Parent Q and A: Out-of-bounds babysitter

Hi Rebekka:

I have a question to ask if you have a moment? My babysitter keeps kissing my baby and telling her “I love you”… despite me asking her not to. She says she will stop kissing the baby but I catch her doing it over and over again. Also, instead of spending time playing with the baby or reading to her, she is constantly “bonding” with her – cuddling and staring into her eyes and kissing her. I am not sure if I am crazy in that this makes me uncomfortable?

Please advise if you can! Thank you!

Sincerely,
Disturbed Mom


Hello DM!

This is quite a nuanced question, and I’ll share some of my initial thoughts here.

First of all, I do not think you are crazy at all for feeling uncomfortable about this situation. I would also be concerned and upset if my child’s caregiver could not honor a specific request I had made of them, regardless of the nature of that request. The fact that you asked your babysitter to refrain from engaging in this behavior and she continued to do so is understandably disconcerting and worth addressing from the point of view of trust in the relationship and the parameters of her responsibilities.

Another issue that stands out for me is not the fact that this woman clearly cares for your daughter, as I hope that all caregivers do have feelings of love and affection for their charges. Rather, her behavior seems excessively intimate to the degree that it is making you uncomfortable. To the previous point, the fact that the babysitter is having a hard time refraining from this sort of intimate contact makes it even more confusing. Sure, my own babysitter loves my daughter, and vice versa, and they tell each other this. They also cuddle and are affectionate with one another. But none of this makes me feel uncomfortable because I don’t feel like my babysitter is trying to bond with my daughter in the way that I might, as a mother. It’s your description of her “mommy-baby”-like “bonding” that seems to be the issue here, and that seems to venture beyond what feels appropriate for the nature of their relationship.

One final thought is that perhaps you are wondering if the babysitter is getting to bond more deeply with your daughter than you are; I know you are quite busy and you have a lot of support to help care for her, and maybe your babysitter’s behavior is feeling actively threatening to your relationship with her. If this rings true for you, know that you cannot be displaced or replaced in your baby’s heart so easily. 

Regardless of how you choose to move forward with this caregiver, the good news is it seems that your awareness of this situation is reminding you of the importance of your own relationship with your child. In that light, perhaps this can be an opportunity to reflect on how you want to connect and bond with your daughter in ways that feel meaningful and satisfying for you.

Take good care,

Rebekka


For additional reading:


Rebekka Helford is a licensed marriage and family therapist in private practice in Los Angeles, California. With over a decade of experience working with parents and young children, Rebekka specializes in short-term intensive parenting consultation, using a variety of tools including home, office, and school visits to help families navigate developmental hiccups and get back on track.

Click here to schedule an appointment or contact Rebekka with a question – who knows, she might even answer it in her next post!


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