How Close is too Close?

Received Tuesday, June 16, 2009
Perspective and Opinion on ISYN Hi..I am going to try to keep this short and sweet.
I am a nanny and I love the family I have been with for 3 years. I have a wonderful bond with the parents and a wonderful bond with the children. We don't have many issues that arise and I do wish that every nanny out there was as lucky as me. What I am wondering though..is how close is too close? Are there any other nannies out there that think about their family when they are not there? Are there any other nannies that want to spend time with the kids when they are not there? I just want to know if there is a point where you can get too close? And if so, what do you do to take a step back? I wouldn't mind hearing from nannies who experience this or on the flip side hearing from parents who wonder if their nanny is too close to them. Thanks!


Jane Doe said...

There are pros and cons for both employer and employee when the relationship is too close. If the children comprehend that the relationship between the nanny and parent is a close and positive one, this is likely to be a strong positive while the nanny is employed. When the nanny leaves, this is more likely to be hard on all parties involved.

And to the nannies involved in close relationships with their employers, beware because more than one close nanny/employer relationship has been ruined by an anti child, self centered opportunist. :(

sd said...

I am a nanny. I don't feel this way about the family I am with now, but I have in the past. I started with them when their little boy was just an infant and watched him grow for almost 2 years. While that is not the longest position I have had, it was the most meaningful. I loved him so dearly and would truly miss him on the weekends and especially when they would leave for vacation. When the time came for him to go to preschool, my heart was broken and he was all I thought about for months to come.

Luckily I still get updates, see pictures of him, and visit from time to time but I will always love him like crazy and think of him as a little brother.

I don't think that it was bad being so close, but I do think that if you are feeling obsessed or spending TOO MUCH time thinking about the kids on your days off, maybe you do need to step back. I think the only way you can do that is just in your head. These are not your children, and you won't be their nanny forever.

Other than that, it sounds like they have a great nanny that truly cares for them!

MinuteMuggle said...

I would say that everyone is different. Relationships are formed and there is nothing you can do about it.

I think JD's advice is good though, one should guard against too close of a relationship for more than one reason.

world's best nanny said...

Before I became a nanny, I was a certified nursing assistant. I learned though that job not to become emotionally attached. You'll lose your mind mourning the loss of every resident. This behavior followed me to be a nanny. Granted, no one is going to die any time soon, but it helps to be able to see the forest thru the trees. I am fond of the children, much like I'd be fond of co-workers cuz in some weird way that's what they've become to me. We all work together to get thru what we have to do for the day.

nannyinmanhattan said...

I know exactly what you mean. I was thinking the same thing this morning before I read this. whether or not I was obsessed.
I guess there isn't a way to actually step back after you have become very close, and if there is I too would like to know. What I think you can do is maintain the relationship and not get too much more into the hole so to speak.
I worry I have set myself up for a big hurt in the future when my babies are grown and I am no longer needed.
It goes with the territory I say but just take one day at a time and enjoy your time with all the involved parties.
It is short. Make the best of it.
It wouldn't hurt to heed the advice of all the other posters.
This post gave me also, something to think about.


mom said...

I am coinfused by the following, but very much want to understand what you mean. Can you possibly explain further? (Especially the "anti child" part.)

"And to the nannies involved in close relationships with their employers, beware because more than one close nanny/employer relationship has been ruined by an anti child, self centered opportunist. :("

Jane Doe said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
mom said...

Oh Jane,
I'm so sorry. Yes, I know the kind of person you speak of now. Purely selfish and evil.

My Dad married a woman like that when I was 16. We didn't have a nanny, but she did everything possible, very sneakily and connivingly, to remove my sister and me from my dad's life. (She lost...but only after the ten purely miserable years it took my dad to clue in and boot her ass.) The person it's being done TO can see it plain as day what is happening, but the person who is being hoodwinked seems entirely blind. (I guess ity's true what they say, "love is blind." I say sometimes it's deaf and dumb too.)It's unbelievably frustrating to watch it happen and yet there is nothing you can do to stop it.

I cannot imagine your pain at not only having the kids ripped out of your life like that, but also having to know that the kids involved have been taken from a situation where it sounds like they were being loved and nurtured into an entire life of feeling that they are bad, a nuisance, and in the way. Why doesn't their mother wisen up and see what this must be doing to her children...who it sounds like were once very precious to her?!!! This will change who her kids were GOING to turn out to be, forever.

Jane, I'm really sorry this happened to you.

Jane Doe said...

Thanks, Mom. In a million years, I never would have dreamt it would have ended in such a way. I was a nanny for two families previously, two families I cared about but was nowhere near as close and I still here from both of them, receive pictures of the children, am invited to weddings, etc. Yep, I was totally unprepared for that kind of heartbreak. So, yes, if things end badly, huge con- but how do you ever know?

mom said...

In my experience, when a new love interest starts trying to change things about their new mate, or tries to interfere with or change their relationships with other people, the person is probably abusive and trying to isolate their new somebody from those who truly care about them and will otherwise be likely to spot the impending abuse and support their friend in recognizing and getting out of the abusive relationship.

Only a truly sick and insecure person does this. The kind of person who would send children away all summer vacation just to be rid of them. Ugh!

If you really love somebody, don't you want to get to know about their friends andf family and who is dear to them and begin to embrace and be embraced by those same people so that you can begin to share a healthy life together that includes friends and family from both sides of the relationship? Somebody who loves somebody wants to be a part of their life, not be the one and only thing in it so that the person is, in effect, trapped into the relationship because they eventually literally have nobody else in the world to count on for support. This is how abusers gain contrrol and feel secure in being increasingly abusive and controlling.

I have seen it enough times by now to recognize it happening to others.

Jane, your friend is probably in an abusive relationship...whether she would ever be willing to admit that or not.

How do you know? Try to look for the signs in the future of somebody squeezing important people out of sopmebody's life and you will then have a good clue that it is coming.

Ladies, don't let anybody manipulate you into thinking that you ought to exclude key people from your life. It's a huge danger sign. And, for gosh sakes, DON'T let somebody goad you into doing things with or to your kids that you know are not the best choices for them. Time and time again, I have seen single moms who are desperate for a man in their lives become willing to basically sell their kids down the river in exchange for a man in their beds. What the hell?!!! Don't do it. If you're a mom, you have one primary responsibility in life...and it's not to your own personal happiness. I mean, try to be happy...but those times when something's gotta give, it's gotta be YOU, not the kids who lose out.

Yaya said...

I usually feel like this when I first start a job. Then after a year or so I realize I'll see them everyday, so I need my ME time.

deafnanny said...

I have had 4 long-term nanny positions (plus 5 short-lived nightmare positions). The first family I ever nannied for, I became very close to them very quickly. It was a single Mom with her 5yr old daughter. I eventually moved in with her to escape an abusive relationship. I started this position 6 years ago, ended it 4 years ago. This woman is my family, my sister. Her daughter is my niece. This is how we refer to each other to everyone in our lives. She is 34, I am 26. I often wondered, while still employed, if we were too close, but once the nanny part of the relationship ended, I knew everything was right.

2 positions in a row, I was happy with the position, the parents, the kids, parents were happy with me and my performance. I never shared any personal information with either family, including the fact that with family 2 I started dating a great man, and with family 3 I became engaged to that man. I was no where near close to either families to share any of my personal life.

My 4th and current position. I have only been working with this family since February this year. For the first 2 weeks, both parents were at work. For the next 12 weeks, both parents were on maternity and paternity leave. I had loads of alone time with both parents. Our personalities click perfectly. I have attended Bar-B-Q's, both Mother's Day and Labor Day events, etc. In the last month, I have shared every personal detail of my life with the Mom. No one person on this earth knows as much about me as she does. Dad is so protective of me. My Father is in prison for abusing me, and I don't speak to my Mother at all. They have joked dozens of times that they wish they could legally adopt me at 26yrs old, lol. I have no concerns with being so incredibly close with this family. I was very, very worried when the abuse by my Father came out, as well as the loss of my daughters two years ago. However it turned out my fears were totally unfounded. Those things just brought us that much closer together(because of neglect/abuse both parents experienced as children). I know that eventually they will not need me as a nanny anymore, however I know that I will always be around as a member of the family.

Manhattan Nanny said...

It can be very painful when you have been with a family for several years and the job ends, as they all must. Children do grow up. I am still in touch with my former work families. I see them occasionally and they still want me to attend their school plays and ballet recitals. The children in a family that moved away e-mail me whenever they have "big news". If you know you will still be in touch it does make the break easier.
I think the important thing is to have a rich and satisfying life outside of work. You can love the children you care for, but they shouldn't be the only source of joy in your life. That isn't good for you, or them.

bn there said...

Your situation sounds exactly like some nannies and families and even myself. I dont work for them any more but the bond is still there such that I still visit and the little girl (5 years old) still calls me on the phone and says she misses me. They invite me to parties, thanks giving , X-mas and all that. WHat I learned though, when I was working is that at the end of the day you are just a nanny. Keep that in mind..........it runs deep.

MinuteMuggle said...

Manhattan Nanny's advice is excellent. Nobody could have said it better.

Laura said...

I once was with a family I thought I had the same relationship with. I would even have the kids over for sleep overs when I wasn't working. The pay more then stunk, the ours were too long, but they couldn't afford a lot and both parents were in management and always working.

They had spent the night one night and left some clothes there. A few weeks went by and the mom did not call me to watch the kids (i was very VERY part time at this point. Mom wasn't working a lot due to loosing her job and only finding part-time). I thought it was weird so I decided to stop by.

They had moved. No phone call. No text. Not even an email.

I had no idea where they went...and i was heartbroken. I cried for days.

This is why I don't get close.

MinuteMuggle said...


I'm sorry that happened to you. How dare they! You did not deserve that treatment. Some people really have no class. :(


OP SAYS|.... said...

Thanks everyone for all the great advice, I'll carry with me through my days. Laura, that is horrible. I am sorry that happened to you. I have that kind of relationship with this family. The child sleeps over my house often even on days off. I see them all the time. I am always there even when not working. I get invited to BBQ's,family parties and even spend Christmas eve with them. Normally I also go over on Christmas Morning to see the kids opening their presents. I don't live with them, but live in a condo that they own just 5 minutes from where they live. When I was looking to get out of the apartment I was in because it was too small they bought this so I could live in it and I pay them rent. We sit in church together on Sunday mornings. I could go on.

db said...

If a family is bringing in a nanny to care for the children and the parent began to genuinely care for the nanny and include her in familial activities, any psychologist will tell you this is a huge benefit to the children. Nannies that stay long term and continue relationships with the children after they leave are among the most desirable. It provides continuity for the children, and for me, knowing that it was my dear friend caring for my children, who flew with my children to SF when I couldn't, who stayed up with my sick son all night when I was away on business, it made me feel less guilty. I have had 5 nannies and only one nanny did I have real chemistry with. Unfortunately, for our family, she was also our first nanny, so every nanny after her paled in comparison- even though we had some good nannies. We didn't have nannies that made me want to give as generously or include as much. Yes, it probably is chemistry. She was with us 6 years and she left us to move in with her husband (we attended the wedding). First, she attempted to commute and then she attempted to commute three days a week. In the end, neither of our needs were working. I think a part of me was angry that she left, but it didn't take me long to get past it. I continue a relationship with her to this day. We're having a 4th of July party coming up and she will be there with her firstborn child. I still have a nanny, but we don't introduce the "old/first" nanny as anyone but a friend. It would unsettle the current nanny and not be an accurate protrayal of who she was and is to us today.

Julia said...

i feel pretty close with the family i work for. i would think it would be sad if the parents thought that i was too close or if any parents thought that about their nanny. i personally don't think that would be fair.