by Michelle LaRowe
Editor in Chief
While the United States media has been following mannies Scott Cartmill and Shaun Sturz on ABC Family’s reality docu-series Beverly Hills Nannies, in Bath, England, the media is following the story of manny Michael Kenny, who is the first male student in the education degree program at Norland College, the world-famous college for nannies.
If Kenny completes his four year course work successfully, he will be only the second male in the college’s 120 year history to gradate with the Norland Diploma and the prestigious title of Norland Nanny.
But if anyone objects to working in a female dominated industry, it’s not Michael Kenny. According to The Telegraph, he doesn’t mind and neither did the school’s first male graduate, Peter Cummings, who was reported as saying “I don’t see any problem. My careers adviser hinted that it was very female-dominated, but I took no notice. Being male has never been an issue with either of the parents that I’ve been with.”
So if the men who commit themselves to learning the ins and outs of the nanny world and the parents who hire them don’t seem to mind, why is there a stigma associated with being a private duty childcare specialist if you’re a man?
Or is there?
In a recent interview I had with Shaun Sturz of Beverly Hills Nannies and real-life nanny to the stars, I asked him if he had to overcome any stereotypes being a male nanny. His response? “I don’t think so. Are there any? I’ve never met a male nanny before the show. If there are any, I think things are changing and I’m on the forefront of that. People have always asked me to be their nanny, so I’ve never had to overcome any stereotypes.”
Maybe he’s right.
A quick Google search of “male nannies” showed pages and pages of articles featured in both the print pages and online versions of popular parenting and lifestyle magazines and mainstream news outlets. Is this an indication male nannies are becoming more popular? Maybe, maybe not. But if it’s not, the most interesting search results surely are: the number of nanny placement agencies that specialize in placing male nannies.
In 2006, My Big Buddy was founded as the first male nanny agency in London by two Australian nannies who felt that some children would benefit from the care of an energetic male nanny. Other UK based agencies like Mr. Nanny and Manny Poppins followed suit. And coming in fall 2012, the United States will perhaps get its own first nanny agency exclusively representing male nannies. According to its website www.mannies.com, males looking for home-based work can now apply.
While some parents, agencies, and caregivers may still raise an eyebrow at male nanny candidates, more and more are open to the idea.
When parents look for a nanny, they look for someone who is the right fit for the family. For some families, especially single mom families and families with boys, having a male role model around the house is extremely important, as viewers saw firsthand with Cindy Margolis, who cut back her nanny’s hours to bring a manny into her home.
Each family must identify the right nanny for their family. For some families, it may be that a male nanny better meets their family’s needs. For others, maybe not. Regardless of if the caregiver is a male or female, what’s of ultimate importance is that he or she is qualified, dedicated, and committed to doing the job well, and that he or she sends the message to the children in his or her care that they can be whatever they want to be, and that’s okay.