I find my nephew, 12, being increasingly influenced in a not-so-nice-way by his caregiver. She has been with them since his birth and is integral to the household—to the extent that they can’t function without her. Yet she has many repulsive habits that I see reflected in my nephew. For instance, she is addicted to TV soaps. Even if he isn’t allowed to watch them, she narrates the stories to him, down to the goriest detail. I don’t find this a healthy situation. Without suggesting that she be sacked, how do I communicate that the caregiver isn’t a healthy influence on a growing boy?
TV troubles: Watching soaps daily is not healthy for children.
It’s understandable that the child’s parents cannot function without this lady running the household, but surely if you point out these aspects of her influence on him, they could find a way to have him spend less time with her? At 12, he doesn’t need constant supervision and tending; however, as the lady has been around since his birth, no one seems to have been able to stand apart (like you as an “outsider-insider” can) and see that the time has come for some separation and boundaries.
Avoid painting the nanny as someone who is a “bad influence”, as this may not go down well with the parents, who seem very dependent on her. However, you can point out that he’s watching too much family drama garbage on TV.
What you can do is focus on the child and talk about how he needs more and better inputs—come up with positive suggestions about how he can and should spend his time. It could be sports or a hobby or music or gaming, or anything most 12-year-olds are naturally drawn to. You could offer to do the coordination, if that is needed. Usually parents who let their children hang around the daily help so much are by default hard-pressed for time, or they don’t have the ability/energy to follow through with these ideas. So any concrete suggestions that you can offer would probably ensure that they agree something different needs to be done.
Don’t make it a “campaign” against the woman, as this will be unfair. There must be a strong emotional bond between the child and her, for sure. And that is something to respect.
Gouri Dange is the author of The ABCs of Parenting.
Send your queries to Gouri at firstname.lastname@example.org