When it was time for Ruth Bernstein to part ways with her beloved nanny of eight years, she thought about what her two sons really needed in an after-school babysitter. While her former caregiver had turned her babies into sweet, thriving boys, it was time for a different kind of energy for Zachary, 9, and Theo, 7 – someone who could shoot hoops at the playground, manage homework and keep two brothers from killing each other. So they hired a manny.
“Our boys have a wonderful role model in their dad, but we realized that our future adults/husbands/fathers/employees cannot go out into the world thinking that it’s strictly a woman’s role to do all of the heavy lifting in managing a household,” Ruth says. “We thought the best way to model how they should behave out in the world – in addition to striving to set good examples ourselves – is to provide a caregiver that they can see themselves in.”
After going through a divorce, Marni Turner Serbin figured a manny would be a good idea for her sons, also aged 7 and 9. She enlisted a man in his 20’s who doubles as an actor. “My boys have a rather unique relationship with their father so a positive male role model bonus for me,” says Marni. “It really is such a different dynamic than having an older woman who already raised her kids. He really understands boys. He knows how to get them to do stuff, like go outside. He teaches them to shower on their own and to do things for themselves.”
These days, a growing number of families, particularly those with boys, are eschewing typically female caregivers for the manny – a male nanny who functions in the same capacity but provides a bit of testosterone-fueled care and, in a sort of older brother-meets-camp counselor role, can teach a young boy how to become a man in ways that a primary caregiver cannot. “From playing sports to helping with homework, mannies provide a fun and safe environment for families who prefer an engaging approach to childcare,” says John Brandon, co-founder and chief executive officer at MyManny, a site that connects parents to mannies, which has doubled its growth in recent years. “They can also be excellent role models for boys needing extra encouragement and positive examples to aspire to.”
Casey Shane has been a manny for multiple families for over 10 years, having always been involved in helping kids as both a camp counselor as well as a sports coach. But for Casey, it’s all about the connection he makes with kids by encouraging teaching moments, regardless of gender. “I think when parents are deciding on who they want to be around their children, what matters most is personality, and their ability to connect to their child,” Casey says. “Every child is different. That’s what makes them unique and special, so by bringing on a caretaker, I would suggest really getting to know the person you want to bring in. It is important to see if it is the right fit.”
Marni appreciates that her manny isn’t trying to step on her toes when it comes to mothering. “Maybe it’s a guy thing, but he’s super chill,” says Marni. “He never gets insulted. It’s always ‘Sure, no problem.’ He’s open and easy to get along with.”