Tags: Mother | Love | Hired | Help

Mother's Love Cannot Be Replaced by Hired Help

Wednesday, 28 Dec 2011 10:09 AM

By Dr. Laura

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I was immediately attracted by the title of a column on the CNN website: "Working moms' tense relationship with nannies." I greedily clicked to the text and couldn't stop laughing.

"The working mother of three despised leftovers lurking behind the milk. She had repeatedly reminded her nanny, who had worked for the family for years, to keep the fridge clean."

Are you kidding? Nannies are not housekeepers. They are surrogate parents. Yes, parents.

And the columnist continues: "And for working moms, the relationship can be even more delicate. Loaded with guilt for leaving their kids, and stressed out that things aren't being done their way, the moms dance a nanny tango that is rarely graceful. I know — I've been there. In nine years, I've had 10 nannies. I go through nannies the way some women go through men. And my nanny dramas are legendary."

I realize that this is supposed to be funny, but nowhere in this whole essay is there even a hint of what changing a nanny each year does to the children.

Over the years I have, as a psychotherapist, worked with innumerable clients who have bonding problems as adults because of these serial surrogate parenting experiences. They are truly damaged when it comes to being able to bond and trust. They relay to me how difficult it is to imagine someone actually staying with them, how difficult it is to allow tender feelings to envelop them when they feel so deeply that nothing is permanent.

The essay continued, "So after having a spectacular run of bad luck with keeping long-term care, I started to throw in job perks, including round-trip plane tickets back home for Christmas, a free gym membership, and even tutoring."

I am so disgusted reading about how financially secure this working woman is that she could afford all the perks. She clearly does not "need" to work to support her family. She is choosing to abandon her children to keep her career, putting her ego over a child's needs. It may be more typical for women to follow this protocol and call it "new times," but children's needs for a loving, attentive, present mother for their healthy development does not change with eras.

Mothering is more than feeding one end and cleaning the other. These children miss out on family/parental love and attention.

Finally the piece went on: "Because so many moms are completely dependent on their child care so that they can keep their own jobs, they don't want to nitpick or create any tension. They would forgo a tidy kitchen and even accept a crusty bowl of spaghetti once in a while, if they know their kids are happy, engaged, and loved."

This is where I completely lost it. "If they know their kids are happy, engaged, and loved." Is she kidding? How do kids whose mothers leave them with strangers all day know they are loved? How does a kid with a different surrogate mother every year actually feel happy about an inconsistent and temporary life? How can it be that so many working women actually want to believe that a mother's love and attention can be replaced by hired help?

No one asked the children.

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