The Help - Immigrant Nannies

Mrs. - posted on 03/19/2011 ( 18 moms have responded )

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I've been reading a book my mother send my called The Help by Kathryn Stockett. It's about the african american maids/nannies who essentially raised white babies in Mississippi during the early 1960's.

The funny thing is, as I'm reading it, I can't help think about my own community, now.

I live in a nice community in the city, in one of the cheaper buildings, surrounded by a very posh residential area. Mostly, I'm one of the only middle class moms pushing my stroller during the day among all the nannies. Because I live in Canada, most of the nannies are Filipino, from the islands, East Indian or occasionally, from the former Soviet Union.

I was taken aback this March Break when I went to a library event for St. Pat's Day. The place was packed and I was the only SAHM there with her child. The rest were little white babies with Filipino nannies....it reminded me a bit of the book I was reading.

Then there is the stories I've heard. Like they only get paid minimum wage, have to live in their employer's house, are not allowed much personal time and are basically used above and beyond their job description.

For instance, my fiance used to know a couple who'd bring their nanny to parties to clean up after them when they'd finished their plates or drinks.

Not to mention, my aunt was never, ever home. A woman named Maria (she lives in the States and Maria was Mexican) basically raised her kids. They spoke Spanish before they spoke English. Maria, I know, was never treated very well by my pushy aunt. I doubt she paid her all that well either.

So, I gotta wonder. Does this irk you? Do you ever look around your own neighbourhood and wonder if the women pushing those blonde babies in strollers are being treated like slaves? Would you be okay letting someone who wasn't treated all that well being the main caretaker for your child? How have things changed and how have things backtracked?

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Alyssa - posted on 03/20/2011

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Emma, Nannies do exist in Australia!! I have had an irish nanny, well, actually she was an Au Pair. I'm sure some are treated like slaves but not all as the OP suggests.
Our nanny lived with us and had free food, board and bills and we paid her about 250 AU per week. This equates to a package of around 700 dollars. Our au pair had set work hours - only when I was working.
We loved her and still keep in touch. Not all nannies are for the "upperclass" we are VERY middle class but just managed to find a way for me to work and have good care for our children.

Mrs. - posted on 03/20/2011

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I agree Sharon, why would you leave a child with someone you regularly misuse? Yet, it still happens. I don't understand the thinking either.

Sharon - posted on 03/20/2011

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nannies are fine. There are always those who abuse them. many are treated well.

think about it.

Would you leave your child in the care of a person you regularly abused? WHO do you think they'll take their anger out on?

As for calling the nanny mama - many babies and toddlers call any man "daddy". Not that big a deal until they learn about relationships.

April - posted on 03/20/2011

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I'm half filipino/australian. I live in the Philippines and trust me even though the work of a nanny is hard the people here prefer to work abroad.

In this country, if you have money, most people have a what we call "yaya" or nanny/maid who live with them and take care of their house and take care of their kids. The money they make? Low. Very very low. When i first came here, i was so surprised, it's like why would anyone do a job that hard and be okay with receiving such low wages? The reason is because they have no choice. They do it for their families. They need the money.

So going to work abroad is a big deal for them, They get better money and it's in dollars/euro's. This is a huge help to their families who are here. It's a hard life but thats the only choice they have if they want to make money for their families to live on. A lot of people who come back here complain about how they are treated but they have no choice but to go back.

I wish they would change their system here so that the people in this country could work here and get a big enough salary that they don't need to work abroad. Maybe one day it'll happen.

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Herna - posted on 03/22/2011

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I guess it does irk me a little, and being a Filipina woman who grew up in the US, I have heard plenty of stories about Filipina nannies being mistreated and underpaid. I do believe there are still good parents out there who, if they can afford a nanny, would never mistreat them. My sister is a part-time nanny and I must say they spoil her!

Sadly, I know there will always be the darker side of things. There will always be nannies who are afraid of losing their jobs (even if the pay is bad) to support their own families and will endure the abuse. I think many are too afraid to leave. :(

Katie - posted on 03/22/2011

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I live in New Zealand and was a professional nanny before I had my own son (aged 2yrs). I was with one family for nearly 4 years, I started when the boy was 2yrs old and the mother was pregnant with the little girl. I left when the little girl was nearly 4 years old (due to my husband and I choosing to have a child of our own). I did a "live-out" position, so I came to their house 3 days a week 8am-6pm. My wage was a lot more than the average wage, therefore letting us save up enough to buy our own home when I was 23 years old. I was always treated with respect by the parents and the children. My duties were only to do with the children - no house work or cleaning (unless the children made a mess, then I would clean that of course!). I took them to activities like music, dance, swimming classes and school and kindy drop-offs and pick-ups. It was a very fun and interesting time in my life and I loved every moment of it! Even though I left them 3 years ago, we have regular contact and the children treat my son like a little brother when we visit! The parents and I will be great friend's and I'm very glad for that, as I was such a major part of their children's lives. They joke saying "You'll be at their 21st with all the funny stories to tell" - true, I'd love to still be apart of their lives in 20 years time! Nannies are great :)

Meghan - posted on 03/21/2011

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My sister was a nanny in Switzerland and she got SPOILED! She came back home and told me she doesn't think "parenting" is hard at all because she did it...well guess what sweetheart, I don't have time off, trips to Milan and ski lessons in the alps-so can it!
I think it depends on the family you get involved with. Sometimes you will end up raising the kids and get no perks, and sometimes you will be a glorified babysitter that gets treated like one of the family.

Alyssa - posted on 03/20/2011

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Oh and when we went on holidays, our nanny came with us. NOT to work but because she wanted to come. She was/is part of our family, not the hired help so of course she would join in family holidays. Most are also inernational travellers, why would they turn down an opportunity to travel for free?? Ours didn't work when we were on holidays.

Lady Heather - posted on 03/20/2011

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I've seen it work well and I've seen it work not so well. A friend of mine has an au pair right now and she's more like a friend that gets paid to look after the kids while the parents are at work. My cousin was an au pair in Luxembourg and it started out okay, but the parents slowly started to take advantage of her. It got to the point where she had the kids for up to 14 hours in a day, six days a week. The baby started calling her mama because she rarely saw her own mother. I visited with them and we did everything. Breakfast, lunch, dinner, bath, bedtime. The parents rolled in at 9pm. It was sad.

April - posted on 03/20/2011

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I live in the US, but I am not sure how common it is. My son goes to gymnastics every week and one of the boy he plays with has a nanny that goes with him. He actually call her MAMA even though she is not related to him. If your child spends so much time with a nanny that he refers to her as MAMA, there's a problem there.

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Nannies are pretty common around here for working moms, but very few sahm's have them. When I worked, we had a nanny, but now that I stay home, we don't--she still babysits for us sometimes though.



We paid her well, and provided her car, gas $, and paid her car insurance, and gave her a food allowance so that she could eat out and such if she was out with J. She did not live with us, she came to our house every morning. While her hours did vary, we were careful to keep her workweek to 40 hours or less. If she worked more than 40 hours, we paid her extra.



It does not irk me that there are nannies, because for some people, that is the best option. A daycare simply would not have worked for my family, it was better to have a nanny who could watch our son here at our house and be available if we needed her in the evening instead of the day time--we did not always work the same hours. She also did some cooking, and light housekeeping--not cleaning, just straightening and keeping toys and such put away. She loved to cook and she always ate with us if we were at home to eat. She was more like a close family friend than an employee.



It does irk me that people treat nannies with disrespect, underpay them, and over work them. The nannies around here do not seem to fit that stereotype. Most seem happy and seem to be well paid and respected by their families. We still keep in touch with our nanny, my son loves her and she will always be a family friend. I would hope most people would treat the person they are trusting with their child with the respect they deserve.

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In Ireland nannies are not the norm either.If i were in the postition to have a nannie i would treat her like my friend , she would be seen as apart of the family.Thats me.She would also have a nice room, and good pay.I would really give them more than the standard pay.If i can afford a nannie , well i can afford to give her more than what many would give there nannies.



If there taking care of the most precious gifts given to me how could you treat that person anyless than what the deserve.If they treat my kids very well and do there job up to the highest standard then i think all nannies should be treated very well.If they dont then they shouldn't be working for you and caring for your children.I think its unfair to be rude and unkind to someone caring for your children, if there doing there job well.Especially when the need the work and have no other option but to stay and put up with that treatment.

Jenn - posted on 03/20/2011

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It's not something that goes on around here. I don't know anyone, or even any friend of a friend of a friend who has a nanny, so it's not something I can really comment on. But if it's like you say, that doesn't sound right at all.

Jodi - posted on 03/20/2011

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I'm with Emma - nannies aren't the norm here at all. Most people can't afford them, not with the Australian minimum wage. I have never actually known anyone who has had a nanny, and the only person I know OF who has ever had a nanny should never have had children, but it seems she birthed the token child that was expected of her, handed him to the nanny to raise. The nanny even travels with them on Christmas day and on holidays, because she just doesn't have the capacity to cope with her own child (I know all this from a friend, who is this woman's sister-in-law, so it's hearsay). I don't get it.

Desiree - posted on 03/20/2011

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HaHa I live in ZA where nannies are the norm. And yes a good number of people take their nannies on Holiday with them. Our "Nannies" are also are our domestic servants. We pay them a salary that includes Taxi fare if they don't live in your home. They eat what you eat, but they take care of our kids because a number of us work a full day. There are the exceptions to the rule though. I know of one mother in my kids school who has twin she has a nanny for each child. and another who has 4 and also has 2 to deal with her kids. The ridiculase thing is that they take these people when they take the kids to school and all of them walk the kids to their classrooms and pick them up. Now that is crazy. Personally that is insane. Why would you want to go on holiday with your maid, its family time.

Stifler's - posted on 03/20/2011

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HA! The fact that there are nannies and servants at all irks me. No one around here has that stuff. I've seen the people walking around this neighbourhood and although I don't know them personally I'm pretty sure they are walking with their own babies and clean their own houses. What is this the 60s? Unless you're boiling a copper and getting on your hands and knees to scrub the floor... suck it up, do your own house work and raise your own damn kids. Do nannies even exist in Australia?

Johnny - posted on 03/19/2011

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In my neighborhood, I don't run into many. Not a lot of people around here can afford or have room to house an in-home nanny. I do know a few who have been in Canada for a long time, have brought their families over and now run daycares in our neighborhood. They are very happy to be in control of their own lives again. So I can see the long picture, that in many cases, it does give them a chance to start a new and better life for their families.

But in my parent's area, it is very common. My dad looks after my daughter while I work and takes her to classes & library time. He is usually the only non-nanny there. Growing up, I had a few friends whose moms were nannies and many friends who were virtually raised by nannies. One of my best high school friend's mom was a nanny for a very very wealthy family. She was treated well. She worked good hours, she was always at school events because she was given time to attend, she had her own separate apartment above the garage that was very nice, and they had helped her bring over her two kids to live with her instead of being in the Phillipines. They were like an extended family, celebrated holidays together, and I never heard a bad word about it from my friend. Even after they had their citizenship, the kids had grown, and her mother started her own restaurant, they were still involved in each other's families.

But I know that is not the norm and a lot of the women are not well treated. My dad hears the stories too, of parents who leave every day before the kids get up, come home after they've gone to sleep, and spend their weekends at the ski chalet or at the beach cottage without the kids. I also knew kids like that growing up. For most of those kids, the nanny was the best thing in their lives and the real "mom". It was horrible for the kids and horrible for the nannies. I do think the industry needs better regulation and the nannies need better avenues to advocate for their rights. There is an organization here who is now working to improve this situation: http://pwc.bc.tripod.com/aboutpwc.html among others.

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