Saturday

Pollyanna?

Received Saturday, February 23-Perspective & Opinion
I wouldn't call this a question of a nanny being too good, she is good and that is why we love her. She is an American from a fairly religious background, she sets and adheres to a very high moral code. This is wonderful for our three children. We have no set regulations on television, so long as the child are not wasting away in front of it, we have no problem with occasional television. Our nanny never watches television, ever.

We also try to eat reasonably healthy but we do not want to make food an issue. I grew up in a home where there was never any sugar and became obsessed with junk which I began to sneak in the home and hoard and binge on. Our nanny eats a very strict macrobiotic diet. And while I would not call this a problem compared to the real problems of everyday life, I cannot help feel that everything we are doing in the nanny's eyes is wrong. I didn't initially feel like that, we had a sense of humor at the beginning. The children eat with the nanny and they ask why she eats x,y and z and when you listen to her explain why honestly, I feel we should be eating her way.

When my youngest asks her to come and watch her favorite cartoon with her on a snow day, (recently), nanny said, "I won't let myself waste away like that, but I will make snowflakes crafts with you".

If the nanny by being such a stellar example, because that is all I can fault her for-makes me feel badly about myself, should I worry that the children too may feel bad about themselves? It isn't a problem, per say and I am not looking for a solution, I am just curious how other employers would feel about these issues. Keep in mind, we do have a very honest, diligent person working for us and all of the many positives she brings to the table are not lost on any of us. And as a nanny who would surely be highly sought by others, I also too wonder if she may be deciding that we are not the right family for us. She has been with us 6 months.

22 comments:

Supernannynnj said...

Hi Op.

As a professional nanny, I AM a little concerned about the nanny commenting in the fashion she does about your son watching TV. I don't share my employers views on how she is raising her children, but unless she specifically asks for advice I keep my opinions to myself. Your nanny should as well. That comment is condescending and unnecessary. Sit down and have a heart to heart with your nanny and express your concerns. Being a great anny is also abotu being a good cultural fit with your family you or she may decide you guys just don't gel culturally. But if I were she I would wanyt to know any concerns my employer might have.

Good luck to you!

Anonymous said...

Here is a nanny's point of view.
It isn't easy to find a nanny + family match that is perfect in every way. A nanny needs to decide what issues are important to her, and what she can be flexible about. I suggest that you sit down for a chat with your nanny and express your concerns. Ask her if she can avoid an appearance of disapproval in the areas of food and TV watching.
Unless your children are gorging on junk food and watching TV excessively, you should not feel badly about yourself, and I doubt the nanny is judging you. She is probably just trying to do a great job. Many parents worry that the nanny doesn't model good eating habits, and allows too much TV, so if you think about it, you have an easy problem to tweak!
UES Nanny

Anne Harrill said...

It is pretty tricky. I think you might need to have an open conversation with her...She is entitled to her opinion, but she does not have to "brainwash" your kids while explaining things to your kids, especially if her answer are going to confuse your kids about your family's lifestyle. She is setting a great example, yes, but what if it was politic, religion, cultural statements you might disagree with

AS said...

I was just viewing the nanny abusing the children on the first pointing at childcaregonewrong and was pretty sickened. by contrast, this isn't anything. but the thing is we don't live in contrast, we live in our own lives and i dont know if i could have a holier than thou nanny in my home. i love wine and cheese and chocolate and reality television and when i have the children on a rainy weekend, i am not at all opposed to many disney movies.

Anonymous said...

"Polyanna-one who finds cause for gladness in the most difficult situations,"

§marypoppin'pills§ said...

Talk with your children and get an honest opinion from them about how they feel about their Nanny.
Then you will know whether or not her views are influencing them.

I agree this isn't a huge problem, and I get that you believe it isn't, too - but I am with 'as/5:05' in that you don't want a Nanny acting holier than thou, or as 'supernannynnj' said, expressing her opinion too much.

You don't want your kids feeling guilty for watching Disney or eating a cookie.

just anonymous said...

I wouldn't worry too much. The children are impressionable, but I would encourage them to make their own decisions about what they feel is right for them in terms of eating and tv. Explain that different people have different opinions and no opinion is the wrong opinion.
In terms of her wearing on your nerves, well, I can see why. I personally can't stand people with the 'wholier than thou' attitude (however that's spelled!). If it's truly not a good match, then it's just not and you need to admit this and move on from each other on good terms.

WellPaid said...

I hate, HATE when people label things as good or bad. She could have simply said something to the effect of why don't we do an art project, read a book, build with legos/blocks etc., instead. I'm not a fan of TV for kids, but if the parents let them, then it's not my place to tell them no, especially if it's a rainy or snowy day.

Anonymous said...

You, OP, are picking up on her disapproval and holier than thou attitude. I wouldn't like it either. Not nice.

Anonymous said...

You, OP, are picking up on her disapproval and holier than thou attitude. I wouldn't like it either. Not nice.

Supernannynnj said...

Sorry for the typos in my post! That's what typing on Narcotic cough medicine will do! :D

Anonymous said...

As much as you may admire your nanny's morals, ethics, food and activity choices, (genuinely, it seems), wasn't she hired to help support YOUR standards of care for your children? You are the parent/employer, and YOU get to decide what's OK for them to eat and how much television they can watch. I would expect a nanny to abide by MY standards, barring neglect or abuse.
I've been a nanny who did not necessarily agree with many of my employer's standards and practices in chid-rearing....BUT, I was not hired to create their standard, only to support it to the best of my ability...again, barring neglect or abuse.
Letting your nanny know how much you admire her abilites and personal choices, but also letting her know you want her to support your children in enjoying unstructured "down" time occassionally would probably help her relax a little. Six months isn't a very long time, and it may take this nanny a bit longer to get comfortable with your family's "style". If you have this frank conversation, and she continues to seem rigid and judgemental two months down the road, she may not be the best fit for your family.

mom said...

That's funny about the Polyanna. I remember once when I was very young my mother said to me, "Oh, don't be such a Polyanna." I could tell it was not a compliment by the way she said it, but I didn't know what it was. So I asked her and she said something about a girl from a movie and it being a common expression. I still didn't understand and was still puzzled as to what I might have done wrong.

Then one day not too long after that I was watching television on a weekend afternoon and saw the movie come on, so I watched it. I thought the little girl seemd very nice and could never figure out what was so bad about her. From time to time I have still wondered about that.

Anonymous said...

mom, watch the Italian movie, "A Wonderful Life"....a better representation of the polyanna attitude (denial of reality).

mom said...

Sounds familiar. What was the story line? Maybe I will remember it.

mimi said...

As a former professional nanny of 6 years, and now an in home daycare provider, I have been a vegetarian the entire time and it was never an issue. On one hand I think it's wonderful that your nanny has herself on the right track. No one can fault someone who follows a healthy diet, knows TV does nothing for an IQ, and tries to follow a higher moral code. And I also think it's awesome to expose them to differences in people. It teaches them to think outside the box. I DO NOT however agree with the way she defends her choices, by saying harsh comments. I have been asked millions of times "nanny why don't you eat meat?" And I say that it was a choice and I chose to not eat it anymore. SURE, I want to start talking about how I really feel and what the true reasons are, but I am not hired to PUSH my beliefs on those kiddos. I say encourage her to stay true to herself , but explain to her that she cannot push her way on the children..but make sure you explain that your happy that she is an example of differences in this world.

Anonymous said...

mom, anon 7:21 here...the title of the movie is actually "A Beautiful Life", I believe. An Italian family gets scooped up by Nazis and taken to a concentration camp, and the father insists, until the bitter end, on putting a positive "spin" on the whole situation. Not exactly a "feel good" movie.

§marypoppin'pills§ said...

I think the name is "Life is Beautiful"?
Anyway ... it is an incredible movie!

mom said...

Thanks guys. That was the movie I was picturing. Funny how there can be so many different perspectives about what that movie was trying to convey. Maybe that just goes to show us all that life for each of us depends a lot on the way we choose to see it?

Now, for OP. Your nanny sounds a little bratty and self centered. I really don't like people who have to act superior about their own choices. We all do things a little differently than one another (nice thing about individuality), and mostly we each do what we do because we have thought about it and decided we think what we choose ot do is probably the "best" way. So, to be condescending about others' choices is really the height of rudeness...and really sort of narcissistic (unless the other person's choices are actually objectivly bad or harmful.) When somebody makes comments such as those she makes, they are directly intended to imply that she is superior to you...and your kids. If you feel the "sting" of her comments, you can bet your kids do to. I really didn't like the comment about the television to your child. I'll bet your kids spend a fair amount of time feeling that they are wrong, inferior, or just plain bad in her presence.
I know two people who are very much like your nanny. Neither has many friends...and I would say not any real close friends. One I must see periodically and the other I have distanced myself from considerably and yet am still one of her two "best friends" (although I see her about once or twice a year on average)...and the other "best friend" has also distanced herself considerably, as direct result of these comments. These two people seem to consider themselves superior to everybody else...at least their continuous bitchy comments (much like your nanny's)would seem to indicate so. I personally think it is insecurity based. But the bottom line is, people don't like to be made to feel like they are bad, or inferior...and that is what these comments do...intentionally. You say yourself that you are already feeling bad and insecure about yourself and your choices as a parent. Think of how your kids must feel!
Oh, and the combined three children of the two women I mentioned: The one has one daughter who, at age 30+ has made nothing of her life...working as a cashier at a fast food restaurant, living literally hand to mouth, and refusing a promotion to manager because she doesn't wish to endure the extra responsibility. The other has two kids, and although she would never admit it, I think has to know on some level that her teenage daughter is promiscuous and her son lacks close relationships because he has learned to act just like his mother, which makes the other boys not like him. So...micromanaging your kids' lives into a "perfect existence" apparently does not guarantee any better result than being a little more laid back. In fact, the one lady with the two kids (I mentioned her as being like Bree on desperate Housewives on another thread recently)...as the kids were growing up, I got a few calls from moms in the neighborhood who knew I was a friend of hers and wanting to know what the heck was wrong wiht her son that he was such a pompous ass at such a young age...because he was always intentionally hurting the other kid's feelings with comments like he heard his mother make all the time. Do you want your kids to learn that it is OK to talk to people like that? Or do you want to teach them to respect other people's feelings and opinions?

Your nanny could so easily say something like another poster said above, "Everybody chooses to do things a little differently and this is how I like to eat. You eat different things, and that is good too." Or, "I would rather make a craft righ now. Does that sound fun?" Or, just let the kid watch tv for a half hour and be quiet about it.
I wouldn't be comfortable with her attitude in my home day after day. She's rude...and she meants to be. It's called Passive Agressive.

§marypoppin'pills§ said...

Yet again, a really great post Mom. ☺

I think what sets yours apart is your ability to tell such great stories that are relative to the post! Keep it up.

Anonymous said...

You have a good nanny, get a life and stop looking for faults. You could even learn something from her. Try a little humility. It might help you jump off your high horse!!

SuLynne said...

Well, I have always been a little suspicious of people who seem too good to be true, but it sounds like you know your nanny so, aside from that, I would simply instill in your children the reality; that this is a big world with lots of people who sometimes believe different things than what you and your partner believe. What may be right for nanny might not be right for you or your children, and you'll have to find a sensible, non-judging way to get that message across, so that your children continue to see nanny for all her good qualities and as a "teacherly" figure in their lives, yet still feel comfortable continuing to come to their parents with the big questions when they're inevitably tested with those big moral, social, and emotional dilemmas we all face. For now, they should see you as their non-judging, all-knowing, safe place to land.