A dad sent me a note needing some advice. Here’s what he wrote:
“I am a part-time stay-at-home Dad. I have an only son who is in the second grade. I am going through a situation where there is another family in the neighborhood that wants me and my son to entertain their son on the weekends. I feel for the family as they have two additional children, one who is an infant and one who has special needs.”
“From my perspective, they seem overwhelmed with child rearing duties – (I know I would be if I were in their situation). I feel bad for the boy as he seems to be grasping for attention. In the beginning I wanted to help them out but now I feel like I am just being used.
“This last weekend was a four-day winter break and I had the boy for two hours on Friday morning because we were doing a club activity, then I had him for four hours on Saturday because the Mom needed a break.”
“The kicker for me was yesterday I received a text from the father asking if my son wanted to do something with their son and I was like “Yes!” Finally a reciprocation! Only to find out that they wanted me to come over and pick up the son and watch him for a few hours. The father wasn’t even home! The mother wanted a break from all three kids again so she told her husband to contact me. I was so pissed that I texted him back and told him I had a change of plans and couldn’t meet. I couldn’t even tell my wife about the latest situation because she feels they are using us.”
“My usual deal is to distance myself from someone like that but, I actually want to confront this family and tell them to quit taking and start giving. The problem with that is that I feel bad for them and then I think I’m selfish for not wanting to help them out.”
I completely agree that the family seems to be overwhelmed, but I also think they are taking advantage of the dad. I personally don’t think I would confront the parents. I’m pretty sure they are aware they are taking advantage and they just don’t mind. I don’t think the dad can ever expect them to reciprocate. They simply don’t have the resources.
I think I would take the boy as much as I could. It truly is helping the child and giving him something that he needs (attention and time) — not just giving the mom relief. I think I would try to view it as helping the child and not as helping the parents and that might make the dad feel less resentful toward the family.
So what do you think this dad should do?