Are You Obligated to Babysit Your Family Member’s Children for Free?
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When you have a baby or kids, it’s nice to have family around for support and to lend a helping hand. But, if parents aren’t careful, their family can start to feel like free babysitters or that they’re being taken advantage of.
A difference of opinion in childcare (and “babysitting”) can lead to a lot of family drama among many families.
A recent post on Reddit sparked a debate about family members’ expectations of free babysitting and regular breaks from parenting.
One Family’s Drama
The post’s author, a 41-year-old man, had an argument with his cousin, a 28-year-old father of five-year-old twins, who believed that family members should provide free babysitting and that he and his wife should get at least one day off a week.
The cousin’s parenting style, which involved little discipline and reliance on gentle techniques, made his children difficult to handle, and he constantly asked grandparents and other relatives to babysit them.
Watch Your Own Kids
When asked, the original poster (OP) refused to babysit his cousin’s children because he had plans and wanted to relax that weekend.
When the cousin and his wife whined and asked why the author told them they were not entitled to free labor and should not expect breaks from their parental responsibilities. This led to a heated argument about paid vs. free childcare and what should be expected from other family members.
This led the OP to ask the community if he was being a jerk for calling out his cousin.
Don’t Expect Others to Do Your Job
The Reddit community overwhelmingly supported the author’s stance, with many people pointing out that parenting is a responsibility that parents must take seriously.
While it’s understandable for parents to feel stressed and overwhelmed, it’s not fair for them to expect their family members to babysit for free on a regular basis. Babysitting/childcare is a job that requires time, effort, and energy.
Furthermore, the cousin’s parenting style, which involved little discipline and reliance on gentle techniques, seems to have contributed to the children’s difficult behavior. Many people felt that it was the cousin’s responsibility to address his parenting style and not expect his family members to pick up the slack (especially since the cousin is known for reprimanding his family for being too strict).
One commenter says, “Asking other relatives constantly to babysit their kids sounds very selfish, irresponsible and not to mention being entitled enough to ask people to babysit their badly behaved demons which they don’t discipline for free.”
Pay Someone or Drop It
The issue of entitlement also came up in the discussion, with many people feeling that the cousin and his wife were entitled for expecting free babysitting and regular breaks from parenting. While it’s understandable for parents to need a break from time to time, they need to do it with paid help.
Unless the family has come to an arranged agreement, babysitting is a service that should be compensated for, and if the cousin and his wife want regular breaks, they should be prepared to pay for them.
One mom can relate to a need for a break but also writes, “As a parent who has had less than three dates this year, all where we paid people or went during school, nope. It’s NICE if people will watch your kids for you, but no one is entitled to someone else’s time or efforts.”
Facing the Reality of Parenting and Childcare
The OP has every right to call out his cousin after his cousin tried to make him feel bad for wanting to relax over his weekend. And the Reddit community agrees. The bottom line is simple:
- Many writers agreed that the cousin, and his wife, are responsible for their kids- no one else.
- Others comment that if they do want help, they need to be clear on expectations- whether that’s a schedule or discussing parenting styles further. Everyone involved needs to establish boundaries and responsibilities expected.
- Plus, the community agreed they should talk to their family about what they think is fair compensation rather than expecting free labor.
- Additionally, if a family member cannot help, they don’t get to make them feel guilty about it, regardless of why they decline- no is no.
- Finally, the cousin should consider replacing his sense of entitlement with gratitude. Being grateful to his family may go a long way to help his family feel less abused by childcare expectations.
What do you think? Should grandparents, cousins, aunts/uncles be expected to watch someone else’s kids?
See the full thread here.