Mumsnet Logo
My feed

to access all these features


Childminder vs Nursery

164 replies

Sml · 28/02/2001 16:23

Lil, I was just joking, because I am certainly not afraid of driving with my husband! As I just said below, I think anybody is justified in not taking a risk if they feel it's statistically too great.

Tigger - I don't say that male nurses or doctors are less good than female ones. My preference for a female doctor/nurse for myself has nothing to do with the quality of the care offered.
As for care for my children, I or someone else is always present when they go to the surgery anyway, so of course I wouldn't refuse an eye exam by a male nurse.

OP posts:

Lil · 28/02/2001 16:25

Would everyone on this board go to the miscarriage board, please.


Gracie · 28/02/2001 16:36

I do indeed know 2 people to win the jackpot. One in a very large work syndicate and one in a small family group. On statistics, that would mean that employers could justify refusing to employ women (because statistically they are likely to stay for a shorter period of time, fat people (because statistically they are likely to be ill more often) and older people (ditto). That's what preventing discrimination is all about. Your comment that anyone is justified in avoiding anything to do with a certain individual based on their sex or whatever because they personally think that statistically the risks are too high could easily be interpreted as prejudice.


Lil · 28/02/2001 16:45

Yes Gracie, especially as the people that put these statistics together tend to have their own agenda.


Sml · 28/02/2001 16:48

Gracie, the bare statistics are only one factor to take into account. You don't make a decision about whether someone will make a good employee based on one statistic alone.
In the child carers/child abusers case from which this discussion started, the statistic is important in making the decision only because the potential result is so very, very serious for your child.

OP posts:

Gracie · 28/02/2001 17:04

Maybe I misunderstood but I thought your only reason for rejecting male nursery staff was on the basis that statistically, they were more likely to sexually abuse children.


Tigermoth · 28/02/2001 17:17

OK you have statistics. We know that they don't tell the whole story. Lies, statistics, little difference. Going back to male nursery carers etc,I can see both sides of this debate. Sorry Sml, while you have made me think and I agree with you up to a point, I hate the idea of not letting any man professinally care for small children, or not letting my children be cared for by trusted male friends etc.
I'd hate to think my sons had no experience of being cared for any man except their father and grandfather. Surely that inexperience of men could make them more vulnerablde to abuse later on, since they would be less able to recognise what was inappropriate male behaviour?

But how do you check up on male carers? In the case of my childminder's partner looking after my toddler, for instance? If I phone the council childminder registration section and start asking concerned questions about this, who's to say they won't make a big issue of it?, child abuse etc provokes very extreme reactions after all. Once before I voiced a minor concern about my childminder to them in confidence and my childminder got to hear about it. Sorry, I'm rambling. Just want to know, how would you discreetly check up on a male carer who seems to be prefectly fine with your child?


Tigger · 28/02/2001 17:18

Lil, I've been to the Miscarriage Board.


Sml · 28/02/2001 17:22

Yes, it is - sorry to repeat myself, but in this case, the consequences are so serious, that I would give that statistic a very high importance when choosing who to employ.
In other situations, eg employing a fat person or an older person, the consequences to the employer of them taking more sick leave might very well be negated by their personality, experience and ability to do the job well, so I would take the whole picture into account when considering employing them, and not attach undue importance to the statistics.
But there is no factor that can negate the harm done to a child who is sexually abused.

OP posts:

Gracie · 28/02/2001 17:24

Don't get me wrong Tigermoth, I think that the statistics in this case are completely irrelevant.

Personally, I wouldn't entrust the care of my children to anyone (male, female, black or yellow) with whom I wasn't completely comfortable. Equally, I wouldn't leave my child at a nursery unless I had complete and utter faith that my child's welfare was that nursery's number one priority. However I would certainly never make judgements about a person's likely course of action based on factors such as age, nationality and sex.


Sml · 28/02/2001 17:27

Tigermoth, I can assure you that there are many, many children in the world who are never left alone with men other than their father, uncles or grandfather, (not that the children are aware of this!) and they grow up perfectly normal.
I don't think there is any way you can check up on someone, if there was, then I wouldn't take such a firm line on this. As you say, the whole business of checking on someone can create a storm in a teacup.

OP posts:

Gracie · 28/02/2001 17:27

Sml, sorry to harp on about this but I suggest you take a look at the per capita statistics for sexual attacks by black people in this country. Are you telling me that you think that based on this, it would be acceptable not to get in a cab on your own that is driven by a black person???


Sml · 28/02/2001 17:34

Gracie, that is irrelevant. I don't know what the statistics are, but just let's suppose that they are 2% likelihood for Group A men and 1 % likelihood for Group B men. Well, I am not going to take the chance with either group of men, so I don't care which is the higher probability!!
And, as I am not racist, I am not interested in knowing whether black or white or green men with pink spots are more likely to commit rape.

OP posts:

Tom · 28/02/2001 17:44

God what a depressing discussion - with attitudes like these it will be generations before our children have to chance of seeing a male carer before they reach primary school. And so they will learn that looking after babies is what women do, not men... and then when they grow up the girls will complain that the boys don't help them look after the babies...

Re: abuse - men do more sexual abuse of children, women do more violent abuse. If you don't believe me - this is what the NSPCC say:

"Within the family it is primarily birth parents who mete out violent treatment. Of those who were treated violently in childhood:

49 per cent were treated violently by their mother
40 per cent by their father"

Researchers have found no difference in men and womens ability to look after their children - it is practice that makes parents competent. And women get more practice.

It's also interesting to note that the risk of a man abusing his own child decreases dramatically the more he is involved in caring for his child.

The anti-men prejudice on this page is disgusting.


Morag · 28/02/2001 18:31

Perhaps the anti-men comments on this page are a way of women letting off steam. I have read these boards for a few weeks and the consensus of opinion seems to be (and correct me if I am wrong) that women need a let off valve to release frustration - after all they cannot just waltz off to the pub when the notion takes them. I and many other mums I know, if they want "time off" have to plan in advance and make arrangements for their children. If men want time off they just go and the next you know of it is a phone call from the said pub!!


Tigger · 28/02/2001 18:38

Please post evidence of statement that man will abuse children less when is involved in caring for his children.
Women get more practice at looking after children BECAUSE they are better at it.


Tom · 28/02/2001 19:10

I'm working on getting that reference for you Tigger.

On the other point, I'm afraid you are completely wrong, according to all the researchers who have ever looked into the matter. And I am not talking statistics here, I'm talking about qualitative research into the development of childcare skills by men and women, physiological responses to babies cries, etc. They simply havn't found any difference in men and womens ability to look after children. We both acquire childcare skills at the same rate, given the same support, opportunity and practice.

Your references for this are:

Frodi, AM, Lamb, ME, Leavitt LA & Donovan, WL. (1978) “Fathers’ and Mothers’ Responses to Infant Smiles and Cries,” Infant Behaviour and Development, 1, 197

Silverstein L (1996) ‘Fathering is a feminist issue’, Psychology of Women Quarterly 20(3-37)


Tom · 28/02/2001 19:30

Scrap the 2nd ref: mistake on my part (it's somehting else). Lamb's work, (as well as C Lewis of Lancaster, who confirms it) is enough to prove the point.


Debsb · 28/02/2001 19:53

My daughters have had 2 male carers at nursery. The first one was lovely, all the kids liked him. The second was a lot quieter and my kids were largely indifferent as to whether he was there or not. It didn't bother me in the slightest that they had male carers, I was more concerned that the people who cared for them did so properly.
As regards men being as capable of childcare, my husband regularly looks after our 2 kids, and is just as capable as I. He boasts about being able to push a shopping trolley and put a bobble back in at the same time! He does, however do things a lot differently to me but I think the kids benefit from more than one parental style(on matters of discipline we are 85% in synch, & if not, the first to answer gets it, regardless). PS just in case this sounds too much in favour of men, he was the one who went down South last week for 5 days with all my keys in his pocket. Is pinching all the keys a male trait?


Tigger · 28/02/2001 20:30

Why has the parental role turned into such a battleground? It sholdn't be a battleground, it should be a joint venture, not scoring bloody brownie points for goodness sake! If society continues with the attitude of "i'm better than you", what will it be like in 20 years time. Tom lighten up mate, this is an open discussion and I for one think that women should be allowed to voice their opinions as they have been told to be "quiet" for to long. I regard myself as a strong person and from the other postings on this board so are the other women, men do have a say in society, but, they have always had the say and until recently women have kept quiet and in some areas towed the line. Men have always had the ability to stand up and shout, so why are they feeling so intimidated now that women are standing up and speaking their minds! If they can't stand the heat get out of the kitchen!!!!!


Batters · 28/02/2001 22:54

This reply has been deleted

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Suew · 01/03/2001 06:14

I know a male nanny who would be interested in some of the comments on this page. He suffered sexual discrimation by a college when he first tried to do his NNEB.

I saw the Oprah show over here a few weeks ago and it featured 'stranger danger'. One of the points made was that we should teach our children to pick out 'good strangers' from 'bad strangers' and we should help them by encouraging them to pay for things in shops, ask people the time, sit with them in shopping malls and observe people around them and talk abot who would be best to approach if you couldn't find mum/dad.

The 'expert' said that he would recommend children being taught to approach a woman over a man. I'm not going to try to quote his statistic or reasoning as I can't remember it but I remember saying to my husband 'Tell that to Myra Hindley's victims' parents'.


Croppy · 01/03/2001 07:26

Tom, I wholeheartedly endorse your comments on the disgusting anti-man prejudice on this page.

I had suspected that that would be the case as regards the incidence of violence of women towards children as opposed to sex abuse from men.

Any woman who thinks she is justified in not entrusting her child to a man SOLELY on the basis of his sex has thereby forfeited the right to object to any discrimination she may ever encounter on the basis of her race, age, sex or religion. The argument that the consequences of child abuse are so serious that the discrimination is justified is spookily similar to that used to justify apartheid in South Africa.

I was so horrified by some of the attitudes here yesterday that I contemplated an emergency email to the Fathersdirect website to summon you!!.


Emmam · 01/03/2001 09:26

I think there are some very valid points in all of the discussions here. It does have to boil down to a question of trust - there are some people I immediately feel comfortable with and others I don't and that goes for both men and woman. I really don't know if I would employ a male childminder - its not only the child abuse thing, but also from watching my husband with our son we judge things differently. He lets our son take more risks than I perhaps would and he also seems oblivous to certain situations. I think this is part of the male pysche - I don't care what you say, but men's brains do work differently to womens!

My ex-childminder looked after a child with Aspergers Syndrome. Although he was a very affectionate boy I did feel concerned about him being around my baby in case his affection was a trifle over zealous. Does that mean that I discriminate against disability or is it just being a concerned parent?

I think the argument here is when do you cross over from just being a, rightly, concerned parent into a racist, sexist etc person? From what I have seen from other messages we don't have that, just people that want the best for their children.

Actually, what I'd be interested in finding out - maybe you could do this on your website Tom - who would men prefer to employ to look after their children? (No Swedish au-pair jokes please.) I bet many dads would be just as `anti' males when it came to child care. How would we brand them then?


Tom · 01/03/2001 09:28

Batters - of course I find child abuse disgusting, but I also find the sexism in SML's attitudes repugnant. Everyone is entitled to have their opinions deemed "valid", including the view that someone else's point of view is bigotted. Just because she is a woman doesn't make her immune from having sexist attitudes, and I take offence from her views.

Last month we ran a national conference with the National Children's Bureau (the child protection agency) on the problem of the lack of men in childcare. We heard of the problems that men in childcare face (the assumption that they are potential abusers) - things which their female co-workers never face. We also heard that they were as capable childcare workers as women, and we addressed the problems of child protection in this context. Most men had to use self-protecting strategies (for example, always having a witness present when they changed nappies) to prevent false accusations, and the conference concluded that all workers should use these measures to a. increase child protection and b. ensure that there is a measure of equality of treatment of workers. There are some places (e.g. Sheffield Childrens Centre) where the male/female staff ratio is 50:50, but generally, men are only about 2% of the workers in childcare, and they face considerable obstacles (not least from the attitudes of those like SML) in their work.

Why would a man want to work with children? After a hard days work yesterday I got to bathe, feed and settle my son into bed, and it was the absolute highlight of my day - we had masses of fun in the bath and a lovely snuggle before bed - why wouldn't a man want to work with children - it's a magical, precious and wonderful thing to do - hugely rewarding - hard and valuable work.

Tigger - I'd love to lighten up, but this is a discussion about child abuse - not a "light" topic really.

SML - you said..."I checked with the nursery beforehand and got an assurance that they didn't employ male staff" - would you give me the name of this nursery? They are almost certainly breaking the law.

Tigger - I emailed Adrienne Burgess (author of "Fatherhood Reclaimed" and leading fatherhood researcher in the UK) about references showing that men who were closely involved with their children from the start were less likely to abuse their children - this is her reply:

"yes - definitely - fathers who sexually abuse their daughters are likely to have 'missed' a chunk of their early childhood through being away (sailors in the Liverpool docks - a common phenomenon, I am told) or have been physically around but not greatly involved in playing with/feeding/caring for them. The thought is perhaps they feel less 'fatherly'. I also think the sexual abuse may in many ways be a distorted bid for intimacy. I cite the first study in my book - last chapter - section on abuse figures I THINK. Sebastian Kraemer may be more up to date on the recent research - I am convinced that more than one study has shown it. Vicky Phares MAY deal with it in her chapter in THE ROLE OF THE FATHER IN CHILD DEVELOPMENT (3rd edition)."

Sorry for the long post.

Here's a joke to lighten the mood:

How do you get Pikachu onto the bus?



Tom · 01/03/2001 09:36

Emmam - research has found consistently that fathers allow more risk taking and exploration than mothers, who tend to be more protective (see this book), - they are very complimentary approaches to children and neither is "the right approach" - as you say, it is a matter of trust.

I will post a message on our website - personally I have already asked our son's nursery why there are no male workers and encouraged them to employ men if they can - I don't want our son to grow up thinking that looking after babies is something only women do.

Please create an account

To comment on this thread you need to create a Mumsnet account.

Sign up to continue reading

Mumsnet's better when you're logged in. You can customise your experience and access way more features like messaging, watch and hide threads, voting and much more.

Already signed up?