This is the kind of post I never wanted to write, but I expect some of us will need a place to express our horror and our very deep sadness about the murder of two NYC children by their nanny. Please do not read any further if you would prefer to avoid this issue.
I only saw the headline and first two paragraphs on the front page of the NYT — just enough to see that the nanny stabbed and killed two of the family’s three small children, while the parents were at work. I can’t even recount the rest of the details here.
The larger point is- we entrust the most precious people in our lives, our innocent and defenseless children — to the care of others. Most of us have care givers because we cannot earn a living and care for our children 24/7.
These caregivers can be family, friends, or paid employees. Regardless of the type of arrangements we have with these other adults, we expect anyone who cares for our children to keep them safe and out of harm.
Au Pair agencies, agency employees, and host parents themselves are supposed to work together to keep out of the system any person who seems unfit for childcare. We have to continue to be vigilant when we interview, observant while we’re training our caregivers, and proactive when it comes to challenging the quality of our caregivers’ relationships with our children.
The details of this case will come out over time, but nothing about those details will change the fact that a family has lost two of its children to violence inflicted by the children’s caregiver. My heart goes out to the parents and the third child who survived the stabbing.
Is there something we can do in response to these murders? Surely, we have already screened our au pairs, established relationships with them, cared for them so that they can care for our children, and tried to create a home and family environment where love flourishes.
This might be a good time to sit down with your au pair and tell her/him that you know the job of childcare can be hard, and that you continue to trust her/him with your children’s lives.
You might use this time to reconnect with your au pair about the fragility of life and our responsibility to care for each other and keep each other safe, whether we are family members, paid to do this within a host family or strangers to each other.
And, you can take your kids into your arms and hold them and love them.