15 November 2012

Nanny Nightmares

I'll be the first to confess that I am always incredibly suspicious, possibly paranoid about nannies and those working in fields involving children. I wonder what goes on when no other adults are around. I wonder if parents would approve of how their kids are being treated. I wonder if the nannies are being neglectful or abusive.


I like to believe that people who work with children are kindhearted, warm, loving souls who have a genuine interest in the well being of youngsters. Reality proves to me that that isn't always so.

In the neighborhood I live in there are a ton of nannies taking care of small children.

When Natalie and I go to the park there is always a large group of nannies gathered around talking to one another while the little one's play. I'm not sure what country most of the nannies are from but they all speak the same language to each other.

I've seen two 15 month old twin sisters a few times at the playground and Natalie finally interacted with them a couple days ago. I talked to their nanny a little and though there was a bit of a language barrier between us she seemed nice enough...nice to me at least.

To the twins, not so much. She yelled at the girls for every little thing. "Go play with the ball!" "Share with your sister!" "Run faster!"

It wasn't a happy, playful yell either. She seemed annoyed and frustrated with everything they did and they did nothing wrong.

It made me uncomfortable and things were pretty awkward but I chalked her sternness up to cultural differences and shrugged it off.

Yesterday we saw the same trio at the park and played with them once more. Again the nanny was yelling at the girls and again I was in an awkward place. The vibe she gave off was just so negative and unwelcoming that I couldn't bear to be near her anymore. I was thankful when Natalie decided to walk around elsewhere on the playground.

The nanny of the twins joined the group of other nannies and placed the girls in their double stroller. I overheard the nanny say to one girl as she handed her a juice box, "If you spill it I'm going to smack you!"

I was dumbfounded. I didn't say or do anything but kept my distance and an eye on what was going on.

An acquaintance of mine showed up with her daughter and I struck up a conversation. I mentioned how mean the nannies seem to the kids. She agreed and told me about one who she witnessed yell at the boy she takes care of and even hit him.

These are women who are supposed to love and nurture children. Instead they're taking advantage and abusing power.

In a way it isn't my place to get involved. For all I know their parents could allow these women to hit their kids when they misbehave. Something tells me otherwise and I pray that I run into the twins parents (whoever they are) so I can discreetly bring to their attention what I observed.

The whole realization of how terrible and untrustworthy people truly are has left me sad, angry and afraid. Of course I don't believe all or even most nannies are bad people, it just sucks that even those we have faith in and count on are not as wholesome as they appear to be.

25 Thoughts :

Holly November 15, 2012 at 2:15 AM  

I am a preschool teacher, and I agree with you.

I have been in a situation where I have seen a (former, thank goodness!) co-teacher (senior to me, so I didn't really feel like I could intervene!) screaming at a child (2-3 years old) and dragging him around by his arm. Appalling. I wouldn't want her in charge of my PET, let alone my child! :/

Obviously the vast majority of people are reasonable, but it's those few who aren't who give all the rest of us a questionable reputation. :/

Shana Scott November 15, 2012 at 5:05 AM  

I am also this way! As a full time working mom it is incredibly difficult because the people I leave my son with I am entrusting them with everything! I expect them to care for my son in the way I would or even better! I have high expectations when it comes to my children. That nanny is lucky I didn't see her because I would have told her exactly what I thought about her treatment of those kids! Our words and actions instill in them either failure or success....all must be for the purpose of being better!

marie November 15, 2012 at 8:29 AM  

As much as I think my kids are the most adorable children on the planet, I know not everyone thinks so which is one of the reasons (out of millions) I wanted to raise them myself. I could never trust anyone to love them like I do. To be patient and kind. To put in the effort it takes to teach them how to behave.

As great as I can be with my own kids, I have to admit it's not the same when others are in my care. I am just not as invested, they're not mine. I cringe to admit it but it's true. Not like I've watched other kids a lot, but it's not something I enjoy, which makes no sense because I could never get enough of my own kids?

So in a sense I see where these nannies are coming from (aside from the hitting), they're not invested. But knowing that maybe they should have gone into a different line of work. These moms can't be delusional in thinking that these nannies are treating the kids like they would. But wait, these moms are gone all day so maybe the nannies are doing an equal job.

Stephanie November 15, 2012 at 9:07 AM  

This made my stomach turn. It's such a hard thing to find childcare, especially one you trust, but then to hear stories like this it makes it hard to believe there are any good people out there. I know that's not true, just hard...so sorry you had to witness that.

Megan November 15, 2012 at 9:21 AM  

I worked in daycare for 3 years. And I will honestly say...my girls will NEVER EVER go to daycare. One of the times I worked there Kayla was 2 and came with me. And let me just say, I quite after a few months. The stuff that happened to her WHILE I WAS THERE was bad. Ok, maybe not bad per say. But I'll give you some examples.

It was snowing. I brought everything for her to wear to be bundled up. They sent her outside with a unzipped coat, no hat, no gloves. After I'd already had a talk with them about zipping up her coat.

She came to my classroom door that lead to outside one time. She needed to use the bathroom. I let her. I also kept her in my room to see how long it took them to realize she was gone. 20 minutes and they still didn't notice. That's when I finally told them where she was. And I left.

I know there are good daycares but I'm sorry. My girls safety isn't worth the little bit of money I would make. I've seen things that parents would be horrified to see happen at daycares. DAYCARES THAT HAVE WON AWARDS FOR BEING THE BEST ONE AROUND.

And forget about in-home. You never know what's going on there. (That story I emailed you about? Yeah, she ran an in-home daycare!)

Anyway. I'm not knocking people who use daycare or nannies. It's just not for me and my girls. I'll go without a brand new car, new clothes and cable if it means I can stay home with my girls.

Melanie November 15, 2012 at 9:35 AM  

This definitely hit home for me, since I have a nanny come to our house to take care of Landon. We very, very carefully screened our nanny and absolutely love her. The fact that she has a two year old son of her own definitely put me at ease as well. I feel completely at ease knowing that she is at my house all day taking care of Landon. We did, however, install private nanny cams so we can keep our sanity. :)

Sean Marie November 15, 2012 at 9:38 AM  

I feel like these mothers should have some sort of instinct that something is off about their nanny. Not that it't their fault for trusting them, but you get a feel for who's a good person and who's not. I could just look at the nannies and tell they're miserable taking care of these kids.

Sean Marie November 15, 2012 at 9:51 AM  

Ugh, that is awful! I just can't believe how careless people are with such fragile little beings. It's a scary world out there, especially knowing someone like that girl would be running a daycare!!!!

I've also heard of daycare workers who speak Spanish saying mean things about the kids to other workers who speak it, which is actually a step up from neglecting them but still unacceptable.

If I didn't have my in laws and Matt available to watch Natalie while I work I would sell all my stuff to stay home with her.

Kelly November 15, 2012 at 9:51 AM  

This makes me cringe! I am so sorry you had to witness that. I really hope that you run into the parents like tomorrow!

Sean Marie November 15, 2012 at 10:20 AM  

I'm sure his nanny is great! Having a nanny cam is definitely a good idea though.

Krista November 15, 2012 at 10:48 AM  

This just re-affirms my gratitude for having my mom and MIL watch my boys. I wish everyone could be so lucky as to not need a nanny. I truly hope I can watch my grandkids for my sons if they need me to.

Shannon November 15, 2012 at 1:30 PM  

Ugh - I feel like I have so many things to say about this post and the comments herein.

I choose to work. Not because I have to, but because I want to. I love what I do. And I chose to put my daughter in a daycare (OMG DAYCARE) because not only do I trust the daycare she is in, but I feel my daughter is growing up to be a well rounded, adjusted child with lots of social awareness. She thrives in daycare and looks forward to going each of the four days she's there. And maybe according to some I'm a terrible mom for not wanting to sell all my stuff so I can be home with her, but I personally don't think that's the case.

The story posted above is terrible. Absolutely terrible. But I really do think it's not the norm. I feel it's the onus of the parents to find the right childcare, whether it's a nanny, daycare, family or even themselves. We tried the nanny route and it didn't feel right to us, so we changed. And if daycare didn't work out for us, I would have stayed home, without a second thought.

And for the commenter who said that maybe working mothers aren't good or as invested in their kids because they leave their kids all day, I'll just say "BULLSHIT" and leave it at that.

I hate that we are in a world with such working mom vs SAHM battles. Being a mom is ridiculously hard work and we need a support system. We need each other.

Rant over.

Ali November 15, 2012 at 1:53 PM  

This is EXACTLY why I don't trust anyone with my child. I feel like I can't after observing how people treat one another ~ ESPECIALLY children. Like some of the others, I worked with kids in a daycare-like setting and my supervisor (old, batty-ass lady) was HORRIBLE to the children; even DROPPED a baby onto the floor & did NOTHING about it except act like it didn't happen (I wasn't in the room for this incident - but another coworker was). Just seeing how little other workers cared for and about the kids as soon as the parents left made me sick to my stomach... especially when they put on such a loving facade for the parents. Ugh. So sad. I hope an opportunity presents itself to where you can shed light on how awful these nannies are to their various parents!

Sean Marie November 15, 2012 at 2:15 PM  

Shannon, I am so sorry that this post and the responses rubbed you the wrong way. It wasn't my intent to start a war on SAHM vs. working moms or cause any negativity. I think that you're a great mom and I know that Taylor is a thriving little girl who's very loved and whose parent's are very much involved and invested. I think most people tried to make it clear that no one believes all day cares or nannies are bad and that stories like the one I shared give a tainted name to the rest of them.

Sarah November 15, 2012 at 2:32 PM  

Ugh this really really frustrates me. This is one of the reasons I chose not to do in-home care for me personally. I'm not saying it can't happen at a daycare, but with tons of parents and teachers around the facility all day, it's MUCH less likely. Plus, ours is a private catholic daycare led by a nun who keeps a tight ship. She doesn't allow ANYTHING like this. It breaks my heart that these children are growing up with that as their daytime 'caregiver'. Hmmm. CAREgiver. Doesn't quite seem right, huh? So sad.

Sarah November 15, 2012 at 2:37 PM  

Ouch. Working moms are "gone all day"? There is a multitude of things I'm wanting to reply to this post, but I'm not going to b/c I love Sean Marie's blog. I'll assume you didn't mean that in a demeaning way to working mothers but please just be careful, Marie, as to how you come off to working moms in your statements.

Sarah November 15, 2012 at 2:38 PM  

Seriously. Why does one have to be better than the other? It's 2012 and we're still having this battle? UGH. People. GET OVER IT. It's just a DIFFERENCE. Just like religion, skin color, etc. One is NOT better than the other. Ok I'm done. Back to neglecting my child....er.... I mean working. :)

Shannon November 15, 2012 at 2:57 PM  

Don't worry - I'm not REALLY upset. I'm just vocalizing my opinion to some of your reader's opinions. When people make comments that mothers who leave their kids to work aren't invested in their children, a rebuttal is almost necessary.

As for the basis of your post, I do find that very frustrating and I would be livid if I knew my childcare provider would even make mention of hitting my child. And I didn't meant to derail your post on that topic. So for that, I apologize.

heather tucker November 15, 2012 at 8:11 PM  

yeah that is why i am picky who is around my kids you never know what people are going to do these days and its pretty sad.

Kristin November 16, 2012 at 12:05 AM  

Wow that makes me so sad!! Parents should make sure they REALLY know the people that are caring for their children!! Nanny cams all over the place, that's what I'd do!! :)

Nessa November 16, 2012 at 10:37 AM  

That is pretty sad. I worry about this when putting Chloe in daycare. I'm not worried that they'll hit her, I'm more worried she'll be neglected a little, and there's already been one instance that's proven me right. There will never be anyone I'll trust with her like my own mother.

I'd probably want a nanny cam, but in reality I'd never feel okay with secretly filming someone.

Life Happens November 19, 2012 at 3:55 PM  

I have nightmares about this stuff too. I recently read an article about a nanny in NY that killed both kids she had been nannying for. It broke my heart to pieces.

I hope you are able to meet the parents of those twins one day and let them know exactly how their nanny treats their babies. So, so sad!

Anonymous November 19, 2012 at 6:06 PM  

While my gut response was the very same as all of yours on a caretaker, nurturer level, I had another gut response as well. While appalled by what Sean saw, I know without a doubt that "good help" does exist, and I feel the slight need to come to the defense of those amazing people who are able to care for children who are not their own with grace, kindness, love and devotion.

I spent two years and countless summers as a full time nanny for kids from ages 10 months to 16 years. I am a well-educated, well-traveled, open-minded, loving person, and for me, being a nanny was an extension of being myself. I agree with the moms who believe it is possible to work and parent, without compromising the safety, experiences or treatment of their children. I will say that I did witness other nannies while I was working with children that did not take their jobs seriously, did not genuinely enjoy children and did not bring their "best selves" to work each day. Unfortunately, you can find those attitudes in any field of work, and I want to be a gentle reminder that "nannies", like teachers, have the potential to play a positive and defining role in the lives of children.

Every woman is different, and therefore the way every woman parents will (and should) be slightly different. A strong, happy, healthy woman makes a happy, healthy parent and role model for her children. If having a part time or full time nanny allows a woman to be her "best self" for her children, I believe that should be her celebrated choice as a parent. Whatever works for you as a woman is probably what's best for your family.

It undeniably takes a LOT of hard work to find the right person to take care of your children, but the payoffs can be huge. It's been 4 years since I left the family I last nannied for. Not a week goes by that I don't think of those little (now big!) girls, or hear from them via email, Google Hangout or now (for the oldest) Facebook. Their parents keep in touch with me as we are genuinely friends, and the girls and I frequently chat about life. I know that I had a unique opportunity to expand the girls' lives by exposing them to my own life experiences, views, likes and interests in addition to the ones they'd see in school and with their family. They had nannies before me and have had nannies since, but I will forever appreciate that their mom took the time to find someone like me, a great fit for their family and a lasting presence in their lives.

I am grateful for the experiences I had helping to raise those girls and I hope that those women who do choose to expand their circle when seeking care for their children feel empowered to do so. It is possible to find someone like me, a thoughtful, intelligent and positive force that can enhance a child's life. Moms, dads, grandparents, friends or nannies, I am a firm believer that the more positive influences a child can experience, the better!

Sean Marie November 19, 2012 at 7:32 PM  

You sound like a wonderful person, Jaime! I wish every nanny could be just like you. I think everything you said is so true, I agree word for word. Thank you for being such a good example to children and even to parents. The connection you had with those girl is a beautiful one and one that has impacted their lives (and yours) forever. Thank you for sharing this insight with me. :)

Sean Marie November 19, 2012 at 7:35 PM  

I heard about that. What a tragedy. I have to pretend things like that aren't true, because it pains me to know that that sort of evil exists. I feel so horrible for the parents and loved one's involved.