Occasionally a nanny or housekeeper will work for years for a family and then get a bad reference,  no reference, or a 2 minute phone interview after 5 years of loyal service. Her career is basically over.

There could be several reasons why a family refuses to give a reference.
· The employee really wasn’t competent, or she wasn’t as good a fit as the children got older and the duties morphed.
· She gradually took more and more advantage of the family’s good will and the family wasn’t decisive. Dad is saying, “Get rid of her!” but Mom is hedging, “But she loves the children so much! Or “I don’t have time to deal with this now!”
· A nanny begins quietly judging your parenting style, has crossed boundaries or broken confidentiality.
· A bad judgment call resulting in immediate termination.
If I feel it’s a misunderstanding, I will encourage the nanny go back to the family and hash things out.
In these tough situations, the family needs to discern whether the nanny was just not a good fit for their particular family, or ages of children, or skill sets required, or if there are serious character flaws that should not be foisted on another family. Was it a onetime problem? Could she learn from it? Some Moms would prefer to let their nanny go rather than addressing things like macaroni and cheese left on the counter all day. They really don’t like the manager part of their role, and I can relate to that. I had to have a friend ‘hold my hand’ as I let my first employee go. It was painful, but she just wasn’t a good fit.
However, in these tough economic times, a family doesn’t want to cause someone to be struggling financially simply because personalities didn’t mesh, or they don’t like communicating.

Here are some guidelines to ease the pain.

1. It’s crucial to make distinctions, since the well being of other families and children are at stake. Reliability, trustworthiness and honesty are core values that you deserve and your children need to see lived out daily.
2. Sometimes personalities don’t mesh, communicationstops, and  attitudes and work habits worsen. If this is what happened, try to see both sides and be fair.
If you never told your nanny what frustrated you about her lack of effort, is it fair to put that on her reference? But if you told her and she didn’t improve, then you’re right.
3. When talking to another family, ask questions first. Maybe the problems you had won’t apply and she would be a better fit for them.
4. Bring out the good as well as the bad.
5. As an alternative, consider writing a letter of employment verification.
6. At her exit interview, gently and frankly tell her why you’re unhappy and can’t give a reference. This will give you peace of mind, and she will know her status and can move forward. You will save her weeks of wasted effort, giving your name out as a reference and wondering why no one hires her.
7. Learn from the experience and let go of it emotionally.

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My brother Mark, a prominent gastroenterologist at Desert Sam, and his wife Kris, were getting close to retirement, had all four of their boys well raised, when Gretchen and Tommy came into their lives. Their three and four year old niece and nephew needed rescuing. Mark and Kris thought it would just be temporary at first, to get their shipwrecked lives stabilized and find them appropriate adoptive parents, possibly within their extended family. As it turned out, Mark and Kris were the best ones to be the parents for Tommy and Gretchen, and the adoption was finalized last fall in a heart-warming ceremony with all 13 of their children, grandchildren, their spouses, and great-grandma present. I spent last week with them on vacation in their Flagstaff cabin to celebrate our Mom’s birthday. I watched my 63 year old brother wrestle with seven year old Tommy, and waltz with eight year old Gretchen. During the day, they got to practice driving their kid-sized quad in figure eights carefully marked out by orange cones. “The most important thing to learn is how to stop.” Tommy loved putting on his new garden gloves to help Mark with chores. Mark is the only doctor I know who does all his own yard work. Now he has a cabin, so he can do all the upkeep on two houses. He loves to work—spray-painting the shake roof, clearing boulders, planting red fescue, planting maple trees, then fencing out the elk, building his own sprinkler system and drip lines. His next project is building a playground. Kris and I were reflecting on how different the world would be two generations from now if they hadn’t stepped in. Their self-giving, sacrificial love has made a huge impact on everyone who knows them.
This Father’s Day, I am grateful for Mark’s generous heart. Where did all that love come from? My Dad just passed away last August after 64 years of marriage to the love of his life, my Mom. They had six children in 7 1/2 years and raised us to believe that we were here for the purpose of serving others.
If you have a Dad that you admire, please blog in during the month of June, log in and share your reflections with us.

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Erika came literally within two inches of leaving this world on Monday morning on her way to the bank to sign papers on a car she was selling. How differently our lives would have been today! How little we consider the reality of life. How we take for granted the really important things—it’s always relationships. If she had been in a car without such amazing anti-lock brakes, we would have been preparing for her funeral today. I would never get to enjoy her children. We usually do not get these reflections until we are at a funeral. It is often at funerals that members of our family see new life spring up in our hearts. Today, I am very grateful for my amazing daughter, that she was spared for one more day. Today, I want to purpose to appreciate and enjoy her even more than I did yesterday.

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