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» Hatrack River Forum » Active Forums » Books, Films, Food and Culture » Babysitting Wages (Page 3)

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Author Topic: Babysitting Wages
ClaudiaTherese
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quote:
Originally posted by mr_porteiro_head:
That would be perfect.

You know, I understand perfectly, and I agree.
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Javert Hugo
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quote:
Does someone being expected to serve equal being used?
Only if the terms are not clear - only when guilt or some sort of "good Mormon girls charge less" rubric is not being used against them.

This concerns me more because the babysitters are generally kids - since those hiring are adults, I think ther is a greater obligation on their parts to be fair. More "the strong protect the weak" and less "the strong use the weak as much as they can get away with."

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BannaOj
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For a more extreme example of the assumptions I think you are talking about Javert [Hugo].

I had a child under a year (not crawling yet but could sit up sorta) plunked down in front of me at a gathering of my boyfriend's familiy. The mother wished to go get some food. Steve said the look on my face was a priceless "What do I do with this THING?!" moment. (I'm not implying children are things, because they aren't, but it was an indication of how wholly unprepared I was for taking care of it at that lifestage)

It was ASSUMED that because I was a young female, I would know how to take care of the child properly. I did not, because I didn't realize that the kid was at the "barely sitting up" stage, because it seemed to be doing fine sitting up on its own. Until it flopped forward on its face and started crying. Fortunately the rug was soft. But I didn't know any better. I wasn't wishing the child ill, and had I known it needed more support I would have provided it.

No one has attempted to make me child-watch at Steve family gaterhing since.

Was the mother somewhat rude? At the time I would have said yes. But, it really depends on one's cultural assumptions and perspective. The assumption was made because I was a young female that I was competent at watching babies. And that's a pretty normal cultural assumption, in many parts of the U.S. which ties back directly back into the babysitting stereotype and subsequent valuation of the work.

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beverly
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What if I talked to my babysitter and said something like, "I understand that I am not paying you much. I understand that the going rate for what you are doing is quite a bit higher. I recognize that you are sacrificing to help me out. But I'd like to at least pay you something, it makes me feel better."
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Javert Hugo
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In my general feeling, the people who are providing service to make an evening possible are the last places it is right to economize. So...maybe it depends on what else has been done to make the evening affordable - that paying the babysitter less isn't the first choice. [Smile]

I say that because refusing a sentence like that would be very difficult for someone who did want to remain a good Mormon girl. But I think the sentence is great under the circumstances that you've considered the other options first.

It's like...it's like an airline company announcing a paycut for everyone but the top executives. Sure, it's understandable if the company is going under otherwise, but asking the baggage handlers to take a paycut before the executives isn't very cool.

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ClaudiaTherese
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beverly, knowing you as I do, and knowing your body language and tone of voice, I would have been delighted to have had that conversation with you. I don't know where we would have ended up, but I would have felt I and my work were of real value and importance to you. I would have felt you saw me as an autonomous person worthy of respect, and I would have loved that.

It was a conversation I often had with the families I worked for, albeit with some indexical differences. The thought was the same, and it was treasured.

---

Edited to add: in (non-beverly) general, though, I have the same concerns as were just raised by Javert Hugo.

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PSI Teleport
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Banna, I think it's rude to expect anyone to do ANYTHING that's your job, without asking them for help first. So I definitely think that the mom was at least a little rude. Maybe she hadn't learned the "balance a child on one hip while only selecting food that can be picked up with one hand" maneuver yet.

edit: I also agree with kat(?). It's very wrong to skimp on the babysitting and tipping the waitress fairly in order to pay for the steak AND shrimp. (This coming from a disgruntled former waitress.)

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beverly
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Well, considering that Porter and I rarely go out on dates (dates are usually watching our favorite show together at home) and that when we do get a babysitter for hire we are often spending little or no money on our outing, I'd say we probably meet the qualification.
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ketchupqueen
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Okay, a lot has happened in this thread...

I found that lack of pay did corellate to a percieved lack of respect.

Those who paid me less (or tried to), often members of the church, often criticized my rates, did not thank me for watching their children, did not seem to care what I did with their kids, etc.

Those who paid me what I expected universally thanked me every time I sat for them, told me what a wonderful time their kids always had with me, and were grateful that I gave a detailed summary of what happened while they were gone.

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BannaOj
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PSI, I genuinely think in her cultural frame of reference (which is distinctly different than my own) it was ok, and she didn't even dream she was being rude. She was actually treating me as she would have treated any of her closer personal friends in the same situation or vice versa, and that it was an indication of acceptance, not a deliberate act of rudeness.

In her cultural frame of reference (which wasn't paricularly religious, just working class in the middle of nowhere Ohio) women had children, in or out of wedlock, and knew what to do around them, so that was why the kid was placed with me instead of Steve, who would have been far better qualified for the job.

AJ

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rivka
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quote:
Originally posted by PSI Teleport:
Banna, I think it's rude to expect anyone to do ANYTHING that's your job, without asking them for help first. So I definitely think that the mom was at least a little rude.

Agreed.

Personally, I've asked people of both sexes to watch a kid for a minute. But I always ask. (And if the response is an "Ok" accompanied by a panicked look, I find someone else.)

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ketchupqueen
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Banna, that would be considered extremely, extremely rude in our family.

Of course, everyone in our family is always offering "I'll hold the baby while you..." and "Why don't you go... while I watch your kids for a few minutes?" (Including me! I love holding yummy babies.) So the situation rarely arises where the mom needs something and there is no one around offering to hold/watch the child. But when it does, we mothers ALWAYS find someone we know is capable and who looks otherwise encumbered and say, "I need to go... for a minute. Would you mind keeping an eye on/holding my kid(s) for a little bit? Thanks!"

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PSI Teleport
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*nod* I see her POV. I've never felt like that, though, so I can't sympathize as well as maybe I should. For me, I abhor asking people to take my kids, even for a sec. Of course, that may be because I abhor babysitting for other people. (Excepting tiny infants that still smell good.)
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ketchupqueen
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Oh, and ditto what rivka said. I am more likely to ask my Uncle Harry, for instance, than my Grandma Ronnie, because I know my Grandma Ronnie is too frail to physically remove a toddler from something she mustn't touch (although I let her hold my infants, no problem.) It doesn't matter what gender they are, so long as I know they are capable. Panicked looks mean "not capable" to me as well.
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rivka
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quote:
Originally posted by ketchupqueen:
Panicked looks mean "not capable" to me as well.

I wouldn't say that. To me, they mean "I'm saying yes, but only because I can't see a graceful way of saying no." I'm not as against asking someone to watch my kid for a second as PSIT, but I do prefer that they be willing. [Wink]
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beverly
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Thanks, CT, you are very kind. [Smile]

This is a good conversation and makes me want to be more aware of how I treat the people who watch my kids. [Smile]

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PSI Teleport
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There are actually a couple of people that I don't mind having my kids for a second, but they are the grandparents. They are at least partly responsible for the kids because they are partly responsible for their existences. [Big Grin] I didn't realize how much having someone babysit bothered me until my husband's mother (whom I love) had to call and ask ME if she could babysit. That's pretty bad.
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beverly
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Kat, I have a question for you. Do you think that in LDS culture we expect more unpaid service from young men than young women? Talking about this subject has brought it to my mind, and I think that we tend to expect this.

Basically, the idea of young women being willing to babysit for free as a service to the community is a nice idea and would help out a lot of families that are trying to live the doctrines of the LDS church. (Have kids. Have several. Have mom stay home with them even if it means trying to scrimp by on one salary. Go on dates as a married couple for the strength of your marriage. Go to the temple frequently. Provide service to the church in situations where kids shouldn't come.)

But in the current culture, would they be willing to when they know they could be paid, even if the pay is low?

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BannaOj
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I believe when one defines something as rude one has to look at least partially at intent, and that is why I'm not going to define the aforementioned mother as being rude.

I was trying to use this example as an illustration of cultural expectations towards child rearing/watching, that go right into the attitudes towards baby sitting. In some circles, the expectations of girls voluntarily desiring to watch children, is extremely strong. And there are many girls who do enjoy voluntarily watching children. But, it's when it goes from voluntary to "duty with a slice of guilt trip on the side if you don't watch sister so and so's kid" is when there are problems.

I realize now that I have cause to be greatful to my mother as a result of this discussion. My mother ran a pre-school class of three and four year olds on sunday evenings which ran concurrently with the sunday evening service. I didn't mind helping her prepare the crafts beforehand, but I got roped into helping her occasionally, if her other assistant couldn't make it. She absolutely loved teaching the class, but she saw exactly how insane it drove me, that I couldn't reason with the kids logically. Now that I think about it, I suspect a lot of people in that church probably thought I enjoyed helping my mother etc. etc, and only she knew exactly how much it frayed me, and she did try to spare me from doing it whenever she could.

AJ

In other words the "service" to that church was hers, and not mine, and she tried not to impose her "service" on me regardless of expectations.

Anyone who has seen me around kids on a regular basis, knows I'm not good with small children for extended amounts of time. When I taught swimming lessons they kept me away from the Mommie-and-Me classes and deliberately gave me the more advanced/older children. I was fabulous when teaching Adult Beginners, a class that very few other people could handle, but the little ones and I have never clicked well.

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rivka
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quote:
Originally posted by BannaOj:
In other words the "service" to that church was hers, and not mine, and she tried not to impose her "service" on me regardless of expectations.

That's pretty awesome.
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PSI Teleport
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When did this forum stop annotating that a post had been edited? (And is there a better word than "annotating"?)
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scholar
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I don't use babysitters because I cannot afford them. But, I think if I was a teenager (and when I was, I felt this way as well), I would figure that making $3 an hour was better then nothing. I knew that people in my neighborhood did not make a lot of money and that if I were to charge more, it would make the date outside of their budget and so wouldn't go. So, that's why I accepted the pay I got- it was better then not working. I wasn't the least bit offended when a family down the street paid me a dollar an hour for three kids(I didn't work for them again though cause their house was a complete pigsty and my whole body was covered in a rash at the end of the evening- couldn't pay me stay there another evening). However, I was annoyed when a family at church who drove nice new cars and lived in a big house asked me to tutor and was offended when I said I charged $8 an hour. My friends charged more than that. She found someone else in the ward who would do it as a service. I still think if you can live the lifestyle you do, then you don't need the discount.
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ketchupqueen
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quote:
Originally posted by PSI Teleport:
When did this forum stop annotating that a post had been edited? (And is there a better word than "annotating"?)

Quite a while ago-- only if the change is made in the first 10 minutes after the original post.
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PSI Teleport
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Ah. I haven't been around for a while.
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BannaOj
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note: the particular church I am referring to was of the non-denominational fundamentalist Christian variety, but also located in Southern CA, which meant it often had more lenient cultural attitude than a church with a comparable doctrinal statement in other parts of the country.
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PSI Teleport
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[Big Grin] Try putting THAT in brackets.
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BannaOj
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[Big Grin]
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The Rabbit
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quote:
Originally posted by ketchupqueen:
Minimum wage was almost $6.50 when I was a teen, and was well past that by the time I had my first job.

I'm curious about what minimum wage you are referring to. US Federal minimum wage is currently $5.85/hr and won't excede $6.50/hr until July of 2008.

Several state have a higher minimum wage. In California minimum wage was $6.25/hr in 2001, was raised to $6.75/hr in 2002 where it stayed fixed until January of this year when it was raised to $7.50/hr.

I can't find a single place in the US where the minimum wage was significantly higher than $6.50/hr before this year.

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Javert Hugo
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Beverly,

That's the culture I mean.

My feeling is that it is not the responsibility of young women to be paid less than minimum wage in order for the parents to live the gospel. In other words, the sacrifice is being asked from the wrong people. Random teenagers should not be asked to bear the burdens of the sacrifice.

Should movie theatres charge less to married couples because it's important for them to date? But what about dating to get married in the first place? Should wait staff give up their salary so a couple could have a romantic evening? Should car companies be asked to charge less for cars that seat seven so it's affordable? Should a doctor charge less if his patient is a mother? Should a lawyer have different rates for married people than for single people or for widows or widowers?

If that sounds wrong, then why would underpaying the babysitter be okay? Wouldn't that be because babysitting isn't a "real" job? I think part of the reason babysitting isn't a "real" job is because it is work that is traditionally done by females, and often young females. In other words, it isn't the work, but the people doing it, and that's all kinds of wrong.

Should a man with a SAHM wife and five children be paid more than a single female for the same job with the same level of experience? That's quite unfair.

I consider that the answers to all of the above is no.

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ketchupqueen
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Sorry, that was a mis-type.

Minimum wage was almost $5.50 an hour is what I meant to say.

And I meant state.

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MrSquicky
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quote:
My feeling is that it is not the responsibility of young women to be paid less than minimum wage
I can completely understand the problems with cultural attitudes being brought to bear to get girls to accept less than they should, but I think that tieing teenage mini-jobs to the minimum wage doesn't make much sense.

Ultimately, babysitting is generally not all that onerous and can even be pretty pleasant and it is a job open to people who really don't have other jobs that they really have open to them. I don't see the huge sacrifice that you seem to.

Again, I think that the postulated culturally based intimidation and exploitation is wrong, but not all cases of paying babysitters less than minimum wage.

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Javert Hugo
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quote:
babysitting is generally not all that onerous and can even be pretty pleasant
Sure - not a "real" job. Of course, answering phones or night security can be pretty cushy as well, but we don't expect "good" receptionists or night guards to work for $3 an hour.
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PSI Teleport
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"Ultimately, babysitting is generally not all that onerous and can even be pretty pleasant"

That really depends on the person who's doing the babysitting. Should one person be paid less for the job just because there are other people out there who enjoy doing it?

Once again:
<--hates babysitting

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scholar
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If movie theatres charged more money then people could afford for a movie, then the theatres would have a choice- drop their rates or get nothing. If they chose to drop their rates, that is their choice. If they didn't, then customers would have to decide if it was worth the higher cost. If the customers all said no, I simply cannot afford that, then the movie theatre would have to go out of business. With babysitting, you are making a contract with each family individually. One contract might be different then another, but babysitter and parent have both agreed.
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PSI Teleport
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Also we don't always define "work" based on the pleasantness of the employment. (Whew, I smell Jane Austen.) More important is the time that one has to take away from the things they would rather be doing, or need to get done.
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MrSquicky
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Yes, but people in those jobs are not equivilent to the pool for babysitting jobs nor are the job equivilent. When I was a teenage doing odd jobs and such for people, I didn't expect to be paid like I was a night watchman, and the jobs I did were often much more demanding and/or needed more specialized skills than babysitting does. Why does it deserve a special status?
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ketchupqueen
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quote:
That really depends on the person who's doing the babysitting.
Yeah, and the kids being babysat. I like babysitting-- but there were a few families I refused to go back to.

And movie theaters are something we can afford about 3 times a year, currently, unless someone gives us tickets as a gift.

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MrSquicky
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quote:
Should one person be paid less for the job just because there are other people out there who enjoy doing it?
Should parents pay kids who would probably do a worse job more because they don't like kids?

If you don't like kids, don't babysit if the money isn't rewarding enough.

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PSI Teleport
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quote:
pool for babysitting jobs
Please lead me to this magical pool. I have a lot of friends who can't find babysitters. [Big Grin]
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mr_porteiro_head
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As I said in the other thread, when I was was a teenager, I would have loved to be "underpaid" for babysitting like the gals in my ward were.
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MrSquicky
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What other thread?

---

quote:
I have a lot of friends who can't find babysitters.
Tell them to offer more money/benefits.
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Belle
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quote:
I have a lot of friends who can't find babysitters.
Tell them to call my daughter. [Wink]

I should point out that Natalie has been asked to help out in the church nursery before, particularly when church nursery workers were absent, and it does seem the church asks the young teen girls to do that rather than the boys. In particular, Natalie gets asked because she has such a good reputation as a babysitter. She does not take money for that, even though our nursery workers are paid (regular minimum wage). She considers it a service she can offer the church.

I don't consider it exploiting her or taking advantage of her, no more than I consider it exploitation when my husband replaces the faucet in the church's kitchen for free. If you have talents and abilities the church needs, and want to offer them as service to the church, then fine. I don't take money for teaching choir either.

No one in our church, though would consider having my daughter over to babysit and not paying her or rather paying her something like $3 an hour. That's insane. Babysitters do have an important job, and if you can't afford the going rate for babysitters, you should spend your evenings in at home instead. No one owes anybody a "night out" not matter what your financial circumstances. Either save up for the cost of the entire evening, which includes a decent wage for your babysitter, or don't go out.

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PSI Teleport
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quote:
Should parents pay kids who would probably do a worse job more because they don't like kids?
Let me rephrase. We were talking about whether or not teenagers deserve minimum wage for babysitting. You claim not necessarily because the job can be pleasant, or is relatively easy. (Or am I misinterpreting you?) But pleasantness has nothing to do with the federal minimum wage, nor does the pool of employees. It was my mistake to compare them to other teens who like the job, since that isn't really what we were talking about in the first place. The only reason babysitters aren't protected by the law that gives other people fair wages (regardless of how cushy their jobs are) is that they get paid under the table. Of course, that benefits both parties, because it also allows underage kids to be hired and make money.

Unless there is some law I'm not aware of that specifically names babysitters as being exempt from labor laws. Maybe there is. But it doesn't change the fact that people get paid at least minimum wage for easy jobs everyday.

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pH
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quote:
Originally posted by MrSquicky:
What other thread?

---

quote:
I have a lot of friends who can't find babysitters.
Tell them to offer more money/benefits.
When I was little, the local Christian college had a service where parents could call to get a student to come sit for them. I think it was actually a college program, and the sitters had to be trained a bit first. I remember that we always had very nice sitters. I don't remember how much my parents paid them, though.

-pH

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Javert Hugo
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quote:
No one owes anybody a "night out" not matter what your financial circumstances. Either save up for the cost of the entire evening, which includes a decent wage for your babysitter, or don't go out.
I completely agree. Absolutely.

The problem I see is that among several groups of people (including mine), the "going rate" IS $3 an hour, because of the cultural attitudes mentioned above. I think that's absolute crap.

I also think there is a vast difference between "please serve in a church setting" and "please charge me almost nothing for a service you provide because I'm a member of your church."

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mr_porteiro_head
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quote:
What other thread?
This thread is a spinoff of a thread on Sakeriver.
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Javert Hugo
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It's not a spinoff. It's a re-imagining.
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ketchupqueen
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quote:
Either save up for the cost of the entire evening, which includes a decent wage for your babysitter, or don't go out.
Or trade babysitting with another couple.
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rivka
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quote:
Originally posted by Belle:
Either save up for the cost of the entire evening, which includes a decent wage for your babysitter, or don't go out.

While I agree with this, I disagree on your definition of "decent wage for [a] babysitter." And I say that as someone who used to do a lot of babysitting.
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Artemisia Tridentata
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quote:
Unless there is some law I'm not aware of that specifically names babysitters as being exempt from labor laws. Maybe there is. But it doesn't change the fact that people get paid at least minimum wage for easy jobs everyday.
Actually, the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA)is the law that establishes "The Minimum Wage". It only covers work done in "interstate commerce". The Department of Labor interperets interstate commerce very broadly. But, no one has ever placed casual babysitting within a family home as engaged in interstate commerce. There may be state laws that apply in some states. But the Federales don't care.
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