Sibling Sitters: Should Siblings Babysit Each Other?

September 2, 2016  |  
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Parents with multiple children seem to have it easy in the babysitting department. Once the oldest child becomes legally able, some parents put them to work. They automatically become the family babysitter and he/she is put on-call to babysit his/her siblings. Whether it’s date night with hubby or a trip to the supermarket, parents feel like the oldest sibling is the best bet for cheap babysitting services. Sounds easy, right?
But with sibling rivalry and other issues in the backdrop, should siblings babysit each other?
First things first, every family situation is different. Not every older child in a family is equipped to babysit their younger sibling(s). Age is an important factor in all of this. The legal age for babysitting varies from state to state, so making sure your child meets the legal requirements is important. Along with age comes maturity and the ability to handle certain responsibilities that come with being home alone. Being old enough to babysit doesn’t mean your child should. Making sure they can handle some of the situations that could occur while being alone is important. Accidents happen and the guilt weighs heavy if it happens when the children are left alone.
What some parents don’t understand is that while sibling babysitting takes some of the pressure off of childcare costs, it can put a lot stress on the sibling relationship. Younger siblings don’t always accept and respect their older sibling’s authority and this could cause problems between the two. Older siblings should always watch over their younger brothers and sisters, but when it becomes an obligation and their responsibility, it’s stressful for them. There are a lot of parents who had to take care of their siblings growing up and hated it. Growing up in different times calls for different practices.
Just because you did it, doesn’t mean your kids should do it too.
 
There are some parents who use their children to the extreme. Some parents have their older children babysitting younger siblings while they work, which could cause them to miss school. There are also some people who enlist their older children as caretakers while they work on their social life.
If you’re going to use your children as sitters for siblings, moderation is key. Making them take care of their younger siblings majority of the time isn’t fair to them. They are not their children and shouldn’t have to be responsible for them. Some older siblings resent the fact that they have to babysit their younger siblings. While they may do as their parents instruct them, they feel that taking care of their siblings is not their responsibility.
Being an only child, I didn’t have to deal with that experience. As a mother, people always say how lucky I am to have live-in babysitters. Truth be told, I rarely ask my children to babysit each other. Unless it is an extreme emergency, I seek the assistance of a professional or an adult family member to handle the childcare duties…but that’s me.
What say you? Is it okay when siblings babysit each other?

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