When parents divorce, it can be an upsetting experience for everyone involved. This includes a family’s nanny, particularly when the nanny has been working for the family for some time before a divorce begins. It can be awkward coming to work in an environment that was previously stable, and now is filled with uncertainty. But there are ways to cope. Nanny Magazine published this list of advice for nannies when working for a divorcing family, written by a nanny who experienced this situation.
6 Tips for Communication During a Divorce
- Parents and nanny should sit down together and talk about what is happening and what is going to happen. I believe this is an important step. My employers and I did not do this and it is for that reason that I think we are not always on the same page. Sitting down with each other and knowing that everyone has been involved in the discussion makes a difference. I realize this may not be possible with both parents in every situation, so try to open the lines of communication as much as possible on your end.
- If parents are going to be living apart, discuss visitation schedules and rules.
- Be clear about which parent you are to take instruction from and at which times. It can be very frustrating to be given conflicting instructions from two different people. When in doubt, ask for clarification in writing.
- Speak up if you are ever uncomfortable in a conversation with one parent about the other. Nannies can easily become the one to whom parents vent about the process.
- Set up a neutral space to share information pertaining to your charge. We use Cozi Calendar and it works wonderfully. Everything from daily activities, doctor’s appointments, school events, etc., are kept on the calendar. Both parents and I can see, add, or change events. Each week, we have an agenda emailed to everyone so we can all see the week ahead.
- If at some point, you are brought into the process and questioned, tell the truth. The truth may not always be pretty and it could paint one or both of the parents in a bad light, but it is important to be truthful about any questions asked. I was very nervous about this but my MomBoss assured me that answering truthfully would not change our relationship in any way. She understood that the only side that I was taking in this process was her child’s side. Take a moment to reflect on the situation and the questions asked and write down your thoughts before responding too.
The article also lists these ways that nannies can handle the stress that may come along with working for a divorcing family:
- Leave it at work. I know this is a hard one but it is key. Because of the intimate nature of our work, it is not easy to just turn it off but it is very important that you don’t take your employers’ issues home with you.
- Talk to your employer. If there is something in particular that is bothering you, talk to your employer about it. Sometimes it helps just to get it out.
- Stay focused on your charge. If you are stressed, the parents are likely stressed too, and your charge is most likely picking up on the fact that all of the adults are worried. The proverbial slogan “Keep Calm and Carry On” applies here – business should continue as much as normal. Even if there are schedule changes, do your best to help your charge feel like these changes are normal. Exude a positive attitude and encourage your charge to focus on the happy things in his or her life.
A New England Nanny provides support services to our nannies that deal with divorce or any other issue related to their jobs. It’s just one of the benefits of working for a professional agency. Call us at (518) 348-0400 or see our available positions. Let us find you a great job!