I just recently ran into an old friend of mine. I have a 16-month-old daughter, and the person I was taking her for daycare to was no longer available. My friend has a daughter that is just a little bit older plus 5 other kids of various age ranges- 3 under age 5. I thought it would be great when she told me that she could watch her for me, but recently at a party, I saw my daughter go up to her little girl, and the little girl just glared at her and walked away. This happened twice and my daughter just looked upset and bewildered. None of her other kids even acted like she was there. I felt really uncomfortable. Is this normal? What should I do?
From: bigmommasea, Seattle
First things first. Is this friend licensed? Is she accredited through NAEYC? What qualifies her as a family day care provider? The way you phrase it -- that she could "watch her for me" -- makes me nervous. Is she presenting herself as, basically, a baby sitter? Because if she is caring for five children in addition to her own, that's more than a babysitter.
At the very least, having a friend care for your child can make life tricky and sticky should some problem arise like, oh, say, children who are mean to each other...? I don't really mean to be sarcastic, but I am trying to make a point: When it comes to the care of our children, it's best to deal with professionals. Listen, for all I know, your friend is a professional, but you know what? Even if she has excellent credentials and she's licensed, I'd still be nervous about establishing this kind of relationship with her because if there is a problem, the friendship can get in the way of the child care, or the child care can get in the way of the friendship.
Either way, it's a no win.
I'm not even addressing the issue of what you saw happen between the two girls. Frankly, I'm not sure you can draw conclusions about this child's future behavior toward your daughter based on what you've described. When children are in unfamiliar territory, especially noisy unfamiliar territory, they can often feel discombobulated and act in ways that are atypical.
But before I would put my child in any new day care situation, I would want to observe it several times to see such things as how children of different ages interact with each; how the provider interacts with them and guides the play; how she transitions them from one activity to the next; how she disciplines.....etc.
What have been readers' experiences when friends provide your day care? Have you ever had reason to regret your decision?
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