My babysitter's mother, fairly lame rant

OK, a little background. Babysitter, we’ll call her Heather. Name changed to protect her.

Heather is a teenager. Heather is not the sharpest crayon in the box, but she’s a good sitter, reliable, responsible, loves my kids, and takes very good care of them. I’m paying her $100 a week to watch my 2 boys. This, I know, is a bargain for me, as daycare would be more than double that. In our very small town, there are NO opportunities for a teenager to get a job. We don’t even have fast food or a coffee shop. So, in any case, the $100 a week is a substantial paycheck for her, considering her lack of options. I was very happy to pay her this amount, because she is the daughter of a single mom, and her dad hasn’t paid support in years. Apparently, mom is not willing to fight for it either. I thought that hiring Heather meant that next year, she’d have nicer school clothes (because mom doesn’t buy her nice stuff at all), and she’d have some cash flow over the summer. I like Heather, and I want her to be happy (apparently, this is more important to me than it is to her mother).

So, anyway, Heather told me recently that she “had to give” her mom the money she made last week, to pay the rent. OK, now, if mom wasn’t working or whatever, I’d have NO problem with this. In fact, if the family were facing serious hard times, I’d anonymously send them giftcards to grocery stores. However, mom paid the rent for the last 10 years on her own. My biggest problem though, is that mom’s boyfriend is living in their house, and he works, so why the fuck does she need ALL of the money Heather earned to pay the rent? Said boyfriend doesn’t contribute to the household at all to my knowledge (and I know this because Heather talks to us). He’s also not very nice to Heather or her brother. I don’t think there is abuse, but he’s unpleasant to them, etc etc. I do get the impression that he is somewhat emotionally abusive to mom, who may lack the self esteem needed to tell him to go pound sand.

Now, I know it’s none of my business what Heather chooses to do with her money. However, it is burning me up that this girl spends 40 hours a week with my kids and hasn’t seen a penny of last week’s pay. My mother pulled this same kind of shit with me and my sisters when we were younger, and it really screwed up our relationships with her. I’ve encouraged Heather to open a bank account with the money, but of course, her mother doesn’t seem to want her to do this. I almost wish I’d offered to pay her considerably less (she probably still would have taken the job). I’m so angry that her mom made her turn over her money, that I’m actually considering hiring someone else so that I’m not paying this woman’s rent. But I don’t want Heather to think she did anything wrong. She’s a really nice kid.

Ugh. Lame rant, thanks for letting me get it out of my system.

Does she need her mother’s permission to open a savings account?

I know exactly the kind of person you’re talking about; you could be describing several of my friends’ mothers, right down to the oaf of a boyfriend =\ Unfortunately there’s not much you can do and it’ll just stay that way until she decides to stand up for herself. And she could have good reasons for not wanting to do that, since if it’s “understood” that her money is mom’s money asserting herself could have unpleasant results. Just do what you can to support her, e.g. if she decides she wants her own bank account and needs an adult to sign you can do it for her. I wouldn’t push it too hard though, it’s best not to get too involved in other people’s business.

There’s exactly one bank in town, which, I believe requires a parent for a minor (she’s not 18) to open an account.

I’d love to help her open an account, but this town is SO small, that I’d probably become a pariah for “butting in”. Hubby and I appear to be her only emotional support system, so we’re gonna keep her around just so she’ll at least have us to be a positive influence in her life. I hope she turns out OK. I don’t think mom is gonna help her do that.

thanks :slight_smile:

If she’s under 18, there’s a good chance that she does.

Emphasis added. Now let me get this straight.: you are paying a full-time employee $2.50 per hour to take sole charge of your two children. This extremely low wage is acceptable to her because she’s underage and has no realistic alternatives for earning any money. She’s a good employee and gives entire satisfaction at her job as far as you’re concerned.

And you are seriously considering replacing this employee, or wishing you’d offered her an even lower wage, just because you’re angry that her family is taking advantage of her earnings?

Here’s an idea: why don’t you offer instead to increase Heather’s pay, which it sounds as though she fully deserves, but keep it a secret between the two of you? That way, even if her mom continues to insist on her handing over the $100 a week, she could have the rest of her money for herself.

In fact, you could even start a bank account for Heather with the additional wages, withdrawing money for her if and when she requests it, and handing the whole thing over to her when she turns 18. Or if you don’t want to risk being outed by a blabbermouth bank teller, just keep a private accounting of how much extra you owe her (with interest, ideally) and give her some of it when she asks.

I’ve gotta go with Kimstu on this one. $2.50 per hour for two children is MUCH MUCH MORE than a “bargain”. How do I know? I’m a stay-at-home dad with two boys.

You’re paying her a $1.25 per hour per boy. It’s a good thing you care. :rolleyes:

That’s a great idea. Or what about keeping her pay the same but taking her shopping for the clothes anyway at the end of the summer? You’d be out an extra $300-$400, still a bargain by any estimation, and she’d have something that her mother couldn’t spend.

Why dump on CoolName for paying so little for child care? For all we know, it’s half of her paycheck.

So far, all we know is that Heather gave her mom $100, one time. There’s nothing wrong with Heather helping her mom, even if mom has lousy taste in boyfriends.

If it keeps happening, Kimstu has the right idea. If you can afford it, raise Heather’s pay. If you can’t figure out how to do it without mom finding out, then take Heather shopping before school starts and buy her a new wardrobe.

But cutting her pay – nuh uh.

On the one hand, it seems that the job isn’t demanding in the sense that working at a store, fast food place, or some other more official workplace is (even if it does carry an enormous responsibility, which I don’t want to deemphasize). She gets to spend time with your kids (which she enjoys), you’re clearly concerned for her well-being and more than satisfied with the job she does, and I assume that this happens in the comfort of your house.

On the other, I’m inclined to agree that 100 bucks a week is pretty low, but that depends on whether one factors in the less-quantifiable benefits May I ask how old Heather actually is? Also, how old are your kids? If they’re old enough to relate on some level and be friends to an extent, then that would definitely be a perk too.

And it must frustrate the ever-living shit out of you that her mom is stealing Heather’s money, which came from YOUR pocket. It sure as hell pisses ME off. You’re paying her daughter for a service, not her mother for whatever . As a teenager, she wants to see herself as stronger than she actually is, but is still extremely vulnerable. And the prospect that her own mother could conceivably be taking advantage of that makes my blood boil. Poor kid.

So let me agree with the others: don’t fire her. Regardless of what you tell her, it WILL be a blow to her self-esteem, especially if that removes any support your encouragement and concern provides.

Good luck.

You could always give her part/some/all of her pay in the form of savings bonds, gift certificates, and/or a shopping trip.

The $100/wk for 40 hrs kind of blows my mind - my cousin in Indianapolis & my girlfriends in suburban Chicago all pay around $10/hr for Saturday night sitters.

I agree that $100 for the week sounds low, but I think it depends entirely on how old the girl is.

When I was 12, my friends and I would babysit for $2 per kid, per hour. That was the going rate for 12 year old babysitters (through schools and churches and such); of course, that was 8 years ago. Who knows, maybe the going rate has gone up?

When I was 15, I got some sense. I started charging $5 per kid, per hour.

Now that I’m 20, if someone wants me to babysit, I expect them to pay the hourly wage I get paid at work: $9.50. $2 per additional kid on top of the original 1. The difference between then and now: well, I’m a grown up with a car who can take the kids places (for fun or emergency), I know CPR now, I speak 2 languages and can help teach it to your kids, etc. At 20, I’m a much more valuable babysitter than at 12.

I was also flabergasted at the 100 per week for 40 hours worth of work. I can’t quite decide who’s taking more advantage of her, her mother or you.

When I babysat a good 15 years ago, I got paid 5 bucks an hour. Did I mention that was fifteen years ago?

Honestly, pay this girl a reasonable wage, now. And like someone else said, keep the extra a secret from her mom.

That’s no excuse for taking advantage of a good kid. If it’s a family friend doing you a favor who knows of your situation, that’s one thing. To pay a ridiculously low rate to someone who doesn’t know any better, is quite another.

I had the same thought as lezlers, but whatever the market will bear, I guess…

Here in rural England I pay my cleaning lady £7.50 an hour ($13.80 an hour).

If CoolName is working full-time, which presumably is why she needs a 40-hour-per-week babysitter for her kids, then she’d have to be earning less than $6 per hour herself to have only $200 in her weekly take-home paycheck. Doesn’t sound likely, IMHO.

And while I do think that $1.25 per child per hour for full-time babysitting is indeed a pretty low wage no matter how young your employee or how stagnant your local economy, I can understand CoolName’s reasoning that it’s actually a fair enough deal for both parties.

What startled me was the suggestion of getting rid of, or cutting the wages of, a completely satisfactory employee who’s already working amazingly cheap in a position of pretty serious responsibility, just because you don’t like how her family treats her. Seems to me this is definitely a problem to be solved, if the employer feels it’s her duty to help solve it, by giving this employee more money, not less.

I grew up in a small town, too. Seventeen years ago I used to ride the bus home with two kids at two o’clock and stay with them until their mom got home at six. For this, I got $20/week, plus snacks and cable TV. I could do my homework while I watched them. It was the going rate.

Kimstu said

Outstanding idea. Out foxtrot standing.