Thursday

Clueless Parents Need Pointers on Child Raising

Received Thursday, December 9, 2010
Opinion 4 Hi, I need some advice/words of encouragement. For the past six months I have been working for an older couple with a 10-month-old baby, their first and only. When I say they are clueless, I really mean it. I have never in all my years of childcare met parents who are as clueless and lack the common sense that they do. The crazy thing is, they admit that they have no idea what they're doing and ask for my advice all the time, but they never take it.

Since I started I have been trying to get the baby on a consistent schedule, especially regarding naptime. The parents have in a sort of passive way been fighting this the whole time. They look at me like I'm crazy every single time I stress to them how important it is for babies to have a consistent routine, and yes, even when I tell them he needs to nap and get his rest. They flat out tell me they do not put him down for naps on the weekend or follow his schedule at all, saying they "don't believe in schedules" and that "he'll sleep if he's tired." Even when I have written out the entire schedule for them (at the Mom's request so they could follow it) and they have promised to stick to it, they nonchalantly tell me Monday morning that they didn't at all and the baby had no naps. Well obviously I'm left with an overtired, cranky baby every Monday, and sometimes lasting well into the week. To make matters worse, the Mom is home on Fridays. So she, in the politest way possible, avoids him taking naps and purposely plans things against his schedule, so they are more convenient for her. But as soon as he fusses, she's suddenly busy. Ironically though, if she is out of the room and he gets fussy, she runs in like I'm doing something terrible and insists to take over. When I tell her he's just tired, she laughs it off or says he must be hungry even if he just ate. I really think for some reason they just don't want him taking naps, ever. The pediatrician even recommended he take more naps awhile ago and they just dismissed it.

I'm incredibly frustrated at this situation and the parents response. They say and act (in every other regard) like they trust me and keep asking for my advice, yet completely ignore everything I say and the baby and I are suffering because of it. I have already decided to find another job because of this situation (and they pay really well), but I would like some advice on how to handle this in the meantime, since I can't leave until I find something else and then I have to give a month's notice. Thank you for your help!

34 comments:

MissDee said...

Wow. That's about all I can say, because do they not understand that structure and routine are the building blocks of trust at this age? So if they choose not to have him on a schedule, what will they do when he starts school, having difficulty adjusting to the schedule? Secondly, do they not understand that napping is a normal part of child development, and if their son doesn't nap now, he will have poor cognitive, learning and health choices later in life?

I guess they expect to have their son awake 24/7? Do they let him eat when he wants too?

I wonder what this child will be like in 20 years....Any guesses?

Just My Two Cents Just Now said...

I agree that is unusual that the child is not napping. I do not understand how a 10-mos old can NEVER EVER nap. I thought that was virtually impossible.
When you do give notice, what are you going to say is your reason for doing so? If you tell them the truth, then your last month with them may be hell since your working environment will be very hostile as most families get their attitude on when a Nanny gives notice for reasons such as this. If you stay a month, it may be best to keep it general and not tell them you think they are clueless about parenting.

CrapNap said...

So, usually when I hear stuff like this, I assume the nanny pushes the nap business so hard because she wants some downtime.

In the case of disinterested, incapable parents, however, I think they probably like to put him to bed super-early and over-tired so they have less time to deal with him when you're not there. It's all under the pretense of 'freedom to choose for the child' but it's about freedom for the parents. Sad.

Some people should not have children. A lot of people, actually. At least he has you to care about him.

Kit said...

I agree with what CrapNap said about the parents' reasons for not having naps. It's sad but true esp for the baby.

Perhaps you could suggest a quiet game or a reading session with the little boy? If he can't nap, he can at least wind down a bit.

I do that with my super active kid if he doesn't want a nap...

Jacqui said...

Maybe they have this unreasonable fear that if the baby naps, he won't get to bed early and/or allow them a good night's sleep. Unfortunately for them, that's part of being a parent. With a child that young, not only are naps a neccesity, but a consistent schedule is important as well.

It almost seems as though they're trying TOO hard to be the lenient, no fuss, laid back parenting types. I wonder if they feel they have more to prove as parents because of their age. Just a thought.

Psyber Chica said...

I can't believe you are going to leave a well paying job over this. You already know what to expect from this family. From reading these boards, it seems like now is not the best time to job hunt. How many posts are on here where the job started out great, but quickly went south? There are plenty of nannies dealing with way worse situations. You could wind up jobless for a long time.

TinyDancer said...

I wonder if they don't want him to nap because he isn't sleeping well at night? I took a sleep training class once and they said that if the child is having trouble sleeping at night the first thing you should do is make sure they have a consistant nap schedule and are getting enough sleep during the day! However, this would be the opposite for adults so maybe if they're totally clueless this is their thinking. I would sit down and really try to have a heart to heart about what they have against napping maybe they're trying to fix a problem with no napping that napping would actually fix. Though maybe you've already had this discussion.

NannyinNJ said...

RE: Psyber Chica

What a way to be encouraging to a nanny that is having the same basic problem that I am going through with my bosses. Instead of telling her to "suck it up", give her advice on what YOU would do in this situation...because I highly doubt you would just "suck it up" cause their are "way worse situations out there"....

Alex said...

gosh, I would be so frustrated!!

Honestly, I think the best thing to do here is sit them down and have a heart to heart saying, "you say you trust me but do you?" and ask why they don't want him to nap. I agree, it seems like it is so he can go to bed earlier and they don't have to deal with him. But sadly, that doesn't actually work. They will still wake up around the same time (babies & their schedules!) and just be more cranky! I'd probably find some articles from well respected sources to have them read and show them the harm they are actually causing him. Maybe then they will listen! And there are lots of studies that show that regular naps improve nighttime sleeping!!

NannyinNJ said...

Here is a thought,...If you sit them down, let them know, that babies grow in their sleep, that is their growing time, so by not napping their child, their harming them...

Check out babble.com

Jacqui said...

Giving parents advice about how they raise their children can potentially be risky. Parents are very sensitive about things like this, especially when it's coming from the nanny, who, whether they realize it or not, are slightly threatened by, even if on a subconscious level. I just think that's a lot easier said than done, ya know? Despite my 16 years worth of experience taking care of children (mainly newborn to toddler), full time, I am VERY careful when it comes to offering advice to parents. It's such a touchy subject and it's so subjective.

Jacqui said...

Let me rephrase that..SOME parents are threatened by the nannies, not all, not even most. But these parents seem the perfect candidates in this case. From what you say OP, they may be a little insecure given their age.

Someone's Nanny said...

For Christmas I would buy them the book Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child- by Dr. Marc Weisbluth.

Nanny Freud said...

I agree with Jacqui about treading very lightly when offering parenting advice. They say they want it, but in truth, they do not want to feel like their parenting choices are being dictated by the nanny. They probably want to believe that, despite their lack of experience with infants, they just intuitively know what their child needs.
As someone else mentioned, it could be that they believe he will sleep better at night if he doesn't nap. This is not the case with infants, however.
On the other hand, they might so badly want him to nap, and feel guilty for wanting a break, so they counteract that by refusing to let him nap.
Alternately, it could be that he gives them a really hard time going down for a nap, as children will do to their parents more so than with their nannies, so to avoid feeling inadequate, they just say they don't want him to nap.

Whatever way you slice it, I think there's deep psychological stuff going on. If you can get a sense of what the particular underlying issue is, you might be able to make this work.

Just My Two Cents Just Now said...

I think it is pretty reasonable for a nanny of a 10-mos old to want some downtime..who wouldn't?? Even mother nature acknowledges this as it allows younger children nap times since caring for older children does not wear one out as much! I agree that a 10-mos old needs a nap. Why? At this age, children are growing so rapidly that they need lots of rest to counter all the changes that are occurring at such a rapid rate.

Oatmeal said...

I never had any of my children on a sleep schedule, ever. They slept when they were tired, in appropriate amounts of time during the day, and went to bed at their bedtime (the only set time and even that was vey fluid.) They are all healthy, well-adjusted, tweens/teenagers. Sleep schedules are almost always for the caretakers' (parents' or nannys') convenience both in childhood and sadly, at the other end of the spectrum, in nursing homes, where adults are put "down for a nap" for huge periods of the day and then to bed at 5:30 pm. I saw many people decline family activities because it was "naptime" which I always thought was a fall-back excuse not to do things with their kids and allowed the parents to sit at home and not take the family out on the weekends. We always did many, many things with our kids and they would sleep in the car or in their stroller if they were tired. I hated to see households ruled by the almighty naptime!

What the parents do on the weekend, or anytime for that matter, is their business. Even if the child was kept awake for 48 hours, it only takes one night of restorative sleep to get back on track, not all week. Dealing with a cranky kid may be part of the job, just as dealing with cranky clients or employers can be in the business world.

My guess is the child will turn out fine and not be an up-tight control freak, but rather be someone who can go with the flow.

Shocked! said...

I had a friend who would not let her baby take naps, even from very early on. She wanted him to go to bed early, and sleep all night and late into the morning, as she didnt want to get up early with him. I watched him a few times for her, and the last time I babysat him, his crib had HUGE gouges in the wood, all along the upper edge. I asked her what happened to his crib, and she said "oh, he chews on it". I was shocked and appauled that she was so lazy that she let him sit in that crib, wide awake and bored to the point of CHEWING it. Needless to say, we are not really friends any longer.

Miss Poppins said...

Yeah...it's a tough call. I mean, I work for a mom who purposely plans naps outside of my shifts so that she maximizes her work-time (even though I clean during naps, and don't just sit on my ass and eat their food), Is it disruptive? Yes, a little; I do think babies should have regular sleep schedules. However, this baby is very well adjusted and not at all cranky. Also, parenting styles differ, and many don't include a routinized nap-time. For example, mothers who hold or carry their babies for the majority of the day tend to allow them to sleep "when they are tired" as you said, OP. BUT, if these parents are consistently keeping their child up and not giving him any sleep time during the day, that's crazy.

Nanny Linda said...

Mary Poppins..I hate it when I work as a Nanny for a family with a child that naps and once he is napping, they have me clean and do all kinds of chores since technically I am still on the clock. A good nanny needs some time to eat a peaceful lunch and just rejuvenate. She needs her downtime if she is to be a good nanny. I have had say..50% of families who have me wash dishes, do laundry, and/or vacuum during nap time and I no longer work for those families. During a baby's nap time a nanny needs her rest too!

Miss Poppins said...

Nanny Linda, I totally see where you're coming from, and I certainly don't overdo myself. I am not asked to clean, but I will fold laundry or put the dishes away, and I don't clean throughout the entire nap and I always treat myself to a well-deserved lunch :)

Miss Poppins said...

But I agree, I HATE when parents specifically ask me to clean. I recently interviewed with a woman who said, "If I'm going to be paying you $12/hour I certainly expect you to clean while she's napping." I was thinking, wow...if I could only be so lucky as to mop your floors for twelve dollars an hour, where you can view it on your nanny-cam (yes, she admitted to a camera)...." Needless to say, I withdrew my application :)

Psyber Chica said...

Re: NannyinNJ

I'm not here to encourage the OP to stay at her job. I'm just stating an opinion. Did I not bring up valid points? It is irrelevant what you or I think or would do in this situation, OP is going to do as she sees fit.

The parents are adamant that their child will not be taking naps. Their pediatrician has even told them that the baby needs to nap so I doubt that printing an article from the website you suggested will make a difference.

Jacqui said...

Naptime is breaktime...Unless of course the kid naps for like 3 hours. After awhile you need to find something productive to do. But why do people who employ nannies expect different standards? I'd say that at least 90 percent of them get lunch breaks the majority of the time...and if they don't, it's because they choose not to take one for whatever reason. In most states its required by law for employees to take breaks. Why shouldn't a nanny get one?

Just My Two Cents Just Now said...

Jacqui: I bought up the subject of Nannies being legally entitled to a 1/2 hr lunch break a day, esp. for full-time work and all I got back on my post was that I was stupid and uneducated, etc..because many people told me that nannies are domestic workers and by law, they are not entitled to such breaks. I disagreed on that, and then got more hate remarks so I let this subject slide.........but I still agree that domestic workers should still be legally entitled under fair labor practices to get the same benefits as other workers. Uh-oh..here come the haters...LOL.
Anyway, Miss Poppins...I agree. Nap time is rest time for the nanny. While baby naps, nanny can watch a little T.V., catch up on reading or homework, catch up on phone calls, check e-mail and/or eat a nice uninterrupted meal. If baby sleeps more than say 2 hrs, nanny will get super bored and can always fold laundry, load/unload dishwasher and/or clean up toys. I think this is only fair. Then when baby awakes, the nanny will be 100% refreshed and energized to play with the baby and perhaps take the baby for a walk, etc. But if the nanny uses the nap time for doing household task, then by the time the baby will wake up, the nanny will be super tired, not to mention being super resentful as well. Do parents put money before a nanny's well-being? Don't they realize that a happy, rested and unstressed nanny can only benefit their child?
Good for you for withdrawing that application. I can't believe someone made that comment to you about paying you $12/Hr so you are obligated to mop her floor. What a dimwit.

Marypoppin'pills said...

I just want to make it clear that I am not the one posting as Miss (Mary) Poppins.

Jane Doe said...

There's really only room here for one such Mary Poppins type moniker.

Nanny Maria said...

My apologies, Marypoppin'pills....I didn't mean to step on your toes :) New name!

---the nanny formerly known as Miss Poppins

Manhattan Nanny said...

There is a chart on Baby Center that gives the amount of sleep babies need at progressive ages, broken down into nighttime, number of naps, and total hours.
I would print it out and give it to them, mentioning that this is an average, and of course during growth spurts they need more, as growth only happens during sleep.

www.babycenter.com

Marypoppin'pills said...

Nanny Maria,
I thank you very much! The regulars would probably know that wasn't me... but any new Readers more than likely wouldn't. :)

MissMannah said...

I am appalled at "Oatmeal" who said that a baby can miss 48 hours of sleep and then make it up in one night of restorative sleep! Are you insane? Most adults can't even do that!

OP, I do agree with whomever said that you should not quit over this issue. It is a very bad job market out there and you never know if you'll end up with parents even worse than these.

But I don't think you'll be able to "prove" it to them that the baby needs sleep. They laugh off the concept already so they are unlikely to change their minds unless maybe the pediatrician gives them a pretty good lecture. I really think that would be the best way to go, because I assume he would be the one person they would take seriously. You said he's already "suggested" the baby get more sleep but maybe he needs to be a little more forceful with these suggestions and also back them up with some sound medical proof.

BW said...

I don't believe in schedules. Never used them. I practiced child-lead nurturing with both my children. My kids ate when they were hungry, slept when they were tired and played when they felt the need. The human body is designed to let you know what it needs and when it needs it.

My kids are very well adjusted, well behaved, healthy and happy....and as a result of this kind of nurturing, have made they own schedules that work well now and I've never had an issue at bedtime or anything.

Let the parents decide how to raise their children....that's honestly not your job. If your style does not fit theirs, then perhaps this isn't the job for you.

BW said...

And to SHOCKED....

I don't know of a baby that didn't chew their crib when they were teaching. Both mine did, as did every other baby I know, pretty much. This is normal behavior...not a sign of bad parenting.

BW said...

Ugh...that should say "teething" not "teaching." Sorry.

formernanny said...

I would say, just let it go until you find your new position. Don't give any more advice, and just do your job as you see fit.

As a mom of a 10 month old who doesn't follow strict routines - I think I would support a nanny's desire to follow strict routines while she is on duty, but I would not make any effort to adapt the routines to the time I spend with my child (I know this kind of counteracts the nanny's efforts - but it is the truth)

We follow a loose routine - with naps, of course, sometimes one, sometimes two depending on the need - and while bed time sometimes moves around a bit, our bedtime ritual remains the same.

To start adhering to a more strict schedule has not worked for us - we've tried - it ends up with unhappy baby & unhappy mama - so I let it go.

But yes, I would trust and support a nanny that felt otherwise if I thought she was doing a good job at meeting my child's needs without stressing her out.

That said, what I wouldn't want, is a nanny who felt the choices I was making were a serious detriment to the well being of my child in the future. That would be the end of it for me. And I wouldn't want to hear about what I should be doing all the time from my nanny either - get that enough from everyone else under the sun.