Dear Savvy Auntie,

I have an odd problem: I have been babysitting and taking care of my niece and nephew since they were born (two and five), but my brother-in-law won't trust me or my sister (the other aunt) to take the kids out past the local ice cream stand or the park (both two-minute walks). When we wanted to take them to the zoo, he almost flipped out and refuses to let us take them.

He's been overprotective since they were born, but our sister, the mother, knows we can take care of them, and they're good kids and we can handle them.

My question is, how do you deal with a brother- or sister-in-law who won't trust you enough to take the kids out?

Trying to be a Savvy Auntie


Dear Trying,

Dear Trying,

As you say… your brother-in-law is “overprotective” of his children; therefore, try not to take it personally that he doesn’t allow you and your sister to take them on longer outings. Try to understand that many men - if not most - feel responsible for the safety of their children and have concerns about them in public places and with many strangers around them.

Try to be patient; as he becomes more experienced and comfortable as a dad, he will let you expand your babysitting activities. Since the most important thing is your warm and loving relationship with your niece and nephew, build and nurture those aspects, which can be accomplished anywhere.

While you are doing all this trying, ask him what his thoughts and feelings are on this topic and listen without arguing. Try to understand his point of view; it will get you much further in yours.

Good Luck,
Natalie Robinson Garfield


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