Friday, March 23, 2018

Parenting Pointers: Nanny Cams

When it comes to your children, you would do anything to keep them safe. Nanny surveillance using hidden cameras (coined nanny cams) has risen in popularity among anxious parents and caregivers looking for additional peace of mind. Finding a completely trustworthy nanny or babysitter for your child can be a very difficult and nerve-wracking experience, especially in the midst of more and more "Nanny Caught in the Act" headlines appearing in the media.

I had a chance to interview Windy City Nanny Florence Ann Romano to learn more.

What are the benefits of installing a nanny cam?

The use of a nanny cam is a hot-button topic today, and my answer to this question is as simple as I can possibly put it: Yes. A nanny has two jobs: 1) to protect, love and care for the children for whom they are responsible, and 2) bring peace of mind to the parents when they are absent from their children.

A nanny should have nothing to hide. When parents must trust their most precious possessions to perfect strangers, it is not hard to understand why transparency is top of mind and vitally important.

During the interview process, with prospective nannies, ask how they feel about nanny cams. If their answer is unfavourable, then that is not the nanny for you – no matter what their explanation might be. It is not an invasion of privacy; it is a security measure. Just like you would (and should) never hire a nanny without conducting a background check, I would advise any parent never to hire a nanny that would utter the words: “don’t you trust me?” The fact of the matter is, trust is the only thing that matters, and every family defines trust differently.

If you happen to record the nanny participating in questionable behaviour with your children, you must address it immediately. Depending on the severity of the situation, this could be grounds for termination or disciplinary action. I do not believe in flexible trial periods with nannies – if the parent doesn’t feel 100 per cent comfortable with the nanny and his/her behaviour, then this is not the correct relationship for the family. I have a rule of thumb regarding this matter: “if nanny and I don’t agree, it’s not for me.” In other words, you must be on the 
same page regarding discipline, bedtime routines, and even after school snacks. Parents and nannies need to be a unified front and parent together.

Nannies are a wonderful addition to a family; and provide children with beautiful memories, magical moments and a loving heart. Take your time finding the right person to fill this role. A nanny should always leave a family’s world a better place than they found it.

What are the potential pitfalls of nanny cams?

It is important to note that you are under no legal obligation to disclose to the nanny whether or not a nanny cam is recording her. However, you are under a legal obligation to disclose if an audio recording is used. Different states have different rules - make sure you research what your stat requires.

I would also encourage parents to ask what the potential nanny’s feelings are on nanny cams, and then place one in the house without warning. The benefit to this is two-fold: 1) they will always wonder whether or not they are being taped and 2) it will consistently initiate and promote professional behavior.

How can a family balance the need for autonomy and trust with the need to know what's going on?

I don't believe you have to make a choice here - these ideas marry well, truthfully! You are the parent, and it's always YOUR choice how involved you want to be in the nanny's job requirements and performance. In fact, I encourage it - in a VERY big way! The more trust you have with your nanny, the better the family dynamic will be. Open communication between nanny and parent is key. Remember: a nanny is supposed to bring peace of 
mind to your family, and YOU decide what you need in order to achieve that.

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