Nature vs too much Nurture

 I have had it! I have been nannying for 22 month old triplets for the past 3 months and their parents won't even let me take them outside. They are basically gated in all day long with no fresh air with the exception of going out onto the screened in patio which MB calls their "outside" time. These parents are driving me crazy as they are "work at home" parents. I am their 4th nanny and plan to leave very soon. It is sad for the children because they are developmentally very behind and I think if they would get outside and interact with other kids and nature that would be of some help. They barely have even a few words between them and MB refuses to get them evaluated. She is in total denial. They also have some strange behaviors. I am wondering is this because they may have autism or are just odd because of their environment? Just curious what everyone else thinks. I am not interested in changing the situation because I think it would be impossible with this MB.


Sarah NY said...

I had a family I babysat for occationally that did this with their son. I really think that being outside, fresh air and interaction is the key to development...I refuse to sit for them anymore because not only does the mom not let him outside she dresses him in a onesie then footie pjs then pants and shoes all the time...ugh what is she thinking. Oh thats right, lets give my kid heat stroke. If you need a real example of how keeping a child locked inside is horrid look at Genie the feral girl, I know this is an extreme example but same kind of idea...

Bethany said...

Were they born prematurely?

It's not uncommmon for preemies to have their outside time restricted until they are two years of age.

Also if they premature even if their actual age is 22 months their adjusted age might be much younger. Which has an impact on developmental milestones. It often takes time for the diffrence between those ages to close. This can also be the case with multiples in general.

Same with the "strange behaviors" you mention.

I empathize with you about being restricted.

I wish you luck in your new job.

I hope the parents are more open with their next nanny about what they expect from a nanny.

MissDee said...

I don't even know where to start, because being the fourth nanny and the twins are not even 2 yet....

First thing is first: children NEED fresh air. It's a FACT. I know this sounds extreme, but remember the movie "Flowers in the Attic"? How the grandmother kept the children cooped up in the attic, not letting them outside? Kind of extreme, but they can grow pail, have difficulty developing and using their large motor skiills if they are not given ample time, space and opportunity to move their bodies. Being outside helps children listen, concentrate and sleep better. I say this because I work with school agers and our center has been cooped up due to the heatwave here in south central WI since Monday. Yesterday was the first time we have gone outside all week, and let me tell you, they loved being outdoors!

I would say take them outside, but if M or DB are there, choosing to do that could have serious consequences, and I would hate to see you get fired. Instead, I would find some articles on why being outside is essential for children, and see if you can encourage her to read them, allowing them to play outside.

As far as the "strange behaviors", specific behaviors are needed for us (as readers) to help you. How much experience do you have working with children? Are you familiar with toddler development, broke down by months? Are you familiar with 2 year old development? If not, check out a few sites and books on child development, and milestones children typically reach during this age. Use the list and compare with their development, noticing any differences. Are you doing any activities to promote development? If so, it could be what you are doing that needs to be something more.

Last but not least, take notes on their development, along with your chart and have a conversation with M and DB, letting them know you care for the twins and because of that, you are concerned about their development. Show them your research and notes you have taken regarding development. Decide what to do next. Give it some time, even though I can guess what your day is like, and it isn't fun.

After a few months, follow up with them. If nothing is done, and they appear to be unconcerned about their childrens' development, start looking for a new job. It takes a team, not one person, to raise a child.

bostonnanny said...

What do you mean strange behavior? Like a pp said its common for mulitples born prematurely to seem developmently behind, their age needs to be adjusted based on their due date and actual birth date. Also multiples can form their own language amount eachother if they aren't encouraged to speak or spend with other children. I would try to teach them sign language and try some early intervention exercises that you can find online based off their behaviors. Also try to set up playdates that can come over to their house.

I would also print out all the research on developmentally appropriate behavior for their age group taking in consideration that they were premature and show the parents. Get information about early intervention in their area and give it to the parent. If you plan on leaving anyways should just be honest with them. Tell them that they will continue to go through nannies and that if they love their kids they would get them evaluated. You have nothing to lose unless you plan on using them as a reference

Just My Two Cents Just Now said...

@Miss Dee:

I loved loved the book, "Flowers in the Attic" and V.C. Andrew's books rock! ☺


I feel for you. Working for a parent who is in the home is hell, but you have two of them there!! I would go nutso! Plus, the fact that you cannot take them anywhere would further drive me insane!!

I would think that after three months the parents would trust you to take them out. A fun trip to the park or local library or even a casual stroll around the block would be great not only for them, but for you as well.

Good for you for quitting this job. No wonder they go through nannies. Most nannies would simply die of isolation/boredom in this situation. Plus, it is summer and the weather is so nice.

Susannah said...

As another poster mentioned with preterm babies( which these triplets probably were) there are often serious medical/ immune health concerns. It's not just an issue of trusting nanny. Many pedis will strongly advise these children not to be dragged around the neighborhood and beyond until after their second birthday. This includes trips to the park or play class.

Some parents are extra cautious even with in the precautions. But can you blame them? If you saw your babies hooked up to machines the first few months of life you probably wouldn't be so cavalier.

If you stay you've been given good advice to follow.

Though their parents should make the nanny aware of this during the interview so she's not shocked with her restricted activities.

They should probably also only hire those with previous preterm/multiple experience.

Hope you find a great new job.

Phoenix said...

there is nothing you can do. And this has nothing to do with nature vs nurture. I don't know why that time is picked.

but you can't do anything. They are not abusing the kids. They are sheltering them and I am going to laugh when they are older.

My little cousin was treated this way. No fucking joke. She is 13 now. She was secluded most of her life and even when she was at school wasn't able to have friends. Her parents would volunteer at the school so she would have to eat lunch with them and not play. Well LOL. we just found out that she has been sneaking around with a 16 year old boy. How the hell she did it we don't know but she got smart and that is what happens when you don't let your kids interact with people. THey flip out and do VERY bad things. What does a 16 year old boy want with a 13 year old girl? We know.

Too funny. Feel bad for the parents when those kids are older. They are going to be fun

Anonymous said...

Thanks for all your opinions and yes, the were premature. She actually almost made it to 36 weeks though so not too bad. We live in California so it is very difficult to remain indoors and watch the other nannies stroll their charges to the local parks. Also, I don't think these parents are as concerned of their fragile immune systems as a few of you believe. They do take them out themselves and some of the places they have gone are inappropriate for any child to be. If it suits the parents needs they go. As far as strange behavior, the girls (id twins) aren't nearly as bad as the boy. They are all aloof and seem to have attachment issues. They are very difficult to engage with play activities and don't seem to understand much of what I say. They just stare a lot with minimal facial gestures. The boy also flaps his hands up and down occasionally. Just a few examples. They turn 2 at the end of July so I may re-address taking them outside again with MB if I stay.

luckoftheirish said...

35 weeks is "too bad." Google the difference in brain sizes @ 35 weeks & 40 weeks. IIRC, those little brains were about 1/3 smaller than full term babies. These children desperately need early intervention. Very sad situation.

Bethany said...

I'm not familiar with California law, but can they receive early intervention services? Many states offer these services to children for free for children such as your triplets.

Yhe therapist(s) in ome cases go into the home for services and can suggest activities for the parents or reccomend further evaluation if needed.

Bethany said...

Can you describe what you mean by attatchment issues?

Do they not engage with you or their surroundings?

Is it that they do not engage or can only engage for short periods?

Do they respond to changes in your facial expressions? Changes in your tone of voice.

What do they understand? Are they speaking?

At 22 months many children can only speak 20 words but understand simple things such as Where is your foot? They might repeat parts of songs that you sing with them.

Occaional arm flapping in a toddler isn't automatic autism.

Bethany said...

If you stay, maybe have specific activities in mind when you ask mom about taking them out. Maybe even a few choices mom & dad can pick from.

Some parts balk at the vague I want to take them out.
empathize with you it's so hard seeing you could make a difference in the lives of your charges in running into parental resistance.

Good luck!

NannyShell said...

I think she meant to point out that almost 36 weeks for triplets is very good. I previously cared for triplet boys who were born at 34.5 weeks and weighed over 5 lbs each at birth. None of them needed any NICU time and all went home with their parents. Children born after 35 weeks are usually considered "feeders and growers" if they need any NICU time at all. This is very different that multiples born much earlier and spending months hooked up to machines in the NICU while they fight just to survive.

OP- Have you taken care of this age group before? There is a huge range of what is considered "normal development", so I was just wondering how familiar you are with this age group. It would be somewhat rare (not impossible) for three children in one family to be diagnosed with Autism though, so I would doubt that all three of them would have Autism. Also, how many nannies have they had? They could be failing to connect and bond with you because they have just had too many caregivers in and out of their lives. The babies could also just be behind because they have not been socialized that much except spending time with each other. I once had a temp job with twins that were just two years old that were like this. They had basically never spent any time outside of the house except with each other, so they just didn't know how to interact with other children or adults they didn't know. In the end I stuck it out for the two months and did the best I could considering what I was allowed to do with them.

Honestly there is nothing you can do if their parents are not on board. You can try to talk to mom and dad and give them some information about development and what's considered normal for their age. I personally wouldn't push the early intervention suggestion because it sounds like mom is just not ready to hear that right now.

Best of luck OP if you decide to stay in the job!

Rhode Island Nanny said...


Did either of them return to the hospital.

My mom works NICU and constantly rants about babies born around the 35 week mark that are sent home only to return in days.

Nanny Renae said...

I would die if I had to stay inside w/two work at home parents and two toddlers.

I don't think I would have stayed as long as you did.

Just sayin'.................

luckoftheirish said...

Bethany, in CA these babies would receive free intervention therapy through The Easter Seals until they turn three. At three, they receive their services through the school district. Unfortunately, if they wait until theyre three, they have to jump through hoops to get approved for services.

OP: our son said three words @ age 2 years, 10 months. At 3 years, 10 months, he says hundreds of words. We may not understand half of what he says,
butwere getting there! He was born three weeks early & the early intervention has been wonderful!! He
turns four this summer & he goes to preschool eight hours per week & he *loves* it so much!! Hopefully theyll find a nanny who will stick it out. Maybe it
will work out, if you write a letter expressing your concerns. Those babies need a nanny that will be able to communicate with the parents. More importantly they need parents who are willing to examine why they are losing their nannys as well as the needs of the babies. Early intervention would likely improve the remainder of their lives.

NannyShell said...

Rhode Island Nanny-

No, the boys were very healthy and never had any NICU time. Honestly by the time they were 6 months old you wouldn't know by looking at them they had been born early. They were chunky little monkeys who hit all their milestones right on time. I've been told that premature multiples tend to do better than singletons though.

Bethany said...

I should probably just ignore this since this is clearly a post to stir up drama.

But I hate it when people assume that a nanny's job is to blindly follow what the parents put forth.

That he or she is there to support whatever whims the parent has.

A nanny is more than your run of the mill babysitter.

In my view while she absolutely helps the parent her first responsbility is to the children in her care.

She is their advocate. She is their to support and encourge social, emotional, and physical development of her charges. This goes beyond issues of safety, abuse or neglect.

This nanny has every right and a reponsibilty on the behalf of the children she cares for to bring any concerns she has to the parent.

This poster does have legitimate concerns. Proper socialization and exposure to the outside world is vital to a child.
Many times sypmtoms of more serious issues are caught in the early years.

These children and parents are fortunate to have a nanny that is vigilant.

As far as other careers, well if survival means turning a blind eye to things that are clearly damaging, I wouldn't survive, and frankly I'm thankful for that.