Are American Nannies akin to a Slave?

opinion 1
I have a question (mostly for my fellow American Nannies.) I had the chance to talk with a British Nanny, and an American Nanny who worked decades ago, they both had the opinion that current American Parents view their nanny as something akin to a slave, and that many nannies hold this view themselves. Now I don't feel I'm a slave or treated as one, but I do feel nannies are given more authority and respect in other parts of the world as compared to the USA. Why is this the case?


British nanny said...

I'm a nanny in England for three different families (2 part time afterschool and 1 for 30 hours) for total of 39 hours a week. I am a new nanny, I've worked for my first family for almost a year. I get on really well with all 3 families, they are very understanding, realise that I have a life of my own and any extra hours I work are well compensated for. Maybe I'm just very lucky.

I have never been to the USA so can't help there but I feel in Britain nannies are fairly well respected by their families, although like anywhere else there are exceptions.

Hope this helps

nycmom said...

There are bad employers, just like there are bad nannies. Are there cases of employers overworking, underrespecting, and underpaying their nannies? Absolutely. Is this the majority? Not in my experience.

I think we are not giving nannies enough credit here. Apart from a new, naive, , young, or immigrant (who would learn very quickly), nannies are too smart to put up with mistreatment for long. If they do, it's for very high pay.

I agree that when I have spoken with people employing nannies or household assistance (cooking, cleaning, driving) in other parts of the world, it is usually for less money and longer hours.

I really do not think most American parents view their nanny as a slave. New employers, imo, actually go too far to "please" their nanny and accommodate ridiculous demands. Experience employers treat the relationship like a professional one, with a negotiated contract, annual reviews (and raises), mutual respect but healthy boundaries.

I suspect the less developed the country, the less jobs available. Thus the market there dictates lower wages and longer hours (or no job). In the US, most good nannies have choices both within the field and for similar paying jobs outside the field.

MissMannah said...

Very well said, Nycmom. I think it all boils down to respect, both from the parents to the nanny and respect the nanny has for herself. I have never had a parent treat me like a slave but maybe it is because I have enough self-respect to not act like one and the parents can sense that.

Nycmom, the only part of your post I take issue with was your new employers vs experience employers part. I would say more like educated employers vs uneducated ones. (Educated in the nanny world, not school.) My employers are first-timers but they're doing everything right, they insisted on a proper contract and paying on the books and they are not bending over backwards to accommodate me...nor would I dream of taking advantage of them anyway. Smart first-timers know they have to do research before hiring their nanny.

Susannah said...

I'd say treating them as an actual slave is not common.

I woud agree that being a nanny is not seen as or repected as a career/profession by the greater American society as it may be in other countries.

Clem said...

OP do you mean parents are more involved with their children in American and don't hand over the reigns of child rearing completely to the nanny?

If so I would say that's true and maybe not a bad thing.

My grandmother who was a nanny would disagree, but she was from a time and place where being a nanny meant you ruled the nursery and mom & dad popped in for visits and the chid was 18 and useful for something. The rearing was left to the nanny and governess.

That is different nannies fufill a different role now, but I will agree with the others that being treated as anactua slave probably isn't common.

DC nanny said...

I'd say that I'm pretty much treated like a slave. Or at least like someone whose time and life isn't important. Apparently my job is to take care of not only the children, but the parents as well, as they expect their staff to wait on them hand and foot. I started out as a nanny, but now I'm not really sure what my job description is. I'd say somewhere between nanny/ assistant/ errand girl/ maid.

And yes, I'm paid pretty well. But all the money in the world can't pay for lack of respect. So soon enough I'll be moving on, and hopefully I'll be able to find a household where I'm treated like a person.

Truth Seeker said...

Perhaps it has to do with the American culture. Our culture only values professions where a lot of education is required. People think just "anyone" can be a Nanny so they don't value it very well.

I am a Nanny and I always have felt like a slave. It seems my families do not think providing childcare is adequate enough. No...they want me to also do the laundry, dishes, sweeping, etc.

workingMom said...

Every time I read this I keep thinking of a Dr Phil quote:

"YOU teach people how to treat you."

If you behave professionally, you will be treated professionally. And if you behave like a novice or pushover, you will be treated as such also.

Someone cannot treat you poorly on a continual basis, unless you allow it.

Phoenix said...

well to be blunt about it. Slaves didn't get paid and nannies do.

Nuf said

Schnoodled said...

My thoughts exactly @Phoenix

springday said...

workingMom, i agree! It has so much to do with how much you (as a nanny) respect yourself and how you represent yourself. If you only accept jobs that are to your standards, act in a way that is professional, and require the same from your employers then you will have their respect (and a good job.)
It is true, though, that a nanny job is not considered a career, here, just a job. It's too bad that some people can't see how important taking care of the future is...

DC nanny said...

@Phoenix- Point taken. Slave isn't a good word to use. I think of it more as being treated as if you're less of a person.

@workingmom- "If you behave professionally, you will be treated professionally" This might be true most of the time, but I've learned that there are just some people who feel like their help is of a lower class. In that case, if you work for people who treat you like crap, and you continue to work for them, it's your own fault. I acknowledge that it's my own choice to stay until I have enough money saved up. I'm keeping myself in the situation. But I didn't create it. I've always acted professionally, and I'm very good at my job. The people I work for just happen to be demeaning and crazy.

africannanny said...

I was employed by a great family in the US, but I now live in Africa. The Western families that live here employ nannies for usually no more than 150usd a month. And that is a GOOD salary. Most families treat their nannies terribly, yet trust them to raise their babies. I took a "nanny" type job here for a few months and after raising a baby for 5 months (parents were out of the country for 80% of the time while they were adopting this baby), I never once heard a thank you from the mother. Just saying, nannies are treated MUCH worse in the country where I live.