Should Rank Keep Your Military Teen From Babysitting?


Babysitters. I don’t know about you, but when I had small children, reliable and available babysitters were one of the most important things in my life. I just knew that I would pay-it-backward by raising responsible, willing babysitters to help other families. And now I have a house full of such workers, and I can’t let them babysit for half of the people on our small base.

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Because of my husband’s job.

As you know, if you stay in the military long enough, you usually achieve some level of leadership. And I  choose not to let our kids babysit for anyone who is within my husband’s chain of command. That represents a big chunk of our little base. So, my kids don’t babysit often, and the community is deprived of a valuable resource.

Now, when I say it like that, a bjillion people will say, “What?” “That’s not right!” or “You are being ridiculous.” Those bajillion people might be right, but this is a question that I have considered carefully, and I've decided to err on the side of the caution.

Here’s the thing: In today’s military environment, it takes just one disgruntled soldier, sailor, airman or Marine to derail the career of a superior. And, for some reason, it seems like good folks are being let go even when they’re trying to do the right things.

I can easily see a situation where a subordinate claims that he or she felt compelled to hire my child to babysit, or to pay a particular rate. And I can’t risk that. As much as I’d like for our family to help others, it makes me too nervous.

When I was first considering this issue, I reached out to one of the Facebook groups to which I belong. I asked there what everyone thought about the issue of kids babysitting for families within the command. I was really surprised at the number of comments, and how passionate they were.  (It seems that the comments were a little too passionate; I just went to re-read the thread before I wrote this, and it has been deleted.)

About half the commenters felt that it was smart to keep our family’s life separate from the lives of the rest of the command. The other half disagreed, for a wide variety of reasons. Quite a few said that such thoughts were silly, particularly because “family members don’t have rank.”  Many told stories of when they were military brats and babysat for other families. Some seemed to think that I was a being stuck-up.

What do you think? If your boss had a child who babysat, would you want to, or feel that you should, use him or her when you needed a babysitter? If you’re a more senior family, do you let your children babysit for people within the command? Why, or why not?


The author of this post wishes to remain anonymous.

Photo courtesy U.S. Army.

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