Thursday

Plea from a mother regarding letters of reference....

Received Thursday, December 7, 2006
Many nannies will be leaving their positions this time next year or not returning after the Holidays. I don't know why this is but it seems that January and September are the big hiring times for nannies. Some of these nannies will leave of their own volition, perhaps even because you failed to show your appreciation to them at the Holiday time. And for those nannies, I am sorry because if you are lucky enough to have a nanny that takes good care of your children and you trust her; there is no dollar amount that is worth.
However I am aware that many families make changes to their nanny/child care situation in January (and September). Some of you decide to go with daycare. Others decide to stay at home. In attempting to end things amicably, most of you will give the nanny severance pay and a letter of reference.
I am asking that you please show due diligence when writing a letter of reference for the nanny. If you have fired her because she endangered your children, please don't put in writing that she was wonderful and trustworthy. In small towns, we sometimes give a letter of reference that comes from a name we recognize more credit than it deserves. I appreciate you wanting to end things well with your nanny but do not provide a false reference for her just to get her out of your hair.
We had the misfortune this September of hiring a mother's helper/housekeeper type that came with a glowing child care references from someone who I knew of. During the first week, the employee left a full bucket of ammonia filled water in the laundry room which I was directed to when I found my child splashing in it! (We keep a very childproof home). I brought it to her attention and she apologized profusely and said she forgot so I let it go. The next time I left to run to the post office, I returned home to find my four year old had plugged in a hair straightened and curling iron and was using a cosmetic sponge to put on "pretend makeup" which was a bowl of water on her face! This person was not a horrible person, but she was no kind of child care provider. Upon investigation, I found out that the previous employer who wrote the glowing letter of reference for her had never ever left her alone with her child. (Although in her reference letter she speaks of how she was able to do just that and with tremendous ease!)
I was originally going to provide the first name of this person who is again looking for work. But I won't. I just ask all of you who are terminating employees to say as many great things as you want about them, but please do not overstate or outright lie about their experience with your children. It is unfair to put someone else's children in danger and for what? So you can feel better about firing someone who most likely deserved to be fired.
Thank you,
Lynnette

26 comments:

Lynnette said...

I should have enclosed more details. But the previous employer who had boasted of her abilities with children did not at any time employ her in any childcare capacity. Not only had she never left her children alone with her, but she they had never been entrusted to even her supervised care!

Anonymous said...

Personally I think that is much safer to get a background check done on any prospective employee.You can never tell with just references alone, even with somebody from an agency.

Anonymous said...

A background check is great. but it is only part of the research you need to look into before hiring the person responsible for your children. I cant believe a mother would be this irresponsible. That really troubles me.

HG said...

Who would do this?? I want to know. And Why???

Anonymous said...

if you were going to leave your child alone with someone, aren't you to blame for trying to squeeze housekeeping out of the deal?

Anonymous said...

don't you have legal recourse if someone puts your child in danger like that?

Anonymous said...

We just terminated our part time nanny of almost 2 years. We provided her with 3 weeks severance pay. When she asked for a good reference our answer was we would provide a "reference".

The other family that employs her the other days never asked us why we terminated her and gave her glowing reviews. The nanny is again working for another family but we were never called for a reference. Had the other family who employs her or anyone who was considering hiring her did call we would have told them that she was terminated because of safety issues, plus the nanny was not taking our daughter to story time classes but going shopping for 2 hours, lying about how our daughter spent the day, etc. My biggest disappointment has been that the other family that does employ her never asked why. That same family had fired the same nanny earlier this year and I called to find out why. My biggest concern was regarding the safety and happiness of my child. It turned out to be a dispute over a paid day off and that family begged her to come back after two weeks. They always said to me their 8 and 3 year old could tell them if anything was amiss. Well, I don’t think a three year old could verbalize that while my nanny wasn’t paying attention I ran out into the street!

I can't publicly bad mouth this person but I would be tormented if anything happened to another child she watches. Any recommendations?

Our new nanny presented at the interview with amazing written references but I called them and interviewed the employers about themselves as much as their nanny. Why? Because I've also had people give me references where the employers were not who they said they were. Can't hire someone who starts off the relationship on a lie. My advice is to follow up on all references and even then buyers beware.

mh said...

it does go the other way to- to the disadvantage of a great nanny when she is fired unfairly. I worked for someone for 4 years and we had a falling out that involved pay-not the children. Or there safety. Not only did she refuse to give me a reference, but she went out of her way to hint to anyone that would listen that there was something wrong with me. I saved every Holiday Card and birthday card she ever sent me as well as a letter of reference she wrote for me when I wanted to volunteer at the rehab hospital. And when she wouldn't give me a reference, I took all of this to the interview I went to (a block away from her) and explained the whole situation. I was hired and have been with this family for 3 years. They are so great and generous and flexible and being fired by the first family turned out to be the best thing that ever happened to me. I think giving a phony reference for someone should be criminal, especially when you lie to put someone else's children in danger. I am fortunate that I work for such an incredible family, but so many of you, I have to ask- have you no shame? The way you treat good nannies and tolerate dismal nannies.

Mel said...

I would have stomped that mother in the ground. What was she thinking? (Besides, good riddance?)

Anonymous said...

to the mother with the question:
Here is what Elliot Spitzer would say:
http://img75.imageshack.us/img75/1655/spitzer25qb.jpg

Ps you should send your questions in and have them posted as a blog entry to get more responses. This is a very tricky area!

Anonymous said...

I get sick and tired of hearing everyone talk about how good nannies can't do childcare and housework. I happen to do both as a nanny and think I do a fantastic job, so much my bosses begged me to stay when i said i wanted to go to school and even made arrangements so that I could still go while keeping my job. Nannies are no more than paid parents and can do everything moms can do. I happen to do light housekeeping, all cooking, errands, and all laundry. I never neglect the children to do work and get it all done during my work hours which is 7 to 6. I don't get paid as much as these NYC nannies, but at the end of the day, I work for a great family, have two girls who love me to death, and am respected by all the stay at home moms of the neighborhood. My bosses are great parents and with GREAT communication, they never miss out on anything, from a smile the baby gives me, to a cute remark by the toddler. Its all about communication, organization, routine and love. So don't say that good nannies can't do both, or that parents are horrible because they want their nanny to do it, just understand, children come first.

Anonymous said...

okay so water and electrical appliances and a 4 year old-not good? Am I right?

Annie said...

To anonymous 1:53...

I don't think anyone is claiming that nannies are not CAPABLE of housework, just that it is not our responsibility. If a nanny chooses to accept a job that require housekeeping as well as childcare, that is her perogative. There is nothing wrong with that, as long as she agreed to the duties.

Personally, I don't want to be a housekeeper and I will never accept a job where I am required to do more cleaning than just picking up after the children and keeping things tidy. I do run errands and such occassionally and am happy to do so. The house is always in perfect order when the parents come home. But I don't scrub floors or toilets or whatever. Am I capable of doing those things and still being a superior nanny? Sure. But I am not willing to do that. And my employers are thrilled with that. They don't WANT me to spend my days cleaning. They have a housekeeper who visits once a week for that.

I think it's really a matter of having similar expectations. The problem is not that ALL nannies should do house work or NO nannies should ever do housework. The issue is that each nanny/parent team needs to AGREE on what (if any) non-childcare related duties are expected of the nanny.

Anonymous said...

A nanny is a nanny.....not a cleaner......not a person who does "light housekeeping" or errands. Get a personal assistant or a cleaner.

Anonymous said...

I wouldn't have any respect for my nanny if she even offered to mop or scrub toilets! Ewwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww!

Anonymous said...

What do you mean that a nanny would not get a great bonus? I got $20,000 last year and a beautiful coach bag too. Many nannies I know get the same.I am in my present job 9 years and love it.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the Elliot SPitzer wisdom. I can't go a day without him guiding me in some way.

Anonymous said...

I am one of "those NYC nannies", and I'd like to suggest to the nanny who said she does housekeeping and it doesn't affect the quality of child care she gives, that it is a little different in NYC. You don't have a yard for the children to play in. All outdoor play requires an adult to take them to the playground or park, and supervise them the entire time. Many apts. have laundry facilities in the basement of the building, and if the nanny does laundry, she must take the children with her to the laundry room. Most apts. are very small and cramped compared to a house, and nannies spend a lot of time taking children to classes and playgroups where there are other children, and space to play. The reality is, if the nanny is also the housekeeper, the children spend a lot of time parked in front of the TV, so she can get the cleaning done, while their friends with childcare only nannies are in the playground.

Anonymous said...

stop getting off tangents. i am very scared at the thought that a mother would provide someone with a false reference.

Anonymous said...

What do nannies do when the children are at school? I am asking full time nannies that don't do housework. Because my nanny does some light housework while the children are at school and I think it is fair because (1) It was in her employment contract and (2) I pay her for the hours when the children are at school.

Anonymous said...

it takes a certain kind of (low rent) nanny to take a nanny job that requires housekeeping.

Anonymous said...

To Anonymous 2:42 PM
"I wouldn't have any respect for my nanny if she even offered to mop or scrub toilets! Ewwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww!"

That is the most ignorant comment. Does that mean you dont have respect for your housekeeper, mother, cousin or the majority of the woman out there that must scrub their own crap bowl?

Besides nannies have to eat and pay bills too, there is nothing wrong with offering to do extra work for extra money.

Anonymous said...

To the poster who said "The reality is, if the nanny is also the housekeeper, the children spend a lot of time parked in front of the TV, so she can get the cleaning done"...thats a load of bull, my girls never watch tv except maybe a half hour a week. Its called being productive and getting things done when the opportunity arises. for instance, what are you doing when the children are eating their meals? why not tidy up the kitchen at the same time, keeping conversation going. Or having them help you match up socks while your folding laundry, it does help with color matching. I think it takes a unique person to do both childcare and housework at the same time, without relying on the tv. ps..moms do it all the freakin time! so what makes us nannies any different. and no, i am not the low rent type of nanny, I get paid quite well thank you very much, i think its just those nannies who think they are to good to do housework and that its above and beyond their job, well quess what, its not. i mean, gasp, what are you going to do when your a mother and have to do it all? I'll tell you what, your gonna wish you had a nanny who could help you out.

Anonymous said...

I have a housekeeper to clean my house.

Anonymous said...

I am enraged just thinking about the kind of person who would act so recklessly and with such disregard for children.

Anonymous said...

I think that it is a completely different situation for doing some light child=related housekeeping if the children are in school part-time or full-time. Child related meaning, the organization/sterilization of toys, tidying bedrooms/play areas, restocking kid's food, etc. No, a nanny should not, in my opinion, be cleaning toilets or mopping floors. And, I know from personal experience that some days I have more time to do things than others. If I feel like it & there is an ample opportunity, I might do something extra but because I want to, not because it is expected. Also, I don't think that you should be trying to vaccuum the floor while kids eat, etc. You should be eating with them, engaging them in good manners & eating habits & being properly social. There are plenty of things that parents and/or nannies will try to get away with. Be proactive about your wants & needs and you will be much happier. Every nanny thinks she is doing her best, and every parent thinks they know what is best. ALSO...I do not think a nanny is a "paid parent". Think about the implications of that. I would never sit down & watch a movie, drink a glass of wine, or run hours of errands with my charges. I have different responsibilities and can not live my everyday life at work. Parents can. The end =)