Kramer vs Kramer?

Received Saturday, November 21, 2009
Perspective and Opinion on ISYN Major major problem here. I have made a huge mess. I stay at home and take care of 2 young boys. The father is home, too. He is a really good hands on Dad, he is only home because his work allows him a flexible schedule. He is in and out all of the time. I have gotten close to him as I worked for them for almost ten months. In the beginning they seemed happy, and later on I realized they were less than happy and still later, it became apparent that they were miserable. The source of the misery was in my estimation the mother of the children. She is a constant complainer, a control freak and emotionally abusive. She is also very financially controlling. She makes more money than her husband. His job is the kind of job one gets not for the money and hers is the kind of job one gets simply to make money. She makes him beg for money. She involves me in the mistreatment of her husband.

She told me she prefers that I do the grocery shopping and she put my name on a credit card of hers. It is a card with her name and my name on it. Well, all these dumb things keep coming up. For example, on Thursday I went to the grocery store and the husband asked me to get some soppresetta (sp) and wheat grass sprouts. I didn't think it was a huge deal. She reviewed the grocery list in front of me, like she does, to make sure I didn't steal. She asked me, "who asked you to buy sopresetta?" The husband answered, "I did, are you going to tell me that is a problem?" She starts screaming at him that he doesn't contribute anything to her life at all and he can buy his own damn lunch. She asked him when the last time it was that he bought diapers for the youngest. He had no answer, so she is calling him worthless and useless and good for nothing. The boys were in the next room, about 20 feet away. Fortunately playing with loud trains, but this situation keeps getting worse. She then lectured me about using her card to get anything she didn't ask for. She also reminded me that my salary is paid for entirely by her.

I don't want to cite other examples because that would give away personal information, but what do I do? Just keep my mouth shut and keep working? I feel bad for the father, but she is my employer and I am so sorry to say, I am starting to grow concerned about my bonus... Help!


Experienced Nanny said...

Its sounds like you are in a tight spot. Wha does your heart tell you. This is a rought decision- you have a wonderful relationship with the children and the dad. But the mother is someoe I could not work with. Hang in there, do what your heart tells - talk with the dad- sounds like he wants only the best for all. I am talking from experience- you love the relationship between dad, you and the children- but you need to do what is best for you. Good Luck.

Dear Abby...No wait...Dear Nanny.... said...

I would request a sit-down for both you and both parents....not the children, of course. Then I would address this problem as diplomatically as possible and stress how hard it is when you are told two different things by two different people. Possibly request for there to be ONE person who is to give all orders or if both parents want to be that person, then come to an agreement where you have permission to follow orders from both. Hopefully this works and makes your job easier. DO NOT mention the fact that the mother said those horrible things about her hubby...that could only make the situation much worse.

If they are unwilling to work this out w/you, then move on to a more normal family w/a normal marriage.

Good Luck OP.

NY Mom said...

Personally I could not work for someone who reviewed the grocery receipts to make sure I wasn't stealing. She'll trust you with her kids, but not with her credit card??!! You sound like a great nanny. Start interviewing elsewhere ASAP.

ChiNanny said...

I would start trying to find a new job. You cannot fix their marriage, and if they are not willing to do it themselves, it will get worse. This mom is a little too uptight, and the fact that she'd belittle her husband in front of you and the children makes me think it's probably much worse when you're not there. Also, because you are so close to the dad, and he is home, I'd be willing to bet the mom will eventually accuse you two of inappropriate behavior/an affair/something along those lines. She seems like the type of person who would be overly controlling and jealous enough to invent it, and at that point you'd be jobless with no notice.

If you choose to stay, it seems pretty clear that you're only to take directions from the mom. If dad asks you to pick up things at the store, ask if he can give you money.

It seems like an uncomfortable work environment. Good luck OP

CuriousDad said...

I am with Chi Nanny on this. This is a no-win job. from the looks of what you wrote.

Village said...

First of all, you can't talk to them about their marriage. He is in an abusive relationship. That is none of your business.

She is a miserable person who is projecting that onto others. People don't change. She is a control freak because she was probably abused as a child, and if she can control everything, she can't be hurt, or so she thinks. She married a weaker man so she could control him, and then berates him because she can control him.

DON'T GET IN THE MIDDLE. If you can do your job and ignore what is around you, good. If you can't, find another job. You might want to wait to see if you get your bonus. If you don't, you are outta there.

By the way, the going over of the grocery slips is another give away she was abused, She is going to make SURE nothing else is taken from her. Just remember, it's not about you. She is going to do that to anyone who works for her. It's not about you. Don't take it personally.

mom said...

If you spend very little time interacting with the mom and it's a good, well paying job, I'd personally keep it and just try to stay out of the line of fire.

If the mom makes a great portion of your day miserable, quit.

In almost any job on the planet there are going to be stressful situations and unpleasant people to deal with ...typically on a daily basis. If you just quit every time there is an unpleasant person in your workspace, you will not only change jobs a great many times, but you will miss out on some valuable life experiences in learning to deal with/avoid/confront (whatever your personal style/coping mechanism becomes with age and experience) difficult and unpleasant people.

I am assuming you are somewhat young, because I can hardly imagine somebody daring to act so childish in front of an older with that I offer you the advice I would give if you were my child. Use it as a learning experience and develop your unpleasant people wrangling/coping skills. it will serve you well in all of life to know how to handle many different types of people.

Instead of just summarily quitting, use this job to practice standing up for yourself, learn how to dodge situations where people try to gossip to you about others, and decide which fights to fight and which ones to walk away from. it's not an ideal job, so if you lose it, so what. At least you will have used it to gain some skills in an arena where you can afford to make mistakes and won't mind terribly if the job ends. take those skills and learning experiences to you next job and you will be that much ahead on how to work with employers in the event there is ever a conflict you want to resolve in a great job that you really love and want to keep.

Plus, on the practical side, jobs are hard to come by these days.

mom said...

PS Here is something you might try to help her ugly behavior roll of your back like water off a duck:

Next time she does something intentionally insulting, like checking her grocery receipt for theft in front of you, think to yourself (inside your head, not out loud!), "You miserable, controlling woman. Having to endure your hostile nonsense is but a brief season in my life...but you have to live with your own miserable self every day for the rest of your life. Have fun with that." Then smile to yourself and be glad you're on the outside and don't have to live in her head.

Ravenswood Nanny said...

MOM, LOL for that last bit of advice. LOL.

I agree with some of what is said here, I'm slow to jump on the bandwagon of just quitting if things are working out. I'm an advocate for sitting down with the parents and setting boundaries. OP, you have two employers with two separate lives and bank accounts. If the dad asks you to buy something for him then you need to ask him for the money for his items and vice versa.

I'm going to repeat this, THIS IS THEIR ISSUE. Don't take it personally because it has nothing to do with you. She's checking the receipts because she doesn't know how to trust, you or her husband and I suspect a lot of other people. He isn't playing nice here either, he knew he was putting you in the middle. I wouldn't be so naive about him.

Let them work out their marriage issues. Set your boundaries, tell them both that you're handling them separately. If that doesn't work, then consider moving on.

mom said...

Something wasn't sitting quite right with me about your glowing description of Saint Daddy, OP. But I couldn't quite figure out what it was. I think Ravenswood Nanny put her finger on it. Very rarely in any relationship is one person a saint and the other a devil...although they might be able to fool you into believing so. Sainted martyr? Probably not so much.

blackberrieees said...

This woman sounds very bizarre. How can you make a life with someone, living with them and raising children together, yet still be so uptight about buying them a grocery or two? I have been in situations with roommates that are more generous than that. But regardless, I agree with the advice that you should observe your job for a week or two, and notice exactly how much you are forced to interact with this unpleasant woman. If it is no more than a quick hello on her way out the door, and a few minutes telling her about your day with the kids when she gets home, then I would say stick with it. But if you find that you are seeing her more than you would like, than i think you should reconsider your job. Also, it is also really important for you to treat both children respectfully and kindly so that they see that that is how THEY need to treat others. it seems like they need you to be a good influence on them so that they don't pick up their mother's negativity and insecure behavior.

MissMannah said...

My immediate question is how are the children handling this? They are the reason for your job and I think at a time like this you need to be extra sensitive to their needs. If you think you can handle working for this nutjob mom, really try to for the children's sake. It sounds like they need a stable adult.

The mom is right, she pays your salary so technically she is your "main" boss. If she and her husband refuse to get on the same page, you have to defer to her in these matters. Other have suggested asking the dad for money if he asks you to run an errand, and I think that is a great idea. He'll know why and (I hope) he wouldn't want you to get yelled at again.

I don't know about the sit down and chat with the parents idea. The mom probably doesn't think she's doing anything wrong because she sounds like she considers herself very entitled. I would only consider sitting down with them if you can see the children are really suffering as a result of their fighting and then only bring it up out of complete concern for the children.

MissMannah said...

Others* have suggested...

Argh, I hate typos!

NanGal said...

I wouldn't quit a good job over something like this. Talking to the parents about the situation could be awkward because their marriage really is none of your business. Instead just stay out of it as much as possible and let the father know he can't use you to piss off his wife. I'm sure it his him she didn't trust with the credit card not you.

ChiNanny said...

I agree with Mom about not quitting every time things are rough in a job, however, something about this situation makes me think it will end badly. You will be there a year soon, I would request that the mom, for part of your year review give you a written review, that way, if things end badly later, you will have something to use as a reference when trying to find a new job. I wouldn't quit right away in this situation, but getting your ducks in a row to leave, and keeping your eyes open for something better wouldn't hurt.

aliana said...

why would you feel bad for the father? he is staying and does nothing, i guess he likes been treated like that? typical men!
you are there doing a job and your only interest should be the children, none of this is your problem, that is their personal life you do your job, and that's it. it is none of your bussiness

ct nanny said...

ChiNanny- I think you're right that this won't end well, and getting a written review is a fantastic idea.

OP, I would absolutely not talk to the parents about this issue. From what you say, mom would not be receptive to that AT ALL and you're not going to change their entire relationship with one meeting.
I will echo what others have said- If you can follow mom's orders and just go about your day, then do it, as long as dad is not constantly trying to guilt-trip you about it. However, if you frequently have to witness this abuse by the mother, I would leave, because that could be really damaging to you in the long run.

As a side note, I'm curious how the kids react to dad. Do they respect him or do they take on mom's attitude?

talesfromthe(nanny)hood said...

OP, do NOT, under any circumstances, initiate a sitdown that addresses their personal issues. In this situation (based on what you have told us) you are caught in a marital power play and nothing you say or do will help. You need to remain purely professional, focus on the children, and on doing the absolute best job you can do.

If you do need to clarify who gives you your directions, sit down and ask them that exact question. Then do as you are told to do.

And one more thing. You are not there to be the dad's buddy. Pull back now, be professionally friendly, but nothing more. Don't listen to him talk about her, don't commiserate, don't be anything other than the nanny to his kids. Practice saying, "I'm sorry, but I am not comfortable discussing that."

Good luck to you, and get that letter of rteference ASAP!