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anonymous letter about nanny

(77 Posts)
AgentFF Mon 14-Dec-15 15:19:13

yesterday I got an anonymous letter from someone saying that they were the parents of a friend of my 2yo DS - that our nannies knew each other and hung out sometimes. They sent it to "Parents of DS" and knew our postal address - possible as a couple of times the nanny has had playdates at ours and asked permission beforehand. They didn't want to name themselves or the nanny in case the nanny was labelled as a snitch.

They said that they had serious concerns about our nanny and how she was treating our DS. Some of the comments were ridiculous - as in she was withholding food so he was left taking food from other children or nannies - I know that he eats a lot and just loves food, he isn't fat but certainly not thin or scrawny either. They also mentioned they didn't think he was supervised enough/properly and they worried for his safety and finished by saying they were worried she might be physically abusing him as he seemed afraid of her.

As you can imagine I was distraught and very upset. DS is not with the nanny at the moment as he is with family. The nanny came very highly recommended and had good references who I spoke to in detail. She has been with us for over a year and we have been happy with her. She has a very direct manner and can be bossy but our DS is a boisterous and energetic 2yo so needs some structure and boundaries and so far I thought she managed things well.

I am really worried and feel terribly guilty that I have put him in danger but also don't know if it is someone who has just misinterpreted things - they are telling me what their nanny thinks and I don't know who their nanny is or what she has seen/how much time she has spent with them. The fact that they have concerns about things (the withholding food allegations) that I know are not true and have been misinterpreted make me think that I should be more sceptical about all of it. However I feel I can't dismiss it in case there is even the tiniest bit of truth.

DS is very happy and outgoing (my view and those of family and friends) - talks to everyone and interacts with everyone. He is affectionate, confident and boisterous and loves testing boundaries. They go out a lot to stay and plays and toddler groups in the area.

What do I do? Sack the nanny immediately and find someone else without any proof or knowledge of whether I am getting rid of someone who is perfectly good and being (potentially just out of malice or misplaced concern) judged by someone who has no knowledge of what is going on? Or do I sack her because if there was even a tiny chance that she was being horrible to him I wouldn't want her around?

BrianButterfield Mon 14-Dec-15 15:21:25

Hmmm...I admit the seed of doubt would be planted here. Could you set up a nannycam thing? Really you only need to see how she interacts with your DS without you for quite a short time to be able to judge if the letter could be true.

VikingVolva Mon 14-Dec-15 15:27:36

No, you cannot sack someone on the strength of an anonymous letter.

Yes, you need to get to the bottom of it.

Are there people, who you trust and who see your DS when he's out and about, that you can ask about how things seem between them?

JaneAustinAllegro Mon 14-Dec-15 15:31:37

Bear in mind it could be someone who has a vendetta against the nanny for some reason. Are you able to set up some more playdates with parents you know present and / or have people you know observe at toddler clubs etc? How much can your DS express to you about how he feels about her?

SevenSeconds Mon 14-Dec-15 15:32:19

Oh my goodness what a difficult dilemma for you.

Do you have a friend who has spent time with DS and the nanny together who you could ask for their honest opinion of your nanny?

How is DS when you leave him with her? Surely you would know if he was afraid of her?

heavens2betsy Mon 14-Dec-15 15:37:49

I told a parent about a Nanny once and felt terrible because she got fired but at the time I was seriously concerned and actually would do it again, even if I wasn't 100% certain.
This Nanny in my situation was creepy. We were at a toddler group and she was telling the child that his Mummy didn't love him because she was always busy working and he was lucky that Nanny ... did and she was just a bit too intense with him. It was small and not actual harm but it niggled at me and I put myself in the Mum's shoes and decided to tell her (we had a mutual friend). She asked a few other people who agreed and the nanny got fired.
Make sure its not just another Nanny with a grudge and do some digging but don't ignore it.

AgentFF Mon 14-Dec-15 15:42:48

Thank you for all the suggestions and sympathy. I will see if I can get contact details of other parents and see if I can meet up with them and perhaps get more information. It seems like the only way to really find out.

Nannycam did cross my mind....

DS can be a bit grumpy and teary when I or DH leave him with the nanny but its hard to know if its just that he doesn't want you to leave/wants to eke out the attention. When I've been working from home I can hear that he calms down almost immediately and seems happy and they get busy singing or reading and he has forgotten all about me not being there as soon as I'm out of sight. I can't wfh any more unfortunately. At the time I had no concerns about the nanny and nothing happened to make me worried.

AgentFF Mon 14-Dec-15 15:45:20

I wish they could have spoken to me face to face about it. I would just be grateful that they had voiced a concern and put me in a position to make an informed decision. I feel totally blindsided and somehow the anonymity makes it feel so much more sinister.

Pippidoeswhatshewants Mon 14-Dec-15 15:46:02

Why send an anonymous letter if you have serious, valid concerns?
I would be very careful. Maybe set up a nanny cam if you are very rattled, but don't sack the nanny because of an anonymous, potentially malicious letter!

TheWildRumpyPumpus Mon 14-Dec-15 15:48:32

If they had serious concerns they should have put their names to the letter and trusted that you would have investigated further and not just dropped their nanny in it.

As it is, you don't know where to go to ask further questions - it's as likely to be someone with a grudge against your nanny as it is to be someone with serious concerns about your child's welfare.

Does your child seem upset when you leave to go to work?

I have boys who are constantly asking for food, even as they finish the mouthful they are swallowing. I do say no after a meal, but can guarantee that they'd Hoover up any offerings from other people in the vicinity. They are well fed and exercised but seemingly bottomless pits when it comes to food.

Iggi999 Mon 14-Dec-15 15:52:38

I'm not sure how you know for sure about the food thing?

JennyOnAPlate Mon 14-Dec-15 15:53:00

An anonymous letter just screams bullshit to me frankly. Someone has a grudge against your nanny I should think.

I do agree that you need to try and look into it further though otherwise you will always have niggling doubts.

fanjoforthemammaries7850 Mon 14-Dec-15 15:55:20

Sorry but I would take their reason for being anonymous at face value..they wouldnt want their nanny to get into trouble. This would concern me a lot, I would think it was more likely a genuine concern than someone making it up for no reason. Sorry.

ImperialBlether Mon 14-Dec-15 15:57:03

Someone decent would speak to you about it face to face so that you could ask questions.

Can you phone anyone who is also out with your son and his nanny?

Heavens2betsy, I think you did the right thing - that sounds very harmful indeed - the poor child.

CruCru Mon 14-Dec-15 16:01:07

I suppose the most important thing is, are YOU happy with your nanny? Before the letter came, were YOU happy to leave your child with this person?

DS is very happy and outgoing (my view and those of family and friends) - talks to everyone and interacts with everyone. He is affectionate, confident and boisterous and loves testing boundaries. They go out a lot to stay and plays and toddler groups in the area. This tells me that she is doing a good job - children who are mistreated don't act this way.

You've been put in an awful position but it is important to remember that your nanny is an employee - you can't sack her on the basis of an anonymous letter any more than you could sack a post office worker. Why not have a chat with her about how she feels things are going and whether she has any concerns about your child? If she is a good nanny, she should be more than happy to talk about your child for a long time.

wafflerinchief Mon 14-Dec-15 16:02:28

i wouldn't assume someone was making it up - it's a horrible position for you to be in Op. I had a neighbour knock on my door, shaking, because he'd seen my dog walker handling my dog roughly - and it had clearly taken him guts to come forward and tell me as you never know what reaction you'll get from people. I let the dog walker go (with a month's notice and didn't mention the incident because my dog loved him & we were really surprised) but I decided that my neighbour was a reasonable man who believed what he saw and had no reason to lie. If it was my DC, I'd have to check into it more and think about how to do that.

Whoknewitcouldbeso Mon 14-Dec-15 16:04:45

I was constructively dismissed from a job off the back of an anonymous letter. In my case it was the husband of a colleague who had beef with me as I had outsourced some work to her (we were both part time as well as self employed away from our part time employer) and she had basically fucked the work up totally meaning I had to redo it pretty much completely.

Her husband was furious that I didn't pay her the full amount we agreed to do the job, so he texted our boss a very poisonous message with the tiniest amount of truth and a ton of lies. My boss decided to believe the message and made my job so difficult I had no choice but to leave.

So I loathe anonymous messages and think the people behind them should either have the guts to go to the individual in person or keep their mouthes shut. In your position I would be talking to your nanny directly, show her the letter and see what she says. She may know who is likely to have sent it and you can get to the bottom of it by talking to the sender directly. I would not be sacking anyone or setting up bloody cameras.

VagueIdeas Mon 14-Dec-15 16:04:48

I too would err on the side of thinking it might be true, rather than someone trying to stitch up the nanny. I mean, who would actually go to those lengths to sabotage someone's career? It's a bit far fetched.

So, distressing as it is, I'd have to take it at face value.

Iwantakitchen Mon 14-Dec-15 16:08:39

As a child minder and parent, I do withhold food if it's not appropriate food or time of day, if a child refuses to eat lunch and immediately asks for snacks, etc. and my own DS would walk up to strangers in the park and ask them for crisps as I wouldn't give him any crisps! You know your child best, that's wouldn't worry me.

I would try and enquire to other parents who might see your DS out and about, at playgroup etc and check what they think. Don't ignore, but I would enquire before taking a drastic decision.

You also need to remember that some parents/nannies have a very soft touch and that someone who is firm can appear to be quite cruel. I see parents of toddlers being way too soft with their little ones (ie scooping up their child who has just bitten/pushed another toddler, giving them all the attention in the world, etc). Other parents/nannies simply ignore bad behaviour. Others will have a firm approach, see where your nanny is and discuss that with her if you worry. A nanny cam makes me very uncomfortable but people do it!

trilbydoll Mon 14-Dec-15 16:10:50

What's his speech like? DD is 2.5 and if someone withheld food from her or she was scared of them, we would hear about it, albeit in a slightly garbled and bizarre way.

Can you arrive home a bit early or similar, and see how they're interacting?

shazzarooney99 Mon 14-Dec-15 16:20:59

Secret cameras would be the way to go for me im afraid, it could actually be another nanny thats concerned and doesnt want to drop herself in it.

Whenischristmas Mon 14-Dec-15 16:22:29

Its a difficult one. I don't like anonymous letters either but people do it to protect themselves. I would act as if it were true but obviously you can't sack your nanny solely based on that. So you need to find out more.

Tbh I think I would confront the nanny truthfully with the allegations and see what she has to say. At the very least you can hopefully protect your child by telling your nanny how concerned you are and then monitor her work more closely.

I was in a park recently where a group of childminders meet up regularly. I bet they wouldn't treat the children the way they did if the
Parents were around. I was quite disturbed. A couple of them completely ignored the children, refused to play or push them on the swings and one childminder muttered under her breath, 'spoilt little brat' when a small child called out. They did far less than the average parent in the park.

BerylStreep Mon 14-Dec-15 16:24:15

I would make some discreet enquiries with other parents who would see your nanny and DS out & about to get a feel for things - although at that age it's sometimes hard if you don't know people who go to the same groups.

Initially I thought that you should speak with her and tell her about the letter. Give her an opportunity to address the allegations, however the more I think about it, I wonder if it would just make her feel like looking over her shoulder all the time.

I work in a role which is very susceptible to anonymous allegations, and I think I would prefer to know about them.

Nannycam doesn't sit comfortably with me.

hefzi Mon 14-Dec-15 16:24:24

Did I understand correctly that you spoke directly to her previous employers? If so, I would have thought anything remotely iffy would have surfaced - people might not say it directly, but there are ways and ways, if you know what I mean. Did you find her through an agency?

I second PP's ideas of asking around other parents etc in a general sort of way - or perhaps showing up to toddler group "as a surprise" one week. Nanny cams leave me cold, but it's certainly one option - in all honesty, though, from what you've said, it doesn't really sound as though there's a problem per se: and an anonymous letter is a very strange way of handling something with child protection concerns.

We had nannies, and we did once have one that my mother "let go": she was a much older woman, with excellent references, and was taking care of one of my DBs overnight when my parents were both working away. She's looked after him daily with no issues, but the way she behaved when they were totally out of the picture turned out to be really at odds with this- my brother was about 2 at the time, but said some things that my mother felt worthy of exploring with the nanny. It turned out that her own ideas on child rearing - sitting at the table until you've cleared your plate that has been dished up with you until bedtime, having it for breakfast the following day if not eaten etc - didn't gel with my mother's: but there had been no sign of that previously, as they hadn't had that sort of contact prior (ie overnights sole care)

Might also be worth just raising it in a casual way with your nanny?

Enjoyingthepeace Mon 14-Dec-15 16:25:01

I would be very concerned.

The fact that it is anonymous absolutely doesn't mean it's fake. I may well do the same in those circumstances. Wanting to voice my concerns, but not wanting to make my nanny's life difficult.

Those that say it could be someone wanting to sabotage her career, well, I couldn't want my son being around someone who was so hated by someone for some reason or another that they would want to do something so cruel to her.

I would sit down with th nanny and show her the letter. Perhaps she will explain a beef she has with a fellow nanny, perhaps she wil be flummoxed. Either way, you need to confront her with it,

In the immediate short term, I would arrange alternative childcare, with family and friends. In that time, I would recheck references, actually meet previous parents / employees and talk in depth with them. I would obviously tell the nanny I was doing this.

Take this seriously. Always err on the side of caution. Why take the risk? This is not someone who has been in your family for years, this is not family or a long standing friend.

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