By Elizabeth.Hawksworth on September 05, 2012
J-Lo had one. Angelina Jolie had one. And yet the rest of the world hasn’t jumped on the bandwagon of “the manny”, or male nanny, just yet. Why?
Unlike other professions, nannying is almost solely made up of young women, ages 18-35, who are often going into a child-centric profession. It’s rare to see a male babysitter and even rarer to see a male nanny. Though mannies are interesting and often considered novelties, many parents don’t want to make the jump to hiring one for their children.
So, why? Why is it that parents don’t want male babysitters? From my research, I’ve found that many parents are afraid that men are less responsible and caring, first of all. Secondly, they worry about the chance of sexual abuse or regular abuse, especially if the male has care of young female children. Thirdly, more people just feel comfortable with women looking after their children.
Well, I think we’re far along enough in our society to realize that men can be just as caring and responsible as women. In fact, some men have been raised to be extremely caring and nuturing people. These are often men who go into nursing or some other caregiving job, and excel at it. And no, these men are not gay (though if they were, who cares? Gay men can be caring or non-caring as anyone else) – they’re fathers, or brothers, or husbands, who just happen to have that caregiving gene in their bodies.
The difference between men and women is the way that they care for children or the fragile of society. Women are more openly affectionate and demonstrative, as a rule (though I won’t generalize that all women are like this!). Men may not be demonstrative, but they can be affectionate and playful, two things that a good caregiver should be. The main test is if any caregiver you hire, be they male or female, can follow instructions, cares for the children as they would care for their own, and are well-liked by your children, they’re probably going to fit in well.
The abuse issue is one I don’t like to touch on. It’s tough for me, as a nanny, to talk about it, because it’s a big fear of mine. Men are statistically more likely to abuse young children, but those statistics are looking at registered sex offenders . . . who are a very small part of the population. Men should not be looked at as potential pedophiles. That’s not fair, and not true in most cases. Also, a woman is just as likely to abuse a young child as a man is.
The solution to that is to carefully screen your nannies. Look at criminal records, put nanny cams in the home, do whatever you have to. Male or female, a nanny should be someone you trust inherently.
Lastly, I think it’s a stereotype to assume that women will do caregiving jobs better. I’ve already touched on this, but that’s society placing gender roles on men and women. The truth is, I’ve never met a male nanny, but I have met many men who are pastors, youth leaders, camp counsellors. Three of those people are close friends of mine. And they share the same love and joy while looking after and teaching children – the joy of knowing that you are really shaping a young mind. That you are experiencing a different kind of love – one of a child. That you are creating wonderful memories for yourself and for the child you are caring for.
Always be careful of who you hire. But you’ll know right away if that person is fit for the job or not, male or female. If they are passionate, happy, creative and caring, they’re probably going to do a great job with your kid.
Give mannies a chance! You might be surprised!
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