The Daily Telegraph (Edinburgh, Scotland) recently featured an article on “mannies,” male nannies. They do most of the same stuff as female carers, though they seem to work especially well with little boys, playing hard and showing them what a balanced man can look like. Annie Merrylees, co-founder of manny company My Big Buddy, says, “These days nannies, carers, nursery- and primary-school teachers all tend to be female, and there can be a need to redress that imbalance with a great role model who can not only play sport and relate to boys but also reveal a softer side.” Even girls seem to have good relationships with these very able guys. They play with dolls as well as they do SuperSoakers.
I am impressed with how qualified these young men appear to be. They’re compentent college students for the most part, excelling in school, hard-working and well-adjusted. The wage shows it: at ten pounds an hour, they’re commanding higher compensation than most carers. And, from my experience, boys just eat up time with older males. The most significant down side to this whole deal is that, in some of these cases, children who are feeling distant from their fathers will struggle even more to relate, and not learn how to relate healthily to male authority figures. A “big buddy” only goes so far in communicating that dynamic.
Will this be a new wave in the United States too? I hope so. In a day and age when people are increasingly reluctant to have men around children, the hiring of mannies could be a positive phenomenon.