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June 02, 2014

The Meaning of Alice

She may have been the smartest “Brady,” yet she wasn’t a Brady at all. She was the housekeeper.  Actually, she was more than that.  She was the glue that kept this classic American blended family together. She was the after-school sitter, the dog walker, the cook, the confidante, and the advisor. She was Alice. Officially, she was actor Ann B. Davis. But the mononym “Alice” will forever be heard as the epitome of a family caregiver.

Why? What made Alice so special? Blog-topic

TV maids have made us laugh for years. But it was Alice who nurtured us. Did we ever see her cleaning much? Not really.  Yet she was always “there” for each child, for each parent, even for the dog….and probably a little for us viewers too. She made it okay in 1969 when your family care plan included someone other than Mom and Dad.

And there’s something more that Alice can still teach us. As the parenting expert at, I often give parents advice on hiring childcare, creating a good relationship with your nanny and other parenting and care-topics.  I’ve never thought about the Alice/Brady relationship before, but it’s really the perfect example of a great family/ nanny dynamic.

Sure, Alice was the housekeeper. But she ran the Brady house like a live-in nanny would. And regardless of her title, she was the third parent in that household. It helped that Carol, Mike -- and the kids -- treated her with that type of respect.  As viewers, we didn’t see them talk down to her or treat her as anything less than family.

This is what Alice can still teach us today. She loved those kids as if they were her own, and everyone treated her as if her last name was Brady. We all may know families who run because a crazy-organized nanny is behind the curtain, pulling all the levers to make the family look good. To make the parents look good. Losing Alice gives us the important reminder to thank all the caregivers in our lives, to treat them well, and to know they offer (and provide) a lot more than the tasks on our to-do lists. 



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Alice was a 1960's woman. She wouldn't be the same now. Times have changed, attitude of family's have changed. I'm sorry but I don't think a family as portrayed in the late 60"s would be anything like a family of today.
Today the kids wouldn't treat her with that type of respect, they would just talk down to her and treat her less than family, just the hired help. After all, kids on shows now talk back to their parents like its the normal thing to do! There is lack of respect now days.


Robert, I respectfully disagree. The parents would set the tone for how the kids treated Alice. The kids would only be disrespectful if the parents allowed it. While I agree that there is a general lack of respect in a lot of cases today, I believe it is still possible to raise respectful kids.


Nicely written. Yes I agree, the ideal behavior for each person was in that show. Thanks for reminding us....


sorry Robert, I totally disagree. I would never allow my children to speak to someone who is helping our family in a disrespectful manner. Our nanny is one of our family and on the occasion I can get someone in to clean the house,the kids need to help pick it up and put things away to make it easier on the team, and they also ask if they can help.


I agree with Robert, a lot of kids have zero respect. I see it at the my childrens school. I volunteer and see these kids and weep for our future. Kids don't care about authority or respect. Parents don't teach their kids anything, and just work and do their own thing. Everyone is so wrapped up in their iPhones, iPads, ect.

Plus parents want to be their child's friend. You can be their friend when they grow up, get a job or a degree and then get married. Until then parents need to be more in control and teach to respect, and be kind and thoughtful to others.

Todd Stein

My mom had her own "Alice" growing up and she wasn't just a housekeeper or nanny. She became like an Aunt to all of us. She was with our family until she died a few years back at 95. It had been many years that she had actually "worked' for us, but she became part of our family and was at all holiday gatherings, etc.

In fact, I was in my early 20's (I'm 45) before I realized we weren't related.


Alice was the kindness deep inside off us. She was able to sort the complicated issues and make them simple - you love and care about people close to you. You genuinely build them up, not tear them down so you feel bigger. She had a wonderful, genuine sense of humor and an accepting style that I seem to only find in my miniature schnauzer these days. Hooray for Alice, she did it. She sailed right through the complications and made us see simple, genuine, human caring,non-political and never expecting anything in return.


I cant help but wonder how wonderful the world would be if there was an Alice in every family! Someone to mentor, nurture, inspire and listen. Is that not what we all really desire.

Gail Hall

Bottom line - we need to teach our kids that all people are equal, regardless of how our lives intersect. As a single mom of 2, I would LOVE to find my own "Alice".


I agree to what Olivia posted. Charity begins at home, parent need to be more involved in their children's live and teach them morals, and how to treat people with respect as well as themselves no matter their family background and circumstance. And if these are done in their early lives(children), it can be carried from generation to generation .

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