Divorce has become such a widespread issue that it affects many families nowadays. As a nanny, this means that you may encounter families and children who are facing challenges that come about due to the impact of divorce. As each family is different, each situation that is impacted by divorce will also present different obstacles and challenges.
For example, you might be employed by a family that is currently working through a divorce or you might be employed by a family that has already been a single-parent family for many years. Both situations are affected by divorce, but they will each present their own set of challenges. You may find that the parents work well together and that you will work with both parents, even though they have been separated for many years. The father and the mother may want the best for their children, which, to them, means keeping the same person for child care.
You may, however, find that the parents do not get along well and are pursuing a very nasty divorce. You were hired before they decided to separate and they both might want to continue to use your services, but that might put you in an uncomfortable situation, right in the middle of a nasty divorce.
Regardless of the possibly volatile and emotional situation at hand, it is vital that you keep in mind your first, and foremost, responsibility: to be a constant source of support and comfort in the children’s lives. You will also need to stay impartial and professional while dealing with the parents (your employers).
Amidst the confusion, anger and emotions, these three helpful tips will provide you a way to help handle your part of the equation and keep things as constant and stable as you can for the children.
1) Establish a clear Employment Agreement – If the divorce occurred prior to your start of work, but you realize that there are issues that need to be addressed, be sure that these issues are part of the Employment Agreement. If, for instance, the divorce occurs in the middle of your employment with the family, you may want to discuss which parent is the actual employer and how the expectations for you will change. You need to know if it is okay to contact the other parent in an emergency situation and if there is a problem with you working for both parents. Your nanny agency can help you with these negotiations if you are uncomfortable with talking to the parents about them.
2) Maintain consistency – You might be the only constant thing in the life of the children right now, so it is up to you to keep a consistent schedule for them and continue to keep clear expectations for them. While they are going through this time of turmoil and confusion, you may find that the children will resort to testing their limits and acting out, even a while after a divorce has been finalized, but they want expectations and they want you to set clear boundaries for them. They want their lives to be as consistent as possible and you will be doing them a big favor by standing your ground and being unswerving. Keep your time with them as stable, normal and secure as you can.
3) Compassion – You can help the children by providing a listening ear for them, without passing judgment or taking sides. A little bit of compassion can go a long way with children; you can provide a safe place where they can talk about their feelings – something that they may not have anywhere else at this point in time. Let them know that they can come to you to talk anytime they want and you will not judge them or tell anyone else how they feel.
Divorce definitely presents many complicated situations and causes a plethora of emotions for the parents and the children. As the nanny, you can make a difference by being a neutral part of the equation and handling the children with compassion, love and understanding while they work through the confusion that they are facing. Of course, if you encounter any of these situations and want some advice, we are here to help.