When I started The Nanny Love Facebook group I didn’t have a clear vision of what it would become. I knew it needed to be a place of community and camaraderie; one that promoted empowerment and being one’s own advocate. I wanted it to be more than just social networking – instead, one that is full of love and respect, more like a family. It also needed to be a safe place for thoughts, experiences and professional advice to be shared among co-workers. Better yet, shared among sisters and brothers. The Nanny Love community grows by hard work and dedication. I pour myself into it – my energy, my love for people and my love for the nanny career. Along with being a stay at home mom, running The Nanny Love community is my full time job, I love doing it. As The Nanny Love began to grow rapidly I saw the need to make some guidelines to ensure that it stayed a positive and welcoming space, and to recruit a team to help manage it. With membership in the thousands, this meant thousands of ideas, perspectives, backgrounds, locations, minds and energies. The Nanny Love team is tasked with carefully managing how all of that continues to flow, while trying to ensure that everyone remains kind, validating and supportive. The Nanny Love is FULL of active, passionate and outspoken individuals. Each and every one I am so thankful for. Unfortunately, as with any community so large, both within TNL and beyond it within the larger nanny community, there are people who build themselves up by tearing others down.
As a nanny my job was to be there for my charges and I often worried as they went through school. Would they be bullied? Would they bully others? Would they witness others being bullied, standing idly by? What could I do to help empower my charges, to ensure that none of those things would occur? It was a tough question to answer. Children who are bullied not only must deal with the specific actions of the bully, but generally experience an increase in anxiety, depression, feeling unsafe, lowered confidence, and feelings of helplessness. Unfortunately these children often find it hard to speak up or reach out for help. Children who bully often experience other troubles in their lives and face similar psychological consequences, finding that they rely on others for validation of their actions. Bystanders may feel a sense of helplessness; fear that they will be the next target, or a confusing feeling that what they are witnessing may not be their business. Bystanders have a bigger effect than they realize though*.
By being a spectator, and doing nothing while witnessing bullying, the witness effectively is giving the bully permission to continue. While the solution may not be to physically step in, a bystander reaching out to support or help by getting an authority figure is often a quick way to bring bullying to a halt. Role playing, talking about and modeling both kindness and inclusion, and empowering my nanny kids to reach out to a trusted adult (myself included) should they experience or witness bullying, was an effective method to best ward against these experiences.
As a supportive outsider, teacher, and authority figure, I could help and guide my charges. When my community and I became the targets, I suddenly found myself filled with uncertainty. The bullying/harassment completely caught me off guard. In one day – my character, intent, team, and community that I worked so hard to build and maintain was viciously attacked. I had never in my life experienced what I went through that week – and it continues to be real and palpable as I type this. The original bullies were hurtful in the falsehoods they claimed and the bashing they started; most likely for attention, and for validation from outsiders. What was far worse: those who had the power to stop it, women whom I thought were my friends, allowed it, supported it and encouraged it. They were hurtful bystanders, effectively giving permission for the bullying to continue; going as far as shutting down those trying to end it. It was an intense few days and was not fully brought to an end until a higher authority, beyond the community, was able to step in and delete the hate that was being spread – the comments violated Facebook’s harassment/bullying guidelines. The effects of bullying on an adult are horrendous, mirroring the effects of bullying on children and yet somehow more intense, because as the authority figure in your own life, where do you turn for help?
Suddenly, I was questioning myself and I met a weakness I didn’t know existed. Though I am a very strong woman, I allowed the words from strangers to hurt me. I experienced an anxiety, sadness and a state of depression I was unfamiliar with, so I decided to take the high road and do nothing. I kept telling myself “you are in the eye of a storm right now – this will pass…” In time, it did. But now, a divide has been created in a community which I love. Many suffered from this, reaching out to me in disbelief. Even for clarification that I was not in fact a bigot, one of many disgusting falsehoods that had been spread. To remove what I had built and myself would be so easy, to continue to live my life peacefully in a bubble of happy. After the sadness, anger, hurt, and betrayal began to subside a bit, I was reminded of all the good members of this community. Professionals who stood up for The Nanny Love, a place they hold dear and me. While I am human and know words may hurt more than weapons – I reminded myself that I am more powerful and stronger than these words spoken about me. I know my intent – and I know many others do too.
Bullying doesn’t only have a devastating impact on the victim – it affects that person’s circle, a ripple effect spreading outwards, harming those far removed from the original events. For my friends and family to see what I went through – my heart breaks for them. It breaks for my sweet innocent child who at the age of two was doing what she could to make her mama feel better. Bullying for anyone – regardless of their age – is beyond unacceptable. It does damage that sadly not everyone can overcome. For my amazing team and me, we will continue to invest ourselves in a space that we believe in. Together we are overcoming the hurt and divide our community was forced to experience. We stand united and will continue to advocate for an amazing career we all believe in. With the posts and perpetrators gone – I noticed the healing process has begun.
Personally, I know that healing process starts once I start to forgive. I understand why these people said what they said, and why others allowed it to happen. When people intentionally hurt others – there is always a reason. Like with children who are bullies, adult bullies are struggling with something internally. Jealousy, hurt, insecurities, loss – and they project that anger on someone else. This I know. As nannies, we should all be advocating against bullying. We should be teaching the children in our care the effects bullying can have on someone, and do everything we can to make sure we are helping raise kind, wise and brave people. We most certainly should not be participating in bullying or being harmful bystanders. I realize there is good in my community and there are many kind professionals – I am happy to have a space where the good occurs and where those kind people are.
Despite the turmoil of that week, The Nanny Love’s amazing support system has only become closer and stronger. Our goals and purpose have been reaffirmed and we will continue to advocate for members to be positive; to support each other, speak out and reach out when someone needs assistance. We do not allow for bullies or permissive bystanders. While some may feel that our removal of harmful language and posts that put down others is censoring, what is more important is protecting and standing up for members of the community who may feel marginalized by such posts or comments – letting people know that such behavior will not be tolerated. We want to see each of our coworkers thrive in their careers, and provide a healthy and supportive place for empowering one another. We are honored to provide a safe place and feel blessed to be able to network with such amazing and inspiring people.
My hope for the future within the online Nanny community is that we can unite as an overall team of professionals, spreading awareness and proving to many that we are a valued profession. It is vital that the bullying and attacking within groups, threads and comments comes to a stop. We are only tearing each other down and bringing negativity to our profession, when we should be lifting each other up.
By: Marie Mouat, Katherine Levitt and Jennifer Hilton
*Pappas, Stephanie. “Long-Term Effects Of Bullying: Pain Lasts Into Adulthood (STUDY).” The Huffington Post. LiveScience, 20 Feb. 2013. Web. 2 Jan. 2017. <http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/02/20/long-term-effects-of-bullying_n_2728190.html>.
Steele, Ann. “The Psychological Effects of Bullying on Kids & Teens.” Masters in Psychology Guide.com. N.p., n.d. Web. 2 Jan. 2017. <http://mastersinpsychologyguide.com/articles/psychological-effects-bullying-kids-teens>.
“Who is at Risk.” StopBullying.gov. U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, n.d. Web. 2 Jan. 2017. <https://www.stopbullying.gov/at-risk/effects/>.