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Where does one draw the line between a reasonable favor vs. being taken advantage of?
January 30, 2010 11:48 AM   Subscribe

Where does one draw the line between a reasonable favor vs. being taken advantage of?

I'm moving soon and will be living very close to a friend (not a close friend). She's mentioned more than once that she'll be asking me to babysit her child. Also, this is just conjecture on my part, but I'm guessing she wouldn't offer to pay me.

Obviously if there were an emergency or she were in a tight spot, I would be happy to do it as a favor. And I'd like to keep an atmosphere where we're able to ask favors from each other since we'll be living so close. But I don't have any interest in babysitting on a non-emergency basis, paid or unpaid.

1) Is it unreasonable of me not to want to babysit?
2) Where does one draw the line between a reasonable favor for a friend vs. being taken advantage of?
3) If she actually asks me to babysit and I want to decline, what can I say that won't offend her or make things awkward?

Thanks for your help!
posted by whitelily to Human Relations (47 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
 
tell her you aren't good with kids.
posted by batmonkey at 11:51 AM on January 30, 2010


You're busy. Doesn't matter what you're busy doing. If you don't want to do it then it's not going to be a good environment for the kid to be in.
posted by theichibun at 11:55 AM on January 30, 2010


The fact that she's mentioned more than once that she'll be asking you to babysit kind of grates on my nerves. Just because you move close to someone, doesn't entitle them to a free babysitter. If you don't want to babysit, say so now. Say you're not good with kids. It'll be easier to say no now then later on down the road. If you want to be nice, compromise and say you'll be willing to babysit only in emergency situations, which should mean no more than once every few months.
posted by MaryDellamorte at 11:59 AM on January 30, 2010 [5 favorites]


I actually *am* good with kids and she knows this. I like her kid just fine, but that doesn't mean I have any interest in using my free time to babysit. Obviously I could just tell her this, that I work long hours, have little free time, and don't want to spend it babysitting, but I don't know if that would offend a mother (I don't have kids myself, in case that wasn't obvious :) )

Thanks for the answers!
posted by whitelily at 12:06 PM on January 30, 2010


It would be rude of her to volunteer you for babysitting duty if you were a family member or very close friend -- to assume it of a more casual acquaintance is strange and inappropriate. Assuming you don't have a history of providing her with childcare (which seems like something you would have mentioned in your post) she should have no reason to assume you would be interested in it now.

It isn't unreasonable for her to ask you to babysit, but you're under no obligation to agree to do so, and turning her down wouldn't be rude or unreasonable. You don't have to give her a big explanation of why you don't want to -- "I'm not comfortable babysitting" or something similar is all you should have to say. If she presses the issue and refuses to accept your reasons, she's the one being rude, not you.
posted by Narrative Priorities at 12:07 PM on January 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


You can say "here is all my contact info to put on the kids' school emergency forms. But make sure they always contact you before me...I don't want to babysit them more than is necessary since my lifestyle and home really isn't conducive to having kids around". That should work.
posted by hal_c_on at 12:08 PM on January 30, 2010


Better to set the parameters from the beginning -- it would be so much worse to have to say you don't want to babysit anymore -- that feels like a rejection of her and/or her kid.

I think you could say that it is great for both of you that you will be near one another and available to help out in all kinds of emergencies, but that you will be sure not to overstep your bounds and ask her to do too much. Reciprocity would pretty much require her to use the same set of guidelines.

Then if she does ask you to do non-emergency sitting, say you can't. Don't fall into the trap of explaining why, just that you can't do it.
posted by mmf at 12:08 PM on January 30, 2010


when you are all moved in, and when she asks you to babysit, if you don't want to do it, simply say "that will not be possible".

You don't owe her an explanation. You don't have to tell her what your plans are that night, or any further details of the sort. You can't, and that's that.

Stand your ground.
posted by seawallrunner at 12:13 PM on January 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


Be busy.
posted by rhizome at 12:17 PM on January 30, 2010


OOOh...I got an idea...just pull a George Costanza and let her assume you are hard up for cash. When she asks for babysitting just quote your rates as such:

"Emergencies get the good neighbor discount of 'free', all other babysitting is $15/hour". Make sure its higher than market rate so that she would look elsewhere for babysitters.

That SHOULD work.
posted by hal_c_on at 12:17 PM on January 30, 2010 [5 favorites]


Could you divert this by offering the name of an actual babysitter she can hire?

Her: "Okay, like I was saying, I need you to babysit on Wednesday night!"
You: "Oh, you need a babysitter? Jane Smith is wonderful, would you like her number?"

It's rude of her to confuse a job with a favor. Is she expecting this to be a playgroup sort of thing, where she can drop her kids off to play with yours, under your supervision, and you can do the same? Or is she just expecting you to be the magical babysitting fairy?
posted by sallybrown at 12:19 PM on January 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


If she brings it up again, prior to the move, you could say something like, "I suppose I could watch them once in awhile," (if that's true), or, "it's too bad my life isn't really set up for doing that kind of thing right now," or "sure, in emergencies," or whatever version of that is true for you and will start giving her a head's-up.

In the moment, when she asks, say, "That's not a good day for me," or "I have other plans," or some other simple, factual version of "No."

I have a friend who likes to start by asking what I'm up to, which puts me into a tough spot if I say, "Oh, not much," and her next statement is, "Oh, good, because I wondered if you could watch the twins for a couple of hours..." So watch out for that kind of thing. Learn to say, "Why do you ask?" which is what I'm working on (and I actually love watching other people's kids--including the twins in question. I just think it should be up to me, and not their moms, whether right now or next Tuesday or whatever is a good time, and I shouldn't have to explain that). As mmf said, don't get caught up in explaining yourself, or feel you have to justify your decision.

Remember that her expectations and hopes do not equal an obligation on your part, and if she gets huffy or angry or whatever about you not sitting as much as she thinks you should, that's her problem. You may not be able to avoid offense or awkwardness if she's not entirely reasonable on this subject. Just do your best.
posted by not that girl at 12:20 PM on January 30, 2010 [3 favorites]


I agree that this is weird. Have you been super-nice to her kid at some point, and she now thinks you're Auntie Whitelily or something?

I would go with a kind, "I'm not the babysitting type."
posted by kmennie at 12:20 PM on January 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


Oops, just saw you *do not* have kids. Even better.

Her: Looks like I need you to babysit Kid on Wednesday!
You: I'd love to stop by and see Kid sometime, but unfortunately I retired from babysitting a while ago! I know Anne and John Doe have a great babysitter, though, maybe you can give them a call and ask for her number?
posted by sallybrown at 12:22 PM on January 30, 2010 [4 favorites]


Be prepared for her to be all offended and act like YOU are putting HER in a tight spot by not babysitting. From your description, it sounds like this is a very possible outcome. I think it would be better to clear this up now than to wait until she asks you to babysit imminently if you want to remain friends.

I have never heard of friends watching other friends' kids for free on a regular, non-emergency basis. Whenever my neighbors or parents' friends babysat me and my siblings, my mom either paid them, or she watched their kids, too, and it was a taking-turns thing.
posted by ishotjr at 12:22 PM on January 30, 2010


Obviously I could just tell her this, that I work long hours, have little free time, and don't want to spend it babysitting, but I don't know if that would offend a mother

This is perfectly reasonable and if the mother gets offended then that's weird and inappropriate. Tell her that you like her kids and it's nothing to do with her or them but you just don't have spare time to spend babysitting. You can sound sorry about it but don't apologise, this isn't negotiable and really why should be be sorry for not wanting to deal with someone else's family? You can also tell her that you're happy to do other favours and you value her friendship etc, as long as the spending all your free time stuff remains off the table. Personally I'd bring it up next time she mentioned babysitting since she clearly has plans all laid out, but you could wait until she actually properly asks you.

Unfortunately some people will get offended though, not because there's anything wrong with you but because it doesn't suit them for you to not be a doormat. There's nothing you can do about this and trying to please people like that is impossible, so if she does get huffy just disengage and leave her to it.

Of course personally the first time babysitting came up I would have snorted and said "good luck with that" so maybe look at the other answers for ideas on tact. But your position really is a reasonable one, don't worry about her being upset by it.
posted by shelleycat at 12:23 PM on January 30, 2010 [6 favorites]


I work long hours, have little free time, and don't want to spend it babysitting, but I don't know if that would offend a mother (I don't have kids myself, in case that wasn't obvious :) )

That is a completely reasonable thing to say to someone. If she takes offense to that then that's her problem, not yours. It's not like she's been babysitterless before you. Her life can go on just the same as it was before you moved closer to her.
posted by MaryDellamorte at 12:27 PM on January 30, 2010 [4 favorites]


I am a mother and I agree with MaryDellamorte.
posted by rabidsegue at 12:30 PM on January 30, 2010


"Sure! I charge $15 an hour and I need at least a week's notice."

That's what I do; I'm a nanny and have no desire to be a drop-in center. If she then has the gonads to ask you to do it for free, you can apologize and say you really can't. If she asks why, say you just can't. Etc.

You can then, of your own voilition, occasionally offer to take her child on special outings that will be fun for both of you, and leave mom with some alone time.
posted by kathrineg at 12:35 PM on January 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


(I know you don't want to do it paid, so just come up with some price per hour that you know she's not going to want to pay. If she ever takes you up on it, it's likely to be a last-resort emergency situation. You can then refuse payment.)
posted by kathrineg at 12:38 PM on January 30, 2010


To answer some of the questions:
- If I were to watch her child, I imagine it would be at her place, not mine
- There are no other kids involved so this isn't a playgroup situation
- I haven't been super-nice to her child or anything like that. I've seen him a few times and I've been nice in a standard way, but I'm not the kid's "aunt" or anything remotely close to it

I probably should've nipped this in the bud the first two times she mentioned it, but I was honestly so taken aback that I didn't really know what to say. I'm hoping to use answers in this thread to prepare me for the next time she mentions it.

Thanks again.
posted by whitelily at 12:40 PM on January 30, 2010


I don't think anyone can say what definitively what a reasonable favor is, because that's utterly subjective. It varies wildly by the culture/family/individuals involved, and all that really matters is what the individuals involved think.

We're all entitled to decide for ourselves what is a reasonable favor and what's not; nobody's obligated to give favors, nobody's entitled to receive them. But that obviously has social consequences if others don't see it the way we do.

So, no matter what she asks you, it's reasonable for you to say no. And if you say no, she's allowed think whatever she wants of what, negative or otherwise. Same goes for whatever you ask.

So, if you want to be in a favor-exchanging relationship with her, I think you will have to take into account what she thinks is reasonable, too.

Personally, I don't think you'd be an awful human for not wanting to babysit her kids. I have friends who don't give or receive favors at all, not even the littlest, easiest things, and I think that's totally fine. But it really doesn't matter what I think is fine, here.
posted by Ashley801 at 12:41 PM on January 30, 2010 [2 favorites]


I agree that you should establish parity rules to start with. She gets one free night a month but each night beyond that results in: taking you out for dinner, a good bottle of wine, you don't get her or the kid Christmas presents (or applicable holiday presents), etc, she pays for a maid to clean your house. Whatever corresponds with slightly less than the going rate for babysitting.

My dad has a great line that I've found applicable to this sort of situation, "there's a fine line between niceness and stupidity."

I still haven't forgiven my mother for letting her friend pay me a dollar an hour to babysit her very active kids. I loved the kids but getting five dollars for an exhausting night wasn't cool.
posted by sciencegeek at 12:48 PM on January 30, 2010


Please stand up for yourself and clear this up now. I used to be a doormat and let a friend volunteer me to watch her foster children for 5 days while she was on a business trip. Her husband was at work during the days but was home nights. She also volunteered me to sleep on her couch in case the kids woke up during the night, because daddy had to work and needed his beauty sleep. When she got back, she had the gall to pay me less than half what I'd asked because "I didn't do enough chores." Um, hello, I was exhausted from sleeping on a crappy couch for 5 days and I was busy taking care of the kids.

FWIW I now have a 7-page contract that anyone new I'm babysitting for has to sign, and it outlines exactly what I will and will not do. (Okay, not all 7 pages are that... there's a page for emergency info, another for kids' likes and dislikes, how to work the TV/DVR, etc.)
posted by IndigoRain at 12:56 PM on January 30, 2010


What is it that parents always say? That watching the kids is the "most important job in the wooooooorld." Or maybe it's raising kids. Anyway.
If that's true, then it must be paid work, right? You wouldn't perform brain surgery (a very important job) for free; who would? Your choices are:
1. As stated upthread, simply refuse to babysit, and offer no explanation.
2. If you want to have a little fun, tell her, "my rate is $30 an hour." When she gasps, just trot out the line about how it's the most important job in the wooooorld.
If she doesn't go for it, she must not think so!
posted by BostonTerrier at 1:01 PM on January 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


1) Is it unreasonable of me not to want to babysit?
2) Where does one draw the line between a reasonable favor for a friend vs. being taken advantage of?
3) If she actually asks me to babysit and I want to decline, what can I say that won't offend her or make things awkward?


1. Yes; it's perfectly reasonable. If you'd have wanted to babysit, you'd have had your own children or volunteered to babysit her child without having been pressured into it.

2. A reasonable favor is asking your friend to babysit due to an unforeseen emergency; being taken advantage of is when one presumes on your behalf that you have nothing better to do and uses you to his or her benefit without a second thought.

3. Nothing, probably. Anything that you'd say to such a pushy, obnoxious person is bound to offend her. Steel yourself to this fact and practice saying "No. Sorry. Can't." Then change the subject. She'll either get the hint and stop asking, or try to badger you into submission. Keep saying "no". If you don't, you'll likely find yourself roped into other un-asked-for duties from this friend. Best to stand your ground early on and if the friendship suffers because she can't bully you to her needs, well, then, she wasn't a real friend in the first place.
posted by LuckySeven~ at 1:04 PM on January 30, 2010


It's ok to be taken aback by something weird a person says. Not responding immediately did not void your option to turn her down. Perhaps you could call her up and say, essentially, "I like kids, I like your kid, and if you have an emergency you know I'll help you out, but I want to make sure you don't think of me as your babysitter on-call."

Also, this:

no matter what she asks you, it's reasonable for you to say no

Is absolutely correct. Your friendship with her doesn't obligate you to babysit her kid any more than her friendship with you obligates her to wash your car.
posted by Meg_Murry at 1:15 PM on January 30, 2010 [5 favorites]


I probably should've nipped this in the bud the first two times she mentioned it, but I was honestly so taken aback that I didn't really know what to say.

It's not too late. The moment she asks you, give her a dumbfounded look and say, "Oh. I thought you were joking about that. (Laughingly say:) Why would you think I'd want to spend the little free time I have babysitting?"

Then watch her squirm.

The trick is to keep putting her (the pushy person) on the defensive. Example:

Friend: Can you babysit for me tonight?
whitelily: No. Sorry. Can't.
Friend: Why not? You don't have plans. You just told me.
whitelily: Don't you have a babysitter?
Friend: Yes, but she's busy, so I'm asking you.
whitelily: Hm. Don't you have a backup? What do you do when she's sick or unavailable?
Friend: Well, I couldn't get in touch her.
whitelily: Oh; that's too bad. Isn't it a gorgeous day? I think I'm going to order some takeout and dive into that new book I've been dying to read.
Friend: Why don't you bring it to my house. You can read it while you're babysitting. My son's such an angel. He won't give you any trouble.
whitelily: Nah. That's okay.
Friend: But I've already made dinner reservations and I was counting on you!
whitelily: Hm. Well, if you hurry, I'm sure you can find a real babysitter. They're used to being called into service at the last minute.
Friend: But when you moved here, I thought you'd babysit for me sometimes.
whitelily: Wow. Really? That was a mistake. As you know, I work an awful lot and I really value my downtime. Good luck with that though...

Nip this in the bud ASAP. Seriously.
posted by LuckySeven~ at 1:35 PM on January 30, 2010 [4 favorites]


Um. In scholarship one has two ways to deal with getting stuff proofread or translations checked:
1) you hire a professional, after finding some manner of funding;
2) or you exchange services, informally but balanced. Like 'You translate my lecture - I proof-read so and so many of your chapters'.

Interesting, how similar babysitting and scholarship are. It is obviously for you to decide whether 1 or 2 is appropriate, or nothing. If she pays you, this would naturally have to be upon your request - that's 1.
If this is not going to happen, for whatever reason, no. 2, then: she could repay you in for-you-helpful deeds, dinners, happy after-kid Champagne evenings, whatever.

But if you are not in need of any of her services, you hate Champagne, you've already had dinner, and are a better cook anyway, and your garage is already clean and re-painted thank you very much, there's no basis for version 2 - unless you're dying wanting to entertain that kid, and obviously you aren't. If neither 1 nor 2 work, for you: no deal.

Actor-network theory informs us that social negotiations happen always locally, and they are constantly re-negotiated, and re-negotiable. In other words there is no friend-of-a-person-with-kids-social-obligation 'out there'. Feel confident in your right to negotiate.
posted by Namlit at 1:49 PM on January 30, 2010


To Lucky: Not to be rude, but that conversation does sound kinda bastardish on behalf of whitelilly. If she's friends with her, regardless, she should probably lose the attitude and just be firm with the fact she has little time, and it's nothing to do with the kid.
posted by Jazzwick at 1:51 PM on January 30, 2010


I get asked this question occasionally and my answer is always the same - "I don't babysit. Sorry." Or if you're not into being that curt, MaryDellamorte has the answer.
posted by futureisunwritten at 1:51 PM on January 30, 2010


Okay, I would deal with this two ways:

1)
Her: "I can't wait for you to be so close! It'll be great to have a good babysitter!"
You: "LOL! I don't babysit! What a thought! Don't count on me watching your kid! LOL!"

Saying this very lightly and hopefully she'll get the point.

2)
Her: "I can't wait for you to be so close! It'll be great to have a good babysitter!"
You: "I'm really flattered that you trust me to watch your kid, but I'm really not up for babysitting most of the time. I work a lot and don't have a lot of free time, what time I do have I really like to spend relaxing. If you need me for a real emergency, of course I'll take YourKid, but I really can't do it on any kind of regular basis."

The second way is probably the way to make sure she really gets the idea, the first way is more passive aggressive.

If you do tell her that you'll watch her kid for emergencies you might want to make it pretty clear what an emergency is. Something where there is a medical need for her to leave the kid to go to the hospital, or her regular provider is unable and she will lose her job, whatever you feel is appropriate. I'm afraid that someone like you describe would make 'emergencies' out of mole hills. Like my mom loved to say when I was growing up "Lack of preparation on your part does not constitute an emergency on mine." Just because she doesn't have someone else to watch the child while she goes out is not an emergency, if you don't have a sitter you stay home. You don't impose on your friends for something like that.
posted by TooFewShoes at 1:58 PM on January 30, 2010 [2 favorites]


This is so out-there a request (non-reciprocal, unpaid, non-emergency babysitting) that I wonder if she is joking. I'd just assume she is, laugh when she mentions it, and then if she actually asks you to do this, say you thought she was joking, and sorry but that's not going to work for you.

Now, if it's a once-in-a-blue-moon, not-quite-emergency request like "my husband is out of town and my child is fast asleep, could you sit in my living room for half an hour while I get milk and diapers?" kind of thing, yeah, that seems like a reasonable request of a friend, and if this is someone you want to water your plants and get your mail next time you're out of town, or let the plumber in while you're in a work meeting, or whatever is of comparable magnitude, you might want to do that kind of thing. But "husband and I are going out to dinner, could you babysit?" is not in that okay neighborly zone, in my opinion.

No-one here can guarantee that she won't be offended if you refuse an unreasonable request, though. You just have to value your time more than her equanimity.
posted by palliser at 2:02 PM on January 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


Having been a single caregiver, it's really awesome when you feel like there's some back up. It's not necessarily that I expected people to be there to babysit unless there was an emergency (and I didn't expect it then). However, it was nice to know that I had friends and family nearby if I had to run one kid to the doctor or something.

If that's what she's thinking - maybe one genuine emergency situation every year or so, then that request (not demand) would be within the bounds of reasonable friendship requests. If she's thinking a few hours a week, then that's being selfish.
posted by 26.2 at 2:15 PM on January 30, 2010 [2 favorites]


Is it possible that this is just some sort of joking reference to the fact that you are friends? I can easily imagine some jovial person going "great! another baby sitter" thinking to themselves that they're communicating how much they trust you etc without seriously meaning to ask to you do it.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 2:25 PM on January 30, 2010 [2 favorites]


Oh, funny, before I even saw you'd marked the "ha ha" answers as best, that was going to be my suggestion, too. I don't know exactly how she's asking, but I could see someone putting this out there lightly, as sort of a pseudo-joke, like "oh, great, you can be my backup babysitter whenever I need one ha ha!" and I would treat it as the total joke that that idea is. Like "yeah totally, and you can be my housepainter, being neighbors is going to be awesome!" Or "yeah totally, like if you don't want to get up and do the 2 am feeding, just call me!" Those are sort of passive-aggressive, but if all communication is veiled in a joke and you can jokingly say "I'd need to be recompensed" or "that sounds unrealistic," it might work.

Another approach is to say yes to what you can say yes to, implicitly saying no to everything else. Like, "oh sure, I'd be happy to help out if there's ever an emergency."
posted by salvia at 2:44 PM on January 30, 2010


You definitely need to say something before she actually starts asking you to babysit. I would respond, "Oooh, you know... babysitting's not really my thing. But I have some friends with kids, I'll ask around and see who they use."
posted by Solon and Thanks at 2:52 PM on January 30, 2010


I agree with those who say not to volunteer for emergencies, because the definition of "emergency" will rapidly expand to things that you don't really consider to be an emergency.
posted by grouse at 4:04 PM on January 30, 2010


Next time she brings it up, maybe tell her:

What a great idea for your birthday present this year!

Babysit on her birthday, and tell her you look forward to doing it again the next year.
posted by Salamandrous at 4:35 PM on January 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


@ Jazzwick: You're absolutely right; it does sound mean and bastardish, but I've found it very effective when dealing with the type of pushy, aggressive "friend" who tries to manipulate others into doing what s/he wants under the guise of "asking" for a favor. If whitelily's friend really wanted to ask her to babysit, she would wait until she actually needed the favor and genuinely ask. She wouldn't warn her well in advance of what duties she expected her to fill without even discussing it with her.

I find that type of social manipulation the the height of presumptuousness -- especially as she isn't even a close friend. Now perhaps I'm projecting (having been on the receiving end of "requests" like this more times than I care to recount when I was younger and didn't have the guts to stand up for myself), but I don't think it's rude to correct someone else's rudeness with a bit of venom if they've made a habit of treating you like a doormat.

Now if she was just teasing, that's another thing altogether, and this question would be moot. I stand by my answer though. Treat it like a joke, unless she gets nasty; then don't be afraid to get a bit snippy back.

Good luck, whitelily.
posted by LuckySeven~ at 5:07 PM on January 30, 2010


I'm pretty sure it's not a joke, because this girl really isn't the type to make jokes. And someone warned me that she'd ask me to babysit but I thought that person was kidding. Apparently not.

I'll definitely stand up for myself, not just because I think it's an inappropriate request, but because it's mildly offensive (her reaction to hearing that I'd be moving closer should've been "Great, I'll get to see you more!", not "Great, you can babysit!".)

Thanks again - all the responses were really helpful.
posted by whitelily at 5:20 PM on January 30, 2010


TwoFewShoes is exactly right about being very careful if you do for some reason decide to offer yourself as an emergency backup. Given the massive failure of this woman's boundaries it's easy enough to imagine that to her wanting to go to the mall would constitute an emergency.
posted by winna at 7:45 PM on January 30, 2010 [2 favorites]


@sciencegeek: This advice left me breathless: I agree that you should establish parity rules to start with. She gets one free night a month but each night beyond that results in: taking you out for dinner, a good bottle of wine, you don't get her or the kid Christmas presents (or applicable holiday presents), etc, she pays for a maid to clean your house. Whatever corresponds with slightly less than the going rate for babysitting.

Why does she get one free night a month? Do friends who move near me have to clean my house once a month for free?
posted by sfkiddo at 11:04 PM on January 30, 2010 [4 favorites]


If she says it again, I would just say "oh, I'm sure you can find better babysitters than me!" and if she doesn't get the hint and replies with something like "Why not, I think you'd be a great babysitter!" Just say, "Oh thank you but I gave up babysitting years ago" and shake your head with a sad smile. Then deflect - ask her who she normally gets to babysit with her, tell her you've heard there are babysitting services out there, etc.
posted by hazyjane at 2:24 AM on January 31, 2010


If whitelily's friend really wanted to ask her to babysit, she would wait until she actually needed the favor and genuinely ask. She wouldn't warn her well in advance of what duties she expected her to fill without even discussing it with her.

LuckySeven, that's a very interesting point. I hadn't thought of it that way, but you're right; why would she warn me in advance of needing a favor (twice, no less) rather than just waiting till she needs it and asking then?
posted by whitelily at 8:19 AM on January 31, 2010



TwoFewShoes is exactly right about being very careful if you do for some reason decide to offer yourself as an emergency backup. Given the massive failure of this woman's boundaries it's easy enough to imagine that to her wanting to go to the mall would constitute an emergency.


I cannot favorite this hard enough. If you offer her any concession at all, she will try to take advantage of you. Make it very, very clear that you can't babysit, even under the most awful hypothetical circumstances.

(If this makes you feel like a bad person, remember that you can always reserve the right to change your mind if she actually is struck by lightning or something. It's just that you don't want to tell her that - if you leave room open for negotiation or interpretation, it will be exhausting to deflect on a case by case basis.)
posted by mordax at 9:45 AM on January 31, 2010


I am WAY behind on AskMe, but wow, I hope you headed this off at the pass. Obnoxious people let their sense of entitledment out in a huge way when they have kids. I'm guessing that giving this friend any leeway at all will result in you being badgered until a huge fight takes place. My point is that you should not proffer any hint of ever being available. I hope you'll post what happened.
posted by Lizzle at 12:29 PM on April 2, 2010


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