Babysitter Protocol

By Dr. Robert Wallace

October 22, 2019 4 min read

DR. WALLACE: My husband and I are both 23, and we have a 2-year-old daughter. We have never had a babysitter because my mother has helped us when we are lucky enough to get a night out.

About a month ago, my mom and dad had to move to Sacramento because of his job. We will now have a 16-year-old neighbor be our regular sitter whenever we're out. She has a babysitting certificate from the Red Cross, she is dependable, and she has babysat for other neighbors, so I feel comfortable with her. This is very important for me, and I need to ask your advice. Should we set an hourly rate or ask the young lady what her rate is? Also, are we expected to supply snacks and if so, what kind? I really appreciate your help. — Mother, San Jose, California

MOTHER: It's not absolutely mandatory, but the great majority of parents supply snacks for babysitters. As you know, teens have insatiable appetites. You should contact the sitter and ask her about her hourly rate (it usually increases after midnight on weekends). While chatting with her, find out what her favorite snacks are and then make them available. You should always leave written instructions, a list of emergency numbers, your cellphone numbers (both yours and your husband's!) and the number of the place you will be. Also, leave the telephone number of another adult family member or close friend in the event you cannot be reached right away.

An experienced and reliable sitter is worth every penny she is paid. You are indeed fortunate to have an excellent substitute for your mom!


DR. WALLACE: I'm 16 and seeing a wonderful guy. He is a very special human being. We like each other very much, but we are not in a serious relationship right now. We are more like friends at this point. It so happens that this guy is of a different religious faith than I am. Last week, he invited me to attend his religious services, and I went. They were very unusual and much different from my own Baptist church. I seriously doubt I would ever convert to his religion, but attending the services was interesting and educational. I like to keep an open mind on this topic, and I actually enjoyed the morning there and found the people to be quite nice.

When my parents found out about this, they blew a fuse. They said I could never, ever attend another service with this guy. I'm only a month away from being a very mature 17-year-old, and I think I'm capable of deciding whether I do or do not want to attend this guy's religious services again. Please give me your opinion on this subject. — Anonymous, via email

ANONYMOUS: It wouldn't do much good for me to say your parents overreacted. Religion is an extremely sensitive issue for many people — sadly, many nations go to war over religious differences. It's no surprise that families do have sensitivities concerning this topic, too.

My advice is that you at least attempt to keep the peace at home by inviting your boyfriend (or friend, as you refer to him) to join you and your parents at your church. Such a gesture may help Mom and Dad relax about your friend and slowly come to a place of wider religious acceptance. A system of alternating visits seems reasonable to each house of worship, and hopefully your parents may grow to accept this, especially as this young man's personality comes into play in front of your parents.

Dr. Robert Wallace welcomes questions from readers. Although he is unable to reply to all of them individually, he will answer as many as possible in this column. Email him at [email protected] To find out more about Dr. Robert Wallace and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at

Photo credit: sspiehs3 at Pixabay

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