Thursday, April 7, 2011

The "Others" Raising Our Children

With the majority of moms going back to work after having a baby today, we have to rely on so many others to help raise our children.  My husband and I debated early on nanny vs. day care.  My mother-in-law always worked and so my husband grew up with nannies in his house.  My mom stayed at home full time and we never had help in the house.  I actually never had any kind of help, even to clean, until I met my husband (at age 34). 

My husband advocated strongly for a nanny for our kids because it was what he knew, and I stayed strong on the day care option.  I had seen my brother go through several nannies and read too many nanny horror stories.  I felt that with day care, there would be licensed educators, other kids to play with, schedules and routines, etc.  I also felt they would learn a lot more.  Even if a teacher quit, the environment and other kids stayed the same so there would be lots of consistency too.  Although I knew that they would get sick a lot in the first year or two, I also knew that my nephew who stayed home with a nanny got sick all the time when he started kindergarten... because he didn't have his immune system built up from being around other kids.

At the end of the day, I won out on the day care option.  If you ask my husband now, he will say it was absolutely the right option for our kids and that he has zero regrets.  I do feel we got really lucky with the teachers they have had (and that my daughter still has) - we never had any issues.  The kids were happy and always liked their teachers.

Now that my kids are getting a little older, we do have help in the house.  I leave very early in the morning for work and can't make either pick up or drop off.   Our housekeeper picks up my son everyday from school (and often does the morning drop off when my husband is out of town).  My daughter's day care hours are longer and until she starts pre-K in the fall, I am at least able to dop her off and pick her up. 

So here is the meat of the matter for me. Our housekeeper is the loveliest, biggest hearted lady and I feel blessed to have her as part of our family.  But... she's afraid to stand up to my son.  At pick up time, the kids are often in the computer lab and he doesn't want to leave.  He makes a big fuss.  She's embarrassed and doesn't want to make a scene as she feels others are judging her (I told her the only thing they are thinking when they are looking is Thank God It's Her Kid And Not Mine!).  When he's home with her on a PD day, he manipulates her into watching TV all day.  I tell her you have to take him outside!  She says he refuses to go.  I say he's 6! She says I know, I know.  But it remains unchanged.  It doesn't matter how many times I say she is allowed to discipline him (appropriately) if he doesn't listen, she just can't stand her ground with him.

The problem is only starting to get bigger.  The more he can get away with, the more he tries to get away with.  He can sometimes be rude to her, or, he can simply ignore her.  If I'm around, I quickly interject, but when I'm not around, he senses her fear and takes full advantage.  I try to talk to her about it and encourage her to stand up to him, but I'm not sure it's helping.  It worries me that as he gets older, he will get even more difficult for her to handle if she doesn't start getting tougher with him.  Add to that my daughter who will also soon be part of her daily pick up.  She will watch what her brother does and emulate that behaviour.  I need our housekeeper to grow a back bone or else I'm scared that my kids will run rampant with her!  What happens when homework enters the equation?  Will she be able to make them sit down and do it?  I rely on her to not only take care of my kids, but to also discipline them when needed. 

I don't for a second question the care that they are receiving from her, but I do want my children to be well-mannered and well-behaved.  In order for that to happen, she has to not only give them boundaries and limits, but also enforce them!  As a total A-type personality, I'm very frustrated that I am reliant on her and that I cannot make her do it. 

I have obviously also sat down with my son to explain that he cannot behave this way.  Yesterday, I resorted to threats of removing his toys from his room should he continue to have tantrums when she picks him up. We'll see if that works. Otherwise, I'm at a loss on this one and would truly appreciate some additional insight!  Although this is not a do or die situation (the after-school window is not huge at the moment), I do want to resolve it.  As a very hands on mother, I must say it's very difficult that I can't fix this one on my own.  Help!


  1. I have a similar issue with my daughter who is 2.5. I am lucky in that my mother watches her two of the days when I work, but I am also unlucky in that I cannot get my mother to listen to me about some things regarding my daughter's care. She has extremely strong parenting beliefs and she will not budge about certain things. Whenever I have to ask her to do something I know she won't agree with, I have to make it a discussion where I let her come to the conclusion on her own. It's exhausting. She also let's my daughter do things that I generally don't let her do, which irritates me because then my daughter will scream to be allowed to do xyz even though she is not supposed to. Sometimes I think my mother doesn't realize that she's not just watching her for an hour here and there, but is acting as a full-time care giver those days and needs to be less spoiling and "grandmother-y". Unfortunately, I don't have an answer for you, but I wanted to let you know that you aren't alone in frustrations about an alternate care giver.

    1. Sorry, it's "lets", not let's. My iPhone autocorrected me!

    2. Thanks for your comment! I guess relying on others also means that we can't always do it "our" way. I've come to the conclusion that you do the best you can and hope that as they get older, your influence will be strong enough for them to have your overall morals and values. I wrote this post some time ago and I can tell you that it has gotten much better and my son is much more respectful. Hang in there!