Say hello to the nanny

Last Updated : 16 July 2012, 13:31 IST

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Despite security concerns, many working mothers are turning to part-time nannies.Evidently, the cult of the nanny is here to stay. With professional demands being what they are, the percentage of hands-on, full-time mothers in the City is on a definite decline.

They’re being replaced, however, by more practical ones — mothers who balance their commitments on the job front by entrusting the care of their children to nannies or governesses during their working hours.

 Although there are many who balk at the idea — citing security and child development issues — the fact remains that hiring a nanny is a hard reality for many working families. It’s practically impossible to come to a conclusion on the moral front of the nanny issue. While some mothers condemn it as sheer laziness and bad parenting, others counter this argument by pointing out that it’s often a necessity.

As Chetana Keni, a teacher, points out, “In such situations, there’s a chance of safety being compromised — but we compromise on safety in so many other ways as well. For instance, how do we know that our child’s teacher is taking good care of him or her?”
Chetana personally believes that the nanny trend isn’t particularly new — it’s just a little different.

“Parents have always had caretakers to lend a hand with their children; earlier, these used to be grandparents. But now that we have second-generation working women, grandparents aren’t always around. They might be in a different place or simply busy with their own lives — which is why parents turn to nannies.”

She doesn’t, however, think this is a necessarily bad idea. “Exposure-wise, it does make sense. After all, these nannies tend to instruct the children at home, with fun activities and maybe a little Montessori training. If the nanny is good, she can teach the child to be independent as well. And mothers can always spend a good four or five hours with their child post-work. I don’t think a child needs 24-hour motherly involvement at all,” she states.

For many working mothers, a nanny isn’t a luxury — she is a necessity.
Bindu, who has a young daughter, explains, “From personal experience, I can say that nannies work — if there is someone at home to monitor them. When I had to get back to my job, my mother was working as well and my mother-in-law fairly old. I’ve hired nannies who’ve spent the day at home, overseen by my mother-in-law. It was also nice because they gave her company.”

While she admits that she does occasionally feel guilty, she believes this is something which every working mother experiences.

“Guilt is a part and parcel of any working mother’s life. At office, I feel guilty that I’m not at home and at home, I feel guilty that I’m not at office — it’s something one has to get used to,” she observes.

Dr Mallika Raghavendra, a psychiatrist, points out that hiring a nanny doesn’t mean relegating the duties of motherhood to external help. Neither does it translate to neglecting one’s child.

“It isn’t advisable for a mother to leave everything to a nanny. But if she spends adequate time with her child after work, there’s nothing wrong with getting help. In fact, if a mother can manage to balance her work and family commitments, having a nanny might actually have a positive effect, since the mother won’t be tired all the time,” she states.

Published 16 July 2012, 13:31 IST

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