The New Era has received many letters in response to the article “Nannies: No Spoonful of Sugar,” which appeared in the May 1988 issue. A majority felt that the article was unduly negative toward the nanny profession. Others said that it was right on target. The excerpts below suggest the range of opinion expressed.
The article “No Spoonful of Sugar” in the May 1988 New Era really disappointed me. It seemed to me that you accentuated the negative and eliminated the positive.
I am a nanny of eight months, and I am having a wonderful time. My testimony has grown along with my sense of responsibility. I know that there are some hard situations, but not all are bad.
My employees have treated me very well, and they help to work out any problems I might have. They even gave me a plane ticket home for Christmas.
I would not have missed this experience for anything. I really wish you had printed a few more positive examples.
I really enjoy reading the New Era articles and thought you would like to know how my nanny friends and I felt about the article.
Louann Bishop Ningham, Maryland
Made to feel worthless
I would like to express my deep gratitude to you for your article on being a nanny. Hopefully it will open the eyes of many girls thinking about it.
My first three months as a nanny were spent being interrogated and degraded, being made to feel worthless in any task I tried. As the phone bill rose to over $200 a month I was told I was immature and needed to count on myself, not my family or friends. I had no other means of support or companionship and had to grow up or get out. I couldn’t be a “quitter,” so I promised myself I’d make it through my entire term.
I’ve been here over 11 months. It has taken its toll on me spiritually, emotionally, and physically. At times I didn’t know if I was going to explode or go crazy. I was ready to cry at any moment. I’ve put on over 20 pounds. My total self-image has been shaken.
K. Malaine Marolf Stone Mountain, Georgia
A hush-hush subject
Bravo for the article on nannies, long a hush-hush subject in the Mormon community. As stated by Sister Foley, the nannies population in her ward alone went from 5 to 80, indicating that it is a fast-growing profession. Unfortunately, there has been no quality control in this employment explosion, and that makes a sad tale for the unsuspecting on both sides of the nanny question, the families and the nannies.
“Some Questions to Ask” was wonderful and well researched. Nannies should write their own contracts with input from their parents as well as from a well-trained recruiter. As far as contracts go, girls, don’t leave home without one! If you do, you are at a high risk for failure.
Dirty diapers should never be more than a three-second problem. Any nanny should be able to do that much child care or she shouldn’t be out there. As far as finances, be the best and worth your pay. Nobody should be in child care for less than 200 dollars a week. The financial savings plan is personal and hits every girl or guy the first time away from home, whether in a nanny position, college, or career. All of us need to learn to live on what we earn and look to the future on short-term commitments like a year.
I would like to add some questions to the “questions to ask” category: What on-going training is given during the duration of the employment? What contact is made by the placement agency? Will the placement agency arbitrate any problems that come up as the third party? How is the family screened for acceptance to the company?
Caution: Never sign a contract with a company until you and your family have thoroughly studied it and the contract is satisfactory to all concerned. Be assertive. Be the best nanny or don’t be one at all.
Katherine K. Duffin Nanny recruiter Rexburg, Idaho
I feel victimized by the nanny agency with whom we worked. Though they advertise that they place “helpers with high moral standards” and that they screen for “any negative health or behavioral traits,” the nanny who came to me in September drank, had used cocaine, chain-smoked in bed, and I later learned, had a psychiatric history of many years’ duration which included injury to children. I terminated her employment on the third day when she gave my three-year-old son a plastic garbage bag and when he wandered from the fenced-in yard while in her care.
Nancy Sharts Engel Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania
I believe your report on the nanny experience was unduly negative and biased. I have personally found being a nanny one of the most rewarding and fulfilling experiences of my life. It has offered much in the way of learning, new experiences, and new friends. My personal and spiritual growth have been immeasurable. Beyond that, the nannies here have developed such a strong support system for each other that the girls who were not active before being a nanny are now actively involved in Church meetings, callings, and activities. Besides my own successful experience, I know of not one nanny in this city who has experienced anything other than the same good treatment and joyful experiences I have had.
Mhantal Martin Charlotte, North Carolina