Often times, conflict can arise when personal boundaries have been crossed between a family and their nanny. Let’s face it, having someone work in your home is bound to push professional and personal boundaries. A Wall Street Journal article called “When the Nanny-Parent Relationship Gets Too Personal” discussed a survey of nanny employers, “63% of respondents said they have helped their nanny with some aspect of her personal life, such as school applications…a third had given their nanny extra furniture. It was clear most parents hadn’t quite figured out how to manage the relationship with this family member-employee hybrid.”
Setting the Stage: You have to set the tone from the beginning, even if you think you and your nanny would be great friends. This includes mutual professionalism, respect, and regular meetings (whether they are formal or more informal, they can still stay professional while being personable).
Professional Meetings: Try to use these meetings to discuss the children and the job, with minimal emphasis on personal lives. Remember that personal is a subjective concept for each party. Get to know sensitivities of your nannies and be sure to express your own. The same article mentioned that “three-quarters of those surveyed also said they hadn’t let their nanny know when something was bothering them.” Difficult discussions should be easier to have when you have regular meetings that combine praise and constructive feedback.
Best Case Long-term Scenario: We are human and as the years go by, it will likely develop into a hybrid professional/personal relationship. As that becomes the case, it is important to guard the privacy of your nanny as you would like her to guard yours. At this stage in the game, there is true beauty in the bond! The WSJ article mentioned, “almost half said they planned to stay in touch indefinitely”. How great for your family to have this special person in your life forever! My former nanny was with us for four years, and our lives are forever intertwined. We shared many joyful times, and we endured difficult personal situations together. I treasure our relationship, and to this day, she spends time with my children and I off the clock, even as she is now a mom herself.
To give yourself the best chance for long-term success with your nanny, treat them as a professional, meet with them regularly, and then let the personal relationship grow slowly and appropriately.
For more information on hiring a nanny with Mom’s Best Friend, visit our placement page.