Friday

Perspective from a mother............

Received Friday, September 22, 2006
In 2004, I was caught completely off guard when I came face to face with the fact that my nanny had been abusive and negligent to my two children. Both children were under 4. I was at work on a Thursday afternoon when I got a call from the police in the town next over from that where we resided. The nanny had taken my children to the mall without permission and she had left both children in a minivan strapped into their car seats with treats and drinks while she went shopping. The children were in a large city inside a large, scary and dark indoor parking facility inside the vehicle (fortunately the weather was not a factor). My four year old son grew bored and got out of his carseat and opened the door to the minivan (setting off the car alarm, thank Goodness). I don't even want to imagine what could have happened. But had the alarm not went off and a mall security guard not observed my son attempting to unbuckle his two year old sister from her carseat, I would have never known what went on. The security guard called the police and contacted me. The nanny's excuse was of course that she "had" to run in to exchange something but it took longer than she had expected. Sadly, after speaking with the children we learned this wasn't the first such incident nor were the incidents limited to negligence. After we fired the nanny, we shared some of the details with friends and family. In almost every instance, someone said something to the effect of "I always thought..." or "she seemed..." or "I knew something was off". The time to tell someone you noticed something strange or suspicious isn't after the fact-but before. I am the mother, I leave the house every morning at 700 to work in NYC and don't return home until 730. When I was around or my husband was around, the nanny was fantastically attentive to the children. People are too hesitant to interfere these days. MYOB seems to be the order of the day, but I urge you to take action. If you interact with someone on a regular basis and you see things, please let the parent know. Provide the parents the information they need to evaluate the situation. If you are hesitant in anyway, send an anonymous note or email to the parent, but please do something.
Thank you for listening,
name withheld by request

27 comments:

Anonymous said...

MYOB? Other people should have told you? You leave at 7am and you don't return for another 12 hours.
What that nanny did is horrific - flog her - those children could have been seriously hurt. But I woulnd't have a dog if I had to leave him for 12 hours a day, most days of the week. BUt perhaps i am rash - if you are a single mother, divorced...you need to provide for them. Work work work then. But I will admit I am puzzled by people who have children only to leave them with the help while they work very long hours.

Anonymous said...

work less - be with your children more. For heaven's sake.

Anonymous said...

What ignorant responses. I am guessing they come from middle America where the average commute from the trailer to the tobacco barn is 2 minutes. The commute into NYC from New Jersey, Westchester, CT or Long Island can be horrific and add three hours to your day. All that is left is a regular work day. No one likes a commute. Sounds so odd that you would attack a mother. Awful. Awful.

Victoria said...

What an awful experience. I hope you found a great nanny. I had one bad apple (my first) and have since had three amazing nannies. The lovely woman with us now has been with us for four years. Good luck.

Anne said...

My commute is just as long. I work as an attorney in NYC. I resent the implication that because I dare want to have a professional life and a family that I too might deserve whatever harm comes to my children by a childcare provider.

Anonymous said...

Wow, don't be so critical of Mom! Maybe she's a nurse and works 12 hour shifts like I do, but only does it 3 days a week, and spends lots of time with the kids the other 4 days a week.

Anonymous said...

I work 12 hours a day as a nanny and would never judge a parent by the hours she or he works. My employers love their children, but also do what they have to to provide a safe and loving enviroment for them. They might both have to work but the took the time and effort to make a choice about their child's well being that they would be as comfortable as they can with. I know they still feel guilty, but I hope that knowing how much I adore their children and family helps with the fact that they have to be gone so long. No mother or father deserves an abusive nanny because they choose to work ON TOP of being a parent.

Anonymous said...

wow, I hope you are a brain surgeon or something like that in order to leave your children 12 hours a day in the care of someone like that. You really had no idea of the potential of this person?

Anonymous said...

If you're working twelve-hour days, perhaps it would be better to hire additional help rather than having one nanny on her own for all that time. It's arguable that this shouldn't be necessary, that plenty of people care for children 24/7 with no help, but one would probably get better care for the children by sharing the work among two or more (hired) caregivers.

Anonymous said...

I am astonished (well not really) about the attacks on this mother re: work hours.

Jeez, I'm gone 10 hours a day. I am gone because I have no choice. I have to work or we don't eat. I also have a long commute.

These self-righteous, self-superior SAHM's (presumeably) should just keep their mouth's shut.

Anonymous said...

I think it's important to realize that having children means changing one's priorities from 'I' to "We". It's a great balancing act - we shouldn't have to choose which comes first: our careers OR our children - they can be equally important (although i personally think my child beats out my career at the moment). It is always a personal decision to have children AND to have a career - and with that freedom of choice comes a huge responsibility - a parent MUST check out a prospective nanny to the nth degree! Our children need and deserve the BEST care possible but i think from my experience as a mom, i have noticed that many working moms feel guilty and in some ways, seem NOT to want to know what's really going on with their kids(emotionally) as long as they are physically ok and are fed, picked up from school etc. Now i am not judging working moms since i went back to work as well when my son was 16 months, but i quit after 4 months, the reason being i was gone for over 10 hours a day. I felt like i was missing out on my son's life and that someone else was raising him. I have told 2 moms face to face about the questionable behavior of their nannies toward their children, and each time, I was the 'bad guy' for delivering this unhappy information. It seemed like they resented me rather than be greatful for the info - so i think that's part of the reason why people are reluctant to interfere. So i am soooo happy for your site!!!! It's a great way to clue a mother in without putting myself in an uncomfortable situation. thank you! Also i wanted to remind everyone that none among us is perfect, and we ALL have bad days where we snap at our children wether we be moms or nannies, so let's just all try to be more compassionate and understanding toward one another. But definitely, there are WAY too many BAD nannies out there who need to be FIRED!!!!!
And hopefully, thanks to your site they will be !!!!!

Anonymous said...

I think it's important to realize that having children means changing one's priorities from 'I' to "We". It's a great balancing act - we shouldn't have to choose which comes first: our careers OR our children - they can be equally important (although i personally think my child beats out my career at the moment). It is always a personal decision to have children AND to have a career - and with that freedom of choice comes a huge responsibility - a parent MUST check out a prospective nanny to the nth degree! Our children need and deserve the BEST care possible but i think from my experience as a mom, i have noticed that many working moms feel guilty and in some ways, seem NOT to want to know what's really going on with their kids(emotionally) as long as they are physically ok and are fed, picked up from school etc. Now i am not judging working moms since i went back to work as well when my son was 16 months, but i quit after 4 months, the reason being i was gone for over 10 hours a day. I felt like i was missing out on my son's life and that someone else was raising him. I have told 2 moms face to face about the questionable behavior of their nannies toward their children, and each time, I was the 'bad guy' for delivering this unhappy information. It seemed like they resented me rather than be greatful for the info - so i think that's part of the reason why people are reluctant to interfere. So i am soooo happy for your site!!!! It's a great way to clue a mother in without putting myself in an uncomfortable situation. thank you! Also i wanted to remind everyone that none among us is perfect, and we ALL have bad days where we snap at our children wether we be moms or nannies, so let's just all try to be more compassionate and understanding toward one another. But definitely, there are WAY too many BAD nannies out there who need to be FIRED!!!!!
And hopefully, thanks to your site they will be !!!!!

Anonymous said...

Interesting that you are all calling for this mom to work fewer hours. What about the dad?

And what if there is no dad?

Being a working mother is not the same as being a negligent mother. Give a sister a break. It's amazing how, now that women have choices, we're at each other's throats. Instead of men holding us back, we hold each other back, like vicious cats.

(I work from home by the way.)

These comments are what we call "Mommy fly-bys."

Anonymous said...

I think part of the issue is why are people having children if they don't want to raise them.
I know this isn't really the place for this discussion but I think many people have children because they are "supposed to" not because they "want to".
We ALL need to remember that some people (men and woman) are single parents and have to make a living the best way they know how. Being a lawyer in NYC and working 12-15 hour days while the nanny watches your kids or having a factory job for 8 hours and then going to a second job.
If it is not your values your children are being raised with, why have children?

Rolling my eyes at the silliness said...

Throughout human history, women have used whatever help was at their disposal to raise children. In hunter-gatherer societies, grandmothers or otherwise less physically strong women were left to raise the children of the tribe while young mothers went out to gather nuts and other food sources (and fathers were off on extended hunts, during certain seasons). In Europe, for the last century, anyone who could afford to hired a wet nurse to breastfeed their children from infancy (to reduce the health risks to mothers and maybe even in an effort to keep infant mortality down) and usually had a staff of caregivers to raise them. Not to mention a tutor, back in the days before public schools existed.

The blind advocates of the "moms should stay home with their children" dogma live in a delusional world of their own ideals that has NEVER been reflected by reality. Ideally, all people would get to stay home and live with their family and enjoy their company all day everyday. Unfortunately, we live in a world where people have to labor to eat, live, and survive. If you want to THRIVE, add on a lot more work time to the average.

The 50s ideal didn't even exist in the 50s. Get over it. In our society, it's a luxury to stay home with your children. Children have been just fine for hundreds of thousands of years being brought up by caregivers who don't share common genetic ancestors.

Anonymous said...

I hope you had this nanny arrested. I certain would have.

Anonymous said...

That nanny should be charged with negligence, but...

My wife stays home with our kids and I would still never be at work over 12 1/2 hours a day. That's crazy! Where are your priorities people? Trade your BMW for a Hyundai and 6 bedrooms for 3 and actually live your life - instead of outsourcing it.

And by the way, I live outside DC, not on a corn farm.

Big Bill said...

So stop hiring cheap wetbacks for nannies Jane Doe! Pay a decent wage!

Or would that make it no longer worth your while to dump your kids on a stranger?

Or do you think that nannies and mothers who raise hildren deserve bupkis for pay?

If so, then let's revalue childrearing as the sort of job any moron can do, and while we are at it get rid of California's community property law since women who DO raise their own children aren't contributing anything to a marriage that is particularly special or valuable.

Anonymous said...

My two cents as a childcare provider and as a parent:
If you are working 12 hours a day and are away from your children for that long, you do have to ask yourself why have kids. Especially if you have been keeping these hours since their infancy, it does seem sad to me.
I just had my baby and I am working out of my home right now because I would never be able to leave her.
Many people say they "have" to work, they "have" to keep these hours, but it simply isn't true. They choose to, plain and simple. They should ask themselves how much is their car payment? (My husband and I have a used car that cost us 2000 dollars and we share it) what kind of food do you buy? (we buy only store brands and those on sale)How often do you eat out? (we very rarely do) Vacations? (We go camping quite a bit: it's cheap and fun.) How much do you spend on clothes? How often do you get your hair done in a salon? What kind of shampoo do you buy? Do you have HBO? Does your child have every Disney DVD under the sun? I could go on and on....but my point is that there are corners to be cut. Stop with the excuses and be honest: you like going on cruises, you like getting manicures, you enjoy shopping at Whole Foods, you like dring your Saab. Just admit it, people, you're greedy. Remember the best things in life are free!!
Ok I'm done.

Anonymous said...

Are you suggesting a Saab is something to aspire to or a reason to toil madly and stay away from your children? A Saab. What a joke!

Anonymous said...

I am suggesting that to some parents that is a reason: they choose expensive cars and the other things I listed over spending time with their kids, claiming that they need to work when they do not. They only work that much to be able to live the "good life", when if you ask me the good life means not missing out on things you can never get back, like your child's childhood!

Anonymous said...

My wife and I both have high powered careers. Mine is no more important than hers. Why do you assume she should remove herself from the career path? We both make small scarifices. I'll tell you this much. It is never enough. The time we are with the children is the best time. It isn't just quantity of time, quality is incredibly relevant.

Anonymous said...

That's BS and it's just you kidding yourself buddy. "Small sacrifices?" Please.
What about making big sacrifices? Are your kids not worth big ones? Only small ones?
You're a dic and your wife probably is too.

Anonymous said...

to the person who wrote:
"The time we are with the children is the best time. It isn't just quantity of time, quality is incredibly relevant."

This is kind of a cop-out. Are you saying that a parent who spends two days a week with their child is going to have the same relationship as one who spends every day with them? Five hours a week as opposed to 50+ ?
That's just not true. Your quality/quantity argument is merely an attempt on your part to ease your own guilt.

Anonymous said...

I know plenty of stay at home mothers who spend their time doing everything but taking care of their children. So, yes. That is exactly what I am saying. You need to make your children feel important to you. Not second to anything. Whether that is your job, your boyfriend, your computer, your television or your box of wine.

super nanny said...

Anyone can have a child which is sad. You have to have a license to drive, and even to fish for crying out loud. But any person on the face of this planet can have a child, and because of that too many sweet children are being neglected.
I have spent my whole life going to school, and working towards my career to become a pediatrician. 1 year before graduation I found out i was expecting. I finished what I could, but as soon as my son was born, my mother instincts set in and I gave up my career, and made huge sacrifices to stay home and be with my baby. I could be at work making huge money, and I could hire someone else to watch my child. But why? I want to raise my child, and be there for his "first" smiles, steps, tooth etc. ONce you have a child there is no being selfish. You bring someone into the world who is helpless and relies completely on you, and you only!! Don't take that away from them. Put your career on hold, and be there with your baby through his/her early years. Give up your expensive car, and salon visits, and expensive vacations like another post said as well, and make your financial situation suitable to be able to stay home with your little one. My son is now only 3 months old, and yes I could be making 100,000 dollars or more, but he is priceless, and instead I am a full time nanny, and a full time mom making less than 1,500.00 a month so I can be with the one I love. And the family I work for is a military family who has no choice but to work to be able to make it, and they also only have me there 6 hours a day. I would never agree to work for someone who neglects their child by leaving them 50+ hours/ week. These poor children being raised by their young, or unexperienced nannies when all they want is mom or dad to be around.

Anonymous said...

The comments here attacking Mom are ridiculous. I too work long hours because my job requires it and like all working moms do my best to juggle--taking time off for school and special events and spending one on one time with my kids daily. My kids are the most important thing in my life but my career is important to me too. Giving up a career that defines who I am as a person does not make me a better mother, and would set a bad example for my daughters. Even at an early age my 5 year old knows and is proud of what I do. When I moved from using the daycare center near my work to an at home nanny, I searched hard to find what I believed was a kind professional caring person who would make sure my children were getting the best of everything and I also had a very bad experience. We carefully searched for a mature nanny with lots of experience and offered a very generous salary and benefits. When I hired the nanny, both my husband and I both spoke to her references and they were very good(we now believe they must have been falsified). Plus, we hired an investigator and ran a thorough background check (driving, criminal, social security, etc). Even though I work 10 hours a day, I have the flexibility to telecommute and work off hours when needed. I took heavy advantage of that to observe the nanny and the kids to insure things were working out. The combination of my very good kids, who don't complain, and a manipulative con artist completely fooled me. The kids did not take to her right away, but I thought it was due to the change from daycare to nanny. After a few weeks, she suggested I try spending more time in the office since it is common for kids to act up a bit when the parents are at home. I did and she indicated they were getting along much better during the day. I spoke to the kids every night when we were playing board games or coloring and each night they said they liked the nanny. I still stopped by the house now and then to check everything was OK, but restricted my telecommuting to only one day a week. After 2 months my cleaning lady who comes in once a week (but on a flexible schedule since she has 3 kids of her own) came forward and said that she found the nanny sleeping on the couch twice when she came to clean. She said she hesitated to say something to me about the nanny sleeping on the job, but on the particular day she called me, she was very upset with the way the nanny was speaking to my children. I began asking around to see if other people in our neighborhood had observed something amiss and received no other negative feedback. We struggled with the decision for a few weeks, but I did feel the kids and her did not seem to have a warm relationship even after going on 3 months together, so I gave the nanny two weeks serverence pay and let her go, not sure I was making the right decision. It was only after we let her go did our neighbors (and even our neighbor's nannies) started to come forward and tell me about things my nanny did that were improper. For example, the nanny left my 5 year old girl alone on the soccer field after practice in the middle of the woods while she was taking a nap in my car in the parking lot. She also dumped my children off with their friends' nannies while she went somewhere in her car (even though one of the things I told her was that I don't want my 2 year old ever dropped off alone for playdates or activities). We were careful never to say anything negative about the nanny to our children, but now, 5 months after the nanny has left, my children are begining to tell me and their new nanny (who is wonderful and they have a caring, loving realtionship with) about their old nanny pinching their stomachs, hitting their feet and pulling their fingernails. She was obviously physically as well as verbally abusing them. Thank goodness we got rid of her when we did.