I confess, when working as a nanny there is nothing more embarrassing, patronizing, or demoralizing then when a parent criticizes me in front of the kids.
Each and every day each parent and nanny is called upon to make decisions regarding the raising of children. Not only may two parents have different parenting styles, different hot buttons, and different expectations than their spouse, when they hire a nanny there’s a third personality that has been raised by different parents and taught different values and discipline methods that helped shape who they are.
Both nannies and parents make mistakes every single day. Parents and nannies need to communicate about differences and issues they have with one another. But, when parents need to discuss issues with their nannies they ought to do so privately -- not in front of the children.
Undoubtedly, parents and nannies can never agree all the time. But here's how parents and nannies should communicate, to avoid criticizing the other in front of the kids:
1. Have Regular Discussions About the Kids Without the Kids Present
Most nanny industry experts suggest the parents and the nanny have a weekly meeting. In my experience this just isn’t possible. When parents come home tired from a hard day of work, they are bombarded by their kids who miss them and need their parents’ undivided attention. Instead, simply have open lines of communication when needed. The meetings need not be in-person. Nannies and parents should determine what is the most effective way to communicate. Some may find texting works fine, or emailing might be most convenient, and daily logs are always a great way for nannies to communicate with the parents.
2. Support Each Other Publicly in Front of the Kids
Adults must present a united front so children can’t divide and conquer. It also undermines the parental authority if one parent or the nanny doesn’t support the other.
3. Check With the Parents to See What They Have Decided
Many children will use the one-liner, “Dad said that I could” to get what they want. There are few discipline decisions that can’t wait for a few minutes. The nanny should ask the source. The nanny should always call or text the parent and confirm if what the child is saying is true. Plus, the parents may have other discipline ideas for the nanny to consider. Again, this demonstrates to the children that the parents and nanny support each other. There is always more than one way to do discipline , potty train, and raise children properly.
4. Respect the Parents No Matter What
It doesn’t matter if the nanny disagrees with the choices made by the parents, or if she is mad at them for unrelated issues, she must never speak harshly about the parents in front of the children. Nannies should always discuss their concerns respectfully with the parents, but also listen to their opinions and try to incorporate the parents’ choices and decisions when it comes to raising their children.
5. Parents Trump All
No matter how strongly a nanny feels about her style of child-rearing, she is not the parent. Parents make the major decisions in raising their children. Nannies are hired to support the parents’ wishes.
6. All Parents are Doing the Best They Can
I’ve never met a parent that doesn’t love their children. And, all parents are doing the best they can (and of course hopefully the nanny is too). Each child is an individual and no child-rearing technique works the same way every day for every child. It takes a lot of work and creativity to raise children, with new challenges popping up daily. Parents don’t deserve to be scrutinized under a microscope, but neither do nannies.
Raising kids is never easy. But, no matter hard it gets, parents and nannies must work hard, be creative, communicate openly, and support one another so that children in their care develop to their best potential.