Nanny Concerned about Kids Being Neglected by Depressed Mom

Tuesday, June 23, 2009
Perspective and Opinion on ISYN I love my family I work for. Is there anything you can do if one of the parents is depressed? She ignores their children's medical needs? Countless times my employer has neglected to take the children to the doctor, and on the rare occasion she does, she doesn't fill the prescription or if I do she doesn't give it to them. She is a good person, it's just very stressfull for me to worry about the children while I am not on duty, but I also want to help her with out upsetting her or being too drastic.


Ella said...

How do you know she is really depressed and not just busy, negligent or lazy? If you are pretty sure she is depressed, you can approach her when the children are not present and let her know that you care about her and the children and want her to seek professional help. Let her know the trickle down effect, meaning if she is not well, her children will suffer as well. Possibly she can get therapy and/or medicine.
If she continues w/not giving her children their necessary medicine, etc. can you speak to her husband or any other family members?

Momkat said...

As a nanny, you're a mandatory reporter. If you suspect true neglect that endangers the health, welfare, or lives of children you need to report it. Easier said than done, I know. So, what could you do instead? You could offer to take the children to the doctor for her, fill prescriptions, and administer them yourself. Or, you could talk to the parents and express your concern. Good luck...this is a sticky one.

Momkat said...

I just had another thought. You could offer to take teh children to the pediatrician yourself...and while you're there you can express concern that the parents aren't quite as diligent about their medical care as you would hope a parent would be. The doctor is also a mandatory reporter; and would maybe take action him/herself.

Also, and I'm just throwing this out there as a possibility--are you perhaps too quick to think a child needs medical care. In our house, my husband is much quicker to jump to the conclusion that we need to take our son to the doctor than I am. I tend to ride out the minor stuff more often than my husband does. So, it could be a difference in style. Just a thought =)

sleeynanny72 said...

I've been a nanny for 19 years and a mother for 7. I have also dealt with depression myself. I started taking antidepressants before I had kids. I stopped taking them with my first child but took them through my second pregancy and I still had post postpartum depression and had to up my meds. My point is that when your depressed you can't always get help for yourself. You need to talk to her husband. Express your concern and encourage him to get her help. Legally he can have her committed if she refuses treatment and is a threat to herself or her children. The husband would be the first person I would talk to since a depressed person can't always help themselves. If that doesn't get you anywhere you need to call the police if you think the children are in danger. You can explain to the husband that that is what you must do if things don't change. It is a sticky situation. Maybe she has been treated and her meds aren't working. Good luck!

MinuteMuggle said...

I think calling the police would be premature, at least from the lack of information we have from OPs post.

Psyber Chica said...

From the information you gave, it cannot be determined if she is depressed or negligent. You don't have to take kids to the doctor every time they get a cold. I rarely take my kids to the doctor and I rarely get prescriptions filled. I will only give them medicine if the condition will not go away on it's own or if there is severe pain.

What kind of medical issues is she ignoring? How is she in all other areas as a parent?

mom said...

How old are the children? What are the medical issues you think need addressed? There are times I have taken my children to the doctor (or myself) and opted not to fill a prescription.
Just recently I was concerned because my daughter had been feeling intermittently nauseous for a couple of weeks. My main concern was that she didn't have a serious medical issue that I was ignoring. He diagnosed her with "gastroenteritis"...which means an upset stomach, and gave me a prescription for something to keep her from vomiting. Although she fel bad, she was rarely vomiting and she did not want the prescription, nor did I feel it necessary to give her a drug for this. We have had similar issues. I am not quick to go to a doctor, and none of us are quick to take drugs. Minor illnesses, we ride out. I take them to the doctor for an illness only when the symptoms seem unusual or drag on beyond what I deem an appropriate time. Rarely is one of my children sick for more than a day or two...three tops.
That's why I ask what the children in your care suffer from, and their ages. If they have perpetual, lingering maladies that go untreated, that is one thing....and I would think their teachers and father would become alarmed if that were the case.

I have known other people who go to the doctor because they "suspect their child might be coming down with something." Another friend quit using her pediatrician when they had a row one afternoon because the pediatrician refused to write a prescription for antibiotics for her children, preemtptively, in case they appeared to be coming down with any sort of malady during their impending vacation.

We are all very different in how we handle illness in our children. Unless the children are remaining untreated for some chronic problem, such as asthma, for example...and as long as they are recovering from their illnesses by the power of their bodies alone, it is not neglectful.

mom said...

PS Cruel though some of you may deem me to be, we also do not take medication to cut reasonable fevers. Although it brings quicker physical comfort to break a fever as quickly as possible, to do so means we would also be foregoing the beneficial healing effects of the fever, which is beautifully designed to help the body kill the offending illness on its own.

Hard Situation said...

Mom. I agree with and have the same approach. But it is important to find a pediatrician who agrees with your philosophy. I love mine. I found her when my former physician wanted my 2 year old to have surgery to put in tubes after 3 ear infections. My new pediatrician agreed with my approach--give her time to grow and avoid surgery. In the next year she did have 3 more infections that required treatment but we were monitoring her and they were caught early, but by the time she reached age 3 her ear canals had widened to the point they did not retain fluid (which was what was making her prone to infections). My pediatrician doesn't believe in ignoring illnesses, but will recommend cold compresses, cuddling and careful monitoring unless a fever is very high and rarely prescribes anti-biotics so they will be effective if they are actually needed.

As for the OP, depression, if it is truly clinical depression, is hard for any family to deal with. My sister has depression and even with therapy and medication, she is uneven in her approach to daily living. If you are speculating she is depressed and she has not seen a doctor push her to do so--hard. You could literally save her life. It was only after a nearly successful suicide attempt that my sister was diagnosed. If she is under treatment, depending on the age of the other family members, there are support groups for families living with depression. You might want to look into and recommend those type of resources for the children and husband. And, if you are close to this family, as good nannies frequently are, you even might want to participate.

Anonymous said...

When I work for a family I have then sign clearance for me at the kids' doctor office. That way I have rights to take the kids in and to get their Rx's and stuff. What if you did that?

NannyJ said...

As many others have said... she may be making a parenting choice in not filling prescriptions. Dr's are paid by drunk companies to prescribe their drugs... they aren't ALWAYS 100% necessary. However, if the mom is starting the kids on antibiotics and then not finishing the prescription... that is no good.

I think we'd all need to hear more about the situation to give any good advice :-/. Good luck, OP.

call me anon said...

I think it's hard for us to give advice because we don't have enough information. As others have said, how old are the kids? What kind of illnesses or medical needs do they have? What else besides the medical issue leads you to believe the mom is depressed?

I don't think that's cruel at all. Young children run mild fevers very often as their bodies successfully fight off infection. I personally see no reason to intervene until the fever really poses a risk. The family I work for, however, prefers the immediate Tylenol and frequent anti-biotic route, so of course I support their parenting choices. It's really up to each parent to decide what they're comfortable with.

ro said...

Is this a single mom? A divorce?
Depressions Schmession, stop making excuses for her negligence.
Let's start putting the children first. They are helpless.

chgonanny said...

OP, please tell us more! This post doesn't have enough information. Can you tell us specific times she has neglected her child's welfare? Is she suicidal? Is the father still in the picture?

Oh, and Mom: I agree with you. The family I work for always wants me to give the kids kids tylenol or kids Motrin. For nothing but the sniffles. They've all built up a strong resistance to the stuff, so it doesn't do anything for them. But when I suggest letting them all have a longer nap to let their sick bodies recharge, they say it's not a good idea because then they won't go to bed early at night.

Anyway, OP, give us more info!

mom said...

My first child's first big fever happened in the middle of the night when he was maybe a year old, or a little less. I woke up to find him burning hot. Even to the touch I could tell it was bad. I took his temperature and it was 104.4! I completely freaked out. I thought sure he was living his last moments and called the doctor in hysterics. He calmly said, "It's fine. Give him some baby Tylenol." Not satisfied that that was enough, I asked him about several other fever remedies I had heard about. I remember asking if I should also give him an ice water bath (poor baby!). The doctor firmly told me, "No," and informed me that babies often run very high temperatures and that I should simply give him the Tylenol and not subject him to any cruel home remedies.
Live and learn...hehehehe!

But that blunder pales in comaprison to the fact that I suctioned out my first baby's nose every night before bed for the first few months of his life with that little bulb syringe they sent me home form the hospital with, lest he fall asleep with an undiscovered booger in there and suffocate during the night! I discovered the thingey in my hospital bag of newborn care goodies, looked it over for a good time, puzzled, and then decided for myself, without bothering to ask anybody who might actually know what it was for, that that must be it's intended use. I remember one night my husband standing beside me as I tortured our infant with this thing, and he said, "Do you really have to do that to him? He hates it." I said something to the effect of, "But what if I don't and he dies?" Then my very wise husband reminded me that human infants have been surviving for eons without aid of nightly nose suctioning....and that was the last time I ever did it. Ugh! I can't believe I did that!

idunno said...

hey there op,

it might not be as drastic as you think. some parents have weird priorities. to give you some perspective, the family i work for doesn't take the kids to the dentist and rarely takes them to the doctor, if ever.

BUT they will allow their seven year old daughter to go home from school early multiple times in a school year for having gas.

go figure. you have to have more reasons for thinking the mom is depressed.