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Author Topic: Babysitting Wages
Javert Hugo
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Because of a recent discussion with a friend of mine, I'd like to ask the parents and the teenagers:

What do you pay for babysitting? What do you base that on?

For teenagers: What do/did you get paid? Did you think it was fair?

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ketchupqueen
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We only let my family babysit, and they never ask for money. My kids are just not comfortable staying with anyone else (except when my daughter goes to preschool.) And because of her particular challenges, I don't really feel that most teenagers would be able to handle my three-year-old alone.

When I babysat as a teenager and young adult, I charged $10/hr., which was the going rate in the area, but after midnight my rate jumped to $20/hr. I had to make that policy because I had one client who said she'd be back by 11:30 and then would stay out until 2.

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pooka
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Where were you a teenager, and how long ago was this?

I didn't really have a rate, and most people paid me more than I expected.

I pay my daughter $1 to watch the 7 year old, who is very little trouble, and $3 for both 7 and 3 year old (which is pretty much only if we go on a date.) But my daughter is only 11, when she's "legal" I'll have to compete with the market, I suspect.

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ketchupqueen
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I was a teenager in an upscale part of L.A. and I stopped babysitting when I got married at age 20, which was 4 years ago.
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ketchupqueen
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(I should add that that rate was for up to 3 kids under 10. If there were more kids under 10, I charged a bit more. Kids over 10 were usually more help than hindrance so I didn't charge extra for them unless there was a problem child.)
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ketchupqueen
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(Oh, and when I was younger I started out charging a bit less-- $8/hr. That went up as the general rate went up that everyone else got. And some parents paid me more, like the infant triplets I watched.)
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erosomniac
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The strategy most of my friends used was to charge an unusually low amount - $5-7/hour - and spend any time not actively watching the children doing housework, e.g. vacuuming and doing dishes. This usually netted them extravagant tips (we're talking $100+), so their pay averaged out to about $25 an hour.
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Liz B
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Back in the early 90s, I probably made about $3-5 an hour. (This was when the minimum wage was $4.25, I believe.) I was delighted with this, because I generally only took jobs with one family, who had a kid I really liked. It was easy work. I played with her, read her a bedtime story, and put her to bed, usually within 2-3 hours of getting there, and then the rest of the time I did homework or read books. (They went out pretty frequently, too--I probably worked for them at least once a month, and sometimes more often.)

I'm about to have a baby, so I've been thinking of how much I'd be willing/able to pay. (I have no idea what the market will actually bear around here.) I think I'd probably be willing to give an older teenager $20 or so for 2-3 hours of work. That would probably give us enough time to go out for a leisurely dinner.

But what do I know. [Smile] I'm sure you'll hear from some people who are actually paying babysitters right now.

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pooka
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Minimum wage was actually $3.25 when I was a teen, and my first "real" job even screwed me out of that. So I quit, which probably wasn't the most productive way to react.
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ketchupqueen
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Minimum wage was almost $6.50 when I was a teen, and was well past that by the time I had my first job.
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Christine
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I don't hire baby-sitters because we can't afford them. [Smile]

The good one...the one we like...charges $8 an hour. She's a college student with about 8 years of experience.

The high school girl in the area charge less -- maybe 4 or 5 dollars an hour, but I'm not comfortable with them. I don't know any of them well.

We also don't have any family in the area and have had trouble convincing people that trading kids on weekend nights would be a good idea. So, bottom line, we don't get out much. Sigh....

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Noemon
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quote:
Originally posted by erosomniac:
The strategy most of my friends used was to charge an unusually low amount - $5-7/hour - and spend any time not actively watching the children doing housework, e.g. vacuuming and doing dishes. This usually netted them extravagant tips (we're talking $100+), so their pay averaged out to about $25 an hour.

On the whole that sounds like a pretty clever way of going about things. Did they ever have people react negatively to the cleaning, though?
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Goody Scrivener
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My younger daughter goes to an in-home babysitter after school until I get home. The sitter's rate for us is $2.50 an hour and she also cares for 4 much younger kids full-day (at a higher rate for more involved care, I assume, but I've never actually asked).

I occasionally babysit for a friend that has two young kids (ages 4 and 2), and he pays me (and all his sitters, actually) $10 an hour. He's in a kind of remote area, though, so I'm sure he's taking travel into consideration.

Up until about 10 years ago, I had another family I babysat for (and had done so for nearly a decade by the time they moved away). I started with them at $10 an hour with the kids at ages 3 and 1 and ended up at $7 for 13 and 11. Considering the ages and the vast difference in how much I needed to do, though, the lower rate seemed fair.

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Artemisia Tridentata
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I started babysitting for $.50 an hour. $1 for holidays. But the minimum wage then was a dollar an hour, so please don't use my experience in making your offer now.
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scholar
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Daycare is $4 an hour, per kid at the place across the street from my work where all the postdocs go. I don't know where the faculty take their kids (postdocs get paid significantly less then faculty). So, I knew a woman who babysits a kid every day and was complaining about $4 an hour and the rest of the women were saying they wouldn't do it for less then $10. I thought that $4 was reasonable and I would just sign up for daycare rather then pay more then twice as much.
But for a one time thing, higher pay makes sense. I currently trade off with a friend. Unfortuantely, my three closest friends are all moving in 6-8 months, so I may have to eventually hire a babysitter or make some new friends to replace them. Friends with tools, cause those three also have all the power tools I borrow. [Smile]

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erosomniac
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quote:
Originally posted by Noemon:
On the whole that sounds like a pretty clever way of going about things. Did they ever have people react negatively to the cleaning, though?

Not that I know of, though if I remember correctly they deliberately avoided doing anything where methodology matters significantly (e.g. doing laundry, putting things away). It makes sense to me that they wouldn't see many negative reactions, since if you're willing to trust a person with the exclusive, unsupervised care of your child, you're likely willing to trust that person to accomplish basic household tasks.
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ketchupqueen
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That is cheap, cheap daycare. Wow.

Daycare is mostly charged by the day around here, not the hour. Our daughter goes to a very cheap (but good) in-home preschool/daycare that charges $30/day (but you have to sign up by the month, and then you get charged even for the days your kid doesn't go; for instance, our 2 day/wk. program is $240/mo. whether she goes two days a week or skips some, and no matter how many hours per day she goes. Preschools/daycares with more overhead such as rent, etc. charge more.

If you get a babysitter, your rate is more likely to be around $10-$15/hr. here. Nannies more. That's just the way it is. Teenagers may charge a little less, but usually just on the low end of that range.

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Teshi
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I babysat mostly for between $5-$10 Canadian. This was in the last six, seven years. I worked for a couple of bucks less that minimum wage, even when I was experienced.
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scholar
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These are religious ones. Amazing how for cheap day care, so many scientists are willing to have their kids do 15 minutes of religious study a day. [Smile] One of them does list a $300 a year mantainance charge, which would have to be factored in.
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ketchupqueen
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Even religious daycares around here charge around $30-$35/day, and there's usually a 2- to 3-year waiting list to get in (they often hold spots for members of their congregations, and only have a 1- to 2-year waiting list for members.)

We kind of have a child care crisis around here.

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scholar
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At $4 an hour, for 8 hours, that is $32 a day. So that is comparable. I am not sure of the waiting lists. One postdoc I talked to signed up 8 months ahead and got in. I am not sure if I will go that route when my friend moves, so I haven't signed up. I am also thinking of asking my boss if he is at the church I think he is (he said the big methodist one nearby and the one that I think of has a highly recommended daycare at the same price range that rarely get off the members list so if I go there, maybe he could bump me up- his wife is supposedly extremely active and social).
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Jhai
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Six years ago I babysat for one child at a rate of $20/hour. This was for a very wealthy family however (Silicon Valley rich) in a very expensive area. When I moved away to Germany the mom gave me a nice Palm as a gift (she was an exec at the company).

I need a gig like that again.

(Granted, the kid was completely spoiled and hyperactive.)

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Evie3217
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My usual fee was about $10 an hour. But this was a family that I knew very well and they really liked me. It was also 3 kids, and I went 3 times a week. I wish I could still babysit for them, but they're all too old now to need a babysitter.
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DeathofBees
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I just took time off from doing private nanny gigs in the Piedmont Triad area of NC. I was making $8/hr caring for a 2-year-old and doing some light housework (loading the dishwasher, vacuuming the rec room, etc.). I think I could have gotten a higher rate except that I brought along my own 2-year-old son and they provided snacks, so I figured $8 was pretty fair.

Shameless plug:
I'm actually going to be looking for more childcare work soon, if there's anyone in my area who may need a nanny or even an occasional sitter. As I mentioned, I have a 2-year-old and I just had a baby in September. They're part of the package and go everywhere with me, but I'll gladly care for your kids in your home or mine. E-mail me.

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dkw
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Too bad you're so far away. That's a little less than what we pay our nanny, and we're probably going to be looking again in September. Our last nanny brought her 3-year old along and that worked out great. We provided snacks and lunch -- I pushed the snacks, because when she brought snacks for her kid she fed him junk and I didn't want that example once our little guy was old enough to compare. So I made sure we always had healthy, fun snacks on hand. The only housekeeping we ask is to keep the nursery reasonably tidy.
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BlackBlade
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quote:
Originally posted by erosomniac:
The strategy most of my friends used was to charge an unusually low amount - $5-7/hour - and spend any time not actively watching the children doing housework, e.g. vacuuming and doing dishes. This usually netted them extravagant tips (we're talking $100+), so their pay averaged out to about $25 an hour.

See I did this on the first of many babysitting visits for a particular family. They didn't tip me for it, and in fact came to expect it of me every time I visited. The parents started coming home later and later then they originally indicated when they'd call me.

Finally one night they came home something like two hours late just because they were having a good time and I forgot to put their groceries in the fridge. They told me off and I felt horrible for spoiling their milk. They never hired me again after that. Now that I think about it, it wasn't really worth the $6.50 they were paying me an hour.

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Belle
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My almost-fifteen year old gets around $15 an hour. She does usually get tips as well. She cooks, cleans up the kitchen, and bathes the kids and puts them to bed.

She's an extremely responsible young lady, excellent student, and certified in CPR and first aid. She could probably get more, but she only babysits for church members and family friends and doesn't want to charge a whole lot. She looks at it as a fun evening for her, she loves kids, and when they get to bed she gets a quiet house to herself to read or watch TV. That's something that is hard to come by in our house with seven people living in it, and it's always loud and active until late at night, since the hubby and I don't normally get in bed until after midnight. So my daughter loves babysitting, if only for the escape from her own chaotic home. [Razz]

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ketchupqueen
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I got tips sometimes.

I also stopped babysitting for people from church (with a few exceptions, the ones who accepted my rates without question) because they were used to paying the young women from church a few dollars an hour and expected me to lower my rates for them.

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plaid
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When I was a teen back in the 80s it was ~$2/hour. Hearing about babysitting rates now, I realize that the parents in our town were in collusion to keep down our wages... [Smile]
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ketchupqueen
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Good grief! My sisters were teens in the 80s and one of them bought her first car, the other a scooter, mainly with what they saved from babysitting wages from age 14 on. Babysitting rates here have ALWAYS been a few dollars more than minimum wage (except for the aforementioned people who pay the young women less because they are drafted into service by their parents so that sister so-and-so can go to her Relief Society functions or the parents can go to the Temple.) Of course, you are expected to be competent, including observing dietary restrictions unique to each child, following house rules regarding tv (most parents allow a little bit more than usual when babysitters are there, but still), keeping the house from becoming a disaster zone, and the children being entertained enough to tell their parents so, etc. And most of us were Red Cross certified in CPR and first aid, and many had taken babysitter training and/or child development courses. But I'd say most competent teenagers could handle that, and I definitely intend to pay the going rate to any teenagers I ever hire to watch my children (which might be none, since, as I said, my kids prefer to stay with family only and that is what I am most comfortable with as well.)
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RackhamsRazor
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When I was 12-15ish (about 7-10 yrs ago) I got paid about 5-8 dollars an hour. Sometimes it was worth it, other times, it did not seem like enough. I had one family that had two great girls and that was not so bad. However, there was a family of four that I had to watch from about 8-5 every so often. The kids ranged in age from about 2-7. Getting paid $60-65 for a whole day never seemed like enough since I had to make lunch, sometimes dinner, clean up the house after the kids if I couldn't trick them into it, and entertain them since they were only allowed 1 hr of TV per day.

I would expect the going rate to be $10-15/hr for someone who is younger or in highschool and around $20/hr for a student with more experience.

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TomDavidson
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I pay about $3 per hour per child.
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SenojRetep
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We pay, for our two children (4 years, 18 months) about $10-15/hour. We usually recruit from the 12-18 year-old girls from church. We live near Boston, so I imagine our rates (as with most everything related to cost of living in this area) are about 1.25 times the national average.
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DeathofBees
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quote:
Originally posted by RackhamsRazor:
Getting paid $60-65 for a whole day never seemed like enough since I had to make lunch, sometimes dinner, clean up the house after the kids if I couldn't trick them into it, and entertain them since they were only allowed 1 hr of TV per day.

Wait...my kids aren't allowed any TV per day, and I have to make breakfast, too! Where's my $65?? Ah, what I do for love.
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scholar
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I don't hire babysitters, but $20 an hour seems ridiculous to me. Of course, I only make $12 an hour so that colors my viewpoint a lot.
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brojack17
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I paid $5/hr for the first kid and an additional $1/hr for each other kid. A total of $8/hr.

Now I live around family. FREE BABYSITTING!

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lem
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We had a friend when our first baby was born. He is three now. We used a baby sitter for a bout 5 hours a day for a year and a half. She lived close, was a friend, and charged $2.50/hour. My wife now stays at home.

Our first born is now 3 and we have a new baby. We use family if we want to go on a date.

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Javert Hugo
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I agree about people from church paying less.

That really concerns me, because it completely belies the message that taking care of children is respectable work that is worth a woman's time. If it is apparently crap work that is only worth $3 an hour, how you can say with a straight face than it's something an intelligent adult should be respected for doing?

Since I believe that is it IS vitally important and definitely worthy of respect, then it bugs the crap out of me that it's compensated at half of minimum wage and thrust upon young women in the church as if it were their duty to be a free source of labor for anyone who'd call on them and then get no respect for it.

There's a serious disconnect between the messages sent in Young Women's and the messages sent by exploiting the young women.

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Dagonee
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quote:
If it is apparently crap work that is only worth $3 an hour, how you can say with a straight face than it's something an intelligent adult should be respected for doing?
Because, to start with:

1) Babysitting is very different than parenting or providing day care.

2) It is often done in situations where the children are in bed for more than half the time. Certainly, this was true in the vast majority of my babysitting jobs.

3) Many young teenagers find it to be a preferable way to make money even at a lower rate than many other jobs available to them, especially when 2 is taken into account.

4) Paying $3 an hour is not the same as saying it's "crap work."

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Javert Hugo
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You have failed to take into account the accompanying messages and you have falsely assumed that longer periods are compensated at a higher rate. You have failed to take into account context and do not have a reasonable view of the subject.

I have no interest in your views on this subject.

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Dagonee
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quote:
You have failed to take into account the accompanying messages
No, I haven't.
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sweetbaboo
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quote:
When I was a teen back in the 80s it was ~$2/hour.
Same for me and that wasn't per kid. Now I pay my preteen daughter $5/hour to babysit her two younger siblings and my son $2/hour to "babysit" the dog. [Wink] Before we left them in charge, we paid anywhere from $7-10/hour for a teenager.

(ETA These are my thoughts in response to Javert Hugo's post.) When I babysat, it was for extra fun money. I don't see that teenagers need to be paid as if it were their career. I think the message to teenagers can still be that nurturing children is important without paying them an arm and a leg. There were many years where my husband and I couldn't afford a babysitter and didn't live near family so we weren't able to go out on a date (read that to mean: be alone together). I do think that adults who choose to babysit should be paid more than the going rate for teenagers.

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Javert Hugo
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I think circumstances should be taken into account, but I also think there is a serious problem when the exact people who pride themselves on valuing family and raising children and that intelligent women should dedicate their working years to it are the same people who pay the least and are offended at the idea of treating day care like a real job that should earn at least minimum wage.
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sweetbaboo
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quote:
offended at the idea of treating day care like a real job that should earn at least minimum wage
That I definitely agree with.
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Dagonee
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quote:
and you have falsely assumed that longer periods are compensated at a higher rate.
No, I haven't.

quote:
You have failed to take into account context
No, I haven't.
quote:
and do not have a reasonable view of the subject.
Yes, I do.

quote:
I have no interest in your views on this subject.
I don't particularly care. That's certainly not going to stop me from commenting on posts in this public forum, whether they're yours or somebody else's.
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Javert Hugo
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quote:
There were many years where my husband and I couldn't afford a babysitter and didn't live near family so we weren't able to go out on a date (read that to mean: be alone together).
I agree that it's important for a couple to be alone together, but I'm disturbed by the suggestion that other people should be paid less than minimum wage in order to make this possible. It isn't the responsibility of the local teenagers to subsidize the time of the adults in the neighborhood.

It's like going to a nice restaurant and lowballing the tip in order to make that possible. It isn't the server's responsibility to make the trip to the restaurant possible.

I think there's a bit of community deal going on here, because I know especially in the Church at least that the entire structure and function of the ward is done on volunteer time, almost completely by the adults, and that in family wards a huge chunk of that time is spent serving the children.

I can even agree that it's fair for the teenagers to return the favors (but only if both sexes are included). The problem is that the adult volunteer time is usually done in an official setting, and the teenager volunteer time is done in a semi-subsized private setting on a one-by-one basis. The presentation of the obligation matters.

If it had ever been presented as flat-out service, then I wouldn't mind - service is fun, and I was a fan of the community. When it was presented as my duty as a girl to be paid half of what my brother got paid to do his duty as a guy, it looked like flaming hypocrisy and treating girls' labor like second class.

That's a serious problem.

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Scott R
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quote:
I also think there is a serious problem when the exact people who pride themselves on valuing family and raising children and that intelligent women should dedicate their working years to it are the same people who pay the least and are offended at the idea of treating day care like a real job that should earn at least minimum wage.
Are we talking about day care or babysitting? There's a big difference between the two.

Knowing which we're discussing will change the way that I respond to this post.

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Dagonee
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quote:
the suggestion that other people should be paid less than minimum wage in order to make this possible.
The suggestion is that other people who are willing to take less than minimum wage to make this possible can do so, and when they do, the person paying them isn't committing a moral wrong.
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Javert Hugo
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quote:
Are we talking about day care or babysitting? There's a big difference between the two.

Scott, can you tell me why you see a big difference between the two?

One thing that has been mentioned by a few people is that there is a big difference between parenting and babysitting. I agree that they are different. I don't think they are so different that meaningful comparisons of how they are valued are impossible.

It doesn't follow that parenting is hard, wonderful, valuable work and babysitting is easy cheesy work that deserves less than minimum wage.

I have this scenario in my head - do parents ever end the day and think "Today I was a parent. Yay! Today was a good day." or "Today I was a just a babysitter. The kids are warm, fed, and alive, but no real parenting took place. Today was a pathetic day."

If not, under that rubric, why not? I love parents and I believe it's valuable, but it's hardly true that every day is a banner day competely distinguishable from what would have had happened if a ("lowly, low-paid") day care worker had been in charge.

I want to make it clear that I am NOT disrespecting parents. Rather, I think that since taking care of children is something worthy of respect, it should be compensated accordingly when the work is contracted out.

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Scott R
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quote:
The suggestion is that other people who are willing to take less than minimum wage to make this possible can do so, and when they do, the person paying them isn't committing a moral wrong.
I don't know about "moral wrong." I think there's a lot of squishyworks that goes into that equation-- too many to make such a judgment easy.

But it's definitely not correct to take advantage of a child because of their lack of experience in handling financial matters. (Nonetheless, Belle's daughter earing $15/hour? Wow! Good for her, but I'd never use her because she is too expensive)

I don't think kat's premise that the care of children and family is devalued by low babysitting wages is entirely correct; I think that most people don't look that deeply into the subject to make that connection, so it's not a considered conclusion.

Here's what concerns me about babysitting: that many people, especially in church groups, knowingly take advantage of girls under the premise that babysitting is a teenage girls' responsibility to members of her community, and that pay is either definitely too low, or non existent. I think the market generally takes care of such cases, but may not always.

In short, Dagonee's answer is too capitalistic for my comfort, and kat's is too strident.

:pies them both:

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