Separate Family... Different Rules

opinion 1 Hello Fellow Caregivers:
With the increase in the amount of divorced/separated families I feel that many of you have been in a similar situation to myself. I am employed for the male parent whom has the child Monday-Friday on a full time basis. However the child goes on overnights with the female parent 3 days per week (one weekday and 2 full weekends per month). The male parent is extremely easy going and does not do well with arguments or confrontations. The female parent loathes me (the caregiver) and loves confrontations. She often makes huge deals out of minor issues and is extremely pushy (she will not give up until she gets her way). She often bullies the male parent into giving her additional access or enforcing rules/regulations for the caregiving staff (even though she is not the employer of this staff).

Most recently, she has decided to both allow and encourage the child (toddler) to "boss around" the caregiver as well as trained her to "tattle" when the caregiver uses the internet or telephone. The male parent (the caregivers employer) allows the caregiver to use such devices, however, the female parent (who is NOT the EMPLOYER) bullies the male parent to see the negative light of free time for the caregiver or downtime.

The result of this situation is:
* The female parent is using the male parent's "timidness" to gain control over his caregiver.
* The male parent is non verbal on the subject and thus appears to the female parent as a "pushover" and as if he doesn't care either way.
* The male parent makes the caregiver feel that he is not on their "side" and that they would agree with their ex over their "teammate" (the caregiver).
* The male parent feels that he is being pulled in both directions and just wants the most "drama free solution" which is to let the female parent and caregiver carry on as they wish.
* The child is confused in what is a rule in one household isn't in another, and has no limitations or rules when with the female parent. It is resulting in a negative attitude toward the caregiver, as to which rules to follow.
* The caregiver feels "what is the point" of trying to implement rules/structure as soon as the child leaves the household because they once again revert back to their mother's rules.
* The female parent is getting extreme in her "new rules" and freedoms, for example: she has "re-introduced" the bottle to an almost four year old child! Just to spite the caregiver. When the father learns of this information, he says NOTHING to the female parent and allows it to carry on even though he doesn't agree with it, just to avoid conflict. The female parent has stated she has done so to frustrate the caregiver and to prove that she is more powerful than the caregiver.

What do you recommend I do? In your suggestions please note, the male parent tends to avoid conflict and will not verbally address this issue with the female parent. The female parent/caregiver do not have a relationship due to the female parents hatred toward her. The child fully understands how to use manipulation tactics in this situation, and does so on a regular basis. I am at a loss!

- Concerned Caregiver


Wow said...

What does your contract say? That's what you do. Whose signature is on that contract? That's who your boss is and that's who you answer to. According to your post, DB is your employer. Whenever the mom brings up something conflicting, tell her you will discuss it with DB. Concerning the child, keep the rules the same as they've been. Children are adaptable and it will only take a short time to adjust back to the home rules after the weekend, if you're firm. If the mom gives child a bottle, still don't give it to him/her. Simply say, "No, you don't drink a bottle here, remember?"

I would ignore the mom's aggression and have a talk with DB about not being in the middle of their conflict. He needs to step up. I would only have civil conversations with the mom. When she starts getting aggressive, I would cut her off and say, "Ok, I'll talk to (DB) about it." Then I'd stop talking. When do you see the mom anyway if the child is only with her on weekends and 1 overnight? Concerning the child trying to boss you around, don't allow it. Be consistant and firm.

If DB starts to alter the contract to appease the mom, it's time to look for another job unless you like drama.

BTW, an almost 4 year old is a preschooler, not a toddler. Big difference.

nanny barb said...

I would quit...too much drama

Or have no communication with the mom..the dad can let you know about stuff.

Village said...

Since Dad doesn't care, follow Mom. Tell Mom from now on you are following her instructions to the fullest. And, BTW, you think she is the best Mom ever. Flattery will get you everywhere. Mom is now your new BFF.

This one is easy. Mom lost full custody, and a stranger is raising her child. She has a reason to be upset. It's not like Dad is staying home with the kid.

Personally, if I had kids, Dad got custody, and his new wife stayed home to raise them, I would be looking for someone to kill.

OP said...

Hey Everyone OP Here:

Thanks for the posts!

It has come down to I have no communications with MB however she speaks to me through msgs with the child.

At this point now MB has child trained to take note of what I do daily and report back to her...
its complete rubbish.

Tales from the (Nanny)Hood said...

Well, unless the mom pays you, she can go pound sand, unless she still has enough influence with the dad that she could convince him to fire you.

As for the child, that's simple. You have your rules, and that's how you do things. "Remember, you use cups at this house since you're a big girl." (And toss any bottles that wind up at the dad's house in the trash or in the suitcase to send back to mom.)

If the kiddo says she's going to tell on you, say, "Oh." and then change the subject.

Do the job outlined in your contract with the man who pays your salary. If there is something that needs to be clarified, ask him to sign off on an amended contact.

NanaLana said...

This will not end well I can pretty much gurantee you that. I forsee a court summons in your near future. Good luck!

Momma of 4 said...

Dad has custody for a reason. The Mom sounds like a nut, and a possible danger to YOU! I would quit before you become to attached to the child. "Mommy dearest" sounds like she wants to ruin everyones life (including that precious little girl). Don't waste anytime giving your 2 week notice!

Village said...

OP You need to get the Mom's Email, and start self reporting to her. Get the address from Dad, and just start reporting to her. Tell her what you and the kid are doing. Especially report the cool things her kid does during the day, and send lots of pictures. And say things like, 'in this picture, the kid looks just like you, when you smile.'

Put yourself in her shoes. It's her kid, a person who was INSIDE HER for 40 weeks, and now a stranger has her. Mom's skin is crawling for her child. She wants to be with the child, she wants to know what the child is doing. She wants the child. Do it. Give the child to her, through technology.

OP, this is not about you. Please stop making it about you. It is about a child. Mom doesn't know you. She has no idea what a good caregiver you are. She doesn't really care. All she really cares about is her child. Make it about the child. Now get that Email address, and send Mom a pic of her kid doing something cute. This Mom is so starved for her kid, it's not going to take much to make her your friend. If you have to send her a pic per hour, or per activity, it's a small effort for such a large reward. Imagine her happy.

nanny2 said...

I definitely see this as mom being upset and insecure about having a stranger caring for her child. Although it's not fair for her to be rude to you, people are not always rational when strong emotions are involved. I would try something along the lines of Village's idea...try including MORE rather than less. Maybe you could help the child make a scrapbook to record daily events and she could carry it back and forth between homes? If that's not possible, I still think sending photos, artwork, etc, is great. Mom probably just wants to know that the child is safe and secure during the week, and also that the child still needs and wants "mommy" (ie, doesn't forget about mom during the week).
And kids actually can learn to follow different rules in different places (such as when they go to daycare or preschool). And when she threatens to "tell," it's really a non-issue, since mom is not your boss. Just move on.

ums said...

Sounds to me as if you are looking for drama.

As a divorced mother who employs a babysitter, this is my advice: let go. You cannot control what is done with this child when the child is not with you. One of the hardest things about divorce is giving up that control when you are not with your child. is not your child to boot. You are getting way too emotionally invested in this.

Plus, why are you on the phone and internet? I as a parent would be concerned if my ex had hired a lazy nanny. I'm not saying that you are, but your post seems very one-sided.

In short, these issues are none of your concern, and nothing you can do anything about. The dad employs you. Follow his directions when caring for his child. If you cannot handle the mother disliking you, get another job. It's really that simple.

Wow said...


It's not the nanny's job to get that involved. I would not get mom's email address and send her anything. DB is her employer, the child's father, and the mom's ex. He can keep mom informed. To do what your suggesting is crossing a boundary.


You stated in her updated post on this thread that you don't have direct contact with the mom, and you should keep it that way. Ignore the child's comments and stop getting emotionally involved. It's really not as big a deal as it seems. It's up to you to keep the boundaries and do your job as the child's caregiver. You need wisdom, maturity, and a knowledge of child development in order to handle this situation properly. Don't do the child the disservice of getting caught up in the drama.

NannyPoppins said...

OP-So the father does not have any say about what his ex-wife is doing? He doesn't stand up to her? It seems like even though this woman does not have full custody she is still making things difficult and seems to have more "vocal" authority in the whole situation regardless if he is the "boss". You need to have a sit down with the dad and explain that his wife is putting his child against you and is making things difficult. And as much as he hates confrontation he needs to step up to his wife. The worst part of it all she is using the child to "get back" at her husband and even you. You need to explain to the father that this cannot keep happening or you can no long work for him. But honestly I do not see the ex wife ceasing her ways.

hmmm said...

I agree with village, act like you are her best friend and give her friendly updates. My boss is a NUT but I pretend like we are a team and send her the cute pictures and the LOL bizarro text messages. My friend advised me to do that about 4 years ago and it works like a charm. parents don't like to wonder what their kids are doing, even if they don't want to be with them themselves. give the mom a sense of how your days actually go and what you are 'working on' and see if it helps.

Good luck. My employers are about to get divorced and it's going to look like this.

Village said...

I could be right and I could be wrong, but I don't think boundaries are an issue here. The dad is a wimp. No amount of talking to is going to change his way of living his life.

If Nanny and Mom bond over child, Dad is the winner. His wife bitches about something else instead, (and she will, it's how she lives her life), and stops using their kid as a spy.

If I were the nanny, and the kid said, 'I'm telling Mom', I'd say, 'let's tell her now. We'll send her an Email.' And then I would compose an Email as dictated by the child, and add at the end, your lovely child wanted you to know what we are doing. As soon as that child realizes s/he has no leverage on the Nanny, life is going to be better for all concerned.

Carin said...

How long have you been in this situation? This may not be a good fit you?

Like it or not it doesn't sound like daddy has any interest in backing you up with mom.

Deal or get out.

nannyface said...

Do you perhaps have a crush on DB?

Sounds more like new girlfriend vs ex than nanny doing what's best for child

Nanny S said...

I worked in a similar situation. I was employed by two parents who divorced. When that happened, I was split between the two households and everything was going great...until MB got this idea that there was more between DB and me (which is still so awkward and uncomfortable to think about to this day). Until that point, I had a great relationship with DB. He was an old guy and would likely get me a job in his company after I graduated college but MB went CRAZY, though her craziness was different than what you described. But my point is--MB smeared my name to our mutual friends, saying we were "romantically involved" (entirely embarrassing and not even remotely true, her neighbors told DB who told me, he's a pretty direct person and we discussed it openly, how his ex was a psycho), but THEN she took DB to court to MODIFY THEIR PARENTING PLAN TO SPECIFICALLY STATE THAT I COULD NOT BE EMPLOYED AS THEIR CHILDCARE PROVIDER. I didn't even know they could do that! But they did and I was out of a job. I got 2 weeks pay, crying kids, a great recommendation. It's been three years and I am still on good terms with DB, (but again there is HONESTLY nothing romantic at all, why would I lie in an anonymous forum). He is engaged, and I babysit his new gf's child sometimes, and he has helped me vamp my resume as I'm getting ready to graduate but honestly--get out. This lady is crazy, and she is right, the family agreement between them will take precedence over ANY nanny or caregiver or whatever. Your DB is your employer and he is not giving you the tools you need to succeed at your job, and he most likely will not. Start looking for a new job NOW and good luck. I hate to say it but crazy MB's are the WORST.

Wow said...

Based on what OP described, I think some on here are overreacting. 1) the mom is not OP's employer, dad is; 2)therefore, OP does not have to answer to the mom; 3) who cares what the child tells the mom. As long as OP is doing her job well, what difference does it make? OP doesn't even see the mom, remember? Ignore the child's threats; 4) DB is the one whose opinion of OP's job performance counts, not mom.

Again, I reference my other comments above. OP has to be mature about the situation and not get emotionally involved. It's not about OP, but mom's bitterness towards DB. Sending her emails is not going to make a difference.

OP, have a talk with DB and tell him how you're perceiving the situation. If you can't keep emotionally distanced and keep it in perspective, it's time to find another job.

MissMannah said...

I think I'm with Wow on this one. If you try to be buddy-buddy with the mom, it will just backfire on you. She's already made up her mind she doesn't like you and no amount of sucking up is going to change that. In fact, if you start sending her pics and updates, she may start to think you're trying to take over the female role in the child's life. That will make everything 10x worse.

In short, you have absolutely no reason to ever talk to the mom. Do you ever see her anyway? Seems like, from what you said, everything you hear about her is second-hand, through the dad or child. So that leads me to believe the information isn't 100% reliable to begin with.

Time to put your big-girl panties on. What do you do with someone who is being malicious for attention? You IGNORE them so they'll go away. Don't feed into mom's nonsense, because that's all this is. And come on, any nanny worth her salt needs to be able to handle a manipulative child or one who is playing one parent off the other.

If this escalates to the point where it can't be ignored, sit dad down and explain to him that the child is getting confused and needs boundaries or you won't be able to work for him (yes, HIM, not mom) anymore.

Stand your ground said...

I think you should sit down with DB and go through anything that is bothering you, specifically differences between the mother's house and DB's house. For example, the bottles. Ask DB... do you want the child using bottles in this house?? Be VERY clear on the rules in the house and there should be no problem. Tell DB what the child has said and clarify your expectations from DB. That way, if mom ever has a complaint, you can say these are the rules in DB's house.

From experience, it is natural in a divorced family for the mom and dad to have different rules in each house. The child has no other choice than to adapt to them, although this may take some time. If you really want to stick with this job, stick it out and make the rules clear for this child. Talking with DB and being on the same page will be the only way.

Personally, if I was the mother, I would be a little jealous that someone else was helping to raise my child but for one reason or another, the court decided that dad should have the majority of the custody and that is not the nanny's issue to dispute. Just remember who is paying you and who is your boss.... DAD. Get rules from him... simple as that. I am sure that the child tattling on you is not ideal but you are the adult. Be gentle but stern with the child and tell the child the rules in THIS house. Sooner or later the child will begin to see that you and dad arent budging. If the mom wants to be immature and play games, that is her deal and hopefully sooner or later she will also see that you are serious. Please let us know how this turns out.

MAnny said...

I think that however you decide to go forward, you should document it. It is also very important that you document how you are spending your time on this job as proof, in case the female parent decides to make a legal issue of it.
Sitting down with the boss, male parent, and clearly discussing what is happening and the detrimental effects on the child must happen. For your sake and the child's. If you're going to reach out to the female parent, make sure that he is aware, because you don't want to add to the amount of subversive activity going on here.
It sounds like the female parent is feeling pretty awful. Her child is spending a lot of time with someone she doesn't know and she has lost decision making power. She's trying to control the situation further through the child. The big loser here is your charge, and the little one should be the focus of your discussions with both parents. They'll be more inclined to help their child than their babysitter.