A Resource for Nannies and Families

Manage a Nanny Relationship

Managing a relationship with a nanny or person who lives or works in one’s own home is surely an art – consider spouses, in-laws, aging parents, and one’s own children. Nannies should be included in the list, whether live-in or – out, especially as it is the nanny’s responsibility to manage those very children. The nanny/employer relationship calls for objectivity because, when things don’t quite work out, it’s easy to fire the nanny if you don’t know her well enough to know better. And then you’ll have to start all over.


The only solution is mutual understanding, – each of you knowing (and accepting) where the other is coming from, which may be the opposite direction. Thus the bullet list below contrasts “Qualities needed to succeed in a chosen career” and “Qualities needed to meet the needs of a growing child.”

This bullet list comes from Children of Fast-Track Parents, by Andree Aelion Brooks, an established writer for the New York Times and authority on children’s issues.

This chart might almost have been titled, “Manage Nanny Relationship,” as the contrast between the two types is presented as absolute. Whether or not the contrast between you and your nanny is absolute it may be useful to examine your relationship in such a light. After all, a “working parent” goes outside the home and must orient herself toward that environment, while a nanny prefers to work inside the home. Her orientation must be different.

Further, a nanny is hired to complement the parents’ skills, to serve in their absence, and to contribute in ways that grandmothers, aunts, big sisters and neighbors used to contribute. Like extended family members, a good nanny offers benefits that a parent will not always agree with but that often turn out to be the best thing for a child.

We can offer help (articles from various viewpoints a sample Contract, which also includes a format for periodic conferencing, and a Job Evaluation form,) but you must do the work. We can only emphasize that the best assurance of a good working relationship is good communication. The best basis for communication is mutual understanding.

*A constant striving for perfection
*Mobility
*A need to be free from time constraints to pursue an independent life
*Impatience
*A goal-oriented attitude toward the project at hand
*A way of operating based upon consistent rules and procedures
*A total commitment to yourself
*A stubborn self-will
*Efficiency
*A belief that succeeding must always be the top priority
*A controlling nature that enjoys directing others
*A concentration on essentials
*A concern about image
*Firmness
*A feeling that nobody is as smart as you
*An ability to create a family that is supportive of your career
*A preference for concise information
*An insistence on high standards
*A need to maintain an executive role over others
*An exploitation of others
*A tolerance for repeated errors
*Stability
*Plenty of time for family activities
*Patience
*An acceptance of the seemingly capricious nature of child-rearing
*A way of operating based on the constantly changing nature of the child-parent relationship as the child grows
*A total commitment to others
*A softness and willingness to bend
*A tolerance for chaos
*An understanding that failure promotes growth
*A desire to promote independence in others even if their ways are not your ways
*An ability to digress just to smell the roses
*A relaxed acceptance of embarrassment
*Gentleness
*A true respect for your child’s abilities free from comparison with your own
*An acknowledging that children have their own agenda
*A willingness to listen patiently to prattle to help develop a child’s articulateness
*A genuine tolerance for the lack of certain abilities
*A respect for the child’s right to total independence after a certain age
*An ability to put another’s needs ahead of one’s own.

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