We spend a lot of time on this blog sharing ideas about how to figure out whether an au pair candidate is actually ready to do the job, live in another family, and explore an new culture and country. But, we haven’t spent much time sharing ideas about preparing *ourselves” for becoming host parents.
We focus a bit on ‘them’, but what about ‘us’?
I think it’s pretty clear that some families should never try being host parents.
Host families that can’t clarify their priorities, can’t align around a shared child raising philosophy, families where the parents hate each other, families that are stingy either financially or emotionally — these folks should never be host parents.
But what about the majority of us? We’re good people. We want the best for our kids and our family. We are willing to accommodate to our caregiver choices. We think we’re emotionally and psychologically able to do this.
Plus, we’ve read all the agency materials. We’ve looked at the host parent expectations and think we can meet them. We’re ready to go.
And then, your first au pair arrives. After about three weeks:
- If we are lucky or self-aware*, we notice how much harder it is than we thought. We step back and think: what the heck have we gotten in to? What do we do now? How can we make this work?
- OR, if we are unlucky and/or lacking in self-awareness, we don’t even realize what’s happening. We start feeling annoyed, overburdened and resentful. We start acting prickly; maybe even we’re mean. We treat our au pair as though he or she were the problem, when in fact the problem lies with us.
We realize– we just weren’t ready for this.
If only we had known that we weren’t ready.
That’s where we all come in. Can we put together what we remember from when we were preparing for your first au pair, and when s/he first arrived, and identify some questions that would help families figure out if they were ready to become ‘host’ families?
How can we make sure that we know what it means to welcome a young person from another country into our home, and into our lives?
Imagine that there was a Host Parent Readiness Assessment, and you were administering the assessment.
What questions would you ask to figure out whether a host parent or family was ready?
What questions do you recommend that all potential host parents ask themselves?
[ Once we generate a bunch of ideas, I’ll take all these questions and turn them into an actual questionnaire/assessment…
Note Weds 5/12 — this turns out to be one of the best lists of AuPairParent wisdom ever! wow! cv]
Image: Room For Everyone, by Cathy Nichols. Go buy it on Etsy. You deserve some pretty art.