18 November, 2012

Nanny Knows Best

OPINION
I have been working for a wonderful family for about 3 months now, and MB just had a new baby a week ago. They have never complained about my performance, have done on-paper performance reviews, and have been references for other jobs I take on outside of my work for their family. They are an absolute dream to work for. One problem, however, is beginning to irk me, and I'm not sure how to address the issue with MB.

Their first child is two and a half years old, and still sleeps with a pacifier. While they have indicated they are "weaning her off", they are not following through with their word, and it is making for a strained relationship between myself and my charge (I am the "bad guy" because I actually follow through). I indicated over a month ago that I would try having her not sleep with the pacifier during naptime (they agreed to this, but I knew they were probably still giving her the pacifier during her weekend naps); initially (for 2 days) she asked for the pacifier, but after she figured out that I wouldn't give it to her, she fell asleep (albeit less quickly, but I have been rubbing her back to help her learn to self-soothe without her beloved pacifier).

Now that MB is on maternity leave, she puts her daughter down for naps and, yep, you guessed it, pops that pacifier in her mouth every time, without fail. I addressed it passively with her while we were all at the park and she said the goal for the pacifier is now to have it gone by the time she is 3 years old. This has also been the same process for potty training, by the way. When I put my charge down for a nap that day, she asked for her pacifier and I refused to give it to her. Her mother then said over the camera monitor (it's only on during naptime and is NOT a nanny cam!) to give it to her because "she sleeps longer for her". At that point I gave her the pacifier, rubbed her back to calm her down (she had been crying furiously because she didn't want to sleep without the pacifier so mom would hear and intervene, which she did), and left the room.

I have tried to give up and "not care" about the issue, but I just can't put it to rest in my head and I am internally furious every time I have to hand over that pacifier. This is not helpful or healthy for ANYONE! I am seriously concerned about the oral care of the child, as well as her ability to manipulate her mother (she doesn't behave the same way with DB or me because we say what we mean and follow through). Clearly, these are none of my business, as I am just "the help", but I feel like they are giving her the pacifier for their own motivations, and are hindering her health and her emotional growth in the process. Now that she has to share her mother with a newborn baby, she cries and whines at the drop of a hat, screams, etc. to get what she wants with mom (and it usually either works or results in a bribe, which also bothers me). I know toilet training can be a slow process (and she is showing progress in that area) so I am less worried about that aspect. Am I overreacting? Do I address the issue more assertively with MB and DB, if at all? I am tired of being the mean nanny. - Anonymous

29 comments:

BrooklynMomma said...

Mom is opting for lazy parenting. Be glad the child is just your charge and you get to leave at the end of the day. Believe me, this situation is going to come to a head one day and the challenge will be child vs mom, not child vs nanny. I say bring it up once more and propose a solid plan. If mom and dad aren't are board, then step back and let them continue to create the mess that they will later have to address.

Nannykins said...

Not your child-not your call. Harsh I know but the reality of the situation. And I don't think what MB is doing is the worst thing in the world. The child has to get used to someone taking MBs attention away from her (as well as yours) While I weaned my daughter off her pacifier by 1 year old I don't condemn parents who choose to let their child have it longer. Personally, I feel a child should never be made to "Cry furiously" right before they fall asleep. It makes for bad memories later in life. Just step back and let MB do what she feels is best for her child. It's not abuse, and I know plenty of people who kept their nuk, binkie or pacie until they were three or so and have excellent oral health.

I do think it's great that you are such a concerned nanny OP.

katydid said...

I've been there and if everyone is not on the same page it is hell, and it also isn't fair to the child.

I think mom is probably reacting out of fatigue ( caring for a newborn and a toddler) and guilt that her daughter is now not getting all the attention she once did and she doesn't want to spend precious mommy/daughter time being stern.

I would not tolerate being undermined in front of the child. Mom could have told you later just to give her the pacifier.

I would have a sit down with both dad and mom and come up with a plan for the pacifier and potty. Put emphasis on the importance of everyone doing the same thing out of fairness to the child. Write it out step by step if you need to. Make it clear that you won't allow yourself to be the bad guy.

If you want to I would also suggest that you care for the baby on your own for a bit and let MB and daughter have some special mommy & daughter time.

Good luck.

another nanny said...

I would not bring up the issue with the parents again. Wait for them to bring it up. At some point it will become important enough for her to be weaned that they will actually follow through. Now is obviously not that time. Also, remember that it is common for toddlers to regress somewhat after the birth of a sibling, so this may not be the best time to push for these changes.
In the meantime, just give the child the paci (unless MB specifically tells you not to). You may not agree with a child this age having a paci, but in my opinion it's actually doing more harm than good for you to be so out of sync with the parents. It's only confusing the child and frustrating you.

VA nanny said...

I agree with the PP. There's only so much you can do. Give it one more try- sit down with them and address the issue of the pacifier, and ask what they want you to do. Then, just do what they say. Try to let it go within yourself, because there's nothing you can do. If the parents aren't following through then it is not going to work, and it's really not worth the headache to you to try to undo their mess every day.

This has happened to me so many times, and it NEVER gets less frustrating. Especially when parents want you to accomplish something but they undermine the effort every step of the way, and then question why it hasn't gotten done.

With my current MB I always give her all of the options and sides to an issue, tell her my opinion and what I would do, and then tell her that she needs to decide what method to take so we can make a plan that we stick with. Doesn't always work, but it makes her say definitively what she wants me to do. That way when it doesn't work, I don't get blamed for it.

Just stick that pacifier back in her mouth and make your life less stressful.

MissMannah said...

Brooklyn, of course the mom is going to be lazy--she just gave birth a week ago! I know if I had a newborn at home, the last thing I'd want to do is get into toddler battles!

OP, I'd say give it a rest right now. Normally, I would totally be on your side because I absolutely hate seeing children over age 1 with a pacifier. But this child has had a lot of turmoil in her life lately, with the new baby. She probably also wants to be babied a little bit now. Give it another month and then talk to mom about a clear weaning schedule. If you can find some info about how paci use is bad for tooth development, that would be good to bring up to her. But not right now. The woman has more than enough on her plate.

PS: It totally creeps me out that the mom can talk to you through the baby monitor! My MB works at home and I always wonder if she is looking at the monitor to spy on us but I know she can;t talk through it!

Megan said...

I've been here before with my charge and her mother. Although I have never had to deal with the pacifier issue specifically (thankfully none of my chargers have loved their pacifiers), I can definitely relate to your situation. At the age of three, my charge was still drinking a bottle of whole milk before each nap and at night time. Like you, I was very concerned for the oral health of my charge.

At one time, MB approached me to discuss taking away the bottle. We both knew it would be hard to follow through with, especially when the little one was extremely cranky and throwing a fit, but we also understood it was best. Within a week of the original decision, MB decided to give the bottles back because she "could not handle the tantrums every night". Before I knew it, my charge was back to having bottles every night, as well as every weekend nap with her mother. This made it extremely hard for me to follow through with no bottles at nap time because my charge was confused and angry at me for not allowing her a bottle. Much like you, I felt like the "bad guy" in this situation.

Eventually, after discussing the issues with MB, I was directed to just allow my charge to have a bottle every day before her nap. I left the family when my charge was three years and seven months (not for this reason, or anything to do with the family), and as far as I know, she is still using a bottle to this day.

It is a really frustrating situation for a nanny to be in. Especially when you can clearly see what is best for all parties involved. In my opinion, however, it is just one of those issues I had to let go. As much as it bothered me, my charge was not my child, and ultimately it was up to MB to make the decisions about the bottle.

a mom said...

Quit worrying about it. It's absolutely fine for a kid to use a pacifier up to age 3 for naps/nighttime. It does no harm to their teeth. At age 3 you can go cold turkey and have the dentist tell them they can't use them anymore. It's not that hard. Clearly the mom isn't committed to getting rid of them right because if she were, there wouldn't be any in the house. So until they are removed from the house and until you see that them mom isn't giving them anymore, go ahead and keep giving the kid her paci.

nycmom said...

I think you are overreacting. But I also agree that mom is using the pacifier for her own reasons. Just keep in mind that you can't possibly know everything about your employers lives and sometimes we have to pick our battles when raising kids.

Also, really, having a pacifier til 3yo has not been associated with a significant increase in dental malocclusion. Risks do increase a bit at 4yo, but more after 5yo. There is a slightly increased risk of ear infections with paci use, but that is not age dependent to my knowledge. Is this child getting recurrent ear infections? Has she been to a pediatric dentist? Regardless, the real increase in medical risks at her age is small.

Psychologically, early pacifier use has actually been shown to be beneficial. I am not aware of any good studies on extended use, though I have never see any kids in my children's Kindergarten classes using pacifiers and believe use beyond 4-5yo is fairly unusual.

So I think your concerns about the child's oral health and emotional growth are very overblown and unnecessary.

Now, the mom's parenting style is a whole 'nother issue. Usually one parent is able to be the "tough" one and one is a softie, and it is imo good to complement each other's strengths and weaknesses. Only one of my kids really used a paci, but I had to stop it cold turkey a bit after 2yo when my h was on a business trip because he is the softie! But my husband has many parenting strengths I do not so we help each other.

I'll say what I always say. These parents are making different parenting choices than you have or believe you will. Either you can live with that or not. If you can, stop judging, and keep the job. If you cannot, move on.

Jenny said...

2 and a half seems very young to me and if mom doesn't care about her having the pacifier I don't understand why you do. She's still a little baby and there is a brand new child in the house. Why try to shake things up now? Potty training and the paci should wait a while. NO need to rush her into acting older than she is especially at such a vulnerable time. It will just back fire later.

Manhattan Nanny said...

What jumps out at me is, MB had a new baby one week ago. I don't think this is the time to try to wean your charge off the pacifier. Mom is exhausted, the 2 yo is dealing with adjusting to a new baby and less attention from Mom. In addition her nanny (you) has only been with her for three months. She needs as much comfort and familiar routine as possible. I understand your concerns, but I would let it go for a couple of months, and give it to her, but only when she asks for it. Does she have a lovey to sleep with? If not, encouraging her to have a special animal or what not to sleep with might help when it comes to quitting cold turkey.

Being Anonymous said...

I guess it helps to read everyones comments before posting, because now that I have, my opinion is very different. I'm one that actually abhors pacifier use, especially in children after 2yrs of age. It just reminds me of the buck-toothed smile of 5yo Mackenzie from Toddlers and Tiaras. However, your charge is going through a lot of upheaval at the moment so taking it away would only bring her more stress. She needs all the comfort she can get, especially with a new baby in the house. I think you should follow the advice of some of the PP's OP and let her alone, for now.

BrooklynMomma said...

I never said the lazy parenting option was a bad thing (I've done it myself). OP just needs to suck it up and follow the mom's lead on this one (on the potty training too). At the end of the day, this is not her child to dictate how to parent.

BrooklynMomma said...

Oh wow, I just realized that you've been in this position for just three months! In that case, I highly highly recommend taking your personal feelings out of this issue.

oceanblue said...

There is no true need for a child to use a pacifier beyond infancy. She's about a year and a half beyond that.

I also wouldn't get into the habit of babying her because she might be jealous or having a hard time adjusting to her new sibling. That's a part of her life now. The baby isn't going anywhere so she needs to learn to deal with it as the big girl that she is not a baby.

That said trying to potty train and wean is not the best thing to do when a new sibling is added.
So I would talk to mom & dad about coming up with a plan for the future maybe a few months down the road ( I would aim for 3 to 4 months because at that point your MB will most likely be back to work and won't be in the house to undermine your efforts. When you talk make it clear that your best chance for success is if you all do the same thing.
I am a different sort of nanny and that I don't entirely subscribe to their child their rules. I will not be the bad cop. Either we all do it or it doesn't get done when it comes to bottle weaning, pacifiers, diapers and similar things. It's not the way everyone works, but I find it works for me and leads to less stress.

I also suggest you do things with the little girl so she still feels important and views her role as the big sister as special.
If you can maybe you can watch the newborn for a few hours, so mom can get some much needed rest and/or spend 1:1 time with her daughter.

OP said...

Thank you for all the input - Just want to clarify that I'm not judging the parents for their use of the pacifier, I am upset that I was told we would be weaning her off the pacifier and now I follow trough but the rest of my "team" doesn't want to. I know she isn't my kid, and I know it isn't my choice (notice I made the same statement in the original posting).

I especially want to thank those who reminded me that she has gone through a lot of changes during her 2.5 years on this earth - she has gone through tons of changes recently and has done pretty well, all things considered.

I'm glad other nannies weighed in - I definitely won't be speaking with MB or DB about this until after the stress of the holidays and after we all get into a flow with new baby.

OP said...

And for everyone who thinks I'm crazy to expect her to be weaned by now, I was told when I started the job that the plan was to have her weaned off the pacifier by the time the newborn came. I'm not trying to push an issue that I'm not responsible for.

CaliforniaNanny said...

I understand your frustration OP, I have the same issue with my MB. The only difference is my charge is 4 years old and has pretty significant damage to her teeth from using the pacifier so often (they almost stick straight out now). She also has bottles, but that is another issue.

It's hard for me to see her teeth like that, but I know that it's a not a battle I can win unless MB is on board.

Also, since you have a new baby in the house, this isn't a great time to be making a big change. Pacifier should have been completely gone before new baby came so that your charge doesn't associate the new baby with losing something that she loves. At this point I'd wait at least a couple of months before trying to get rid of the pacifier.

BrooklynMomma said...

OP, I can tell you from personal experience that, as a parent, you say you'll do (or not do) ABC by XYZ time, and then a real life human child comes into play, and about 90% of all that stuff goes out the window. Sure, mom intended for no pacifier, but it worked out differently. Should the child's teeth become affected, the good news is that its not you who will be responsible for the dental bill. I think your responsibility is to follow the parent's lead and maybe bring this up again in 3-4 months. Good luck!

Lyn said...

I'm eith Oceanblue 100%.

OP, I really hope things get easier for you that sounds beyond frustrating!

Bethany said...

Op, you have my empathy. I've been there, and you're not wrong for being bothered by the current situation. You are simply trying to do the job you were told to do. I think everyone in the situation is stressed out causing the friction.

Many parents jump the gun ahead of the second baby and rush to have the first child toilet trained and off all baby things before the birth of the second child. in effort to prevent themselves from having two babies. Not taking into consideration the first child might not be ready for those changes.

I would hold off on all forms of training for now. Not saying you have to let things go to free for all, just pull back a bit and wait a month or two. Maybe even wait until maternity leave is up. Then have the talk.

I would suggest you make one change at a time either the pacifier or the diapers. Unless she is ready and willing to give both up.

When you start to break the paci habit I would suggest you let her have the paci at nap or only when she is in bed and break down that way.

It will happen in time. Hugs and hang in there.

nycmom said...

I understand your frustration, OP. Apologies if my initial reply overlooked your key point of frustration which seems to be the parents changing the plan without seeking your input or informing you clearly. Of course, parents don't have to have their nanny's approval for their plans, but I think it would be crazy not to at least discuss it with the person you have hired specifically for their childcare experience and who spends so much time with your kids. Sometimes I disagree with my nanny's views, but I always ask on the big stuff.

I have had similar grand plans for my kids that I have communicated to my nanny, then found one or both of us is unable to consistently follow through for good reason. All I can say, apart from the new baby which has been covered well by others, is that parenting is not a straight road.

I had big ideas on all the things I would do and my timelines, etc before I had kids. It took me having a very challenging first baby, than a polar opposite second, to gain some perspective on the "pick your battles" concept. I am not the type to give up on a plan! But I realized my kids are their own little people and often won't follow my silly pre-ordained timelines. I also realized, despite extensive childcare experience before kids, that making those choices for your own kids isn't as simple as it sounds when you are juggling multiple personalities, including dad.

I have felt so guilty when I've told a nanny of a goal and then seen me or my husband violate that ourselves. Sleep issues come immediately to mind. I swear I've been sleep deprived for 13 years now and can *finally* see the light at the end of the tunnel. I remember with #3 firmly deciding, at my nanny's urging, that he would no longer sleep in the stroller for naps or the swing or anywhere but his crib. All it took was a couple of nights of 2-3 hours sleep, then having to go to work a 12-hour shift the next day, and my resolve crumbled. However, I definitely did convey this to my nanny and say that I did not expect her to work hard on a goal without me also doing the work. Same with potty training. Same with healthy eating.

I actually do think it is fair to expect a professional nanny to do a better job than a parent at some parts of childcare. But I don't think it's fair to expect any nanny to try to teach your kids long-term behavioral issues if you aren't also doing the same. Conversely, I find it impossible to teach them myself unless my nanny is doing it also.

Sweet Pea said...

I think people make things a lot more complicated than they need to be. When it's time to get off the pacifier, then you get rid of it. You gather all of the pacifiers up and you never let her have them again. What I did with my charges was we "sent" the pacifiers in the mail to the pacifier fairy. There is no weaning process. Just a good bye thats presented as a positive thing. A long weaning process just drags out the misery for the child and everyone involved.

If something is important to you then its nobody elses place to say youre overreacting. We get to decide what is important to us.

I hope you'll all be on the same page and the big girl will grow into her new role with ease and confidence. Being a big sissy is very special thing. Friends come and go but they will always be siblings.

Good luck OP. You sound like a caring nanny.

OP said...

Thanks again for all your comments! Keep me coming for our "family plan" down the road.

NYCmom, thanks for your perspective as a mom; I know a lot of variables culminate into a particular parenting style, and I know I get to leave at the end of the day while MB has to deal with any "issues" 24/7. You also hit on a key point - communication. You speak to your nanny about your plans and are proactive about discussions instead of relying on the nanny to drag information out of you.

And for everyone who says a 2-and-a-half year old who attends preschool is a "baby"... They are a toddler. Should a 2.5-year-old still be breast feeding or drinking out of a bottle, too?

OP said...

A mom - I work with a 3-year-old that has stunted speech due to his use of the pacifier. Don't know where you're getting your information (maybe you were lucky with weaning your children) but it doesn't get easier to take the pacifier away as the child ages, it gets harder.

And to whoever said a child shouldn't be made to cry furiously before going to bed and who implied I traumatized my charge, please re-read the post - SHE cried and screamed in order to manipulate her mom (she had no tears, but was making sobbing sounds) into doing what she wanted. I would never deny a pacifier as a soother if a child TRULY needed it (notice I also said she slept fine previously during naps without the pacifier).

Fire Eyes said...

It seems an old story in any field, an employer directs one thing, does another, the employee follows the employer's lead and does that other thing instead, then the employer gets angry at the employee for not doing what was originally directed. These stories don't tend to end well for the employees. On a more personal note, to have my credibility undermined in front of the child, I am a patient person but that would perturb me to no end. I feel for you OP.

That all said, I have to admit I am surprised and a bit confused by the commentators that referred to potty training at that age as part of a grand plan, or the one who said simply that it shouldn't be done. I mean I get what is meant by all the ideas parents start with that quickly fall to the wayside in the face of reality. I've witnessed that more than I care to convey. Rather, I've never thought to include potty training in that list.

The youngest I've potty trained was 20-months-old; the effort had begun when she was 18-months. The child I'm potty training now is 16-months-old. We just started, so we'll see how it goes for her. Of course every child is different, but the oldest I've potty trained was that very age OP mentioned, 2.5 years.

Not that I haven't heard the horror stories. I guess I have just been very fortunate.

Best to all.

Curious said...

Its a lot more natural to breastfeed a 2.5 year old than to feed them milk created for another species. Americans are behind when it comes to breastfeeding. We've been brainwashed by "Got Milk" commercials. Humans are the only species on earth to feed our young milk made for another species.

BrooklynMomma said...

Ditto what Curious said :)

Manhattan Nanny said...

Actually, there have been cases of animals nursing orphans of another species. Yes, I watch a lot of nature shows on PBS. :^)