50 Shades of Shocking? Au Pair has trashy taste in reading

by cv harquail on March 1, 2014

It can be pretty exciting to finally ‘find’ your au pair match, and to be able to look forward to meeting your new au pair.

That is, until you discover how s/he likes to spend her/his free time.

Dear AuPairMom– 

Am I a prude, or is this something to be concerned about?  

We recently matched with our very first au pair. I’ve been looking forward to getting to know her better before she arrives, and so I friended her on Facebook.

Fifty-Shades-Teddy-Bear-600x450I was shocked and dismayed to discover:  She has listed  50 Shades of Gray as her one and only favorite book.

This was surprising, since she’d described herself in our interviews as very religious and not interested in going out to party.

I have no judgments about people who read 50 Shades of Gray.  I started reading it and thought it was schlock.  It was the poor quality of the writing, not the sexual content, that made me disinterested in finishing it.

Rather, what worries me is the au pair listing it as her only favorite book. What are we are in for?

Will she be going out all the time?  Bringing men to our house? Coming on to my husband (yes, I know that is clichéd)? Engaging in risky behavior on her own time?  Is this something I should be worried about?

What would you do given that we still have 6-8 weeks until she arrives?  
Thanks so much for your advice.  ~ Ella James


Amelie March 3, 2014 at 5:24 pm

I think the only thing it says about your future au pair is that she has bad taste for books.

Angie host mom March 3, 2014 at 5:38 pm

You don’t have to borrow books from your au pair so don’t worry about it :0) Most of our au pairs have read books I’d consider trash, and I’m sure they consider my taste in books just as awful. Now, if she were reading “how to trick your host family – an au pair’s guide to smoking and drinking on duty.” I’d worry.

Evie March 3, 2014 at 5:38 pm

I feel like what she chooses to read does not define her as a person. Reading books are a great way of escaping your own life for a bit and should not be a reason for your concern at all…
I’ve read the three fifty shades books and thought they were really good, but that never made me hit on my hostdad or bring lots of men to the house – not even if it was my own house.

We all enjoy different things in life and I think that you’re often drawn to books and movies that are different from your own reality!

As she had previously told you she doesn’t go out much and is a fairly religious person so trust what she had said and take the fact that she did accept your friendrequest on Facebook as a sign she has nothing to hide from you.

Momma Gadget March 3, 2014 at 5:44 pm

My mother was into that book series too a while back…. it was all the rage at one point. I wouldn’t ‘read’ to much into it .

Skny March 3, 2014 at 7:21 pm

It does not worry me that your Au pair’s favorite book is that, as much as it worries me that you are a first time host parent already worried about au Pair seducing your husband. That IS a recipe for desaster.
I have had gorgeous Au pairs, who did love to party, who dressed very provocative, but never had a reason to worry about Au pairs being unprofessional towards my husband.
I feel that to have Au pairs successfuly you must be confident in your husband and Au pair alone doesn’t matter her religious status, what she reads, and how she dresses.

Taking a Computer Lunch March 3, 2014 at 10:32 pm

I agree. Don’t read into what she reads. If you’re worried that your AP might hit on your husband, then you’re not going to have a productive year. AP #7 read 50 Shades of Gray and shared it with my LCC. It’s not my taste in books, but heck, a woman can have a fantasy life!

Over the years I’ve had LCC’s (not my current one) and other HP complain about the way my AP’s dress. I’m not in the least bit interested in how they appear. I want dynamic young woman interested in kids, energetic with them and able to do what needs to be done. The first time The Camel spits spinach, my APs realize I wasn’t joking when I warned them to bring old clothes for working and save the new clothes for going out.

I’ve said this before – ALL candidates put their best foot forward. You can choose to call it lying, stretching the truth, or positive spin, but all of them want to land a position and are willing to say what they think we want to hear. Personally, I’d rather they were honest about who they are, but I also figure on a “fudge” factor – meaning the truth is fudged a little. The AP who swears she is a morning person will stay out late at night because that’s what APs do.

When AP #4 left behind a “rape & romance” book, I left it in the AP suite, figuring it was an easy English-language read and might interest her successors.

On the other hand, if you’re a deeply religious person and you’re shocked your future AP read the book, then you need to reach out and have a conversation with her. My guess is that she’ll make her FB page much more private.

Finally, I think we had this conversation elsewhere. I personally don’t friend candidates or my current AP, on the grounds that I really don’t want to know. I am friends with several past APs.

Gretchen March 3, 2014 at 10:40 pm

My 78 year old mother loves to read True Crime books. Especially ones about serial killers. Does that make her a serial killer? Nope. It makes her someone who likes reading true crime books.

By the way, speaking as a librarian, “50 Shades of Gray” is really very tame. It just dibs its toes slightly in the BDSM world. Frankly, for a young adult to be reading it now is no different from someone reading “Peyton Place” back in the 1960’s. Or “Flowers in the Attic” in the 1980’s & 1990’s. Of questionable literary merit? Yep. But it’s recreational reading. Don’t worry about it.

However, I do agree with the Skny above. If you are seriously questioning whether your husband might have an affair with an au pair in your house, you should probably examine that more closely before you have one.

HRHM March 4, 2014 at 12:06 am

Just be happy she actually reads! We are a bookworm family (at least the kids and I, not DH so much) and we have only had one AP who had any interest in reading anything more in depth than the cereal box. For me, that one AP and I had something in common (finally) besides my kids and we connected over it, passing books back and forth. And yes, she had 50 shades in her collection, although I’ve never read it, BDSM bears no interest… Our current AP won’t pick up a book in even the most mind numbing situations (sitting at practices for an hour, on a plane, in the car for 9 hours, etc) If there is no wifi, she just stares off into space – I’d go nuts.

Seattle Mom March 4, 2014 at 12:54 am

I’ve had au pairs with questionable taste in literature (HA!), but it has had no bearing on their success as an au pair in my home. Sure, I’d love to find a nice intellectual gal who is as excited about our book collection as she is about our children, but it hasn’t happened yet. So yeah, I wouldn’t worry too much about it.

This reminds me.. during our last matching process, there was a potential AP who I was all excited about because she really seemed to share our family’s values. She seemed really smart and cared about the environment and I thought she would be just great. Then I skyped with her and realized that she wasn’t really a kid person… which is the whole point. We’re not looking for a great roommate, we’re looking primarily for someone who is going to take great care of our kids, and be a nice enough person to live with. I do know people who are both intellectually interesting and great with kids, but I haven’t actually met any in the au pair pool.. I’m sure they exist, but hard to find. FWIW I would make a lousy au pair, so I’m not that person either :)

AmericanAP in Germany March 4, 2014 at 1:41 am

I think you’re reading far too much into her book choice. Who knows, if that’s the only book she has listed there, it might even be a joke. I don’t think the fact that she read a bestseller and then liked it on facebook is going to have any bearing on what kind of aupair she is, or how professionally she interacts with your family.

You’re a first time host family and I understand that you’re freaking out a bit and trying to glean whatever information you can from her profile….But just relax! You interviewed with her and she seemed a good fit. Have confidence in your choice. I hope your comments about you AP and husband were just a joke….If you’re worried about that, it’s probably going to be a very rocky year for both your relationship with your husband and your AP.

didis March 4, 2014 at 2:52 am

My HM actually borrowed me that book to read so we can make fun of it together later on.
I don’t think you should be worried because that book is her only/favorite on Facebook. I assure you, every au pair who adds hosts on FB goes through her posts, photos, friends, info, everything and deletes all stuff she finds not appropriate. If she decided to have that there it means she trusts you and doesn’t see it as big deal. Also, if she accepted you on Facebook, means she is willing to have open and friendly relationship with you and I am sure she wouldn’t mind you asking her about some other books she read or similar.

FutureAuPair March 4, 2014 at 3:59 am

Just from another side completely: I know I never keep the books I read on Facebook up to date (it would take too long!). And I know I have friends who have left their laptops open on Facebook and that’s the sort of thing that might well be put up as a prank. If the host mum is really worried about it she should ask the future au pair about it – there’s no solution for most problems like this outside of direct communication between the people involved!

FutureAuPair March 4, 2014 at 3:59 am

Oh, and I’m not the au pair in question.

Bookworm March 4, 2014 at 7:04 am

While I agree that 50 Shades of Gray is trash – and I am talking style not content – what is wrong about listing it as your favorite book?

I mostly read fantasy / sci-fi (which I know many “real” readers don’t even consider literature unless it’s Tolkien)… and there is very little chance I will expect your cat to answer me if I talk to her (now if she did that would be cool but probably scare me to death) nor would I expect your basement the hold the door to the underworld (and even if it did I’d be too scared to open it, I promise) or a stone circle to bring me to the 18th century (oh Gabaldon, how I love her writing and sorry, but she can be quite naughty as well). I have also read my share of trashy romance novels in my early 20s… Jude Deveraux, Barbara Taylor Bradford, Nora Roberts – much of which I assume my host family might have found shady ;) I also love to read everything crime/horror – Karin Slaughter, Val McDermid (and wow, she can be explicit!) – and still don’t run around committing crimes.

50 Shades of Grey being listed as her only favorite might simply mean she isn’t much of a bookworm. You might be in for an au pair that doesn’t read more than the back of a shampoo bottle when she is in the bathroom. Or an au pair that loves romance novels (or sparkling vampires – now, that would drive me away from a prospective applicant!) and 50 Shades just happens to be the book she read last or she liked best and instead of listing ten different trashy novels she stuck to listing her one favorite book. If you notice she likes to read, why not introduce her to your (or your family’s) favorites? She might find a book she likes even more (try Gabaldon’s Outlander series ^^ hot Scots… my MIL still thinks it’s porn though).

Momma Gadget March 4, 2014 at 10:50 am

Going off on a tangent: Oooh Jamie! Love Gabaldon!
Hoping the Outlander series coming to TV this summer lives up to expectations and is as good a rendition of a book series as Game of Thrones! The trailer looks promising…
Wish there was a APM book club.
Sorry for the OT-but if you knew Jamie Fraser you’d understand!

OpinionatedHM March 4, 2014 at 8:19 pm

Right there with you Mama Gadget!

Seattle Mom March 4, 2014 at 7:08 pm

You know, when I was 20 I probably would have listed Clive Barker as my favorite author. And I was as nice and sweet and unscary as they come.

Multitasking Host Mom March 4, 2014 at 11:44 am

First let me say that 50 shades was actually the most check out book at our city library the year it was published (according to their newsletter). This could simply mean she likes to follow trends and nothing more. I do sympathize with the worry of waiting for the new au pair to come and stressing that you made the right choice. I have also gone down the path of nick picking every little detail and looking for meaning in all things. So I get it! Just take a deep breathe. Keep an open mind. You picked this AP for a reason. Once she arrives, and she has been in your house for a few weeks, you will know if the year will be a success.

AnotherSeattleHostMom March 4, 2014 at 12:09 pm

All three of our Au Pairs have been obsessed with that book and they were not at ALL party girls. I think it’s just a book you’re supposed to read and like when you’re teens/twenties. We passed around the Clan of the Cave Bear books in high school to read the dirty parts, even when we were 18.

Should be working March 4, 2014 at 12:28 pm

Let me also urge the OP to look at the more recent post on the “mediocre” (actually bad) au pair. Plan carefully for how to welcome and train your new AP. Have lists, stick to them, don’t treat her like a guest. There is a LOT on this website that is relevant to settling in a new AP and becoming a good manager of said AP.

Host Mom X March 4, 2014 at 4:57 pm

Just to pile on here, we had an AP who had a great fondness for the obscenest of obscene rap music. (Profanities, explicit and offensive sexual references, nasty objectification of women, etc.) She had great English, but as I think most of us know, curse words and obscenities in other-than-our-native-languages do not have the same impact on us as they do on native speakers. I think that she mostly did not understand what she was listening to in the same way an American would – which is why I forgave her when she left it on in the living room when our school-aged children and neighbor kids were all playing together (I had thought that she realized it was inappropriate for children to hear because she usually would keep it on when she only had the infant with her, but switch it to more benign music when the older kids were home). Once we asked her not to play music with that kind of language around the kids, she stopped, but I really think she just did not fully understand how inappropriate the words being used were for kids to hear. (We also had to then ask her to stop playing it around the infant too, as she started getting toward language-acquiring age.)

Anyway – this is all to say: her choice of music did not at all reflect her behavior as a person. She did not impart the values expressed in the rap lyrics to our children, and she was actually rather prudish in her own behavior (liked to dance and stay out late, but didn’t drink and was very careful about men). Sometimes we just like our entertainment to entertain us. (Full disclosure: I enjoy me some rap every now and again, obscenities and derogatory-toward-women lyrics and all.)

German Au-Pair March 4, 2014 at 8:08 pm

I think what the HM is worried about regarding the book is not that she likes it but that she seems to ONLY like it. Like it would be her all time favorite book.
I think this can have two reasons: Either she usually doesn’t read at all but has heard about the hype this book caused and then read it. OR she usually doesn’t update her book list on FB (really, who does) but saw someone else updating that in her time line and just pressed the button.
Nothing to worry about.
But focussing on that and stating that you’re worried about her behavior towards your husband makes me think you are very insecure about this whole situation. Before your au pair arrives, you should really take some time to think about what it means to have another woman in your home and family’s life. Think about her around your husband, but more importantly, think about the fact that your children will grow to love her and that you might feel jealous. I’m pretty sure that’s normal but you should really give it a good thought -and probably make your husband aware of it, too- before she comes. She’ll pick up on your mood and most likely think there’s something wrong in your relationship.
If you really find yourself having trouble with that, I can only recommend actually communicating that to her. To tell her you’re having a bit of a hard time adjusting to the situation and that it’s not her you’re having a problem with,

German Au-Pair March 4, 2014 at 8:10 pm

Oh about the “Will she be bringing men to the house?”-part…read the recent post about it and make a rule about it instead of worrying and maybe resenting.

Eliza March 5, 2014 at 3:41 am

If you ‘like’ a page on fb, e.g. a movie, food, book, athlete, it will automatically know you have read it, and suggest you add it to your ‘about’ section..

Host Mom in the City March 5, 2014 at 9:30 am

One funny thing about Facebook is that it fills in that profile stuff based on what you “like” within Facebook So it’s not just the things you actually sit down and fill out completely. Mine currently says that my likes are Target, Old Navy, and a kid’s band in the area. Those are not the things I sat down and thought to myself “what should I include in my profile to represent what I like and who I am?” They are things that either popped up on my feed and I was like “yeah, I like those” and then didn’t think twice about it or they’re things that had coupons that I had to like the page to get. Anyone looking at it would think I was very boring and uncultured :)

It’s very likely that she read that book (just like everyone else it seems for a period there) and one of her friends “liked” it and then she “liked” it and that was that. Doubtful she ever thought about it again and it definitely doesn’t mean that’s the only book she likes in the world.

WarmStateMomma March 5, 2014 at 11:21 am

This sounds like the most likely scenario. I think any photos she posted in the last year say more about her than hitting “like” on a particular book.

On a different note, I don’t think the OP was being serious about worrying about her husband and the AP. FWIW – DH and I are both 33 and our AP is 26, and I’ve never lost any sleep “wondering.” I certainly wouldn’t have been attracted to a married guy in his 30s or 40s, when I was 18 to 26, and even less so if I lived with him, his wife, and their kids. DH snores like a jackhammer and after hearing it from down the hall, no AP is looking to cross that line. I doubt any attraction is there on either side in most cases.

Seattle Mom March 5, 2014 at 6:57 pm

Maybe the OPs DH is super hot and easily seduced… in which case she has more worries to deal with. Just because you’re not worried doesn’t mean that the OP isn’t actually worried.

And age doesn’t have that much to do with it. My 50+ year old DH is a professor and has college students flirting with him all the time.. who knows if they are really interested or not but it is both irritating and flattering to me. I don’t lose sleep over it though, because I trust him and I know we have a strong relationship. I suspect these kids think they are helping their grade in some way, but they definitely are not. Or maybe they can’t help it- my DH is attractive and athletic, and looks a lot younger than he is :).

I do know a guy who ended up in an extra-marital relationship with his kid’s nanny when they lived overseas. He’s now divorced from his kids’ mother and married to the nanny. I’m a big believer in the idea that happily married people do not have affairs, but people facing problems in their marriage are vulnerable and there’s no reason why it couldn’t or wouldn’t happen with an AP.

Seattle Mom March 5, 2014 at 7:01 pm

Although the idea that someone would be more likely to seduce someone based on a book that they read…


WarmStateMomma March 6, 2014 at 7:17 am

I just think the OP mentioned the AP seducing her husband in an offhand way, not like that was an area of specific concern. If I thought an AP would come onto my husband, that would be the topic rather than a book.

My guess is that although students flirt with a sexy professor sometimes at the university, they’d be less likely to do it when they lived with him and his family. Besides, it’s hard enough for DH and I to find any time alone together – he and an AP would be doomed! :)

Seattle Mom March 5, 2014 at 6:59 pm

That also sounds likely to me.. i had the same thought too. I have some weird things that show up under my “likes” for whatever reason.

Comments on this entry are closed.