The Nanny Question

Here in small town middle-America, nannies are pretty rare. Babysitters? Check. Daycare providers? Check. Nannies? Cue the crickets.

Never mind, though. According to Dr. Dennis Friedman, any woman who outsources the care of her son to another woman may be putting him at risk of future infidelity.

Dr. Friedman is the author of, The Unsolicited Gift: Why We Do The Things We Do, which, according to TIME magazine, “explores how a mother’s love for her offspring can determine how those children behave as adults.” And leaving your baby boy in the care of another woman, Dr. Friedman says, “creates a division in his mind between the woman he knows to be his natural mother and the woman with whom he has a read hands-on relationship,” a division that essentially teaches him that it’s perfectly normal to have a family woman at home and a mistress to “take care” of him.

Well then. Even if Dr. Friedman’s hypothesis was true — and his detractors are quick to point out that he provides no proof or statistics — how exactly does he propose we solve this problem? Require maternity nurses to settle in for long chats with boy-moms, chats to explain that the mothers’ presence is absolutely required to prevent their sons from cheating? Special food stamp affadavits for boy-moms, because, you know, moms must stay home the entire first year to ensure the future stability of society?

What ever happened to teaching responsibility and values? Whether a mom works or not, whether she physically cares for her son 100% or 60% or 35% of the time, she can influence her son — not by her mere presence, but by her words and actions. And so, by the way, can his dad.

Ultimately, though, any blame for adult infidelity lies solely with the cheating adult. Our job as parents is to provide our sons with a firm foundation. From there, the choices they make are their own. If one of my sons decides to cheat on his wife in his mid-40s, I may feel many things, but guilt, I can promise you, will not be one of them.

The Building Boys Bulletin

The Building Boys Bulletin Newsletter gives you the facts, encouragement, and inspiration you need to help boys thrive. Written by Jennifer L.W. Fink, mom of four sons and author of Building Boys: Raising Great Guys in a World That Misunderstands Males, Building Boys Bulletin includes:

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“I learned a lot about helping boys thrive over the past 20+ years — most of it the hard way! I’m eager to share what I’ve learned to make your path a little easier.”   – Jennifer

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4 Responses

  1. Oh wow, this made for a good morning chuckle, because really, what else can you do with a hypothesis like that?

    There aren’t many “nannies” here in VT either, the exception being the out-of-state transplants who arrive here with money:). Native Vermonters have relatives or the kid down the street, big events get a real babysitter.

  2. As a former nanny to two awesome boys, I definitely think that this is a crock. A mother can have a “hands-on relationship” with her sons whether or not she has a nanny. If the author doesn’t offer any proof or statistics, can’t we just as easily claim that if a child doesn’t have multiple caregivers that he’ll never learn to fully trust anyone besides his mother?

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