A Christian Nanny Working for Islamic Family Helps Celebrate Ramadan

Nannies: Would You Work for a Family of a Different Faith?

By Melissa Silvester, Nanny, New York, NY

Photo of the Al-Zaim family gathered for dinner to break the Ramadan fast. Adult Muslims are required to fast during daylight hours this month as a form of worship. (Justine Hunt/Globe Staff Boston.com)

I am a Christian who has been working as a nanny for a Muslim family with a six-year-old boy and twin infant boys for more than three years. I have been hired to help care for the boys as the mother volunteers for charity and the father works as a surgeon.
At at time when scared American citizens are protesting the building of a mosque in Manhattan, and since Ramadan begins at sundown tonight, I feel there is no better time to let other nannies know about my experience working with, and falling in love with, a Muslim family in America.
I know it sounds cliche, but I truly have learned there is more in common between our religious beliefs than different. The children are being raised to follow the same moral codes and values as I was.

I could go through the checklist of similarities between the two religions but you can do that yourself by clicking here ,or clicking here ,or by simply googling to find those similarities.

I just want to share that I know first hand that there is much more to praise and respect than ridicule or fear about the faith.

I am most impressed with the mother’s devotion of time and energy volunteering for charities. After being hired by this family I see clearly that the love any parent has for a child is the same despite where or how they worship. It’s really true that all parents want the same things for their children: good health, good education, and to respect and live by good values and good moral code. All parents want their children to treat others well and to help the less fortunate, just as my employers do.

I just want to encourage nannies to consider working with families that worship a different faith. There is nothing to fear and it has been an enlightening and wonderful experience for me.

Also, even if you don’t work for a Muslim family you certainly can teach the kids you care for about Ramadan.

For more than a billion Muslims around the world, Ramadan is a “month of blessing” marked by prayer, fasting, and charity. But while in many places these holidays have become widely commercialized, Ramadan retains its focus on self-sacrifice and devotion to Allah (God).

Ramadan is about generosity and gratitude. Although charity and good deeds are always important in Islam, they have special significance at the end of Ramadan. As the month draws to a close, Muslims are obligated to share their blessings by feeding the poor and making contributions to mosques.

The children I care for will not fast, of course. Since the children don’t have to take part in the Ramadan traditions like fasting I can still have them do plenty of meaningful, fun activities about the holiday.

Here are some of my favorite links for activities to do with children for Ramadan fun:

Click here to make this “Good Deeds Calendar” and other arts and crafts to do with kids for Ramadan.
Click here for coloring pages and arts and crafts on the crayola web site.
Click here for one of my favorite blogs on easy activities to do with kids. Type in Ramadan in the search engine for fun Ramadan activities.

Click here to make an easy Ramadan puzzle.

Children’s Books for Reading:

My First Ramadan by Karen Katz

This book is an easy read and explores the basics of the Ramadan at the level of understanding of a small child.

The Night of the Moon: A Muslim Holiday Story by Hena Khan

This is a perfect reader for school age children. It is a story about an American Muslim child observing Ramadan with her family. Muslim American children can relate very easily to a book like this because they can place themselves into the story.

Have you worked for a family that worships a different faith?


  1. I absolutely would work for families of different religions and I have. I think it's important to open your mind and learn all people are basically the same! Great resources, great article. With controversy about mosque close to ground zero it's an important message to remember 99.999% of muslims are loving, moral perople. Thanks for sharing Melissa.

  2. I am catholic worked for 2 Jewish families and 1 Islam family and all jobs were great. Absolutely would work for family of different religion. Not a problem at all.

  3. My mom boss works at the world financial center with veiw of ground zero and has no problem with mosque beeing built. Also, my friend from high school lost her husband on 9/11 and she always says she doesn't care what they build at ground zero. Her concern is that her kids grow up knowing they had a great dad.I have yet to met any criminal. I don't know any criminals of any religion, and know plenty of muslims, christians, jews, non-traditional single parents, same sex couples, divorces parents – not a problem I'll work for any family that shares similar morals and values. Only parents I couldn't work for are parents that yell at their kdis.

  4. Please remember that American Muslims are not Osama Bin Laden.Reyna HNY NY

  5. Its now almost 9 years after 9/11 and the majority of Americans have no idea what Islam teaches. Melissa may work for moderate Muslims but that's not the type of follower Islam preaches.

  6. I have read much about this and the suggestion that all Muslims are guilty (and dangerous) by association carries a terrifying echo of 16th- and 17th-century discrimination against Catholics, when it was believed they would answer only to the pope and not to sovereign rulers. Imani O

  7. We shouls encourage moderate islam here. What better way to discourage the extremists?

  8. I am commenting here not on facebook because I don't want to get pummled with liberal comments. I just find it too painful and too soon. You can't expect citizens of Israel to support Arabs or vice versa. Why? Because they have killed one another. When someone kills your loved ones they become your enemy. Until the taliban is wiped out we can't support anyone that might support it's extreme values. You think no extremists will belong to the "moderate" mosque proposed? After the war they can build a mosque.

  9. To anonymous above:At first I agreed that this is an emotional issue. Those that oppose the mosque are emotional. But logically I want to quote the orgainzer of the mosque: "We want peace, and we want it where it matters most. This is where it matters most." And I happen to agree.

  10. I don't mind working for any race, gender, sexual preference, religion… I think it's ironic it's ok to build skyscrapers for businesses but not a religious institution of peace near 9/11? What better symbol of peace and freedom of religion?

  11. That's great that Melissa can work for this family. I don't mind knowing or befriending Muslims. But on the topic about building a mosque on Ground Zero where innocent thousands died in the name of a jihad it's insensitive to say the least. We are at war from a terrible crime. I'd rather they build it as an echumenical (? spelling) peaceful place of worship where all religions and faiths can enter.

  12. I guess I am on the other side of the spectrum. I am a Muslim Nanny and I work for a Christian family who are very observant of their religion. I respect their beliefs and I read christian books and play christian music throughout the day for the children. The only thing I can't do is pray with the children when it comes time for them to bless their meals…the 2.5 year old knows her prayer for eating meals and I always tell her to say her prayer and she says it and I stand quietly and while she says it and tell her "good job"… I have worked for Jewish Families as well. I enjoy exp other religions with the families I work and they all have respected my beliefs and felt comfortable to ask me questions.

  13. Melissa and Shaun S,Great that you share these experiences. I feel like those who oppose the mosque in NYC simply don't know as many Muslim as I do. Here in NY we see people of all races, origin, relgions, and it's the best place to have a place of worship. I just don't get why some Americans still can't understand Osama Bin Laden is not your neighbor, he's a radical criminal. Open your hearts and minds to peace and love which all valid religions preach.

  14. Islam did not attack the towers on 9/11. Extremism and hatred did. Christianity did not attack the OK Federal building, a hateful extremist did. We can not judge the whole by a few.Thank you Melissa for explaining Ramadan. It sounds like a wonderful holiday.The Cordoba Community center is also not at ground zero, but two blocks away. It will open to all faiths, not just Islam. Sometimes I find it sad that hatred lives in the misinformed, simply because they have not chosen to learn the truth but rely on the hype of the mainstream media.

  15. When I worked as a nanny, I worked for different families. I would work for a family of different faith. I'm a mom now, so I'm not working at the moment. I hope to teach her about being open minded and tolerance and kindness.

  16. I am so glad to read most nannies are loving and accepting people. American Muslims like myself love this country because of its freedom of religion. Many came here because we could practice Islam in its purest form, as a religion of peace. Many of us work to defend this country as well, every single day! Thank you for understanding American Muslims are moderate, peaceful, charitable, conservative people.

  17. Anon-the reality is that most Muslims are all the adjectives you wrote. There are a billion Muslims in the world. If they were more extreme like what's being projected by some in this country, there would be far more horrible atrocities daily in every country.

  18. Many nannies have been offered jobs with gay clients and turned them down for religious reasons. While I understand, it is still a shame when religion separates us and closes our hearts.

  19. I am Christian and I worked for a Jewish family. I had to learn about kosher cooking and what I could and could not put in the little boy's lunch.

  20. Beautiful sentiment. Remember all the peaceful Muslims already living in this country that love this country.

  21. The mosque in New York City will have a basketball court and a culinary school. Two floors for prayer. The other eleven (11) will host movie nights, performances, group dinners, etc — it's basically a Muslim YMCA, OPEN TO EVERYONE. These moderate Muslims are doing everything we could ask of them. They're trying to build a bridge in the communities they live in, trying to show the world that Muslims are peaceful, interesting and diverse, and proving that being a Muslim does not equal being a terrorist.This isn't just a Manhattan problem. Right now, there is opposition to mosques in Staten Island, Brooklyn, Southern California, Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia, Illinois, and dozens of other locations across our nation. Where would they move? If public pressure can be brought to bear to take down the most high-profile Muslim community center in liberal NYC, then these other places don't even have a chance, Ground Zero connection or not.This isn't about Ground Zero. This is about America. This is about freedom. This is about peaceful, American citizens who cannot find a place to worship or gather without being harassed.Anyone who has ever experienced any racism, classism, ageism, sexism knows how bad it feels to be criticized or harassed for who you are.These peaceful Americans are far from extremists. Their goal is to spread peace.The harassment has to stop, and that starts with you and me.Moderate American Muslims are NOT TALIBAN, they are not terrorists!

  22. Make no mistake all soft language about how it’s just too close to the WTC or how this is an assault on 9/11 victims is just crap to keep this whole controversy going, and to gin up more paranoia about Muslims in America. Politicians still trying to justify the war in Iraq via this propoganda.

  23. One of the chief talking points of Western nations against Soviet-era communism was the suppression of religious practice that took place in that nation, especially during the most brutally tyrannical years under Josef Stalin. As America is a nation that considers religious freedom a fundamental right of all people, the idea of a government that punishes and imprisons citizens for practicing their religion of choice is appalling to American sensibilities.

  24. I think those who are scared must live in a different part of the country. I work in World Financial Center right on ground zero. I see the hole from my office window. My kids play with countless Mulsim nannies that we welcome in our home each week, and probably more than I know because not ever Muslim woman wears a head dressing. Just ignorance really. Once you meet anyone that practices the faith you will see there is nothing to fear. Fear the taliban a little maybe, but certainly not the billions that practice the religion peacfully world wide. Certainly don't fear those working and living next door.

  25. i work as a nanny for a muslim family for almost 2 months now and i am about ready to jump off a bridge, they treat me like the white girl who has blonde hair who doesnt know anything even thoigh I was an assistant manager of a preschool/daycare with newborns on up and not one muslim and i was okay but now all of a sudden these people are never happy idk if muslim is the reason but damn i cant fucking stand it

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