with the full responsibility.

If you felt comfortable, you could offer to babysit once in a while for a couple of hours. But that's only if you're comfortable.

(And I say this as someone who absolutely loves kids, for what it's worth).

GlamourGirl827
01-26-2014, 04:56 PM
Just tell her no. As a mom of 3, my oldest having autism w/ various anxiety and possibly the early signs of something larger like bipolar, I would not want my son in the care of anyone that does not want to watch him. I never ask people to watch him, and only my father and step mother will do it if he's not being difficult. Though as he's gotten older many of the meltdowns have gotten way less of a problem. I dont know your SIL, maybe she doesnt care who is watching her child. When she hints at it, what has been your reaction? Are you changing the subject? Are you ignoring her? Are you giving polite answers to avoid conflict? Like "oh we'll see" or "that sound nice..." It sounds like you havent come out and just told her no. So do that. Part of this is your fault for not being honest.

I can tell you first hand having a very challenging child, it is emotionally and mentally exhausting on a level you cannot even begin to understand, especially if you dont have kids at all. Mothers in general, need a break, and sh!tty enough, mothers with very difficult kids are more in need of a break yet it is pretty much impossible to find someone willing to watch those kids because of the level of difficultly. Most aunts/uncles etc are more than willing to play parent for a day for the perfect, easy, fun kid, but not for children with special needs. Not all, I know, but enough.

You are by no means obligated to watch her child, and like I said, just tell her no. If you think she's not fully aware of how difficult her daughter is you are so wrong... she knows. But tell her what you told us. I can almost promise you that she will not want to leave her daughter in the care of someone that doesnt want her. I wouldnt.

Its one thing to not want to watch a child because you just cant be bothered for whatever reason. Fine. But it seems the larger issue here is her daughters behavior. So I think you should be very clear that if her daughter were a nicer child, one that gave you pleasure, you know like the dog, then you might consider it. Granted, mom might be a little pissed at you, but I think you need to tell her this. She has the right to know as a mother that this is so concerning to you that you are asking advice here. I'd want to know if someone felt that ill towards my son. You own it to your SIL, really.

And if you this this reply was harsh, know that I gave you about 50% of what I wanted to say, so *this* was nice. :)

I edited it to say that if you are so concerned about her daughter making up lies about you or hubby, you could always take her somewhere public, like a play area in the mall, park, etc. And I'm sure SIL wold be happy with any time away, its not like you have to watch her all day in your house. I get the abusive husband issue, but unless you live in some town with a population of 20, its not like you will see him if you take the girl out somewhere...just saying. Again you dont have to but please dont use the lying thing as an excuse to make it sound like you as the adult are in danger if you watch her...I get it, it drums up more sympathy than just saying its too much and you dont want to. You dont need to look like the (possible) victim here...just say no. There's a reason you didnt have kids after all..its a butt load of responsibility!...and please honey, I nearly died when I read about a big deal in "your book"!! You dont even have any kids, what kind of experience are you going on for this "book" of yours?

alaskanlaughter
01-26-2014, 06:31 PM
the solutions that Quiet Ballerina put were exactly what I was going to say

and also that it is absolutely okay to be concerned about a child making accusations about you or DH, especially in this day and age....accusations of abuse, assault or neglect can RUIN someone, it can make their lives a horror story for years to come and could possibly result in jail time if a child is convincing enough and consistently....it can tear a family apart....to watch a child alone in your home with these tendencies ...well, I for one would not do it

for what it's worth, I have kids of my own, I have a special needs son, I work in childcare and I also help raise a few related-to-us children in my home, and I have done in-home childcare for special needs children in the past

Wannabeskinny
01-26-2014, 07:05 PM
What a sticky situation. I'm unclear about a few things though, are you opposed to 100% never babysitting under any circumstances or are you opposed to the mother's proposal of looking after the child on a daily basis? Those are 2 hugely different things. I'm more than happy to look after a niece or nephew on a random basis (like the parents have to go to a wedding or a doctor's appointment or need a date night every once in a while). But I have zero interest in being responsible for the kids on a daily basis for a set time like what the mother wants. That's what daycare is for.

So the real question then is, what exactly are your parameters? How MUCH do you care to help her? What kind of contact do you want to have? Are you willing to babysit once in a while for emergencies? Do you ever intend to take the child out just you and your husband out to the park or Chucky Cheese for the afternoon and let the Mom have a nap or something? There are no wrong answers to these questions but you do have to be honest about it.

I have a cousin who takes care of her nieces every day after school, and then her sister takes on all the kids on the weekends. This works for them. I have another friend who is married and doesn't have kids, and his sister is a single Mom and he helps her pay for daycare bills. I have yet another friend, single guy. His whole family takes turns taking care of his nephew every day, and he has arranged his work schedule so that he is off every Wednesday so that he can take care of the nephew. Families and friends make it work.

I really don't think it's a good idea to tell the mother that you don't want to babysit her child because of her behavior problems. Not sure how old this child is but in order to feel comfortable with her you have to build a relationship with her. But you're already judging her. Ok, she's done and said some things that make you go wuh??? But remember, children are innocent. If you don't know how to handle a child that's come from an abusive home that is YOUR shortcoming. So let's get that straight. A child is never at fault, not when they're young. It's a matter of learning how to spend time with that child and direct their energy in a positive manner. Please do not blame a child for being the problem. I'd hate it if my aunt ever said something like that to my mom. With aunts and uncles like that, who needs enemies....

All I'm saying is that you need to be careful here and not make this about the child's behavior. Your reasons can be truthful:
- We're not comfortable taking care of such a young child
- We don't have time
- we don't want to
And remember to be thankful that the mother would think of you in such high regard that she'd trust her daughter with you. They've been through a lot and could really use some family and support, make sure to do the things you can do to connect with them. Be honest and clear and you'll have a good relationship in the long run. But please, whatever you do just don't tell the mom that her daughter is a bad kid.

LovesToTravel
01-26-2014, 11:19 PM
Wow, thank you all so much for your advice and honest opinions. You've given me a lot to think about and to discuss with my husband.

smashlers: I really like your suggestion for how to phrase things and we did actually chat a little bit about summer camp. :) We also want to see them on a regular basis for some family time. So maybe we can go in the direction of, "We aren't comfortable babysitting at this point, but we would love to have you over on Sundays for dinner if you aren't busy. We want to support you as best we can."

carebearx3: I definitely don't want to make this about my niece when I talk to her because I know that some people would be absolutely fine watching her, it's our discomfort with the whole thing. Thank you for your thoughtful advice.

vealcalf2000: From what I hear, a lot of this is getting covered in therapy, it's just going to take some time. The kid's been through a lot and I'm so happy that my SIL decided to bring a therapist into the mix. I'm told she's already made some improvement since starting that and having her dad move out of the house to decrease the tension. I hear you on being gentle, clear, and firm with our answer.

EasySpirit: My husband and I will talk about being consistent with our answer, absolutely. I know my SIL must be desperate to ask us (her previous babysitter was her MIL, who recently told her my niece is too much to handle and won't watch her anymore), but I really hope she's able to find someone else who is more confident in their childcare capabilities than we are. Maybe I can help her find a professional babysitter?

Quiet Ballerina: It's funny you and smashlers mentioned summer camp because when she was over a couple weeks ago and mentioned her summer schedule, that was the first thing that popped out of my mouth. My parents both worked so my siblings and I spent a lot of our summers in various camps, which was fun. I could definitely help her scout out summer camps and programs in the spring, I'll ask her next time she's over if she'd like me to help with that, thank you!
We'd love to show our support by having them over periodically for family time and told them that (we were supposed to see them tonight again, actually, but the weather turned nasty and they cancelled), but at this point we would only agree to babysit, I think, in an absolute emergency. Like, hospital emergency or something. I think babysitting periodically would be more doable in the future when she's a bit older and works through some of these behaviors (which, I suspect will get much better now that her dad's moved out and the situation isn't so tense at home).

GlamourGirl: I'm sincerely sorry that you and your family have had such a tough time finding support and respite. It sucks that there isn't more available, especially with so many children being diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders. I respect your opinion and apologize if I have touched a nerve. I hope there are no hard feelings when we come across each other again on the board.

alaskanlaughter: Kudos to you, GlamourGirl, and all of the other folks here on the board who are dealing with special needs children. You have my respect and admiration. And yes, I'm nervous about being accused of hurting her and doubly nervous for my husband. This behavior has been pretty frequent and consistent over the past couple of years and now she's in kindergarten and sees a therapist- it's one thing when she says it to a family member who knows what it's about, but if she pops out with something like that to a mandated reporter? She's too young to realize what kind of impact that is going to have. Everyone in the family who watches her on occasion worries about it, from what I understand.

Wannabeskinny: To clarify...We're uncomfortable watching the younger ones that need a lot of help and supervision, but that's somewhat dependent on the individual child, I guess, not really a number. We've watched older kids around 8 years and up for evenings and overnight stays, taken them out alone to eat, stuff like that. Neither one of us minds that sort of thing on occasion, but we're not interested daycare arrangements at any point in the foreseeable future.

I actually feel really bad for my SIL because she knows we're not kid people and her MIL, who normally does the babysitting, just recently told her she won't do it anymore because my niece is too much for her to handle. So she's got to be desperate to think of us. As I mentioned above, I'm totally on board with the idea helping her find childcare resources and will be sure to mention it next time we're together. And we've extended an invitation to have her and my niece over for Sunday dinners regularly, but at this point we're not comfortable committing to more than that. And you're right, it would be unthinkable to make this about my niece- I was just trying to be clear about why we feel like we're out of our depth here, but obviously I overdid it! I sincerely hope circumstances change in the future and if they do, when my niece is a bit older, my husband and I would both be amenable to revisiting the topic of babysitting.

alaskanlaughter
01-26-2014, 11:37 PM
i'm not sure where you all are living but there is a national childcare organization called NAEYC - National Association for the Education of Young Children - and they are sort of a clearinghouse of information for parents looking for childcare providers...they do training for people at childcare centers, they do in-home assessments and referrals for special needs children, and they should have a referral list for all licensed childcare providers in your area

perhaps you can refer your SIL to that list or help her get ahold of your local branch of NAEYC

depending on your SIL's income, she may also qualify for childcare assistance through your state public assistance offices, tribal agencies or other organizations and that may help reduce the expenses of having to pay full price for childcare

TooWicky
01-27-2014, 10:34 AM
You've already gotten excellent advice. Best of luck in dealing with this situation! Let us know how it turns out.

I am the only SAHM on my street and amg, my neighbors came at me from all directions wanting to know if I would watch their kiddos all day, half day, after school aftercare, you name it. Even though I am a mom and ecstatic about being a mom, I am not a "kid" person, lol. I know that makes no sense, but I absolutely do not ever want to watch children in my home on a regular basis, or have to always be available, etc. etc. My immediate neighbor next door asked me to watch her daughter from the time school let out until she got home from work - I legit started walking backwards with my arms in front in a defensive position like someone being attacked in a horror film lol! We laugh about it now since we are friends. I still randomly get requests via my husband from his co-workers a la "my wife is due in 2 months; would your wife be interested in watching our baby during the daytime?" Lawd. Once people find out you do not work and are home during the day, shew! I know that's a rarity in today's world to have a non-working spouse, at least it is in the relatively middle-class area that I live in.

I think I have actually said, "Uh, I'm not a kid or childcare type of person" while awkwardly laughing and refusing. It definitely can be awkard to refuse such a request. My friends and neighbors that were working moms really couldn't conceive of my not wanting to earn extra money by watching children in my home. Bottom line, we are the poorest people on our street income-wise, and that's by choice. I do not work (except 1-2 nights per week in retail to get out of the house basically,) so my days are free to manage our home, all dr's appts, our family book keeping, be home with our children on sick days, snow days, school breaks, and summers. I just have zero interest in being beholden to providing childcare and the dedication it requires. I didn't quit work to... work, if that makes any sense. That said, I'm extremely willing and amiable to cover childcare emergencies and I do! I do meet my neighbors' kids off the bus when they dismiss early and they can't adjust childcare, for example, and sometimes will do the school drop off or pick up when their working schedule gets guffed up. They know if I can't for any reason that I'll be up front and tell them. I don't mean it personally and I don't take anything personally.

It will only be awkward for the conversation where you let her know you are not interested in providing childcare at all. Once that issue has been addressed, she will be free to know that option is not an option, and will direct her energies elsewhere. It can and might feel like you are letting her down and not being sympathetic to her situation, but best not to waste her time or yours stressing about it or putting off what needs to be said. Just tell her outright you all aren't interested as soon as you can work it into a relevant conversation. I'm not saying this will be your experience, but my experience has shown me that if I even hint that I might be partially willing to sort of provide babysitting, then the mom will start piecemealing together childcare for the week - like Oh, okay so would you be willing to watch her one or two days a week? So, maybe Mondays and Wednesdays? What I have done is just issue a blanket across the board refusal. I think hunting up childcare arrangements must be super stressful on moms and dads in general!

Wannabeskinny
01-27-2014, 10:35 AM
I totally understand, you really shouldn't take on more than you can handle and the mother should understand that. Hopefully you will all come to an arrangement that works for you and mostly I hope the little girl has all her needs met, it's tough to have your parents split up under those kinds of circumstances.

krampus
01-27-2014, 10:44 AM
I feel sorry for your niece, but pity does not make you qualified to care for her, and at the end of the day it's just an all around tough situation and a risk inherent in parenthood.

I really hope there is some behavioral therapy or something that will help her. It sounds like she's been traumatized from being around a toxic adult relationship :\

LovesToTravel
01-27-2014, 08:52 PM
alaskanlaughter: Thank you for taking the time to share that link, I'm going to take a closer look at the information this week and suggest it next time I see SIL. I've also heard of a site called Care.com that's supposed to having local babysitter listings, maybe she'd be willing to check that out too. She's fortunate enough to make good money (and may very well end up paying alimony, I'm sorry to say), but that's a good idea to check out whatever may be available under her circumstances. Thanks.

TooWicky: I don't think it sounds weird at all! I've heard several moms say that they love their kids, but they're not really "kid people" in so far as wanting to spend a lot of time with other people's kids. Makes sense. And you sound like you've got your hands full as it is without adding extra childcare to the mix! I think you're right about working the topic into the conversation as soon as possible. My husband and I discussed it a little again last night to make sure we're on exactly the same page as well.

Wannabeskinny: The split has been a long time coming and I hope it will be for the best; they're both afraid of him and it's been a tense situation since my niece was an infant. It'll be nice for her to be able to live in a home without all that and I suspect a lot of her behavior issues will clear up with time and some continued intervention. I'll do my best to encourage my SIL to check out all of her options for childcare and see what happens, thanks for your thoughtful questions and advice. : )

krampus: I'm in full agreement that we are clearly not cut out for the task at hand, but I'm hopefully my SIL can find a good program or sitter soon. The good thing is that it's not a money issue, just a matter of getting her comfortable with the idea of looking outside the family for help, I think.

I'll post an update whenever I have one, fingers crossed for a happy outcome! Thanks again, everyone. :)

sacha
01-29-2014, 09:30 AM
My sister is 'childfree' and quite happy to stay that way, and she just tells me flat out it's not cool with her. Worked for us!

LovesToTravel
02-24-2014, 12:44 AM
I just wanted to thank everyone again for their kind advice. :) My husband and I are still working things out, but we're on the same page so that's been a big help.

We've seen my SIL and niece a few times since I posted this thread, but mainly with other family so there hasn't been much time to have private chats. Tonight she mentioned again that she needs to find someone to help watch my niece and prefers family so I took the opportunity, as you all suggested. I just told her that we aren't up to babysit, but we'd love to see them regularly and offered to let her know if I came across any summer camp opportunities. The response seemed non-committal so I just left it at that for now.

My niece asked SIL a bit later if my husband could come pick her up from school and watch her until SIL got home from work. My SIL told her it was up to my husband and looked at him for an answer. He had a deer-in-the-headlights look on his face so I just jumped in and reiterated, "Sorry sweetie, Uncle LovesToTravel can't come pick you up, but would you like to come visit us again with your mom next weekend if you guys aren't busy?" (And that wasn't a lie- he's at work when school lets out.)

So I'm not sure if this topic is officially closed yet, but I feel like I've at least put my cards on the table. I think at this point it's just a matter of being consistent with our responses and continuing to offer support in other ways. Thanks again to everyone who took time out of their day to offer me your thoughtful advice.

shcirerf
02-24-2014, 03:23 AM
:hug:

Been in similar situation.

There are a lot of things going on and if you are not equipped, educational, emotional, legal familiar, to deal with it. Don't.:hug:

That does not make you a bad person, but sometimes, as much as we want to help, we're not in a place, that our help is in the best interest.

Wannabeskinny
02-24-2014, 09:20 AM
Well done you!! Being frank is all you can do. But what a manipulative little schemer she is, making her daughter ask such a loaded question! Seriously though, kids don't think of these things themselves, it was planted for sure. You're right, it's best to keep some boundaries here.

Arctic Mama
02-24-2014, 07:52 PM
Another side of that is that it may or may not be planted - I often make my kids ask for something directly if they've been asking me about it, instead. They seem to weight the response of other adults differently than 'hearsay' through mommy, and so instead of answering for someone I'll often send them directly to the source. It's effective communication, not manipulation, the way we use it. Part of a relationship with someone is an exchange, and that can't really be done through a third party. It teaches my children to respect the boundaries of others and to make petitions directly instead of always requiring mommy or daddy to get it done. Useful life skill there.

LovesToTravel
02-24-2014, 08:29 PM
Thanks for all of your input. :)

To be fair, my SIL often tells my niece to ask an adult directly, even if SIL already knows the answer. And my niece frequently calls my husband to ask if he can come over to play with her or whatever. (My husband is perpetually bemused by how much of a magnet he is for little kids. I tell him it's because he's fun and goofy with them- what 5 y/o doesn't like piggy back rides?) But I had never really thought of it as a way to foster good communication, so thank you for that insight Arctic Mama!

I'm still not sure that my SIL is going to completely let the subject drop (but I'd be happily surprised if she did!) just looking at how requests for babysitting have been handled with other people. I've made up my mind though that if she continues to ask, I'm not going to let it stress me out. She's in a tough spot and I can't fault her for trying. We're not up for trying and there's nothing wrong with being honest about that either. No harm, no foul.

We had a nice chat last night and it's been good to get to know her a little better. I've been with my husband for almost 13 years now and I've always felt bad that she and I have been so distant due to the circumstances.

Wannabeskinny
02-25-2014, 01:21 AM
Another side of that is that it may or may not be planted - I often make my kids ask for something directly if they've been asking me about it, instead. They seem to weight the response of other adults differently than 'hearsay' through mommy, and so instead of answering for someone I'll often send them directly to the source. It's effective communication, not manipulation, the way we use it. Part of a relationship with someone is an exchange, and that can't really be done through a third party. It teaches my children to respect the boundaries of others and to make petitions directly instead of always requiring mommy or daddy to get it done. Useful life skill there.

I don't disagree with this. But if I were in a similar situation and I already knew what the answer would be I would intercept. If I knew someone would break my kids heart I would steer them away from that.

Arctic Mama
02-26-2014, 03:33 AM
I think it is a fine line - we've never had it come up where someone else has had to say something that would devastate our kids.

I can't actually think of anything short of death or divorce that would, though?

As a caveat, we practice lots of patience and delayed gratification around here as a matter of course. If the kids get so worked up they sin in their response over something we deal with that.

We're definitely not trying to boobytrap inlaws or friends, that's for sure :lol:

Wannabeskinny
02-26-2014, 09:14 AM
I think it is a fine line - we've never had it come up where someone else has had to say something that would devastate our kids.

I can't actually think of anything short of death or divorce that would, though?

As a caveat, we practice lots of patience and delayed gratification around here as a matter of course. If the kids get so worked up they sin in their response over something we deal with that.

We're definitely not trying to boobytrap inlaws or friends, that's for sure :lol:

There's lots of things that I can think of that disappoint kids short of death or divorce lol. If they wanted to go to their uncle's house and I know he would say no I would NOT put them up to asking him. I would tell them something like he'd come another time, not this time and then change the subject. In this particular case of the OP, it sounded to me like she was sticking her daughter into a conversation that was best left to adults. I'm not one for censoring kids, but I also don't want to put others in a strange predicament by having a child ask them for something they are not willing/able to provide. For example, I would not allow my child to ask anyone for a gift.

Arctic Mama
02-26-2014, 01:33 PM
Well disappointment and devastation are different terms, are they not? Disappointment is a part of life and one I let my kids experience fully and regularly, especially when their expectations are inappropriate given what we have already said about a circumstance.

For example, if grandpa is out of town and they want to go ski with him, we explain they cannot because he isn't here, but that it might be nice to write him a note telling him how much they enjoy skiing with him and wish to do it again soon. That doesn't mean they aren't disappointed in reality, but they can still respond and interact appropriately even with that. My three year old is the one who has the least experience with this and reacts the worst, because of his age. But by five or six years old he will have a better understanding of the time and needs of others, too.

I would definitely let my children petition someone for an item if I wasn't sure the answer was no. But once an answer is given, how they deal with it is the important part. That's where the character training comes in, where we require they take the answer graciously and as a close on the topic. I sincerely hope the OP's niece is doing the same. And honestly I've been surprised more than once at what friends and family have consented to or desired with the kiddos - overnight camping out to give us a break, baking giant gingerbread people, flying the two oldest down to a different town for a parade and day trip, etc. I'd have said no to all of these in the given circumstances, on behalf of the other person, and I'd have been wrong! Lesson learned on that one.

Disappointment doesn't bother me in the least, but devastation is another matter. Fortunately a healthy child who isn't being manipulated should not have normal life events crossing over into the category of life-alteringly devastating. A bit of pouting or whining? Suck it up, kiddo, the world doesn't revolve around your desires and we don't get everything we want. It doesn't mean your parents, extended family, or friends don't love you - it just means they're not your slaves!

I think we may just be talking past one another at this point - disagreement of terms. :lol:

Wannabeskinny
02-26-2014, 02:29 PM
Yea i don't think we're talking about the same thing at all actually. I don't go out of my way to not disappoint my kid. He feels it if I say no more tv or no we can't go out today. That's part of life. I guess when I want my kid to interact with others I feel strongly that the other person shouldn't be put on the spot and be asked something that is not possible. Parenting is very individual, everyone has their own priorities.

Quiet Ballerina
03-01-2014, 04:07 PM
I just wanted to thank everyone again for their kind advice. :) My husband and I are still working things out, but we're on the same page so that's been a big help.

We've seen my SIL and niece a few times since I posted this thread, but mainly with other family so there hasn't been much time to have private chats. Tonight she mentioned again that she needs to find someone to help watch my niece and prefers family so I took the opportunity, as you all suggested. I just told her that we aren't up to babysit, but we'd love to see them regularly and offered to let her know if I came across any summer camp opportunities. The response seemed non-committal so I just left it at that for now.

My niece asked SIL a bit later if my husband could come pick her up from school and watch her until SIL got home from work. My SIL told her it was up to my husband and looked at him for an answer. He had a deer-in-the-headlights look on his face so I just jumped in and reiterated, "Sorry sweetie, Uncle LovesToTravel can't come pick you up, but would you like to come visit us again with your mom next weekend if you guys aren't busy?" (And that wasn't a lie- he's at work when school lets out.)

So I'm not sure if this topic is officially closed yet, but I feel like I've at least put my cards on the table. I think at this point it's just a matter of being consistent with our responses and continuing to offer support in other ways. Thanks again to everyone who took time out of their day to offer me your thoughtful advice.


I am so proud and impressed by the way you handled those situations! It really sounds like you handled things great. :hug:

Steelslady
03-05-2014, 10:10 PM
My heart goes out to the OP of this thread. There are people judging her (and her husband, too, basically) because they are not comfortable watching a young and troubled child?

First off, there is a HUGE difference between a child with Special Needs versus a behavioral problem that was caused by BOTH parents at home! I don't just blame the abusive husband in this case for the child's behavior- I blame the mother for staying with such a jerk, causing these issues in their daughter. Now, all of the sudden, family is supposed to just drop what their doing and volunteer their time, energy, and money to help this woman out right now, after her daughter has pulled some worrisome behaviors right in front of other people, even causing her grandmother to stop babysitting her because her behavior was too much?

There are all sorts of levels to Special Needs children, some do have behavioral issues, but usually when that happens, family and friends know that if they are taking care of that child, that the parents and school and law enforcement would understand that this child does have behavioral issues and know that people who are kind enough to help them out are good hearted and wouldn't hurt the child.

In this case, this child bluntly accused her own uncle of hitting her in the face, when he did no such thing- can you imagine what her teacher or the police would think, hearing this from a child who sounds convincing? He would be arrested for child abuse, and from there, God knows how much this man's reputation would take a hit afterwards. I've seen people who were innocent accused of some not so nice things- some weren't even in the state when stuff allegedly happened, and for the rest of their lives, the accusation follows them. Yet, people think that this couple should just happily help out, when a situation that they did not cause has now presented an issue for the sister because she's decided to be a good Mom now and get her therapy and finally leave the abusive jerk? They're supposed to risk their reputation and good name to help support a jerk and his weak wife's child who could at any time, cause their world to turn upside down over one accusation? All it takes is ONE bad accusation to ruin someone for life!

Bringing in "special needs" children and your experience as a mother was totally unfair- this isn't even the same situation! I am sure the Op would gladly help out if her and her husband could, to give the Mom an occasional break- most special needs children don't accuse aunts and uncles of hitting them right in front of others. One of my close friends has an autistic child- I was one of the very few he would stay with, he wouldn't even go with family for some reason, and they were a very loving and caring family. I took him in my home with my kids and others- I always had a house full of kids, and when he would have a melt down, I was able to soothe him and he would calm down within minutes. I had no issues what so ever taking him in, he is just adorable- he's now 20 years old and plays the drums for me when I come over- he sounds very professional, too!

I've had many other Special Needs kids in my home over the years- I was the ONLY Girl Scout troop leader in town that took in Special Needs kids, and I loved every one of them. Most had learning disabilities, but there was a couple that had some physical issues- not a problem for me, I figured out a way for them to still earn their badges and have fun with the other girls. I had girls with emotional problems as well- but never once, did they ever make me worry about them lying about myself or my co-leaders abusing them. If they had, I would have refused them- sorry! I can deal with behavioral issues such as temper tantrums, running off, screaming, yelling, crying- but accusing others of doing some kind of harm to them when it didn't happen? NO WAY! To me, that is a learned behavior from some where- whether they learned to do it at home by example, or as a way to get their way, it is a learned issue, and only the parents, with proper counseling, can help them stop this behavior. That should not be the problem of well meaning and caring adults who are trying to help!

Please don't confuse this woman and her husband's concern over a lying child that could be very devastating in their future to a special needs child, who with proper help and training, can be watched with no or some issues, but is do able. I don't blame the OP for standing back and saying no- she is not comfortable with this, and neither is her husband, who is related by blood to this child. They are willing to have them over and spend time with them, but again, their smart in doing so in front of her mother and other adults, just in case this child decides to lie about something serious.

Also, without knowing the financial state of the OP and her husband, I am appalled at how several people are suggesting that they pay for day care or summer camp! In this economy, a lot of people are living pay check to pay check themselves, including people without kids! Why make this woman and her husband feel any worse about this situation, and then expect them to PAY to help this child, too? Not knowing their situation or monthly expenses, I think that's also unfair to expect them to invest money they might need themselves to live on or don't have to give.

I love kids, and would help out all of them if I could. I have been in the company of a child like this in the past- usually, a successful visit happens, but I always made sure one of the parents were there along with a family member or friend of mine was there, too, just in case. I am not heartless, but on the couple of occasions where I have helped the parents out with such a child- I NEVER did it alone, and only on an emergency basis or perhaps a wedding or such. I am a mother myself to three great kids, two with learning disabilities, and MY KIDS needed me home with them, and not in a jail cell, trying to defend myself from trying to be helpful while a troubled child accused me of something heinous.

I didn't mean to make this a long novel here, but I just feel so bad for the OP. She was made to feel like **** by a couple of people who didn't care enough to understand where she was coming from. Just because she is afraid to watch a troubled child, doesn't make her a bad person or a mean, selfish, or unhelpful. It just makes her cautious- so what?

LovesToTravel
03-07-2014, 01:46 PM
Quiet Ballerina: Thanks! We're still working on things, but I'm feeling a lot better now that we've cleared the air.

Steelslady: It's cool, I have a very firm policy of not taking things personally with strangers on the internet. :) But thanks for thinking of me, that was kind. I try not to judge my SIL for her circumstances because I've never been in her shoes. Who's to say I would have done any better? It was a difficult, complicated situation and the whole family is trying to be as supportive as we can.

Kudos for all of the time you volunteered with the girl scouts! I have many happy memories of earning badges and I bet your little scouts do as well, sounds like you were very welcoming and accepting of all of them.

SouthernMaven
03-07-2014, 02:04 PM
The problem is that my SIL has been dropping a lot of hints that she'd like us to play a major role, especially when school lets out in the summer, as babysitters. These hints will probably become outright requests in the coming months (last year she asked another family member to quit their job and watch my niece for free).

This is an issue because a.) my niece is a small child and we are childfree people who don't feel comfortable being responsible for small children and b.) my niece has some emotional/behavioral issues that she's seeing a therapist for, but it makes it extra challenging.

I know I'm late to the game here, but I found reading this thread very interesting, particularly in light of the fact that when my husband and I were young and childless, we found ourselves in a similar situation.

In our case it was my oldest brother's wife who was always asking me to babysit my young nieces and nephews. Fortunately there were none of the complications you're describing, and I loved all of them. But my husband and I didn't have children for seven years, and there was a reason for that - we LIKED it that way!

Unfortunately the requests became more frequent and more intrusive, so I suddenly found myself in an awkward position of having to "back off" and it did create hard feelings. For this reason I think you are wise to set the proper tone from the outset.

The reason I bolded a.) in the quote above is because in my mind, that's reason enough. You don't even have to get to b.)

You don't owe your SIL anything. There is absolutely no reason to feel guilty OR obligated.

See how easy these things get when you get to be OLD, like me??? :D

LovesToTravel
03-07-2014, 05:34 PM
I know I'm late to the game here, but I found reading this thread very interesting, particularly in light of the fact that when my husband and I were young and childless, we found ourselves in a similar situation.

In our case it was my oldest brother's wife who was always asking me to babysit my young nieces and nephews. Fortunately there were none of the complications you're describing, and I loved all of them. But my husband and I didn't have children for seven years, and there was a reason for that - we LIKED it that way!

Unfortunately the requests became more frequent and more intrusive, so I suddenly found myself in an awkward position of having to "back off" and it did create hard feelings. For this reason I think you are wise to set the proper tone from the outset.

The reason I bolded a.) in the quote above is because in my mind, that's reason enough. You don't even have to get to b.)

You don't owe your SIL anything. There is absolutely no reason to feel guilty OR obligated.

See how easy these things get when you get to be OLD, like me??? :D

Heh, I can only hope to get to the point where none of this phases me anymore and I can handle it all with grace and a touch of humor. :) You give me hope that that day may come!

We try to help family where and when we can because we love them and because family has helped us in the past so it feels like the good thing to do. But you're right, we're not obligated. And while I'm happy to watch the older ones on occasion as a favor to their parents, I'm not exactly sitting in the back jumping up and down going, "Oooh, oooh, pick me to babysit!" :D My husband and I enjoy our time with the kids, but we like it best in small doses. *shrugs* I don't have a maternal bone in my body and my husband is much the same. I don't consider it a fault, it's just who we are. I know some people consider that to be a major personal failing though, especially in a woman because women are "supposed" to be naturally drawn to children and nurturing and all that. Oh well.

I'm sorry to hear you got stuck in an awkward situation with your SIL in the past, SouthernMaven, it can be especially prickly to sort out with family. :( I hope you were able to eventually get past that with her. Thanks for weighing in.

Quiet Ballerina
03-08-2014, 02:41 PM
SteelsLady I was one of the posters who suggested summer camp, but I definitely didn't mean for OP to pay for the camps. I meant for OP to do a quick google search on nearby camps.

LovestoTravel Please don't feel bad about not being maternal! I *love* kids and am very maternal, and there are still times when babysitting is the last thing I want to do. ;)

Wannabeskinny
03-08-2014, 02:59 PM
I heard a very interesting interview on the Brian Lehrer show yesterday on NPR where he interviewed a woman who wrote a book called 'Otherhood'. It's about women who choose not to have children. Here's the podcast https://www.wnyc.org/radio/#/ondemand/354769