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 | By Steve and Bridget Patton

He Says: I Don’t Want Her Brother to Babysit

He uses foul language and lives a party life and he’s a bad influence


She says: He is willing to watch the kids

I don’t want to turn my brother down when he offers


Whether babysitting can work depends largely upon the good will and adaptability of your brother (brother in-law).

Most people understand that language which might be OK in one setting may not be in another. Even rough guys know there’s a difference between how they talk in a bar and how they talk – or at least how they’re expected to talk – in a church, in a work setting or when around children.

The critical questions to ask are: 1) Does he agree that some of his language can be inappropriate when he’s with your children? 2) Is he able to control it? 3) Is he willing to control it?

While it’d be ideal if he’d offer a robust “yes” to #1, it wouldn’t necessarily be a deal-breaker if he didn’t. His values obviously don’t align exactly with yours. What really matters are #2 and #3. A “no” to either, from him or your gut, would be your answer right there.

Keeping your children safe absolutely trumps protecting his feelings or having a night out.

It’s likewise with his party lifestyle. He’d definitely have to be willing and able never to expose your children to any activities or environments that you consider morally compromised, which could include him not taking them to his home.

Have an open, loving conversation with him. Assure him that you want your children to be connected with their uncle, that it’s not a matter of judging him but of protecting them. Invite him on family outings to try it out. If, out of love for your children, he shows he’s willing and able to abide by your boundaries and values, even if he admits he’s not the perfect example for them, then babysitting could work.

And who knows, your family’s goodness toward him and the purity of your intentions could be a pathway toward his conversion.

Steve and Bridget Patton hold master’s degrees in theology and counseling and serve as family life ministers in the Diocese of Sacramento.