### Title: Confessions of a Live-In Nanny: The Unspoken Observations on Parenting

Essay by Eibhlis Gale-Coleman


The author was a live-in nanny.

  • Having served as a live-in nanny previously, I had the opportunity to observe a wide array of parenting styles, at times finding myself passing judgment.
  • It was not uncommon for me to witness parents either neglecting their children entirely or failing to provide them with sufficient attention.
  • In certain instances, the children even resorted to addressing me as “mom” due to the lack of quality time spent with their parents.

I spent two years as a live-in nanny in Sydney. While I had engaged in typical babysitting responsibilities since the age of 14, my transition to a live-in role with just a backpack in tow posed a new set of challenges and experiences.

In my capacity as a live-in childcare provider, I had a front-row seat to an assortment of parenting styles and methodologies.

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I developed fondness for all the families I worked with and nurtured a wonderful group of children. Throughout these interactions, I realized the importance of maintaining composure, competence, and a non-judgmental attitude. However, I must confess that there were moments when I found myself scrutinizing the parenting approaches.

The Concealment of Behavioral Issues During Interviews Troubled Me the Most

During the interview process, parents strive to find the ideal match for their child and a nanny. While I empathize with the predicament of busy corporate parents desperate to secure suitable childcare, I believe it is crucial not to gloss over persistent issues such as prolonged separation anxiety episodes. This tendency should be resisted.

I found it disheartening when parents withheld crucial information about their children during interviews, neglecting to disclose their genuine needs. While it is understandable that children may exhibit challenging behavior at times, it is imperative not to mask enduring behavioral challenges. Honesty is key; it allows me to address the issues effectively and provide better support to your child.

The Lack of Engagement with Your Child Disheartened Me

A recurring source of disappointment for me was witnessing what I refer to as the “brush off.” Imagine this scenario: after a day filled with enjoyable activities like park outings, ballet classes, and arts and crafts, the highlight for the child is the return of their parents.

However, some parents fail to grasp this concept. Instead, I have observed instances where parents offer perfunctory responses to their child’s achievements, such as a dismissive comment on a drawing or a lack of interest in their ballet class anecdotes.

I held a critical view of parents who overlooked the significance of engaging with their children upon returning home from work and showing little interest in their daily experiences.

Some Parents Were So Detached That Their Children Started Referring to Me as ‘Mom’

Occasionally, parents exhibited significant detachment, to the extent that they seemed oblivious to their own disengagement. It was unclear whether this detachment stemmed from fatigue or a lack of concern. However, it was evident to me, and the children subconsciously sought maternal attachment elsewhere, leading them to address me as “mom.”

While occasional slips are understandable, these instances were distinctive. I made gentle corrections each time, encouraging the children to address me by my name, highlighting the concerning shift in attachments.

At that juncture, it became apparent that the parents’ lack of involvement was resulting in a noticeable impact on their children.

In conclusion, despite the desire to portray nannies as impartial additions to the household, the reality is far more complex. Live-in nannies inevitably develop a deep care and concern for the children under their supervision, striving for their well-being.

We, as nannies, also harbor concerns about the repercussions of transient caregivers and the temporary nature of our contracts. Ideally, we aspire to provide a stable presence for your children. However, acknowledging the finite nature of visas and contracts, we recognize that our role is transient. Ultimately, it is the parents who remain the enduring figures in their children’s lives.