I was tidying up my desk this morning, preparing to get back in the saddle with AuPairMom posts, and I found this post-it note to myself:
Did I ever write this post? I can’t tell, so here it is!
What makes for a Good Au Pair Host Parent?
In my experience talking with host parents these past 13 years, I’ve noticed that all of the good host parents have these 5 qualities:
1. Good Host Parents are Prepared.
They have a handbook, family routines, and family principles — all of which they intend to follow with their au pair.
They have done the necessary physical and emotional preparation for welcoming and au pair.
2. Good Host Parents are Realistic.
They don’t expect their au pair to be Mary Poppins, to solve every child care-related problem, or to be able to shape the dhildren’s behavior without support from the parents.
They know that having an au pair is challenging to the parents and the family system, and they balance these concerns with an appreciation for what an au pair relationsip can bring their family.
3. Good Host Parents are Forgiving.
They understand that they will make some mistakes, and that their au pair will make some mistakes. Good host parents expect to address mistakes and move on.
They are ready to apologize, and they are ready to coach an au pair through a conversation about how to make something right.
4. Good Host Parents are Flexible.
They know that life is unpredictable, and that both good and not-so-good changes to our situations demand that we change our responses. Even more, they know that as they grow as parents, as their children grow, and as their au pair grows, * everybody* will need to adapt to these changes over the course of the au pair year.
They will give a little when their au pair needs help, and they will expect the au pair to give a little when the family needs help.
5. Good Host Parents are Oriented Towards Adventure.
When you and your family approach life as an adventure, it’s easier to surf or embrace change and to treat challenges as invitations to grow.
Every au pair is on his or her own adventure, and this should invite you to respond in kind, by seeing your relationship with your au pair as a chance for your family to have an adventure.
In my opinion, this opportunity is the biggest benefit of having an au pair rather than another kind of caregiver.
How does your family & host parent approach reflect these 5 qualities?
If you already have these qualities, how can you enhance them? If you’re short on one of two of these, how might you develop these qualities?
When people ask me if I’d recommend they get an au pair, I look for these qualities in them before telling them yes. If I were an au pair, I’d be interviewing potential host families to see if they demonstrated any of these qualities, too.
Here’s a question for all of you Good Host Parents out there:
What’s on your list of secrets?
Image: Big brother shirt- owl secret big brother to be t shirt available on Etsy.