Divorce is a reality that affects many families nowadays.
As a Nanny, you’ll likely encounter families and children who are facing the challenges and pressures that result from the impact of divorce and their unique circumstances.
For example, you might be employed by a family that’s currently working through a divorce or by a family that has already been a single-parent family for many years. Both families have been affected by divorce, but they will each present their own set of challenges.
Different families. Different divorce scenarios.
You may find a family where the parents work well together and you’ll work seamlessly with both parents, even though they have been separated for many years. The parents want the best for their children, which, to them, means hiring one person to care for their children.
You may, however, find another family where the parents don’t get along and are in the middle of a very nasty divorce. You were hired before they decided to separate and they both might want to continue to use your services, but it might put you in an uncomfortable situation, right in the middle of their nasty divorce.
What is your role as a Nanny? How do you support divorced parents and their children?
In spite of the possibly volatile and emotional situation at hand, it’s important that you keep in mind your first, and foremost, responsibility: to be a constant source of support and comfort in the children’s lives.
As a Nanny, you’ll also need to stay impartial and professional in your interactions with the parents (your employers).
Here are 3 helpful tips to help you handle this tricky scenario, while keeping things as constant and stable as you can for the children in your care:
1) Establish a clear Employment Agreement – If the divorce occurred prior to your start of work, but you realize that there are issues that need to be addressed, make sure that the issues are included in the Employment Agreement. If, on the other hand, the divorce occurs in the middle of your employment with the family, you may want to discuss which parent is the actual employer and how their expectations of you will change. You need to know if it’s okay to contact the other parent in an emergency situation and if there’s a problem with you working for both parents. Your nanny agency can help you with these negotiations if you’re uncomfortable talking to the parents about them.
2) Maintain consistency – You might be the only constant thing in the life of the children right now, so it’s up to you to keep a consistent schedule for them and continue to set clear expectations for them. While they’re going through this time of turmoil and confusion, you may find that the children will resort to testing limits and acting out, even if it’s been a while since the divorce has been finalized.
Nevertheless, what they need is the clear expectations and boundaries you set for for them. They need as much consistency as possible and you’ll be doing them a big favor by standing your ground and being unswerving. Keep your time with them as stable, normal and secure as you can.
3) Compassion – You can help the children by providing a listening ear without passing judgment or taking sides. A little bit of compassion can go a long way with children; you can provide a safe place where they can talk about their feelings – something that they may not have anywhere else at this point in time. Let them know that they can come to you to talk anytime they want and you will not judge them or tell anyone else how they feel.
Divorce definitely presents many complicated situations and causes a plethora of emotions for the parents and the children. As the nanny, you can make a difference by being a neutral part of the equation, supporting the children with compassion, love and understanding while they work through the confusion that they’re facing.
Of course, if you encounter any of these situations and want some advice, we are here to help and you support you.