Caring for the Children during a Divorce


divorceWorking for a couple going through a divorce can be especially challenging for a nanny, however it can also be exceptionally rewarding.

There are few times when a nanny can be of more help and support than when a family is being divided by divorce.

Here are some things to keep in mind if you find yourself in the position of care giving for a family that is going through a divorce.

The only side you’re on is the child’s. It’s not uncommon for a nanny to have a closer relationship with one parent than the other. However, when the parents are divorcing, it’s important that you stay neutral and not take Mom’s or Dad’s side when talking with the kids. Regardless of who you think is at fault, who you think is a better parent or who you think should be the custodial parent, the children love and want both of their parents. To support them in the best way possible, you must put your personal preferences aside and support their relationship to both parents equally. This can be hard to do if the parent you’re closer to expects or pressures you to take sides. Remind both parents that your primary responsibility is to their children and that taking sides won’t help the children in the long run. Parents, even when they’re fighting with each other, want what is best for their children and will appreciate your calm, common sense approach.

Support the children as they process the divorce. It can be uncomfortable talking to kids about such a private family matter. However, you’re a safe person to the children, so they will want to talk to you about their feelings and what’s happening to their family. Only you can decide how much you can and should say regarding the divorce. Discussing your role with the parents can help you decide. Regardless of how deeply you delve into the details of the divorce, make sure you send the message to the children that expressing their fear, sadness, disappointment, confusion or any other feelings is welcome.

Keep the lines of communication open with the parents. Some parents will easily share all the details of the divorce with you, while others will keep the details of the divorce to themselves. You should respect your employers’ privacy and comfort level in sharing personal details with you. However, you also should make sure that you have the information you need to support the children through the transition. Lots of things change with divorce and not just the obvious things, like living and visitation arrangements. By keeping the lines of communication open, you’ll be able to navigate all the small challenges you’ll face during the many phases of the divorce.

Know who you work for. Yes, it’s important to be neutral and not take sides with one parent for the kids’ sake. It’s also important to make sure you keep the lines of communication open with both parents as they go through the divorce process. However, at some point, you will stop working for both parents and start to work for only one parent. It’s key to determine who that person is as early as possible. Divorcing parents often disagree on many issues and it’s easy for the nanny to get caught in the cross fire. To be effective in your job, you have to know who’s in the position to give you direction, who is authorized to make choices about the children and who you should go to with an issue or question.

Make sure to take of yourself. Working as a nanny is stressful to begin with. When you add divorcing parents to the mix, your stress level can quickly go off the charts. In an effort to help the family get through this difficult time, you might find yourself working longer days or taking on more weekend nights, picking up extra duties around the house, managing more challenging behaviors from the kids, becoming the confidant of one or both of the parents or comforting the kids as they struggle to make sense of it all. These things can quickly take a huge emotional toll on you. Make sure that you keep a healthy balance between your job and your personal life and that you actively work to keep your stress at a manageable level. You won’t be much help to the family if you’re emotionally overwhelmed.

Divorce is difficult for all the family members involved, but it’s stressful for the nanny working for the family as they go through this life transition as well. As the nanny, you have the opportunity to be an important support person to the family as they redefine their family.

Thanks to Full-time


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