Quick, what do you think of when I say the word "babysitter"? If you are like most people, you probably had an immediate flash to a teenage girl who eats all your food, plays with your kids, watches a few movies and goes home by midnight. But what about if that girl were flipped? What if she were a boy? Would you still hire her?
It is a question that has never come up in my life so far as we live close to family and only women applied when we were looking for a nanny but it is a question that may come up for some in the future as we move toward a more equitable distribution of childcare. Or maybe that is just wishful thinking. As a child I had many, many teen sitters I loved and only one was ever male. He was the son of a close family friend and was only hired in a pinch.
In other words, few men are applying for the position, it seems. And yet, even if they were, the truth is it makes me uncomfortable and I am not sure why.
I know that a man can take just as good care of my children as I can. My husband and I take equally good care of our children now and there is nothing I can do that he cannot. And yet, it strikes me as odd that a man would want the job in the first place. Is that crazy?
My daughter has a book -- Fancy Nancy and the Sensational Babysitter -- and the sitter turns out to be male and she loves him. Of course, not all the reviewers agree. On Amazon, one woman says:
I must say I LOVE all of the FANCY NANCY books...Brilliant! But that being said, this one is just NOT my favorite. The babysitter is a boy and in this day and age...who would hire a male baby sitter?
OK, so that seems incredibly unfair since (a huge) part of it is obviously individual. In the right circumstances, I am sure I would gladly hire a male sitter, but the thing is have you ever even seen one?
I have seen the debate pop up on mom listservs and I have heard women discussing the topic, but I have never actually met a male sitter. I have seen stay at home dads, obviously and men who were very involved parents, but rarely have I seen a man who wanted to take care of other people's children. And that makes me sad.
I know in the right circumstances, my daughter and son would love to spend time with a cool guy, but I have yet to meet one I would feel comfortable leaving them with. And that makes me sad. Would I hire a male sitter? Yes. Have I met one? Nope.
Would you hire a male nanny/sitter?
Image via fishermansdaughter/Flickr