Avatar universal

Warning Mentally Abusive Nanny and 3 year Old Boy thinks hes a Girl

We recently found that our nanny, whom we fired two months ago, was mentally abusing our 3yr 4 month old son. He is a very happy confident boy who lights up every room and is very good at sports, enjoys singing, tries to play musical instruments, gets dirty, plays both rough with the boys and sweet with the girls. Our dilemma, and warning to other parents, is that just before we fired her she told our son in private that "He was a Girl, don't tell mommy and daddy or anyone else I told you." Also said, "don't touch other boys penis's" and would continually call him annoying along with other things in private.
Video and audio surveillance was setup when we suspected she might be punishing him because of the rules we placed on her while he was in her care, ie.. no cell phones, talk positive around him, read at least three books a day, don't put makeup on him, oh yah again stop letting him play with your cell phone and finally stop using your cell phone when your with him for the 100th time we don't know if cell radiation is bad for a child let alone an adult so please stop letting him watch videos on your cell phone. I think you get the idea.
Our dilemma, he has been telling us he is a girl for the last 3 months. Today he said, daddy I want to be your wife, I responded with you can be someones husband someday and he responded pretty pissed, no I can't Im a girl and I want to be your wife. When asked if anyone ever told him he was a girl he responded Yes, "........ did" nanny. So he still remembers what she said and it obviously still affects him.
Any advice, we are concerned in seeking professional help that directly speaks to him because we have heard horror stories of "professionals" some are people we know, that intentionally mess with people somewhat like our nanny did.
We have never confronted her and gave her a false reason as to why she was let go, but know that she is now watching another group of kids.
Please help...

This discussion is related to a three year old girl who insists she's a boy!.
10 Responses
973741 tn?1342342773
Hi there.  Well, he is three.  Three year olds say all kinds of wacky things and a smart parent just ignores it or says "okay honey".  You have negatively reinforced it with your taking it too seriously.  

When my older son was 3, he went to a store to pick out a toy.  He picked out a beautiful Barbie doll.  He loved her and would make her do ballet around the house.  My husband is a macho kind of guy and he was concerned.  I shrugged my shoulders and said "whatever.  just ignore it."  So, off to the hardware store they would go for their 'guy time' with a Barbie in hand.  

My son is now 10 and rolls his eyes when I mention his former love for Barbie.  That ended when he was 4.  

You can't make anyone something they are not.  Your sitter couldn't make him be homosexual (if that is what you are implying) just like you couldn't make him heterosexual if he's not.  She said some things that he ran with and you reinforced it by giving it negative attention.  

People are what they are.  He's just going through a phase in which he is saying things to you ----  and you've given it undo attention so he will keep saying it and thinking about it.  Just don't mention it, don't react to his comments, etc.  

Any parent that hears him say it will just laugh.  We all hear our kids say things that we are like 'huh'?  And it is no big deal.  And all toddlers go through phases.  

Ignore and treat him as you always have not trying to make him ANYTHING other than who he is and he will be fine.  good luck
189897 tn?1441126518
Excellent advice by Specialmom !
5914096 tn?1399918987
If you feel that your son was emotionally abused, then I think it wise that you get him evaluated by a mental health professional immediately to rule out emotional/psychological damage this abuse could have caused.

Additionally, emotional abuse is just as harmful (perhaps more so) and unlawful as any other form of abuse.  What I think that you need to do is to report your suspicions to Child Protective Services especially since you know that this nanny continues to work with children.  To report, you don't need proof.  Your suspicion alone is enough reason to phone.  It is the job of CPS to investigate to determine if any abuse occurred.

Since mental health professionals are mandate reporters, they are obligated to phone CPS as well if they suspect abuse.

Keep in mind that emotional abuse is probably the most difficult abuse to prove.  However, this isn't a reason not to make the call.  If this nanny hurt your child, why keep her in a position of hurting other kids?
Avatar universal
On two occasions you mentioned that I am reinforcing it negatively but also say that a person is what they are and they cant be forced to change. So I am not sure why you emphasized my response to his statement so negatively if my response has no influence anyways. Also you stated that your husband brought your son to the hardware store with the doll for their guy time. You did not give this guy time any points towards his influence.

I have had a few friends that are gay and based on their life experiences I somewhat disagree with your statements that "your sitter couldnt make him a homosexual." had they continued. This is the nature versus nurture argument and the experts don't truly know the answer one hundred percent so I will not have this argument as though I am an expert. The only thing I know is that I have a few friends that were abused at a young age by someone from the same sex. two of these people are now homosexuals. I have another friend that is gay and when asked her thoughts on the argument her response is. '' I dont know why, I only know that I loved playing with the boys from as long as my parents can remember and my two siblings were older brothers and that is all that I know." She thinks that 50% of homosexuals are so because of their earliest sexual experiences or environment and the other 50% are just born that way. But she says that she feels there is a chance the other 50% may also be heavily influenced by childhood memories that could never be conjured because they happened so long ago. So she actually feels that the nurture may way more heavily than the nature but to be politically correct she goes with the 50 / 50 rule. When my other two homosexual friends are asked the same question one says almost the exact same thing while the other says I have no idea but would love to know."

You never once mentioned the nanny that continually did this and that was my question. I wanted an experts advice on what to do or not do for our son and I wanted legal advice on what to do to the nanny to keep her from having these conversations with other children. Keep this in mind since this post the professionals have given much advice and all said this was not ok for her to do and that she needs to be addressed because it can have long term psychological identity implications for a child. The important thing is that we caught it early enough because we asked the hard questions and payed attention to our child. The good thing is he will most likely grow out of it and forget it someday but had this continued through the next few years, we are told it could have affected the rest of his life.
We are still learning about this situation and it is an ongoing investigation.
specialmom, I am not sure why so much emphasis was focused on your son with the doll that you chose to purchase for him. He asked for this and you delivered it. You controlled this situation in a way that I completely agree with. My son has many dolls that we purchased for him. Now I want you to tell me you would have allowed a caregiver to tell your son every day that he was a girl and keep that secret between just him and your nanny from the time he was 3 until you no longer needed child care maybe two or three years. In your words this little secret would "not influence him" and as you stated my wife and I are "taking it too seriously and kids say wacky things". I think you forgot the part where I stated I had video and audio recordings of these " child hood wacky things". And these wacky things as many parents would believe could actually be true. In this case unfortunately they are true and now we are trying how to address it with our child if necessary and how to protect your children from her.
Thanks for your post and perspective.
189897 tn?1441126518
   Specialmoms point was that, "Three year olds say all kinds of wacky things and a smart parent just ignores it or says "okay honey". and, "He's just going through a phase in which he is saying things to you ----  and you've given it undo attention so he will keep saying it and thinking about it.  Just don't mention it, don't react to his comments, etc."
  By your comments, "just before we fired her she told our son in private, etc."  so it sounded like this had only gone on for a brief period of time.
  Based on that (and the years of experience we have), I still agree with her that your son is quite possibly is enjoying the response he is getting out of you rather then commenting on his future lifestyle choices.
   And, ya, your nanny seems a bit of the sick side.  Unfortunately even if you have recorded proof of what she said (and it sounds like you do not), no laws were broken.  Unless, someone comes to you and asks for references - there isn't much you can do in response to what she has said  (as much as you would like to).   And, I certainly agree that if she had continued this for years it might have had an effect.  But anybody who spends that much time with a child will have an effect.  That's one reason why good teachers are so important.  In elementary school they typically spend more time with the child then the parent.
  You could report her to child services, but I think it would be a waste of your time from my past experiences (based on what you have told us).  So unless you have more detail to share - I still agree with her advice.
    " don't react to his comments."   And mine would be to enjoy the heck out of him.  This is a very special age!!  It will never happen again.  Best wishes.  
973741 tn?1342342773
yes Sandman, you understand my point perfectly and I agree with yours as well.   luck to the poster.  
Avatar universal
We are now in July. Many months have gone since our son was told by his Nanny that he was born a girl and not to tell anyone.  Unfortunately he now says that he knows he isn't a girl but now cries that he wants to be a girl. He now plays pretend as a girl approximately 60% of the day that we can see. He has also now learned how to mask this behavior and pretend to be a boy while pretending to be a girl. Please be clear, I am not referring to homosexuality, this is a different topic so please do not get the two confused. I am specifically discussing my child's identity today as it was affected by an adult caretaker around September of last year. Based on our research and professional guidance from the best experts in the world this issue should be treatable with a somewhat controlled environment and proper coaching over many years. The problem we have been told by the experts is that they have never heard of an adult intentionally doing this to a child so young so they have no base to reference. He is being lumped into a class of other children whom have GID but given he no longer says he is a girl only that he wishes he was a girl he technically does not have GID (Gender Identity Disorder) but still needs help through this tough time. Now does he not say he is a girl anymore because he knows the reaction from others will be different than what he wants to here, this we do not know but do suspect it may be true. To give you an example of what our lives are like now. On a weekly basis we get. "I wish there was a machine I could go into and come out a girl" or "I wish mother nature made me a girl". I want to wear pink nail polish like my cousin. I want to wear a skirt. I want a purse. etc... Yes these are all things that many parents probably hear from their boys at some point but when you catch your child looking at people with these characteristics completely different than his normal gaze you recognize when he is going off into this mindset and world of what if I was a girl. He becomes depressed when he sees girls wearing these items and he doesn't have them. He becomes confused and sad and its very heartbreaking. We truly dont know what the outcome will be only that we believe with all of our hearts that nurture is a more powerful force than nature when it comes to our identities because one person did have the ability to start him down this path 8 months ago so can we nurture him back to where he was, we hope so and are trying. So if it takes a 1000 goods to fix one bad then we are on our journey and we are told we have a long tough road ahead but we are ready for the fight. If you don't believe in nurture then you dont believe in therapists because this is basically their function. A therapist helps you deal with your past, learn from it, accept it and move forward. They nurture you into believing there is a new future ahead and that we are who we are from what we have experienced. (our baggage our nurturing environment). We all change daily based on our experiences and grow as individuals. A boy that is terrible at sports may find he falls into a depressed state everyday at gym. Is this depression nature or is this nurture. He is to proud to tell his busy dad so his family thinks he is depressed for medical reasons and may put him on medication. When the mother meets a new friend that has an excellent way of teaching the same boy how to play catch using a balloon instead of a ball and now the boy loves gym, is confident in school, gets better grades, has more friends and no longer needs medication. was this nature or nurture? I believe for all of the parents that say, just let nature take its course, you have very busy lives and probably dont listen to your children as much as you could. Had we just accepted what he was saying we would still have that nanny in our home today saying and doing who knows what to our son.  I believe that we do need to give our child space to grow but also recognize that he will never grow to his full potential unless we avoid certain scenarios that will trigger the depression.
480448 tn?1426948538
Oh dear, good thing you got rid of the nanny, she sounds odd and certainly not a good caretaker.

That being said, with all due respect, I think you've blown this concern WAY out of proportion.  Children of your son's age often go through these types of things, it's really not that uncommon.  I would think at this point it has less to do with the nanny and more to do with the fact that you guys have reacted in the way you have...to the extent of taking him to world renowned specialists, and putting him in therapy.  I think you guys made this into an issue, where most likely, it would have eventually resolved itself, as most issues like this do in children.

This is a good article, that explains the stages of gender identity in children:


I totally understand your concern as a parent, really I do, I just feel as if you and your husband overreacted to the nanny situation, and made more out of it, causing your son to continue the behavior/statements longer, and more intensely.  That's just my honest opinion.

It's clear you love your son and want the best for him.  I would encourage the two of you parents to talk to a professional, and maybe ask if this could be a little bit of overkill on your parts?

I wish you and your boy the best.  Take care.
973741 tn?1342342773
No offense but it just sounds really dreadful and like this poor child has adults in their life that are just over the top.  I can only hope for the best.  good luck
189897 tn?1441126518
   Just one other comment.   My daughter is 5 years older then my son.  When my son was 3, my daughter delighted in dressing in up as a girl - and he seemed to enjoy the whole process of showing off.  By the time he was 4 this was ending.  And once he was in preschool and around other playmates. It was over.   Point being, 3 year old boys do some pretty weird things.
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