Child Neglect, or a Nanny’s Break?

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Oct 26, 2016

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Article Icon - First World ProblemsMy son likes to play at our society’s playground, and we always see one nanny and little girl there at the same time. Typically, the nanny is on her phone chatting, not even paying attention to the girl. I’ve seen her ignore the girl as she played unsafely (I eventually stepped in because I was so unnerved) and snap at the girl, batting away her hands, when the girl approaches her. It’s been like this frequently over a couple of months. I know it’s not abuse, but it’s child neglect and not how I’d want my nanny to interact with my son. Should I say something to the girl’s mom?


KB: Dear Meddling Mommy, Let me guess: Are you the one with a lengthy list of demands at every building society meeting? Do the teachers at your kids’ school duck into the stairwell when they see you coming? Something tells me you like to stick that long nose of yours in plenty of places it doesn’t belong.

But now that you’ve brought your extra-long nose to the playground, let me say this: you’re not wrong to keep an eye out for misbehaving nannies. But this particular nanny doesn’t seem to be egregious in her neglect. I say you take it to her first: Make a comment or two about how she should be watching a little more carefully, so other adults in the playground don’t have to step in for her.

And if that doesn’t shame her into doing her job, feel free to take it to the kid’s mom. When it comes to safety on the playground, every parent has a right to know if their child isn’t being properly supervised. Just be prepared for everyone involved to tell you to mind your own business.

LG: How well do you know this nanny-baby duo? That girl could be a true brat and this is the only time of day the nanny gets a break from it. Even if she’s a saint in pint-sized Mary Janes, this is probably the only time of day the kid occupies herself. Not to delve into the helicopter versus free-range parenting debate, but a little independent free play never hurt anyone (and actually does kids a lot of good). What you see as child neglect might just be¬†someone else’s good parenting.

I also question what you mean by ‘unsafely’. If you mean ‘in a way that might lead to a bump or a bruise’ then … I’ve got to side with the nanny here. I’m batting your hands away. The girl will be OK. If you mean ‘in a way that might lead to a broken arm or electrocution’ then involve yourself next time and point out the ‘could haves’ the nanny missed, so she’ll be more watchful next time.

SB: Let’s be real — if that kids parents were behaving exactly the same way as the nanny, it would be much more acceptable. Who doesn’t occasionally have to look at their phone at the park? Maybe the child’s parents want a play-by-play of the day over WhatsApp. Don’t judge.

However, as LG said, if there’s a credible threat of harm (not the usual bumps and bruises that come with not being a bubble child), then it might be worth sharing your concern. I would go with a direct approach and talk to the nanny like KB suggested, otherwise you may end up with a playground showdown when she finds out it was you that snitched.

MM: Gotta agree with KB. You might have good intentions but if you go talking to those parents, they might not shower you with the gratitude you were hoping for. Also, nannies talk, and you don’t want the reputation of a tell-tale. It’s best to talk to the nanny first, and maybe keep an eye out for the girl yourself while you can.

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Written By The Swaddle Team

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