Do nannies create boys that cheat later?

Time Magazine recently wrote about a doctor in England who believes that boys who have nannies are more likely to cheat on their wives later.

Here is an excerpt explaining from

“Mothers who outsource the care of their sons to other women may be inadvertently raising adulterers. Or so claims Dr. Dennis Friedman in a book that has kicked up a bit of a ruckus in Britain. A Fellow of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, the doctor argues that men become womanizers because their mothers left them with nannies.”

“According to Friedman, having two women care for a baby boy may cause his little brain to internalize the idea that there are multiple females to meet his needs. “It introduces him to the concept of the other woman,” he said in London’s Daily Telegraph. He explicates the relationship in his book The Unsolicited Gift: Why We Do The Things We Do, which explores how a mother’s love for her offspring can determine how those children behave as adults.”

Friedman recommends that women don’t work and if they must work they wait until the baby is at least one years old.

Many critics aren’t buying it.

“It also doesn’t make developmental sense, says Dr. Jean Mercer, professor emerita of Psychology at Richard Stockton College in New Jersey, who specializes in infant development. ‘Babies don’t form attachments solely to their mothers — they become attached also to fathers, grandparents, nannies, child-care providers, older brothers and sisters, or anyone else who interacts with them socially and frequently participates in care routines like feeding and bathing.’ These relationships are healthy and part of normal development. And becoming attached to a nanny doesn’t equal becoming detached from a mother, or that the two are interchangeable. “A nanny or other person is added to the existing relationships most babies have.”

Most of the comments on the story think it’s untrue. Check out the whole article and the comments here.

So what do you think: Do nannies inadvertently create cheaters later on? Do you buy into his theory or think the critics’ theory makes more sense?

Do you use a nanny? Will this article make you think twice about it?

Did you personally have a nanny and are you a cheater now?

104 comments Add your comment

Sadie's Mom

March 30th, 2010
9:34 am

Another case of “it ain’t my fault”.


March 30th, 2010
4:50 pm

A nanny is a mom-away-from-mom. When mom cannot be available, a nanny is there for the children. A nanny loves unconditionally. She kisses ouchies, encourages intellectual, emotional and social development; and provides a safe space for the children. She does all the things that the mother would do if the mother were available. Thus, she too plays a pivotal role in shaping who the children become.

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April 2nd, 2010
11:47 am

Really? Let’s approach this logically.
1. A large percentage of “cheaters” have never had a nanny.
2. A large percentage of men who have had nannies do not become “cheaters.”
3. Even if we assume that, as a child, the boy misconstrued societal boundaries on relationships with women, it is important that, as a man, he acknowledges receipt of information from our culture about what is and is not acceptable, and he accepts responsibility for the decisions he has made since becoming an adult. In other words, even though he may have misconstrued boundaries as a child, he has since had societal clarification of boundaries, yet he decided to cheat anyway. Thus, the decision to cheat has less to do with childhood misconstructions and more to do with adult decisions to act with disregard for societal convention (not to mention the feelings of his wife or significant other, any children they may have, and any other negative consequences he may experience for his infidelity).