I’m not a mother, but I hope to be in the near future, and I know that quite a few of my readers are moms.
I read the Motherlode blog on the New York Times website pretty regularly and I came across this parental quandary today:
Can my daughter hang out with you guys after school?” That’s the question A. hears from a fellow mother nearly every week (and sometimes more often). After school, or when she needs to work a weekend or an evening shift, this mother seems to have settled on A. as her go-to emergency baby-sitting option.
In the great game of reciprocal child care, not all parents play fair. You may always be there for a friend who calls with “I’m running late,” or “I just got a last minute, hard-to-get doctor’s appointment,” but is she always there for you? This is A.’s quandary, and the mooching parent isn’t really a friend, but the single working mother of a friend of her 8-year-old daughter.
The result is that her daughter’s friend spends a lot of time at A.’s house. Her mother texts A. at the last minute, asking if A. can pick the little girl up from school with A.’s daughter, and keep her just until the end of the workday. The other woman is relatively new in town, with no local family, and A. thinks there’s no one else to help out — if she doesn’t pick the child up, who will?
But the requests are frequent, and rarely reciprocated. A. works too, and the extra little girl in the house on school nights, or coming along on after-school errands and weekend activities, can be a problem, not to mention a financial burden. A. finds herself with three kids in tow for meals and everything else, and her fellow parent, even with gentle reminders, never pitches in. As a final straw, the little girl is all too comfortable with A. She bickers with A.’s children, and begs for candy and treats on errands. These “play dates” aren’t even fun for A’s daughter anymore.
A. knows she needs to say something — but what, and how? She’d like to maintain her daughter’s friendship. She doesn’t mind helping out once in a while. And she suspects that there’s no money for a baby sitter there, and A. can relate to that.
Read the rest of the article and comments here: http://parenting.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/02/03/parental-quandary-the-mooching-working-mother/
The mother in this scenario is a working single mother, BUT this scenario could apply to any parent or caregiver. It does take a village to raise children, but at what point does a parent set boundaries that are necessary for their own kids?
What would you say? How would you handle?