“Oh, a Manny, like, a male nanny? That’s good.”
This was the response I got 90% of the time when I was asked how old my darling children were as they see us wrestling in the park or picking out candy as they hide behind my leg. It’s a compliment that the children I care for show the level of comfort with me that would lead someone to assume I was the father (I don’t plan on having children for a while!).
But in truth I was the nanny (manny). A great portion of my life has been spent caring for children in most capacities. Being the eldest of 4 I quickly became the nurturing big brother, graduating to caring for the friends of my mum’s children, eventually moving overseas and caring for the children of complete strangers. I was very good at what I did and it didn’t take me long to realize that as I looked around the gymnastics studio or playground, I was heavily outnumbered, to the point where I was the ONLY male.
At 1st I enjoyed the novelty of being ‘the only one’, and the kids also seemed to relish in the fact that their nanny was ‘cooler’ than the others. Plus, for some reason I was the only one there that wasn’t afraid to get sucked in, playing tag and being chased by the kids through the playground. I’d build up a little crew and we’d play a few games together; my camp counselor days were coming out again.
As time went on I thought more and more about why male childcare was almost non-existent around Los Angeles so decided to research. I asked many parents who said that they would definitely be open to the idea, but it just sounded strange, ‘open to the idea’ like they’d be doing society a favor by entertaining such an idea, so I delved further.
I found that with a number of moms I spoke with (no names mentioned for confidentiality) feel a manny must have an ulterior motive for hanging out with children all day, they couldn’t understand that a male would be content ‘simply looking after kids’. This shocked me for a number of reasons which I can break down:
- ‘ulterior motive’ assumes a strong lack of trust in the male caregiver
- ‘how could a man be content’ assumes we are destined for bigger things and should set our sights higher?
- ‘how could a man be content’ – assumes a female should be content ‘simply looking after kids’!
What I gleaned from everyone I spoke with was that it boils down to so-called ‘old-fashioned’ gender bias, where the males should be out making the real money and the females should be caring for the young. It also brought up the aspect of criminality of men and how most sexually related crimes are committed by men. I found it so hard to wrap my head around some of the things I was hearing that I decided to try to change things.
I started an agency in LA, Angeles Mannies. All childcare staffing agencies generate 95% of their revenue from the nannies they provide, I aim to generate my 95% from MANNIES. My aim is to show that male caregivers have so much more to add to a family than one might think and that archaic stereotypes and misconceptions may be restricting your child from many experiences they so crave. The mannies we place can do everything a female can do, cooking, cleaning, washing; if you think that only a female is capable and/or willing to do these tasks, you may need to readdress that belief. The mannies we place are family assistants, versatile and willing. The compliment I get about my mannies most of the time is that parents aren’t afraid to ask them to do something through fear of getting that ‘that isn’t my job’ look that they’re used to. Whether it’s helping with a move or taking the car to get the tires inflated, a manny really can be your 1-stop-shop. Plus, the protection aspect of a large, male domineering presence gives the parents a sense of security when their children are out of the house.
For obvious reasons, all of Angeles Mannies are competently background checked, including their work and education history as well as a thorough criminal check, the same checks you would give a female nanny.
With nannies taking a beating in the local media lately, whether it’s an affair or shocking footage caught on a nanny-cam, the gender of the person you invite into your home and trust beyond all doubt should not be an issue. You as a parent have to make the decision as to whether a male or a female presence would be the best fit for your family and more importantly, your children
Fortunately, I am in contact with a number of families that I have placed mannies with that are beyond happy with the new guy in their life. I myself when working as a manny would be met with strange looks from moms when I would turn up to their house with my charges for playdates, only to be asking my availability as we were leaving. It’s great for people to see what we have to offer!