Nanny Boundaries: How Close is Too Close for a Nanny and a Family?

nanny hugging child

Tobi Kosanke was sitting on the couch one day when her nanny nonchalantly showed her a lump in her breast and said she didn't have money to see a doctor.

Her full-time nanny, Jean-Marie Jones, had no health insurance or family support, and was too proud to ask her boss for help. Kosanke, of Hempstead, Texas, who had grown close to the woman who had cared for her only child, didn't hesitate.

"I told her you have to get this biopsied and I will pay for it," Kosanke, 46, says of that day in 2007. She spent $3,600 on testing that led to the discovery of a malignant lump in each of Jones' breasts. Through her illness, Jones worked off all but $800, which Kosanke forgave.

Kosanke was clear that she could not afford Jones' expensive surgery, and urged her beloved nanny to find a job with health insurance for employees with pre-existing conditions. Jones, 63, did just that, had surgery and is today cancer-free.

Kosanke acknowledges that her employer-employee relationship with Jones was blurred. But she was moved to help because she cared deeply for Jones, who had become like a grandmother to her charge, Jemma, now 6.  

"So when this scare happened, it wasn't like it happened to an employee," Kosanke says. "It happened to a dear friend who had nowhere else to turn. For lack of a better explanation, I love the woman."

Jones, too, realized she was in a special situation, calling Kosanke a lifesaver. "She is not a typical boss," she says.

Though their experience has a happy ending (Jemma is now in school, and Kosanke still hires Jones periodically), Kosanke says such situations can be complex, and employers should be prepared to have regrets.  

"It could be a minefield," she says. "You have to evaluate your own sense of feelings about the person. You know whether somebody is worth your time and effort to help."  

What's at Stake?

Employers may one day find themselves being asked a favor they feel they can't refuse, or a nanny may have to listen -- uncomfortably -- to deeply personal details of her boss' life. It's enough to make you wonder, how close is too close a relationship?

A nanny and her employers need each other, and a healthy, drama-free relationship benefits everyone, especially the children. Experts suggest firm boundaries and clear expectations so that neither side feels taken advantage of or resentful, which could lead to the demise of the relationship.

>   Get tips on creating a good relationship with a nanny

Too Much Information

Although a nanny may be privy to personal details of her boss' life -- like marital discord or financial problems -- that doesn't mean a nanny should be the employer's go-to person for help, says psychotherapist Robi Ludwig, Parenting Expert at Care.com.

"It's important to know the nanny is not your therapist and you are not her therapist," Ludwig says.

That doesn't mean you can't support each other. But before either side wants to spill juicy details, Ludwig suggests first asking yourself if you'd discuss such an issue with a regular co-worker.

It's the employer who should set the example for what's acceptable to share, Ludwig says, adding that things like your sex life should always stay off-limits.

"If you're going to be inappropriate, that's going to send a message to the nanny that the same is OK for her," Ludwig says.

It's true, too, that nannies don't want to hear about their employer's problems. Nanny Expert Neysa Richardson says she's happy to know that a family had a great weekend outing, but if the couple was fighting, that's too much information. Ditto if her employer is having, as one boss discussed with Richardson, bowel issues.

"Unless it directly affects my job, I don't need to know," Richardson says.

And when it comes to a nanny's personal life, a family should be aware of a big issue in her life, like a divorce, but not actively involved to preserve the separation between her job and her personal life, Richardson says.

Money Matters

Just as an employer shouldn't rely on a nanny to be a life coach, a nanny shouldn't view her employer as a bank. Nannies frequently ask for money for car payments, student loans or credit card debt, says Richardson, who disapproves of the practice. Nannies sometimes feel entitled to the money and don't pay it back, she says, putting employers in an awkward position.

If an employer does want to help financially, experts recommend putting everything in writing to increase the chances that the agreement will be followed. (Learn more about writing a nanny contract.)

"If there's a written contract that says 'I don't want you to feed my kids cookies,' they're going to be a lot less likely to feed your kids cookies," says Texas Supreme Court Justice Debra Lehrmann, a former family law judge.

An outright gift is one thing. But employers who loan their nannies money should be prepared for the possibility that they won't get it back, Lehrmann says. Even if an employer sued a nanny and won, a judgment may be hard to collect.

Ludwig suggests employers learn how to "say 'no' with options." That means turning down a request but offering to help in another way, as Kosanke did. Here are some examples Dr. Ludwig gives of how you can help - on your terms:

  • Car trouble. Your nanny's car needs $2000 of repair or she can't get to work. If you have a no-loan policy, offer extra hours or a salary advance. Or, offer to split a car service or bus pass for a temporary time period.
  • Home issues. Your nanny is fighting with her husband and thinks she should move out of her home, what should an employer do? Ludwig says it's usually not necessary for a family to open its doors, but such an arrangement could be OK if a family really loves its nanny. But, she said, many nannies have deep connections to friends and relatives. "You always want to go with a nanny following support systems she has first," Ludwig says. "You can say, 'I'm so sorry to hear. Do you have good people you can stay with during this tough time?'"
  • Personal favor.  You have a great job and your nanny asks if her daughter can be your intern. Does this put your reputation on the line? Ludwig says that an employer shouldn't recommend someone she doesn't know, but shouldn't hesitate to help if she knows the young woman and would be proud to recommend her. "Don't just do it because you love the mother," she says. "Meet the daughter and get a sense of her." She might not have to be your intern, but perhaps there's a department where she can help out.

Remember: Close is Okay
Over time, a nanny may start to feel like one of the family, and that's not a bad thing. But the employer can't get too close or her sense of authority may be lost. "You can love this person but all relationships require healthy boundaries," Ludwig reminds.

>   Read more ways to set up nanny boundaries

>   Search for a Nanny in your area today!

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Comments (36)
rosy
Are nannies expected to clean a car that was originally filthy so the owner can sell it the following day?
Posted: March 21, 2014 at 12:32 PM
Arlene S.
I found parts of the article insulting to nannies. Are nannies really perceived as people who are so eager to latch on the the resources of their clients?

I certainly do not see my clients in such a way and would never perpetuate such an unprofessional relationship. Most nannies would not.
Posted: January 30, 2014 at 5:05 PM
Arlene S.
How interesting. As a babysitter, I would NEVER consider, asking a client for loans, nor would I ever intrude on private matters in the family.

I found several bits of this article par
Posted: January 30, 2014 at 4:59 PM
toiletduck
I am a dad who works from home. We have very few boundaries with our nanny, it was on purpose, and she has become one of my best friends. I did not appreciate though the extent to which this could look like a mini-family to my wife, who goes to the office. There is always a fine line and our nanny (I really do not even like calling her that) has no issues with all of us walking it. But I would caution husbands out there to recognize what your wife is seeing, and I would caution wives to be aware going in of the ways you can interpret things. A "boundaryless" nanny relationship can be extremely valuable, I think, but it takes work - it takes everyone being aware, committed, and communicative, and ultimately working toward the same end...the well-being of the kids.
Posted: August 02, 2013 at 9:40 PM
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Deborah M.
Hi , I just finished almost two years with a family who's mother admitted she could not be a stay a home Mom . When I met her we clicked right off the bat, she was hiring me for her second child to watch along with her one year old. Boundaries? The woman bought me a I phone for Christmas, a bed in the spring before the baby was born, she would tell me she loved me and hug me when I left we would share stories, had Easter together at my home, it felt like a family. I don't have but two family members in Chicago and they had none. Things were great I'd clean, do the wash, even did her windows when the almost 2 year old slept. I went in with her to see the sonogram and then she had the birth of her girl.
Here is the kicker all of a sudden I wasn't let near either child for weeks and was even unsure I had a job with my"family" After a few weeks she tried to pull back my pay as agreed for the summer. I put my foot down and said a deal is a deal I should have had a contract . After 8 months of watch this woman morph from a kind wonderful fun pregnant Mom to a woman who could not take care if her child for a half hour till her husband cane home who was a slave as I had become - then right before the little girls second birthday im talking a week. She and her husband let me go, no notice and hardly a severance pay- I haven't seen the bbs which upset me terribly to the point where I can't be a nanny again at the age of 54 . Very sad and very scary this woman became they told me that I was still part of their family but they had hired someone already that would work 12 hours instead of my 10.5 hours - house cleaned, laundry done , 3 meals even one for them and that was how I was treated so lady's look hard at how much space you have to work in! Ask in writing what is expect of you to do - and most of all try not to fall in love with the children because my heart is still bleeding ! Good luck and I wish she would read this oh I have a masters in education and an undergrad but felt like dirt at the end.
Posted: July 18, 2013 at 2:19 AM
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Marla P.
A big thank you to those of you telling the real facts. If an employer doesn't want any kind of relationship with their Nanny and want it strickly employee/employer - then I suggest you stay home and raise your own children. It totally kills me, that a Nanny is treated with total disregard for her feelings or her own life. Somehow, she is "less than" because she is a Nanny? Exactly how does that work?? She is devoting herself to your family and she is still considered "the help"?? Shame on you. In reality, you should kiss the ground she walks on and thank God you have been blessed with someone who will take such excellent care of "your" children, when you cannot.
Posted: July 17, 2013 at 9:46 AM
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Corina Y.
Valerie

What is wrong with earing more money than $15.00 an hour. Just because someone is a caregiver doesn't mean they have to settle with a lower wage expectation. Yes, Hawaii may be expensive, but so are other areas. If you can earn more why not? It doesn't mean the person is not appreciative. Some of us are great at what we do. May care for the family, BUT still need to make enough money.
Posted: June 01, 2013 at 9:23 PM
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Joann T.
I think to close to a family pose a problem. I am very giving person who generally gives the extra mile. I believe all children are miracles and charish each one I am responsible for. I am a women with curves and older and life is not as fast as the younger generation. I am learning to adjust my opportunites for job applications. I have been realizing a contract with my employers is a must. We all think we are the same page but everyone looks at things differently. I suggest a contract, with your hourly pay or salary written down an a definition of what is expected of you on daily basis for a six month period. When six months is up revalute the job. If you decide to stay make changes with notes that you have written down over the last six months of changes made. I have been burnt to much with life in general not have some thing in writing with the families I work for. I was let go recently due to my overall demenor. I was very frustrated as a care giver
it showed. It was extremely hot summer and the days inside became long and longer and outside was murder. I had injured a wrist that was not healing to
all the lifting of a baby. I was in pain and emotional wiped. I was hurt but
after leaving I realized it was best for both of us. I miss this family.
Posted: October 01, 2012 at 8:30 AM
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Valerie D.
@ Maria S. You were getting $20. an hour as a nanny and expected to NOT do extra chores? I am a 54 year old mother of 2 now grown children with many years of nanny, babysitting, housekeeping, cooking, shuttling, etc. etc. experience, who feels grateful to get anywhere near $15. an hour to do all of the above. AND I live in Hawaii, where the cost of living is through the roof. Why do I do it? Because I love being a caregiver! I understand that my salary has to come from somewhere; and it wouldn't make sense to expect more than what the parents can reasonably afford. I know that I make significant contributions to every family that I work for, and earn every penny while I'm at it. Too many young people these days seem to have this sense of "entitlement" that really needs to be earned before it can be "expected" from a prospective employer.
That being said, the next time you sign up for any job, get everything in writing, so you and your employers will all be on the same page.
Posted: September 27, 2012 at 8:51 PM
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Rebecca R.
I agree with many of the comments herre. When we feel appreciated, we do a much better job. as for the "boundaries" issue, I can uncomfortably say that my last job left me feeling more like a family shrink as opposed to a caregiver. When I would arrive at work every morning, I would always ask about the little boy I watched, especially if I was coming on after a holiday or a weekend... But it never failed. I know more about their personal life and the personal lives of their friends and family than I care to know.... So of course I pulled back, even mentioned that I did not think it appropriate for me to know that, especially about their friends.. When the summer break came on, I was flat out lied to about the job ending for one reason, only a month later to find an ad by the same family, bad mouthing me in the ad.
Posted: August 14, 2012 at 12:42 PM
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Maria S.
I had a horrible experience with a family in Tiburon Ca. Thank God I only worked there 3 weeks. I remember once showing up to a local park and all the other nannies were starring at me. One of them came up to me and asked me how long had I been with this family and I said 2 wks. She then started telling me the last nanny who was working for this family had QUIT after one and a half year because the lady took advantage of her and was very rude. Then other nannies came to where we were and started telling me more horrible stories about this lady . This lady wants it all in one and pay just the Nanny Rate $20 an hr. and the Nanny has to COOK everyday, Clean the HOUSE once a week and we are talking about a HUGE house !!! Run Errors, and take care of the Child. On top of this use my own car. I felt taken advantage of. I also had cameras all day long on me watching my every more in that house. Well after hearing all those horrible stories about her and seeing how she actually treated me. I told her it wasn't working out for. But in the little time I was there the little boy love me. It was sad when I said by to him he didn't want me to leave and I had only been there 2 wks.
To make a long story short I had worked 43hrs for her and she paid me only 35hrs and never reinbursted me for my GAS and we all know how expensive gas is she owed me about $40 in gas. I had direct deposit done so when I saw what she had paid me I realized I did the right thing at the right time. She is very evil and I feel sorry for the next victim that works for her. I just wish parent would understand that this is very hard work. We earn every PENNY that we work for and all we want is to feel appreciated. Maybe once in a while they could throw an EXTRA $25 just to say THANK YOU FOR YOUR HARD WORK ..... or a simple little thank you giftcard. That's what makes us Nannies want to do an even a better JOD. when we feel appreciated.
Posted: May 16, 2012 at 12:40 AM
Arlisa A.
I WANT A NANNY RIGHT NOW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Posted: May 06, 2012 at 1:05 PM
Donna E.
Boundaries are very imporatnt in an Employer-employee relationship. It is also very important that you have a written agreement of what the employer expects of you. Basiclly a detailed job description. I have been providing personal care services for families since April of 2000. I am a very hard working, punctual,respectful and is commited to my services.

I find it very disturbing on some of the things that I have experienced as a nanny. Please provide your Nanny with a decent salary. So that this person is commited and mostly likly will provide long-term services. When you decied to remodel your bathroom that you just remodeled last year for $15,000 and is doing it again for $25,000 this year. DOn't get upset because your nanny has decieded to find another family cause you want bother to give them half of their weekly salary when you go out town for the two and three times a month. For a week at a time.

You may not think so, but we work hard for our money and deserve every cent of it. Its very insulting that you only want to pay $10.00 an hour not to mention nothing extra if you are 15 minutes late.
Posted: April 25, 2012 at 4:44 PM
Grandma S.
Let me first say that I really, really like my daughter's nanny. My daughter has 5 children with three of them 3 and under. She is a stay at home mom so spends a lot of time with the nanny. And the children are involved in many activities and the older ones school so it really does take two adults to do everything most of the time. Recently, however, I have begun to be concerned about their relationship while questioning my own sanity. So let me give a few examples of what concerns me. 1) My daughter and her husband bought the nanny's home because it was being foreclosed upon a while back and they rent it back to them with the intent to resell it to them once their credit clears. 2) My daughter is planning a trip to my parents home several hours away in June. I didn't give her an immediate answer as to whether I would go and help with the little ones so she asked the nanny to go. When I said I was thinking of going she basically talked about several reasons why the nanny should go rather than me to MY parents home with MY grandchildren. 3) They appear to be accommodating the nanny's preferences for her schedule rather than working around my son-in-law's schedule (an M.D. working shifts).4) My daughter and the nanny scheduled a spa-day together. 5) the nanny constantly talks about money problems and the work status of her husband which is basically that he is not working now but started going to school. My daughter is going to hire him to repaint her bathroom and do odd jobs.

So the deal is, I am feeling very left out and only get called to be a part of the family to help out when the nanny has a conflict or is sick or on vacation. I work full time and have limited time that I am available but I have always jumped in and helped out when the nanny is sick or not scheduled, or whatever.

At the same time, I feel my spontaneity in talking the grandkids to my own home sinking along with decreasing self-confidence and deepening depression. I am trying to make sense of this but I think it is related to feeling needed and, I guess used, if that makes sense, for child care but not wanted as a mother. Needless to say my relationship with my daughter is becoming strained. Again, the nanny is amazing but it just seems things are becoming extremely blurry and I am feeling more and more like a back-up nanny rather than a grandmother and family member. I thought as nanny's you might have some insight. Thanks.
Posted: April 01, 2012 at 5:21 PM
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Crystal L.
Michele M.: You NAILED it. I've been a nanny for over 9 years, hold a degree in Early Childhood Education and have been employed as a lead teacher in two different 3-star-preschool and child development centers. I'm shocked and AMAZED when a family offers such a lowly wage for child "CARE". What do they think we're doing all day?- Popping Bon-Bons? At times, I'm BAFFLED after I waste (yes, I said, "waste") my and THEIR time going through an extensive interview and all they offer is 9.00 or 10.00/hrly.
*Facepalm.
Bottom line: If you can't afford excellent childcare, resist your urge to dial an excellent nanny and call up a young teen next door! Hmph! ;)
Posted: March 03, 2012 at 10:00 PM
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Eva S.
Many of the comments have been very insightful. Thank you to all. I also was impressed by Ablis K. comments.
Posted: February 21, 2012 at 1:47 PM
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Michele M.
The only comment I have is, I have seen many advertisements for jobs to care for multiple children, and clean the house, for very low rates. It disturbs me:a person is going to come in, give one on one care to multiple children, the family dog(s), clean house top to bottom, laundry, cook dinners and yet, it is a job that many families only offer $10. P hour compensation or a weekly salary of $400.-even if you work 50-60. I don't get it. Maybe because I am college educated, have my own design business and choose this job because I adore children, (do not have any of my own). I teach your children manners, words, healthy ways of dealing/developing their emotions, reading, writing, math, art, science, as well as hold down the entire household with laundry, cooking, cleaning and put 300 miles on my car every week driving the multiple children to and from school, sports...
I do not believe that many of these younger families get it and want a bargin-the disturbing part for me is, the bargin? I have over the course of a few years, met and talked to many nannies getting railed as well as Mom's who would love to hire me at close of my jobs when they see how I am with the kids, then offer me $10. An hour for 50 hours, light housekeeping and cooking. Just to let you know, when Mothers do this, I first think, you've got to be kidding me! Then politely decline. Dear families looking for a bargin, think about what you are paying for before you offer low pay to someone caring for your babies. It's nuts. It is insulting.
Posted: February 17, 2012 at 1:29 PM
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Nancy G.
I have been a nanny 12 years. I usually stay with a family around 4 years.All the families I have worked for after a time feel they are so close to me they walk around in thier underware.The women have walked around me in the nude.I need my job and I love the children so much i dont want to leave.you think you have boundry problems.
Posted: January 27, 2012 at 11:44 AM
Sharon R.
I like the idea of a contract- with boundaries- for both sides. I was hired as a nanny and became the maid, nanny and dog caretaker, shopper, and cook. I really started to resent it. The woman fired me which was OK because I have a new nanny position with a wonderful little girl and I am quite content. I was in a position where I had to deal with alcohol, money issues and power plays between the parents. Not a good place to be in.
Posted: January 23, 2012 at 10:57 AM
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Szablis K.
My current nanny and I have a close, but professional working arrangement. My children love her, but more than anything respect her highly. She has done an amazing job of loving them without feeling like she is their parent. She understands she is responsible for helping them develop into happy and well-adjusted adults someday, and that I have hired her to participate in that journey, not to replace me.

I used to be a stay-at-home mom, and I would go to the gym with my daughter for class, and listen to all the nannies there who at first assumed I was one as well. If I had known who their bosses were I would have told them to fire these women. There was not constructive discussion going on, but instead, it was complaining about the parents, and insulting comments being made. It seemed to me that the impression the nannies had was that the family just could never do anything right and the nanny was the only thing keeping the children alive. Well, guess what? The employer HIRED you to do that. If they didn't need you they wouldn't have hired you! And the children would be there listening to this degrading talk about their parents. I finally said something. It was inappropriate.

Just like any other employee, I expect my nanny to do her job in a proficient and capable manner. The job description and expectations are written, and I do performance evaluations with her twice a year and ask her to do evaluations of me AS HER EMPLOYER, not as a mother or a human being. It is not her job to judge me, or to evaluate my parenting. She does an excellent job of caring for my children and leaving the rest out of it.

Think of it this way. If you worked at IBM as a secretary, you wouldn't be tearing down your boss for his parenting skill, or worrying about the guy in the mail room's bowel movements or sex life. Treat your job as just that, a job, and ask for a written job description. Share your expectations and ask your employer what their expectations are. Sometimes verbalizing what expectations are can help, because when you hear something unreasonable coming out of your mouth you realize it is unreasonable. "I exect you to work beyond the hours we have agreed to without pay" is just not something that is reasonable, and asking someone to articulate their expectations is helpful.

My nanny is moving, and I am so sad because her attitude and professionalism has been so amazing that I fear I will not be able to replace her.

The experience hearing those nannies complain and think their job was to parent and judge and compare themselves to the mothers has really impacted me, in that I fear I will end up having one of those nannies instead of someone more concerned about doing her job - to care for my children.
Posted: January 13, 2012 at 9:30 AM
Christa T.
As an employer I expect an air of professionalism from my Caregiver toward myself and my children. This relationship should, however, be flexible. Just as an employer and employee in any job/profession can become friends or at the very least friendly toward one another, this should be the way with a family and their Caregiver. It makes working with one another in an intimate setting much easier, because when one works with children in their home it is intimate, especially for the child(ren). Also as an employer it is my duty and responsibility to care for my employee as far as their needs in fulfilling their duties. For example, if I am the soul employer of my caregiver and they are having financial struggles because of a low salary, I would naturally expect them to discuss the matter with me. The same would be expected if I were responsible for paying their Health insurance premiums. If they are having health problems that affect their required duties I would also expect to be informed of such problems but without great detail. Transportation or car troubles etc. that affect their involvement with their job, because these things directly or indirectly affect me. As a former caregiver I understand that it is up to the parents to set boundaries on how much interaction they want their children to receive and it is the Caregivers responsibility to respect those boundaries. The job lies with the children and should remain with the children. If the parents gray those boundaries it makes it difficult for the caregiver to discern how much they are required to give of themselves. As far as the boundaries between the parents and caregiver, it is the caregivers responsibility to give help and support to the parents as far as the needs of the children require. If things become too uncomfortable it should be discussed immediately and lines should be clearly defined. As a relationship grows between the parents and the caregiver these boundaries may change, but it should never blur the boundaries set between the caregiver and the child(ren). A good question to ask the parent and yourself is "who do they want their child to run to when they fall down?". Remember that the caregiver is just that, a provider of care for the child or children, not a surrogate parent. Think of the relationship you want your child to have with a schoolteacher, would you want them to be cold and uncaring? Of course not, but you still expect them to be professional with you and retain certain boundaries with your child. The best caregivers treat their position as a job but do not treat the children as paperwork.
Posted: August 03, 2011 at 8:13 PM
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Alexandra H.
I agree with having some boundaries. Nannies may feel like the children in their care are loved "like" they were their own, but they are not, and that is where the line is drawn. we have an unspoken bond with these little ones that at times can be hard to deal with for the parents, who sometimes feel on they are on the outside looking in. I try to keep my personal life just that, personal. I do not dig into their personal affairs and they don't dig into mine. The sad thing about this type of job, is losing a child that you invested so much love and nurturing. We are NOT family and we as nannies need to remember that, we are not and should not consider ourselves friends either. We are employees, deeply loved as we are, we are still employees.
Posted: August 02, 2011 at 12:46 AM
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Tammy M.
I feel you should treat people how you expect to be treated.Be loving,kind and honest.It is ok to talk to your nanny a little.If your having some marital issues tell your nanny if you wish ,just don't go into great detail.[Sometimes these issues can effect how the children behave.]As an employee never ask for money!Go to a bank,ask a family member but not your boss!!!If your employer is having some money issues sometimes it is best if they fill you in it could effect your pay.The only time you should ask for money is if you are putting money out of your pocket for thier children.Get close to thier children,love them,respect them and they will do the same for you.Let the children know that they can talk to you about anything but some things you may have to tell thier parents.In other words leave open the lines of comunication but try to keep it as closely related to your work situations as possible.If your having a bad day tell your employer about it but not in to much detail[it may relate to how you are with thier chid that day ect..]
Posted: August 01, 2011 at 3:57 PM
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Suzy B.
I am very nuturing and always go the extra mile to make life as easy as possible for my families. Alot of times this includes running errands @ the last minute, staying longer w/out pay because the children want me too, etc. I am extremely good @ what I do, and all my families get very attached. What I do find is most single parents want you stay extra so that they can confide in you. Where do you draw the line? They all sem to be comfortable talking to me about personal lives and then you start to believe you can confide in them too. Very bad idea, as once they have a glimpse of You as a real person, they tend to look at you I'm a different way. Basically you can let them vent, but when you have situations in your life they stop looking at you as Mary Poppins and tend to use you and treat you with less respect. It's kind of like a marriage where they start to resent you for not being that perfect image they had of you. I recently got caught in the middle of a custody situation, and had to tell the Mom some things the children had told me. Two days later I was supened to testify in court. I didn't feel right about charging for time for this, but it was soooo stressful and I just couldn't not tell the Mom. In the future I will have a contract on order, and will listen but not remark abt my personal life. Let them see you as the perfect loving Nanny- not as a human being!
Posted: July 30, 2011 at 6:19 PM
Dee N.
Hi regardless of the family issues, they are still your employers, and you are the employee, and of course family have intimate issues, but this is their home where family things and then some a rise. So therfore, it must be treated in the utmost respectful way.
A loving professional forever nanny...

Kindest regards.....
Posted: July 30, 2011 at 12:07 AM
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Debra P.
I wasnt done with the last comment
Posted: July 29, 2011 at 3:12 AM
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Debra P.
How do you not get close to people you are caring for? When you start out being their housekeeper, then asked to care for their unborn child. When you are with this little person from day one its hard not to fall in love with them. You wouldnt be human if you didnt. I was on call 24/7 for these people, I stayed overnite for days while they went out of town, (no extra cash) My husband would stay with me.When they would go out of town with the baby I would go to their home and get their mail and ups packages, and bring the dog home so he wouldnt be lonely.Even though the dog would mess in my house I still like an idiot would bring him home. Why? cause I felt like a part of the family.I also was incharge of cleaning their 6000sq ft home inbetween. They would tell me how much i was needed and appreciated.Then mom was getting upset cause the baby would get so happy when I would come over and cry when I left. We played all day, Mom was a stay at home worker, although she didnt do much work. She did alot of shopping,spa time,lunchs. The days I was supposed to clean I would end up taking care of the baby.I was okay with it until the mom woukld get upset cause she wanted me instead of mom. I was just taking the best care of that baby that I could so the parents could come and go as needed and not have to worry about their precious little one. Mom would get upset when she would leave and the baby didnt cry, I was like are you serious? why would you want your child upset
Posted: July 29, 2011 at 3:11 AM
Gloria J.
I also was a nanny before coming to Care.com, it was a part of my own company and I was basically selected by the children, it was an immediate bond after they had interviewed others. I have raised 3 wonderful children, who I am very proud of. I also have 2 beautiful granddarlings who make me proud always.

The fact when you go into a family and possibly those children who are great, but may not have had the basic foundations set for them and the forumulative years when they should be taught things has not occurred. It creates an issue for you may come in and really develop these children into something the parents may not have done. Very often it can as it did in my case incite and insecure mother because she may know she has not done her best with the children.

In my case, the children were walking and talking and being obnoxious to their parents but the parents realized especially the mother that the children would cooperate with me and they loved me, they respected me. The mother was jealous that I actually got the almost 3 yrs potty trained in a very short time. The grandmother of the child called me up and thanked me for the wonderful work I was doing with the children. The mother had an issue with being a mother and became jealous of anything I did even if it was helpful to her. She was unappreciative, and insecure and asked me why the children did not behave badly with me. I told her I have a different dynamic with the children.

I also am not their parent, and I set boundaries but show them respect, teach them things like words, reading, playing with their dolls and games, watching their videos, etc helping them with their homework and helping them study. In essence I gave them time and time is the perfect and best gift you could give anyone especially a child. This is something that made the mother jealous but she did not enjoy her children and stated that to me, I never commented but just did what was humanly possible to help them all as much as possible.

I well and beyond the call of duty to help the entire family for their were issues and when you show children kindness, patience, love and respect and consider them, they will love you. Things are not important, big gifts, one's time and effort and being with their child is mandatory if you want their lov and respect.

I got the children up to the age of going to school and stayed with them and taught them all I could give and supported them. The issues of the mother were hers and I never ever disrespected her but she needed to speak with a therapist or do something to resolve her issues therefore once I got them into school after four years I resigned and left it at bay, by that time she was pregnant again with another child and I was not going to deal with that for she was not taking good care of the others, so hopefully the other three children would be able to help the new child learn, manners, and kindness, and love, they would pass it on and I was out of there.

Sometimes especially when it comes to children you have to be careful for very often some mothers have real insecurities and not willing to do better but hate anyone else who can accomplish things they cant, even when that person is always respectful, kind and kind, no one pays enough to deal with some of the issues of the parents, generally the children are just fine and easily dealt with, especially if you are kind and loving to them but set boundaries and limitation about their ill manner, or bad conduct. Hitting or hollering is never an option and love covers a multitude of sins, Children understand human kindness and the time you give they appreciate.
Posted: July 29, 2011 at 12:11 AM
Photo of Michelle S.
Michelle S.
Kim S, my sentiment exactly! I am a bit particular when searching for a family to work for. I know that childcare takes the effort of all parties - the childcare provider, parents, grandparents, etc. It is my goal to ensure that we all work cohesively and happily together in raising of the child(ren). There are obviously boundries, as I also have boundries with good friends and family members. I wouldn't even borrow money from friends - why would I think of asking a family I was working with? However, I don't hesitate to sit down and listen to a mother's problems. I have had parents tell me that they appreciate me more because of my caring, thoughtful and honest attitude when it comes to being more of a friend than just an employee. And Kim, I love your motto - it sums it up nicely!
Posted: July 27, 2011 at 3:27 PM
Photo of Iesha R.
Iesha R.
Wow, I can't believe this but I wish I should have read this be for taking a job with my count employer. What should I do?
Posted: July 27, 2011 at 3:11 PM
Photo of Vonda D.
Vonda D.
I think you should treat your caregiving/nanny/housekeeper position just as you would any other professional position. You have a job, and you should treat it as such.

I do not think it is bad if anyone chooses to go beyond their 100%. You get attached to people, have warm loving feelings and if you are human, you are going to show compassion.

Do not get involved in your employers dating or marriage or anything remotely personal. It should only involve the children, or the elderly person you are giving care. You should know of special needs, or anything else that would make you do your job better.

Never, ever use your employer as your personal banker. That is just wrong, and not ethical. That is mixing business with personal life. Not good.

I do my job better, the less I know about the outside family. I have a better attitude about my job, if it is kept this way. I think they respect me more, the less they know about my personal life as well.
Posted: July 26, 2011 at 3:19 PM
Andrew F.
I think this is a great reminder for parents and nannies! As a nanny, I do understand I will have some bond with the family, but it should be the same as my former boss at my old grocery store job. I am able to bond with them and share parts of my life with them, but understand that when it's business, it's business. I firmly set up boundaries on my own end, because it is both the parents' and the nanny's job to do so, especially nannies who are years experienced and are with a first time nanny family.

I'm actually amazed to hear nannies ask their employers for money. I feel if it doesn't relate to their job, it shouldn't be asked. I do feel if an employer is requiring a nanny to have a car, the family should be helping with car expenses. In the past I have usually included this by adding a few more dollars to their rate, so as to cover extra repairs or gas use that occurs because of the extra use. I had one family get upset when I wasn't using my car because it needed work and wasn't safe to drive. The car was never part of our agreement when employed, and the family never offered extra money for gas. This is why a clear contract is important.

Having clear boundaries also makes it easier for when it's time to leave or move on from a family or nanny. While their is a bond, the leaving isn't personal, it's just business.
Posted: July 26, 2011 at 9:34 AM
Photo of Cindie C.
Cindie C.
Their are more babysitter/nannies who have to set up boundaries than the other way around. If the babysitter/nanny doesn't draw that line, they end up being used and being expected to allow themselves to be used without complaint.

I'm sure there are child care providers who are inexperienced about these boundaries, but there are just as many parents who are just as inexperienced or are just plain selfish and who aren't respectful or considerate of their child care giver, even if they believe they are. That is why policies need to be in place at the beginning of the relationship and preferably in writing.

My point is, it's not always the hiring family who has to set the boundaries. It is just as or maybe more often the nanny/babysitter who has to set the boundaries and do it nicely, but firmly so there is no confusion later. The child care giver is generally not the one doing the overstepping, it's usually the hiring family and they are generally completely unaware of it. The child care giver needs to let the family know what they expect just as clearly as the family needs to let the child care giver know their rules. This is a business and a working relationship, hopefully a mutually friendly and loving one. The only way for that to be the outcome is for both sides to communicate clearly and to be respectful of one another's lives and needs.



I am lucky and so thankful for the wonderful families I work for who are considerate and caring and they are the ones who I stay with. If you are a child care giver and the family you work for is taking advantage of you, just know there are so many more families out there to take their place in your life. The families boundaries into your time and life are just as important as the boundaries set by the families who hired us and this should be made clear from the beginning of the relationship.
Posted: July 26, 2011 at 1:09 AM
Kim S.
People must understand that some of us choose to be nannies because we are just caring people. When we find families who welcome us with open arms, we feel the need to do as much as humanly possible to make all the members of that family feel good about us being there. When I become friends with my moms and dads, I don't feel the employee pressure that I would if the situation was strictly professional. I am confidant that I am good at what I do and require a certain amount of salary to live on. Making my work family happy is my number one goal and there is no ulterior motive. As we have chosen our profession, we do not like being treated as less than anyone else and our professional employers should not take for granted that we are stupid, slow or require micro-managing just as they would not appreciate this from their bosses or managers. To sum this up, my motto has always been "If you treat your nanny like an employee, she will treat your children like a job!" Think about that next time you get ready to hire a nanny.
Posted: July 25, 2011 at 10:38 PM
Photo of Theresa G.
Theresa G.
Wow,

I would imagine this is an extended situation of family responsibilities upon their relationship with their caretaker.

The one thing I like to express is being human, and creating humanity.

I don't think anyone chooses in the responsibility in holding a person life in their hands. Whether or not that person will survive, whether or not we choose to make a decision to be a part of it, or how we choose to be a part of it. That's whether or not, we are not a direct family member.

I have taken on expenses of caring for someone whether or not they are my family purely on the fact this is someone directly or indirectly related to me but the humanity of it I do my part.

I think once you are realistic on how and what you can do to participate is part of that relationship and how you relate that to that individual is a human response. It doesn't have anything to do with being a paid or non-paid household member. That is something that can't be predicated, upon rules! Always remember that you and your household help is just that HUMAN!

I can guarantee you as a caretaker, that we no ways expect that ever a employer is responsible for our well being, other than in the care of our position. You only hope that in a crisis, that if that relationship is established as a member of the family. They will do their part in articulating what that is.
Posted: July 23, 2011 at 12:16 AM
Photo of Cecile F.
Cecile F.
My boss of 2 1/2 years would tell me very personal things. I have been fired just recently and she got a teacher in place of me. They were abusive with my work and I did a lot for them. I was so kind and flexible. Being too close is definitely not good. Being a bit impersonal is better. They were insulting and abusive with the salary. They did not pay me enough. The reason she fired me was because of one comment. Her husband told me that his kids would not vacation with them the next year. That they would stay with me. I said I would make sure the kids did not act that way with me. That insulted the wife apparently and made her think that I meant that she was not a good mother. All my friends think that she is crazy for getting hurt so easily. Anyway It does not pay to be too close or too truthful.
Posted: July 21, 2011 at 7:11 PM
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