Things to Decide Before You Hire Someone

Here are some questions to consider before you hire someone:

  • Who is in charge? What orders and requests will you allow your child to make (“I'm thirsty, can you help me fill this cup?”) and where should the employee act as in loco parentis (“You have had enough sweets before dinner!”).
  • How will each side be addressed? Will your children refer to your employee as Ms. Katani, or as Mary? Will she refer to you and your spouse as “Mr. Smith” and “Ms. Jones” or by other terms?
  • If your employee is asked to provide childcare, what form of discipline will she use? Standards and practices vary widely around the world, including feelings on striking or paddling children, so it is crucial to establish guidelines as early as possible.
  • If your employee will live at your home, what behaviors are acceptable by the employee in her living space after work, and what behaviors would be inappropriate for you and your children?
  • If local practices differ greatly from your own beliefs, for example, in ascribing importance to what some might label as superstitions, what level of explanation and involvement is appropriate for your children, given their ages, background and your own family's belief system?
  • If your employee does not live at your home, will your employee's children be encouraged/allowed/prohibited from your home while your employee is “at work”? What is your decision on regular visits (say everyday after school because no other child care is available for your employee's kids)? What constitutes “an emergency” where the children are welcomed if you do not want regular visits?
  • What issues will you want your employee to settle in your absence (“Can I sleep over my friend's house?” asks your daughter), and what should be deferred until you return home?
  • If your employee will live at your home, which relatives and how many relatives will you welcome as co-residents?
  • If the living area for your employee is not clearly separate from the area you and your family occupy, under what conditions will the children be allowed (if at all) to enter the employee's living space?

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