I had an overwhelming response to the article written by Suburban Mom last week on NYC nannies. Nanny X wanted to offer a rebuttal to Suburban Mom’s critique of NYC nannies.
The response outlines Nanny X’s response – here goes:
My name is Nanny X. I blog, advocate and otherwise ruminate on issues related to childcare: nannies, sitters, domestic workers, stay at home moms, working moms, etc. My background isn’t childcare or parenting and I’m not even an American. I’m a British writer and observer of subcultures.
I have spent the last 5 years researching material for a trilogy on private childcare, and as such, I’ve sat with countless women (the majority have been women) in cafes, homes, play dates and parks discussing the subject.
Here’s what I’ve discovered: there are Nannies that perform well, enjoy their jobs and love the children and there are parents who employ Nannies, treat them as professionals and communicate effectively. As a rule these types of people gravitate towards one another however and unfortunately this is not always the case.
There are Nannies who are apathetic, who feel exploited and who believe that it is not in their self-interest to work diligently. Some of these caregivers loathe the wealth of their employers and thus see fit to act inappropriately towards their charges. Some are undocumented workers who toil in low-waged jobs thousands of miles from their own children. These women struggle to perform a ‘good-enough’ service while battling depression, poverty and exhaustion. I offer these examples not as an excuse but as a means to explain why some Nannies appear lethargic in their duties.
There are also parents who, through arrogance, ignorance or a lack of emotional intelligence, unconsciously create a cycle of low-grade care due to their poor behavior as employers.
I know these things because I have made it my business to hear and document mothers’ concerns. I know these things because I am an anonymous and trusted witness in the twilight world of private childcare. My information is probably some of the most accurate data on record because I have operated behind a facade, a ‘Nanny’ persona. This has granted me an unique access to the habits, beliefs, actions and attitudes of both parents and Nannies. As such you may trust that what I bring to this on-going conversation is clarity, journalistic professionalism and a sincere desire to help Americans navigate childcare issues.
And yes … I cannot deny it … there are Nannies behaving poorly today in NYC right now, perhaps even in your own home. I blog excessively about a lack of emotional presence in caregivers. But as I look around in this affluent microcosm of Manhattan I must also observe a disconnect that is systemic. In other words the breakdown in human connection is universal. And there are some very real causes.
Here is what I would offer parents. There are many – many – good and honorable, hard-working, nurturing women out there who will cherish your child in your absence. People like this (direct quote):
“I find comfort in knowing that … I become somewhat of a surrogate mother to her. I get to keep all of her memories, the memory of my teaching her how to wash herself. I get the memory of wrapping her up in a duck towel after the bath and seeing her cherubic little face. I get the memory of her asking me smarter and smarter questions about the world, like “Who makes the rain?” I get comfort for the painful process (of eventually leaving) by giving away all my love to her, so that I don’t have guilt later when I leave that I didn’t give her everything I could, because I did. Whatever present I wrap each day with her, on love and manners, ways of the world, childhood silliness, it becomes unwrapped each night after I leave and she’s left with her own family. The great part of it, while egotistical, is knowing that I was a safe, bright, loving spot in her day every day.”
Your search for a Nanny will require as much from you, as say, your search for a speech therapist or a good preschool. In fact I suggest it will be more exhaustive:
“… Contrary to what the term “baby-sitter” suggests – someone who just marks the time with your child – this person (or persons) will be like another parent during your child’s most important formative years… From your child’s point of view, choosing the right caregiver is a decision that is as important as picking your spouse.” Dr Stanley I Greenspan The Four-Thirds Solution
It is with this idea in mind that I leave this thought. The most oppressed amongst us will act as a reflection of our society. If we observe apathy, unkindness, inhumanity and disconnection particularly towards our most precious and vulnerable children, we must ask ourselves – why? What is it about my society that allows such people to operate? And certainly I am not excusing poor behavior. If we see a Nanny neglecting a child it is our duty to create awareness around the subject.
What doesn’t help however is creating scapegoats or offering subjective and inflammatory musings on different types of caregiver. I suggest that it is not accurate – scientifically – to generalize and elevate the Nanny performances of one geographic area against the performances of another. Often our observations are skewed by our own perspectives or point in time. The map is not the territory.
Nanny X blogs here: http://thenannytimebomb.blogspot.com