Sunday

Should I come clean to my employers and tell them who their best friend really is?

Received Sunday, March 11, 2007
I worked for a family as a live-in nanny for four and a half years. They are absolutely fabulous people who very quickly grew to be like my second family. Now that I am not working for them I still try and visit once a week, usually for dinner. When I left them (two months ago) they decided to get an au pair instead of another nanny because their kids are now 8 and 12 and having a "professional nanny" isn't as much of a priority as it was when I first began caring for them. They are fabulous candidates for an au pair, in my opinion, because they are incredibly welcoming and really make their caregiver a part of their family in every way they can.

The only dark spot of my time with this family revolved around their close neighbor and best friend, who I'll call Mr. X. The X family lived 2 houses away and have two kids about the same age as the ones I cared for. I really enjoyed talking to Mrs. X, and although her children were rather spoiled and a bit out of control, I always enjoyed having them over for playdates (as long as their babysitter or mom was close by if we ran into problems). Mr. X, on the other hand, was not a person I enjoyed dealing with. From the first time I met him he made me very uncomfortable. I think he's the type of person who enjoys making people, especially young girls, uncomfortable. He would do little subtle things, such as complimenting me on clothes I was wearing, but in a very suggestive way, like saying, "God you look good in that bathing suit, if I wasn't married . . . " And he'd always go out of his way to touch me, never in an overtly sexual way, but definitely in ways I found inappropriate, like standing behind me and massaging my shoulders.

So, basically the guy is just a slimy kind of creep, but I'm not a babe in the woods, and although I found his advances unpleasant, I am able to stand up for myself. I'd move away from him when he was touching me, ask pointed questions about his wife and kids when I thought his comments were crossing the line. But, despite how close I felt to the parents who I worked for, I never once told them how I felt or what Mr. X did & said because the X's are their absolute best friends. They think he walks on water, and since I wasn't worried that he was going to do anything beyond some mild verbal harassment, I never told them anything and just dealt with it on my own.

However, I'm worried a bit for the girl who is now in my place. She's 18 years old, Scandinavian, beautiful and very sweet. I worry that she's not going to be able to deal with Mr. X as easily as I did. I think she's great for the family, and it makes me feel less guilty for having left them, since the kids are getting along with her so well and the transition has gone so smoothly. I'd hate to have Mr. X ruin things by upsetting her and making her working environment so very uncomfortable (and he's completely capable of doing that!). It would be even worse if she actually found him attractive (he's not an unattractive man, unfortunately for this situation) and gave in to his advances.

What should I do? Should I come clean to my employers and tell them who their best friend really is?

36 comments:

Anonymous said...

Why don't you just tell the aupair what you think about him and let her deal with it? If she sin't able to deal with his advances, she will have to either learn to stand up for herself or live with the consequences. As for the comment, that is beyond "subtle", and considering he is around the children you used to care for, I would have told your employers immediately in case he was saying the same things to them.

Anonymous said...

I'm the OP, thanks for your advice 4:26. I have thought about talking only to the aupair, but as we're not very intimate, I'm not sure it will stay between her and I. Maybe that's not a bad thing, though, and I'm definitely considering it.

As for your fear that he would say similar things to the kids, that was never a concern of mine. He was never inappropriate with the children, or really even in front of the kids. There is a huge difference between learing over a 22 year old girl and a 8 year old child! In no way did I intend to imply that Mr. X is a pedophile. If I suspected he had even the slightest intentions of making the kids I care for uncomfortable in any way you can bet that I would have spoken up immediately. The fact is he's a good father, just not a particularly good husband, in my judgement.

Anonymous said...

I would just ask the au pair in a very open ended way, "hey have you met Mr. X" and see what she says. I would follow it up with "yeah he's quite a character". Without saying anything negative you are atleast letting her know you "know" him.

I don't think this is worth going to have an elaborate conversation with the au pair with behind your employer's back. You worked for that family for 4 1/2 years. The au pair is going to be there one year tops. I wish that my last nanny had stayed involved with our family, but I don't think I would love to think of her necessarily befriending the new nanny. Do you know what I mean?

Safeguard your relationship with your former employers. It sounds admirable.

Helen said...

If you contacted my present nanny behind my back, even if you were coming to Sunday dinner- I would assume you were talking about me.
That wouldn't be good.
And the story you have to justify why you were talking to her seems rather silly. Don't lose sleep over the new au pair. I doubt she's worth your time.

Anonymous said...

Wow, Helen, I'm a bit shocked by your response. It's not just the au pair I'm worried about, it's the whole family. The kids have been put through a transition, albeit a relatively smooth one, and I would like her to suceed in her job because this is a family I care deeply for.

The parents I used to work for believe I am an integral part of the new nanny's life. We overlapped for 3 weeks, and they have been encouraging us to socialize by getting us Broadway show tickets, suggesting I take her to museums, etc. I don't think that they share your concerns, and I certainly don't share your casual attitude. These people are my family, plain and simple.

Anonymous said...

Let Miss Scandanavia deal with it herself. If she's uncomfortable, hopefully she'll tell her bosses herself.

Anonymous said...

Three years ago I completed 2 years with a family that spoiled me rotten. Gifts, travel, even bought me a car as my departing gift. I too, had a "crossover" period with the new nanny and she asked me a lot of questions about the neighborhood, other mothers and my employers. I just couldn't risk something I said being misconstrued so I redirected her to my former employer, who is still a friend of mine. Not a close friend, but someone I am excited to hear from when she calls. If there was one thing I would have wanted to warn her about it would be her husband (who is semi-famous) and how he "accidentally" exposed himself to me atleast a dozen times. Most often he had a "wardrobe malfunction" with his swim strunks or basketball shorts. I didn't because I didn't want to burn any bridges. Yes there is a big difference between a husband and a neighbor. If you are as close as you claim to be, you could tell the employer the story as "I never told you this while I was working for you" but I woudln't necessarily say it in a way that it presumed anything about the new au pair. Some women just avail themselves to sexual innuendo from men. Perhaps you were one of them & the new au pair is more chaste?
I am not judging you, but you said the neighbor, Mr. X was attractive and I felt the same fleeting attraction to Mr. Ex-Posure. Maybe he picked up on it?

Rockin' Bod Mom said...

In my experience, hot women know how to conduct themselves. Those not so hot women lose restraint the instant they get a tittle of attention.

Is she hot or not?

If she is hot, I bet she can handle her own.

Anonymous said...

I think some posters here aren't aware of how naive and young 18 from another country can be. Also the language differences may make subtle hints such as "what a character, eh?" to not be recieved as intended.

To OP, your intentions are admirable but I think you have to stay out of it right now. Any words to the au pair may just make her nervous and have implications to the former employers' trust. And any words to the employers - what will it accomplish other than color your currently great relationship with them? Will they keep away from Family X all of a sudden?

If you are spending time with the family and au pair, you can watch the situation and if the au pair starts to act differently, or ask you for advice, that is a different story.

Anonymous said...

I am appalled by some of these responses, especially Helen. Cold!
The new au pair is an 18 year old kid on her own in a foreign country, with no family or friends. I think OP's concern for her is admirable. I would just tell her frankly what you told us, so she can be on her guard, and avoid getting into awkward situations.
A nanny

Anonymous said...

What famous person showed off his junk to you?
I need to know!

Anonymous said...

I live in Harrison and I wouldn't want my children in that area of Port Chester. There is an enormous public housing complex directly across the street from that Plaza!

Anonymous said...

I live in Harrison and I wouldn't want my children in that area of Port Chester. There is an enormous public housing complex directly across the street from that Plaza!

Anonymous said...

rockin bod mom? "hot" women know how to handle themselves?
oh my god, what has this world come to. your poor, poor kids...

Anonymous said...

Rockin Bod Mom,
Weren't you a regular on a certain mommy board? Always talking about how you sat at the desk on your exerball, swam 2 hours a day and if you are the same, didn't you offer pictures of yourself in a bathing suit to serve as inspiration to a WW person who had 20 lbs to lose???????

Anonymous said...

You sound like a trouble maker looking for justification to bud in.

Anonymous said...

Where is Mr. X?
He sounds hot.

fg said...

About this semi-famous flasher, was it a worthwhile expose'? Also, the Scandinavians are quite free and unreserved when it comes to sex, but that's not the point is it? There's a pervert living next door and who knows, as the children get older, he could be a danger to them. I'd tell the female employer and let her decide how to deal with it. But tell someone. These guy don't stop and always get worse.

jmt said...

Sexual innuendo and unwanted touching is a hostile act, and indicative of a disrespect of women. Exposure of the privates even more so. It's predatory, no doubt.
I had too many men in my life do this to me starting around puberty through adulthood. The abuse took many different forms. OP didn't say whether the 8 and 12 year olds were boys or girls. If girls, they could be coming into the age where Mr. X will no longer think of them as children but as targets.
I think the OP should warn the au pair and let her know she is not alone. It's going to happen. Also, she should tell the former employer. She should know who is lurking about her kids and employees. Silence only gives these creeps the freedom to continue. Besides, Mr X could force the au pair to leave by making her uncomfortable or fearful, and the employer would never know why.
Please tell them.

Anonymous said...

Being a nanny myself, I think you should def let her in on the Mr X situation. If she is comfortable dealing with his advances she will appreciate the heads up, and she will deal with it herself, If she's not comfortable then she will quit or just choose to not hang out with him and his kids..I don't see why Mr X is such a big part of your other family either. I have been a nanny for my family for 2 years now and have never once met their "best friends" during working hours...

Anonymous said...

Sorry to break it to you, but Mr. X has been screwing your employer for years now. This complimenting you was just banal hugger-mugger. Face it, Mr. X is one fine looking cockscomb and talking to your employer about him will make her green eyed and ill at ease.

Little Children?
See the Movie if you haven't.

Anonymous said...

fg,
Quite frankly, it frightened me. It was- shall we say - 'unprocessed'.

Anonymous said...

as a nanny, here is my .02.

there is one family that i worked for as a nanny in the past and still consider them to be family to me. i visit them often and they fly me out to visit, etc. we were very, very close for a few years. i know that if something was bothering me about something similar to your experience, i would tell them and they would listen.

if there is a mutual respect there, then i would sit them down and start off by letting them know it was a hard decision to make, but you felt it was eating away at you and you had to talk to them.

i'd be interested to see how it goes! trust your gut!!

The Babysitter said...

I would tell them, and the new nanny... Just to be safe.

Though the news may not go over well.

Anonymous said...

He is a pervert. You need to tell your past employer about the situations he would put you in. This is wrong and I would not want my children around such a person. She can do with the information as she wishes, but at least you did your part about warning her of a possible molester.

fg said...

11;46
OH, possibly a European then?

Anonymous said...

The behavior you are describing is called "sexual harrassment" when it happens in an office setting.

Men who do this sort of thing don't stop until they are stopped. They don't take "hints". They push the boundaries until something pushes them back.

OP, please say something to your previous employer (the wife, not the husband). Keep it calm, not accusing, and you may find that the wife knows her husband is a jerk in that way... and you may be able to suggest that she warn the new au pair as well. Regardless of whether he ever "tries anything", if he's making her uncomfortable, she won't be as good with the children.

Anonymous said...

I think you should tell them. I know that I would want to know if my "friend" is harassing my nanny in any way. She's part of the family and also a friend and if he hurts her, then he hurts me.

Anonymous said...

Wow...I don't even know how to handle that question....

I would say something to the nanny, yet not come right out and say it. DO ask her if she has met Mr. Xposing Myself, Am I Hot? and what she thinks of him. DO NOT come right out and say that he did this or he did that. It can ruin your reference from this family. Also, keep in mind, that like parents, wives can be in denial about their husband's behavior. Communication is the key to a great nanny/parent relationship.

Talk to the wife, and be professional about it. State your concerns in a matter of fact way, and see what she says. If she doesn't want to listen, then she may have to find out for herself about her husband. And where does she want to find out? After she finds out her husband cheated on her with the au pair?

18, Scandinavian? He didn't happen to hire this girl, did he?

Hmmmm....keep us posted!

Anonymous said...

You guys have reallys strayed pretty far from the original post. The nanny was writing about a neighbor, not the husband! And he never exposed himself to her, just hit on her.

Anonymous said...

It is not the employer dad who is doing the harassing, it is the neighbor who is a friend of the employers. Read more carefully people!

jmt said...

The "unprocessed" exposer was from a responding poster. Priceless description, BTW. Love it.

nanny in MN said...

I too am a nanny. Honestly I would tell your previous employers. Choose whoever you think would take it the best, or if you feel it they both would be fine, tell them both.

I suggest telling them in a calm manner, as others have said to do. I would also not talk about this at dinner time, but rather when the children are not around.

I would state your concern for the current au pair and point out the things mentioned such as the language barrier.

I would also tell the parents that when it happened to you that it was unpleasant, and that your concern is that the current nanny might feel the same way and not know what to do. I would also state to them that you are not wanting to step on their toes, or ruffle their feathers, but that this is a concern of yours. And since you feel as though you are a trusted extension of their family that you really needed to tell them this because you have experienced it first hand.


All in all, I would tell them. Please I beg of you. I wish someone had done the same for me, with the job I just left because of a similar situation.

Anonymous said...

Staying in contact with the former nanny/former nanny employer is such a symbol of status. Enviable, really. What a recipe for success. Not just for the new nanny but for the children and for the employers to have this back up person to call on. How truly wonderful. Guard that relationship by telling the mother your concern. Tell her honestly that you were ambivalent about saying something.

Anonymous said...

I think it's terrible to tell her to keep quite in case someone gets mad at her, as if she is doing something wrong. Blaming the victim! I think she should tell the mom about it privately not the new nanny.

jmt said...

10:50 Why not tell the new nanny too? She's the one who is going to be pestered by Merv the Perv, not the Mom. Just tell her, "Hey, when this guy visits several times a week, stay away from him." Mom may not say anything to the au pair.
And you are right about not blaming the victim.