Heather Smith is an ex-nanny. Passionate about thought leadership and writing, Heather regularly contributes to various career, social media, public relations, branding, and parenting websites. She also provides value to hire a nanny by giving advice on site design as well as features and functionality to provide more value to nannies and families across the U.S. and Canada. Contact her at H.smith7295 [at] gmail.com.
I have been a nanny for three different families during my nanny career. People often ask for “horror stories” about the children: the meltdowns, sibling fights, and odd chore anecdotes. But the real horror stories are about the parents, whose behavior is sometimes worse than the kids’.
I started to nanny when I was in college. My first job was for a wealthy family with three children, a girl and two younger boys.
The family was known for their generosity and active involvement in the community. They were wonderful people at heart with good intentions. Their kids were a sweet, creative and flat-out funny trio. I enjoyed our long Saturdays together and miss them dearly. It wasn’t until the parents were home, however, that the job became one of the most frustrating I ever had.
The oldest was an 8-year-old girl with a sweet spirit; the middle was a 6-year-old boy who was very creative; the youngest was a 3-year-old boy with blonde curly hair and big blue eyes and a wonderful sense of humor.
When the parents came home, all hell broke loose. The kids changed from sweet and caring to angry and mean. The kids hit me and cursed at me.
The children fought constantly when the parents were home: tears, screaming matches, hitting, slapping, and biting. It took every ounce of my patience not to walk out. I couldn’t understand why the kids would change so drastically in front of their parents.
But as the behavior went on, I figured out why they lost control when the parents came home: they wanted attention.
The only way the children could get their parents to interact with them was to act out. When they did, the parents would scream at them and have me remove them from the room. This is when most of the cursing and hitting happened.
I am a firm believer that parents need to parent. I am a nanny, there to aid parenting. However, I am not the parent. A nanny will love children as her own, enhance their lives, and teach them the values parents have in place. But a nanny cannot be successful if the parent refuses to be a parent. I had a matter-of-fact conversation with my bosses and was brushed off. So I did my best to take care of the children and provide them with the love and kindness they needed.
I eventually finished college and moved on. I haven’t heard from the family since and hope that the kids’ have warm memories of the time I spent with them. What I hope others take from my story are three things:
There aren’t always going to be great parents.
There aren’t always going to be great nannies.
Parents and nannies need to work together to have happy and healthy children.