We have all been there. Nothing is more challenging than waking up every day and feeling miserable at our job and want to talk to our boss about issues but just feel stuck and don’t know how to do it properly. Bringing up hard subjects or sensitive topics with the family you nanny for requires thoughtfulness, sensitivity, and careful consideration. But not to worry, here are some helpful suggestions that might help.
Choose the Right Time
Making sure that you choose the right time to have a conversation with your parents is very important. Understanding that it is also imperative to find a time when they are not rushed or running into the house from being at work all day. The best thing to do is touch base with them earlier in the week and let them know you would like to carve out a time perhaps on Friday to have a conversation with them about some of the things that have been on your mind.
Prepare in Advance
Thinking about what you are going to say ahead of time is crucial. This way you have an opportunity to put things together in which you can consider potential reactions or questions to some of the topics in which you are bringing up. Having a clear idea of how to approach the topic can help ensure the conversation remains focused and respectful.
Create a Comfortable Environment
Most likely this will not necessarily be within your control as it will probably be at their home and sometime after they have returned home from their day. However, it is best to make sure that the children are not in earshot and are out of sight and which will allow you to have a private and focused conversation with the parents.
When you start any conversation with open-ended questions it is a respectful way of communicating. It allows for the other parties to answer and not feel attacked or judged. It also allows you to actually gauge their thoughts and feelings on the subject and also allows them to feel more engaged and comfortable in sharing their own opinions.
Use “I” Statements
When approaching sensitive topics, you always own what you are trying to express. When you use the word “you” (“you” did this or “you” did that) then it becomes accusatory and will naturally put the parents on the defense. Whenever you are discussing sensitive topics, use “I” statements to express your feelings or concerns without sounding accusatory. For example, “I’ve noticed…” or “I’m concerned about…”
Be Empathetic and Non-Judgmental
Acknowledging the parents perspective and avoid being judgmental or confrontational will also make the conversation less uncomfortable as they will understand you are not passing judgement and you are coming from a place of true empathy.
By encouraging the family to share their thoughts and feelings builds trust. When you are present and are actively listening to what they have to say without interrupting, shows self-awareness and kindness to the subject or situation. This helps build a sense of openness.
Be mindful of boundaries. Not only your own boundaries as a professional in the industry but also the parental boundaries because they may not be ready to dive deep into a specific subject. With you bringing up specifics that are hard scenarios to begin with, chances are that it will open up their mind to start thinking about it, which will allow them to dialogue with you when they are ready to.
If the topic involves challenges or issues they’re personally facing with their children or within the environment, then you can offer your support. You could easily suggest specific resources, or you could help researching something specific, or even come up with soft suggestions if you have been in the same uncomfortable situation beforehand.
After the conversation, give them some time to process the conversation and then in about a week or later, check in to see how they’re feeling. Reiterate your willingness to support or help as needed. Remember, the nature of your relationship as a nanny means that you have to be tactful and respectful. Sometimes, certain topics might be more appropriate for the parents to handle, and it’s crucial to recognize and respect those boundaries.