How about a nice Hawaiian Punch?

Thursday, October 21, 2010
Opinion 4 So I'm unsure how to handle this situation and I'm sure it is quite common among nannies. Recently, about a month ago, I took a job working for a family near my home. They have three boys, 8. 5 and 2 1/2. I'm mainly responsible for the 2 1/2 yr old since the other two are usually in school all day. I am a live out nanny. I was told that the 2 1/2 year old is used to redirection instead of time outs, taking away toys, or any other forms of discipline. I was completely okay with that being as his age, that seemed appropriate.

Little did I know that when I started their form of 'redirection' was simply giving him anything he wanted, even after they told him no. The parents work from home so during lunch they are sometimes around the house when their son is at the table eating. Today I made him a sandwich and juice but he kept asking for a pop. I was told from the get go that they didn't want me to give him soda, so I said no. He started whining for it at first and I stayed firm and kept my no. Then he started crying for it and yes, I still said no. I reminded him that he had juice and his sandwich but the soda wasn't an option. He started wailing and then screamed "POP!" over and over again. The dad charges in like something is on fire and asked what was the matter. I explained to him that I simply wouldn't allow his child the soda and get this, the dad turns to his son, who was clearly crying and goes "maybe just today" and gives him the pop. I couldn't believe it. Then he turns to me and says "He's only two, he doesn't know what no means yet". I was upset on two accounts. 1. now the child won't ever know what 'no' means really and 2. the child will have a hard time listening to me since his dad 'over rided' me.yeah, I know he's the parent and I'm just the nanny but it would be like someone walking into his office and knocking over all his papers to make his job harder.

Another example of this is when one morning I was playing with their 2 1/2 yr old and 5 yr old downstairs in the playarea, which is right outside of the dad's office and the 5 yr old wanted to play monopoly, so I agreed and him and I played while the 2 yr old played with legos right next to us. I was teaching 5 yr old how to play and he was having so much fun and loved it. The dad walks out and goes "maybe you should play candyland with him, this is too advanced" and i replied "at first I thought so too, except he seems to be having a lot of fun and understanding enough of it to play"...despite that and his son saying it was his choice, the dad himself put the game away and brought out candyland. It makes me wonder if he underestimates how smart a child really can be.

One more example includes a morning where I had all three kids and they were eating breakfast and each have their usual seats they sit in. Well the 5 yr old came down to breakfast first and sat in his regular seat and then the 8 yr old did the same. Their mom brought the 2 yr old down to the kitchen and for some reason he wanted to sit in the 5 yr old’s spot. He started screaming about how he wanted that seat and for his brother to move. At this point their mom went back upstairs to change for the day and I told the 2 yr old he should sit in the open stool, his usual spot, because the seat he wanted already was taken. He started crying and would refuse to sit in the stool that was open. I tried distracting him with cereal boxes and fruit, asking him what he wanted to eat, but that didn’t work. He then ran over to his brother and started pushing him off his stool. The 5 yr old got upset and started whining that it was his spot. I was in the middle of telling the 2 yr old that he couldn’t have that spot when their mom walked down and goes “what is all the fuss about” so the 5 yr old goes “he wants to sit where I’m sitting but this is my spot” and the mom goes “then switch spots for today” I COULD NOT BELIEVE IT. She then left for work, leaving me with a very upset 5 yr old, who had to switch with the 2 yr old. I know this sounds silly, like no big deal but it’s just another example of the 2 yr old crying to get his way and the parents giving in.

In situations like this I normally have no problems giving a child a time out or taking away a privilege like dessert, a toy, etc at least for a certain amount of time. Whatever is fair, but I feel like they see me as a bad nanny because I don’t give in to their son every time he asks for something I think he doesn’t need, like a sugary snack right before lunch, a pop or something else similar to that. I took child development classes, I know this 2 ½ year old is completely capable of learning the word NO. I also don't view a nanny position as a babysitter. I view it as more then that.

Also, in my interview with their mother she had told me that their son wasn’t potty trained yet and that I was to potty train him once I started with them. So I had taken the 2 ½ yr old to the potty and he was curious, he didn’t want to go on it but then after a week he did try it. After that, which was before nap time one day, I walked down stairs after putting him down for his nap and told the dad that he went on the potty. He goes “I think he’s too young to start potty training” and I replied “All due respect, but he’s at the right age. I was told I was supposed to start potty training him in my interview” and he goes “He’s not ready”…well a little boy who just went pee in the potty seemed quite ready to me, but he’s the parent and my boss, so I stopped the potty training and went back to square one.

Basically, I want to know if this is common, if there is anything I should talk to them about and maybe I’m seeing this wrong, maybe its okay that they give in? I personally feel like its going to teach their child bad manners and its kind of spoiling him, but I’d like to hear what other people think before I decide if its an actual issue or not. Thank you.


mom & former nanny. said...

It is, sadly, common. Shitty parents are very common. Those poor kids.

The dad putting the game away was disrespectful! He is a control freak, and he and his dumb wife are teaching their smallest child to be a control freak as well.

You need to understand that you are NOT going to change these people. You need to make a decision. I would never ever be able to work for people like this. It would be a constant struggle.

I employ a nanny and what she says: goes! She is in charge of my child when she is with my child and if after I come home she tells me something I follow through with it! If you don't do this, the children learn to play one adult against the other and it becomes a popularity contest which it should not be!

You poor thing. You sound WAY too good for this. :(

MissDee said...

Wow. Obviously the 2 year old runs this house. I am guessing that they give him whatever he wants, even if it hurts the other children? "I think is too young to potty train?"

I think the parents are idiots. They have to know that by letting the two run the house, they are setting themselves up for problems, such as bad relationships with the other children.

I would write down your concerns. Also write down solutions for the problems of a demanding, spoiled two year old.

Keep us posted and let us know what happens!

SameHere said...

Hi OP,

I completely understand your frustration. I too work with parents who undermine what I do. I may just be the nanny but I have literally raised these kids, working 12-15 hours a day, while the parents, who don't even work, only see their kids for about 20 minutes a day. In that time, the kids whine, moan, throw tantrums and always get what they want. Drives me crazy since they are good kids the rest of the time. A few weeks back, one of the kids (who is 2) was asking for Tylenol and guess what, they gave it to her, even though there was nothing wrong with her. I'd already said no and explained it was medicine but the parents carried on and honored her request. Really??

I've actually talked to the parents about it, and although they agreed not to undermine me, they carry on doing it :(

ATL Nanny said...

This is, unfortunately, way too common. There is nothing you can do to fix it. The only thing you can do to make these parents happy is abide by their every wish and never question them. I think you'll be miserable if you do that, so my advice is to start looking for a new job. Do it sooner rather than later. It will probably end badly (no matter how much notice you give or what reason you give for leaving, they are likely to be furious and may ask you to leave that day and not come back.)

You may be concerned about how it looks to leave a job after a short period of time, but in the long-term, it's better than staying with them for two miserable years and then have things end just as badly (they always do with these types) and then have a two-year gap in your resume/references.

When interviewing for your next position, be honest without going into detail. Explain the the house rules and discipline style are significantly different than those described to you in the interview process and you are uncomfortable working within those parameters.

Good luck!

Momkat said...

Well you're job just got much easier...give into the two year old, just like they do. Then, they'll have to live with the consequences, not you.

alex said...

wow, it seems like they would rather do what was easier than actual parenting. You were right, the child should not have a soda and nannies and parents need to work together. At my job the parents are very specific to the children in that they have to listen to me and what I say goes. The 5 yr old was definitely not "too young" to be playing monopoly. He may not understand the rules but he could understand the general way to play which is all you need to know. And if the day knew anything, kids are ready to potty train at 18 months. It just seems like he wants everything easy. You could be a really good change for this family if the dad is willing to listen.

It depends on how you want it to work. Do you think they would react well to you sitting down with them and telling them your concerns? Since you have worked there for a month it may be a good time to do a review, see how they are feeling and tell them how you are. Also bring up things like how you were supposed to start potty training and now he is "too young." and things like that.

Honestly, if they continue to let the 2 yr old rule the house he is going to be a terror the rest of his life. I'd see if I could do him a favor sooner and help him out.

another nanny said...

These parents would drive me nuts, but I'm trying hard to see their perspective. They have 3 kids, if they've decided the 2-yr-old will be their last child, they may have ambivalence about letting him grow up and therefore are happy to keep in a kind of "baby state" for as long as possible. At least that's what I would tell myself to get through the situation, because it sucks to have someone constantly over-riding you.

Albeaner said...

I wonder if they used this approach with the other kids?
That said, just like any other job where the boss undermines you all the time, you need to look elsewhere. It's a shame, but until they go through a few nannies, they won't figure it out. Hopefully then, they'll resort to daycare for the youngest, where routines and discipline are consistent and well-established, and the parents aren't around to wreck things.

Dear Abby just said...

HI OP, you have some great advice here and I agree w/everything I have read. I agree this is a common problem and I myself have experienced similar stuff. I once watched a 4 yr old boy who used to kick me and lock me out of rooms, etc..while his mother never apologized or punished him for the behavior. I needed the job and the income and just went along and at the same time just laughed to myself each day (since she was expecting twins!) that I was the fortunate one and I at least could leave at the end of the day while she was stuck in her own (self-imposed) hell of having a difficult child. My job was a temp one however and that probably helped get me through it as well.
Anyway, I would try to talk to the parents more..but honestly it seems they are both in la-la land so I would look for another family to nanny for. A good point I read from another poster above is that it is better to seek work sooner rather than later since this probably will not end on amicable terms and a 2-yr job gap may look worse than a 2-mo. Make sure to give proper notice, two weeks is sufficient and in your next family try to address how you and the new family will work together to discipline the children. At least now you know the importance of a family working together with a nanny on these types of problems. Also, do you think this is a common problem for working with parents who work from home?

OP HERE said...

OP here!

Thanks for all the advice! I am going to put in my two weeks notice tomorrow, but I'm not sure how to go about it. The other nanny positions I've had in the past ended more naturally and lasted over a year and all on positive terms, this is the first family that I begun with that hasn't worked out for me and I only started a month ago really.

I already found a new job in the next two weeks, I'll be working for my father's company.

Does anyone have any suggestions on how to go about giving a two week notice?

Just be honest said...

Sounds like you have made a decision that will be better for you in the end. It is hard to work with parents that don't have common discipline styles as you, I know from experience. Like others have said, the child ends up pitting you against thier parents, and the parents always win.....they are the parents. LOL
I think in this situation, it's just best to be honest with them and explain that unfortunately, you don't feel you are a good fit for thier family. Without going into detail, and turning them into bad guys, explain your reasons, and politely bow out. They may be mad, and it may not end well, but that will just go to show they have no discipline for themselves either. :o)
Best of luck to you!

sharon said...

i work in a catering industry for families and i have noticed the " I WANT BLAH! I WANT BLAH!" { said 20 times } phenomenon. It works! Kids are smart.

When for time constraint or other reasons, the "blah" should not or cannot be given, the parents have no patience for that because their child is upsetting them and they do not know how to explain the word "no"

very very common

Denise Hart-James said...

How frustrating! I would go mad :( You deserve to be respected and if their parenting and disapline styles clash with your own then this will never work.

I suggest you tough it out while looking for new emplyment and when you find it, give your 2 weeks and tell them EXACTLY why you a leaving and what they are doing to their kids. If they don't listen, they will understand (all too late) in a few years when those kids are absolute out-of-control monsters 24/7/ Good luck!

MissMannah said...

Ugh. I hate people like this.

They want the youngest one to be their baby for as long as possible but all they are doing is turning him into a big brat.

Good for you for deciding to quit. I wouldn't have lasted there either. Since you've only been there a month, it is up to you if you want to use them as a reference. If you need the reference, be as diplomatic as possible: "I feel our personalities and styles don't fit well together and aren't conducive to the best possible care environment for your children." But if you don't need the reference and don't care about burning the bridge, and this is exactly what I would do, say what the problem is. The potty training, the temper tantrums, the word NO, the undermining, the whole kit and caboodle. It'll probably piss them off, but just maybe it will give them some food for thought before hiring a new nanny.

Dear Abby just said...

OP, congrats on your new job and I am so glad you are leaving! Anyway,the best way to give your notice would be to just keep it civil and simple..simply state that you felt like you and family were not a good match and that you will move on, etc. I disagree w/the poster who said you should say specifically why. Let things be and sooner or later they will realize what the problem is once the next 9 nannies quit after a month as well. LOL. Anyway, since after giving notice some parents get mean, be prepared to be jobless for the next two weeks just in case this happens. I guess for some people it is awkward to work with each other knowing that one party is leaving the other over personality clashes, etc. Also, while in the future you will not need to use them as a reference, it is best in general not to burn any bridges. Life too short. :)

nycnanny said...

And this is EXACTLY why I will not accept a position for parents who stay OR work at home!

Zohay said...

I'm in the same boat! I'm about 4 months in, and I have to tell you, it DOES get better; The kids learn to behave better because of the standards YOU set, even if they don't get better for mom and dad. For sure Mom and Dad don't really think that their kids are capable and adaptable, and it DOES affect their development.

I work for another family the other two days of the week, with kids the exact same ages (20 months and around 4 years), and the 20 month old is almost fully potty trained, can put on (and put AWAY!) her own shoes, coat, hat, mitts and if she does happen to be wearing a diaper (like on a really busy outing), she can tell you when she's pooped in her diaper and needs it to be changed. The 20 month old from the other family will just shriek at the top of her lungs until someone guesses correctly what she wants.

At the end of the day, YOU are not the one who decided to have these kids; The parents did. If you can't deal with their parenting style, find a family you CAN deal with.

This has given me the confidence to give MY 4 weeks notice to find a job that is way more satisfying. :) Thanks!

OP HERE said...

OP here again!

So today I put in my two weeks notice, it went way smoother than I thought. I didn't mention anything about their parenting styles however, but I did let them know that I just didn't feel like it was a good match for me. The mom was surprised a bit and stated that it seemed to be working out fine but understood if I didn't feel the same way.

Later that day just before I left she and I were talking and she wished me the best of luck for the future and told me she was appreciative of me staying for two more weeks until they find someone else.

I did not talk to the father but I know that his wife did talk to him about it during the day and he wasn't that friendly to me, not sure if it was because of my notice or if something else was going on, but I'm guessing it was because of my notice. However, at least one parent is understanding about it.

Its such a relief to know that I'll be done soon and putting in my two weeks wasn't as hard as I thought it would be and I guess a month in is a normal 'trial' period anyway so it seemed like the mom understood that. Thank you everyone for the wonderful advice, it really helped me out and gave me the confidence I needed to move on from this situation.


MissMannah said...

Glad to hear she took it well. Now hopefully the dad won't be a total jerk to you for the next two weeks!