'The Babysitter's Club': Way Too Young to Babysit


For anyone else who remembers The Babysitter's Club, this blogger's amusing imagining of "where are they now?" with Kristi, Maryann, Claudia, and the gang is incredibly satisfying. I was a massive fan of the series by Ann M. Martin, which ran from the time I was about 8 to when I was far too old to read them anymore at 22.

When I started reading them, the girls were older than I was and they seemed very mature, but soon I overtook them and became an adult while they never aged past 13.

Now I am a mom and, looking back, I can't fathom what those parents were thinking leaving their tiny babies with children who had not yet left middle school. Or, is 12 just different than it used to be?

A friend of mine recently hired an 11-year-old mother's helper to hang out and play with her 2-year-old while she gets chores done and takes care of her newborn, but to my knowledge she has never left the little girl alone for the evening with her child.

I'm also eyeing the 10-year-old down the street who has her own little animal club for pet-sitting as a potential playmate for my kids who are 3.5 and 2, but again, I would never leave her alone with them.

I babysat at 12 and 13 and most of my friends did as well. There was a family who had three children who paid me $2 an hour (!!) and balked when I asked for a raise. Now I pay sitters in their 20s who have master's degrees $15 an hour to stay with my kids.

Times have changed.

Was 12 different in the early 1990s or are parents more cautious now? 

I can't think of a single 12-year-old with whom I would feel comfortable leaving my children. At that age, I was still sucking my thumb (seriously), but I played with the children, put them to bed, and generally did a semi-decent job of appearing responsible. The 12-year-olds I know are still little kids themselves.

So, while the girls of The Babysitter's Club were responsible for their age, there is no way I would leave my child with children who required a babysitter themselves.

Would you have hired "The Babysitter's Club"?


Image via Scholastic.com

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RanaA... RanaAurora

No way.  Read the books as a mom and you'd be crazy to leave your kids with them.

GOD I loved those books... had over 100 of them and the movie.

kelli... kelli0585

I loved those books, too.

If I were a parent in the 1990s, I would have said YES.  I babysat at that age. 

But as a parent in the 2010's. . . .nope.  The 12 year old of today is different than the 12 year old of yesterday.  Why?  Well, this article speaks for itself.  Nowadays, we don't give enough credit to 12 year olds.  Not like we did even a few years ago.  In return, our 12 year olds really AREN'T mature enough to babysit.  We've treated them like babies and coddled them so much up to this point, so therefore, they still ARE babies.   Babies that WE'VE created.

Littl... Little_Mommy_05

ok thats not very fair! no i wasnt 12 but i had just turned 14 when i had my daughter and i would have never made it on my own money wise i only requied help every now and then. I did everything on my own i prepared her formula and food changed her diapers i was a real mom, and if girls can get pregnant at 13 and 14 then they could baby sit at that age too. Now i would have to say maybe if i had a babysitting job or maybe even a brother or a sister then maybe i wouldnt have thought a 13 that a baby would be wonderful maybe if i would have had to at least babysit one i would have relized that babies can be hard and i wouldnt of ended up pregnant. But i never gave up i try my damndest to be a good mother and take care of my daughter, who is now and school and just was moved to a higher ranking class because she already knew what most of the other kindergardners are just now learning and she went to mommys vpk insted of a schools....Things like this should not depend on your age but your mental status

nonmember avatar Whoever

Well, the best way to raise another generation of helpless children is to never let them out of direct adult supervision. I had teen babysitters as a kid, and I was a babysitter at 10; a full-time nanny for 3 (including an infant) at 15. My mom taught me how to think and troubleshoot when I was a little girl, because she didn't expect to always be holding my hand. Another benefit was having siblings - younger and older - which showed me all kinds of "what-ifs" and how to handle them. I was able to apply that knowledge / experience when it came time to figure out how to get a stranger's 1-year-old to sleep when I was 10, etc. ... I think it's sad that so many parents actually believe their own children are too dumb to survive a little bit of relative independence.

Lovep... Loveplusmama

Would I have someone this age nanny my kids on a daily basis, no. However, I have used a 12 year old and a 14 year old for a much needed date night with my hubby for my 2 year old. Now that we have a 2 month old in the mix, I think I'd prefer they come together (they are sisters) but we haven't done that yet. I also know their mom is 2 houses up from us, and home when they babysit.

I babysat a TON at these ages, and kept going until I was 19. At that age, one family left me with their 8 month old for week while to a dude ranch. I watched 3 month olds and toddlers. If you know your sitters and have clear expectations, it's not out of the question. I don't understand why more people don't use teens for the occasional date night.

nonmember avatar Christine

LOVED the books when I was a kid and even kept reading them into my teens, BUT they are BOOKS and the CHARACTERS are made up. I was a very responsible child and started babysitting my brother when I was 10 (he was 7 years younger than me so that would make him only 3) I started babysitting other kids at 12. Even back then while reading the books as I was babysitting (after kids were sleeping for the night or taking a nap) I remember thinking that MaryAnn and the bunch were just not realistic. Okay, so getting to babysitters of today. I REALLY think it has to do with the INDIVIDUAL tween and not AGE! While I have never needed to pay a babysitter as my parents live really close, I would have felt perfectly safe leaving my daughter with the girl a few doors down who was 13 when my daughter was born. In fact, now that I think about it, with E down the street being 17 now and my daughter being 4 I would leave my daughter with E in a heartbeat and I certainly can not say that about all 17 year olds. Most of the teens in my neighborhood still need someone to watch them in my opinion!! SO, characters in books are made up and age does not matter (as long as they are legal to be by themselves!) when it comes to babysitting.

mamac... mamacifuni

i babysat all the time starting at age 10 when the new neighbors had their first baby.  granted, my mom was always right across the street if something happened but again that was the 90s.  i just moved into a new neighborhood with my 2 month old.  There are plenty of girls 10 years old and older living on my street.  i watch them outside and wonder how on earth did that woman allow a child (aka me) to babysit her babies at that age.  they look so young and some of them still have Dora the Explorer bookbags on when they get home from school.   there is no way i'd let them watch her now (however they will be the perfect babysitters when my daughter is around 4 or 5!)

nonmember avatar CoolRelax

I babysat quite a bit when I was young, beginning at about 11. I also looooved the Babysitter's club. Don't know if I would feel safe leaving my twins with a 12 year old - maybe when they're old enough to talk.

Phils... PhilsBabyMama

I read the Baby Sitters Little Sisters books (I think they are the ones in the illustration above) and LOOOOOOOVED them.  I had a billion of those books, was part of the scholastic club that would automatically send me more books (and bill my parents until they figured out how to cancel it! lol) and an awesome cardboard shelf thing to display all the books. Haha.  God, I was a dork...

And no, I would absolutely not leave my son with a 12 year old.  I was a mother's helper when I was 12 and watched a baby, but the mom was ALWAYS there.  Maybe when I have more kids and stop being so paranoid (we'll see if that happens) I'd reconsider, but now I wouldn't even leave my 2 year old with a high school student.

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