The Nanny may always have always been a luxury of the rich and famous, but the nanny herself doesn’t do too badly for herself either: consider that the nanny is a live-in jack-of-all-trades who gets room and board plus a salary. In England the role of nanny is something worth aspiring to. The prestigious Norland College (www.norland.co.uk) has been touting a nanny-curriculum for years, with the light-at-the-end-of-the-tunnel — an average salary of about 3500 euro a month (US $4000.00 give or take). And that’s the low-end. When it comes to being a nanny, the best of the best pull in nearly twice that monthly. So does it come as any surprise that the emergence of the “manny” — that is the male version of the nanny — is fast becoming the next big thing as a career-choice for many males?
According to a recent article in the London Times (www.timesonline.co.uk) the manny is becoming so popular in Europe that demand is outpacing the available manny supply.
You’re scratching your head wondering what’s up and I tell you that it’s not hard to see the logic: a little dose of machismo is just what is needed with some kids. Children often look up to the manny as a sort of big brother. Parents see the manny as someone who won’t spoil their kids and who can impose the figure of disciplinarian. According to www.themanny.com there are actually a whole lot of reasons why a family might decide to pick a male child-care provider:
– Serving as male role-models. With women predominating in most environments where children spend time, some parents with mannies say they like the idea of balancing things out with a male influence. In households where a father-figure is frequently absent or nonexistent, mannies may be viewed as having particular value.
– Getting dirty. Men are often hired to serve as rough-and-tumble, active, sporty-type nannies. After noticing their child’s energy level exceeding that of their current female caregiver, some parents conclude that it’s time for a male nanny.
– Providing security (or the appearance of it). Parents who live in the public eye often feel an elevated need to protect their children. In considering possible contingencies, including things like kidnapping, they may look upon the presence of a man as a more probable deterrent.
– Discipline. Some employers interview male caregivers in hopes of finding a person whom their children will see as having authority. Based on their experiences with discipline, parents may decide their children are more likely to respect and listen to a man.
Further more, the manny won’t compete with the affections of the real mother and presumably won’t tempt the father (come to think of it, after BrokeBack Mountain, a parody of the film “The Nanny” entitled “The Manny” has a lot of humorous possibilities).
Agencies in Europe are picking up on what is fast turning out to be more than a fad. And it’s just a matter of time say child-care experts, before this manny phenomenon takes root across the pond and becomes popular in the United States – although right now the role of the manny in the U.S. represents only about 1% of all individuals working in the field.
Perception apparently is the key. If you do a Google-search with the words “male babysitter” you’ll come across quite a few links and virtually all of them discourage the use of male child-care providers. Maybe that’s because the concept of babysitter tends to be that of a young girl: a teenager looking to earn some extra bucks. The idea of a young adolescent male looking after kids generally doesn’t fit the bill of what parents are looking for. Do a search with “male nanny” and a different cross-section of information makes itself available. Everything from want-ads to manny websites and more.
The International Nanny Association (www.nanny.org) supports the concept of the manny and takes lengths to point out that in Europe and abroad, mannies — like nannies — are highly qualified individuals. Other sites echo that sentiment. According to the site www.metroactive.com, “…these male nannies must be better qualified, versed in more early childhood education and in essence prove themselves tenfold against their female counterparts…”
With each passing day, our culture (and others around the world) is becoming less and less gender-specific. The idea of a male cross-dressing into Mrs. Doubtfire in order to care for the kids is becoming a thing of the past. The manny may not be “here to stay” just yet — but certainly he is making his presence known in what used to be an exclusively women-only club.