Speaking Nanny

A recent New York Times piece, headlined How to Speak Nanny, discusses the communication breakdown that often occurs between overworked mothers and their nannies.
For as long as she has employed a nanny (almost 10 years now), Eileen Hershenov, a lawyer from Hastings-on-Hudson, N.Y., has had day jobs running the legal departments of large nonprofit groups. “I’m really used to having employees,” she said. “I’ve hired people, I’ve fired people. I’ve gone through on-the-job training and formal training on how to communicate with your reports.”

But, she said, the corporate training “didn’t translate over” to talking with her nanny.

“It’s never been easy,” Ms. Hershenov sighed. “It’s an employer-employee relationship, but it’s also in your home — and with someone who is taking care of your most cherished relations.”
Read the article here.



The WSJ’s Juggle blog also covered this:
This month my book club is reading The Help by Kathryn Stockett, which has had me thinking a bit about this as well. 


I enjoyed that article—thanks for posting.  I think there is a lot of truth to what she wrote and as somebody who has had nannies/au pairs for 7.5 of the last 8 years, I can relate.  It sometimes seems easier to say "okay" instead of "don’t do that again".  However, I have learned to say what I mean and to give good directions and ask questions—both at home and at work.  Truthfully, I can see a woman who is a business leader trying to be overly flexible on some things related to working conditions, eating the casserole, etc. and ending up being wishy washy, but I just don’t see it when it comes to childcare related issues.  If somebody cut my kids’ hair and I don’t want them to do that again (or in the first place), I wouldn’t say "okay" I would say that it wasn’t acceptable that they should not do that again.  If I expected that they would do the childrens’ laundry as part of their work duties, I wouldn’t let it pile up, I would tell them what their duties are and make sure that they understood.  As somebody who has been a leader and a manager in my profession, I know how to lead and give direction when things matter and to the extent that things matter at home, I am also good at leading and giving good direction—even if it is uncomfortable. 
I don’t buy that somebody is a great leader in their job but then lets their nanny walk all over them when it comes to raising their kids.  They are either (1) not a great leader in their professional life either or (2) have unconsciously relinquished control of raising their children and so have no real desire to correct the nanny or (3) aren’t good at prioritizing or picking the right battles to fight.  Maybe I am being too harsh but I won’t accept the arguments that go something like, "In my professional life I am really good at managing, but outside of work I can’t properly manage my life."  To make claims like that just reinenforces stereotypes that women can’t be great professionals and great wives/mothers. 


Oh, I really liked "The Help" and wish I had a book club that was reading it.  It is likely a great book club book.

Write a comment

Please login to comment

Remember Me

Become a Member

FREE online community for women in the legal profession.



Subscribe to receive regular updates, news, and events from Ms. JD.

Connect with us

Follow or subscribe