“I became a new mother to a beautiful baby girl four months ago and I have loved the whole experience so far. I am due to start back at work in a few weeks’ time, which I have to do for financial reasons, and we recently hired a nanny to care for our daughter while I am at work. She’s an ex nursery teaching assistant and is very capable and good with my little one. So, while I trust her completely, the problem is that I’m starting to feel really jealous and resentful of her bond with my daughter. I know this is completely stupid and unfair as we have hired her to look after our baby and we wouldn’t want her to do anything but dote on our little one… It’s just, every time I see my daughter stretch out her hands to be held by the nanny, or giggling on her lap, I feel my heart break. It’s getting to the point that I’m not wanting to leave my baby alone with the nanny at all – I won’t even go to the gym because it would mean I have to leave my daughter behind – and I’m really dreading returning to work because of it. Is this normal? Is there anything I can do to stop these negative feelings?”
Dr Saliha Afridi, clinical psychologist and managing director of The LightHouse Arabia says: “I think most, if not all, women feel threatened and jealous when their children have a close bond with their nanny. It is natural for a mother to want a child to reach for her when she or he wants to be comforted or cared for. When the child reaches for someone else, it can hurt.
Mothers can feel jealous because they perceive their relationship as threatened if the child forms an attachment to the nanny. For a mum to feel that someone else is meeting her child's needs is difficult to accept. They can also feel guilty that they are not spending enough time with their child. However, it is totally normal to feel this way. If you are avoiding leaving the home, going back to work, or not allowing the baby to be cared for by anyone else because you feel nervous that your place in her world is threatened, then it is likely that you are going to one extreme of the jealousy spectrum. But there are several ways that you can strive to make things better.
Form your own attachment
Spend quality time forming your own attachment. Know that no matter who it is, nanny, grandmother, aunt or teacher, the child will never find a replacement for you. Be interested in your child and show them unconditional positive regard; he/she will turn to you in time of need.
Do menial activities with your baby
Bathing, feeding, and bedtimes are great opportunities for bonding. If you can, try to set some activities that you do with your child without the nanny present; they can serve as great bonding experiences.
Keep things in perspective
A happy child is one who feels close to and safe with their nanny. It is good for your child to have this relationship and it is also good for your nanny if she doesn't feel like she is constantly competing with you. Ultimately every mother who is away from her child wants a nanny who will care for the baby "as if it were her own" and not see her child has a 'job'.
Know what is good for your child
The truth is that the child who has multiple secure attachments is much better off than a child who just has one. Multiple caregivers means more love, more attention, and high self-esteem for your child. And if a child is securely attached to the nanny, then he/she is most likely to securely attach to the mother as well.
List your fears
It may be helpful for you to list and discuss your fears with a psychologist. What are you afraid will happen if your child gets too close to the nanny? Is your jealousy rooted in a fear of rejection or a fear of abandonment from your own childhood? Are you afraid of your own inability to form a secure attachment because you had an anxious attachment style with your caregivers? These are among the important issues to consider so you can get to the root of the matter.