Friday, August 13, 2010

Nannies Provide Stability for Children During Divorce

Have You Worked for a Family of Divorced Parents?

Wednesday we discussed working for a family that practices a different religion. Yesterday we asked if you could work for a non-traditional family. With half of all marriages ending in divorce many nannies are hired by parents of divorce.

Cindy Strasheim, Nebraska Cooperative Extension explains that the bond with a caregiver may be the most stable relationship for the child during a divorce.

She explains that no one likes to feel like they are in unfamiliar territory. Changes during divorce can feel very uncomfortable. A sensitive nanny can establish a safe, secure, and familiar place for the child to rest and regain perspective on family life-although they may not be able to understand the meaning of divorce in a family. Nannies become a friendly adult who cares about the children and is not as sad or angry as the parents might be.

Here are some things that childcare providers can do to help infants and toddlers during a time of divorce. Nannies may want to share these suggestions with parents who are worried about the changes that they notice in their children.

Keep normal schedules and routines. Encourage parents to do the same at home. Try not to change any more things than necessary.

Reassure infants and toddlers. Let them know that you are still there. Use lots of hugs and loving words.

Keep children's favorite toys, blankets, or stuffed animals close at hand. Allow children to bring items from home to the other settings. Find some things that the child can hold for a long time.

Give children a little more time to say goodbye. Encourage parents to spend more time when they are dropping off or picking up children from the home you work in.

Be patient. Allow children to be upset. Let children be babyish for a while. The more advanced behavior should return soon.

Find out what the children know about the divorce. Ask the parents what they have said. Ask what the parents would like you to say.

Ask the parents about their plans for schedules and living situations. Help the child understand what will change and what will not change.

Consistent discipline. Do not change the rules just because of the divorce. Discipline as you always would. The child needs guidelines.

Nannies must communicate with the parents so there is no confusion about who is in charge and when. Caregivers need to know about all custody and visitation issues. Rules may change from house to house. Yet often the nanny travels with the children and works in both homes. In these situations nannies and parents should talk without the children present and respect the consistent discipline and communication the nanny has to encourage.

Both parents and nannies should consistently explain to children that they are not responsible for the divorce. You may need to say it many times. Nannies should help create stability and security in the lives of children.
Have you worked for parents that are divorced? What suggestions do you have for nannies working with children whose parents have divorced?

12 comments:

Anonymous said...

The greatest challenges of working in two households was that there were different rules in each home. I felt like I was in the middle
when it came to disputes and communication between ex-spouses in a divorced family.

Anonymous said...

I hope you don't mind I comment here anonymously instead on FB where parents might see. I got to say that working for divorced parents was a nightmare for me. Some parents are great after divorce but I got caught in the middle big time. The children played the parents agaisnt one another. My advice to other nannies is be firm. Be assertive, Ask questions constantly. Never speak poorly of either parent, step parents or new boyfriends and girlfriends in front of the kids!

Michelle said...

I hear nannies talking badly about a parent in a divorce and I think it is very inappropriate for kids to hear that about their parents. In this day and age most nannies will work for a family of divorce and the tips are perfect. You can be the one constant in their lives.

AuPairDebbie said...

Don't take sides. That's the hardest part of working with divorced parents.

Read books together about children and divorce. Use books to help your child talk about feelings.

Answer all questions about the changes, and keep lines of communication open.

Repeatedly tell children that they are not responsible for the divorce. Children need to be reassured that the breakup wasn't their fault.

Although you may favor one parent over the other as the nanny you should follow the laws and wishes of both parents. Help the non-custodial parent stay involved.

Anonymous said...

That's really so sad that we are the ones to offer stability in the child's life when parents divorce. I worked for divorcing parents and it was emotionally exhuasting for me. I will not work for a divorcing family again.

Lisa said...

There are children of divorce bill of rights that one can find in a google search, I can't say there is one I like over the others but I use several when dealing with divorced parents and say the rights for the kids extend to me as well.

If there is some issue regarding custody or guardianship, make sure the parent provides you with copies of pertinent information in case the other parent wishes to defy some court order on your watch and you can take appropriate action with the aide of law enforcement.

Read up advice sheets on how divorce impacts children and what caregivers/teachers can do to support them in unbiased professional ways.

Take care of yourself during these times. Sometimes parents can deliberately or intentionally pull you into a situation and it gets hard. Stand your ground and burn off your frustration with exercise, eating right, taking care of yourself.

IF you sense the children need counseling don't be afraid to approach the parents and say this is more than I can take on by myself.

Anonymous said...

Actually being a nanny for divorcing parents has been the hardest nanny job I ever had. I've had all types of issues with children but never, ever as draining as working for two parents going thru a divorce. I had to keep my mouth shut and I wanted to speak up so many times.

Sorry, but I don't think it's possible to remain unbiased in this situation. Try as you may, you do take sides. Very hard.

I did feel like throwing up and was so mad the first time I saw the father flirt with another woman at the pool. I couldn't beleive it. I was so upset. I hardly saw the father, hardly knew him yet he did this?! It felt like he did this to my own mom or something.

The feelings aren't something I can control. I controlled what I said (which was nothing) but it hurt.

Anonymous said...

In the blended family I am currently working for, the biggest issue is trying to get the kids to follow the same rules in both homes. I can't get the step-siblings to follow our rules easily, such as putting their dishes in the dishwasher and do their laundry. They are not responsible for these chores at their mother's house.

Anonymous said...

this HAS been a nightmare!! jeeezz!! the job as a nanny is the easy part...dealing with divorcing parents is the hard part. Separate homes with separate rules and standards. How in the heck does everyone deal with a father that doesnt want you to communicate with the mom but expects you to set rules for the children when they are in his home that the kids dont have to follow at the moms house?? I feel like divorcing this family but i love these kids and it would be so unfair if I left their lives. What to do??

Anonymous said...

I am working currently for a family whose parents got divorced recently, few months after I was with them, they started in the nasty process of divorcing. Many times I have to be direct and I guess as far as I am with them, I will have to watch my rear to protect myself from anything that is practically between them. I have met the family from long time ago, but just because of that it does not mean they can consider me as their messenger in order to keep communication in great mood! I want to be very professional so, even if they would like to make me their confident, I rather to step aside and let them deal with themselves. For example, I really do not like when through text messages they tell me to tell the other one about financial things related to their children, or if someone decides to do one thing and communicate to the kids first and to me, I say: With all due respect but I need you to have in mind I am not interested to listen until you have told this to their mother/their father. Couple times I have accepted to bring messages and I have realized this has been a huge mistake. But hey, they asked me to be neutral, so I came to the point, I want to be neutral so DO NOT put me in between your issues! I keep my comments off from their kids, I do my best by keeping a routine as we use to do before that divorce. But I cannot be a mother or father for them, and sometimes divorced parents forget to remember that they parenting skill are not done yet! Sometimes I keep my mouth shut too, I bit my tongue. For the good sake of the kids, I know they want to find still somebody that "hasn't change at all". Oh yes, it is so hard, and honestly, I am counting my days to finish my contract. At the end, my heart brakes down when I see the kids suffering, silently. But I cannot also sacrifice my own life for a situation I did not ask to happen neither the kids. It is time for some parents to really grow up and mature!

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