Like mothers in New York City and across the country last night, I was shocked to hear the horrific story about a nanny who is accused of killing two of the children she cared for.
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The poor mother returned home with one child to find her other two children stabbed to death and the city sitter in critical condition from a self-inflicted wound. The story is sickening, tragic and unfathomable to me as a mother.
My heart goes out to the poor parents and surviving child. How can something so horrific have happened to this family? I’m sure they were like any family we pass on the street every day — three children with loving parents.
This story hits particularly close to home for those of us with babysitters, who are thinking “Why them? Could something like this happen to me?” As soon as I start thinking about it I have to force myself to stop, because it’s just unimaginable.
The relationship between parents and babysitters is a complex and an intense one. When you find a babysitter, you are letting them into your home and they are entrusted with your precious children. In many ways they become part of the family and at times are asked to do everything a parent normally would do: bathe the child, feed the child, take the child where she needs to be, provide love and comfort. Despite this close relationship — and I’ve seen this happen before — sometimes the family knows virtually nothing about the babysitter’s life away from work. They might come through a friend, an agency, a chance encounter at the playground. It really makes you think. And sometimes mother instincts can’t pick up on cases like this.
At the same time, many families do extensive background checks, and no matter how careful you are, can you really ever know and trust someone completely? Is it really enough to just trust your instincts? I certainly don’t know about the particular circumstances of this family, but I read that the mother had blogged about visiting her nanny’s family in the Dominican Republic.
Most nannies and babysitters step right in and give loving care and do the invaluable work of helping families raise their children. This family was not so lucky. My thoughts and prayers are with them.