A Question of Values: When Nannies and Parents Differ

Gone are the Mad Men days where a mother’s life revolved around childcare and the home. In today’s society, 67% of children under the age of five are in the care of someone other than their mother for large amounts of their waking hours. This fact of modern life presents new challenges in the arena of instilling values such as independence, kindness and self-control in young children. Now more than ever before, someone other than the child’s parents is given responsibility for imparting personal and cultural values, and this shift could pose challenges when the caregiver’s values differ from those of the parents.

The question of values and who is responsible for teaching them is a vast one, but it’s an issue necessary for nannies and families to visit often. 

Nannies walk a fine line when teaching values to the children in their care. While some values are universally accepted (i.e. kindness), others can prove to be more conflicting (i.e. independence vs. interdependence). While it’s important for parents and nannies to maintain personal integrity and stay true to personal values, if those values are at odds, there’s a good chance a disagreement between nanny and parents will soon develop. How can nannies and parents retain their personal integrity while imparting the values most important to them?

Good nannies want to care for their ‘charges’ according to the parent’s values. That is why it’s important nannies keep an open dialogue with the parents and discuss the following points.

  • Make sure you clearly understand your own personal values and recognize the ways in which you teach those to young children.
  • Have a conversation with the parents. It’s important to know what values are the most important to them as you work to help raise their child according to those principles.
  • Identify similarities and differences in values and how they are taught during the everyday routines of caring for the children.

Working through differences and coming to a compromise that both nannies and parents can feel good about is vital. After all, what good is it to teach children about what is important in the world if you don’t lead by example?

Photo Credit: Travis Swan/Flickr

Communication and Children's Behavior

During the first five years of a child's life, learning what the 'rules of conduct' and 'expectations' are is a slow, repetitive process by parents and nannies to direct a child to act a certain way. The way we give direction can have unintended consequences. For example, adults may give a child a choice when a direct request is more in line with what they intend to happen. Saying, "John please wash your hands," is more suitable than "John, will you wash your hands before lunch?" Most parents and nannies have been in the unintended situation when the child responds, "No, I don't want to wash my hands!" Children need to know in simple terms what is expected. For more ideas and resources you may refer to Tom Udell and Gary Glasenapp, "Managing Challenging Behaviors: Adult Communication as a Prevention and a Teaching Tool," Behavior: A Beginnings Workshop Book http://www.childcareexchange.com/catalog/product/beginnings-workshop-book-behavior/4000002/