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Wow! - I think Rose is lucky to have you in her life - she has become part of your family. What would you do for family? Do the same for Rose. Maybe when she can drive we can all donate for her to buy a car and then she will be able to get around more and be her own person more.

I don't think Rose has her license yet. Tertia, rather than doing a coffee date, you could drop her off at an activity where she would have a chance to socialize with other people. Is there a church nearby with a bible study or women's group that meets once per week?

I remember the license problem vaguely ...takes a long time and she's waiting for it, is that right? No, it shouldn't have to be you to fill her "love tank". But I had a grandmother in a similar sitch as Rose: total quality time person, no car, totally stuck, totally resentful. I think Rose will be able to make her own circle of friends once she's mobile. Until then, either do the coffee date, which is really not solving the problem, or like Sakoro said drop her off someone where she has a chance to interact with many people. Great idea, actually.

Oh and I realized having a license doesn't mean having a car. (I'm slow). Are used cars expensive in SA?

Well, here's what I think. It is true that we are not "responsible" for another's happiness, yet to brush off someone whom we care about's UNhappiness seems also pretty much not OK. (bad sentence there). But. It seems as though no aspect of her life is satisfying, that no relationship she has is a great one. It is very very dangerous to put all your eggs in one basket, so to speak, as she has with you. SHE needs to figure out how to either a) accept people for who they are or b) figure out ways to create other relationships that are healthy and happy. YOU probably need to help her do this by either paying for therapy, trying to broaden her social circle (no idea here how you would do this) or otherwise coming up with some sort of strategy to help her, with professional guidance or advice if possible. Very intense people are often lonely, because their very intensity exhausts/frustrates/alientates other people. Wishing both of you good luck with this issue. It is very hard to accept that no matte what we do, say, try, or buy, some people are unable to change, are unable to be happy. I sincerely hope she isn't one of them. At elast you are able to be honest and open, which is more than a lot can do. Sorry this is so long.

I pay her three times what other people get. I take and fetch her from the shops, I drive her around. I sort out her financial mess. I buy her gifts. I do things for her. I tell her how much I appreciate

I just wanted to point out to you that your resentment shows very clearly in this paragraph. Just an observation.

All that said - Rose is someone who cares for your children. That, to me, is a very big deal. I think I would go out of my way to ensure that she's happy and contented. In many ways, she's part of your family. Her needs count.

However, I don't know if it really is meant to be you who does it. It almost seems like, with her being cut off from so much you are her *only* shot at having this connection that matters to her so much.

It's like, to my mind, what a SAHM might encounter, if she were to hare off into a foreign country with her military spouse. From what I've seen, marriages in that kind of circumstance are severely tried, as one partner goes off and has all kinds of connections and experiences, while the other partner starves and ends up drilling down all of their needs onto their more engaged partner.

Disaster. Not unlike, I'm guessing, what is happening in your house.

The trick then, is to help her find outlets, I'd think. People to associate with. Oppportunities to engage with others.

This may mean that you do a lot more driving around, but is that an easier sacrifice than being her one and only?

I guess that's up to you to decide.

I do feel you, I really do. Then again, after a year of mat. leave and feeling less and less like a person over that time, I feel Rose, too.

When you describe Rose, you are describing me to the letter. My love language is also quality time and I am extremely intense and have very high standards. I put much effort into my relationships with friends/family and expect 100% the same from them. As a result of this, I literally go into depression when they disappoint me. My life is very full at the moment with my kids and my job so I am not feeling the loneliness all that much.
I think that things changed for me once I became more independent and more mobile. Things definitely without a doubt changed for me once I could drive and had a car. I also had to learn (and this is a very painful, ongoing process) that when people disappoint me for whatever reason that it is not a reflection on me or the type of friend/family member that I am. I had to learn that sometimes people mess up and that it is OK and part of life. There will always be disappointments.
I think that you are being a very good friend to Rose but at the same time that as her employer you are doing way more than is necessary. I think that you are running the risk of spreading yourself a bit. If you want to help Rose, then help her to become independent (she needs to define for you what this means to her) so that she can ultimately help herself.

I kind of feel like I can relate to Rose in the sense that (I assume, being home with the kiddos all day and away from family and friends) that she may feel isolated. I imagine her situtaion to be similar to a stay at home mom, do you think? I wonder if there are any activities that she could make friends at in her similar situation - other nannies, SAHM's. Perhaps a kid activity or sport (I know they are small for sports but you know what I mean, some organized activity.)

I think the answer goes back to one of the first comments yesterday about helping her help herself to fill her love tank. You want to be there for her as a friend and the caretaker of your children (in that respect, it behooves you for her to be cheery and fulfilled), but you can only stretch yourself so thin. It also may mean looking at every direction that you are pulled and prioritizing them and reevaluating whenever something else comes up. If you decide you need to do this for Rose, what else temporarily goes? And is it temporary? I don't know Rose and I don't mean to insult her in any way (I am not assuming here, I really don't know) but is she the type of person who will always want more (time, attention) and are you just setting both of you up by trying to be the one who "fills her love tank"?

I think you are being a good friend but I think there needs to be a way for Rose to figure this out or I fear she'll only be upset when you CAN'T offer her more of your time and you'll be upset when she needs that of you.

Sorry, T, but I have to giggle at the title... sounds risque, to me! "fill her LOVE TANK" ROFLROFLROFL

Ahem. Back to the point. I think you are setting yourself up for a HUGE disaster, by being Rose's "catch all" person. I can hear it in your post, that *already* there is resentment building, just by feeling OBLIGED to carve out "special time" for Rose. And it's not as if you don't care - I understand that, and would THINK that she understands that, too. It is not as if she is mistreated or unappreciated (as you mention, you lavish her with love in so many other ways!). Yet, by still being "unfulfilled," it's almost as if she's minimizing the other ways in which you seek to show her your appreciation. Yes?

Do you think that the additional responsibility of two PUPPIES has caused things to come to a head? Basically, when you added two (baby) dogs to the family, you placed the responsibility on Rose's shoulders - which is something I cringed about, when you first mentioned getting the pups. If she isn't keen on raising dogs, alongside her "other" responsibilities, I can see how that might REALLY tick her off (since she didn't really have any say in the matter... or DID she?).

So, for a solution... I think what would be best is for her to broaden her social circle. Definitely. You mentioned that she now has the added stress of raising her sister's children too, right? How old are they? Did you notice if Rose was happier to have a companion in your household, when Beauty was around? Or were they too different as to be companions for each other?

Hmmm... if this scenario was playing out *here*, I'd highly recommend scheduling a weekly play-date, even if that meant that your home was always the location. You've said before that Rose really LIKES to plan fun activities/parties for the kids, and with another family (or 2 or 3) in the mix, that would give the kids some fun interaction AND give Rose some adult conversation with the other parent/nanny. And she wouldn't have to drive to participate (if she always hosted the gatherings). Is that even a possibility? What does Rose do while the kids are at school? Maybe there's an opportunity for adult-only time, there?

Regardless, my very firm advice is for you to NOT try to be her "tank filler." (still giggling about that! LOL) It is clear that your two love languages aren't a good mesh - which is not your problem! or hers! - and I think you are only "obligated" to go above and beyond the call of duty when it's a family member (spouse, child). Helping her to find a way to GET the fulfillment is, in itself, showing her how much you care. That's NOT the same as telling her to "step off" with her emotional hang-ups.

{{{hug}}} I can tell how much this weighs on your heart, Tertia. You truly are a very compassionate person! And, too often, I think you discount your OWN needs. That is not healthy. Remember that you have to take care of YOURSELF, first and foremost, before you can care for others. Someone recently (here? dunno) reminded me that, in the even of an airplane accident, adults are instructed to put on an oxygen mask FIRST, before helping others. Right now, I think you haven't done that, and are suffering accordingly. Really, it's OKAY (and APPROPRIATE!) to tend to your own needs first.

Good luck, and let us know how things turn out.

Is there any opportunity for her to volunteer in the community??? Perhaps for Bosom Buddies??? Maybe something like that would prove to be rewarding in and of itself, but could also povide her with new companionship.

Before I got too far in, I thought "hey...a once a week outing together" and then read that you are doing that. Others have said she's essentially a family member and that you should do what you would for any other family member, but based on what you've said about Marko, you are doing that.

I realize that not having a car makes it difficult and that with Adam and Kate having each other (and now school), playdates likely don't happen often. But, as a SAHM, I found that my sanity greatly improved when I started going to mommy & me programs (toddler gym, library) and arranging play dates with people that I met through those. Several of us also extended our day to include lunch out and walking through some shops after a mommy & me class. Without the license/car, this could prove difficult, but is there a way that you could arrange for some of your friends' children/nannies to spend the day with Rose once a week? At someone's house or at a park? Somewhere that the kids can have fun and the adults have time talking and socializing, too?

You once said that both you and Rose were project people. How about both of you doing some sort of project that you both have an interest in? Perhaps practicing her driving skills on a rural road near your home or taking a cooking class together once a month? I know, no real interest in cooking, but you get my drift. Perhaps she may have an interest in your sister's charity. If she has any skills she could learn how to sew small gowns, crochet blankets etc. Then both of you could spend some time monthly with your sister and her friends who work with the charity. Perhaps if the time you spend together is for something that will introduce her to others or accomplish some goal it will help you feel as if it is more a gift of service, not just time. You will both feel as if you are accomplishing something.
As her horizons widen she will feel less trapped, and a happier Rose can only be a happier family. Hope this helps.

Chiming back in to say that I think Melissa's post is right on the money. Great idea(s)!

Does it sound feasible to you, T?

A few comments in response to yours:

- It will take a while until Rose gets her drivers licence, and when she does, I will buy her a car! It will make a huge difference to both of us.
- As for the SAHM comparison, I think that is pretty spot on. Except that for poor Rose, she has no way of getting around. There is no public transport system in this country.
- What has made it harder for Rose is that all the other nannies in the neighbourhood have either left, or the kids are at school full time. She is even more alone.
- Re the puppies - no, hasn't made a difference. This has been going on for a while.

Got to run, will be back

I know that you said that it is not part of the agreement as her employer for you to fill her "love tank" but, the line seems to have been blurred in a lot of other places. Not that it is a bad thing that it has been blurred, just that it would be hard for me to hear, "I'll sort out your finances but a girly cup of coffee while you rebound from vast dissapointment is really tough for me". I'm not a love-tank kind of girl myself but that would hurt.

good luck - friendships & work relationships are hard.

vv tricky situation...

as long a rose's interaction with you remains more attractive than interactions with others you have a little problem...she's human, she prefers chocolates above apples...and because you have allowed a degree of dependence on you, she now is a little stuck...and you will only be able to help her get unstuck by helping her find her own chocolates...easier said than done...

t, you are in a bit of a pickle...but then again i probably don't have to tell you that! errr, uhhmmm sorry...

she clearly needs to relearn how to relate to others in the same situation as herself, earning 3 times what her peers get can also be part of the problem...not that I'm saying you should pay her less, but you need to be aware of this obstacle to meeting likeminded friends in order to overcome it.

what is very clear is that she needs to get what she gets from you from someone else, and as long as that need is filled by you she will not have the hunger to go look for it somewhere else. you will have to apply some tough love here and wean her off slowly. at the moment it seems like she is hunting down fulfilment for her emotional needs within the small environment of your home...you need to help her to go hunting outside...

You will have to find out from her what kind of friend she would appreciate, what kinds of people does she like and get her connected. Maybe a neighbour's nanny can introduce her to friends, maybe she should arrange a "Neighbourhood nannies weekly tea". She might be amazed to find out how many are in a similar situation to her in the area or surrounding areas. Maybe even try and get her involved in helping someone else, anything to try and divert her attention away from Q-time with you and get her moving towards q-time with someone else.

Somehow you will have to navigate through the rough waters of not losing her trust and loyalty and getting her more interested in others than in you. One way to accomplish this is to withdraw as much as possible and try to expose her to alternatives, that is something you CAN actually do as opposed to doing something you can't.

You have to cease to be an alternative for her to connect to so that she can connect to others...and you definitely will need to sort out your "boundaries" with her or else you will both end up being unhappy.

OMW! I've just written a whole essay...how do i get myself into things like this...i think perhaps it's because it is such a universal problem here in SA...some lonely housewives actually welcome this kind of dependency....

The real question here is how do we get Rose a friend? Perhaps you should do a post on how to find a friend for rose...

have to go now...tata!

Tertia, I think that you are taking on far too much responsibility for this. While I may be sounding very bitchy right now, so I am asking for any forgiveness now, she is, at the end of the day, your employee. I had a domesitc helper that was great and also, as many unfortunate AA South Africans are, always in a pickle. I did what I could, thinking that because I was in a position to help her that I should, under some sort of invisible hold of obligation and good nature. The problem was that it didn't end there, the more i gave the more she took and and then the more she expected. The tables began to turn and I was the one becoming resentful, until I got to the point where I just didn't want to keep giving anymore. When my husbands company hit a bind last year and I literally couldn't give more than usual, she upped and left. I have vowed that I will never cross that employer/employee line again and will always be firm but fair from now on.
It is exhausting enough trying to fulfil your own life and emotional needs, I think perhaps she needs to get out with people of her own kind (By this I do mean race, as many of your foreign readers, I am certain, are not familiar with their culture and how different it is from ours) and with similar interests.
Good luck with your decision and try not too lose too much sleep over it.

Oh T, I don't know what to say to this...sorry...

(((big hugs)))

Hope that helped


Wow, Tertia. I haven't read all the other comments but I think Rose has an amazing, brilliant job! I don't think it's your responsibility to make her happy, I think it's your job to make sure she's happy at work etc. So if the kiddies are giving her a really hard time etc. then that's you responsibility but outside of work, it's not your job. I think she is really blessed to have you and your family in her life and yes at times you might be her shoulder to "cry" on but not on a daily, weekly basis. What about you, you really need to put yourself first because if you aren't alright, how can you be alright for all the other people in your life! You'll end up resenting her and that'll lead to all sorts of other problems. I think you are so blessed to have found such a gem but I think you need to pull back a little- you need coffee with you not with Rose.

Again, I haven't read the other comments. But, she lives in your home, she loves and takes care of your children. Just as she is responsible for filling up their love tanks you are responsible for filling up hers. Yes it is tiring, etc. But think of all the love she gives to your children, that should help even it out a bit in your mind.

Wow, just reading your post makes me want to run away. A social outing with your live-in nanny once a week? Insane. What's wrong with chatting in your own house while you are preparing breakfast for the kids?

I totally agree with anononthis1, I guess I'm bitchy too. She needs her own friends. You've crossed a lot of boundaries.

You know, I really relate to this. I am one of those people who needs lots of alone time. I'm 22, unmarried and have no kids. I like a lot of time to myself. I take long baths, I read, I mess around on the internet. I'm also in college, trying to get into medical school, so I am constantly busy, always overstudying for tests and writing and rewriting essays until they are absolutely perfect. I live with my mother for free while in school, so I am also responsible for lots of chores. Mopping, cleaning the pool, dishes, laundry, etc. And then I have a dog, who also needs my time and attention. And then I have friends, who like to spend time with me, go out, and have fun. One friend in particular I am usually inseparable with. All this is fairly delicately balanced with my "me" time.

My younger sister, who had moved in with her boyfriend a year ago, moved back recently after he dumped her and then took up with another girl. This actually happened to me several years ago, so I understood how much she was hurting. But she is a "quality time" person. In fact she can not be alone for a second unless she is sleeping, and she can't sleep. We were always arguing as children whether I had to let her play with me all the time. So for the last month we have been joined at the hip. I stay up with her talking until 2 a.m., I spend lots of time with her at the beach and the gym, we go out together, drive out of town on the weekends. I listen, I hug, I comfort. I certainly can't do anything else when I see her hurting so badly. But it is damn hard for me and has taken it's toll on my friends, especially my best friend, who complains she never sees me anymore. I just quite honestly don't have anything left over for anybody else. Right now my priorities are school, sister, me, chores, everything else.

But things are getting better. She is learning to be on her own again, and needing me less. Soon I will be able to reconnect with my friends. The hard times are HARD for a reason. But it's easy to like someone and be there for them when things are sunny in their life. I remember how much I appreciated those who stood by me when this happened to me, when it would have been so much easier for them to turn away. Many did.

Rose won't need to lean on you forever, but right now she may need to. It's honestly up to you, how much you value that relationship, whether you step in when someone needs you or not. There have certainly been people who tried to lean on me and I have turned them away, mainly because I know they would not do the same for me. But for the people who do go above and beyond the call of duty for me... whatever bit of their stress I can take on myself to lessen their burden, I will take it. Even if it means my life is shuffled around for a bit.

Soooo... I come back here to see if we have returned to SEX and find out you are selfishingly whinging about Rose's love language??? YOU say you CAN'T DO IT? WHY bother reading the book? You are both instructed to come to HK for a serious spanking. BTW, those authors have moved past THAT BOOK and are now writing about The Five Languages of Forgiveness. Try that on for size. You are lucky to have her and she you... ARGH! Get over it!

Another thought, T. Does Rose know how to use a computer? If so, what about something akin to TLOL? While IRL relationships may be hard to find right now (logistics being a big challenge), e-friends can be AWESOME! Maybe you can carve out some time this weekend to work with Rose on locating some message boards (or chat rooms) where she can find like-minded ladies?

I don't think you've crossed "boundaries". Rose is more than an employee - given the years you've known her. And the mere fact that she cares for your children gives you a lot of vested interest in her emotional well-being and her relationship with you, even if you didn't care about her for her own sake. But I know you do. I think fostering a real friendship with a care-giver that is in essence a family member (at very least, a household member) is good for everyone in the long run. Plus- just because we don't have certain character qualities naturally (or love languages - but there is an element of character here) doesn't mean we shouldn't develop them. Rose will probably really be able to help you be able to spend quality alone time, too, so it is not just one-sided. One more thing - the kiddies will grow older. Much as you will grieve the loss of finding all of your joy in their company - they will not always be as mommy-centric. It is good to live life with that in mind just a little bit.

Even if it is her language of love, I'm also reminded of how (steryotypicaly speaking) isolated, lonely and invisible stay at home wives feel in relation to their husbands. The other things tath stands out is that she is disappointed in a lot of people, and you are the closest and most responsive, so perhaps you are getting the brunt of it? I wonder if there are any mental health clinics, or if she'd even go to to one. Having high standards is good, but I wonder if her rigidity is going to perpetuate this kind of reaction.

I know you say that you are Rose's employer, but of course, it's more than that - she has been there from the beginning w/the babes, she's really become family. And in almost every respect, that's great - you know that she loves those kids as much as she possibly could, and you are so much more comfortable knowing that they are in good hands. And you've been a tremendous friend to her as well. But your ability to give is also finite, and I'm sure that, in a rational moment, she would understand that as well. I know, good luck finding that rational moment!

She definitely needs some outside contact. Any chance she could go to the kids school as a volunteer or even for pay, but in a different class from your kids, so they'd have the benefit of having someone else teach them? Or, as someone said, maybe work w/Sister Mel? She obviously loves kids and is good w/babies, so she'd be a natural at either.

It's a hard situation for all of you, I know - hope someone more brilliant than me comes up w/a better solution.

This reminds me of my experience with an employer. I was working in a small law firm with the only employees being me and the attorney. My employer was a lot like Rose, had a love tank that needed to be filled. Not only did she need that quality time, but she needed constant words of affection/thanks/approval. I am an emotional needy person who can be intense myself... and I need love from my SO. I haven't read the book you are referencing, but I think that I need the Acts of Service, Physical Touch, Quality Time, Words of Affection, Receiving Gifts.

It was hard for me to relate to my boss with words of affection, and I almost never gave her encouragement. Besides, she was my boss and an attorney. What was I supposed to say? Great job working on that will? You know? She was a very needy person, and constantly tried to toe the professional line with me. I always tried to accomodate her, but the more I gave, the more she needed, the less I respected her.

It was a disasterous cycle, which ended up with me being verbally abused by my boss and a resignation.

I know that you and Rose are different - you are friends who do care for each other. I don't know what the book says about reconciling different love strategies, but I also wonder what it says about employer/employee type situations. Because, unfortunately even though you two care for each other as friends, you, Tertia, also have an upper hand as her employer. It kind of taints the relationship, at least in my perspective which comes from bad experiences.

I don't know what advice to offer. I am not as against your coffee date as much as the others, but I don't think it's healthy to feel like you are required to. And there is resentment here. I think it's best, if you want to keep an employer/employee relationship, to step back a bit. Maybe make it a twice/month coffee date. Help her find her own friends by dropping her off at a weekly group/meeting type thing. I hesitate to offer more, because for one, this whole situation reminds me of my previous work relationship and my first instinct to break off the relationship. But if you want to keep Rose, help her find her own feet, but do no more. You can only direct her to find new relationships, you can't forge the relationships for her.

i am another one who is in rose's situation

i am a sahmand also a child minder, i do drive and have a car, but im so loney and i really only have my husband, ive been let down by so many friends that i find it hard to have them.

no its not your job to look after rose, but its great that you do, and i hope you continue to do it, hopefully in time she will not rely on you as much, being stuck on your own with only under 5s for company can be so brain numbing, yes you look after kids you love them, but some days im just desperate for some adult interaction.

you have done so much for her, but you cant put a price on spending time with some one, you really cant

Sounds like actually you are more than her employer; you are also her dear friend. It's not your responsibility to help her be happy, but as a friend I think it's something you want to do. Even if it feels like an obligation for you due to your busy schedule. I think the coffee date is a great start. And how about arranging for her to have an afternoon off once in a while, and you can drive her to spend time with her family and other friends?

Could Rose serve as a volunteer at the school where your children go? It would give her an adult outlet, make her feel useful, give her projects, etc.

I think Rose owes you a lot. Not only do you pay her three times what others get for being a nanny, didn't you also fund her breast reduction surgery?

Many boundaries have been crossed, according to your post. But once those boundaries have been crossed, is there really any possibility of going back?

Teach her about the internet! She can go and "chat" online when she's bored.

I totally agree with Charles. And I think it's very difficult for non-South Africans to imagine themselves into our situation. South African domestic workers don't drive cars and don't meet friends in online chat-rooms. They also don't really do coffee dates with their employers. You do have a pretty unique relationship with Rose as far as
South-Africans go - but I can't help wondering WHY you do.

Over the years I've had two wonderful ladies working in my home and helping care for my children as they've been growing up in South Africa. I've had wonderful relationships with both of them and I appreciate them immensely - in soe ways more than anyone else in my life! But we've always kept a certain personal distance just because that works most effectively. While I find it amazingly personal to have some other person washing my underwear and cleaning my fridge or toilet ie. seeing the parts of my life that no-one else sees, I would still not see them as a personal friend. Not because I can't but because I don't need to. We could sit at my own table at home and have a coffee together while discussing things relevant to their job, but there is simply NO need to go out together. Why??? If we went out with the children because I needed help, sure. But not for "fun."

Helping in every possible practical way is totally fair and right, particularly in SA. Yet I would never dream of extending this beyond a certain limit of professionalism, even though the person is so intimately aquainted with much of my personal life and by nature of their work, I trust them more than anyone else in the world.

All thhis has been pointed out by others but I still wonder WHY you do it? It so totally out of the norm for South Africans that I have to presume it's something your mother may have modelled for you? You're a tremendously caring family but I get a little uncomfortable when you give us a window into your world of giving. I used to be similar up till a certain age and then something changed. Not sure if it was a good shift but I do recognise that it was necessary and I've since been down a road of redefining msyelf in ways that have nothing to do with what I do for others. Maybe chat to your therapist about this.

As for Rose, seems to me she has needs you can't meet and you need to help her find solutions but not make sacrifice yourself the being the solution. She's young and beautiful and strong because of what you've helped her with. Don't disempower her by doing more than you need to.

I considered going anon for this as I am also going to be a bitch but I decided to just go for it, please don't slate me. I am also in the minoriety that think you have to pull back from this. I am not in the same situation but can relate. I have had the same childminder who comes into my house for the past 11 years. She has literally helped me with my 2 youngest since the day I came home from hospital. She has been a god send and is definately more than a straight forward employee. I also like to think that she would not have stayed with me this long if she was not happy, it would be very easy for her to get another job. She does not live with us but was widowed young, has no children and lives alone, so we are like her family in some ways. I always include her in all family celebrations etc and would definately help her in a crisis BUT my first priority is my own family. As you say even Marko is not getting as much of your time as he would like as you are at such a busy stage. Absolutely encourage Rose to make new friends and be less isolated but at the end of the day she is an adult and resposible for her own happiness as you are responsible for yours and your family's. To be honest, on the point of being like family, I would not see myself as responsible for my sister's day to day happiness either.
Enough said, I swear I am not a cold hearted bitch!

I've got it! Marko and Rose can spend quality time together and leave you alone! Win Win!

You left out the part where you raised money for her boob reduction job. How many employers would do that? I think that you are being very nice to her. But perhaps while you think of her as an employee (or a little more than that), she sees you as an extension of her family? Maybe that's why her expectations are higher than most. But what do I know.

Of course Rose is lonely, whatever her love language is.

Being a SAHM, which is pretty much what she is, sucks, unless you've got a network of friends, other mothers, the Internet etc to give you meaningful adult human interaction during the day.

And you want her to be happy and fulfilled, because you want a happy and fulfilled person to be looking after your kids and living in your home.

But I don't think your coffee dates are 'healthy' in the long run because of the nature of your relationship, the fact you have no time and the fact that what she really needs is companionship during your working hours. They don't really solve the problem anyway. By all means have these dates in the short term, but make their goal 'creating a social life for Rose'.

Maybe instead organise the you take her once a week or so to some sort of social event - you will get a chance to have 'quality time' in the car - Rose will spread her wings a bit. Can you have a word with her pastor to straighten out what's going on with her church? Getting her involved with your sister's charity also sounds like a good idea, as does arranging a once a week play date with other kids in the neighbourhood who've also got nannies. There must be so many other nannies and other domestic staff in Rose's situation in the locality, how can tap into that network? Maybe you can faciliate a 'nannies get together' at your house once a month or something.

And it sounds to me that Rose needs someone filling her love tank (that made me laugh too) in the form of a nice young man. How do nice girls like Rose meet men in SA? Do ANYTHING you can to facilitate that.

Haven't read all the comments, so sorry if this is repeating others' thoughts ...

I agree that since Rose is a 'part of the family' and an important person in your life, that you can't wash your hands completely of her problems.

However, you are also NOT responsible for her happiness. This is something that each one of us needs to figure out for ourselves. We cannot expect others to be responsible for ensuring our happiness ...

As selfish as this may sound, YOU need to look out for your happiness and sanity first. You need to keep your priorities in check before you reach out to help others.

If you are putting Rose's needs above the needs of your husband, then I would say that is a bit of a problem. Likewise, with the needs of your children, and YOUR OWN needs (quiet time for yourself is very important).

If, however, after you've met the needs of your 'priorities', and you have more energy to give to Rose (who will also be on your priority list, but should be lower on the list than Marko, the kids, yourself, etc.) ... then it's appropriate to give your time / energy to Rose. You only have so much time and energy. Use it wisely.

The best thing you can do for Rose is to help her to choose her own happiness. This means that, while you do not hang her out to dry, you also make it very clear that you cannot be all things to her, and you cannot be the only source of happiness for her. This means supporting her in finding a 'community' of friends and a life outside of your house.

I don't believe it's your responsibility to research options for her, sign her up for things, etc. It needs to be self-directed from her, but you need to support her (with encouragement, dropping her off in the car, etc.) in doing whatever she chooses to do.

You can take a horse to water, but you can't make it drink. I have learnt this with my own family ... As much as you want to help people, they really need to get to the point where they want to help THEMSELVES. Otherwise it can be very self-defeating.

Sorry for the novel ...

This does sound like a tough situation. I do not know Rose, but I know that I am also a very intense and extremely sensitive person who also gets hurts at things much smaller than not feeling a bond with the people I live with.
Here's the thing(s)
---I must ask. Do you really pay THREE TIMES what others pay, or are you exaggerating just a tad? So, in the U.S. if a Nanny normally made $20,000, you would pay her $60,000? I am sorry but if you have the means to do that, you are quite fortunate. Few working people in the U.S. could afford to do that, no matter how generous they felt. Admittedly, I don't understand or know much about South African economics, so it is quite possible that you are starting off of a much lower base and it is easier to triple sallaries without breaking the bank.
--I guess my larger point is, as someone earlier noted, your comments to smack of resentment: ie, you are doing so much for her. I must say, no matter how much you are doing for her, she is doing more for you, she is caring for your kids, enabling you to have the life you have and pursue many other projects. Does this mean I don't think you are a wonderful employer? No. It sounds like you really are and you are really trying hard to do the right thing.
But Rose is more than an employee, as someone who cares for your kids, she is invalable. Does this mean that you have to agree to a weekly coffee date? No.
But it does mean that your relationship is, by definition, a tricky one.
Not sure what the answer is. To be honest this is why I dont think I would ever have live in help. I too need alone time and I think the boundary thing would just be too complicate.

Most things have been said here either for or against your current approach. I think the key here is that you are not happy with her asking for more from you. Period. Or you would not be writing about it. You are married to Marko, and he isn't getting his needs met all the time according to you - so your trying to meet Rose's needs is incredibly disrespectful to Marko, don't you think? The answer? Well that is a tricky one. She needs the tough love approach. The grown-up equivalent to Cry It Out in my opinion. If it were me, and I think that is what you want to hear from us -what we would do - I would encourage her to find a church or ladies group or something else to occupy her free time. She gets paid enough to go home to see her family on some weekends - she should be doing that. Or they could come see her.

It just isn't your problem to solve.

In this particular case, it's time for you to learn to say no to all the other things that keep you so busy. Your priority is yourself first. Then Marko and your children. I would go so far to say more Marko than your children even, because you know his love language is quality time. And you know how emeshed you are in your children's emotions, attributing emotions to them that they don't necessarily have. And third priority is Rose because she takes care of your children.

If you take care of yourself first, scheduling in your alone time in the same way you schedule work projects, then taking care of Marko and children and Rose comes easier.

Something has to give. Do you want it to be Marko leaving, (or having an angry spouse that stays for the children, which isn't good for them either) or Rose leaving, or your own sanity?

Screw making more money. The kids don't need all that stuff. I'd be curious to know that if Rose didn't have family members to support if she would chose to have less income in exchange for more time and if Marko would choose more time over that car?

Making more money is a vicious cycle. What is more important to you? What is best for the people you love? It isn't just a cliche, that one about what will you regret on your deathbed ...

just sayin'

K- Here's my short answer- Happiness comes from within. Maybe she should take some alone time and focus on why she has such high expectations for everyone in her life. And why she is looking for happiness from outside sources. It could be that she doesn't get much adult interactions being that she lives with busy adults and is surrounded by kids all the time. Maybe she can make friends around the neighborhood and take the kids on play dates where other adults are around to talk to. Other than that there isn't much you can do about her happiness. Because its gotta come from within her.

and for hells sake, don't feel like you have to respond to all the emails and comments either! As soon as I hit send, I was gripped with you feeling anxious because you couldn't respond to all of us, cause you used to!

I feel for Rose's situation. It is definitely a class-based situation; she's living with her employers in a neighbourhood that isn't full of her socioeconomic peers, esp. with recent changes. I couldn't begin to speculate on the possible solutions, because I am so unfamiliar with your culture.

But I do feel sure that they really CANNOT be YOUR, Tertia's solutions, because you are the inherent barrier in a sense - you are the gated community. That's where you live, and it's who you are. Rose has to find her own connections. Her needs aren't yours.

I think you need to stop the "love languages" discussion entirely.

I actually think it's a brilliant emblem of the problem. You taught Rose/shared with Rose this very particular concept of how relationships work - but you didn't note that the book is not "professional recogition languages" or "how to treat your staff languages" or "how to navigate the fraught relationship we have with the people that care for our children languages" or "what people who are dealing with amazing disparities in socioeconomic status need languages" but love languages.

So you kind of have set up a love relationship. Now she is expecting you to hold up your end of the love relationship. Is that appropriate? It doesn't seem right to me. The love languages strategy is mostly between equals, right? Does IBM have a responsibility to speak your love language? If your love language is hot sex does your employer have to do that? :)

Or do you have a responsibility to work out your love language stuff (see how crazy this gets; why are we talking about LOVE LANGUAGES when what we mean is "personal stuff") so that you meet your goals at IBM... see what I'm saying?

If you feel guilty, I would give her extra time off to go to her home and sort it out on long weekends. Or have her invite other nannies home or whatever. But I would try to get out of the idea that you are providing a total life for her.

I do not mean to be harsh to Rose. I just think the more enmeshed you are the worse it actually gets for her.

You know, I think you do have a dear, compassionate heart.

But there's no human alive today who can MAKE someone else feel happy and fulfilled. So I do think you are putting a lot more on yourself than you need to do.

What does Marko say?

And, I agree with another poster that time with Marko comes before time with Rose :-)

Oops, I forgot about Rose. You're not responsible for her EMOTIONAL well-being 100%, nor for Marko's or the kids. Rose needs to find something else also, she can't depend only on you, or else the resentment will continue. It's hard to put emotions on hold for a once a week coffee, she needs other outlets. What I'm saying above is by taking care of yourself, Marko, kids first, you'll feel more free to be there for Rose too. If she's a part of the family as you say she is then she deserves to be on the list of priorities just as much as Marko and the kids, if not more, on occassion! She takes care of the kids so you can make the money.

What does Marko say about all this?

Shandra wrote: "I feel for Rose's situation. It is definitely a class-based situation; she's living with her employers in a neighbourhood that isn't full of her socioeconomic peers, esp. with recent changes."

Too, for me it's hard not to think about the fact that Rose has a family of her own (children of her own, I presume) that she must live far away from in order to support her own family. This alone would break my heart, and no matter how well treated and taken care of she is at Tertia's home, I would guess that Tertia feels like she, as an employer, has a LOT to compensate for--not because Tertia should compensate, but because being the kind and loving kind of person that she is, must feel it instinctively.

Tertia, you treat Rose like a family member and as such, I agree that she does need to be on the list of priorities that you extend to family members. All relationships require some sacrifice of self, and until Rose is able to take off and go out and get on with her own life once you come in the door to take over the kids, she must depend on you for some social interaction. I say keep up the coffee date and know that it's short-term. Who knows? You might actually miss it once Rose ends up with her own social community!

I just think it's a mistake to try to compensate for a family, if you are an employer. A) I don't think it's possible to compensate and B) I think 8 or 9 times out of 10 you end up in these resentful relationships where someone finally cracks.

I have had a nanny who did not live in, and she was extremely professional. I am seeing what a gift that was.

Sometimes when someone is still dissatisfied with their life after tapping many available resources, it is time to stop and think, maybe the problem is one's self and not the resources.

If she has not attained any satisfaction drawing from the resources available so far, she will continue to take and take and take and NEVER be happy no matter how much you, personally, give.

I certainly agree with the others that you and Marko have entrusted her with a great deal, and only you and Marko can determine whether or not you believe you have returned that investment to her in tangible terms, how much is enough, and when it is appropriate to help out in a time of distress, with the resources you have available.

Good luck!

In this particular case, I think it's Rose's responsibility to look for other "sources of energy" outside her home. You are not her spouse. (Besides, even within a marriage it's more than unhealthy to depend on your partner alone.) Rose is entitled to respect and compassion from you, no doubt, but I don't think she is entitled to resources that should go to your family first. It seems to me that Rose needs to brush up her social skills in a way. To learn that when you depend on one other person alone, you will in the end be seen as a burden.

I find it very interesting that on the Five Love Languages website that the link "For the Workplace" leads not to a discussion of the Love Languages but for the Apology Languages. My two cents is that this relationship, for whatever reason, moved out of a working relationship and into a friendship, so while the points made above about respecting boundaries are COMPLETELY valid and should be noted, it's also too late to do anything about it. You can't hit reset without changing the nature of the relationship for the worse. But the people in your life to whom you owe priority are Marko, Adam, and Kate. You said you were both "project people" before; I would caution that another person's happiness is not a project for you to work on. It's her problem to solve--help give her the tools to solve them herself, don't do it for her.

Just out of curiosity, how long do you forsee needing live-in help? The more she relies on you for her happiness, the harder it will be to get her out of the house when the time for her professional services comes to an end.

Could it be ... perhaps ... that this relationship has run its course? I have seen it many time: a young mother gives birth and hires a nanny she just adores. Time passes and she starts to feel llke this woman, however wonderful, is never going to be part of the family, and they look for a different child care situation that gives them more family space.
Here's what I think: If Rose is living in your house you must -- to some degree at least -- treat here like a part of the family ad appreciate tha she has quirks and unusual needs just like the rest of us. I presume that by living with you guys, Rose more than earns her pay, working odd hours etc. \
And, if you feel you can't give hr what she needs, if it feels like a burden to have to try, then perhaps it is time to let go of the full time nanny, and also let go of one or ten of yoir extracurricular projects, so that you dont need the full time help.
By the way, I think kids starting school can be an excellent time to make this transition.
By the way, I hate te idea of a weekly coffee date. Sounds to me even more of a work relationship and less of a true relationship, if you must schedule it in.

I have to raise my eyebrow at the whole "love languages" concept altogether. I can't imagine looking at a significant other and saying, "I adore the time we spend together snuggling on the sofa, but my love language is 'gifts' so that's the best way for you to show me you love me."

Anyhoo, allow me to hop on the bitchy train with the others. You've provided Rose with three times the salary she'd normally make, you raised money for a breast reduction for her, you've tried to straighten out her money matters, you've taken it upon yourself to help her get a license, and you've even promised her a car! That's only what you've blogged...

With all you do, I don't think you should be adding "Nanny's social coordinator" to the list. Sometimes the more you give somebody, the more they demand and expect from you. I'd hate for the relationship you share with Rose to get to that breaking point. You've given her tools to be happy and healthy. She has to figure the rest out for herself. You'll never be able to make all of her problems go away.

Besides, Marko should take priority over Rose when you're doling out what little quality time you have to spend. If I were him, and craving time with you like you say he does, I'd be a bit hurt to know you were going out with Rose instead.

Stay strong, gorgeous, and divine!

I think you both have points. I agree with many of the comments above. Maybe on your first coffee thing both of you could look on the net or the paper to see if there is anytihg that she can do while the kids go to "school". This would giver her a much needed outlet and help fill her tank. If she doesn't like the activity that is chosen then she can always change. It would be best for all involved if her activity was close to the childens school. So as to not cause additional stress to you and your work schedual.

I hope this is respolved quickly. I know you love Rose dearly and so do the kids. It would be awful if she no longer worked for you and your family. If this is not resolved it just might come to that.

Best of luck to all of you!

I would say that, in good faith, you should make an effort to help her, even if it's for no other reason than because she cares for your kids. A happy nanny means happy kids; a miserable nanny might not mean miserable kids, but it might mean somewhat reduced quality in the care, even if Rose doesn't conciously do it. When I'm less happy, I'm a crappier mother, even though they are my own kids and I love them more than anything.

That said, I think the help shouldn't always be your own quality time. I think the idea of dropping her off someplace where she can connect is good. Or, how about picking up someone else she can connect with at your house? Another nanny/kid set maybe that you know? She's at home all day with the kids when they aren't in school. Trust me, as a SAHM, this is really hard. I get out all the time with my kids, and still sometimes the walls seem to close in on me.

Get her to a group, or bring someone to her at least once per week, and she'll be happier.

I will say this - and say it realizing that I'm probably perpetuating the thing that's been pointed out - that it's hard for someone outside of SA to understand what it's like.

I get that.

But I do wonder how much of that is rationalization. Sure, T, it may be odd that you actually care a great deal about Rose's well-being, since she's a domestic. But I don't think that's freakish abnormal, or really, something you should stop doing. And if that's because I'm not South African and don't understand the system, well - I'm pretty at peace with that. I think it's important that you value the well-being of the people who care for your children and live in your home, regardless of where that home is or who those caregivers are.

I don't want to start a culture or race debate, but there's more than one of these comments and they're really troubling me.

Paige, you said it much better than I did. The nanny-parent relationship, as it relates to employee-employer, is typically one with a built-in expiration date. If her personal life was not an issue, would you have kept her in your life forever as an employee? No. A friend, certainly, but you won't need a nanny forever. I am NOT saying you should fire her, oh good heavens would I get run out of here on a rail, but consider the evolving nature of the relationship and the possibility that she needs you more than you need a nanny.

Lots of good comments, Tertia probably won't even get to this one! but I also see the disparity of class as a huge issue that has been able to remain OK in the relationship as long as Rose did have some sources of support in family and church. I think boundaries have been very blurred in ways that make it difficult for both Tertia and Rose to know who exactly they are to each other at a given time, and I also think, from what Tertia writes, that Rose is in a personal crisis of some sort what with family conflict and even church conflict. The other thing that is changing is that the children's needs are changing--they are now going to school 3 mornings a week, they still require intense care but can do more for themselves, and that means that Rose's work is changing and the ways she and Tertia connect around the children is changing. I agree that "love languages" is an inappropriate metaphor if the relationship IS professional; however, I think from Tertia's own posts about Rose over the years, it has not always been clear where the professional boundary is drawn. I can really see both sides; I think though that if Tertia tries "pulling back" it will be quite awkward. I, too, wonder if the relationship has run its course, if perhaps Rose would be happier in another situation, money be damned, where she might have more connections for her own interests and life and not be so isolated. Somehow I can imagine her as a huge asset to Bosom Buddies, teaching the moms how to care for their babies, and being a mentor/big sister to those who need it. Anyhow, the last thing I'll add is race--it is so tricky here in the states and I imagine it is tricky in totally different ways in SA.

I am really uncomfortable with a lot of this discussion. Can't quite put my finger on "why"... I suppose perhaps because the power balance is so off in this situation. Employer/employee--- a woman who is part of the family... yet not really....racial/socio-economic imbalance...and I guess because people are like, "You're so great to her!" Yes, people, she is--- but Rose is so great to T, too-- in ways that can't be measured in money and gifts. She's raising T's kids during the day! And loving those kids-- hard(Which I know you know, Tertia, I was just feeling a little weird about the "isn't she so lucky" bit-- reminds me of when people say that about children who were adopted-- smacks of condescension).

I did not realize that Rose lives with you. That does change things. And as a SAHM I recognize that she's alone with kids all day--- 2 very active, strong personalities, so I understand why she needs to talk to adults... and in a way, with the nanny dynamic, she's co-raising your kids so as one of their "people" might need to talk to you about them...?

Yet, I get where you're coming from, too. Feeling stressed, torn, feeling the need to mother, and have that time with kids and husband. Feeling incapable of having enough to give to anyone, and naturally resenting being asked to carry that burden.

Still... it really feels like the balance is so off, and complicated, I'm not sure if there really is a good answer here.

Just the fact that you don't have the time and energy for the "coffee dates" says it all. Especially if you don't even get enough time with Marko. I do understand the special connection, but ya can't do it all, girl! Making yourself do something out of a sense of duty gets old (and resentment-filled) fast.

Isn't there something she could go to once or twice a week that someone (not you) could driver her to? Or, if she is truly unhappy, is it time for her to move on to a family situation where she won't be so isolated, and will have more day-to-day connection with kids and other adults? Or is that too shocking a change? I know how much you care for her and how much you have done for her also.

I know it's totally different in many ways, but I had a situation where a close friend at work in a toxic workplace was really sucking the life out of me. I had a full time job in a not-so-great environment, my kids needed and wanted more of me, my husband wanted more of me, and this friend (a single mom with no sister/boyfriend/etc. to be there for her) really needed me to as a sounding board to talk about bad stuff at work and also to help out with her child, etc. It was EXHAUSTING and I couldn't do it all. In the end, I left the job to work part time in a different (healthier) place, and the friend (a great person, but needy) is still a friend but not in the same way. I was just so torn, and it felt so much better when I had some distance and didn't have to take care of her in the same way. Also, it was not good for her to be so dependent on me. I will stop now. Your post just sounded a bit like my friend. Best of luck in whatever you decide to do.

It would seem that quality time with the caregiver of your children, who is responsible (partly) for filling up their love tanks, is important, but more important than what? Blogging? Could you blog less and hang out with Rose more? Say, limit yourself to one blog entry a week?

Could you have a slightly messier house?

There's gotta be something.......

I don't think we are responsible for others emotions, we cannot do it. As you have pointed out, she is constantly being disappointed because they don't live up to her standards. Well, she shouldn't expect them to.

If she can fill her own love tank, then she won't need anyone else to do it and she'll be happy. She'll probably be able to have more friendships because I think whether intentional or not, others pick up on that and shy away.

You have to be your own emotional support, the support of other people will NEVER be enough.

You feel that if you don't give Rose what she's asking, it's a sign you don't care. But by giving her more than you can afford to give her, more than you're giving Marko, it's doomed to end in more resentment. The weekly coffee date already is not working, you're already resenting it. You agreed to it out of guilt.

On the other hand, even though Rose needs quality time with you in general, her needs are unusual at the moment. We don't usually make meals for our friends during the week, phone them every second day, or offer to watch their children on the weekend - but we do if one of their family members has just died (even if it is difficult and inconvenient for us). Rose is bereaved in many ways right now and needs unusual attention - and she is the one person in the world who you trust to take care of your children physically and emotionally when you are not there. But it's not possible to sustain that unusual attention long term

You need a short term and a long term solution.

Short term you need to deal with Rose's current crisis which needs extra care. Perhaps you can manage with weekly coffee without resentment if it is for a fixed time, say the next 6 weeks? After that you push it out to every second week and then keep it monthly. Perhaps you can also include her in your morning walks once a week?

Long term. Rose needs to find her own solutions. Right now you are her solution. That's not going to work. Other posters suggested weekly bible meetings so she can socialise, or volunteering at the children's school, or getting involved in you sister's charity, or extra time off to visit family far away. Good ideas or not, she does need to do something. Your weekly coffee meetings should specifically be for extra support while she works on it.

Take quiet moment and think if there were no guilt involved and Rose's feelings would be intact whatever you did - how much of your time would you be comfortable giving her? Even if it isn't much, it's more likely you'll be able to sustain it long term without resentment.

Well Wyliekat, I did bring up class because for me it's one of the elephants in the room (perhaps along with age). It is one thing to be two women that make close to the same amount of money, or who each maintain households separately. I get that and I've been a nanny myself under those circumstances.

It's quite something else to be the person who lives in a house with a beautiful kitchen and a car etc., and employ someone whose economic prospects - even with the 3x pay - are completely and utterly different.

It's an entirely different power differential.

And by defining their relationship as "friends/family" when there is that level of disparity is, I think, a little blind. Especially when you take into consideration that Rose can't, probably, hang out with the other mothers in the neighbourhood or chat up the fathers because of those socioeconomic mores.

You may have to live in a country with that kind of gap to get it, I don't know. I'm not sure I get it but I know from my experience that ignoring it is not the easiest road.

Why is it Tertia's responsibility to take care of yet another person in her life? Especially a capable adult who knows how to take care of herself. Rose is an employee and is no more a part of Tertia's family than a daycare provider or nanny. Of course if your daycare provider or nanny is going through a hard time, you would help out in a professional manner, but I wouldn't disrupt my own life and give away my precious time to solve someone elses problems. The longer Tertia drives Rose around and becomes her sounding board, the more dependant Rose will become of Tertia to fulfill her needs. I would completely 100% resent someone like Rose in my life. Tertia has her own responsibilities (husband, two children, a job, herself, extended family)...Rose is NOT family, she is an employee who of course Tertia loves, but Rose needs to grow up and solve her own problems.

"But I do wonder how much of that is rationalization. Sure, T, it may be odd that you actually care a great deal about Rose's well-being, since she's a domestic. But I don't think that's freakish abnormal, or really, something you should stop doing. And if that's because I'm not South African and don't understand the system, well - I'm pretty at peace with that. I think it's important that you value the well-being of the people who care for your children and live in your home, regardless of where that home is or who those caregivers are.

I don't want to start a culture or race debate, but there's more than one of these comments and they're really troubling me. "
On South African and their closeness to their domestics-- my grandmother was another South African woman who formed a close bond with her domestic (who was not live-in, she came twice a week). M worked for our family from 1961 up until 2005 when my grandfather entered a frail care facility. M had a very tough life-- her mother was alcoholic and she was raised by an aunt who wasn't very affectionate to her. She married a man who was a bit of a chavinist and insisted on having a large family even though she wanted to stop at 3 children. Eventually, he went on strike from the auto plant where he worked (to protest Apartheid) and got arrested and spent several years in jail. Meanwhile, M was left to raise 8 children on her own without his income. Her son was viciously attacked by some township thugs and had a difficult recovery.

She had lots of problems and my grandmother couldn't do much to help (beyond increasing wage and emotional support) given the politics of that time. I remember a lot of the neighbors criticizing my grandmother for interacting with M so much since they thought M would take advantage of her. However, M never took advantage of the family and in fact she looked after my grandfather when he was living at home unable to get around much but before he entered the frail care home. She gave him very excellent care in a way that a person off the street couldn't. However, what kept the friendship between our families going all these years, I think, was my grandmother recognizing what she could and couldn't do for M. She could lend a listening ear and emotional support but she couldn't remove the harsh realities of M's life.

OK, I'm going to go out on a limb here, and I haven't read the book, so please be gentle! Tertia: I don't think you view Rose so much as just an employee as you do a relative that you have to pay to help you out. I think calling yourself an employer in this case is you setting a blockade up so that you don't have to give her OR ANYONE ELSE any more of your time, because you're exhausted. You're making a wonderful sacrifice of your time because you love Rose, but one coffee date a week is not going to fill up an empty tank and it might just put you on "E", too. Why don't you compromise, and make that one day a week a time that you both set aside to try and find something else to make her more fulfilled?

Bravo to you for putting it out in the open and talking it over with her. If you were my busy, overloaded employer and you took the time out of your day to make sure I was ok? I'd never forget it. And neither will Rose.

Hey, I love pen pals, so if Rose ever wants to write to me, give her my email! (It's on Facebook I think)

I have no advice, and to be honest I am worried that this will become me at some point. We're considering hiring a nanny and I simply don't know how it will work and how self-conscious I'll be about it.

No one would wonder how it would work many years ago would they? If you had the money to hire people, then you would know how to deal with this. And if we didn't have the money, then we didn't need to know it at all.

I'll be reading to see how you handle it, although the idea of driving her to an activity during the week or on the weekend sounds good? I just don't know if there are any activities like that where you are? And of course you once mentioned that in SA you don't go out after dark either?

Sigh, I hope you work this one out sweetie.

Please please please read Boundaries, or some other equivalent book on healthy boundaries in relationships. I think it is neat that you got so much out of 5 love languages, but I'm pretty sure that is not the right book for this situation. And I think that both you and Rose would benefit from learning more about this topic, as it wouldn't surprise me if these boundary issues aren't spilling over into other areas of your lives.

Is she helping to care for your kids even when you and/or Marko are available and responsible for it? Not that you expect that from her, but if she has nothing better to do, than she probably figures that she might as well help out. No big deal, right. Except now the boundaries in your relationship aren't clear anymore. Where does her job end and your friendship begin? This is a very sensitive situation which I'm sure is complicated by the fact that you live together. But I don't think that the coffee date idea is the right solution. You need to encourage her to become independent, which means that she shouldn't depend on you for her social/emotional fulfillment.

Something you can do is make sure that she isn't using her personal time nurturing your family when she should be looking after herself. It is not your responsibility to arrange socialization for her, but you need to make sure you aren't encroaching on the time she needs to do it herself. And that your offer of housing (as kind as it is) isn't limiting her personal growth. I realize there are many many things to take into consideration here, so there aren't any simple answers.

As a friend and an employer it is reasonable for you to want Rose to be happy and content. But those are things she must learn on her own. The best thing you can do for her right now is to maintain and model healthy personal and emotional boundaries.

Best of luck to you!

hello T,
as a US nanny, I think boundaries are being crossed! I am going through some similar things as Rose (my extroverted self is getting depressed from being in the house too much with too many kids) and my boss is the last person I want to fill my tank. But we don't have the relationship you two have. I have a very full life outside of work - and am a live out.
I loved happygrls comment. Thanks for asking us, please don't feel obligated to even read all of these if you don't want to:), and keep us informed.

I read this blog occasionally as I have 3 month old twins, so I read to hope that it will get better for me! Today this post touched me. I've been having cabin fever big time since the birth of my babies - so I can relate to Rose. The only person I see for days on end is my husband. That puts him under enormous pressure to 'fill my love tank'. Is there some way Rose can connect back with her community if she is from Cape Town? Is there something she can do locally to help less fortunate people? She needs to get out of the house. I totally understand that time is limited for you but she is probably feeling a bit time rich and love poor at the moment. Can you give her a small stipend to catch a taxi once a week to an appropriate charity that she could engage in?

I normally love reading the comments on Tertia's blog, but after reading all the comments here, I actually find myself getting angry. What I'm reading sounds like a whole heap of judgements and guilt trips. Not trying to criticise, but trying to put into words why I feel so uncomfortable. Obviously not doing too well.

Tertia, this woman looks after the children belonging to you and your husband. What does Marko say? What do YOU think is the right boundaries for your relationship? What do YOU want achieve for the ongoing relationship? What is best for YOUR family?

In MY experience (and this is just me telling a story about what worked for me), I have found that I can tell the difference between a needy person versus a needy stage by going full-on on the attention for a week or two. If the person starts to back off toward the end, as if I've "filled their tank", then it was just a stage, and I helped them through it and then it was done. If the need gets more intense, then other strategies start to come into play. And yes, this has worked in a professional setting.

Other thing to say, is that issues of proper work relationships ARE cultural. Having lived and worked in a couple of countries (all English speaking), I can say that what are "proper boundaries" vary considerably. In the end, it doesn't matter what the proper boundaries are, it only matters what boundaries Tertia and Marko and Rose choose to set in their relationship.

Now, I'm off to have a think about why the comments are upsetting me so much.

Haven't read all the others posts so this may be a repeat but what about getting her a computer - then she'd have way to contact people and make new friends on line?
If you have WIFI then the computer can work anywhere in the house - you probably have that (do you?) Anyway, I know it's not "in person" time but I still think she could find some of the social connection she craves via the computer.
Anyway, just and idea...

I'm a reader and not a commenter but, felt I needed to say something here though I am not sure what.

I am a nanny in the US. I have been for a long time. I love my job and what I do, there is no question. My happiness comes from outside of my job and I know that is what it needs to be for me. But, I am fully aware that being a nanny in SA is nothing like it is here.

You've been more than an employer to Rose, you've been family and a friend. And I can see how the employer/employee line has been blurred with Rose, because you care so deeply for her. You've given her so much of yourself to her throughout the past three years, and it is hard to shut that off, especially in times of crisis (both for her and for you). I feel that because of the relationship that you've established with her that you should be there for her. You are not responsible for her happiness or filling her tank, but you are part of Rose's support system and you shouldn't leave her out to dry when she actually needs you the most.

Though that being said, if you can't or don't want to, it is time to move on. I know that may seem unimaginable and heart-breaking, but it probably is the best thing. If you do not have what it takes to give one hour a week to your nanny, a member of your family, than you need to a establish more of an employee/employer relationship with your nanny. At this point, its not possible to recreate that this Rose. Trust me when I say it isn't, I've been there and done that.

It isn't always easy to be the person someone else needs us to be. But it is always a choice. We are the ones who create our own situations. Every action, every triumph, every shortfall, is the result of a choice we make. Everyone has different priorities.

Good luck.

Tertia, I think you are lovely, G and D. Ok, now I'm going to give you some tough love. :)

First, I think you need to stop talking "love languages" with Rose. She is not your spouse, you do not have a romantic relationship with her. You are her boss first, friend second.

Second, when you were listing all the things you do for her, I thought, "Hmm, she sounds like she's playing martyr or something." (Kind of like, "See, I do SO much for her! Do I really have to give her my TIME?) Maybe I'm wrong...but that's how it came across. And you know what? It's very nice and generous that you do those things for her, but if it's not what she needs, why are you doing all those things? Is it out of guilt?

Third, I grew up as a Jehovah's Witness (although I no longer am). Is it possible for you to elaborate on what her issues are with the people at her Kingdom Hall? Is it the people, or the religion itself? Frankly, I'm surprised that she has developed such a personal relationship with you. JW's frown upon relationships with people not involved in the religion. Does she make it to meetings every week? When she goes, how does she get there? I'm surprised she has no one from the kingdom hall to spend time with.

Fourth, I do not believe it is your "responsibility" to fulfill her happiness...but look at how much happiness she brings your children. She is playing a priceless role in their lives. It is because of her that you are able to work outside the home. It is because of her that you have whatever free time you do have. Is it really so much for her to ask a little bit of you, with all she gives to you and your family?

Lastly, have you thought about what role Rose will continue to play in your life as Kate and Adam grow? Will you keep her on as a housekeeper? What will happen? Will you eventually just need to let her go?

Rose needs fellowship, she needs to join a bible study group or a cell group. She needs to spend time with God because it doesn't matter how much time you give her, it will not be enough.
I think you are amazing with her, I also think you need to read 'boundaries' though.
I do think you are responsible for her in terms of practical help like policies, boobs, getting her grant, helping with money management. But not her emotional needs, her love tank needs to be filled by her Jehovah.

I was very curious about this question, so I read all the comments responding. Wow. I have to say that if I were you, I would be very confused. People seem to argue so convincingly every which way. I am not sure that I have much to add other than, as we say in the southern United States, you cannot get blood out of a turnip. I cannot imagine you have the time to have the weekly coffee date without giving something else up, and I don't know what that would be. Yes, Rose enables you to have the little free time you have by taking care of (most of) your housekeeping duties. But there are many more housekeeping duties that a nanny simply can't take care of for you. I think the time when women have small children is the most exhausting and difficult (although the most wonderful, at the same time - I, too, went through a lot to have mine) time of our lives. I know my husband is getting the short shrift right now, and I only work parttime. So, if being there for her requires special social time on a weekly basis (which I understand you to say that you do not even give your husband or your non-employee friends), then I think it comes down to less about whether you should than whether you can. If I were you, with your job and two small children, I would not be able to. Period. I might be able to spend social time with her outside the home on occasions, but not regularly.

And while I think this is complicated to be sure - she is not true family or employee by this point - I do not think you are that unique. I know you have been very, very generous, but I think that many, many caring women with long-term live-in nannies find themselves in this very same conundrum - perhaps on different issues, but with the very same roots to the problem.

Read the input - you have gotten many more responses on this than I would have expected, decide what you can and are willing to do and then do it. Without guilt.


Honestly, if I was Marco, I would already have one foot out of the door. Everyone comes before him. That is not fair. Just remember, your kids leave the house one day, so will Rose. Hopefully your spouse will be with you forever. However, if you do not give him the input and time that he needs now, you might find yourself alone after everyone else has gone.

This may sound harsh, but I would not stand being put on the back burner all the time. I really think you need to re-arrange your priorities, and maybe put him first, but also, you need to consider your own needs as well. Because, if you are not happy, you are not in a possition to make anyone else happy.

I would say: you are so NOT responsible for Rose's happiness!!
Turn it around: I would NEVER expect my employer to make me happy, never mind me telling him/her about my problems!!
As long as I'm paid a good salary (which you are doing with Rose) and my work conditions are satisfactory (which in Rose's case, it obviously is) then I'm happy.
Why does it sound as if she expects you to care about her happiness?
Honestly, I don't really understand.

Have some grace, Tertia.

Tertia, I feel for you. I really do. We had a maid (who was later a part-time child minder) in S. Africa and I have a nanny in my new location. The line between friend and employer is really hard, but I think you are crossing it, and have been for quite some time.

I know you live in an estate (gated community to the Americans). In our estate the nannies and maids were acquainted with each other, might have tea together, take the children on walks together. Isn't there anyone like that in your estate that could socialize with Rose?

I think you've set yourself up for a lot of expectations from her and it could lead to some real issues down the line. Our gardener was a nice, nice guy, had worked for my neighbor for 20 years, but he knew right off we were a soft touch and there were many requests for financial help -- usually just advances on his salary, but at times we were asked for loans. I felt for the guy enormously, but we made the decision to say no to the loans. We were not at all comfortable with it.

At the end of the day, Rose is an employee. She is much more on many levels, but I think you need to draw the line somewhere. I know a lot of what you say about Marko is tongue in cheek, but he doesn't sound like the type that will tell you straight out if he's feeling neglected. You need to keep your marriage strong or you might find yourself looking at a stranger when the kiddos head to full-time school.

Good luck!

Wow! This is a tough one - I feel for you on so many levels! I am most like YOU - my time is best spent with my kids and/or alone - but my husband's time is best spent with me AND the kids. We do not have a nanny - but I was one once...and it's a very difficult situation to be in. You become a part of the family - but it's more like a...hmmmm....step child? I don't know if that's the right word - maybe a friend...I don't know - but once you take on a nanny, I believe you ARE more than just an employer. I do agree that Marko should come ahead of Rose - but you also know that he is likely ok with the fact that you are (now) taking Rose out. Shew...I know this post is of no assistance to your decision making...but I can say, I completely understand why this is so difficult for you.

This worries me:
"I have agreed to the once a week coffee date, even though I am so, so SO busy. And even though I can’t even manage a once a week date with my husband!!! (Something that I am going to do something about, promise)."

Marko first, Rose second.

Rose is your employee. It's fabulous that you feel like she is part of your family and that you genuinely care about her but it doesn't change the fact that she works for you. It sounds like Rose is completely dependent on you and that is not a good thing. Of course you want her to be happy, she's helping raise your kids and your like her a lot, but her happiness shouldn't come at your expense. I seriously doubt a once a week coffee is going to make a positive change, especially since you are feeling resentful already. I think you need to be firm with Rose and tell her that your husband, your children and your job are your primary responsibilities. Tell her that you value her and the role she plays in your family life but that you feel like she is dependent on your for her happiness and that isn't fair to you or her. If she doesn't get it, I'd probably let her go. Being a full time working mother of twins is stressful enough, having a needy nanny is over the top.

I agree with Jeanne and Nadia.

I was in a similar situation with my domestic.I don't have kids yet, she worked in the house for 4 days a week.She was becoming more and more demanding. We also saw her as part of the family and people said we were crazy for all the things we did for her.Too much to mention here.So I also became resentful that she was never satisfied.And I got irritated with her sulking if she felt I did not chat enough with her in a day, even after I explained to her that I WORK from home, I can't kuier the whole time.
She went as far as one day saying that "you are my madam, you MUST look after me, you must see when I am not happy".
I couldn't believe how "bad" things got after 7 years with us.She was off sick for a while and when she came back she hardly did anything.So instead of addressing the issue I got a "marvelous maid" to come help her do her job.She did not like it and resigned there and then and said some very hurtful things.
I spoke to the people at "marvelous maids" about it.They said it was my fault as I did not have boundaries.I treated her like family instead of an employee.My domestic saw me as her child, and in the Zulu culture her happiness is my responsibility.Apparently it is the no1 reason for relationships not working with domestics.We don't set boundaries and then WE complain if they are demanding.

So, good luck.But if you want to save this relationship you must change things drastically.Yes, she looks after your home and kids.But it IS her job.If sociallising is a problem you can give her taxi fare per week.As you know there are taxis EVERYWHERE. It might sound harsh, but you employed her to make your life better / easier, not worse. And putting her needs above Marko's is very, very wrong.

OK, I feel like I should comment. I don't think we can ever "make" someone else happy. If she's going through a bad time, you can do many things for her, but you can't make it better. You can't make the people in her family or her life be who she wants them to be. You can empathize that it sucks, but ultimately, it is what it is, and she has to deal on her own.
I agree with all the people who say the boundaries are getting crossed. It doesn't sound like the job is working for either of you at ther moment- she feels solated and alone, and you feel that she needs more than you can give. I know you love Rose, and she loves you...but maybe it is time for her to move on, to find a new situation. Someplace where there is a social network for her to belong to- I believe you mentioned that a lot of the nannies in your area have left. And maybe you'd be happier with a less needy nanny- someone who made your life easier, not more difficult.
Best of luck. I hope you guys can find a resolution that works for you.

First, the "since you asked" warning. Then, I'm sorry but since the first time I read this the only one I can think of is Marko. You say he's strong and knows how you are and all that. And what you present here is not your whole life but since always I've sensed Marko is way behind in your list. And it's not the "different love languages" thing, which I think you are now using more as an excuse than as useful info like you did when you discovered the terms.
Aboout Roe, you need to decide what is your relationship with her: is it your employee? then it's not your place to solve her life, and if her work as an employee is suffering fro her being in a funk, make it clear or let her go. Is it more your friend? then either you end the frienship cause you are resenting her and that's not healthy for neither one of you or you chose to be a friend and stay at her side until this passes.

hmmm, well, I don't really see that as your role. I mean, if you were a SAHM then maybe but with working full time I would much rather hear about a wed coffee date with marko. Maybe what you need to do is drive her someplace - a church social (I think I recall her being very connected with her church) so she can start connecting with other people -- and maybe for a while help find other "social" outlets for her. I had a nanny, not a live in, who worked about 12 hours a week for me and she too wanted me to be there for her. It made me crazy as I too wanted to use nap time for my alone time. She stayed with us for a while, and I did my best to not be home -- she wanted us to be friends and that just did not make sense to me. But Rose lives with you...I don't know. Its really a tough one but for me, I think you need a date with Marko, not with Rose.

Oh I hear you. A good friend of ours (yours and mine) asked me to spend quality time with a friend of theirs who i have never met or known but is clearly in a very lonely place. I couldn't bring myself to say no (and i didn't really say yes) but i have not done it. I also can't bear to. Like you i find quality time quite draining (except to my partner and kids). Not good with it...... not a currency that i work it, i find myself feeling totally claustrophobic if someone "needs me" time wise. We are fine with practical things, a good old to do list - i think quality time will drain you and make you resentful. Be confident in your own parameters of what you chose to give.

1 - Rose is not your family. She is a trusted and loved employee.
2 - While you certainly should ensure her comfort while in your home, you are under no obligation to solve her problems for her.
3 - State very clearly what you can and can't give her. "I can help you organize your finances. I can't be your best friend because it does not serve the interest of the babies." "I will be a shoulder for you. I will not be able to make your pain go away." "I understand that this is a difficult time for you. I have to ensure that my children are in the best care possible."

I don't think that your relationship/use for Rose has runs its course. I think it is evolving. Kate and Adam's needs are changing. Your needs are changing and so are Rose's. Sit with her and discuss what her long term plans are. Does she want to nanny forever, or does she have other goals? If she has other goals now is the time to begin to explore how to reach them. The kids will be in school full time in 2 to 3 years - what then? If you want to keep her then perhaps look for another family to start nanny-sharing with - whatever. The point is, it sounds like Rose needs something to work toward. Something else - something tangible to put her passion for life toward.

Good luck. This is not an easy spot to be in.

Long time lurker but had to post for this one. Wow, I really feel for you, if I was in this same situation I would feel so burdened by it all. I don't understand how Rose could even expect you to spend 'social' time with her, she is an employee for goodness sake, even if she lives with you. She is an adult and needs to find a solution to her own problems.

You already say that you do a lot for her that is unusual for most nannies, ie higher pay, lifts, gifts etc. Maybe because you have been so good to her she has started to see you as a friend or family member as opposed to an employer. Maybe it is time to look for another nanny (part time/ live out, now the kids are at preschool?) and start from the beginning by keeping it a relationship that is more employee/employer.

I hope you I haven’t offended you by this post as you obviously do care for Rose but I really feel for you and your whole family, especially your husband who deserves to have all the quality time that you are able to generate(as you say you find this challenge in itself) for himself.

I've only read half the comments, but, could you drive her somewhere once a week that she could socialize with her peers? It seems to me that you are trying to find a humane and workable solution to a difficult problem. Is there really no one locally that she might visit with?

You may be interested in an American book called Killers of the Dream by Lillian Smith. Let me know and I will mail my copy to you.

Long time lurker but had to post for this one. Wow, I really feel for you, if I was in this same situation I would feel so burdened by it all. I don't understand how Rose could even expect you to spend 'social' time with her, she is an employee for goodness sake, even if she lives with you. She is an adult and needs to find a solution to her own problems.

You already say that you do a lot for her that is unusual for most nannies, ie higher pay, lifts, gifts etc. Maybe because you have been so good to her she has started to see you as a friend or family member as opposed to an employer. Maybe it is time to look for another nanny (part time/ live out, now the kids are at preschool?) and start from the beginning by keeping it a relationship that is more employee/employer.

I hope you I haven’t offended you by this post as you obviously do care for Rose but I really feel for you and your whole family, especially your husband who deserves to have all the quality time that you are able to generate(as you say you find this challenge in itself) for himself.

I've reconsidered my recommendation. I think Killers of the Dream is a fascinating book, but I certainly didn't mean it as an indictment of your choices or situation. I'm just anticipating that it could be interpreted that way.

The other commenters have given many excellent suggestions.

I was a nanny last year, and while the big difference is that I worked in my hometown and was only a part-time live in nanny, I can definitely relate. On both sides.

I think that it is hard when a nanny is in a situation where they become "part of the family" for the nanny to then separate herself from the family in other aspects of her life. However, even though a nanny is part of the family, the nanny still needs to have her own life - and the employer is not responsible for that!

Perhaps the solution would be for Rose to be in a situation where she can make new friends, or reconnect with old ones. I know that she's intense and that she has high expectations for others - and I can definitely relate to that! - but the fact is, we who expect much of others must realize that others might not have that to give. And that we have to love them in spite of their flaws.

This probably doesn't help much, but I guess what I am trying to say is just that you aren't responsible for meeting ALL of Rose's needs - no one person can do that for another person. You and Marko don't even do that for each other, so how are you supposed to do it for anyone else? You aren't. Perhaps gently pointing Rose toward activities that would be fulfilling for her outside of caring for Adam and Kate is the wisest thing to do.

Oh, to add to that - I struggled with, after my position ended, being sort of discarded...I've had NO contact with the kids I cared for and very little with their mom. I have come to realize that even though I cared for her kids as if they were my own, their mom saw me, and rightly so, as their nanny. I was an employee. And while it's different when it's such a personal role, it's still a job. And so again, another life outside of work has to be on Rose's agenda.

Im a long time lurker , but thought I'd also put a comment in . I think it will be hard to commit to a once a week meeting with Rose , and I don't it is your responsibility to full that void for her . Have you considered enrolling her in domestic worker cooking classes or sewing classes in your area , it might help her get out of the house a bit , do something meaningful and she could also meet new people . Just a thought .

I don't think that it is your job to fill her love tank but as a friend who is a bit lost it is a nice thing to do until she finds her way again. Problem is you don't want her to become too dependent upon you otherwise she won't go out and find other friends as she will have all she needs at home and it is easier too - it is hard sometimes to go out there and find a new social network, hobbies etc. So, I think you have to be a little tough also. It seems like you have given Rose a lot - and a lot of that has to do with money, something which she doesn't have a lot of herself. She lives in a decent house now, is comfortable, gets a decent wage, is getting driving lessons, learning to use a computer etc. What will happen to Rose when you don't need her anymore? Will she go back to her poor way of life that she had before? That will be a depressing adjustment for her. Somehow I imagine that you will do all possible to find her another job though so maybe it won't be that bad.

I am not familiar with the culture of SA but can I ask why you have chosen a nanny over childcare (the variety where you drop off/ pick up your child?)? Does this latter form of care exist where you live? This is not a judgement - I am just interested in the reasons people have for getting a nanny. Maybe exploring those reasons will help you solve your problem?

Hi T. I am astounded by the amount of criticism your question has solicited from your readers. If it were me getting all of this judgment from my readers, I would probably cringe and shrivel up and never blog again. I am certainly not as strong as you or, nor torn in so many different directions by the people in my life.

As a South African, having worked overseas as a nanny (au-pair) I can relate to your dilemma as well as to the feeling of isolation of the worker/friend/family relationship of the employee.
I had a "one day you're a member of the family", the next day "you're only an employee" experience in my nannying, and it was way more confusing and hurtful than if my employer had refrained from "including me" in their family one day and excluding me the next.
Of course they were grateful for what I did for their children, who, incidentally chose me for affection and love over their parents, at that stage. And I was grateful to them for the opportunity to experience life abroad. But at no stage did I expect them to meet my emotional needs. In fact,it might have been much easier for me if they'd refrained from treating me like family one day and like an employee the next.

You have gone way beyond the "call of duty" with Rose.
Of course you love her and feel affection towards her. That happens when you spend time together in a home environment, where your guard is down.

I'm sure she would be unhappy to know that her dissatisfaction and loneliness is causing such feelings of obligation for you.

I agree with sister Mel - she needs the companionship of people who believe the same way she does.
She needs time away from YOUR family, so that she can reform bonds with her own.
She needs a life of her own again.
And who says that can't happen simultaneously with her being your nanny still?

You have taken it upon yourself to be her everything, and I don't think that's necessary. Nor fair to you.

I really hope that this dilemma is one you will be able to extricate yourself from, without causing more undue hurt.

You don't deserve more *stuff* added to your plate right now.
Especially not from your readers.

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