The Dynamics of Nanny Relationships – Family
by Marcia Hall
2011 INA Nanny of the Year
Strong Roots Family Coaching
The relationships a nanny has with her employers and a charge is so unique. No one can understand it until they have lived it. On one hand you are an employee and must learn to discuss business. On the other hand you are their partner in the raising of their children and often must discuss conflicting points of view. This often is difficult for nannies because the majority of us are non-confrontational by nature and don’t like to talk about money or be in disagreement with people. But it is also a challenge because the issues we discuss have to do with caring for children that we almost instantly have fallen in love with.
That brings me to the last category in the dynamics of your relationship with the parents of those you care for. You have a special and unique bond with the children you care for and therefore are in some ways family to your employers. This is what makes the job of nanny different than any other job I have ever encountered. Certainly as a teacher you are partner with parents in teaching and training children. There are many different ways to be an employee of parents. But as a nanny you are all three; employees, partner and family.
We often feel conflicted. I have had many children discover along the way that their parents pay me to care for them and have then been questioned about this. I do not feel guilty about it but it is at times difficult to explain. I have had to learn through experience that the best thing to say is “I may be paid to meet your basic needs but I am NOT paid to love you.”
When I am interviewing with a new family, one of the most important questions I ask is “How do you see your relationship with a nanny? Is the nanny part of the family, a partner with you or is she mainly an employee to you?” Their response is often telling of how I will be treated. They usually tell me that it is a combination of all three but more often than not they do not know how to respond because they have never considered it. This is why I discuss it in order that the parents will begin to see the layers and intricacies of this very complicated relationship.
Moving between these three types of relationships within one job is often more than complicated. It adds stress to already stressful situations and it can leave you hurt and worried. However the better you understand all three of the relationship styles, the better you can care for your charges and professionally respond to their parents. Then before you know it you will not be surprised by things they say or do.