“If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.” Sure, this may seem unrealistic for a lot of avenues in life, but when it comes to discussing past employers – especially to a potential employer – this should be a rule of thumb. Here’s why.

Your Feelings Are Valid, But They’re Not For Every Audience

We’ve all had less than desirable employers. There’s not a person out there who hasn’t had a frustrating or downright disappointing experience with a past boss. And you’re totally allowed to feel however you want to feel about them – you just have to censor those feelings for the appropriate audience. A future or current employer is not that audience.

Positivity is the Best Policy

Speaking ill of a former family to a current family or potential family could signal a huge red flag – about you. Parents will wonder if you’re going to talk about them and their family the way you’re openly discussing a past family, which is a big no-no. They might just chock it all up to you being a negative person, or a gossip, or worse…untrustworthy. You can’t expect parents to want to employ someone they can’t entirely trust with the ins and outs of their personal family dynamic.

It’s best to remain positive. You can be honest and not bash your past employers. For example, you can say something like, “I’m glad I was able to work with the Smith family. The experience I gained there taught me how to be proactive and I was able to hone my multitasking skills while working for them! I hope to find a position where I’m treated like part of the family and have a relationship based on mutual respect.”

It’s possible to express your needs and wants in your next family while remaining self-assured and encouraging during the interview process, even if you weren’t crazy about your last family.

Bottom Line: Discretion is Best

Speaking ill of past parents will just make other parents feel defensive, even if you weren’t in the wrong. It can paint you as spiteful or immature, but worst of all – lacking in the discretion that is so essential to a nanny position. Parents value their privacy above all else, and it’s important to respect that.

And who knows? Your path might just lead you to the family you were meant to be with the whole time, and you can consider everything beforehand a powerful learning experience.