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how to explain why nanny is leaving to kids

(3 Posts)
Carriel Tue 29-Apr-03 23:44:50

My friend has two children aged two and almost 4. She and her husband work full time and they have a nanny and live in housekeeper. In the past few weeks the nanny and housekeeper have fallen out about who does what, culminating in a huge row in front of the youngest child. After many, many discussions the nanny is now leaving, but my friend doesn't now know how to explain her departure to her sons. She saw a child psychologist (about other stuff) and she thought she ought to tell the truth ie that the nanny and h/keeper couldn't get along so the nanny was leaving, but I think that's dangerous. The kids (who love the nanny) will blame the h/keeper and anwyay what kind of message is it giving, that every time adults have a row, someone leaves? My friend is very committed to telling kids the truth and I respect that ie she wouldn't swallow my suggestion of saying the nanny had to leave because her husband had a new job (which he does, but that's not why she's going). I said I couldn't help, but I knew some folks who could...
Any thoughts/suggestions welcome.

Marina Wed 30-Apr-03 22:37:49

No-one's picked up on this one yet Carriel, possibly because it must be such a tricky situation for all concerned - and possibly also something that not that many Mumsnetters might have come across before. It seems to me that if the parents and a child psychologist both feel the actual truth is the way to go, the dilemma is not what is said to the children, but how it is said. If the parents can emphasise that the household generally will be a happier place, and that the nanny was making mum and dad sad, that might help I guess - the older child might understand this quite well.
It's unfortunate that it's the housekeeper, who presumably spends less time with the children than the nanny did, who is staying, but I am sure there are good reasons for that. Is the children's relationship with the housekeeper so precarious that they will really resent her staying when the nanny has gone?
I think the parents also ought to consider what the nanny might have said to the children already. If she was cross enough to row with the housekeeper in front of them, this might be more about undoing any existing damage (I hope not).
So no advice, just commiserations with your friend. Just goes to show that those of us who hanker after more help round the house should not assume it necessarily makes life easier...

phb Thu 01-May-03 10:31:39

My concern would be that the children might think that it was in some way their fault, that they had created the problem between the nanny and the housekeeper.

I can understand the wish to tell the children the truth but IMO there are some things (inc the complexities of adult relationships) that children simply aren't sophisticated enough to understand, that they might then try to interpret in a simpler way - we spend so long teaching children that some of the things they do have bad consequences (so they shouldn't do them), I think it's easy for them to jump to the conclusion that if a bad thing happens it's because of something they did... (I seem to be spending a lot of time at the moment reassuring my 4yo that all sorts of things aren't his fault and aren't anything to do with him.)

For that reason, when my nanny left last year (she just wasn't quite right and it wasn't working) I told ds that it was because she and her boyfriend were moving to Oxford (which they did, but it followed the event rather than caused it), and that she loved him and would miss him but they had to move. He seemed happy with the explanation, but did ask why again a couple of times so he was clearly interested to know why.

I'm not saying what your friend should do in this situation, as it's obviously a tricky one, but just my thoughts on the subject...

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