Being in this industry you have got to fit in people’s lives and in their family. Because once I don’t fit in with that family I am replaceable. – Justin
As I’ve tuned into Season 1 of Beverly Hills Nannies, perhaps no other words have been spoken as eloquently and accurately as these words by Nanny Justin in episode 5.
When nannies are seeking employment and parents are seeking caregivers for their children, the importance of finding the right nanny and family match is often overlooked. While of course a nanny’s experience, education, background, and references are essential in helping to determine if she is capable of providing quality childcare, these things don’t necessarily tell you how well a nanny is going to fit into the lives of the family with whom she’ll work.
So what makes a nanny fit in with her work family?
Lifestyle. While a nanny doesn’t necessarily have to share her work family’s lifestyle, she definitely has to embrace it for the relationship to work out. A nanny doesn’t have to be wealthy to work in Beverly Hills, but she certainly has to be comfortable working in an upscale environment where cutting coupons and penny pinching may not be allowed. When a nanny and employer begin to judge each other’s lifestyle choices, tension will arise.
Parenting Philosophy. In any nanny and parent relationship, the parents are the final authority on how their children are raised. If a nanny believes children need limits and boundaries and the parents believe that children should never be told no, it will be difficult for the nanny to adapt and embrace the parent’s philosophy of childrearing. When the parents and nanny don’t share a similar parenting philosophy, conflict can occur.
Discipline Style. If the parents are laid back, lax about house rules, and allow the children to speak to the nanny as they please, but the nanny prefers doling out time-outs for inappropriate behavior, stress will ensue. Children strive with consistency of care, and when the nanny and parents aren’t on the same page there will be friction in the family home.
Moral Compass. Parents don’t necessarily want a clone of themselves helping to raise their children, but they do want someone who has the same perceptions of right and wrong and good and evil as they do. When the nanny and parents aren’t in moral alignment, the relationship can become strained. If a nanny is a huge supporter of PETA and feels that wearing fur is terribly wrong, and the family’s winter outdoor wardrobe consists of mink jackets and fox gloves, there’s going to be ill feelings.
Culture. Nannies don’t have to share the same culture as their employing families, but they do have to respect the ideas, beliefs, and behaviors of the family for the relationship to succeed. A lack of acceptance of the family’s culture may lead to a lack of respect. Without mutual respect, the nanny and parent relationship will fail.
Commonalities. Nannies and parents don’t have to have everything in common, but those who do share some things in common are typically most comfortable around each other. Whether it is knowing the same people, practicing the same religion, driving the same kind of car, or having the same life priorities, generally speaking, the more the parents and nanny share in common, the better.
Value. Nannies fit into their families by meeting a felt need. When the need is met by the nanny, she brings value to the family. As the needs of the family change, the nanny must adapt and continue to meet the family’s changing needs. If the nanny doesn’t meet the family’s needs, she no longer brings value to the family and is viewed as replaceable.
Nannies who are not only skilled caregivers, but also fit into the lives of their work families seamlessly, typically tend to stay with their work family for several years and are viewed by them as indispensable. Once they no longer fit in, however, whether it is due to a change in the family’s circumstance, situation, or needs, they are considered more easily replaceable.
Fitting in with a work family is essential to employment success. Before nannies take on a new position and families a new nanny, the nanny and parents should be confident that the nanny will fit in well with the family and that they are truly a good match.
P. S. This post was proposed to me for publication by Abby Nelson. I'm therefore publishing it by her invitation and under her permission. See also the link below fore more information: