Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Children Attached to Maid

Having a maid has become normal practice in a Malaysian household. Therefore, part of being an effective parent here usually includes handling maid issues.

We've heard many horror maid stories -- maid run away, maid abuse children, maid don't do duties well, maid seduce husbands, maid stealing, maid having boyfriends etc.... These, of course, causes undue stress on parents. So, you'd think that having a good maid would be a blessing. Unfortunately, even good maids are a cause of concern for some parents.

Recently, I came across a working mother who voiced her dissatisfaction that her child seem to be closer to the maid than to her. I'm sure many of you have experienced before (or are currently experiencing) that jealous feeling when your child is more obedient to the maid, choose to spend time with the maid and stick to the maid even when you are around.

Just let me share some thoughts (and I hope I don't step on anybody's toes).
  • First, remember that YOU created that situation. Your child did not ask for a maid. If you ask your child, I'm sure they would be 110% in support of you staying home instead of the maid. Therefore, the choice of having a maid to act as a caretaker on your behalf, is your choice. I know some mothers cannot afford to stay home. But that is not the point here. The point is, you put a maid in your home, so be prepared to accept that your child is very likely going to have a close relationship with this caretaker.
  • Be realistic, you are not there for your children 24-7. You may say that you are the main caretaker of your children. However, in their waking hours, exactly how many hours are you around to take care of them? Probably not as many hours as the maid. Plus, children learn that mommy hired "kakak" to take care of them. So, if they need something (food, entertainment, comfort), they will go to the person that they are used to. In your eyes, you are the main caretaker because you are the mother. But in your children's eyes, do they see you as that? Take some time to ponder what you are in your child's mind.
  • Your child does not have an on/off button. If your child likes the maid, you cannot expect the child to switch off that feeling when mommy is around.
  • Don't try to compete with your maid for your child's affections. If your child loves the maid, doesn't mean he/she loves you less. You will always be the mother. Children know that!
  • Of course they are going to behave differently with you. Their time with you is limited. So you may encounter some "manja," cheekiness and playfulness. Also keep in mind that children may even misbehave to get their parent's attention. And boy, do they always want their parent's attention. I pray your children have not resorted to that trick.
  • If you really cannot accept that your child is closer to the maid than you, than stop whining about it and start clocking in more hours with your child. You cannot work out of the home and expect the blessings of being a SAHM.

I invite working mothers that have a maid to share their experience and thoughts. Like I said, I hope I have not offended anyone. Tell me if you agree or disagree with me. And what would your advise be for such a mother?


  1. Hi Lian, it is good that you shared your thoughts here with all the working mommies with maids out there. Well, due to many factors that some working mommies have to continue working. So, that is not the major disscussion here. I do have this feeling at the initial part when I left my son with maid & under the supervision of my MIL. I even think of quitting my job. But, thank God, my son knows who a maid is and who is the Parents. He still sticks to us like glue and prefer us than the maid.

    What I did to soothes the situation is, like you said, spend more quality time with them. We (me & hubby) create a lot of quality time with my son, especially after work, weekends & holidays. We have decided to improve the situation by put aside some quality at night before bed every nights to read, sing or play to him and tug him to sleep. Even we don't have quantity time with him but we make sure we did our parts as responsible parents.

    The only key word here is "spend some quality time" every day & love them unconditionally as a working parents. Hope this helps!

  2. Things can be solve because mother position can't easily take over. But the most important is do we have enough quality time to spend with our kids? Sharing the same interest, chat with them, bedtime story. I feel that time b4 bed is an intimate time among kids and working parent.

  3. Oops! I hope no one flames your post. Your speak your thoughts but I think some may not like what you have said.

  4. i totally agree with you lian.
    my replacement maid hasnt arrived yet...but what you said is very true. I dont think you stepped on anyone's tail here :)

  5. a&a'smom17 April, 2008 18:04

    U indeed so right! I hired my 1st maid (she was with me for 5 yrs) when my Abhijay was born (became a SAHM) to do the housework & cooking while I took care of him like feeding , bathing & playing with him. Otherwise I wld be bogged down with housework & cant spend quality time with him. Even now I still have a maid (already 5 yrs with me)otherwise I wldnt have time esp for coaching them in their studies now that they r bigger. So I am the main caregiver & my boys know it but adore their kakak also & grateful for having her in our family. Inspite of having a maid while boys r at sch I also do the housework & cleaning as u can expect the maid to do everything. Boys also have to make their own bed, etc so that wont grow up to be spoilt.

  6. hi lian,

    Well said. I am sure deep down most working mothers do know what to expect. we can't have it all. You can actually look positively that the child will be well cared for and equally love by the care giver. Agreed that spending quality time especially breast feeding create a strong bond between mother and child.

    I have a very busy career ( love my job, though cos it also involves helping others). I go to work before 7 am and most time comes home after 6pm, besides doing 8 on calls/ mth and i may not be able to come home. i deligently express my breast milk when away. and when i am home, my bb wants no one but me even though i am dead tired. It is really a joy. So bottom line is regardless who takes care of your children while you are working, the quality of time spent with them if of utmost important.

    I would definitely want to spend more time home with children but don't think it may be possible for a while.

    Cheers. Mei Shi.

  7. bits of life & vickylow:
    Thank you for sharing. Yes, the question is not whether a mother should work or not but rather, how to face the situation.
    As I read, I can see some common points:
    1. Quality time is more about meeting the emotional needs of the child e.g. reading, singing, playing, chit-chats, bedtime rituals etc.... Quality time is about bonding, creating memories and I-feel-good moments.
    2. Parents have to consciously take that extra effort to schedule quality time everyday.

    It's okay if they want to torch it. I welcome it. I don't pretend to be a "guru" on the subject. My intention is to create a healthy debate so everyone can benefit.

    Thanks for your support. Good luck with your replacement maid. Hope she's a good one.

    I think all maids would want to work for you:) You're a good example to us all. Use the maid to give you more time to spend with your child. It sounds like a good partnership where responsibilities have been divided sensibly. And the important message that children must still be taught to work around the house even when there's a maid.

    Mei Shi,
    You are right. A working mom has to accept that she won't be able to "have the cake and eat it too". Some things will have to give way. You did well to breastfeed Mei Shi. I take my hats off to you.

    Just want to add a little bit more of my thoughts. I think it is important that we take responsibility for whatever is happening. For example, if the child shows preference for the maid rather than you, we cannot blame the child for not having "loyalty" to the parents. Or we cannot blame the maid for "stealing" the child's affections from you. Only when we admit our part in the problem than we can start to make positive changes. Afterall, the only person we can change is ourselves right?


Don't go without saying something. I would love to read your comments. BUT no junk comments please.