By Daniel Butcher
Call us what you will: Male nanny, manny, man nanny, or remove the gender connotation and just call us nannies. Regardless of the name, we are here and we’re here to stay.
How about we focus on the people behind the title? Who we are, and where we’re going.
It is my intention that before the end of my lifetime, much like the word nurse, we can drop associating gender when we think of a nanny. Remember when the word “nurse” triggered immediate assumptions of a female caring for patients? I’d bet that these days people are not as quick to assume. Flight attendants, receptionists, assistants, teachers, housekeepers – it’s almost endless – and these professions have rather normalized both men and women in these roles. Although I believe that it would better if these industries truly balanced out the ratio of men and women employed – we’re all equal, right?
The manny is a rare breed. With men accounting for a minuscule 5-10% of all nannies in America. The knee-jerk reaction to understanding this imbalance may be that, “a female is better suited to caring for children”.
I think this belief stems from the assumption that males don’t possess the softness and empathy that a woman would have in a caregiver role. Because women are largely the decision-makers in hiring caregivers for their kids, they are looking for someone who can offer “mom” qualities while they are not available to care for their children. A male nanny can 100% offer those qualities! I’ve sung children to sleep, changed hundreds of diapers and had countless makeovers in makeshift salons; It’s not a male or female thing, just human. Unfortunately, sometimes that innate human tenderness is socialized out of us, and not hiring male nannies with the assumption that they are not natural caregivers is just one more thing that perpetuates this.
Male nannies that are very good at what they do are held in high regard, and often employed in affluent communities that are rich in education, where parents have the resources and confidence to go against the cultural grain.
As a manny of many years, I am constantly questioned about my career choice – I have several female colleagues in my line of work and I can almost certainly say that they aren’t questioned nearly as much, if at all. In any case, let’s skip the basics and get down to why many parents decide to employ a manny.
A positive and Engaged Male Role Model
Sounds obvious, right? The child has a father that likely ticks this box, correct? Maybe, but perhaps not. Even in homes where the father is present, research shows that the average father spends less than 10 minutes a day one-on-one with his child. Certainly not placing any blame here since this is likely on account of the fact that he works a full-time job and has a laundry list of to-do items when said job is finished! The point is, that during the other 1,430 minutes of the day, children spend most of their time in school and at home being watched over, educated, and influenced by women (remember, this is on average, not factual!). Incorporating more balanced time with female & male figures will provide more balanced and diverse development in a child’s life.
Two Words: Rough House
Is that one word or two? In any case, there’s no doubt that men can encourage more physicality when around a group of kids. As a male nanny myself, showing up to an 8-year-old’s birthday party is a sure fire invitation for me to either be tackled, throwing children *safely* across the pool, or inciting a game of impromptu freeze tag. This kind of play is essential for kids – boys & girls! And even better when we can teach children how they can have fun, be their rambunctious selves even with adults, in a safe environment. Now, I certainly know some female nannies who know their way around a flag football field, but more often than not, the children equate mannies with that physical, athletic activity.
We Have Something to Prove
Mannies are the minority and we are well aware! Do you think it’s easy to compete with Mary Poppins? Frauline Maria? Or Julie Andrews herself while I’m at it?
We exist in this middle ground role that’s not widely recognized yet. The work we do is paramount; enormously important! Fortunately for me and my business, all of the (many) mannies I have had the pleasure of meeting since starting Angeles Mannies fully understand the importance of their roles as mannies. Many have come from tutoring backgrounds or spent 4 years in a college attaining a professional qualification; they know how to have fun, and how to discipline when needed.
This is just a brief snapshot of what I feel a male can bring to the caregiving table, and speaking of tables, let’s not forget that just because a manny is a guy, he doesn’t understand how to keep a house clean, pick up after himself or successfully cook for 3 children while putting a load in. This is 2017 people!
Daniel Butcher, known as Danny the Manny, decided to take his philosophy, along with a crew of likeminded and highly experienced guys, to start Angeles Mannies. His staffing agency places mannies, and has recently branched out to place nannies, personal assistants, housekeepers and more.
Daniel lives in Los Angeles, CA, originally from England.
Be sure to check out Angeles Mannies and the good work that they are doing! http://angelesmannies.com/