Boundaries in the home with a nanny are naturally confusing.There are two basic ways you relate to others: There’s a business relationship with someone or a family relationship. The business relationship is based on: ‘I have something for you”. The basis is performance. You perform for me and I perform for you. The family relationship with someone is based on: “I am something to you. It’s what I am to you. The basis is a commitment. A permanent committed relationship. Here’s an example of how these two relationships work out.
There are two different ways you can live in someone’s house. Generally, you’re either there as a tenant or as a family member. If you’re a tenant, the person who owns the house is your landlord and you rent their house. You can have a pretty good relationship with them as long as you pay the rent and respect the property.
But the relationship has structure and rules that are mechanical.There are rules for the tenant and the landlord also has certain rules he must follow. The landlord has to do maintenence. You can have a pretty good relationship, but the basis of your approach and the interchange is a mechanical one of goods and services. One of the problems is that when you live in a house and you see the boarders every day, the relationship continually tries to move off the business relationship into friendship. You start to not just give goods and services but listen to their problems and and start to move into friendship, and it’s hazardous. What happens when you have to put the screws to somebody when they aren’t paying the rent and they have become your friend and they’re not taking care of the property? A business relationship is a conditional one, but family relationships move towards being unconditional.
The business relationship is based on what you have–performance, and the family relationship is moving towards who you are. One is conditional and one is unconditional. One has to do with your doing and one has to do with your being. You’ve gotta watch out. You can’t become friends with the tenants.
At home, you’re supervising a nanny and you’re both crossing boundaries and she becomes your friend. Now what happens when she’s not towing the line, not coming through on her job description? Or, you start leaving the dishes in the sink on Sunday nights, and soon, it’s every night. It’s very difficult, very dissonant. There are two basic types of relationships and there’s a need to keep the tension between the two.
You can also be living in the home of your parents and you’re not a boarder, you’re a child. The paradigm is different. The business relationship should work like: “If you perform you’ll be accepted. The way the family relationship works, is “that since your’re accepted, you should perform”. It’s two completely different ways of relating.
We’ve recently have had nannies reporting clients breeching boundary lines by asking indiscrete personal questions. When the nannies try to deflect those questions, the clients will as much say, “I feel I can’t trust you, because you’re not being completely open with me.”
We all want someone who will love our children as much as we do and who’s like a member of the family, and yet we need to walk that tightrope, so the relationship stays friendly, but business-like. I’m not saying this is easy, and the longer you’re together, the more you need to work on it.
If the boundaries at your house have gotten soft and mushy, how can you take back ground?
1. On your next Monthly Meeting share your failure to maintain the proper relationship. Nannies can have hurt feelings when Moms go back and forth on boundaries. One Nanny had a Mom who regularly made the nanny her ‘best friend’ and then ‘cut her off’ emotionally. when she realized she’d gone too far. Another Mom kept the nanny as her BFF, but when family came to visit, she became ‘The Help’.
3. Be award that you may have crossed her boundaries as well, perhaps by regularly coming home late and not expecting to pay extra, or slowly adding to her work load without mentioning any reimbursement, or by sharing marital discord with her.
4. If you’ve never sat down and filled out a Working Agreement, it’s not too late. This agreement delineates her responsibilities, schedule, reimbursement and many other practical guidelines that you decide on together.
5. Keep evaluating if you’re both walking the tightrope. Be friendly, but not BFFs. It just doesn’t work.
FIND A CARING NANNY –featured in the November Luxury Edition of Az Foothills Magazine
Beth Weise has been in the child care industry for more than 27 years. Needless to say, she knows how to spot a good nanny. As the CEO of Caring Nannies, based in Scottsdale, Weise facilitates nanny-family introductions after a rigorous nanny screening process. “I am constantly happily amazed at the high caliber of candidates that want to do this type of work” Weise says.
With a database of more than a thousand qualified nannies in Arizona, Weise says each nanny represents the attrributes that make an exceptional caregiver. “We feel that the most important job of a nanny is to bring passiona and joy to the life of a child and peace of mind to a family.”
APNA BOARD MEMBERS SAN DIEGO 2011 CONVENTION
It is difficult for me to narrow in on only a couple core points that I retained from this 4 day APNA conference, since there were so many amazing speakers and topics shared. The itinerary was jam- packed with so much valuable information such as: how to survive in an online world; how to build your brand with social media; how to meet and exceed expectations of employers; how to retain your top talent in a competitive market; and how to survive and flourish in the nanny industry. Plus there were several opportunities for me to network with other agencies to share ideas, ask questions, and exchange business information, which was invaluable time spent.
Overall, the most important thing I learned is for us at Caring Nannies to lead with relationships and not tools. Relationship-building is everything to our families and our nannies. Those who deliver service and relationships will win. Listening to our families’ and nannies’ needs, responding promptly, and communicating openly creates loyalty and builds lasting and trustworthy relationships. That is our goal at Caring Nannies.
So why choose an APNA agency instead of the others? They are the best of the best! It is highly beneficial to both nannies and parents to choose an APNA agency to represent them. For nannies who consider themselves the best of the best in the childcare industry, they know that when parents want the highest caliber of nannies, they will look for an APNA agency nanny. For parents, they can trust that a reputable APNA agency will be an honest, thorough, ethical business partner throughout this sensitive nanny placement process. Both nannies and parents know that an APNA agency is going to be a constant source of comfort and support.
My 1st APNA conference was a huge success and I look forward to next year’s and many more to come. Jenny Riojas, Placement Consultant
Each year, families across the country unlawfully categorize their employee by providing a Form 1099 (Form 1099 is used to report money paid to an independent contractor). The IRS has ruled that household workers are employees of the family for whom they work; attempting to classify them as an independent contractor by giving them a Form 1099 is considered tax evasion and does not absolve them of their household employer tax and legal obligations.
Of all the errors we see, this one is at the top of the list. The confusion stems from the IRS 20-point test to determine worker status. Many of the questions are ambiguous and/or subjective. Worse, a worker may appear to be an independent contractor on some of the questions and an employee on others. Which answers are right?
If even one of the 20 answers points toward employee, she’s an employee. To save you the hassle of the test, the IRS has ruled definitively that household workers should be classified as employees. Therefore, the family must handle all household employer tax and labor law obligations. Tax breaks make it cheaper than you’d think and if you use our recommended nanny tax provider, it is effortless.
Note: The IRS views worker misclassification as tax evasion and recently announced a major expansion of auditors to augment their enforcement efforts in this particular area. As further warning, the household employment industry was cited as one of the primary targets.
Occasionally a nanny or housekeeper will work for years for a family and then get a bad reference, no reference, or a 2 minute phone interview after 5 years of loyal service. Her career is basically over.
There could be several reasons why a family refuses to give a reference.
· The employee really wasn’t competent, or she wasn’t as good a fit as the children got older and the duties morphed.
· She gradually took more and more advantage of the family’s good will and the family wasn’t decisive. Dad is saying, “Get rid of her!” but Mom is hedging, “But she loves the children so much! Or “I don’t have time to deal with this now!”
· A nanny begins quietly judging your parenting style, has crossed boundaries or broken confidentiality.
· A bad judgment call resulting in immediate termination.
If I feel it’s a misunderstanding, I will encourage the nanny go back to the family and hash things out.
In these tough situations, the family needs to discern whether the nanny was just not a good fit for their particular family, or ages of children, or skill sets required, or if there are serious character flaws that should not be foisted on another family. Was it a onetime problem? Could she learn from it? Some Moms would prefer to let their nanny go rather than addressing things like macaroni and cheese left on the counter all day. They really don’t like the manager part of their role, and I can relate to that. I had to have a friend ‘hold my hand’ as I let my first employee go. It was painful, but she just wasn’t a good fit.
However, in these tough economic times, a family doesn’t want to cause someone to be struggling financially simply because personalities didn’t mesh, or they don’t like communicating.
Here are some guidelines to ease the pain.
1. It’s crucial to make distinctions, since the well being of other families and children are at stake. Reliability, trustworthiness and honesty are core values that you deserve and your children need to see lived out daily.
2. Sometimes personalities don’t mesh, communicationstops, and attitudes and work habits worsen. If this is what happened, try to see both sides and be fair.
If you never told your nanny what frustrated you about her lack of effort, is it fair to put that on her reference? But if you told her and she didn’t improve, then you’re right.
3. When talking to another family, ask questions first. Maybe the problems you had won’t apply and she would be a better fit for them.
4. Bring out the good as well as the bad.
5. As an alternative, consider writing a letter of employment verification.
6. At her exit interview, gently and frankly tell her why you’re unhappy and can’t give a reference. This will give you peace of mind, and she will know her status and can move forward. You will save her weeks of wasted effort, giving your name out as a reference and wondering why no one hires her.
7. Learn from the experience and let go of it emotionally.