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Treating your helper as a family member

  1. #1
    CookieCutter is offline Registered User
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    Treating your helper as a family member

    Hello everyone, I just heard this phrase too many times and I would like to ask what does it mean to you. I am looking for some good pointers. Thanks

  2. #2
    carang's Avatar
    carang is offline Registered User
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    while i think respect should be a top priority, a helper is not a family member. treat them kindly, compassionately and with respect but remember they are an employee.
    satay sue, lost and Irishmom like this.

  3. #3
    evgreen is offline Registered User
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    I think it really depends on the helper. My family just let go of a helper who was with us since 'I' was an infant. She helped care for my sister, me and even my daughter. Actually it's more like she is retiring back to the Philippines now. I treat her as part of my family. It's a fine line in some situations, but the longer they are employed with you, the more blurry that line can become.

  4. #4
    thanka2 is offline Registered User
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    With our helper we have no problem treating her like "one of the family"--it's an interesting mix. While she is an employee, as long as she doesn't overstep our boundaries or give us reason to do otherwise, we really do treat her like a family member. We call her "Auntie." We care about her life. We consider her needs and wants but of course we balance that with the needs and wants of our family as well. We share with her--we treat her like a friend. But, I think it's because our helper is exceptional. Not all helpers are like this so I think for us it goes on a "case by case" basis. We feel very comfortable with our helper and she feels comfortable with us.
    “Many women have described their experiences of childbirth as being associated with a
    spiritual uplifting, the power of which they have never previously been aware …
    To such a woman childbirth is a monument of joy within her memory.
    She turns to it in thought to seek again an ecstasy which passed too soon.”

    ~ Grantly Dick-Read (Childbirth Without Fear)

    Mother of Two
    JMW, boy, born November 29, 2007, 9:43 pm, USA
    MJW, girl, born March 17, 2011, 4:14 pm, HK

  5. #5
    charade is offline Registered User
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    I have used this phrase "like a family member" myself until on closer examination I felt there was too much emphasis on the "like" for my liking. The reality is that while we respect, cherish and care for our helper she is not a family member. For example:
    1. My helpers eat what we do for the main meals and no restriction on how much. But they do not touch expensive extras in our fridge or snack drawer; this they know on her own, I'm grateful that I didn't have to have a conversation about it. But my family members would be free to eat these expensive things.
    2. My family members would be free to use my expensive toiletries but my helpers are not.
    3. My helper sometimes cooks a batch of food to take for her friends on her day off. She uses condiments from our stock but pays for the main ingredients like fish, meat, veggies etc. on her own. If she was a family member, it would just go on the family grocery bill.
    4. My family members might just flop down on our bed but my helpers would be reluctant to do so.
    Etc. So yeah, they are not a family members but that doesn't mean we don't feel close to them. I felt as guilty when I forgot my helper's birthday as when I do a family members (which I routinely do...I have even forgotten my own birthday) and rush to make amends. We know how their families are doing in the Philippines and if there is some major incident in that country, we always check if they are ok.
    One of my helpers also goes beyond the call of duty of an employee. Last Sunday, when we mentioned we might be going into Central, she offered to take my son with her earlier. I am very careful that my helpers have a good break from my kids on their day off so I immediately said no, but she didn't see it as a problem at all because she's fond of my son. Or maybe she wanted to take him to church since his parents are so lax in the matter - which is also how elders of my own family behave.

    So yeah, it's a special relationship but I have stopped using the phrase "family member".
    carang and shwetakhanna like this.

  6. #6
    carang's Avatar
    carang is offline Registered User
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    as i said, they are not and never will be family members. you do not have the right or ability to "terminate" family members (although i admit, at times, it might be nice to be able to do so). you do not pay family members to be a part of your family.

    just because i said they are not family members doesn't mean they should be treated badly. it just means that some perspective is needed when dealing with them, especially when it all goes pear shaped.

    treating them as family may also put more pressure on them. they have as much right to terminate the arrangement as the employer, and may hesitate due to pressure from the employer if they are treated as "family".
    shwetakhanna likes this.

  7. #7
    carang's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by thanka2 View Post
    With our helper we have no problem treating her like "one of the family"--it's an interesting mix. While she is an employee, as long as she doesn't overstep our boundaries or give us reason to do otherwise, we really do treat her like a family member. We call her "Auntie." We care about her life. We consider her needs and wants but of course we balance that with the needs and wants of our family as well. We share with her--we treat her like a friend. But, I think it's because our helper is exceptional. Not all helpers are like this so I think for us it goes on a "case by case" basis. We feel very comfortable with our helper and she feels comfortable with us.
    i would argue that you treat her differently than you would your own sister... if that is the case, then you are not treating her "like family"... because of the boundaries you speak of, that already says she is an employee not a family member...

    i'm not digging at you, just pointing out that while you treat her well (as i do my helper), she is an employee that can be terminated.

  8. #8
    thanka2 is offline Registered User
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    Quote Originally Posted by carang View Post
    i would argue that you treat her differently than you would your own sister... if that is the case, then you are not treating her "like family"... because of the boundaries you speak of, that already says she is an employee not a family member...

    i'm not digging at you, just pointing out that while you treat her well (as i do my helper), she is an employee that can be terminated.

    Actually, not really. Before our helper arrived my sister was "our helper"--she cooked for us, cleaned for us and looked after our son. She didn't "get paid" per se, but...in many ways I do treat them very similarly.

    I also have boundaries with my other family members--including my sister.

    I was just reading what charade wrote about having "off limits" foods for helpers or them not allowed to flop down on our bed. Actually, we have none of that. So, I just think it depends on the situation and a family's personal comfort level.

    Yes, she is an employee that can be terminated but that really is never a consideration in our mind--in my heart and mind she is like family. I guess in the same way that I see close friends who I have no genetic relationship like family. I think that the "money issue" is kind of a minor deal to us in our case.

    And it's also not just a "we treat her well" thing--it goes beyond that into deeper things about how we feel about each other and what we share. It's not just simply an "employee-employer" relationship. Maybe in the beginning it was but definitely not now. So, I think it is quite technical to get into "Well, in reality, they're not really your family..." Of course my helper isn't REALLY my family member. Either are many of my close friends but in my heart of hearts they are as close (and even closer) to me than some of my family members. This is a matter of the heart for me, not a matter of money.

    It would be the type of situation that if she decided to not work for us but needed a place to live we would, without skipping a heartbeat have her live with us. Even if there was no money or employment involved we would be happy to have her in our home.

    Hope I've explained my feelings clearly.
    carang likes this.
    “Many women have described their experiences of childbirth as being associated with a
    spiritual uplifting, the power of which they have never previously been aware …
    To such a woman childbirth is a monument of joy within her memory.
    She turns to it in thought to seek again an ecstasy which passed too soon.”

    ~ Grantly Dick-Read (Childbirth Without Fear)

    Mother of Two
    JMW, boy, born November 29, 2007, 9:43 pm, USA
    MJW, girl, born March 17, 2011, 4:14 pm, HK

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