DEALBREAKERS!!! – Invasion of Privacy - By April Beck ( A Nanny With Many Years Experience)

Nannies do not just care for children, they also must navigate the fears and anxieties of the parents who employ them. Nannies know most parents are nervous when they first leave their child in their care but they also know that as time goes on, the parents they work for will relax and in the end be happy they found someone they trust and whom their child loves.

But there are some parents who just don’t ever relax. They don’t develop trust with their nanny, or else they don't believe their nanny is going to do the job they say they will. There are some parents who miss their child so much during the day they just want to see them at home, playing happily or see where they go during the day. Whatever the motivation, parents have a lot of options if they want to know what goes on when they are away but some actions parents take can cross the line into a violation of privacy and sometimes a violation of their nanny’s civil rights.

Nanny cams are a common way for parents to peek in on their little one and while some nannies are perfectly fine being on camera, some may feel anxious knowing they are being watched all the time and prefer to work for a family that offers more privacy, so it would be best to let them know during the interviewing process so they can make an informed decision. Surprisingly, a lot of parents wonder whether they should tell the nanny about the cameras at all or keep them hidden. This sort of action, though technically legal (check your states laws!) is highly questionable, as there is no real purpose in hiding cameras from a nanny who has already proven themselves through an interview, background check, and a reference check. There is no reason to lie about cameras if all you want to do is look in on your child at play. IF you suspect abuse then why would you continue to leave your child in that person’s care at all? You would basically be using your child as bait for a suspected predator. While there are exceptions, of course, there is no reason I’ve heard from a parent, typically, that would justify taping their nanny without her consent.

Some nannies have had parents assure them there are no cameras in the home, only to discover a hidden camera while cleaning up after months of believing they were not being watched. Needless to say, that is a huge betrayal of trust and an extremely difficult position to be. Nannies love the children the look after but if they don’t feel comfortable in the house or in dealing with the parents any longer, how can she continue working for them? It is not possible to trust parents who will lie about hidden cameras.

Another common way privacy is violated is when parents suggest—or demand in some cases—that their nanny install a GPS tracking app on her phone. This gives parents’ access to her comings and goings at all times, even during her personal time. Parents will always assure they won’t check her location during their nanny’s days off, but how does she know if this is true? Parents insist that this is about wanting to see where the child is during the day because they miss them so much but it seems that it is more about monitoring the number of outings their nanny goes on, to where, when and for how long. The underlying implication is that their nanny cannot be trusted to do the job she has committed to do without intense pressure and supervision. An overstepping of personal boundaries like this, demanding the use of her personal phone which she pays for, and the subtle insult of distrust can all add up and that may be reason enough for a great nanny to find another position.

Parents who do insist on tracking their nanny’s movements during the day but want to be respectful of their nanny’s privacy would simply purchase the GPS device for her to take with her when she leaves the house with her charge. This could be a separate phone she can use while at work or a simple GPS tracking unit she can keep in the diaper bag. This way parents can see where their baby is during the day and leave their nanny’s personal time alone.

For Live-In nannies, violations of privacy can be an almost daily reality. Some parents will come into their space without permission or notice and without knocking. Some parents will come in a search through the nanny’s things when she isn’t there, looking for something to be wrong even if their nanny has done an exemplary job. I’ve heard stories of mothers looking through their nanny’s laundry and even their medicine cabinet to monitor what medicines she takes. Invariably these moms use “concern for their child” as an excuse for this egregious violation of trust and privacy—they “just want to ensure their nanny is trustworthy and able to care for their child properly.” How can a person reconcile violating their nanny’s trust with the excuse of wanting to prove she’s trustworthy? The irony is laughable, really. There is no reason that is justification enough for violating the privacy of a trusted nanny to such an extent. It may not be possible for a relationship to recover a from a violation that extreme.

When you hire and take in a live-in nanny or Au Pair, you agree that she will have a space of her own in your home. You are asking her to put not just her livelihood in your hands but her living situation, as well. For Au Pairs it is even more difficult because they are in a foreign country, thousands of miles from their friends and family and extremely vulnerable. Considerate parents understand this sacrifice and try to make as much room for their live-in nanny as they can. They maintain firm boundaries with their children about their nanny’s personal time and space. This is the best way to show your nanny her contributions are valued and that her basic civil rights are respected. Live-In nannies and Au Pairs are not another piece of property and they can always leave and find a respectful family to work for.

A nanny will be your child’s best friend and trusted companion and the next best thing to their mother. Children love their nannies and when that relationship abruptly ends, they can’t understand why and it is very hard on them. Some children whose families have gone through several nannies have a very hard time bonding with their caregivers and it is a problem that can persist in their relationships throughout their life. When parents mistreat their child’s caregiver, they are impacting their children, too.

It is understandable to have a certain level of anxiety but when raising children there will come a point when they will need to be in someone else’s care. When you hire a nanny and you have a background check done, you’ve talked to her references and you’ve met with her, then you have done your due diligence and can rely on her. Hiding cameras, demanding 24/7 access to their location, sifting through her belongings or any sort of violation of privacy boundaries is never the right way to deal with your fears, it will only spoil an otherwise wonderful relationship. No-one wants to be a revolving door for caregivers and no nanny wants to be next in a long line of unhappy nannies.

If you are a nanny that has experienced a violation of privacy by a parent, we’d love to hear from you about it—did you quit or did you work it out?


Anonymous said...

I will never live in again - the kids were all in my stuff every day, there was no lock on the door, it was very stressful, and once the parents were having a party and one of their male friends opened my door without knockinf thinking it was "the bathroom", never again

Anonymous said...

I had a MB once who when my shift was over and NK was napping she would keep me there at least an extra 30 minutes asking all sorts of questions about my personal life, not in a friendly way but a nosy way and of course I did not get paid for the extra time. She did stop this when I started charging her for that time but I did not last long there

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