baby asleep on mums shoulder


It has always been the man’s duty to bring home the money and look after the family’s financial needs. However, society has evolved, and the current economic situation has made it almost impossible for the average Nigerian family to survive on the income of one parent. Both parents now have to join forces to be able to meet up.

As women take up more prominent roles in the workforce, their empowerment brings extra responsibilities, and many women are unable to successfully manage the home-front along with these additional responsibilities. Different scenarios play out in different homes.

Uduak is a mother of two, as well as the Customer Service manager of a bank. In the morning, she barely has time to make breakfast and get the children ready for school; and by the time she gets home from work, it’s past the kids bedtime. Uduak has had to hire a nanny to look after the children. Apart from keeping the house clean, the nanny has to get the children ready for school and see to their meals. Uduak’s experience with nannies has been the same with many mothers – involving the usual cycle of hiring and firing, for a variety of reasons.

Tonye works for the state government. She drops her children off at school and braves the traffic madness to pick them up again. After getting home, she is too tired to do much else; and so she also has to rely on the services of a nanny. The nanny sees to it that the children are cleaned, fed and rested, while Tonye also gets her much needed rest. Nevertheless, Tonye confesses that hiring a nanny has a few negatives for her, such as the need to supervise and ensure that instructions are carried out as ordered. In the case of illiterate house helps, the aspect of communication is a headache. “Sometimes they don’t even know how to take care of children or cook, and the first few weeks of their arrival is spent teaching them basically everything!”

Grace lives in the Woji area of Port Harcourt and traffic is a constant battle. She has to leave the house very early and the children hardly ever see their mother when they wake up. She returns very late and ofcos, the kids are asleep already. In this case, the nanny is in full charge of the kids with close to no supervision at all. Grace does not mind this fact because the nanny she hired is an elderly lady and this makes her feel more secure. The old lady is just looking for a way to earn some money and has a lot of experience, unlike the younger nannies who still have their eyes on the road and are constantly seeking greener pastures.

Given these scenarios, there is no doubt that helps do come in handy. But perhaps, we should consider drawing the line as to just how far their help is utilized. As mothers make their climb towards the peak of their careers, nannies are adopted into the role of natural parents. This shift comes with some negative consequences which could include unnecessary and undesirable relationships that develop between the nanny and the child; disturbing influences that the nanny can have over the child. Sadly, most mothers are never aware of these incidents.

Even in households where relatives from underprivileged branches of the family tree are employed as nannies, they have the advantage of knowing the background of the person          they’re employing but also risk the disadvantage of animosity. Being taken from a background of poverty and placed in an environment of affluence, envy could arise, which may result in an urge to harm the children.

Please note, not all house helps are bad! Some carry out their duties meticulously and with loyalty, thereby winning the trust, respect and admiration of the family. If you are lucky to have a nanny like this, it is also wise not to get too comfortable and let the nanny take over most of your responsibilities. When that happens, you will have pushed them into the role of ‘mother’, and the next thing you know you’re in second place and have missed out on all the turning points in your child’s life.

If you have decided to hire a nanny, it is in the best interest of your family to have a comprehensive profile of the nanny you want to employ. Hiring without vital information creates the possibility of bringing in an undesirable person. Use credible recruitment agencies and ensure the following;

  • Draw up a detailed job description and make sure it is adhered to.
  • Set limits to the interaction between nannies and children.
  • If possible, bathe your children yourself.
  • Make the effort to supervise what goes on in the house.
  • Ask questions and insist on detailed answers.
  • Teach your children that they must tell you about any kind of unusual behavior.
  • If they are of age, talk with them about sex.
  • Teach them the difference between appropriate and inappropriate physical contact.
  • English should be the only language used between the nanny and children.
  • Nannies are also human beings and should be treated with respect.
  • Avoid extreme methods of correction such as physical and verbal abuse.
  • Do not expose the family to retaliation as this could harm your children.
  • Above all, be prayerful. God sees what we don’t see and He knows what we don’t know, He will guide us in our choices and protect our children.











photo credit: Getty Images

source: True love west africa.

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