Dealing with Bad Press in the Nanny Industry

Photo by __ via Flickr Creative Commons.
Photo by __ via Flickr Creative Commons.

by glenda propst

Doesn’t it seem like the only headlines you ever hear in the news about nannies or other childcare workers is negative? We seem to hear only about those stories where the nanny runs away with her DadBoss or suffocates her charges, leaving the families that hired them in ruins. Stories like these give nannies a bad rep. They can make us feel bad and sick inside, and when it comes to the public, these stories do nothing to improve their opinion of our profession. How do we as an industry and as individuals deal with negative press?

Are We Powerless?

Can we control the choices of a few bad nannies who make the word ‘nanny’ sound like a four-letter word? No. Can we control what the news anchors choose to report on television? No. Can we help it that there are bound to be bad apples in every profession? Certainly not. As individuals we don’t have a lot of power in determining what happens in the world around us and what is labeled as newsworthy to the press, but we can help how we respond to these messages.

To put it simply, the general public doesn’t understand what nannies do. The misconceptions are farfetched (nannies are only for the very wealthy) and misguided (nannies are only nannies because they can’t find ‘real’ jobs). Sadly, the people who hold these opinions about our profession are simply uninformed, and the mass media’s biased reporting does nothing to make this better. And so it’s up to us as nannies to pick up the slack.

So what can you do as an individual about negative press? You may think there’s no recourse. But there is something you can do. There is actually a lot you can do, but you have to be willing to step out of your comfort zone, come out from behind your computer, and find your voice.

Crusade for Education

Don't complain because we don't have standards; work to educate parents, nannies, and agencies about what sets nannies apart among other childcare choices. We need to find our voice and speak out about the issues in our industry that impact us the most. Show your nanny pride by correcting people whenever they make an unfounded assumption about your job. People who work outside of the nannying industry rarely understand the responsibility our jobs come with. It isn’t all coloring and singing and seducing DadBoss. Shaping the next generation of upstanding young citizens is not a walk through the park. With lesson plans, carpooling, nutrition planning, and so much more, nannies have their work cut out for them; there’s hardly any time to seduce DadBoss anyway.

Be the One

Don’t say, “Someone should do something about this problem.” Rather, be the “someone” who takes action to set the change in motion. We need to stop expecting someone else to pave our way and learn to pave our own way instead.

Check Your Online Presence

With people today increasingly living their lives online, anything negative you say on the Web can and will come back to haunt you. Stop being catty. Stop picking fights. Stop portraying yourself in a way that anyone could perceive as being negative. The nannying profession will thank you. We need to stop criticizing each other and start reaching out to new nannies to mentor them and encourage them. We need to find ways to focus our energy on effecting positive changes within our industry. Start by being nice to people online. If someone unfamiliar with the nannying world stumbles upon your social media profile in which all you do is bash your MomBoss, tear into other nannies, or make fun of your charges, what will you make them think about nannies at large?

Join Forces

There is strength in numbers. If you don’t have one, start a local nanny support group, mentor a nanny, join a national organization like the International Nanny Association or the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC), or attend Nannypalooza. Get involved with planning an event for National Nanny Recognition Week or National Nanny Training Day. These are just some ways you can get involved with other likeminded nannies.

Start in your community and then reach out beyond. It's great to network online, but you never really know someone until you meet them in person, have a heart to heart, and learn something new together or share a meal.

Go to a conference. Join INA, NAEYC, or your local NAEYC affiliate and attend their conferences and local workshops. Keep educating yourself, stay abreast of what is going on in the world of child development, keep learning, and never stop growing.

What you give will come back to you 100 fold (sometimes) and sometimes it might come back to smack you the face (ouch), but keep reaching out and keep giving back and keep working to make a difference in the way the public perceives us and our career choice.

Make a Difference

If we as nannies don't do it, who will? And if we as nannies don't do it, who has the most to lose? I challenge you to start today and decide what you can do to change the face and the future of our profession. Don’t expect to see this change immediately. It won’t happen instantly, but in the last 30 years I have seen a lot of positive changes. It’s really up to you and me to be the change in this industry because if we don’t do it, who will?

Start Making Positive Waves

Not all news is bad news. Do something amazing with your life and your career and inspire other nannies to do so as well. Let the media catch wind of your accomplishments and we can collectively get nannies the positive recognition in the news that we all deserve! Together we can inform the media that we’re not all husband-stealing baby-killing psychos, and that our career choice is valid and stems from a place of love.

Stay Alert and Brush Your Shoulders Off

Understand that the negative press about our profession isn’t going to stop overnight, but don’t let it get you down. Just keep being the best nanny you can be and realize there are rotten apples in every profession. And remember, if you see something, say something. If a nanny on your block is acting strangely or in a way you feel is threatening toward the charges in his or her care or the family, say something. It could just save a life and spare another negative news article from ever getting published.