I saw this article in the Wall Street Journal on October 13, 2013 and the title made me smile. What does my (your) nanny know that I (you) don’t? From a pediatrician’s perspective, this is a great opportunity to raise a few thought-proviking questions.
1. “Your kid loves me more than you.”
Wow – this means the parent is never around or the nanny is over stepping boundaries. TIme to change your lifestyle or nanny.
2. “You’re the worst part of my job.”
This is a natural yet unfortunate and avoidable situation. When you have two people caring for a child, they both want to be the ‘gatekeepers’ of health and wellness. This creates a tension as the two people may have different value systems and thus caring styles. I see this all a lot with mothers and mother-in-laws. The solution is to make clear boundaries and know the child is yours. Always be open to advice and guidance but do not be afraid to hold your line and your family’s boundaries.
3. “I can’t save your kid’s life (or treat his injuries).”
Enroll all caregivers, is parents, grandparents, older children, nannies, etc, in a CPR course.
4. “I’m sleeping with your spouse.”
Umm, no comment.
5. “You’re not paying me enough.”
Salary is always a debate and fairness depends on the level of responsibility and availability of the nanny. $16 an hour is the median. I suggest thinking about the nanny’s family needs as well. Your nanny is part of your community and if you do not take care of your community then points #1-4 are more likely to occur. Enough said.
6. “I’ll sue you.”
Be professional and respectful and this should not happen. If I were writing this for the nanny, I would make sure they created their own boundaries and would have them express these at the start of their employment to avoid unnecessary problems. Clear communication and respect are the key to to any healthy relationship. Karma, karma, karma.
7. “I’m smarter than you are.”
This may be true and often is true. However smarts do not determine who runs the house or how the children are cared for. Many times the employee is smarter than the boss but again let professionalism and respect rule the day.
8. “Your secret’s not safe with me.”
Having someone live in your house makes one vulnerable since they get to see you with your guard down. Again if you are respectful and professional then there should not be a problem but I suggest having the nanny sign a confidentiality and nondisclosure agreement.
9. “I know about that nanny cam.”
Technology allows 24 a day surveillance. Use it especially if your child is less then 6 years old. Every job should have markers of performance and when working with toddlers who cannot provide an adequate history then a camera (or several of them) are fine. I would let the nanny know they are there too.
10. “You better do a thorough background check on me.”
This goes without saying. I have had parents run background checks on me as their pediatrician. This is not only smart to do but necessary. I work on the child protection team and never want to see your child in my office for a suspected abuse.
The bottom line is treat your nanny with respect, be clear about your boundaries, do not worry about disagreements as long as both sides are professional, and treat them like family. Working with a co-gatekeeper will force you to acknowledge your own strengths and weaknesses, will demonstra
te to your children how to work with others and give you time to contribute to your larger community. After all, our lives are about service.