Although this blog is not really for au pairs, there are times when other host parents are the best folks to offer advice to an au pair. This particular situation is a tough one, since the problem concerns how the Host Dad treats his son, and how (or even whether) the Host Mom and the au pair can change the situation.
Au Pair Lucy recently wrote with a question about some dynamics with her Host Dad that are turning out to be quite difficult. She’d like our thoughts about what to do.
Hi I’m an au pair in France, currently in my seventh month with the same family. I feel like I got so so lucky with this family and I’m really happy with everything, except with the Host Dad.
I feel like the Host Dad is really really negative towards his eldest son. I cannot handle it anymore. The child has difficulty taking care with his handwriting, and I’m always next to him helping with his homework and reminding him to take care with his handwriting. He has been getting punishments because of this, so I try to make him do his best at all times. One day he had taken so much care with his handwriting and I was so proud, I told him to go show his father, who was playing video games in the room next-door. His father refused to pause the game to look at his son’s work, and what’s more, called him selfish for it, and he came back into the room to me in tears.
I really can’t understand how someone could have decided to have a child, which he did, the children were planned, and treat them like that?
The father has blown up at the child, 8 years old, quite a few times over these past 7 months.
I really feel like, as an au pair, I can’t say that I disagree with how he treats his children. I feel like that is a conversation that would ruin my relationship with the family, whom, apart from him, I absolutely adore! On the other hand I can’t sit back and let him abuse a child emotionally, because I feel like that is what he is doing.
Do you have any advice for me about this situation?
Start with the Host Mom ?
SInce the first thing I’d advise would be to talk with the Host Mom, I wrote Lucy back to aks her if she’d done this already, and what had come of it. Lucy replied:
My Host Mom evidently has spoken about this with the father, because she mentioned to me that he would be making an effort to be less hard on his son.
Which worked for about a month, around Christmas, when all their family was around, but he no longer seems to be making the effort.
And I feel bad for my Host Mom because I’m pretty sure she knows how I view the situation, and I feel like she is trying to please everyone. She doesn’t contradict her husband, then she has to comfort her son and then reassure me that she is not ok with what is going on. It really isn’t fair on her, so I don’t know if I could bring it up with her, I feel like she has enough pressure as it is.
Having an au pair around has usually helped me be a better mom. I’ve wanted to be a good role model, and frankly also not embarrass myself. I have occasionally been aware that having my au pair around has prevented me from acting out my own worst Mom behavior. And, I’ve also been embarrassed to not have acted as warmly towards my kids or my spouse in front of (not to mention away from) my au pair.
But, other than being told that I wasn’t teaching my kids enough about Jesus, I’ve never had to respond to implicit or explicit criticism from an au pair.
So, I wonder what the best way is to:
- Protect the Host Child
- Support the Host Mom and Host Dad in better behavior
- Kindly confront the Host Dad
Parents and au pairs, what should Lucy consider?
Temple of Philae, Dec 2008 – 27 from Ed Yourdon
Green Pencil by Pink Sherbet Photography (D Sharon Pruitt)