This excellent post is by Jason King – a male nanny (or manny) and member of the Nanny Parent Connection. Find out more about Jason at the conclusion of this post.
How fortunate are we to live in a city where a collective striving toward open-mindedness, inclusion, and equity is commonplace?
Undoubtedly, there’s still much room for improvement on all fronts, but nonetheless, when all is said and done, we’ve got it pretty good up here. I’m always heartened to hear stories of individuals who’ve uprooted from a rather difficult life elsewhere in search of solace, acceptance, and community here in Seattle.
I’m so grateful that, in the place we call home, most of our friends and neighbors are of the belief that diversity inherently produces a richer, more nuanced, and more dynamic society. Beyond mere acceptance, many of us yearn for and deeply appreciate any opportunity to challenge our traditional notions of class, race, gender, orientation, etc., and we pride ourselves on the willingness and ability to navigate this often treacherous terrain.
So it’s for this very reason that I find it all the more perplexing and confounding that there are still so few male nannies employed in childcare (as mannies), and even fewer represented as birth professionals (midwives, birth/postpartum doulas, childbirth educators, etc).
As a manny myself, and also an individual well on his way to certification as a birth doula, I’m entirely accustomed to hearing of people’s reticence to hire a man in either capacity.
And trust me… I get it! I really do. I absolutely recognize and understand that the qualities we typically look for when seeking for support during pregnancy, birth, and child rearing are traditionally attributed to women.
In fact, beyond these qualitative gender norms, we’d be remiss to ignore the fact that, until very recently, almost the entirety of birth and child rearing wisdom has been passed down from generation to generation, primarily from woman to woman, mother to daughter.
By no means is it my intention to in any way diminish the value of this tradition, and I certainly recognize and respect any apprehensiveness one might feel about having one of the few historically female institutions disrupted or co-opted by males, no matter how well-intentioned.
However, with all of that said, if there has ever been a time when the world was in more desperate need to purge itself of the scourge of toxic masculinity, that time is now.
While I applaud and support any efforts to dismantle the system as it currently stands, I believe wholeheartedly that we will be exponentially more successful by spending our collective energy not on changing the hearts and minds of older generations, but by committing ourselves to raising the next several generations with an entirely different framework of gender dynamics.
What better way to do exactly that than by providing opportunities for young boys to see grown men stepping into positions that require them to develop and embody qualities such as compassion, empathy, kindness, gentleness, and grace?
What better way to exemplify for girls and young women what it looks and feels like to experience the power of a man as demonstrated not by his prowess or valiancy, but by his vulnerability and tender, nurturing presence?
Inarguably, there are few more important decisions we make than that of who cares for our children. In the end, we have an obligation to do what feels best for ourselves and for our families.
All I ask is that, the next time you’re in a position to find a birth or childcare professional, you accept the invitation to simply take a moment to consider the possible benefits for your family that could be available by hiring someone who doesn’t necessarily fit your initial, instinctive notion of who that individual might be.
By all means, you could absolutely find that the best choice for you and your family is someone who fits our traditional definition for that role. On the other hand, this contemplation could potentially open the door to an individual who brings a totally unique skill set, presence, and experience that could be the perfect fit for all of your family’s complex and ever-changing needs.
I’m part of a big family from the Midwest, and while I undoubtedly spent my fair share of time tromping around the woods of our neighborhood with my siblings and cousins, I could just as frequently be found attempting to navigate the nearest proximity as possible to the newest addition of the family.
Over the years, as a babysitter, camp counselor, and nanny I’ve proven to be pretty darn good with kids… but I absolutely love infants.
Not only is it both mesmerizing and enthralling to watch as babies take in the world around them, learning and absorbing information and circumstances at a truly unfathomable pace, but potentially even more powerful is how they transform the world around them, turning even the hardest, most poker-faced strangers into sweet, doe-eyed softees in a fraction of a heartbeat.
Aside from kids, though, nothing makes me more happy than starting my day with a long walk, an hour or so of yoga, and an excess of black coffee. As often as I can, even if it’s just for me, I love to write, and at least once or twice a month, if I had it my way, I’d be sharing an incredible meal around a big table with a handful of the people I love most.
I adore this city for a million reasons, not least of which is because it’s so easy to escape. At least once a month, year round, I hit the road and head for the mountains, usually in search of a river to follow and or a lake to explore.
If I could swim all day everyday during the summer, I absolutely would.