Little girl's Nanny is her only stability

Thursday December 25, 2008.
Perspective & Opinion I've been witness to one of the saddest situations I think I've seen in a long time. I'm a SAHM and a very good friend of mine is a Nanny to a wealthy family of one child, a 10-year-old girl. This is a very smart and beautiful girl and she adores her Nanny. My daughter and this little girl hang out quite a bit and also go to some after school activities together.

On playdates I've had the opportunity to talk to this little girl and knowing how many hours my friend takes care of her, was curious how she felt about it. Her parents are hardly ever home, and this little girl rarely sees them. Her Nanny is the center of her life. She gets her off to school and picks her up, takes her to activities, comes home and helps her with her homework, cooks all her meals and even eats them with her. Just the two of them. The little girl misses her parents terribly, and my friend is basically on call 24/7, raising this kid. I know she loves her and wouldn't trade it for the world, but my friend feels like she has no life - at all.

I think the parents have just found someone convenient to dump their daughter on. My friend asked me what I thought would be the best way to approach these parents and tell them that their daughter is missing them and is really struggling with their absence. I don't think I've ever seen a child so neglected, but not neglected in the way most would think because there is someone to care for her, but I wonder how much these parents really care. I just couldn't imagine being separated from my kids all the time like that. Wouldn't you do what you could, even as a busy parent, to make time for your child?

Please tell me what I can do to help my friend. There's no way she can leave this job. That is not an option. She's the only stability this little girl has had in her life for the past two years. What would be the best way for her to approach these parents to let them know how she and this little girl feel?


Anonymous said...

Dear OP, what a heart-breaking story. I am sure a lot of readers feel with the daugther and with your friend and you. At first sight I want to say the following: Of course this child needs her parents. I think your feeling is right. It is wrong to treat a child, actually IMHO they show that they are not worth of this child. But: Your friend is. She sees what a gem is growing up there. She treats her like a mother treats her child.

You ask for what to do. I think you can not do anything much more than be there for your friend when she needs you. As for your friend, the nanny who raises a child that is not her own: Maybe it sounds cliché and antique, but I think she has a kind of mission here in this child's life. As long as she can live it, that is. The moment she quits, the girl will feel ten times as neglected. Even now, when everything is "ok" (although you and me and your friend know it isn't) they are not there for their daughter. Will they be competent to comfort her, to communicate to her, to make sure she feels loved when your friend is leaving? You are right. This i s a difficult and sad sitiuation.

Anonymous said...

Don't do it. Read the book, "The Narcissitic Parent".

You cannot beg, prod or in anyway suggest they tend to the needs of anyone but themselves!

Anonymous said...

All your friend can do is make a case for her charge to the parents, tell them that their daughter is missing them terribly and is crying out for them. If that doesn't get them to spend a little time with her, maybe the child is better off with the nanny.

What happens when the nanny is off or on vacation, etc??

Anonymous said...

Please try to mind your own business. This happens ALL the time.

Anonymous said...

myob said...
Please try to mind your own business. This happens ALL the time.
5:45 PM

If it's okay with you, my friend asked for my help. She is planning on saying something to the parents because this is her life that is being monopolized and she's starting to feel desperate. All she wants is for the parents to step up and play a more active role in their poor daughter's life. If you can't offer us some constructive advice, then please keep the negative comments out of it. Can you imagine practically every waking moment taking care of someone elses child? What do you think that would do to your psyche? what about the child's for that matter? This is a really bad situation here, and I'm so worried for this little girl. That's why my friend is staying - it would probably tear this child's world apart if she left. Nobody else will want to put in those kind of hours, so if my friend leaves, all this little girl has to look forward to is neglect by her parents, and a revolving door of new nannies that won't be able to stick it out.

Anonymous said...

I would just tell your friend to inform the parents she needs to cut back on her hours. She could tell them that she needs to be off work by 6:00pm (or whatever time). Then the parents can decide for themselves how they want to handle evening care. This may mean that one of them will come home early to care for their child, or it may mean they hire an evening nanny. But if she tells them they are not spending enough time with their kid, they are bound to take it personally. Their enthusiasm for their nanny may diminish.

Anonymous said...

OP, it is kind of you to be concerned.
Sadly, this is not unusual. There are families like this in my charge's school. In a couple of cases, they have two nannies, so they have 24/7 coverage, without the nannies burning out. For the nanny's sake, she might suggest a PT nanny for the weekends.
For the child's sake, she might encourage the parents to do special activities with the girl, things that the parents would enjoy. Do they like sports, music, museums? I don't think just encouraging them to spend more time with her will get results, and they might resent it, especially if they think the nanny is implying that they are neglectful.

Anonymous said...

Well, I would encourage my friend to talk to the parents if she can. But if the situation continues to distress your friend and nothing changes, than I would say quitting IS an option.

You obviously care about your friend's well-being. If staying at the job is more harmful to your friend than emotionally beneficial, it is not a good situation for her.

No matter what, you friend needs to take care of herself and her needs. She cannot change people who do not want to be changed. And she needs YOUR support to get out of there because like you said, it's not going to be easy.

Anonymous said...

OP, I think it's wonderful that yu want to help your friend, but I agree with the posters who suggested that all your friend can do is limit her hours to remove some of the burden.

You would be suprised how common this is, and truly, nothing your friend says or does will make a bit of difference.

Anonymous said...

I have mentioned this before here, but I met a beautiful three year old American child in a very wealthy Southern California community that spoke not a single word of English (which her parents spoke), but was fluent in Spanish (which her nanny spoke.) That's how little time these parents spent with their child! She couldn't even tell me what her name was until I asked her in Spanish.

Sadly though, in these cases it is almost certain that these parents have little to no emotional connection to their they will not CARE about her feelings, and will likely just be mad at your friend if she dares to suggest they don't spend enough time with her. They know deep down that they are crappy parents, but they unfortunately care more about themselves than the child and are undoubtedly too selfish to put themselves out at all for her benefit. They might just fire oyur friend and find a more compliant nanny.

She should definitley limit her hours and maybe suggest that they get an evening/weekend nanny to be there when she leaves for the evening. (She may still lose her job as it will be cheaper for them to get one slave to do it all.)

But she must remember that she is not responsible for parenting this child. Don't get me's fantastic that she cares so much for the child...but she is replaceable in a heartbeat...and selfish uncaring people like her employers likely do not value her loyalty any more than they value thier own child. Your friend is probably there more out of convenience to the parents than because of her good job. If she becomes the least bit inconvenient or makes any waves she may be gone in a heartbeat. If she has put her own life completely on hold and devcoted it to the care of a child that is not hers and that she has no rights to, she could miss out on having her own life and end up completely heartbroken and miserable. Letting herself believe that she is this childs rescuer r savior will only lead to heartache in the end.

Tell your friend to set some boundaries...both emotionally and with the parents. And bless her for caring so much for this little lost girl.

Anonymous said...

this reminds me of Harriet the Spy...she can't leave this little girl otherwise her world will fall down and she won't have her bestfriend anymore, which is what her nanny probably is at this point.

encourage her to talk to her employers about it.

Myob, that was rude.

Kate B said...

This nanny needs to make sure she has time to herself, or she'll burn out. As Black Orchid said,she should talk to the parents about that subject.
The other thing I would do in that situation is talk privately with the child's teacher - she or he might be able to approach the parents with the " your daughter really misses you" stuff, and possibly get a better hearing than if it came from the nanny. From what you say, these parents don't seem to care about their daughter's needs and probably wouldn't hesitate to fire the nanny if they didn't like what she said. Even if nothing improves with the parents, at least the school will be aware of the child's situation.
Blessings on your friend for loving this child so much and being generous enough to give her what her parents won't.