Do Caregivers That are Parents Make Better Nannies?

The Controversy: Who Makes a Better Nanny?

A parent contacted me this week asking for advice about making a hiring decision between two qualified nanny candidates. It’s a controversial problem that has plagued some of my nanny friends in their attempts to find nanny jobs in the past. The parent looking to hire a nanny asked me if she should hire the nanny candidate that is a mother herself or the nanny who isn’t a parent with children. Although it’s unethical (probably illegal) to make a hiring decision based on the fact that a job candidate is a parent or not, it happens in the nanny industry all the time.

What do you think? Do nannies that are parents make better nannies than caregivers who don’t have children? Are parents who have experience raising their own children better qualified nannies than caregivers who have no children of their own? Or is it too difficult for nannies that are also parents to follow instructions from employers that have different parenting styles? Do the needs of the nanny’s own children supercede the needs of her charges?

Are nannies without their own kids better suited for the job because they are not so set in their ways? Do nannies without children have less preconceptions of child-rearing and more willing to follow their employer’s child-rearing rules? Do nannies without kids have more energy than the nanny with her own children? Are nannies that aren’t parents more flexible employees because they are able to work more hours than nannies that are parents?

Or, does any of this matter at all? What is your opinion?


  1. BTBN writes: “Although it’s unethical (probably illegal) to make a hiring decision based on the fact that a job candidate is a parent or not…”

    It’s not illegal for a household employer of a nanny to make a hiring decision based on criteria that would be prohibited by EEOC regulations. EEOC regulations (which stem from the Fair Labor and Standards Act) apply only to the legal definition of “employer”, which generally means a company with more than 5 employees and revenues above a certain amount. While state EEOC laws vary, (especially CA) most provide the same or similar limitations.

    When a household employer decides not to offer a nanny position to a care provider with a young child of her own to care for, it is not because the nanny is a mom – but because the household employer has had a negative experience with this in the past and/or believes that the applicant does not have the ability to perform the job with a high enough level of reliability.

    For example, a family’s job description and work agreement may include that their nanny be available to work additional hours in the evenings or on weekends. Is that unethical? It is to some, and not to others.

    Regardless, in this case, unethical is not illegal.

    Keep in mind that we’re talking about a private family hiring someone to care for their own child/ren in their own home. Wouldn’t it be ‘unethical’ to require a family to hire someone with whom they are not comfortable and confident? Walk a mile in the family’s shoes.

  2. I would want to say yes. Substantially parents tend to have more compassionate feeling towards children; but this is not to say there are no exceptions. But to a large extent, if I am faced with the option of choosing between a parent or someone that is not, given all other factors are constant, I will go for the parent.

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