Life Advice



Unable to Buzz My Babysitter

Annie Lane on

Dear Annie: We have a very close friend whose 16-year-old daughter, "Lily," babysits for us quite often.

There have been a couple of times, however, that Lily has not had her phone with her when she comes to babysit. I like to check in often with Lily to ensure things are going well with my kids, a 3- and 4-year-old. So when I couldn't get a hold of her one day, I called her mom, who is our friend. She explained that Lily didn't have her phone because she got in trouble, and taking the phone away was her punishment. But our friend assured me that she had shown Lily how to call 911 using an iPad (my little ones have 2nd generation iPads, so not very up to date).

She was also relying on my 14-year-old daughter, who happened to be home that day during the babysitting session. She said since she knew my daughter was home that there was a phone there for use just in case. I don't feel that it's my daughter's responsibility to have a phone for emergencies, especially when she's not the one responsible for babysitting.

That was the first time this happened, but it happened again this past weekend when Lily came to babysit. I texted her to ask how things were going, and her mom replied, saying "All is well" and that she had been checking in. Again, my 14-year-old was also home.

How can I relay to our good friend and mom of our babysitter that I'm really not comfortable with that set up? Am I out of line? -- Phoneless in Texas

Dear Phoneless: Your concern in this situation is warranted, especially considering how young your children are. Fast, reliable, direct communication with your babysitter is vital; you shouldn't have to pass messages through Lily's mother to get an update on your kids.


Express your worries kindly but firmly to Lily's mom and see what solutions you can come to together that prioritize the safety and well-being of all your children. If she's not able to get on the same page, then it might be time to look for new sitters.

Dear Annie: I'm writing in response to "Worried in Louisiana," whose mother-in-law is in poor health and kept pretty isolated from the rest of the family by her sole caretaker, one of her daughters. I'm a nurse and if I couldn't see my 96-year-old amputee mother, I would be calling the police immediately for a welfare check. The police can assess the living conditions and initiate extraction if necessary. There is no reason for her to be kept away from her family other than for nefarious purposes. I've seen some crazy things working as a nurse, and this has red flags flying everywhere. -- Nurse on Alert

Dear Nurse: Thank you for this suggestion. Others who felt similarly also recommended involving adult protective services. In the words of another wise reader, "If the mother is OK, then no harm was done. But if she's being mistreated or neglected, this might save her life."


"How Can I Forgive My Cheating Partner?" is out now! Annie Lane's second anthology -- featuring favorite columns on marriage, infidelity, communication and reconciliation -- is available as a paperback and e-book. Visit for more information. Send your questions for Annie Lane to




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