Sunday

..."Stress Explosions"....

Received Sunday, July 1, 2007
Just found this web site and have had a great time reading so far! I have a question for other nannies, and also parents. I recently started a new nanny job (no contract, but verbal commitment of one year) and I have no been there over two months. The Mother is great... she works outside of the home, while the Dad works 80% from home upstairs in his office. He's a great guy and we get along fabulously. Except when the baby cries. He immediately gets stressed out and often cusses the baby (under a year old) out for not stopping right away. He completely takes over even if the baby has only been crying or whining for 30 seconds. During his "stress explosions" as I call them, he's begun to snap at me as well.

Both parents always tell me I am a great nanny for their only child and that they are glad they found me. Everything is great in the home besides these very uncomfortable moments with the Father. My questions: Is this normal/acceptable? I have never experienced anything like it in 10 years of being a nanny. Also, every single nanny job I have had, ended on good terms (someone moving, kids grown, etc) so I'd like to quit this job but hate to leave them stuck without anyone, but also not wanting to give a 2 week notice since it would be EXTREMELY uncomfortable those last few weeks. When they hired me, they expressed they were quite upset with their previous nanny who quit with them to go back to school. Help!

26 comments:

nynanny said...

this is verbal abuse and you don't have to take it! i understand that you care for this family and don't want to upset them by quitting but there are plenty of good (and bad!) families out there! you don't have to stay with them and it is an ABUSIVE relationship! at some point things will escalate and then what?!

Anonymous said...

If I were you, I'd start looking for another job now. Our nanny just quit to go back to school, and we're very happy that she's pursuing her life's goal. The dad sounds strange and I would think the situation is only going to get worse. Also, if you've nannied successfully for 10 years, you probably have plenty of great references and don't have to worry about this short term job. Good luck!

Anonymous said...

How sad that your a good enough person to not want to hurt them even though you are dealing with dad and his stupidness...Leave them in the dust. You dont need one more minute of that...you deserve better..Your a good nanny and those are few and far between...go find a family that truly deserves you!

Anonymous said...

I would probably look for a new job too, the dad seems unstable. If you are unwilling to do that you could discuss the situations with the child's mother. I also hope that dad does not hurt the child when he gets stressed out with the crying, that is something I would worry about and pay attention to. Also, is there a way to move the baby somewhere else when they start crying so that the father could not hear the baby crying?

Heidi said...

You will likely not get their recomendation after leaving, so I would be honest and tell the mother why you are quitting. She is probably busting her ass at work and taking comfort in the fact that Dad is home with the baby- no doubt as an extra pair of eyes on Y.O.U.

I am not suggesting the father is a bad person. Many people, mothers but more likely fathers feel so helpless when a child cries and there is no immediate solution. His reaction to the child's crying is frightening. You have ever right to be concerned.

Anonymous said...

Since you are reluctant to quit, I suggest the following: get the dad a copy of The Happiest Baby on the Block by Harvey Karp, M.D. It has very clear descriptions of effective soothing techniques, and may help him understand why babies cry. I would ask to sit down and discuss the situation. Say you understand it must be hard for him to work when the baby cries, but that he may be communicating his frustration to the baby, and that will add to baby's stress, causing more crying.
I think having a parent at home trying to work with an infant in the house is a tough job for a nanny in any case, and if the two of you can't work together to improve the situation it would probably be best for you to move on. Good luck,
A nanny

knl said...

I have never experienced such a problem! My first nanny job was for a family where the dad had his office in the basement. He didn't interfere with me at all. But on days that he heard the baby crying a lot and the toddler throwing tantrums, he would step in from time to time, and I must admit I definitely appreciated it.

I have also worked for two families where the mother worked from home. They both stayed out of my way unless the crying had been going on for an extended period of time. In fact, the one mother had me there to "teach" her how to care for the baby. She had absolutely no experience and wanted help getting the baby to on a schedule and getting her to go to sleep on her own.

That being said, I can understand where you are coming from with the dad working from home. However, I do not have expereience with such outbursts from that work-at-home parent. Have you tried talking to him and explaining that babies cry because it is their only way of communicating? And there is the fact that some babies just cry more than others.

If you are simply too uncomfortable than I would definitely give them two weeks notice that you are leaving. Tell them you are leaving for personal reasons. I wouldn't put them down as a reference though because you can't trust they they will give you a good one.

Anonymous said...

It doesn't sound as if you get along fabulously with the Dad at all.
It also is a really stupid reason to not quit a job because you don't want to put them in a bind, or because they were "upset" that their last nanny left for whatever reason. It is a job. You are not their family member. If you are unhappy at a job, it is time to move on, especially if you have the experience that you claim you do.
It is not normal or acceptable to "cuss" a baby out, or it's nanny, but especially the baby! He sounds like a jerk, frankly.
And I think the advice of poster Heidi, "You will likely not get their recomendation after leaving, so I would be honest and tell the mother why you are quitting" is naive at best. I would not trust people weird enough to swear at an infant to give me a good reference, especially if they were "upset" with their last nanny leaving. A normal adult does not take this personally, especially for a good reason like the nanny going back to school to better herself.
I would just cut my losses, give my two weeks notice and tell them it's not working out for you. Please don't be a fool.

Anonymous said...

It sounds like you like the family, apart from dad's strange problems. And, it also sounds like this is a very isolated problem. I agree with the posters who suggested that you perhaps try to help with the Karp DVD or book, or some other way. This is their first child and it is not uncommon for men to have serious difficulty dealing with a crying infant. This can be extremely upsetting to some men and they just don't know how to handle it. I suggest that you try speaking with them about it. You can start by saying something like, "I noticed dad gets extremely upset when baby cries." You can point out that dad's agitation rubs off on everyone and perhaps suggest ways of dealing with the situation -- for example, maybe there could be a new policy where dad is totally hands off while you are there working. This may help take the stress off dad too. He may find it a relief.

It sounds like dad is upset and also concerned about the baby. Otherwise, why else would a person working from home come out of the home office when a baby has only been crying for 30 seconds. I think this family can benefit from your presence and it sounds like they really appreciate you already. So, why not try to work things out. Give it a shot anyway.

If you do decide to leave I would be honest as to why. You will not get a good reference no matter what, so honesty is the best policy and can really help the family in the long run.

Keep us posted!

Anonymous said...

I had a VERY similar situation happen to me! (Mother worked outside of home, father worked upstairs (99% of the time) in home office.) I loved the family, and got a long very well with both parents. They seemed kind and like wonderful people... accept when the child fussed/got upset etc. The little boy was barely 2 years old and would occasionally throw tantrums (like all two year olds do) or get sleepy and cranky and fuss before a nap. Well, the dad would always come running push me aside (all stressed out) and start raising his voice and getting very frustrated with his child (he also swore and sighed repeatedly etc) I referred to it as the "stress fest" and it actually got so bad I started to develop anxiety attacks (anticipating the fathers reaction) any time the child would start to get fussy. Any way, I kept trying to stick it out (really cared for the child) and otherwise loved and got along with the family. After 4 months, the dad finally snapped, one day (when his son would not take a nap...I did have this under control it was normal 2 year old "cranky" behavior and I was soothing him and getting his favorite book to read to help him wind down) any way, to make a long story short, he (dad) came running into the room screaming grabbed me by the arm dragged me across the room pushed me into the wall and got in his son's face screaming his head off "shut up, shut up, shut up, you retard!" The point is this behavior is not normal, and he will eventually snap, don't stick around for it! I never in a million years thought it would get as bad as it did, and wish I had left sooner. I had bruises on my arm and was very frightened when I left that day. To make a long story short, I quit that day, and reported the father. P.S- I tried to tell the mom, and she called me every name in the book... people don't want to hear the truth when it's not positive (it's too hard to stomach for them a lot of the time) I wouldn't even both with the mom...you are just the nanny...he is the husband and daddy...you can guess where her loyalty lies.

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Anonymous said...

Holy Moly, sorry it posted so MANY times, my computer froze up! 717 out. *LOL*

Kelly said...

If you decide to leave them and you are able to give them two weeks' notice, take the two weeks to go out with the baby as much as possible. Go to museums, playgrounds, the library etc, and stay out of the dad's territory as much as possible. Also get dad the book that 2:04PM suggested. I have heard great things about it.

Anonymous said...

OP here - Two things: No, there is no where to take the baby where the Dad can't hear. It's a nice size house, but his door is always open and he has monitors in baby's room and such. Also, they do not permit me to drive with baby (also weird to me, but I chalked it up to first time parent nervousness) so there is really no escaping. We do take twice daily walks in the neighborhood but where I live it's near 100 degrees outside so neither of us want to be out there all day. Wow, thanks for all the great advice! I've actually tried calling the family a few times today.. cell phones, home phones, no answer, and they never usually take my calls (they prefer email and texting) so I emailed them. I just explained how great of a family they are and how much I enjoy my job... of course that is until Daddy Dearest explodes!! Anyways I said she is more than welcome to call or email be back if she has questions or concerns but I've heard nothing back and it's been about 8 hours (she's literally attached to her lap top so...) and I also mentioned I was not trying to bash anyone (dad) just trying to be honest instead of being a flake or coming up with some lie like oh I have to move out of town. So anyways I think the book is a great Idea, but would be afraid that it would be offensive (I mean, I would definitely be offended if a parent gave me a book on how to be a better nanny.) I have always told them about other techniques that work great with infants, and the Mom always tries and uses them, but the Dad goes back to his old ways, even when the Mom asks him not to run to him! They also have a whole bookshelf full of baby raising material so I'm sure he just reads and ignores, thinking his baby is just different (he always says that when I try to be subtle and give advice) so I will be back to update when (and if) I hear a response from them. Thanks again!!!

Anonymous said...

Hi OP, maybe they are not replying because they read this blog and are shocked to learn that they are today's hot topic on this blog. I think you did a great thing asking for advice from people who are familiar with children, nannies, and parents. I hope you have some kind of back up plan though because if they have seen this blog, they might give you grief about your post. You seem like a great person and I hope all works out for you.

Anonymous said...

OP here again... not really sure what you mean as far as a back up plan... I guess I forgot to mention that in the email and voicemails I resigned. I wanted them to know asap so they can have as much time as possible to find someone new. Lucky for them, they gave me all next week off because they have family in town that will want all of baby's time. I think a week to find someone is fair, considering I'm not quitting because I want to, but because it's affecting the quality of my daily life. I'm pretty sure they don't read this blog, but if they do, maybe it will do them some good, hearing it from not just me, but from others who think similarly.

Anonymous said...

I thought you were still working for them, that's why I said "back-up plan". You sound like a great person. With over ten years experience, you should be able to use previous references to get a nicer position. Good luck and have a nice summer.

Anonymous said...

7:17 here again. You have no idea how relieved I am to hear that you quit! It sounds SO similar to what happened to me, that if it wasn't for the slight age difference in the child I'd think it was the same family! I just wanted to let you know that quitting was the best decision I've ever made. I now work for a wonderful (sane haha) family and am SO much happier! I'm sure you'll find a good family very soon, and you saved yourself a lot of grief! I'm glad that you are leaving before something worse happens, I actually wish I'd left sooner. It took me a week in a half to find an amazing family, so I'm sure you'll do great! Best wishes, trust me, you made the right decision.

Anonymous said...

OP:
I'm so happy for you! You are right, when a job is effecting your life in such a negative way, you need to move on and should not feel anything but gladness and pride that you had the courage and wisdom to do so.
Best of luck: some lucky family will find you!
xoxo

ble said...

I would discuss this issue with the Mom privately and see what comes of it. Either the Dad will behave worse, for you telling on him, or he will be alerted to the level of his bevaviour and get better. Worth a try if you like the job.

Anonymous said...

OP Here: Well, this will be my last entry on this post. I finally got a call back from the Mother this morning who was in shock. She was extremely nice, understanding, and even said she was infuriated with her husbands actions. She said he is a nice guy but doesn't always simply realize how is words or actions may be hurting others. She listened to everything I had to say, and asked me a few questions pertaining to how long it'd been happening, and what exactly the Dad was doing/saying. She apologized over and over. After she talked to him later in the day she called me back and apoligized again, seeing if I could still work there. When I said probably not, she said she'll really miss me and wanted to refer me to a friend who is seeking a new nanny. My last call of the day was from the Father. After I listened to his distraught and bewildered message, I called him back and we talked for half an hour about his actions and how they came across to an "outsider." He mentioned he has always had trust issues and that even though they do leave me alone with baby hours at a time, it isn't easy. I then asked him why he never checked any of the 4 references I gave them and he said "oh well people have their friends be the references all the time" and I said well it never hurts! So anyways it was kind of a backwards conversation, really we both got our point of views out then I said after everything I didn't want to stay in the position (the girls scary story above stuck in my head) and that I wished him luck on finding someone else great! He said he'd change but when is the last time you saw a 35 man year old change his entire personality overnight because of a nanny's sensitive feelings? :)

jmt said...

Thanks, OP. Good luck in the future.

Anonymous said...

No need to speak to the mom about this...give them your two weeks & get out!

ble said...

Good for you OP! Blessings in the future!

Anonymous said...

The father has OCD and control-freak issues. I've dealt with the same sort of employer in the past and the ONLY remedy is QUITTING. Give proper notice, then leave. Not necessary to explain that you're quitting becaue the father is a nut. Just let them know that this isn't working out for and you need a different work situation. DO NOT FEEL GUILTY. Where is it written that an employee must feel uncomfortable every day in the workplace?
Enjoy your new (better & less-stressful) job!