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Ask Andreas: Daughter Prefers our helper to Mummy

ExpertsPost Category - ExpertsExpertsFamily LifePost Category - Family LifeFamily Life - Post Category - Domestic HelpersDomestic Helpers

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I feel that my daughter is starting to prefer my helper to me! Is this normal and how can I best deal with the situation?

In general this is completely normal. Look at it this way: if you lived with your parents, your daughter might often run to grandmama instead of to you. Unless you are a completely absent or cruel parent your daughter will always know you are her mummy.

For very young children, perhaps up to three or four, your daughter probably hasn’t learned to “ration” love. She hasn’t figured quite out the implications of the fact that her helper is not her parent. So she may just go to who is closest or who cuts her the most slack, and more on the latter below.

If your child is a bit older, they may do this as conscious or subconscious “revenge” against you, or simply because your daughter knows she can get away with (more) things with your helper. I am guessing that as the parent you are the one who enforces discipline, while your helper is a bit (or very much) “softer”. In these cases it is very important that your helper be as tough as you, and as consistent. You need to give her real power over your daughter and expect her to enforce it, be it ensuring homework gets done, time outs or cancellation of playdates. You also need to ensure that your daughter knows that your helper is in charge when you are away and that she speaks with your voice.

Of course you should discuss things with your helper first and be very clear on how things should be handled. Otherwise you may find yourself in the situation where you have to back up your helper on a decision you actually find inappropriate, or override her and erode her authority.

Helpers in charge of children bring a new dynamic to the situation and it does complicate things, but if the kids can always get away with stuff when your helper is in charge it erodes your authority very quickly.??As in all things, if you are uncomfortable or unsure about something, talk to your helper and discuss it. Nothing beats clear communication. And keep communicating.

Do be thankful that your daughter loves your helper. This is a good thing!

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Andreas Rosboch was born and raised in Sweden by an Italian father and a Swedish mother. He has been an expat for more than ten years and plans to keep it that way. He has spent most of his career in the information technology field, handling everything from brand management to customer support. He is the author of one of our most-recommended books Hiring & Managing Domestic Help – an absolute must-have for Hong Kong mamas (psst- and you can buy it here). He lives in Hong Kong with his wife, two children and dog.

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