DEAR HARRIETTE: I have been looking for a summer baby-sitting job, so I put an ad on an online community board and have gotten a couple of responses. One family is looking for a few days a week, which is perfect for me. I arranged to meet the mother and kids prior to my start date, which I thought was normal. When I got there, the mom seemed to be out of it and disinterested in me -- and even in her kids.
I didn’t get a good feeling about the parents, but the kids seem easy and adorable. Do you think I should take the job even if I don’t feel comfortable around the parents? -- Weird Parents, Philadelphia
DEAR WEIRD PARENTS: You should keep your eyes open, but go ahead and take the job. Pay attention when you work with the children to ensure that they feel safe and well cared for. Talk to the mom before she goes out to learn of any idiosyncrasies you should know about the children or their family rituals. Ask about the children’s habits and the parents' expectations.
It could be that the mom was having a bad day. It could be that there are deeper issues that will come up at some point. As the baby sitter, your job is to care for the children. You do not need to double as a psychologist or adviser. Watch, pay attention and assess whether it can become a good fit for a few days per week. If not, give your notice and say that you don’t think it’s working.