It's something every working mother fears, that her new or long-term babysitter or nanny could be neglectful or even abusive to her kids. Does the nanny leave the toddler alone in the den for hours while she is watching TV, on the phone or napping? Does she have a short fuse and yell at the child without reason? Does she give unwarranted punishments? Does she break playdates and drag the child around for hours to do personal errands?
I know many mothers and caring nannies who have witnessed inappropriate behavior by other nannies they know on the playground, at a playdate, in stores or at school, but have chosen to keep their mouths shut out of fear or anxiety about how their comments might be received by the child's parent. The witnessing mom might reluctantly accept the misbehaving nanny's behavior by thinking, She didn't actually hit the child, she was only rude and short-tempered, so I don't have to say anything, or She was on the phone and wasn't watching him at the playground, but since he didn't get hurt, I don't have to get involved. Be honest, I am sure you have observed some "nanny actions" that disturbed you and made you fearful for the child's safety and health, yet you decided to keep silent.
So today, in the best interests of children everywhere and as a couples mediator, parenting columnist and author of the bestseller, Fight Less, Love More, I have a very important suggestion for all working moms: Take charge! Establish a new line of communication with people who observe the relationship between your nanny and your children when you are not around.
Encourage others to tell you what they see and hear. How do you do this? Send an email similar to the one below to people you trust who come in regular contact with your child and nanny, such as other parents, your neighbors, the teacher at daycare, school or at your child's gym class, etc. Whether you have a new nanny or the same one for years, modify the email to suit your needs. Let's change the "see no evil, hear no evil" mindset.
As many of you have probably seen, we recently hired a new nanny. Mary Smith is with us now. Please feel free to reach out to her to set up playdates.
Also -- please let me know if you ever observe anything good, or bad, about our new nanny and her relationship with my kids. Since I'm at work and am not around to see what's going on in the normal course of the day, I would sincerely welcome any feedback.
"Anyone who does anything to help a child in his life is a hero to me."
― Fred Rogers (Mr. Rogers)