Is it ok to Intervene Between Father and Daughter?

opinion 1
I'm working for the most amazing family ever. Thoughtful and kind parents who are both physicians. The toddler is super well behaved and the baby is adorable.

Today I came in and the little girl told me her dad pulled her hair with the brush while brushing it and then pushed her down. Mom was nearby so I quickly brushed it off. When we got to the car to drive her to school I asked her to tell me about it. Without going into too many details, basically she was whining and didn't listen to her dad and then went into her room where baby was being put down to go to sleep and she disturbed the dad and baby. Dad got upset, yelled at her and pushed her down and closed the door. This morning she was very sad and cried a lot. She didn't even want to go to school. No, I'm not calling cps. Dad got upset and she did not injure herself. He always treats her well. Now if I notice a trend and this happens again I will reconsider.

My question simply is: what do you say to a child who is 4. I told her - Evan, I am really sorry this happened. It should not have happened. I know your dad loves you but it's not ok. I asked her if it has happened before to her or mommy and she said no. I also told her that if it did happen again to use her words and tell dad violence is not ok and he needs to use his inside voice and words to express his feelings. And that he hurt her feelings. She is incredibly smart and articulate and is capable. I also discussed with her the fact that she didn't listen to her dad - she described a few incidents leading up to the incident involving whining and disobeying him. Listen this is his fault, he needs to not allow her to whine and then she will listen better. It works with me! And if they did preventative behavioral guidance this would not get to the extreme. But she needs to listen to dad as well. I was very delicate in not blaming her however.

Did I tell her enough? I followed through with several hugs and kisses. And verbal reassurance that mom and dad love her sooo much. Did I do the right thing?


Lily said...

You should have told the mom what Evan told you and let her handle it. You definitely overstepped your bounds.

Just My Two Cents Just Now said...

I would take a wait and see approach and see if this behavior continues.

Until then, you did the right thing by speaking to Evan and advising her accordingly.

Sarah said...

I think you overstepped your boundaries. You could have very easily said "Evan, I am really sorry this happened." and perhaps discussed how sometimes when we're tired or frustrated adults can snap or shout or be a little too rough when they don't mean to and said that mom and dad still love her very much and that she is welcome to talk to dad and mention he hurt her feelings when he yelled at her. BUT, other that, I think you said too much.

DoubleSNanny said...

I take care of a 4 year old, and when she gets crabby, she tends to over re-act. One time I witnessed her Father putting her in a carseat, and then he patted her leg, and said, "I will miss you today! Be a good girl!" She was in a really bad mood, and yelled out, "HEY!! You hit me!!!" He just kinda laughed it off and left. She then told me, "Lily!! Did you see that! Daddy HIT me!!" I corrected her. "That was not a hit. That was a love pat."
4 is a Sensitive (and sometimes Drama filled) age. It's good to keep an eye out, but at the same time, when she tells you things, just listen calmly and ask her how she felt about that. If she says sad/mad, simply say, "I'm sorry that you felt sad/mad with Daddy." Leave it at that. If your gut is telling you that something is wrong, talk to the Mother.

MissMannah said...

I am very afraid that by telling your charge to tell her father violence is not ok and to use his inside voice, you are going to get fired. You overstepped your bounds, as others have already said. As someone who grew up with abusive parents, I kind of know how they think (which is to say, not at all, they rely too heavily on their emotions). If DB starts to get angry and starts yelling at Evan again and she tells him what you said and you or MB is not there to intervene, he will most likely see it as her mouthing off to him and it will make him much angrier. This might get her hurt worse, which is the worst case scenario, but entirely possible. And then if he asks who told her to say that and she names you, that will infuriate DB and you will be out.

Momwest said...

It is unfortunate that you used the word "violence" with Evan, which is a very strong term for what happened (according to the 4-year old's description, not what you actually observed). What if she repeats that her dad used violence on her to an adult at school? That her nanny said that it was not ok what her dad did. You say that the parents are thoughtful and kind and the dad treats his daughter well, yet you are quick to judge them. I agree with Miss Mannah--you are indeed in danger of losing your job. You need to refer future incidents to the mother.

Bethany said...

This sounds like a family still adjusting to having a new baby.

Sounds like a over tired dad with a new baby and older child and busy job to manage, and a 4 year old who is no longer the one and only center of her parents' world and not adjusting well.

If you were so concerned you should have talked to mom, and watched what happened.

All you need have said to Evan was, something like "I'm sorry you are sad/upset today. I hope you feel better soon. I'm sorry your feelings were hurt. Daddy still loves you." You also could have encouraged her to talk to dad.

Tales from the (Nanny)Hood said...

Well, no, you didn't do the right thing. You went so far out of bounds that when your charge tells her parent(s) what you said, you will likely be fired.

Next time you see something like this, all you need to do is tell the child you are sorry she is upset. Then go for some sort of distraction.

Next, ask MB to speak privately with you, and let HER know what happened. She will then deal with her husband as she sees fit.

You, as a nanny, are generally considered to be a mandated reporter. You are not the parent's nanny, and have no reason to correct their behavior in front of their child(ren).

ELam said...

I know it may seem like Evan, at 4 years old, is articulate and mature, but she is still just 4 years old. The concept of violence and violent acts are probably difficult for her to understand. Putting that thought into her little brain: "Daddy was violent" is simply not ok. It's also a little odd to tell a child to tell their parent to use their "inside voice" and "words to express feelings".

I'm confused, you said Dad was brushing her hair and pulled too hard (I can count on one hand how many times my dad brushed my hair when I was little, and pretty much every time he pulled too hard! Hair brushing is one of those mysterious and complicated duties to some Dads) and then pushed her down. But then you said she told you she was upset and went into the room where baby and Dad were and then he got upset and pushed her?

So that's 2 different stories she told you about the same incident, sounds pretty typical for a 4-year-old. If you didn't see it happen, you say the parents are wonderful and you feel comfortable with them, then I don't think this situation is a red flag that required a come to Jesus talk with the little girl. It's just adding to the drama of a likely harmless, stressed out parent moments. Mom's and Dad's yell on occasion, it happens! And physically (not violently or abusively) moving a child away from an area (the room where baby was sleeping) happens all the time. I have seen many a child throw themselves on the floor when this happens and then exclaim "You made me fall! You pushed me!"

I work with several young kids and one of the 3-year-old's, every time I touch him, even just a hand placed on his back to guide him (my job requires me to physically prompt kids quite a bit) he will immediately yell "OW! OW! YOU'RE HURTING ME!" when clearly I am not. Kids are dramatic like that. So if all is well with this family overall, then you need to take a step back and relax.

Susannah said...

You didn't see what took place. 4 year olds are dramatic. Combing out a snarl could have become daddy pulled my hair. Evan being wiggly could have caused the "pulling" . Same with the "pushing". She's climbing on dad while he's rocking the baby or trying to get into the crib, playing loudly with a toy etc. and dad had to physically move her from the room becuase she would not leave and this becomes pushing in Evan's mind.

You could have acknowledged Evan's hurt feelings with out giving her the lecture.

If you really feel there is an issue you could have talked to MB about what Evan told you.

It's important as nannies that we pay attention to what is going on, but we also need to exercise good judgement, which you didn't in this case.

Unfortunately, this could cost you your job , and end up making a minor situation a major one.

ELam said...

Sorry, I just had to add one more thing. This part of your post:

Listen this is his fault, he needs to not allow her to whine and then she will listen better. It works with me! And if they did preventative behavioral guidance this would not get to the extreme. But she needs to listen to dad as well. I was very delicate in not blaming her however.

Blows my mind. The situation is not anyones "fault". It sounds like a normal 4-year-old not behaving and a normal father who has a child on his last nerve, among other things.

"He needs to not allow her to whine".
No parent, no matter how perfect, will EVER have a child who does not whine! Never!

"If they did preventative behavioral guidance this would not get to the extreme".
Listen, get off your high almighty horse and understand that every parent has their not-so-stellar moments. I don't have children myself (and I'm assuming you don't either) but I can see the truth in the statement that parenting is the toughest job on the planet. Every moment of every day cannot be spent practicing "preventative behavioral guidance".

"I was very delicate in not blaming her".
God forbid a child experience the consequences of their actions. Obviously no child deserves any type of abuse, but something is telling me that there was zero abuse happening here and that it was more of a child's dramatic fabrication of events. If she was whining, disobeying Dad, and barging into the sleeping baby's room, she probably deserved some reprimanding.

I'm sorry, I didn't mean to come back and harp on this but I read it over one more time and it just really ticked me off. Maybe your heart was in the right place trying to be protective of this girl, but please open your eyes and understand that no parent is perfect, discipline happens, and sometimes children get yelled at (and yes, in my opinion there is a difference between abusive screaming and raising your voice to a child). Don't make a mountain out of a molehill with this.

oh well said...

The thing is, you did not witness what happened. She could be describing the incident entirely truthfully, she could be elaborating
on the incident. Adjusting to a younger sibling is not easy when you are a toddler. She disturbed her dad
and the baby on purpose - although she may not be aware of it - because she wanted attention for herself. I would be more concerned with sibling rivalry at this point than with possible parent abuse.

Tell it like it is, said...

OMG what a blow up ..Jeeze I can see how this happened and 4 yr olds have a tendency to exagerate especially when they want some pity lol Even grandparents can get tough now and then when a kid is whining and doing their best to wake up an infant that you just got to sleep. I myself have given a kid a little push to get them out of the room in a hurry but it didnt hurt them one iota. Ahhh the old hairbrush pain. I used to swear my nother took a running leap with that damn brush deliberatley to bang my head with it and it didnt matter that i hated having that hair brushed it was so long I sat on it. My dad never ever touched my hair unless it was to get my attention when I was ignoring him . I learned that when I brush the girls hair I start at the bottom and work my way up so that the snarls come out much easier and I dont get that whining about hurting them.

OP I know you are just trying to protect that little girl but saying the dad was Violent about this incident can cause all kinds of problems. I can her hear her now telling her playdate that her daddy was violent with her and I can hear the playdate telling her mommy the same thing and I can hear the door bell ringing with the CPS there to take the kid out of the home. Before I accuse daddy of being violent I would tell mom what the kid said let her decide what really happened because YOU do not know what happened and if you have worked with 4 yr olds before you would have taken it with a grain of salt.

XTC said...

I have to agree with missmannah:
"If DB starts to get angry and starts yelling at Evan again and she tells him what you said and you or MB is not there to intervene, he will most likely see it as her mouthing off to him and it will make him much angrier."

You definitely overstepped. And I know you said she was a very "capable" 4yo, but seriously, who would think a child of that age would actually say such a thing without prompting?

Hopefully the kid will forget the very detailed conversation you had with her about this. Next time, just be kind and supportive, give her a big hug and just reassure her mom and dad love her. That's it.

Nanny barb said...

Why didn't you ask the dad? I would have said "Evan said....."
If you have a great relationship with the parents I don't understand why you wouldn't talk to them about it.

No ones perfect. We all have moments where we lose our temper and are at the end of out rope.

MissMannah said...

Maybe I didn't read the post closely enough but I just assumed this was an instance of abuse and the OP was certain of it. Now that I am reading some of yall's reactions to it, you are really starting to make sense in saying the little girl was probably overreacting to the "push." It is true, children of this age have a tendency to say things like "You hurt me!!" after the slightest little touch. So I guess no one but the Dad really knows what happened, he could have really shoved her and he could have just brushed her aside to get her out of the baby's room. But the fact remain that OP did say the wrong thing and she has to do some major damage control if she wants to keep her job.

OP here said...

Ok guys I didn't use the word violence. So stop over reacting. This website is useless. If I didnt say anything then I wouldve been blamed for not doing enough. Parents were not home so I didn't see them! Except for mom. Btw I used the word pushing is not ok. How about saying hey you were kind and thoughtful? Or compassionate? Thanks or nothing.

Make Up Your Mind Ding Dong said...

Ummmmmmm... And I quote "I also told her that if it did happen again to use her words and tell dad violence is not ok and he needs to use his inside voice and words to express his feelings."

So you did use the word violence... or you didn't? People are only responding to what YOU POSTED that YOU SAID. I'm prettttttttttttty sure that no one is misinterpretting. And they're all giving you their opinion... which.... in fact... you asked for....

StrawberryShortKakes said...

I'm sorry OP but I have to agree with the others who say you seemed to have over stepped your boundaries. HOWEVER... I believe that you posted this for a reason because you were probably second guessing what you had said to the child and therefore I would look at this as a learning experience. The child is not forever ruined because of this one situation and it is not the end of the world. The most important thing is to see where you went wrong and make changes for next time or a situation that is similar in the future.

I do think that situations like this are difficult to explain to a four year old because they just don't have the ability to fully grasp what is going on. That is why the words you choose and the way in which you say it are both very important. Overall, though, I do think it would be best to discuss with MB and DB how they would like to handle situations like this in the future. It is also important to realize that, as the others said, you did not see what happened and four year olds tend to have a twisted view on things. I can't blame you for wanting to assure her that it was not OK for dad to push her but all the words you used and the way you said it probably just confused her even more. I would have told her that we could speak to dad about the situation later and then just changed the subject.

Bottom line- I don't think you should be fired or anything for how you handled the situation. You are human and did what you thought was best at the time. The only thing you can do about it now is learn from it and move on!

C said...


I would not worry about the situation. It seems like you did the right thing in explaining that your charge should use her words instead of physical violence. I believe that every opportunity is a learning opportunity. If something her father did, whether dramatized or not, upset her, it is something that she can learn from. I would not fear for your job, and I would not let these comments get to you. You seem like a caring, and compassionate nanny, which from all these bad nanny sightings seems like something that is not easy to find!

It seems like everyone here would rather point out a grammar mistake, or a misused word, rather than offer practical advice. I say, keep up the good work! This family seems lucky to have you.

ELam said...

OP -- The only reason you are upset is because we all didn't agree with what you did. And, according to YOUR post, YOU said "I also told her that if it did happen again to use her words and tell dad violence is not ok". So, according to YOU, YOU used the word violence. That's not us overreacting. And "Parents were not home...except for mom" ...ummm, so yes, 50% of the parents were home.

Anyway, all I'm saying is had all of the replies to you had been "Wow, great job for talking to her about it!" I'm pretty sure you wouldn't be saying this site is useless.

I highly doubt you'd get fired over this and if you did that would be a little ridiculous. But just remember to take a step back and reassess the situation before you immediately jump to the worst conclusion. It's just very contradictory of you to gush about how wonderful this family is and then say that you may have to call CPS in the future depending on the situation.

And to C -- no one in this thread complained about grammar and I'm pretty sure some really great, practical advice and opinions were given. It's a shame when people just can't accept the err of their ways when others point them out.

Like others said, this is a learning experiences, chalk it up to that and move on.

Chriss said...

Op, you are getting upset about opinions you asked for. No one is criticizing anything other than what you asked them to. Why should you get praise for showing a 4 year old compassion? That's your job. You did what you thought was best and that's what's important, but when you ask for people's opinions on whether it was right it wrong you should be prepared to listen to them and find out it may have been wrong. You put the thoughts "daddy is violent and I need to tell him it's not nice" into her head. You followed your instincts, but try and learn from this. My previous 5 yo charge told her mom I burned her hand so she wouldn't such her thumb. That sounds terribly abusive. In reality I put wasabi on her thumb so it would be spicy if she tried sucking. Big difference, right? It's important to realize when a child is being dramatic or not. It sounds like Evan was, and everyone is just trying to tell you what was dangerous about the way you handed the situation. Again, you did what you believed was the best interest of the child, that's what's important.

Momwest said...

The choice of words to use does matter. I had a nanny from Mexico who would say "molest" when she meant "bother." When you say someone used "violence", one does not imagine a little push. When someone is violent, we are talking about using physical force to injure or damage something. Children remember and repeat what adults say, especially if it is someone they look up to.

OP here said...

Dear C- thanks for at least a little aknowledgement.

Honestly I am not going to read every single line that has been typed by readers bc their dramaticness is annoying. I kept telling myself just dont read what others said bc it will bother you but I couldn't resist.

For the record- my iphone typed on my behalf. I didnt proofread this. Looks like someone pointed out my grammar. BTW english is my second language so excuse me for not being perfect.

On that note I should not have used quotation marks the way I did I meant to include partial.

Also the family is amazing. I only included the tidbit about CPS in there bc I thought for sure I wouldve been verbally raped for not calling CPS STAT. I just meant, if I noticed a pattern that I would address it with the parents. But no I dont think this child was being abused. The parents are kind, strict, but kind.

Also to protect myself I used a dif name for the child and age... the child is older.

And I dont talk to children like idiots. They talk properly around me. I dont use "cute words." I expect maturity. SO yes I speak to them like an adult and consequently they are great kids.

ALso I am not concerned about losing my job- this is my hobby. I love kids and teaching them to be little happy people.

I do however appreciate the constructive critisism, I do dont agree but I appreciate it.

workingMom said...

OP, you need a new hobby; your perspective on your role in this family is.....skewed.

Momwest said...

Never heard a nanny refer to her job as a hobby before.

Op here said...

Being a professional nanny is hard work. I admire nannies who take pride in their job. Because that's the way nannies should be. I am blessed enough to not need to work anymore. But I enjoy it and do so because it gives me pleasure. Nothing wrong about that. So I work 1 day a week. I'm not belittling nannies as I myself have worked as one for 9 years.

MissMannah said...

WTF? Why did you even submit a question if you didn't want honest answers or if you didn't want to read all the posts thoroughly?

StrawberryShortKakes said...

OP- I think you are going to have to agree to disagree with the majority of us but I feel like sooner or later the mentality you have is going to come back to bite you. In my mind, I get the idea that you are trying to save this little girl from her "violent" father when you don't even know if that's the case.

I also find it weird that you changed the age of the child- being a nanny, I don't understand why you thought that wasn't going to have an effect on the story when you should know that children at different ages are at completely different levels in their development- emotional, physical, and mental. Ok, maybe if she was 5 (not 4) then that isn't a huge deal but once you get up to 6 or 7, that's a whole different ball game.

I still think that you should have said as little as possible and then discussed it with the parents. Whether or not you used the word "violent" is irrelevant to me, I think it wasn't the best idea to be making her dad out to be the bad guy when you don't know the whole story. I am all for giving the child the benefit of the doubt and not brushing off any suspected incidents of abuse but assuring her that she was right and her dad should not have pushed her was not appropriate because again, you don't know if that is the truth. I don't condone any parent pushing or shoving a child but it really can be damaging to put ideas in a child's head that her dad is scary. Also telling her to stand up for herself really isn't going to work if her dad is, in fact, abusive. It is not her job, as a child, to stop the abuse. It is the responsibility of the other parent or caregivers to be the child's advocate and look into the situation. By encouraging her to stand up for herself, I personally see that as making it seem like she is all alone in this. Do you see what I mean?

I also find it interesting how you don't seem to think anyone is right but yourself and you totally back up your actions. I am curious, have you told the parents this entire story? Or talked to them about it at all? If not, would you be willing to tell them? I am going to guess no. I encourage you to talk to the parents and ask them how they would like you to handle situations like this in the future. If not, you may be in trouble once "Evan" asks where babies come from LOL.

Bethany said...

This has become so weird.

NannyPants said...

Oh, OP. Do not post here if you do not want feedback. This is what you asked for. The last line of your post was:" Did I do the right thing?" It was not "Tell me I did the right thing." So you are obviously going to get some honest input here. If that's one thing this site is good for, it's girls telling it like it is. You should have thought before you posted. Also-I doubt you changed the name/age of your just panicked now that someone called you out on it.
And lastly...your job as a nanny is your "hobby" and you enjoy making kids into little happy people? That creeped me out to no end...and I'm thinking you're a fruitloop.

anon repost #1 said...

This was a good post & I didn't want to see it get deleted for being anonymous:

Anonymous said...

I used to provide child care for other people's children. Now I am a working mom who has entrusted the care of my children to a wonderful nanny. There is an added layer of responsibility and stress to parenting that did not exist when I cared for other people's children, and which leads me to sometimes show a little more frustration and a little less patience. One of the most difficult aspects of entrusting a nanny with my children, for me, is trusting her not to judge my imperfect parenting too harshly, to undermine me, or to assume the worst when my child provides his/her side of a conflict. In this case, if you were my nanny, I would feel you violated that trust. She said her father pushed her down. He has given you no reason to suspect that he is abusive. But in his moment of imperfect parenting, you chose to believe the worst, and allowed that to guide your manner of dealing with it. You then undermined him by telling your charge that he was wrong, without knowing if that was the case.

ELam said...

OP -- You just keep coming up with excuses and it's obnoxious. I would expect you to change the name of your charge, but why lie about the age? That has a big impact on your story.

It's interesting that you won't read through all the responses because they are "annoying" yet you managed to read the one post from the one person who agreed with what you did.

I don't have to work either but I choose to, and I still call it work because that is what it is! A hobby is something you do in your free time and do not get paid to do. A job is something you should be taking seriously, whether you need it or not.

I need to just stop posting on this thread because I know none of us will make you understand what we are trying to say. You will just keep making excuses and defending your actions. Grr, I can't understand why people ask for advice and only accept it if it's what they want to hear. You can only grow as a person by being praised at times and critically critiqued at others and by gracefully accepting both.

Phoenix said...

well one thing I know is children over react.

Example: I was a child and I went to my nanny's house limping and whinning. She asked me what happened. I cried. She thought my parents hurt me. Turns out a fly landed on my leg and I was "hurt"

She was more shocked by what her dad did. She is retaliating because he was spending time with the baby and she wanted attention. Just leave it alone. As long as she isn't beatin and has no marks she is fine and playing you like a fiddle.

Just agreein' said...

I doubt OP lied about the childs age. She probably just said she did later on, to cover her ass as she was not happy with the feedback she asked for. She also mentioned how smart and articulate she thought this child was for her age. Thats a lot of detail to add to a "pretend" age.
I agree with the other posters. You overstepped your bounds. Now you need to let it go, and hope it doesnt backfire on you. Next time, if you are truly concerned, go to the mom, or the dad, and discuss it.

educatednanny said...

As a nanny, when uncertain and/or uncomfortable about the way in which to handle children in your care, ALWAYS confide in the parents. The scenario who have described is clearly beyond your role as a nanny. I appreciate your dedication to the feelings of the child within your care, but her parents have hired you to act as a caregiver not as a parent. While there certainly are circumstances in which red flags seem be wave loud and clear, I'm not quite getting this from this story. This seems to be a family matter best left to the expertise of the mother and father. You should learn not to take on too much as a nanny and to thoroughly recognize the extent of your role.