A Resource for Nannies and Families

The Professional Nanny

Nannies come from all races, nationalities, religions, educational backgrounds, and ethnic groups. They may be young teens or grandmothers. The stereotype of nannies as working class people who lack skills for more productive careers just doesn’t hold. Yet some people, encountering a nanny with a college degree, will still ask, “Why is she a nanny?”

These myths are dying slowly with the establishment in the United States of professional nanny schools and the growing realization of the important need for a good, professional nanny. In response to a still growing demand, nannies come from all backgrounds, including credentialed teachers and those with advanced degrees and a broad range of work experiences.

Society can be quick to judge which professions are important and which are not. Those who devote their time to working with young children are apt to find themselves categorized as part of an unimportant segment of society, as if anything to do with childhood were unacceptable to “grownups.” Yet such parents will also say that the most important people in their lives are their children and that they demand excellent child care. Thus nannies get mixed messages and wonder if they have made the right career choice to become a professional nanny. The unfortunate result is an effect opposite to what is needed: better educated nannies who make a long-term commitment. Due to the lack of general support and societal recognition, highly experienced, professional nannies regularly leave the profession, deciding with the uninformed public that this profession is acceptable only for younger adults or as a temporary job.
Thus societal pressure can force nannies who love what they do to leave their careers, and this leads to regrets. A person who decides to become a professional nanny and loves doing so will have a difficult time in switching to something entirely different. And what a loss to children and families! The decision to work with children is more of a calling than a simple career choice.

From my own experience and observations I have developed a list of traits that seem to me to make up a good, professional nanny. She’s a very valuable person. She has a sense of humor, good listening skills, and an abundance of energy. She is also flexible and easygoing, non-judgmental, kind, generous, and adventurous.

Unfortunately some nannies use their profession only as a stepping stone. I always feel slightly uncomfortable around these nannies because it is easy to see that their heart is not in it. It is easy also to see that their charges do not always receive the best care.
Nannies who are committed to the profession

Believe that they are always open;
Believe in children’s rights and respect them;
Believe that doing a good job can impact a child’s life forever;
Believe that every day is an opportunity to teach a child something new and help the child become more independent;
Believe that they contribute to society in helping to raise the next generation;
Believe that all children have endless potential and creativity that needs to be nurtured and pursued;
And believe that they love the child in their care as much as if it were their own.

The greatest characteristic of the professional nanny is that she would not hesitate to put her own life in jeopardy to save the life of a child in her care.

In general, nannies who feel happy and fulfilled with what they do provide wonderful care and could not envision themselves doing anything else. Nannies are not made, but born. To many families, nannies are a true godsend.
Nannies should be rewarded.

When no one is around to praise you, give yourself a pat on the back and say, “I’m doing a great job.”

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