Monday Problem: My Nanny is bringing “Jesus” into our home

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(second time this clash of Christianity and Judaism has arisen as a childcare problem but well worth publishing)

Dear Nanny X,

My husband and I work full-time and we are secular Jews. Our nanny is from Jamaica and pentecostal. Up until now zero complaints. Our db is now three and old enough to talk. Lately he has been telling us to ‘say our prayers’ before eating, he talks about Jesus and God all the time, and recently he has told us that after pre-school pick-up he goes to a ‘big house where Jesus lives’ and his nanny prays. For his last birthday she got him a card with an image of Jesus on the front.

My husband is livid. If it were up to him we’d let our nanny go. He feels she has no right to invade parental territory like religious tuition. I do agree but our nanny is loving, punctual, reliable and loyal to our son. He in turn adores her. I feel like we should just have a sit down and talk to her. I’m convinced she will see our view-point. 

Confused from UES.

Hi “Confused from the UES”,

I think you are the voice of reason. Your husband’s knee-jerk reaction while understandable is still an over-reaction. I am sure your nanny has no clue what her sharing of herself with her charge is doing to your family. It is entirely appropriate for you to sit down with her and ask her to tone down her religious overtures. 

As many nannies of faith have expressed to me in the past, it is not a nanny’s job to inculcate her religion to her charges. This is a boundary issue and one that now needs to be set. Your son will naturally grow out of this phase and you will find it becomes less important. But you have absolutely every right to forbid him sitting in a church or praying over food. 

If your nanny refuses to tone down her faith in the workplace, that’s another discussion and one I would allow your husband to lead.

Nanny X