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Physical Affection: OK or Not OK?

Some families are more demonstrative than others.  As a nanny or manny (male nanny), it won’t take you long to tell if you are working for a family that hugs and kisses their kids a lot or not.  Even if you work for a physically demonstrative family, are the parents comfortable with you hugging and kissing their kids? 

It’s best to ask the parents what their boundaries are.  Most parents, even those who are not very demonstrative, find it acceptable for a nanny or manny to hug and kiss (on the cheek) the kids.  A pat on the seat of the pants may be an acceptable sign of affection as well.

Some parents may experience hesitancy when first hiring a nanny or manny; however, this should fade as the parents get to know the nanny or manny well. Mannies work with some negative cultural stereotypes such that they may be less able to be demonstrative with the kids in their care, but, again, this should fade as the parents get to know the manny well.  If parents initially experience hesitancy, you should honor their boundaries and revisit the issue at a later date. 

Even if you disagree with the boundaries provided, you must work within them.  The parents are your employers.  They have the right to decide how their kids will be treated.  If you do not honor their boundaries, you (the employee) can be fired.  For some nannies and mannies, it can be difficult NOT to hug and kiss precious little ones.  Still, you must defer to the parents.

But what if the kids hug you?  What if they indicate that they want/need to be hugged?  What do you do then?  In such a circumstance, you can tell the kids that their parents do not approve  of your doing so (never criticize parents to their children).  Privately, you can follow-up with the parents: let them know that their kids are seeking hugs from you.  Ask the parents for guidance.  Perhaps the parents were unaware that their kids were hungry for hugs.

Ultimately, when deciding whether (or how much) physical affection is permitted toward the kids in your care, communication with the parents is essential.

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