Peek into the other side

Book excerpt from "And Nanny Makes Three"

"Ironically, often the women acting as de facto mommy substitutes to the children of other working women have children of their own to love and raise. Nannies by any other name, they are also the children's caretakers and their mothers' alter egos, stand-ins, and understudies, replacements, enablers, employees, confidantes, friends, and rivals, sometimes hapless victims and not infrequently long-suffering heroines. Those caretakers rarely have an opportunity to openly offer their perspective on this pivotal relationship, and how it affects them emotionally, socially, and economically. My research for this book makes abundantly clear that the majority of live-in or -out, full- or part-time nannies have no official training or special education in early childhood development. More often than not their training is the sum of their experience, and their qualifications amount to little more than highly subjective references from previous employers. As a result, the status of "professional" will forever elude them, but the irony goes deeper than that: For the minority of nannies in the United States who actually do have professional training as well as legal working status, life is often a constant and frustrating battle to prove they are not "just babysitters." After all, why would any young woman in her right mind actually choose to waste a decent education by going one-on-one with another woman's children, in a home that's not her own, and in a situation where no matter how good she is at her job she'll always be relegated to playing second fiddle? Professionally trained nannies may be in great demand among parents who can afford to hire them, but those who actually see this job as a career and stick with it for more than a few years before starting their own families, or branching out into more lucrative jobs in other areas of the child-care business, are still far and few between. As a result it is simply an accepted part of life in our supposedly color-blind and egalitarian society that most nannies do their work without benefits in exchange for cash and while under the radar from both the INS (now known as the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Bureau) and the IRS.

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