As I flip through the latest editions of newsstand magazines, I often notice articles that feature celebrities boasting that they don’t require the services of a nanny. The articles usually then go on to quote the celebrity stating their intentions to raise their children alone. While this is all well and good, when it’s true, we usually see the same celebrity featured shortly after they’ve publicly denied employing a nanny out and about with a nanny or two in tow (think Jennifer Lopez).
While there are those celebrities (like Gwyneth Paltrow) who praise their nanny and admit that they couldn’t work if they didn’t employ the services of a qualified in-home child care provider, they are sadly the minority. Generally it seems that most high powered women and celebrities simply avoid the child care topic and keep their nanny a deep dark secret. Why is that?
While I don’t have the answer, I do have some theories. First, I think that our society still harshly judges working moms and has certain expectations regarding a mother’s role. Although more women than ever work outside of the home and more women than ever hold leadership roles in major corporations and government, if they have children, there is an underlying current of judgment that says they don’t spend enough quality time with their children. But what is “enough” and why aren’t men subject to that same judgment?
Secondly, women often feel guilty for working and are torn between their work obligations and their family obligations. The result of this tug-of-war is that oftentimes working moms are left feeling like they aren’t adequate at either being a mom or being an employee, which can negatively impact a woman’s self-esteem and overall happiness.
A hundred years ago, many extended families lived in the same neighborhoods (if not the same house), so Grandma or Auntie helped with the children, did much of the cooking, etc. Today, this simply isn’t the case. For most families, Grandma doesn’t live around the corner, and if she does, she may have a life and career of her own, so she isn’t willing or able to help with the children as much as grandmothers of two or three generations ago did. While the living arrangements of families have changed over the years, the fact that many families need help raising their children hasn’t. The result is that these families are now forced to look outside the family unit for the assistance that they need.
Not so long ago, a high profile client hired a wonderful nanny through my agency. The client, who is a successful business woman, was interviewed on T.V. and when asked about her family and her children she made not one mention of having a nanny. While the woman talked about how the children are on a schedule and eat only healthy meals, she never once mentioned that it was in large part due to the nanny who had planned the schedule, cooked the meals, etc!
Another time I was on vacation, relaxing by a pool, when the woman lying next to me and I began a conversation. She asked me what kind of work I did, and when I told her that I owned a nanny agency she really started telling me off! She told me how supporting mothers so that they could go to work was undermining our society, etc., because they were supposed to be home with their children full time. I really got quite a lecture.
While INA has worked so hard to educate the public about nanny care, I tell you these stories to remind you that we still have a lot of educating to do. If a mom wants to continue her career and doesn’t have a mother that can help her, isn’t the most responsible thing to hire the best possible care giver to care for her children? And, wouldn’t it make sense for that mother to work with an agency that is screening these care givers and only presenting to her those candidates that meet her standards and needs? And might this mom be happier pursuing both a career that she loves and raising a family that she loves, with some help from a loving, knowledgeable, experienced nanny that loves her work? The answers are yes, yes and yes!
INA members are the cream of the crop when it comes to quality in-home child care. With nearly 25% of our membership in attendance at our 25th Annual Conference, it’s evident our membership takes continuing education seriously and embraces the mission of INA, which is to educate the public and industry professionals on the importance of in-home quality child care.
As our keynote speaker at the 2010 Annual Conference, Marybeth Phillips, founder of Trustline, said, “We must all do our part.” When it comes to educating the public, the quality of services you provide, the way you represent yourself or your business and the information you share with others about the importance of choosing a quality child care provider speaks volumes. When we all do our part we can help working mothers know that they are not alone and that there are quality agencies and nannies who can partner with them to ensure their success at work and at home. So, please, do your part!