I've heard that some parents struggle with the concept of hiring a guy to watch their kids. The benefits for us were that our little guy loved talking about his video games and playing soldiers with T.H., and they always talked about football, especially about the New England Patriots (we're so sad about Tom Brady’s knee injury!) They certainly had a close bond, but it helped that we knew T.H. for years as a personal friend before asking him to help watch our son—and three years before launching Care.com.
Recently, there seem to be a growing number of mannies entering the workforce, or at least mentioned in the media, though they still tend to be a minority (about 1% to 10% of all caregivers).
Many parents, especially parents of boys, feel that hiring a manny is a great idea because it provides another positive, male influence for their boys—an additional male role model.
"I've always hired mannies. I love mannies. Mannies are really, really, fun child-care givers because they're messier, they're sillier, they play harder, they rough and tumble your kids all over the park. I think it's great for my kids to have a male role model in the house."
But some parents are wary because of the perception that men aren't as nurturing or compassionate as women, or that there's a bigger safety risk, in terms of background checking and reference checking, to ensure the caregiver isn't a sexual predator or pedophile when the caregiver is male (although according to a 2006 article by FOX News that risk is hotly disputed among researchers.)
The article also features a quote from New York Post sportswriter and longtime male nanny, Sam Blake, who said,
"[Parents] go to male nannies because they're at ease getting dirty, they'll go out and play with the kids a little more, they're more willing, as a generalization, to go out there and get dirty with the kids and do stuff, especially if the kids are boys."
Some additional parents (single moms, parents of children with special needs) have even been featured in the press saying that they prefer male caregivers (mannies or au pairs) because men are stronger and can lift and carry their children more easily than many women could, or in the case of the single moms, they enjoy having someone they can ask to perform handymen tasks from time to time.
One now-single mom who got plenty of press for hiring a manny was Britney Spears, who recruited Perry Taylor, a Naval Academy grad, to care for her two boys back in 2006, and many credit her with "spawning a craze" of hiring male nannies.
Shortly after that decision made headlines, male nannies seemed to pop up everywhere in entertainment, from Freddie Prinze Jr. playing a male nanny on an episode of Friends to the discovery that rock stars Courtney Love and Kurt Cobain hired a "manny" to care for their daughter, Frances Bean, back in the early 1990s.
This should have been no surprise to Generations X and Y, who grew up watching network sitcoms featuring male characters in prominent caregiving roles like Mr. Belvedere and Charles in Charge, but instead it spurred a debate over whether or not being a full-time nanny was a legitimate profession for a man.
And why not? According to a nanny agency director featured in the ABC / Nightline News segment, mannies can make upwards of $100,000 a year. The problem is just that apparently there's a shortage of men interested in nannying as a profession and the supply of mannies is less than 1% of the total workforce.
Have you ever hired a manny to look after your kids? If not, why not? Does gender matter to you when hiring a caregiver?
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