Chapter 2: The Effects of Nannies Raising Children

Chapter two was an interesting chapter that involved a lot of action rather than description. From negotiating with terrorists to giving Ruben Iglesias stitches, this chapter set the stage for how the terrorists were going to handle their negotiations and their hostages. I found it interesting how they were kind enough to allow the civilians to use the facilities and even chatter for a bit. They created such a calming environment that at times the hostages felt so comfortable that they desired for the police to go home so that they could just sleep; “All they wished was for the men outside to go home, turn off the bullhorns, and let them all have a night’s sleep on the floor.”

As the story unfolds and we gain insight on the terrorists, we also gain insight on the Iglesias’. We learn more about Ruben’s family and that he has three children with his wife; two girls and a young boy. We are also then introduced to Esmeralda. Esmeralda is a beautiful young woman who works for the Iglesias’ as their live-in nanny, or governess. As I continued to read I noticed a special connection between Esmeralda and the children. When Ruben had to leave his children and wife to answer the door, Patchett wrote “The governess, Esmeralda, stayed with them” implying she was the one to look after the children during his absence. I found this interesting because why would Patchett imply Esmeralda would be the one to tend to the children even when the mother is sitting right there. Another strange subtle remark that Patchett made was when Esmeralda was called away to aid Ruben. “As soon as she was gone, his son, Marco, who was just a little boy of four, cried in agony, as he believed the hired girl to be his own mother.” I find her choice of words interesting. Patchett is emphasizing that this woman is not only a mother to Marco, but she is just a hired girl. The word hired to me makes it sound more like a job rather than a relationship. This young boy’s foundation of a relationship with a motherly figure is based on payments that could at any point be ended. This lead me to do research on the effects of full-time, live-in nannies who raise other’s children.

Later in the chapter Ruben has a flashback to a memory of Esmeralda sitting under a tree with his children, pouring them tea while Marco sat on her lap. Then he had a memory of her walking through the hallway putting their children to sleep, saying goodnight, and telling them no more water and to close their eyes. The first memory sounds like a family picnic, but without the family. How can children be raised by a woman who is forced to play mommy and daddy while their real mother and father are alive and well? The latter memory sounds like something a loving, yet tentative mother would do for her children. As a child, being tucked in by both of my parents was my favorite part of the day; these children do not even get one.

Having grown up as an only child who was spoiled with attention, I was interested in doing research on children like the young Iglesias’ and found Renee Septimus.

Renee Septimus was raised by a housekeeper that took care of her and her siblings at an early age of one years old and left when Septimus was eighteen. Even though Vi, the housekeeper, did not live with them, she worked for them six days a week from 8:30 in the morning to 8:30 at night after dinner was made, served, and all cleaned up. Septimus made a revealing comment about how she felt growing up without her parents’ support; “I felt, even at a young age, that I did not come ‘first’ with my parents. I intuited that my grandmother and my father’s business were prioritized over me. I now believe that not feeling important, not feeling ‘first’ to my parents, was not good for my emotional development and contributed to my being a shy, insecure, timid child” (Septimus).

To get a better psychological understanding of Renee, Esmeralda, and the Iglesias children, I turned to deeper research.

A useful article I found by Uche Ikpa made many fair points brought up the fact that dangerous trends can form from by parents being absent in the raising of their children. “…you see parents leaving their children even when the child is still sleeping, and coming back in the night – sometimes when the child is in bed. I know these trends because I have worked as a nanny… You find parents who only want to have children, but avoid the responsibility of raising their children…Even the rich have excuses. They hire nannies and abandon their children for others to raise.” Ikpa goes on to then make the point of how allowing someone else to raise your child, especially during their crucial first five year of life, behind your back can lead to harmful effects. “For example when I was a nanny in California, I met a woman who was a nanny in the pack with a little baby. She was smoking heavily….The woman who has that baby may not have had time to check her references thoroughly, or she might have lied she does not smoke. The child was absorbing the whole smoke. After a little while, that child will develop lung problems or cancer.” Allowing another individual raise your child also allows your child to be raised under their habits, influences, and morals despite whether or not they match up with your own. (Ikpa)

Ikpa then discussed the psychological effects of leaving your child with another individual. When one does not create a bond with his or her child, especially within infants and toddlers, that child will grow up with a hunger for attention in their adulthood. “Most children born today have no bonding to parents. They sense parents don’t care for them because they are not there for them, so they get bonded with peers outside the home, or anybody that can offer caring attitude and love. These are reasons why children join gangs, are abducted, killed and raped. It is their desire for bonding.” Even though parents think that leaving their children with another individual is how they show they are laboring to support them, in reality the best support they could have given them was their presence. (Ikpa)

In conclusion, I feel as though Esmeralda’s presence is a harmful aspect to the Iglesias family despite the fact she may have saved Ruben’s life by stitching up his cheek. No matter the circumstance or how much money a person has, the parents should be the one to raise a child, not matter how motherly, affectionate, and loving the nanny is, because in the end all children crave genuine attention from their parents, not from those who are paid to give it to them.

Ikpa, Uche. “Take Time to Raise Your Children: Don’t Leave Your Responsibility As Parents For Others to Do.” Cambridge Community Television. N.p., 31 Oct. 2013. Web. 09 Sept. 2015.

Septimus, Renee. “Do Kids Raised by Nannies Really Turn Out OK?” Kveller. N.p., 16 July 2012. Web. 09 Sept. 2015.

-Courtney Fesette


4 thoughts on “Chapter 2: The Effects of Nannies Raising Children

  1. bsejdiu942 says:

    Hey Courtney,

    I read the article you found, it was quite enlightening. The back of my mind however, I feel like it should be common sense that a parent should be the one raising their child. Now obviously it depends on the scenario, maybe it’s a single mom or dad and they need someone to watch their child. I’m sure the rich are just doing so as the author said, to avoid parental responsibilities. I’m wondering where you could possibly take this research, maybe how can there be better, stricter screenings to prevent nannies who smoke around children from being hired. Or maybe how to reduce the psychological stress on the infants and children being taken cared of? One solution I came across is having a more strict law around who is allowed to have children. However, such an idea seems a bit authoritative, but it is also an idea that has been mentioned and argued for before. The argument goes that we have licenses for many aspects of our society, like education, driving, drinking, hunting, marriage, etc. That parents have to undergo testing and classes in order to have a child. It’s generated a bit of moral concern. But to be honest, I think we police women enough about what they are allowed to do with their bodies. Although I think giving women access to free child raising courses, regardless of being in school or not, would be extremely beneficial. To have something on the lines of sex ed, but for raising children. It would be a better alternative than telling a couple they can’t reproduce because they don’t have the paperwork to do so. Also, it could help raise awareness the problem of not raising your children yourself?


  2. sariegel says:

    I enjoyed reading your post. I, too, focused on the character of Esmeralda, though less in her role as a substitute for a mother, and more as a symbol of hope and situational beauty. Reading your post really made me think of the novel, The Help. That novel also focuses more on the relationship between the nanny and the children than on the parents and the children. Your research into the effects on children who lack a strong relationship with their parents was interesting, though I might would have been interested to also see what effects such a strong relationship between a governess and children would have on both parties.

    There is one statement from the Ikpa article that I question: “They sense parents don’t care for them… so they get bonded with… anybody that can offer caring attitude and love. These are reasons why children join gangs, are abducted, killed and raped.” Firstly, I wonder whether this holds true for children who are raised by a caring nanny, or children in general who lack a parental and loving figure. The latter may not apply to situations where competent and caring nannies are present. Also, I can better understand why a lack of parental bonding could lead to children joining gangs for support than why this is the reason children are “abducted, killed and raped.” How does the author know this for fact?

    I would be very much interested to see findings of studies done on later life choices of children raised by nannies, and the psychological theories behind that. In addition, I think it could be really interesting to look into the culture of hiring nannies in Latin American nations. The definition or sense of agency in regard to this occupation may be different in Latin American countries than it is in the US.


  3. katelynzander says:

    This topic is definitely relevant in today’s world. So many people spend their entire life climbing the corporate ladder, with such dedication to their job, family usually gets put on the back burner. In most cases, parents hire nannies because they believe they are trying to become successful for their family but this ends with emotional neglect.

    It seems that some of the quotes you pulled from your research seem subjective rather than backed by facts such as, “These are reasons why children join gangs, are abducted, killed and raped.” I really enjoy how you picked up on the importance of Esmeralda in chapter two. Up until this point Roxane has been the woman we hear everyone talk about. However, in a time of need we see this shift of beauty toward the “hired help” because she is able to step up and be strong in a time of need. I hope we will be able to learn more about her in the next chapters. She seems like a vital piece to the Iglesia family. She will be one who the children are more emotionally attached to. I see this may cause issues in the family because it seems that Mr. Iglesia had a realization for his infatuation with her.

    I believe you could take this research further and really focus on some studies of the psychological effects on children who have nannies. Focused particularly on the child’s first five years of life, since these seem to be crucial years in the development of a person’s morals and personality traits.


  4. annawallace003 says:

    I also thought it was strange for the hostages to wish for the people trying to help to go away. If I were in that situation I think that I would find comfort in knowing that people were concerned about my wellbeing and are choosing to put forth effort in hopes of rescuing me.

    The research topic that you chose is something that I didn’t put emphasis on while reading the chapter but proves to be a significant part of what Patchett is trying to convey. It is sad to see that the Iglesias children don’t get to spend their childhood the way that they should and I agree that the long-term effects can be quite detrimental. Nannies are of course a big help in certain households but as a parent you are not able to get that time back with them. I cannot imagine my childhood without my parents and the things that they taught me.

    The person I grew up to be is due to the influence that my parents had on me and its mind boggling to think that if I was raised by a nanny that I could potentially be a different person than I am today. Basic psychology reinforces your opinion and research; therefore I think that it is who influences you that determine who you end up being and not much to do with a biological factor. Elmeralda does an excellent job as the Iglesias family nanny and in this chapter a lifesaver to Mr. Iglesias specifically.


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