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Marry the Nanny

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One possible romantic resolution for a single parent is to marry the nanny. Or the governess. Or the Kindly Housekeeper, if she's younger. Or in general, anyone privately hired to care for the kids or the house. Because those duties have historically been given to women, this trope skews more towards female employee/male employer. However, regardless of gender, writers abhor single parents and marrying them to people who already act as Parental Substitutes to their children is a neat way of fixing this.

Unless said nanny is secretly a Babysitter from Hell, the children usually do not object to this like they do with other love interests of their parents. They might even be the ones who try to make it happen in the first place. This is because said nanny already has their love and trust; making them the legal parent is just icing on the cake. On the parents' end, seeing how good said nanny is with their kids might increase the attraction to them, especially if the nanny fixes the family's issues. A promotion to Good Stepmother will then be in order.

Sometimes the parent is initially spoken for but this initial partner will inevitably turn out to be wrong for the family and will be summarily dumped. Alternatively, a Temporary Love Interest might get involved to make either side realize they share more than a mutual love for the children.

Since this is an employee/employer relationship, subtrope of Unequal Pairing. There are Played for Drama examples that acknowledge this imbalance — e.g. duplicitous child-carers may use their skill with the children as a jumping-off point to seduce their employer; alternatively, a married father becomes unbecomingly attracted to the young lady watching his kids, leading to disaster. Compare Cheating with the Milkman.

Compare to Teacher/Parent Romance. Generally falls under the first type ("child approves of the relationship") of Parent with New Paramour. It's also an inversion of Single Parents Are Undesirable. See also Magical Nanny and Babysitter Friendship.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • Love So Life: Seiji (who has custody of his young niece and nephew) eventually falls in love with their babysitter Shiharu, who reciprocates. This relationship is further complicated by the fact that Shiharu is only in high school.

  • Defied in Ali Wong's standup special Hard-Knock Wife: She hired an elderly lady to nanny for her and her husband, because hiring a "25-year-old pretty young thing" is a surefire way to destroy your marriage.
    Wong: Do you not read People magazine? You don't know what's up? That's inviting a marriage grenade into your home.

  • In Second Chances (TheNovelArtist), Adrien, as a single father, has trouble finding a nanny for his daughter until Alya recommends him Marinette. Since she is recently widowed herself, it takes them twenty chapters to have a proper date.
  • In the Harry Potter fanfiction Daddy's Boy, the recently widowed James Potter hires a nanny named Eloise (Liz) Du Pont. They fall in love but James has trouble letting go of the memory of his deceased wife. After a bit of matchmaking, he confesses his love for her.
  • Strained Harmony has Setsuna proposing to the nanny she hired for Hotaru, Ranma, after a courtship with shades of Wife Husbandry, as Setsuna has spent quite a bit of Ranma’s employment grinding away Ranma’s social ineptitude and Raised by Wolves tendencies.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In Addams Family Values, Fester is conned into marrying Black Widow Debbie, who arranged for herself to be the nanny to Wednesday and Pugsley. When mentioning it to the rich kids at summer camp, Amanda is absolutely disgusted by a rich person marrying "the help".
  • In Au Pair, two children successfully scheme to set up their single father with their au pair (a type of nanny).
  • In Baby Boot Camp, the widowed Scott ends up falling in love with Julia, his children's nanny, and marries her by the end of the movie.
  • The Beautician and the Beast: Joy is mistakenly hired to be a tutor for the children of Boris, the dictator of a Ruritania. They eventually fall in love.
  • In Corrina, Corrina, the titular character, played by Whoopi Goldberg, is hired to nanny Manny's daughter Molly. Manny and Corrina find that they are compatible and strike up a relationship.
  • The Hallmark film The Nanny Express is about two children who have driven away all their nannies, but meet their match when their father takes a liking to the newest one.
  • In the British dramedy Jack & Sarah, the eponymous Jack is a successful lawyer who suddenly becomes a widow thanks to Death by Childbirth. Enters the picture a bubbly, hip American expat who becomes the nanny. After a rocky start (due to their age gap, socioeconomic status, and cultural differences), sparks fly.
  • Inverted in Mrs. Doubtfire, in which Daniel gets divorced and then poses as a nanny and housekeeper to spend more time with his kids. He doesn't get back together with his ex, but at least they're on friendlier terms by the end.
  • Nanny McPhee: Mr. Brown ends marrying Evangeline, the scullery maid, who acts as a nanny to the children, helping settle fights and take care of them before Nanny McPhee arrived.
  • The Rebound sees divorcee Sally fall in love with Aram, her children's much younger babysitter.
  • You've Got Mail: Nelson Fox, Joe's father, married a couple of Joe's nannies before divorcing them (not that he remembers they were nannies first). To make it really ironic, Nelson's most recent wife ran off with their nanny.

  • In American Gods, Essie MacGowan is hired as a wet nurse to a recently widowed wealthy man, and helps raise his child. She seduces him after a decent interval, for largely pragmatic reasons (securing a future for herself and her son), but she's fond enough of him because he's kind to her, a good wife, and a Good Stepmother.
  • In Jane Eyre, the title character is initially hired as a governess by the man she eventually marries.
  • Agatha Christie:
    • In The Moving Finger, it's revealed that Mr Symmington has been secretly in love with his beautiful nursery governess Elsie Holland, and that he killed his wife in order to marry her.
    • A squickier variation in Ordeal by Innocence, where one of the children seduces the nanny (once he's in his twenties). He always was a vicious manipulative sociopath, getting the nanny to murder his adoptive mother... unfortunately, the nanny discovered she was the Secret Other Family when his actual wife came calling, so she stayed silent, ensuring he died in prison (by sheer coincidence, the man's alibi was unable to provide evidence at the trial).
    • Vera Claythorne, a former governess from And Then There Were None, tried to invoke this by deliberately letting a young boy in her care die. The boy's uncle, Hugo, was in love with her but would not marry her since he was poor. The boy's death granted him the entire family estate, which would solve that problem... except he immediately realized the truth and broke up with her.
    • In the back story of Mrs. McGinty's Dead, Mr. Craig had an affair with his kids' nanny Eva Kane. One of them killed his wife when she became pregnant. He was ultimately the one convicted though the book suggests she was the real killer.
  • In the Sherlock Holmes story "The Adventure of the Solitary Cyclist", the young lady who seeks Holmes' help was hired by Mr. Carruthers, a rich widower, to be a live-in music teacher for his daughter. He eventually proposes to her but she declines since she has no romantic feelings for him and is already engaged. Carruthers turns out to have been part of a scam to inherit Violet's fortune, but he fell In Love with the Mark and comes to her rescue near the end.
  • Katherine: Anya Setyon's work of historical fiction chronicles the love affair between powerful British noble John of Gaunt and Katherine Swynford, the yeoman's daughter who was the nanny to his children by his first wife. They eventually marry.
  • Simon's Papa: Simon's problems with the other boys and adoption of Phillip as a father figure introduce the blacksmith to his mother, and they end up engaged by the end of the story.
  • In "A Tale of Heroes," a Tarma & Kethry short story in the Heralds of Valdemar series, the pair rescues an inn's chambermaid, Fallan, from her abusive employer and take her with them. She proves to be absolutely hopeless at road life, alienating the two after three days. Fortunately, earlier in the story they guested with Landry, a widowed farmer with five children, who had wished for someone to help with the children and house. Fallan proves to be such a perfect fit for the household that after a week, both Tarma and Kethry can see that Landry is already thinking about proposing.
  • The Yulianna series by Yulia Voznesenskaya concludes with Dmitry Mishin deciding to marry Alexandra, his daughters' governess (appointed, ironically, by his previous Gold Digger fiancee). The girls are enthusiastic about it and actively ship them, though they consider Alexandra to be a Cool Big Sis rather than a Parental Substitute since she is much younger than their father and their late mother.
  • Troubled Blood: After Margot Bamborough's disappearance, Roy Phipps eventually marries Cynthia, who was working for them as a nanny to their little daughter Anna. 40 years later, both Roy and Cynthia take pains to tell people that they didn't start a relationship until four years after Margot disappeared without a trace.

    Live-Action TV 
  • American Gods. Essie MacGowan is hired as a wet nurse for the child of a wealthy man whose wife died in childbirth. Eventually she seduces him and they get married.
  • The 2018 Lifetime remake of The Bad Seed plays around with this. Single dad David hires hot young nanny Chloe to watch his hellion daughter Emma. Chloe shamelessly tries to entice David into a relationship, and then taunts Emma, who she hates, about it, telling her that the odds are good that she'll marry David and become Emma's Evil Stepmother. Emma, who's already killed two people (and a third offscreen before the events of the movie), doesn't take kindly to this and fatally traps Chloe in a burning wood workshop.
  • Castle:
    • Played for Drama in the episode "Nanny McDead". Sara, the titular dead nanny, was suspected of having an affair with her employer. It turned out that she and her fellow nanny Chloe were having affairs with the same man — Chloe's employer.
    • In another episode the victim was killed by his stepmother and former nanny who had done it because he had come close to realising she had murdered his mother to steal his father.
  • Country Comfort: Summer seems to be Genre Savvy for this trope when Bailey arrives at her boyfriend’s house. Beau is a widower and single father, and Bailey is a young, single and attractive woman with big dreams who arrives at his house by chance after getting dumped by her Jerkass boyfriend and almost instantly clicks with his children, even the one who is most hurt over her mom’s death. Their situation has all the basics of a classic Hallmark movie. Summer, of course knowing what usually happens in these movies, specifically to the widower’s current girlfriend, tries to get rid of Bailey a few times to avoid the same ending.
  • The short-lived '80s Rom Com I Married Dora hinged around this trope. The widowed father of two children marries his immigrant housekeeper so she can stay in the country and continue caring for his children, who love her, and the series was intended to show the marriage actually turning into a real love match. However, it was canceled after one season.
  • Melissa & Joey: Mel (who is caring for her sister's children) and Joe (the nanny hired to care for said children) is a rare male inversion. They eventually fall in love.
  • The Nanny: The Unresolved Sexual Tension between Mr. Sheffield and Fran (the titular nanny of Sheffield's children) drove the majority of the series, which ended a single season after they finally got married.
  • Nanny and the Professor showed hints of a romance developing between the titular characters ("Nanny" Phoebe looks after "Professor" Harold's children) before the series' cancellation.
  • Schneider on One Day at a Time (2017) plays this for laughs since he frequently mentions that his many ex-stepmothers were formerly his nannies as part of his Hilariously Abusive Childhood.
  • A variation on Party of Five — oldest brother Charlie, who is promoted to parental figure following the Salinger parents' deaths, begins an on-off flirtation with Kirsten, the nanny hired for his infant brother.
  • Who's the Boss?: Divorced Angela hires widower Tony as a housekeeper. She becomes a mother figure for Tony's daughter Samantha and Tony becomes a father figure for Angela's son Jonathan. They begin a long Will They or Won't They? relationship, with marriage eventually being considered.

  • The King and I: Anna is hired as a governess for the King of Siam's children. While sparks fly between them, the two of them never act on their love, with the King's death at the end sinking all hopes of a relationship.
  • The Sound of Music has the lively postulant Maria, who comes to the home of Captain Von Trapp to be governess to his seven children. She's kind to them and brings music back into the household. This causes him to begin to fall in love with Maria and they soon marry.

    Video Games 
  • In Fable III, if you have a child with another player, the child will be assigned a nanny as a stand-in for the other player. Assuming that the nanny is of a compatible orientation, you can then woo them and marry them.

    Web Comics 
  • Referenced in this fandubbed comic, originally by Baalbuddy, in which a matron elf woman tells the students of her class of future elf nannies for isekai protagonists that they can lead comfortable life if their ward adds them to his harem.

    Real Life 
  • Madame la Marquise de Maintenon, the second wife of Louis XIV, first came to his attention when acting as caretaker to his illegitimate children and later became the royal governess.
  • The Sound of Music is Truth in Television. Maria and Georg von Trapp married after Georg initially hired Maria as a governess. Unlike in the musical, she wasn't a governess to all his children, but only the second eldest daughter Maria (renamed Louisa in the musical), who was too sickly to go to school; but the outcome of their marriage was the same.
  • John of Gaunt, son of Edward III and uncle to Richard II, was a crucial and powerful figure in the politics that led to the Wars of the Roses. He fell in love with Katherine Swynford, who was the nanny to his children by his first wife, Blanche of Lancaster. He had at least four children by Katherine, and he eventually married her. His children by Swynford were given the surname Beaufort and were legitimized on the condition they would not be eligible to inherit the throne. Ironically, every British monarch since Edward IV has been a descendant of Swynford.
  • The story of Joseph Hall is a very, very unpleasant example of this trope. Joseph Hall was a fetal alcohol baby whose mother was so out of control that when his parents got divorced, his openly Nazi father was given full custody even despite the known family court bias against fathers. His father, Jeff Hall, was abusive, groomed him into Nazism, instilled violence in him, which got him expelled from every school he was at, and refused to seek mental health treatment for his son despite being severely behind mentally. Jeff Hall then marries Joseph's nanny, who gives him some sense of stability he desires, but he finds out she plans on leaving after Jeff Hall cheats on her and refuses to find employment. Out of fear of losing her, he shoots his own father in his sleep, unaware he just killed him. After being sent to an adult jail, he claims his stepmom coaxed him into it, but they can't try her again due to double jeopardy (she had been charged for making a firearm accessible to him but was cleared as an accessory before the story came out). Since then, word has gotten out that she was just as abusive as Jeff Hall was, with one incident being locking him in a closet completely naked.