On one hand, you worry if your child prefers the nanny over you, on the other hand, you were that the nanny’s not “parenting” the way you’d prefer. Yesterday, Parents Ask contributor Erik Fisher discussed caregivers that may be undermining your parenting. Today he offers some helpful hints to help deal with the situation:
Q: We’ve had the same wonderful nanny for 8 months but I’m starting to feel like she “knows more” than me. I ask her to give the baby a certain food and later that day I find out that she has given her another. Same thing with naps…. I prefer a strict schedule and she is fine with her sleeping in the stroller or in her arms. I feel like she should do what I want and what’s in the best interest of the baby. What should I do?
As parents, many of us have our ideas of what we feel is in the best interest of our child and how we want them raised. It is our hope that those caring for our children are of like mind and will espouse those similar beliefs, attitudes, and qualities. But, when it comes down to it, we are at the mercy of those who care for our kids when we are not present.
So what happens when your childcare is undermining or not consistent with the structure that you work to define with your children? Many of us have seen the nightmares of childcare workers abusing children, and this is a true tragedy that can have long-term impacts, but there are more subtle yet still long-term consequences that can occur when the people who care for and/or educate our children are passive-aggressively defying, manipulating, and/or disregarding rules that we have put in place.
Here are some tips to help you deal with the situation:
1. Observe what’s going on. If your children can talk, ask them questions about what may be going on with their caregiver. If your kids are like my daughter, she’ll often give up the ghost while just talking about her day with us, and then I can ask more questions. The difficulty is when your child feels like he/she got this person in trouble, and/or the caregiver tells your child to keep a secret or blames you, as the parent, for having a problem with what the caregiver did.
2. Talk to your caregiver about your concerns. Don’t avoid it. Like a bad infection, it will only get worse and spread if you don’t deal with it. If you feel you may lose your temper when talking, try to script out your concerns, observations, and questions and do your best to follow that. Be concrete with examples and solutions. Provide a timeframe for change, and stick to it. Your child’s trust in you can depend on this.
3. Involve your child, but reassure her that what the caregiver does is not her fault. Sometimes kids can internalize guilt and shame. Even if she encouraged the caregiver to do what she did (which is where your child shares responsibility), your caregiver is responsible for her own actions, not your child. If your caregiver blames your child, give one quick correction; if it happens again, take your kid and run.
Does your nanny have a different parenting style than you? Here’s how to talk about it with her.