Babysitters and repairmen

Tina - posted on 12/27/2011 ( 19 moms have responded )

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Situation is, I woke up to a cold house. I was supposed to leave for work by noon and the sitter was being dropped off by her mom, so I called to let the 16 yr old sitter know to dress warm and explained to the mom what was happening. I told them the repairman would be there as soon as he got off another call and I did not know quite when that would be. We hung up and few minutes later she called back and said she was uncomfortable with her daughter being there with a repairman when I would be going to work. She wouldn't let me explain that the same guy has been here twice and was coming to install the part, she did not care about the circumstances at all, she was telling me that she thinks there is a law that says they have to be 18yrs and she called a friend and since the friend validated her concern,she told me that I could take my 7 yr old kid there or she would pick him up. ( I also have a 4 yr old daughter who was at pre-k at the time) It caught me off guard because it never occurred to me that would be an inappropriate situation. I would never put my kid or hers in what I felt would be a dangerous situation. I do not agree that this is a bad, dangerous, inappropriate or otherwise wrong situation. I do respect the right of this mother to make that decision for her underage child of 16 and I dropped him off on my way to work.
However, this is life, we have to deal with strangers every day, in this culture have we become so afraid of each other, that we cannot call a repairman in a clearly marked vehicle, with a name tag, to our home without fear for our children? So what if our kids are home alone and they call a policeman and he shows up by himself, do they not answer the door? What if they are out playing in the yard and the meter reader guy or the mailman pulls in the driveway, are they supposed to run inside or hide? Do you let your kid go back at the Dr/Dentist office alone? Are these scenarios different? How so? After all, he is not some guy that just showed up at random, I called him. I would not have if it was not necessary, such as the dishwasher repair guy...but it is winter out there! Am I the only one who feels like this?

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Teresa - posted on 12/31/2011

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A friend of mine had to go through with something like this. The cable repair guy accosted her 13 year old daughter WHILE he was on a call that was made for a repair there. The girl was 13 at the time and smart so she got away without anything physical happening but there were charges involved and the whole legal thing. Scary for everyone.

Sherri - posted on 12/30/2011

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To answer your question NO never do I send my kids back with the Dr/Dentist alone. Nor would I EVER allow a repairman to be in my home with my 15, 13 & 5 yr old without an adult present.

Sorry but I 100% agree with your sitters mom. I would not allow it either. It has nothing to do with your sitter not being able to handle it. I would say it has to do with it not being appropriate for a 16yr old to be put in that position.

If it was that big of emergency you should have taken off work and handled it. But that is just my opinion.

[deleted account]

Well to play devil's advocate, the baby sitter was there to watch the kids. Not to open the door for the repairman. It's not the baby sitter's responsibility. I honestly have to side with the sitter's mom because technically, the repairman is an unknown person and I would be uncomfortable if that was my teenage kid. Yes, we do have to teach our kids about dealing with strangers, but as the home owner, it's your responsibility to be there for any kind of repair services and not shift responsibility onto someone else. I wouldn't expect my baby sitter to extend her responsibilties to allow a repairman to come into the home whether it was for 5 minutes or an extended time frame.

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Jenna - posted on 01/04/2012

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Actually, a lot of companies won't allow their repairmen to go into a house if there is not someone 18 or older present. They also usually aren't supposed to be in the same room with a minor unless the parent is present. I've had repairmen come get me because my kid went into the room they were working in and they couldn't be in that room with them. It's to protect them as much as it's to protect our kids.

If our kids are home alone and call the police (I'm assuming by dialing 911), they are usually asked to remain on the phone with the 911 operator until the police arrive. Being outside is different than being inside four walls. I let my kids go back at the dentist alone because how can I go back with them when I have other kids who haven't been called back yet in the waiting room? I wait with the ones who haven't been called back yet and then sit with them as they come back out.

I have to side with the mother. I wouldn't be comfortable with it; I wouldn't be comfortable expecting a baby-sitter to do that; and if I were the baby-sitter, I wouldn't be comfortable either.

Jen - posted on 01/03/2012

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I know its an emergency; and not a regular occurance; but I'm positive I would react the same way.

I've seen mailmen, with their official uniform/mail bag etc touching little girls through a school frence. Just because they have their work uniform; and vehicle/work material that clearly show they're on the job and supposed to be there...doesn't mean that a few of them wouldn't be pedophile idiots.

Not all mailmen or utility company workers would be like that. Its only the odd idiot who is. If it was my 16 year old, I wouldn't take the chance.

If my kids were babysitting for someone who expected them to be able to deal with stuff like this, I'd make them drop the job.

Just like if a dentist expected me to leave my little ones alone with them; I'd get a new dentist. I wouldn't be breathing down the dentists' neck, or expecting to sit in there each and every time..but they better let me quietly check on my kid every now and then.

Shawnn - posted on 01/03/2012

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Kathy, thank you so much for that clarification! I was sure there was something like that in place for most services.

Kathy - posted on 01/03/2012

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My husband works for a local utility company and before that a plumbing company and by law they are not allowed to enter a home with children unless an adult over the age of 18 is present. They may enter an empty house but not one with children present.

Shawnn - posted on 01/03/2012

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Tina, it looks like this has been handled. But, I'll still put in my 2 cents...

No, it was not ok to assume that the 16 year old could meet the repairman. First, most companies will not enter a house unless an adult (read over 18) is present. This is to avoid trouble on BOTH sides.

Not that she'd cry molestation if nothing had happened, but that's why they have those policies in place.

Also, if it is YOUR furnace, you should be on hand! We had a similar situation. When we were contacted by the repair man to let us know the part was in, and he could install it that day, we were out of the state. Our kids were home, but they are 17 and 14. If something had gone wrong, they'd have been able to handle it, but it truly isn't their responsibility. Also, they wouldn't have been able to sign for the work, etc.

I asked the repairman if he'd rather go install the part that day, knowing that it would be my 17 yr old in the house, or if he would rather come back the next day, and he said, according to THEIR company policy, he wouldn't have been allowed to enter the house without someone 18 or older present.

Just because her mother was uncomfortable with her being in the house, alone, with a strange man, doesn't mean that the young lady is not a perfectly competent sitter, and that she can't handle any emergency. It just means that, as a mother of a 16 year old female, she was doing what she's supposed to do! She is a parent as well...and she didn't feel right about the situation.

I wish you the best in your decision.

Tina - posted on 01/01/2012

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I started out the other day shocked by the mom's refusal to let her daughter come and not seeing the problem. Apparently there are things that could go wrong, things I had not even considered, and I am ultimately responsible for the situation. I would not knowingly put her into any situation she cannot handle. If she cannot deal with what I felt was a controlled situation, then what happens when a real emergency occurs? What if some freak drives by and notices them playing outside and does not see a car in the driveway-(she doesn't drive)? What if they are next door at the park and some creeper shows up? What if my kid is choking, or he steps on a nail? If we are going to ask What If, which I feel is THE fair question here, there could be all manner of evil afoot and I would be responsible for whatever happened, since I chose to leave my kids in the care of a minor child. Her mother certainly does not trust that she has the ability to handle it-although I felt she could, but who am I? Also you pointed out that she is a child. What If, is the question, because we don't really know the chances of danger-I feel way more comfortable with a stranger I have called to do service to my home than the guy who pulls up to shoot hoops at the park(barely used country park-we live in a rural area although we have close neighbors). We do have to deal with strangers daily, that is life. So I have to say the only way to be 99.99999% sure is to find a licensed care provider. Since everyone that posted was against it (except the first one) I figured I would probably be hung out to dry if anything does occur. I was hoping some would tell me that I was not being unreasonable in the expectation that at 16 yrs old, we could figure out a way to deal with this situation that might make her mother and her more comfortable, or that I was not insane in thinking she could handle it intelligently, or that we live with too much unnecessary fear of each other. I don't feel I am naive. You have pointed out that for you, it is never OK to allow a stranger to be in your home with your children without your presence. I guess they, and most feel the same way. I respect that, I have to respect the decision the sitters Mom made also. I still feel every circumstance is different, but I can't make someone comfortable with it. I take my child to a pediatric dentist who does not allow me to go back with my 7 yr old, or any other parents to go back either. I would love it if they had a video camera system so I could watch, not because I am afraid they will mistreat him,but so I could learn how they do handle it. I am a dental hygienist who works in a regular office and I wish parents would stay in the waiting room for what are obvious reasons to me. So I was just thinking I should find a licensed adult care provider so I can let go of the frustration. Again, I want someone who can handle the What Ifs. So thank you again for your input.

Sherri - posted on 01/01/2012

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So now because most of us have agreed they wouldn't be comfortable with the situation you presented now a 16yr old isn't old enough to watch a 7yr old??

I am really trying to see your logic here but I am having a hard time understanding your view to either extreme.

Sherri - posted on 12/31/2011

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@Tina Because she is a kid. Would you allow your 16yr old daughter to be alone in your house alone with any other complete strange unknown man? I know I wouldn't, and even if you would (although lord I hope you wouldn't) you would seriously ask someone elses daughter to be alone in your home with a complete strange adult unknown man? If you answer yes to this I am sorry but I would seriously question your parenting and wouldn't allow my children to be in your home.

Jen - posted on 12/31/2011

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Yes I do think this could be an uncomfortable situation for a teenage girl (basically alone in your house with a strange man). 99.99999% of the time nothing unusual would happen, but I don't think you should be angry that she (or her mom) was uncomfortable with the arrangement. They offered to babysit at their house, you agreed and dropped your daughter off. Alls well that ends well. Don't be upset just move on and make different arrangements for repairmen in the future. Good sitters are hard to find.

Tina - posted on 12/31/2011

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I do not understand the fear. I really am trying to but I cannot understand why it was so inappropriate for her to handle that.

Tina - posted on 12/29/2011

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Ok, I have to respect that. I guess I am looking for a sitter that will take that, and any other responsibility that I am paying them for. This was an emergency, and frankly if she can't handle that, then I need to find someone who can. So I will be looking for a new sitter. I was not afraid for my 7 year old, but I guess I am more of a free-range mom than I realized.

Tina - posted on 12/28/2011

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I told the lady I was leaving a check for the repairman and they were fine with that, and honestly I would not be upset at the repair business if that had happened, but I have to admit I am really angry at the situation as it happened.

Amy - posted on 12/28/2011

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Honestly anytime I've had something delivered appliance or repaired someone has to be there that's 18. They make that very clear the reason being is if you are under 18 you are not able to enter into contract stating you authorize repairs, or sign off on the work saying it was completed, or that the item delivered was in good condition. If the person is under 18 it negates the contract, that's the law they aren't old enough to enter into a contract which could leave the repairman no recourse for payment. I'm not saying you wouldn't pay but other people might use that loophole.

Denikka - posted on 12/27/2011

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It's a paranoia that has seemed to consume a lot of parents. Strangers are *BAD*. No ifs ands or buts.

For myself, if I were the mother of the babysitter, I would probably have asked you if you knew the guy who was going to be there (had he serviced your furnace before, etc) and then I probably would have told my daughter to keep the phone with in reach at all times.
I am not a paranoid mom. I don't see the point in it to be honest. Your child is WAY more likely to be in danger when left with someone you trust! Statistics show that harm that comes to children (kidnapping, molestation, etc) most often happens with family or close family friends. In reality, YOUR children were probably in more danger being in the babysitters home, or even in the babysitters care, than they would have been while the repairman was in your home.

I will say though, that even at 22, I get nervous when people I don't know come into my home. It doesn't matter if they're selling something, trying to convert me, or coming to repair something that got broke, I still get antsy. I always keep the phone in hand, just in case.
I probably would have asked the 16yr old if she was comfortable, (HERSELF, not her mom) and if she was, great. If not, then I would have respected that also. (that being in the mothers shoes, asking her daughter if she was okay with it, etc)

As for the rest of it, each situation has different responses.
A meter reader, I would expect my child to come tell me, just to let me know. Mailman would also probably be one to let me know (basically bring in the mail and let me know it arrived). If my kids are old enough to be out in the front yard without constant supervision, they're old enough to remember those rules. Just let me know when someone comes on the property.
A policeman at the door, always ask to see a badge first. Plain and simple. Grab a piece of paper and write down the badge number, then open the door. If they're old enough to stay home alone where this could happen, they better have some common sense about it.
Dentist I would allow them to go alone, Dr's not so much. Not for safety reasons, but for health concerns. I remember being that age and of course I didn't tell my doctor everything I should have XD Even up until I was 16 or so, I had my grandmother (who I lived with) come in to the doctors with me cause I could never remember why I was even there XD If my children proved they could be responsible with disclosing information, then sure, they could go alone :P

For me, it's a matter of individual children. I would NEVER leave my (almost) 12yr old brother at home when a repairman was stopping by. The kid would show him the key under the front mat and where the rent money was stashed. He can't keep his mouth shut.
My sister on the other hand, I would have trusted alone at 8yrs old. She knew what was what. What not to say and what to do if something happened. She was a smart kid.
I do think, in general, too many people are too paranoid about strangers around their children though. Like I said, the biggest danger comes from those closest to you and your child.

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