Author Topic: We'd rather have you babysit than join us...  (Read 9963 times)

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AnaMaria

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We'd rather have you babysit than join us...
« on: January 06, 2014, 03:54:20 PM »
I come from a close-knit church family; I have enjoyed many dinners, game nights, and group service projects with them.  I am one of the few singles in the midst of many couples and families, and 99% of the time, that's just fine. 

Some families within the church have asked me to babysit on occasion, and I'm happy to do so.  I have been involved with children's ministry so their kids know me.  If they are going on a date-night or something they usually pay me or arrange some kind of favor in return for my babysitting; if these are (volunteer) church leaders who need a sitter during a meeting, then I usually sit for free.   They are at meetings, worship team practice, etc. in order to serve me and the rest of the church; watching their kiddos is a small way to thank them!  As I said, my relationships with these people are not limited to babysitting, we enjoy our time together in and out of actual church services in many different ways. 

The issue that has come up a few times is when people ask me to babysit during all-church events that I had planned to attend, such as nights of musical worship or our annual church banquet.  This feels like a slap in the face to me, as though people don't want my fellowship so much as they want my babysitting services.  I understand that these are exhausted parents who are looking forward to a night away from the kids, but as a Single, I am looking forward to a night away from my empty apartment, and as a teacher by day, I am also looking forward to a break from kids during these events!  Giving up an evening so friends can enjoy a date night or attend an important meeting is one thing; giving up a church event that I have been looking forward to is a different story.  We live in a medium-sized city and I find it hard to believe these parents couldn't find someone from outside our church to babysit for one night.

I doubt these people have intentions of hurting or insulting me when they ask me to babysit during these events.  So far, when it has happened, I have had a way to graciously say no, (I am bringing a friend to the event, I am busy that night and wasn't planning on going to the event anyway, etc.), but I'm sure a day will come when my only excuse is, "I am looking forward to an evening with my church family."  Would it be horrible for me to just say this when asked? 

Outdoor Girl

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Re: We'd rather have you babysit than join us...
« Reply #1 on: January 06, 2014, 03:59:31 PM »
I don't see anything wrong with just saying, 'Oh, I'm attending that event so I won't be able to sit for you.'  Giving them the benefit of the doubt, they might not realize that they are essentially asking you to forgo the event so they can go.  But if these are repeat offenders, then yeah, they're just trying to take advantage of you.
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GlitterIsMyDrug

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Re: We'd rather have you babysit than join us...
« Reply #2 on: January 06, 2014, 04:05:23 PM »
I don't think that's a horrible answer at all, in fact sounds down right polite to me. I'd say something like "Oh, you know I'm actually planning on attending that event so I won't be able to babysit that night, I look forward to seeing you there!", I'm going to give them the benefit of the doubt that they aren't even thinking about you attending when they ask. Just, we have an event we need a babysitter this is who has babysat for us, and not putting two and two together that you'd actually be attending the event.

Hmmmmm

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Re: We'd rather have you babysit than join us...
« Reply #3 on: January 06, 2014, 04:10:17 PM »
No, it's not a horrible answer. I would think "Oh, I'm also planning to attend the choir performance on Saturday" is more than reasonable. Or even "Oh, I've already made plans for Saturday." They don't need to be told that your plans are to attend the performance. And if you see them there and they say "I thought you had plans" then you say "Yes, I was planning to attend this event."

And can I say this is a perfect example of when "It never hurts to ask" is not appropriate. Sure it could be the parents are thinking "Let's see if AnaMarie can sit. She may not be planning to attend X." But because of the frequency you are starting to feel more like hired help than a member of the church family.

meronym

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Re: We'd rather have you babysit than join us...
« Reply #4 on: January 06, 2014, 04:15:40 PM »
I agree with the others - that's a perfectly polite response. They asked - you have the right to say no. No harm, no foul.

TootsNYC

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Re: We'd rather have you babysit than join us...
« Reply #5 on: January 06, 2014, 04:30:17 PM »
I think that's perfect. In fact, I think it's what you should have been saying all along. It doesn't matter whether you are bringing someone else to the event or coming solo. You have plans. I hope they haven't decided that you have to come up w/ an excuse that involves someone *else*.

Though I think you should have been saying, and should start saying, with a little surprise in your voice, "No, I'm going to the event. I can't babysit."

You have plans for the night--you don't need ANY excuse, especially since they aren't asking you for your company (the opposite!) but are offering your employment.

And I think you need to be busy more when it's a church meeting. shake this up a bit, push back a little, or you're going to find yourself being taken advantage of an resenting it (and them).


lowspark

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Re: We'd rather have you babysit than join us...
« Reply #6 on: January 06, 2014, 04:37:05 PM »
I agree that they have just not thought beyond "when we go to church events and need a sitter, AnaMaria is who we call." They might not be differentiating between meetings & social events but instead lumping it all into "church".

I don't see anything wrong with saying exactly what you've told us. That you're happy to help out when it's an important meeting or a date night but to please remember that you normally attend church events unless you are otherwise busy so chances are you wouldn't be able to babysit for those occasions. I think if you say it politely and just keep repeating it whenever you are asked, they'll get the idea after a while.

I'd give these people the benefit of the doubt and guess that they just aren't thinking as opposed to them really being advantage takers.

EllenS

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Re: We'd rather have you babysit than join us...
« Reply #7 on: January 06, 2014, 04:39:10 PM »
No, it's not a horrible answer. I would think "Oh, I'm also planning to attend the choir performance on Saturday" is more than reasonable. Or even "Oh, I've already made plans for Saturday." They don't need to be told that your plans are to attend the performance. And if you see them there and they say "I thought you had plans" then you say "Yes, I was planning to attend this event."

And can I say this is a perfect example of when "It never hurts to ask" is not appropriate. Sure it could be the parents are thinking "Let's see if AnaMarie can sit. She may not be planning to attend X." But because of the frequency you are starting to feel more like hired help than a member of the church family.

POD.  I don't think it is unreasonable or rude for people to ask if you are willing to do something you have previously been willing to do, if they ask politely.  It is also not unreasonable or rude to say "no", as long as you say it politely.

Piratelvr1121

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Re: We'd rather have you babysit than join us...
« Reply #8 on: January 06, 2014, 04:50:26 PM »
I don't think it would be bad either to say "Sorry, I was actually planning on attending that event as well!" and I'm sure most people would understand.
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AnaMaria

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Re: We'd rather have you babysit than join us...
« Reply #9 on: January 08, 2014, 04:28:25 PM »
Thanks for the reassurance, everyone!

Just to clarify, under some circumstances this response might be necessary:


And I think you need to be busy more when it's a church meeting. shake this up a bit, push back a little, or you're going to find yourself being taken advantage of an resenting it (and them).

...but, it isn't as though my church family "uses" me as a babysitter on a regular basis.  In our congregation, we make an effort to look out for each other- we arrange meal trains for new mothers or the bereaved, when someone in the church is moving we are all there helping them pack and clean, and we try to practice hospitality.  It's been difficult for me to participate in some of these efforts- after college, I moved home with my parents to work some low-pay-but-great-experience jobs that increased my chances at getting into grad school, and I'm now IN grad school living in a tiny apartment, teaching in the mornings and in class at night, so I've never had the space or money to host events or prepare meals for an entire family.  Babysitting is a way for me to take part in our efforts to care for one another as a family.  As I mentioned, I only sit for free when it is a family VOLUNTEERING at our church, such as someone going to worship team practice or a Bible-study leaders' meeting.  When a church employee, such as one of our pastors, needs childcare for one of these events, the church actually pays for their babysitter.  The whole issue here is that I don't mind babysitting at all; it's just hurtful when people expect me to skip events intended for our church family to babysit.

gellchom

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Re: We'd rather have you babysit than join us...
« Reply #10 on: January 08, 2014, 04:40:43 PM »
I'd try not to take it as their expecting you to babysit instead of attending church events.  They can't read your mind and know that you wouldn't rather babysit sometimes, depending upon the event and especially in light of what you just added about your economic situation.  Some people in your position would prefer the extra cash to attending the event; they don't know you don't.

And honestly, I don't think that there is any need to try to educate them on that point, unless you really really don't ever want to babysit again.  The words you suggested certainly aren't rude, but they are a little bit loaded, you know?  Not in a hostile way, but in a sort of defensive way.   If I asked you to babysit and you said that, I'd feel a tiny bit slapped back, almost as if I had been chastised for insulting you by asking, and I'd be wary of ever asking again. 

Bottom line for me is that they're just asking.  I don't think it means they don't think of you as an equal member of the community.  For all you know, they've asked other people, including couples, too.  So I would go with the formula that other posters have suggested: "Sorry, but I'm going to be attending that event, too.  See you there!"

katycoo

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Re: We'd rather have you babysit than join us...
« Reply #11 on: January 08, 2014, 08:21:09 PM »
You're massively overthinking this.  They have no idea what you're planning to attend at church and what you're not.  Nor are they thinking that they don't want you to attend.  All they know is they need a sitter, and maybe you're free.
All you need to say is "I'm sorry, I'm going to be there too! Good luck with finding someone and I'll see you there."

Deetee

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Re: We'd rather have you babysit than join us...
« Reply #12 on: January 08, 2014, 08:34:12 PM »
You're massively overthinking this.  They have no idea what you're planning to attend at church and what you're not.  Nor are they thinking that they don't want you to attend.  All they know is they need a sitter, and maybe you're free.
All you need to say is "I'm sorry, I'm going to be there too! Good luck with finding someone and I'll see you there."

I totally agree. You are ascribing these people some rather unpleasant motives.

Quote
"This feels like a slap in the face to me, as though people don't want my fellowship so much as they want my babysitting services.  "

When all they are thinking is "I need a babysitter". When I read your title I assumed that people were inviting you to specific intimate dinners are fun events and then asking you to babysit. It's not their place to invite you or not. You are already invited and it's up to you to decide if you want to attend or babysit or stay home and play candycrush.

gellchom

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Re: We'd rather have you babysit than join us...
« Reply #13 on: January 08, 2014, 10:52:51 PM »
Quote
it's just hurtful when people expect me to skip events intended for our church family to babysit.

This, as I see it, is the disconnect.  Their asking you if you can babysit just doesn't mean that they "expect [you] to skip events intended for our church family to babysit."  Nor has anyone said "We'd rather have you babysit than join us," the title of this string.

We didn't hear their tone, and you did.  But ask yourself if maybe, perhaps because you're having a bad day for some reason, you are affirmatively choosing to read those things into their asking if you can babysit.

They have no idea if you're planning on attending the event in question, and maybe you're their kids' favorite sitter, so they ask you first just in case you're not planning on going.  They're not "expecting" anything.  They're just asking and letting you decide what you want to do.  I didn't read anything that sounded like they don't want you to attend the events.

I'm sure that they are happy to see you at church events.  And I'm sure that they think of you as a good sitter that their children like.  So that's good and good; everybody likes you for more than one reason.  Take it.
« Last Edit: January 08, 2014, 10:59:03 PM by gellchom »

MrsJWine

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Re: We'd rather have you babysit than join us...
« Reply #14 on: January 08, 2014, 11:01:57 PM »
Yes, my thinking wouldn't be, "Oh, we should ask that Single who obviously has nothing going on." It would be, "We should ask that person who has previously watched our kids, and whom our kids seem to like."


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