The Nanny or Au Pair and Parent Relationship
The relationship between a parent and nanny (or au pair) is just as important as the relationship between the caregiver and the child. Although caring for children is a nanny's top priority, if the caregiver cannot communicate effectively with the parents, or help raise the children as the parents wish, the nanny won't have a job.
One of the most complicated aspect of the nanny and parent relationship is jealousy.
In the book Touchpoints the Essential Reference, T. Berry Brazelton, M. D. discusses the common jealousy parents feel when they go to work leaving their child in the care of another person.
The author says, "Of course, parents will feel jealous. They will mourn the loss. This mourning is accompanied by three defenses: denial, projections of their feelings onto others, and detachment from the baby's care. These defenses can interfere with the parents' relationship to the other caregivers, as well as to the baby."
"If they are understood as normal defenses -- necessary for protecting vulnerability -- parents can have some perspective and avoid becoming hostile with the very person upon whom they will depend," explains Brazelton.
He suggests to parents, "If you find a warm, caring person, you need to be aware of your competitive feelings and to talk them out from time to time."
To keep jealousy from ruining the parent and nanny (or au pair) relationship the author suggests parents, "Give her your backing. If she does things slightly differently from you, don't worry. A child can adjust to several different styles and can learn to be flexible in the process. If you respect her ways of caregiving, the child will too, as she gets older."
"I'd want to know whether the caregiver can also respect and nurture you as involved parents," says Brazelton.
"Can she allow you time to tell her why your baby has been like at home the evening before? Will she sit down to tell you about your baby's day when you come home? This is hard to tell ahead of time. But if a caregiver seems judgmental about your leaving your baby all day, I would look for a person who can understand your anguish and can accept your reasons for going back to work," writes the author.
Brazelton describes, "The sort of person you want would say, 'you know, I think he's about to start to walk,' instead of, 'He just walked for me today."
"A person who can remain nurturing is likely to be one who is well trained in child development and who is not overloaded by too many other responsibilities and too many children to care for.He states,"To expect this of her, she needs to be adequately paid. Quality childcare is not cheap, more should it be."
He concludes, "Early experiences shape your child's future. Giving him the best care and environment becomes an investment."
Parental jealousy is a natural feeling when sharing the care of a child. Both nannies and parents should remember this rather than becoming resentful or hostile towards one another.
How do you ease a jealous parent at your nanny or au pair job?