Monday Problem: I work with entitled children


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Dear Nanny X,
my nanny problem is one you probably hear a lot from nannies. I work for a wealthy family who live a very luxurious life. I have worked with the children since they were all born. I like my position for the most part. The parents are good hard-working people. The kids on the other hand no matter what they get (and they pretty much get whatever they want) always want more. They go to a private school. They each have their own bedroom. They have two homes – but they are miserable and always complaining. They are preteens and I know it’s just going to get worse …
The main problem is that the parents just seem to cave where I stand firm and this is undermining my authority. I now have to fight the kids to do simple stuff like clearing up their rooms or eating their vegetables or doing their homework. They are real surly and often mean to me. When I try to uphold the rules (an example would be no media Monday to Friday) the kids go straight to their parents (home late and tired and guilty) and ask them what I said “no” to and they just say “sure” … I am getting to the point where I just want to give up caring and let these entitled brats get whatever they want. 
Is it time to leave?
Nanny Barbara
Dear Nanny Barbara,
yes … you are quite right I hear this type of thing all the time. There are two issues going on here. 
  1. The children are not being provided with proper boundaries. 
  2. The parents are undermining your position as an authority figure.
Children who are given what they want (not what they need) are often unhappy. Children naturally push the boundaries, testing the authority of the adults in their lives. This is totally normal. Until kids mature into young adults and have internalized a sense of impulse control they need an external figure or figures to work with. When younger children push a boundary and find it non-existent this reinforces an intrinsic insecurity. 
It also conveys to them that the grown-ups are not showing up to do their job. If both parents work full-time this role during the day and in the week often falls onto a nanny or another caregiver. It is imperative that this adult be seen as a figure of definitive authority. Without such a figure-head the children of the household will run riot and any system of functionality (mealtimes, bedtimes, hygiene, homework) will fail. 
The second problem is that your position of authority is being undermined. This is an agonizing and occasionally an humiliating transition. The consequences are that once compliant and contented children transform into angry, unhappy and rude preteens. 

You have to make a choice. Are you done with this position? Think honestly about this question. If you are still invested in the family then you need to speak directly to the parents and make your case. Explain to them what the implications of their choices in ‘changing the rules’ as and when they feel like, are doing to their children. Without the parents understanding what their role is in this new unsettling dynamic there is nothing you can do.


If you are just done and if you see this type of non-cooperation between you and the parents continuing, then yes, begin to explore new options. Never stay in a job where you feel disrespected and unsupported. That would be a toxic environment for you and the family.


Nanny X