Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Babies Sitting Babies

Babysitting is something every parent struggles with. You love your kids to pieces but sometimes you just need a break. For those of us who have parents who are able or willing to watch our little ones a trip to Bubby and Zaydie's house comes as often as possible. Some aren't so lucky.

For those parents who have older kids, babysitting pretty much comes as often as you like. The question is, what is the cutoff age for being too young to babysit? Peoples opinions on this vary, however, I think most would agree that some kids are just too young.

My wife was walking down a Jewish block in Midwood when she came upon a little girl sitting on her front stoop (front door closed), not older than 5 years old, crying her eyes out with a 1 year old in her lap. Naturally, she approached the child and asked "Are you okay? Where is your mommy?" and got nothing but endless sobbing. After standing there for a minute or so, her Mom comes back. Before she could even being to exprience relief my wife was astounded.

Mom started yelling at her child. "Why are you crying!? I was only away for 2 minutes?!" then grabbed the keys, opened the front door and said "Get inside!". Later we discovered that this is a Mom of 8+ kids. The exact number is uncertain but it is definitely more than 8. If this is how she treats her 5 year old, I shudder to think what kind of experience the older ones had growing up.

Besides this being illegal reckless endangerment that could put all your kids in foster homes and you in prison, and besides the obvious danger and utter stupidity of leaving 2 children susceptible to being kidnapped, what about the possibility of your kids getting hurt on their own? What was this woman thinking? That her 5 year old could handle the situation if faced with something dangerous? How does she rationalize this in her mind? The answer is, she probably doesn't, or maybe she has this whole "Hashem will watch my kids while I'm gone" thing in her head. Is it really so difficult to bring your kids along with you wherever you're going for 2 minutes?

Albeit an extreme example, this is not by any means an isolated situation. I see girls as young as 8 years old babysitting more than two kids younger than 3 on a regular basis. I see them walking on commercial streets and across 4 lane parkways. Everywhere. All the time. Whats to stop some pervert from kidnapping these kids never to be seen again? What about accidents? G-d forbid some of these kids get run over, or one has some other kind of sudden medical problem. Whats to be done then? I don't think these meidelach are trained in CPR or Jiu-Jitsu in case of emergencies.

This trend of leaving babies to watch other babies is dangerous and unfortunately commonplace. My rule is, if you're not old enough to sign for the UPS package, you're not old enough to babysit. Call me crazy, but I'd rather see my kids watched by a responsible adult than watched by all of New York on the 10 o'clock news' "have you seen this person" segment.


  1. Dude. You really need to get a grip. Please visit:
    http://freerangekids.wordpress.com/ and read the information. Crime has DROPPED in the past 20 years. The chances of your child being kidnapped are virtually nill, especially on a busy street in the day. Oh sure, there r stories, but they are so far and few inbetween. Your child is sooooo much more likely to be hurt or killed in a car accident with you at the wheel- should u stop driving? Seriously, get some perspective.

  2. I see. So you are someone who is willing to take the even remote risk of having a child kidnapped. I don't care what the statistics are, if you leave a child unattended in public you are putting them at risk, no matter how small you think the risk may be it is still a risk.

  3. An average of 115 children are kidnapped BY STRANGERS per year. There are 73.7 million kids (more or less). So the percentage of children kidnapped by strangers is .001575. So yes, I am willing to put my kids "at risk" in order to lead a normal, free from fear life.

  4. I guess some parents just want to be .001575% more careful. If that takes me out of the category of "normal" so be it.

    I'm not paranoid, just playing it safe. The .001575% of people who had their kids kidnapped beg to differ from your way of thinking.

  5. Every day there is an average of 4 deaths and 504 injuries to children under the age of 14. That is WAY higher than the number of children abducted by strangers. Do you ever let your kids in the car?

  6. If they are not abducted, they could be hit by a car or burned on the stove or whatever else. Saying leaving children alone is okay because their odds are being kidnapped are low is completely off the mark.

  7. you can be paranoid and protective of your children and lead a carefree life. I make sure that whoever is watching my child be it the babysitter (who is an adult) or her playgroup meet my standards of caution when watching my kid. Sorry but I dont care if its .000001 chance of anything happening i never want to put myself in the position of having to ask myself "waht if" I read a story online on cnn i think it was where a mother was at a sunday softball game at a local park. Her 3 year old wanted to go an play with her friends in the lot right next to the field within eyesight of the parents, so she agreed and her daughter said i love you mommy. 20 minutes later when all of the kids came back and hers didnt she panicked. She never saw her kid again, and to this day she blames herself saying what if she would have gone along just to supervise. Something can happen in the blink of an eye. I dont know about you b ut im not willing to put my kid at risk for anything. You become a parent and your first and foremost job is to make sure there safe.

  8. New to the website... I would add that it's not just about kidnapping, right? I have often heard (and occasionally seen) about kids who are not properly monitored or being watched. These kids ages 3-8 show poor judgment as all kids do, and put themselves in dangerous situations.

    And about comparing kidnapping to getting in a car accident with your kids?

    We have heard many many stories about unsupervised kids running into traffic and being killed by an unsuspecting driver. Can we add the statistics of kids killed as pedestrians to further emphasize the importance of this problem?

  9. The polluted Brooklyn air your kids breath every day is probably more dangerous than the risk of being kidnapped off the street by a stranger

  10. I'm also for Free Range Kids, so my problem is less with the five-year-old minding the baby for two minutes than with the mom YELLING at the five-year-old for crying when the poor thing was DOING MOM A FAVOR. What's the message there? Poor kid...