July 16, 2024
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July 16, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

The other day we overheard a discussion going on at the checkout lines at Cedar Market. We weren’t eavesdropping; it was a “normal” discussion between two women standing on two different lines regardless of who might be listening. Most of the discussion centered around the horror of a nanny leaving a household without giving much warning–we believe (not sure) that she had to leave to care for a sick relative. Panic and disbelief were in the voices discussing the absolute nerve of the nanny.

In our naive fashion, we looked at each other and then turned to the older woman on line behind us–who was also listening to the diatribe–and asked how she felt about nannies. She began to laugh. We know that it has become the way of the world especially in communities such as ours where generally both parents are working and there is no alternative.

Yet we come across situations where only one parent is working and the nanny is busy raising the children. Mommy is busy taking care of various private necessities and when the children are around, the nanny comes along on shopping expeditions to push strollers and carriages. She is taken on family vacations so that parents can have time together without having to think about the time they should be primarily spending with their children. She is taken to family simchas, goes to school functions, and fills in at award ceremonies and yom tov presentations. There has to be something severely wrong with us for not understanding what is wrong with this picture. We really do not get it.

It was suggested to us many years ago that we get a nanny to help us care for our daughter Naama. A friend had a woman in mind who had cared for her handicapped brother in the Philippines and now wanted to come to North America. Finally we acquiesced and sponsored her. A physician friend warned us that since Celia was from the Philippines she would probably be the same size as Naama (she was right). Celia came to live with us, arriving with a small brown paper bag containing all her worldly possessions. I insisted that my children treat her as one of the family. They had to be the ones to set the table for supper as they always did–they had to be the ones to carry in the groceries, and each Friday when I would buy them each a small Shabbos treat, I would buy something for Celia as well.

The honeymoon only lasted for six weeks when Celia decided that now that she was in Canada she could live a better life with more “normal” children. I was so nervous having her in our house because we were extremely unaccustomed to having anyone do anything for us. So when she left we were greatly relieved.

What scares us is that children today do not even expect that it might be normal for parents to take their children to the park. They are reliant on their caregivers even when their parents are at home. They don’t have to make their own beds, clean up the table, do the dishes, or take out the garbage. We just cannot imagine how much further this can be taken. What happens when they get to be older and are not accustomed to doing anything for themselves? What happens when they meet someone that they would consider spending their lives with who did not grow up in this aura of reliance on others?

For us, it is scary that a sense of responsibility is not being embedded in our children, since they do not have to take care of themselves or do basic family chores. Responsible parenting is more important than having a nanny do everything.

By Rabbi Mordechai and Nina Glick

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