Au Pair lies, but my kids love him. Should we rematch?

by cv harquail on March 31, 2014

Just when you think the answer is clear, a situation comes along that makes it foggy again.

Only last week, I claimed that repeated lying was an automatic, unquestionable grounds for rematch. Then, we got this email, below, from DevastatedHM.

5318518796_3dfd669c6f_mDevastatedHM has an au pair that she and her family adore, but who has broken several rules and lied about it. Even though they’ve had the heart-to-heart talk, and even though he’s said he’d reform, the Au Pair has continued to break rules.

Is this a situation where the Host Parent should cave, because it would hurt the kids to hold the Au Pair accountable?

Or does it make sense to hold the line, rematch, and manage the emotional repercussions to the kids as you move ahead with a new au pair?

DevastatedHM and I are both looking forward to what you all think!


Dear AuPairmom Community —

Can you bear just one more rematch question? I don’t want to hijack TrustbrokenHM’s thread, and I am pull-my-hair-out desperate for advice/support/comfort.    

Here’s the good part:

I love our au pair. My son worships our au pair. My extended family adores him as well (my parents refer to him as their host grandson), the neighborhood kids all love him. He is fun, warm, engaging, reasonably diligent, thoughtful and just incredibly skilled at connecting with children.

He manages a great balance of host family time/ time away with friends. For us, he has been something of a godsend, because my son, who went through a number of difficult transitions last year, really did not connect well with our previous au pair (pretty much hated her by the end), and has really blossomed under the comfort and support of his new “big brother.” We’ve got 5 months left, and we’ll be sad when he has to leave. Which may be right away.

Here’s the problem:

I discovered a couple of months ago that he broke a big house rule (smoking) and lied about it to cover it up. When I found out, he came clean, and we had a long discussion that seemed to resolve things. No more smoking, rebuilding trust, etc. Last week, I found out that he broke another rule (car use rule) on a big way. It actually happened a while ago (right before the smoking talk), but this time, when confronted with it he lied. And lied. And lied, even when it was clear that he had been caught.

He finally confessed when it was clear I wasn’t letting it go and it was just ridiculous to hang onto the lie. We had another big talk, and he seemed to “get it”, and appeared remorseful, but…he lies, so who knows?

So, I am faced with a dilemma.

Our beloved au pair has lied repeatedly, and shown shocking (to me) lapses in judgment. My head says rematch is the right call, but the thought of it makes my heart ache. Some considerations: the broken rules occurred in AP’s off duty time. I don’t have any reason to believe he’s exercised such poor judgment in taking care of my son (who is old enough to tell). On the other hand, i don’t have any reason to trust that he’ll magically be able to exercise only the best judgment with my son. I just don’t know one way or the other.

After a lot of upheaval, my son is finally beginning to feel secure. I’m afraid of the effect that rematch will have on him (he knows exactly when AP’s year is up, and confirms often that he’ll be here for x holiday, birthday, etc.) And I’m afraid of his potential backlash against whatever au pair takes the current one’s place if we have a bad transition. And we’ll all really miss him!

I left a message for the LCC, letting her know the situation, and that I was torn, was considering rematch, but really seeking any suggestions or ideas. [She in turn sent me an email letting me know what rematch would mean financially. Not helpful at all.]

So I’m turning to the AuPairMom community. Please help me either find a way to continue the match with a person i can’t trust, or bring myself to pull the trigger and deal with the emotional repercussions.

Either way really stinks. Is there something in between??   Thanks, ~  Devastated HM


Image:  “Kitty in the Window” by Erika, on Flickr


skny March 31, 2014 at 6:52 am

a lot of au pairs lie about smoking. They know that no host family of few will match with a smoking au pair.
I hate smoking and in our rule is if you smoke, dont do in our home, our car, ou view, Dont let me or the kids see/ smell. I wont ask and you wont lie,
As long as does not affect me or kids or causes smell in our property, I dont care. His health. His decision.
As for car, I would need more information on the broken rule,,, With an awesome au pair I will ignore extra mileage, going to a forbiden area, etc… BUT not drink and drive…
Our current awesome (we love so much) au pair could drive 4hs away (handbook says 2 each way allowed) and I would completely ignore. Our lives are so much better and easier because she is here, that if I knew that free car priviledges would keep her longer, Id drop all car rules.
Now, if she was terrible, I probably would feel different

TexasHM March 31, 2014 at 7:53 am

Definitely not enough info to call this one. Would need to know more about what happened with the car. Also did you discuss the lying last round and make clear that continued lying would be grounds for rematch? I guess I’m asking if this AP will have idea it’s coming (if not that’s fine, just wondering how “safe” he thinks he is and if that’s fueling it). Also, how long ago was this car mistake and has it happened since? Is he remorseful or just saying so to get you off his back? Why did he say he lied last time? (Fear? Shame? Thought it wasn’t your business? Etc). That would affect my response as well. Why did he break the rule? (Bad judgment, didn’t think it was a big deal, thinks your rules are stupid, etc)

Devastated HM March 31, 2014 at 8:25 am

The first incident involved smoking over a period of time. I am admittedly a nut case about smoking. In addition to my son having asthma, my mom has copd from smoking (stopped years ago) and my college roommate’s mom died from smoking-related lung cancer. I just cannot stand it AT ALL, and so I made clear during the interview process and the handbook how important the rule was. We also discussed smoking several times after he arrived. After he was caught, I asked whether he thought the rule was unclear, too harsh, whatever. I acknowledged that my rule was harsher than other families’ (handbook even says if your friends are smoking, please ask that they not do it around you), but that it is really important to me. He said he understood and could comply with the rule, but he recently confessed that he’s smoked twice since then, but not not at or near the house.

As far as the car goes… He can generally take the car anywhere reasonably local (subject to interpretation and I haven’t been too rigid about that) but not into our nearby, smallish big city. I found out by chance that he drove the car 5 hours away to a huge city to watch the ball drop on New Year’s Eve. I’m bothered by that, but more upset by the lying afterwards. He said he had been afraid to tell me because he thought after the smoking incident, I would rematch immediately. He did seem very remorseful, although the remorse was likely over getting caught more so than the actual deed. I told him that I had only begun trusting him again after the smoking, and that this time rematch is a real possibility. Since that talk, we’ve been in a kind of limbo.

As far as the rules go, he said that he thought the rules were actually pretty easy to comply with/not overly restrictive, and that he “didn’t know” why he broke them.

Host Mom in the City March 31, 2014 at 9:49 am

Wow – tough one! On one hand, I can see putting up with a lot for an au pair that is truly transformational in a kid’s life. On the other hand, I’m not sure I’d ever be able to trust someone that sat and lied to my face multiple times. In fact, I’ve had that au pair, and indeed, I never looked at her the same way again, and spent the last few months worried every single day I left my kids with her.

So I do think I’d need to know what he lied about with the car. I remember distinctly being in my early 20s and flat out lying to my parents or just leaving out large chunks of the story when I felt like their rules were ridiculous. I wasn’t a bad person, and indeed, had a job at which I was very responsible and never would have left a child in harms way. But it did show that I was immature and self-focused above all – I didn’t have the ability to see things my parents way or the maturity to push back on their rules respectfully rather than just rolling my eyes and lying. I also didn’t have the awareness to realize that my parents could still legitimately control aspects of my life that they were still paying for. Obviously to me now, if someone is providing you with a car, you have to respect their car rules. If you don’t like their rules, then go buy your own car and you can do whatever you want.

Thinking about it that way scares me – do you really want to leave your kids with someone so obviously immature, selfish, and unaware of other people’s needs? Scares me about the whole au pair program to be honest. I was a good kid in my early 20s, but I was definitely putting my own needs above everyone else’s, particularly in pursuit of social activities. That worries me that your au pair made choices for his own desires that were directly in conflict with your needs and your child’s needs.

To think about it another way though, are your rules too restrictive? Might be something to explore. If he broke a rule about driving a certain distance for example, maybe consider not having that rule at all. We don’t have any off-duty rules – if I’m trusting you to be with my kids, I trust you to make good choices in your off time.

Hm, I think I’ve talked myself into a place where I think I know what I would do. I would tell him that lying is a serious serious offense to you and that you are incredibly disappointed, and that if he weren’t such a wonderful au pair, you would be sending him home immediately. I would tell him that you’re going to have a mediation session with the LCC, at which she needs to reinforce the “your car, your rules” message and warn him that if he is caught lying again, he will go home immediately – no way he will get a new family if he’s in rematch due to lying, so lying will mean the end of his year. Offer him the chance to talk about why he broke the rules – maybe he does feel like he can be on a “longer leash” and you can give him a win in terms of loosening the restrictions a bit.

And then you’ll have to decide to let it go – to start again from a place of trust and not spend the rest of your time with him wondering whether he’s lying again. And if something else happens to make you question his judgment, rematch.

exaupair March 31, 2014 at 10:04 am

Your car your rules and he has to stick to them, whatever they’re like. But unfortunately you didn’t specify which car rule did he break (car curfew? driving further than you’d want to putting mileage on your car? drunk driving? treating your car as a free taxi for all the local APs?). Use of your car is a privilege that can be taken away anytime, and he should treat it as such instead of bending and breaking the rules.
As for smoking, I would be a hypocrite telling anyone off because of that (I smoke a lot), so unless anyone in your house has asthma or you specifically said before matching that you will not tolerate ANY smoking….sit him down, tell him you’re not stupid and you know what’s going on, and make new rules for that, i.e. no smoking inside of the house anytime, no smoking in the car, no smoking when he’s on duty, no smoking in front of the child even if they’re outside, no secondary smell when he’s back from a party(smelly clothes must be washed right when he’s back) ect.

caring hp March 31, 2014 at 10:33 am

Car usage: see my post on last weeks thread “Two Weeks, Three Lies, and One Next Step: Rematch” about encouraging respect for HF car with an OnStar or Mastrack type device. Several HFs have more peace of mind thanks to this.
We too have car rules because the cost of having an extra car to be in the AP Program is a big sacrifice/investment and we need to take reasonable car of the car.

Smoking: might it be that he was ashamed? Might it be that he didnt realize how important having a no smokin Ap is to you? Might it be that he had given up smoking and restarted in USA or just started smoking recently? Might he want to stop and welcome your help to find a YMCA or local health center course on giving up? Or books/resources?
My employer offers employee support services on lots of life issues including shopping, doctor choices and smoking and sometimes I am able to sign the AP up for free for these services. Maybe you have similar options in your area?
Might he and u agree that smoking is to be away from home with no smells coming home?

A past AP lied to us (on serious car issue and several smaller issues) after we had spent 1000 and dozens of hours helping her with an issue we, as HP are not expected to help with. We were saddened but after having a rematch discussion with Parents and LCC we excused several lies for cultural differences but were always scared about the car. We were forgiving because like you, our kids loved her so much. However I wish I had used Mastrack or Onstar to procure car respect.

Devastated HM April 1, 2014 at 1:47 am

Caring HP– I saw your post about tracking devices, and actually researched hem over the weekend. For me though, it’s not just about knowing where the car is… It’s just “is AP being truthful and responsible”? Wish there were a tracker for that! The other thing is, those trackers give a little too much info. I don’t want to know where AP is/ has been at all times. I just want some assurance that he’s not breaking the rules.

I really think his smoking is casual, so it’s just a matter of saying no– he doesn’t need help quitting. My job does have EAP, but I don’t know what they could help him with. Maybe they can help me! :)

Should be working March 31, 2014 at 11:13 am

SUCH a hard story. Yes I would need more info about the car infraction. The child is old enough to tattle. If it were a genuine safety issue–drunk driving–I would start rematch. If not I would probably talk again to AP and say how shaken I am by the lying and that he is going to be interrogated frequently for the next little while about different things because I need to feel like the stories all match. What is he willing to do to make up for it, regain trust? Did he make any suggestions or offer concessions?

Rematch would hurt a lot, but it would also be a lesson to your son that his safety is most important, and you will make sacrifices if someone acts in a way that means he could endanger his safety. It’s even a lesson that people we love sometimes cross a line and there are consequences. Love doesn’t conquer all. A hard lesson, to be sure. I would share my own anguish with the child as well (in a limited way).

Angie host mom March 31, 2014 at 11:13 am

If the underlying car offense was one you would fire him over, then do it and be done with it. If not, don’t force him to admit old bad behavior. It’s a bit like asking your kids, did you color on the wall? When they are holding a crayon and there is crayon on the wall. What’s the point of asking? You are just giving them a chance to try to take control or change the course of the conversation/situation. Just tell him you found out about it and institute whatever penalties are in the book – or give a warning that it is not ok – but don’t discuss it or ask him to admit it. What’s to be gained, you know he did it.

I have to avoid asking my daughter to do things – ie would you pick up your mess? – because her answer is always “No, Thank you.” Funny, but in the big picture asking about guilt just gives the control of the conversation away.

Try to carefully avoid putting your au pairs in a position where they are going to want to lie to you. Otherwise, you end up in a mess like this one.

Returning HM March 31, 2014 at 12:29 pm

Ha! I learned this lesson the first year I taught middle school (back in the Middle Ages, it seems like): Never ask a student if he will please do something if you absolutely want it done. Just tell him to do it and don’t give him the option to say no. Love it! Thanks for the reminder.

Momma Gadget March 31, 2014 at 12:17 pm

OP- that is a major quandary! I feel for you!

As the issue with the car happened before the other smoking issue, I would not view it as “we just had a long talk about this, and now look what he’s done”.
Depending on how serious the car issue was (Great point Angie Host Mom)) the benefit to my child would far out way the other issues… as long as they were one time offenses, that did not affect the well being or safety of your child. I think learning to deal with (non-parental) authority is often tough for young adults.

I would put him on notice, and have the LC mediate. I would tell him how much you appreciate how great he is with your son. But that you cannot abide by breaking your rules and then lying about it. You are willing to give him another chance, but if he can not follow the rules about the car, then he cannot use the car in his off hours. If he lies to you again, you will have no choice but to rematch. I would point out to him, that even though your son who worships him will be devastated, you cannot have an AP living in your home whom you don’t trust.

We had a serious issue with some really poor judgement calls from one of our APs. There were so many foibles: the lies of another manipulative “damsel in distress”AP, a misunderstanding about the laws of public consumption and underage drinking(the other AP lied about her age, among other things); mixed up with the emotional rants of a crazy HM who was screaming at my LC to send my AP home. Had he not been so terrific with my boys, we would have rematched. These were honest(though really stupid) mistakes, and he did not lie about them. We had a “fear of God” conversation with him, and he was remorseful and extremely apologetic. There was never another issue. In fact, he ended up being one of our best APs and we extended with him.

I think the other thing you need to look at is if you decide to give him another chance, and he agree’s to follow all the rules, can you leave the past mistakes behind? It is an awful ( and dooming) feeling to feel like you your are under a microscope, and can never overcome the stigma from a past mistake.

Devastated HM March 31, 2014 at 1:16 pm

I don’t necessarily view taking the car as a new issue, since it happened earlier, but lying about it coincided with the smoking, and again just recently. It’s really the lying that is troubling. I have no doubt that he doesn’t WANT to do then wrong thing, and I recognize that folks make mistakes, but we have to own them when we make them. Im really just starting to doubt his ability to own up. Not because he’s a bad person– hes just more of a kid than I realized. I also don’t have a lot of faith in the helpfulness of the LCC either. She’s been pretty useless so far.

On the other hand, my son had such a rough time last year, and is so much happier now…ugh…

skny March 31, 2014 at 9:10 pm

It is very VERY common for younger people (immature) to own up at times.
A lot will lie in a panic/impulse. And later on you realize you lied and it is too late so you keep it.
I have a specific example of when I was an au pair (10+years ago). They were doing construction in one room of the house. The constructor left the heat on high, to dry the wall. I thought they forgot and turned it off.
Next day I could see the constructor was really upset. But did not know why. HM came and asked if I had turned it off. I panicked and in an impulse said no. Almost instantly I realized it was stupid, because I did not know, and was just trying to help. I really wanted to go back and say: Listen HM, I actually did turn it off. I thought it was a mistake. I am sorry.
But I was too panicked about lying and did not want her to think I was lying about other things too. So I just kept quiet and held back…
I always remember this when dealing with my teenager. and NEVER ask if she did. Because she will too be caught holding the coke can, and say NO, DID NOT GET A COKE TODAY.
I think a lot of lies come from fear, so I just affirm instead: I do not approve that you took the coke. We have a 1 soda a day rule and you broke it. Next time….

Momma Gadget April 1, 2014 at 9:05 am

Totally Agree!

Angie host mom April 9, 2014 at 1:14 pm

Having read more of the details about what happened and the chronology, I think you have to rematch. He has lied to you too many times.

What happens when he screws up on a kids medication and gives too much by accident and doesn’t tell you because you will freak out? Or if he drives with the emergency brake on and wrecks it and doesn’t tell you so it doesn’t get fixed for when you really need it? Or when he has friends over when you are out of town and they steal your stuff or break it and he covers it up?

I couldn’t leave my house, kids or car (not in that order) with your AP after the number of lies I’d heard.

Dorsi March 31, 2014 at 1:18 pm

I think this might be a situation where I would think of the consequences of each set of actions.

If you let your AP get away with dishonesty, you may get more of it. You may feel resentful and manipulated. You may also end up with some annoying to serious problems (depending on the nature of the previous infractions) — wear and tear on the car, car damage, putting up with some secret smoking. This resentment may be a big deal or it may be quite bearable. Imagine a worst case scenario: how bad is it?

If you rematch the AP over this, your son may have some serious adjustment difficulties that trickle down to the next AP (or other childcare solution). Again, imagine the worst case scenario and decide how bad that would be.

For me, I would rather have to live with the manipulation instead of disrupting a fragile kid. I am not making the argument that is what you should do — depends on the seriousness of the infractions and the resilience of your kid. (Full disclosure: we are going into rematch with an AP who has not bonded at all with the kids — I have probably a skewed perspective on how disruptive transitions and bad relationships can be and would do anything to avoid it at this point.)

HRHM March 31, 2014 at 3:18 pm

I don’t think I see any reference to HCs age, but the fact that he can tell on AP means he’s old enough to see how AP is behaving and to model those behaviors. So of course, if he knows AP was smoking and sees that you let it slide, that’s not really a message you want him getting. Worse yet, if AP was drinking and driving, I don’t care how much HC loves him, I would rematch because that is NOT the person you want your kiddo idolizing, no matter how great he is in other arenas. And HC should be told that the reason for the rematch is that AP did something terribly dangerous and needs more time to grow up before he can be trusted in such an important position as caring for a kid.

However, if the car incident was not drunk driving, then I guess your bigger issue is the lie and how he clung to it, despite being told last time that you wouldn’t tolerate lying. There are certainly cultural issues with lying (aka “saving face” in many cultures) and I’ve had quite a few APs from Eastern Europe who made it clear that lying, cheating at school, bribery, etc were par for the course in the world they came from. The expectation in those cultures was that if you didn’t engage in those behaviors, you would never get ahead and would just end up being the patsy for everyone who did. So it may just be reflexive on his part and something that will need to be “beaten” out of him with repeated run ins of this nature. :( But if it was me, and he is as fantastic as you say, I would be willing to be the one challenging this cultural norm and teaching him to be more honest in exchange for a fabulous AP that my kid loves. Having had PLENTY of mediocre APs that weren’t so honest either, 1 out of 2 ain’t bad…

Devastated HM March 31, 2014 at 10:29 pm

I really appreciate all of the advice and opinions offered here. About every 10 minutes, I make a decision about what to do, and completely change it 10 minutes later. I just feel really stuck.

I agree that he panicked, and I get that, but we’re talking about a period of months, and many, many opportunities to come clean. I even sent him a text message from work, asking him to clarify some facts that way, because he had told me before it was hard to admit the truth to my face. I also understand that lack of maturity, etc make it hard for him to have the confidence to be forthright…but that’s exactly the point. I’m trying to come to terms with the fact that we’ve got an au pair that isn’t capable of making the responsible choice when it goes against his self-interest– not because he’s a bad person (he’s not) but just…because. So, in order for him to stay, I have to accept not ever being fully comfortable that he is where he says he is, doing what he says he’s doing, and that the choices he’s making while taking care of my son are the right ones. At this point, I almost don’t want him to tell me anything at all, because I can’t tell which parts of it are true, what’s made up, and what’s being left out. I also worry that as we approach the end of his year, if he feels like he got past this situation relatively unscathed, he’ll have more incentive to take risks going forward. On the other hand, if we go into rematch, I have to figure out how to handle my son’s feelings of grief, abandonment and betrayal.

I should also mention that after the smoking discovery, I suspended his personal car use for one month. When I learned about the car abuse, I didn’t do anything immediately, because it happened so long ago, the real issue was the current lying. I did eventually feel like I had to do something though, so first I revoked privileges for overnight use of the car, then ultimately suspended personal use altogether, for an undetermined amount of time. I’ve been checking mileage to make sure he’s not running all around town in the car during the day when my son is in school. It feels foolish– I feel like I’m grounding my teen, but I just felt like I had to do something while I make the ultimate decision. Open to suggestions there as well.

Should be working March 31, 2014 at 11:49 pm

Can you say what the second offense was that he lied about? I agree with Texas HM that if he lost the car for a month of smoking it might have made him more lie-prone. It seems harsh.

As I wrote on another post, to me lying that doesn’t hurt anyone is not so terribly bad. Has he told the truth lots of times too? Has he ever told a difficult or slightly difficult truth ever? Like “I forgot kid ‘s school lunch today and had to go back and bring it to him school”? Or “sorry, I neglected to fill up the car, I can wake up early and get it done before you leave for work”?

Devastated HM April 1, 2014 at 1:35 am

Sorry! My responses were caught in moderation most of the day, so the extra detail from this morning may have been easy to miss. The second offense was taking the car on a trip 5 hours away to one of the busiest cities in the country on New Year’s Eve. I knew where he was going, but he told me that he was riding with a friend (leaving the car at his friend’s home while they traveled). There was no question that he absolutely did not have permission to take the car there. It just happened that that’s when I discovered the smoking, so we had that discussion when he returned. I had a suspicion about the trip and asked at the time if he drove. He said no. When it came to light recently, he denied it again, over and over, this time months later, with proof staring him in the face.

Sure, he’s told the truth about some things. I’d never suggest that everything he says is a lie. The problem is, he told lies as smoothly as he told the truth, so he could tell me the truth all the time or lie all the time– I’d never be able to tell the difference!

Loss of car privileges for a month probably was harsh, although at the time, I felt like I was exercising restraint (our handbook specifies that smoking in the car will result in loss of car privileges– no discussion of restoring privileges). He also accepted the consequence without any complaint…probably because he was thinking “if she only knew…!”

TexasHM March 31, 2014 at 11:03 pm

Such a hard situation! I have been flip flopping thinking about my response as well but here goes – fair warning – brutal honesty ahead. We are a no tolerance smoking family as well – asthma, history very similar to you. BUT – honestly if my kids loved an AP and I found out a couple times (not continuous smoking) she took a drag when out with friends and it didn’t impact me (changed clothes and washed them when returning home etc) there is no way I would rematch. I also tend to think that perhaps he wasn’t truthful about the second situation because the consequence for the first offense was pretty harsh. A month of lost car privileges? Drinking is also not healthy and it is also legal and we also ask that the APs aren’t drunk at our home but would I take away the car for a month if they got drunk on the weekend at friends house? (no driving obviously)
Now, I’m not saying its your fault, he should be honest and own up but it does sound like he was scared of rematch and stupidly thought it better to cling to a lie than face whatever consequence (esp after losing car for an entire month). It also sounds a bit like he is unsure what happens in these scenarios. Meaning if I break X rule – this happens. Therefore I tend toward an honest mediation session. Something like this:
John Doe AP, we are really struggling with what to do about all of this. Our son loves you, our family loves you, we think you are a blast, but at the end of the day you are doing things that jeopardize our trust and how can you expect us to allow a person we don’t trust to manage our most precious asset?
Our first AP was difficult but our kids were glued to her so we put up with A LOT. In fairness, we didn’t have to deal with lying and that’s really tough, but perhaps he lied because he figured he had no alternative. (If I tell her I smoke occasionally when I go out she will rematch) That doesn’t mean it was the right decision and yes, its stupid but is it stupid enough to churn your household over?
Its really frustrating he is putting you in this situation. I am sure thats eating at you as well. When a great AP does something silly or hurtful like this its really hard. I find myself thinking “things were going so good! Why did you have to go and…!!!!”

Devastated HM March 31, 2014 at 11:44 pm

I appreciate brutal honesty! And really, I know that my reaction to smoking is unreasonable… Actually, kind of insane, but I just lose all perspective and see red when cigarettes are involved. I don’t know how to get past that. And it really bothers me that he smoked again after we talked the first time. Part of the reason for the month of no car use was that he smoked in the car, not just when he was away, washed clothes, etc. Yes, the car that he used to drive my asthmatic son to school, activities, etc., though not while my son was in the car.

We did have a conversation similar to the one you describe. After the smoking situation, I told him that I was not going to seek rematch among other reasons because I really felt like he is a part of our family. After the more recent situation, I told him that I still feel that way, but I really didn’t know what to do, and that the continued breaches of trust were such that I really had to consider whether to rematch. He said that if he were in my shoes, he would probably rematch over the responsibility/ trust issue (but that he hoped I wouldn’t do that). I think he gets it, just can’t help it.

So, assuming we don’t rematch, how do I make the situation livable? Past smoking I can leave in the past, but the thought of continued smoking, even outside of our presence makes my stomach hurt. And the idea of never knowing when he’s telling the truth just fills me with dread.

Host Mom in the City April 1, 2014 at 8:54 am

The fact that he told you he would probably rematch himself says to me that there’s many more things he’s doing that you don’t know about. I think this might be indicative of a bigger problem. Honestly, telling someone repeatedly that no, you did not drive their car five hours into a major city is a huge issues to me. And although I’m vehemently opposed to smoking myself, when it came down to it, if I didn’t know about it at all, what would I do – but he smoked IN YOUR CAR??? This is just sounding like someone with very little impulse control and who really doesn’t yet have the ability to comprehend consequences – not someone I’d want to trust with my kids (easier said than done obviously).

What’s your gut feeling on this, OP?

American Host Mom in Europe April 1, 2014 at 5:28 am

It sounds like you have a really great relationship with your AP. Have you asked him what he proposes to continue making it work and earning back your trust? My kids are quite young, but I often find that we get the best solutions when THEY provide them — for things as silly as “how do we get you all to improve your table manners” (they decided to draw a picture and keep it on the table and refer to it), or anything else. Perhaps it could work similarly with your AP? Lay out the problem, from a neutral perspective (AP has lost trust by not following rules, HP are unsure how to trust in future), but you all feel rematching isn’t the best option, and see what he proposes?

Aussie Mum April 1, 2014 at 5:34 am

If its lies about his private life, there are no safety issues re inadequate supervision; let it go. I smoked when younger, didn’t like doing it in the end, but giving up comes from your own desire and when you are ready. Being forced into a corner isn’t the way to break an addiction, which is what a tobacco habit is, a very hard addiction to shake. Be understanding, tobacco is bad, he isn’t and re the car young people sometimes do the wrong thing because they give into temptation or peer pressure to join in. If hes great at his job thats the important thing.

Devastated HM April 1, 2014 at 8:09 am

With both incidents, I asked AP if had any suggestions for rebuilding trust, but he didnt really have any.

Also, on the smoking point, I get that it’s a matter of personal health and that my viewpoint is extreme. But, we talked about that viewpoint and how extreme it was before the match and many times afterwards. He was fully aware of what he was signing up for in that regard. Also, he’s a social smoker, so addiction isn’t an issue– it’s purely a matter of choice, even if driven by peer pressure.

This morning, I told AP that I am planning to contact the LCC to ask her to mediate. I told him that the fact that he has such great difficulty telling me the truth is really a big problem, and that rematch seems like it may be the answer, but I’m hoping the LCC can help us find another solution. Unfortunately, she’s not very good, so we’ll see.

Host Mom in the City April 1, 2014 at 8:46 am

Devastated HM, the more you talk about the issues and his responses, unfortunately, the more and more immature he sounds. He basically sounds like a teenager that is telling his parent what he thinks they want to hear, but is completely fine with just going ahead and doing what he wants anyway. I’m so sorry :(

Anonamomma April 1, 2014 at 9:14 am

@ Devastated HM

I’m going to play Devil’s advocate here because it sounds to me like you are blowing these two (relatively minor) incidents out of all proportion. I say this as a seasoned extremely successful host mom..

Okay he smoked – and if you had known about this before the match – you would not have matched with him – but you did and he does – and whilst he shouldn’t have lied – he appears genuinely to have accepted the punishment and is trying to move on and not smoking .. (are you trying to move?)

As a side issue during the conversation about the smoking you found out (eventually by nagging him like a dog with a bone) that he did drive the car where he wasn’t supposed to – which originally you did not punish him for – but then did..

Which meant that instead of saying thank you for finally coming clean – now lets move on – you punished him and I’m telling you now he will think twice about owning up to any mistakes he makes in the future because of the second punishment..

In all other aspects, you love him, your son loves him, he gets good reviews from all the family – he has taken your punishments without question.

And you still want to call the LCC. ..

I’m sorry, but I just don’t get where you think you’re coming from – could it be that because you have had a bad experience with another AP – you are now overreacting and ?

You’ve dealt with his two issues – how you rebuild trust – you do it every day – every day he makes your son smile, or is the same AP that you “love” – that rebuilds the trust. He didn’t damage you/your property etc. He broke a rule..

Either get over or don’t – but stop punishing the poor boy – and how about how can he trust you again – that he can say hey look I made a mistake and not get x,y (oh no that’s not harsh enough – let’s call the LCC) thrown at him.

Or what you might find is – the AP leaves you – and then where will your son be – cause in all this – you know he’s the loser if the AP HE loves goes…

I’m just trying to show you how it might look from the other side of the coin….

Host Mom in the City April 1, 2014 at 9:54 am

I don’t know – I totally get what you’re saying on one hand. We don’t have any off-duty rules partially for this very reason – I have no interest in policing the life of yet another person. Curfews in particular drive me crazy – are host parents really staying up until midnight every night just to make sure their au pairs are home and in bed?

I see my au pairs as adults and I treat them like adults. They can go where they want, drive where they want (assuming they pay for gas and accidents – and we’re spending a small fortune on car and umbrella insurance to cover larger issues), they don’t have to tell me where they’re going or when they’re coming back. I expect them to be at our home, on time, in excellent health, with a plan for the day if necessary and then to be great care providers for their scheduled time.

So I get not having unnecessary rules. But I also get, one, not wanting someone smoking in the car I am paying for them to use, and being pissed if someone decides to go ahead and ignore me and do it anyway. And I can get not wanting someone to drive my car that I am paying for five hours to and back from a really busy city (sounds like NYC?), particularly without telling me they were going to do so. And really really being pissed if someone then takes that car that I’m paying for and insuring anyway, even after I asked them to make alternate arrangements. And then lying to my face about it multiple times.

And then to be expected to just let that all go, continue to hand them my car keys and my child, and move on? I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t be able to do that so easily.

Anonamomma April 1, 2014 at 10:24 am

But the OP did not just let it go.. she punished him and he accepted that… and then she punished him again – and he accepted that again – and now she is going to the LCC…

Realistically APs are going to make mistakes .. they are going to break rules (and yes some of them are going to lie about it)… we all need to measure what is a deal breaker – if this was a mediocre AP .. then this might be a deal-breaker – but this is a great AP – who everyone “loves”.

The OP says she “loves” him – that her family “love” him – that’s not how you treat someone you love… you forgive, let go, move on..

After all let’s be honest they weren’t really HUGE mistakes were they? – so build a bridge and get over it – or don’t – but stop being petty and punishing him again and again or you will get resentment.. and the only loser here is the child.

It would be different if the AP couldn’t see the problem or was retaliating on the punishments but he accepted them…

Devastated HM – make a decision to stop being devastated – stand back and ask yourself one question.

(1). Does the AP make life easier/better for all your family?

If the answer is yes – then move on.

Host Mom in the City April 1, 2014 at 12:06 pm

I just don’t think it’s that simple when you’re talking about the well-being and safety of a child. And to be clear, I said above that I wouldn’t necessarily rematch, but I most certainly would involve the LCC for a serious sit-down prior to moving past this.

When I’m looking for a care provider, I am not just looking for “does this person make my life easier right now?” I’m also looking for can I trust this person in an emergency, can I trust this person to be making good decisions with my child, can I trust this person to be a good role model, etc. When you’re talking about an au pair who is affecting your life also off-duty and not just with your child, you’re asking yourself can I trust this person with my house and my car? Is this person putting me at great risk of liability?

So here you have someone that you clearly can’t trust to make respectful decisions and has put you at great liability. So the question is, given that fact and yes, also considering that this person does currently make your life easier and better for all your family, can you still trust this person to make good decisions with your child and with your property. That is an additional consideration that goes beyond just my kid loves him.

Which is why this question is so difficult (and believe me, I don’t have an answer I’m sure of). It sounds like you’re saying as long as your children like your au pair, you shouldn’t care about anything else at all. And I maintain that that’s not true for me at least.

Momma Gadget April 1, 2014 at 12:09 pm

After now being given more of the story-

I completely agree with you Anonamomma.

I have an issue with the idea of “punishing” the AP, and a bigger issue of punishing an AP by withdrawing an unrelated privilege – ( taking car privileges for smoking). Aren’t APs supposed to be Adults? Really- are you going to ‘Ground’ another Adult for smoking a cigarette in outside of your home in their free time?

Although I don’t understand why it took 3 months to find out about a 500 mile discrepancy.The blatant and deliberate disregard for the car rules is a bigger issue for me than anything else. He was told no, and he did it anyway. Now that he has developed a relationship with the Family maybe this type of thing would not happen again.

I have a tendency to talk too much too when I am upset (big surprise) .
“I’d Listen to My Parents if They’d Just Shut Up” was book recommended to me for dealing with my difficult teen. At first the control freak in me was very skeptical about the philosophy of this book. Much is basically what Annonamomma said above “forgive, let go, move on” (+ don’t take adolescent insanity personally). I now actually have a relationship (imperfect as it may be) with my son again.

If this were a mediocre AP you would not be so torn. An AP that connects with A child who is struggling is worth their weight in gold. My boys have had more than their share of heartbreak and devastating loss over the last few years- I would not undervalue this quality.

One of the great things about Male APs is that you don’t need to tip toe and discuss everything ad-nauseaum- So Stop. Reiterate (briefly) what he did wrong. Make sure he agrees it won’t happen again or you will rematch, and let it go. I actually think that having the LC (useless or not) there as a witness is a good thing to emphasize thow serious this is to you.

HOWEVER If you can not let it go, and feel that you need to play private investigator, and get alibis for everything he does for the rest of his stay, then you need to rematch for his sake as much as your own.

Should be working April 1, 2014 at 1:24 pm

I’m coming to agree with Anonamamma and Momma Gadget, esp. about all the punishing. Natural consequences are one thing: a meeting with LC to put the incident on the record. ; paying to detail the car; contributing to major maintenance since he drove the car 5 hrs away. In my case it is: if you are tired and/or grumpy in the morning, I will make curfew earlier to help you get more sleep. It’s not a punishment (although she might experience it as one.)

Punishing is a different mindset. If I actually felt I needed to “punish” an AP I would already be telling myself it’s time to rematch. Mainly because I don’t want to be in the kind of relationship with an AP where I punish. (This was a hot, much-argued post some months ago on here–punishing the AP.) If you think he can learn from the mistake and your emotional reaction (not the punishing) then he’s worth keeping. Punishing him won’t do anything.

Actually, reflecting on this helps me understand much better than I ever did before some of the childrearing books that are against punishing (“How to Talk…”). I don’t at all believe that punishing an AP is the way to deal with problems, so why do I punish my children? Hmmm…

Host Mom in the City April 1, 2014 at 1:44 pm

To be clear, and I think I’ve said this before, we don’t punish our au pairs or our children. I feel strongly about natural consequences, but at the end of the day, I also don’t think it’s my place to punish an au pair. I definitely don’t think the response to this situation is *punishing* the au pair in the true sense of the word, but I also don’t think it’s as simplistic as just letting this stuff go as long as the child loves him, and particularly if you’re going to spend the rest of the year constantly wondering what else the au pair is lying about as relates to your children and your property.

anonamomma April 1, 2014 at 5:15 pm

@Host Mom in the City

I am not saying that all situations boil down to if the AP makes our life easier then happy days that is it… but this situation might come down to that …because the OP has in fairness given us a great deal of the background facts of the situation and bar these two – okay three including the speeding ticket (relatively minor offences) does she have any issues with her AP.

She does not say that she distrusts him to care for the child or that whilst providing care for the child has there been any issues nor does there appear to be any issues in living with the AP, i.e. not doing chores etc, because I am sure that the OP would have said so by now.. so the issues we are dealing with is these three infractions of her rules.. and whether or not they are deal-breakers..

The OP (imo) has not been fair – she has punished/not punished/then punished.. etc for relatively minor offences.. why not just get him to get the car detailed (at his expense) – that would have followed the actions/consequences rule…

Nor do her punishments have a timescale – no car until further notice (i.e. whenever I decide!) not fair or just…

Nor has she invited honesty… by her actions and lack of consistency.. anyone can/will tell the truth when they know what the consequences are or are likely to be – but when you have been punished to the degree that this AP has been – for relatively minor infractions then are you really going to say oh yeah I got a speeding ticket – the poor boy was probably terrified to tell her..

And then she calls in the LCC – confirming his fears.

APs make mistakes…. it happens, whether it’s putting all your work clothes in the tumble dryer and now I can’t fit into them ,.. or denting HDs car (and we decided it was best that I took the blame for that one) or getting lost and needing collection at 4am from the wrong side of town or ruining all the towels in the house with dye…..

Have I ever threatened or punished? No we’ve laughed about it (clothes), cringed about it (car), exchanged warning looks about it (4am pick-up – walk of shame alert) and she replaced the towels..

Do you see where I’m going with this?

Either you “love” them or you don’t …

And you need to be fair.. what the OP is doing is not fair or right or just..

Host Mom in the City April 1, 2014 at 8:47 pm

I understand what you’re saying completely (I’m well-versed in how to talk so your kids will listen, Alfie Kohn, the idea of not putting a child in a spot where they feel back into a corner, etc). I guess I just disagree with your statement that these are minor and that these were mistakes.

A mistake is when you get a speeding ticket (as my current AP did and called my crying immediately), a mistake is when you back into something (as my first two did, and immediately pointed it out to me and offered to pay), a mistake is when you dye your hair and stain the rug or shrink a sweater or whatever – and you fess up, offer to make amends.

Those are accidents. What this au pair is do things involving OP’s property that were absolutely in direct defiance of the terms upon which OP offered this property to the au pair for his sole benefit and the not only those deviant actions, but also not even owning up to and baking amends for what he had done until he was met with irrefutable proof. I would guarantee you he’s done other things against OP’s very reasonable rules that OP just doesn’t know about.

I think whet you’re talking about (oops – accidental fender bender!) and what soap us experiencing (don’t wasn’t me to drive your car into NYC on NYE? Oh well, I want to, so I’m doing it anyway and I’ll just lie) are so totally different.

Host Mom in the City April 1, 2014 at 8:52 pm

OMG auto correct. Where is that edit post button? ;) I hope that was comprehensible.

I also want to add that we’re not talking about how you would treat a pre-teen or teenager here, we’re talking about a young adult with whom kids are being left. Inability to be truthful when you do something wrong is inexcusable to me in someone I’m leaving my kids with.

The speeding ticket is the last straw for me. I can’t imagine being ok with an au pair who got a speeding ticket in my car and didn’t tell me.

Should be working April 1, 2014 at 10:08 pm

I would like it if my AP or anyone would “bake amends” to me . . . ;)

Devastated HM April 2, 2014 at 12:14 am

Ananomom, I think you misunderstand my perspective and motivations. Sure, rules get broken, mistakes are made and we move forward, but this for me is not about a simple mistake or breaking a casual rule. Our au pair hasn’t been perfect– he’s made plenty of mistakes along the way hat I could easily look past. However, as I’ve mentioned, the smoking issue is a critical one to me, not because a rule was broken, but because I just cannot stand the idea of smoking, Not to mention my son’s asthma or the dangers of third hand smoke…. Honestly, i don’t even pretend that my view on that is rational, but It is real, and I don’t discount it. (As an example, back when my mom smoked, we ended up going separate ways on a vacation because I couldn’t stomach the idea of sleeping at a hotel that would permit smoking.) I get that it’s not normal, but I don’t accept that it’s a “minor” mistake because in our home it is not, and I think AP would agree if asked. Still, as I mentioned, we moved past the smoking in the car incident. I worked really hard to get there because–yes, I do love our au pair, and I love the relationship he has with my son. I also worked to move forward because he promised not to smoke again, at home or away. I told him that I knew the rule was unfair, but that I did absolutely require it, and he assured me he would be able to follow it. So, when he told me recently that he smoked again, it made me feel very sad because I really do not know if I can live with it as a current/future thing and not just something from the past. I do feel chagrined about the way I reacted to the initial smoking incident. I apologized to him the next day for yelling, because I just don’t think yelling is ever appropriate.

The car thing and the speeding ticket were issues, but what unnerved me was the pattern of hiding, lying and covering up that they revealed. So given that, I don’t know if having him as our AP still makes our lives better. That’s the question, isn’t it? It certainly doesn’t feel easier right now. These are the things I’m trying to figure out– what I can’t get past, what I can let go, and HOW to do so. What does that look like, to just “move on” from something so critical to our home, when I don’t have any way of knowing what is true and what is not? I’m not interested in retribution or punishment. I’m just trying make sense of it all and figure out the best path for my family and for AP as well. Where we are right now feels unsettled, and I’m looking to the LCC and to all of you for support to help us figure this all out.

Anonamomma April 2, 2014 at 6:10 am

@ Host Mom in the City

Let me ask you one question

(1). Has Devastated HM invited honesty?

In my opinion she has not..

OK – I was not honest there – I have another question.

(2). Has Devastated HM rewarded honesty?

No – in fact – when the AP was honest, i.e. confiding to her that he had fallen off the wagon – when he didn’t have to – she reacted by saying how disappointed etc she was in him… and is now calling in the LCC…

I mean come on… rather than I can see your trying – thank you for being honest… Janey Mac ladies – am I the only one out there with this opinion..

I know that some old timers here must be reading my posts with a smile on their face because usually I am the harshest critic of APs – but in this instance – I feel that the HM is being so unfair…

Tell me the truth and you’re in trouble – don’t tell me the truth and you’re in trouble anyway – that’s not FAIR…

She’s set this AP up to fail and is then looking to us for support – for justification because she has a serious issue – which she accepts is irrational but seeks now to PUNISH/send home an AP who let her down and wants us to say yes do it…… I’m sorry but that’s not what this blog has ever been about. – it’s about being FAIR…

(CV – please feel free to edit etc as you wish – it’s your blog!)

Taking a Computer Lunch April 2, 2014 at 7:19 am

Having lived with an impetuous AP, who did not always make the safest decision and never learned common sense in the year in which she lived with us (I was warned by my LCC that in her experience common sense cannot be acquired in a year and she was right), I want to ask is this AP an appropriate role model for your son, no matter how much you love him and his ability to care for your child. Smoking aside (I hate it but I wouldn’t end my relationship with my AP if she had a cigarette in a club on a Saturday night), this AP only came forward about a speeding ticket AFTER a friend warned him you would find out anyway – and denied running a toll despite the evidence.

Immature people become irrationally defensive in the face of their mistakes. I’ve lost the age of your son in this thread, but an older child is very aware of what happens in the house – they might not know all the details. When AP #8 failed to yield at a stop sign and rammed into the side of an SUV (forcing her to call us after we’d gone to bed), child #2 automatically assumed I was irrationally angry and the accident wasn’t her fault (it was). We needed her to own her mistake and apologize for it, not make excuses (she couldn’t lie about it – the front bumper had been ripped off the car).

If you’re in countdown mode with this AP and want to see him through to the end of the year, then you need to make it clear that he is a role model to your son and that you want him to behave in a way that encourages your son to become a good adult – to own mistakes, to apologize for them.

Finally, you can’t stop him from smoking. Even if he’s just a social smoker, he’s going to do it. You can rule on no smoking on your property (which includes your car), no smoking when he’s working, and no smoking in front of your son, but you cannot stop him from smoking in a club on a Saturday night, and if you’re going to hold it against him every time he does, then he’s just not going to tell you about it.

Anonamomma April 2, 2014 at 7:48 am

But I wonder whether the reasoning behind the APs decision to lie was:-

(a). immaturity or

(b). fear of the HMs reaction..

Because even when he has told the truth .. he has been punished..

SBW – I remember your posts on that AP – there was a constant stream of issues with that person (I think!) ..

This HM is mentioned three rule breaking incidents – which did not result in harm/injury to anyone or their property…

And in fairness to the AP if he had only smoked twice since the last chat and was honest enough (dumb enough! imo – because HM is not inviting honesty) to tell her – then she should see that he is trying and reward that..

I don’t think it’s immaturity – I think it’s fear – and that is down to the Devastated HM because she has set him up to fail…

Tell me the truth and if it’s not what I want to hear – you’re out or I’ll punish you

Don’t tell me the truth and you’re out because you lied… and I can’t trust you..

Please… how is that fair?

Devastated HM April 2, 2014 at 8:31 am

Ananomomma, I guess I don’t get what you would have me do. With my own son, I make sure he understands that there will be consequences for an underlying offense, and that there is an additional consequence for being dishonest. They are two separate offenses. Do you believe that, if you are honest about the offense, there should be no consequence for it at all?

I also don’t get why talking to the LCC should be viewed as a punishment. Isn’t that why she’s there, to help sort through these types of issues? I do agree that he’s probably afraid of me, but I think that fear is partly a result of immaturity. I’m not a scary person. I made a point of telling him after the smoking incident that I did not want to rematch. I did that because I felt like it was the elephant in the room, and I wanted to just get it out of the way. More recently, after a slew of dishonesty, I told him that while I don’t want to rematch, it is a possibility, because I don’t know how to navigate this situation. I’m trying to be open and honest, not punitive. Maybe that’s scary. What should I have said instead? I really do want to know.

I think one disconnect here is that you are thinking of the underlying offenses as the “issue” and to me they really are secondary, at least to the extent that they are in the past. The inability to be honest (whatever the reason) and lack of judgment are what truly trouble me. I hear the folks on one side who say it’s just too much, he’s just too immature, it’s time to rematch. That’s on the table, but it’s really not what I want, so I’m struggling. I also hear the folks who are saying find a way to get over it and make it work. But I’m not getting a sense of HOW to do that. It’s not like flipping a switch, so I’m looking to the wisdom of the group for tips on how to make it better.

As far as the smoking goes, I just have to think separately about that. It’s such a third-rail issue for me, that I need to search my soul to decide what to do if he’s going to continue to smoke, even casually outside of our presence.

Should be working April 2, 2014 at 9:27 am

DHM, you say you want a way to get past it, it’s just a question of how. Some ideas:

On the smoking alone: Can you make your criterion, explicitly to him, that you or anyone in your household never, NEVER, smell, see, hear or find evidence of smoking anywhere, anytime? And not in your car or house? That puts it on him to clean up, air out, and be discreet (which is kind of the positive side of someone who can lie).

On lying alone: I agree with Anonamamma that to punish someone for a non-safety offense when they have actually been pressured to ‘fess up puts them in a dilemma about whether to ever ‘fess up again.

I would in your shoes have some hesitations, not about the lying but about why he failed to pay a toll, why he only paid the speeding ticket once he had ‘fessed up. Is he irresponsible with money and paying fines? If that were the case I’d actually be RELIEVED because that is something that won’t affect my child. It’s not a fatal flaw for an AP that has 5 months left.

Anonamomma April 2, 2014 at 9:32 am

What I would have you to do is be fair…

And let the punishment/consequence fit the offense committed…

I have said this numerous times and I find it telling that you haven’t replied to it all – YOU have not invited honesty – you said yourself you completely blew your top when he was honest with you – okay you apologised later but that was your first reaction…..

Then the poor boy is in a situation where he’s in trouble for coming clean or in trouble for not coming clean…

In response to your honestly v. consequence question – I do not believe that once someone is honest then that is enough but would I tell someone that I am not going to rematch with them/punish them then change my mind about the punishing the next day and really punished …. then several weeks late bring rematch into the mix as well…

I would let the punishment fit the crime….

Nor have you mentioned any other lapses in judgement – in fact you say you “love” you AP – my apologies but that galls me – because if you “loved” your AP you would not sabotage him in the manner you are doing. He must be a good AP for you to “love” him otherwise why use that word – several times in several posts.

How do you get over something – you just do my girl – how do we get over childbirth and do it all again – we do – because the reward is worth it – yes right now you’re hurt, annoyed and confused but if you get over this hurdle even in your own head and he is as good as you claim then you can go back to enjoying the rewards of an AP who your son loves…

Concrete tips for moving on..

For you:
Ask yourself “If I had a magic wand” – i.e. what would it take for you to be completely happy again with this AP….. you need to know what you are looking for the AP to do – it’s not fair to say fix it – but not tell him how – AP are young adults – they don’t have those tools yet – we are the HPs, effectively the ones with all the power, ergo the responsibility lies with us – we can tell them what we want/expect and they can try..

For you and your AP
Reset the parameters of your relationship, i.e. meeting with the LCC present – as you’ve already brought her into the mix.

Set a clean sheet going forward – DO NOT make him confess all his past sins (you will just be resentful about them) and let go… move on…

Then if there is another lying issue then.. because he knows what the consequence will be – it will be fair to initiate rematch.. (whether it is fair to tell someone they cannot smoke on their own time/dime is another issue completely)..

That’s all I have.. I wish you the best .. really I do…. I hope it works for your and your son and keep us posted.

Anonamomma April 2, 2014 at 9:32 am

My apologies for all the typos – I type too fast :(

Host Mom in the City April 2, 2014 at 9:42 am

So starting at the beginning, OP found a lighter and smoke smell in her car. That was the first instance of trouble. I personally don’t think OP is being irrational about not wanting smoking, but I do agree that if my au pair was smoking at a club and never did it anywhere near any of my family or property, it wouldn’t be relationship-ending. But here we have an au pair who smoked in the OP’s car. Ok, that’s sort of a middle-line offense – I don’t think it’s minor because it was a conscious choice (not the smoking, but the doing it in her car) – after all the conversations OP had had with him about smoking, he chose to do it in her car anyway.

OP had him get it detailed (AP doesn’t insist on paying, which reflects inability to assume his own consequences – immaturity), said no personal car use for a month.

But ok, we’re moving past it, talked about it, re-visited the handbook to see if anything needed amending, and all is well. OP finds a toll receipt in her car. Now at this point, OP didn’t know for sure that he did drive the car to NYC – the receipt could have dropped out of his pocket from being in another car or something, and she would have had no reason to think he would have lied since he’d been so great. So rather than accusing him (because what if he really didn’t?), she just asks.

He again says no, so that’s that. He’s probably terrified, not because she might overreact, but because he knows he did something incredibly stupid (I wholeheartedly disagree that taking the car on a 10-hour trip into NYC on NYE after being told no is a minor mistake that OP should just get over) He’s desperately hoping she never finds out so he doesn’t have to face the consequences, which I’m sure he rightly imagines will be huge. AP also knows in his head that he’s still been smoking, that he got a speeding ticket, and who know what else, so he’s in deny mode in case it all comes out because he’s way over his head in terms of making bad choices and trying to cover them up.

Now OP gets a toll ticket and it’s clear. So she knows for a fact that he’s lied. Now is when she starts waffling, because she’s really and truly not sure what to do. She thinks she’ll give him a chance to come clean and asks again, and again he denies it. Well now she has to tell him she has evidence, so she shows him the toll receipt, he is scrambling to come up with a reason that could have happened while maintaining his lie, and he can’t and finally confesses. She says personal car use is over until final notice, lets him know she doesn’t truly want to rematch, but that she’s not sure what else she should do and she needs some time to think about. She later comes back to say she’s asked the LCC to come over to mediate a discussion to help them decide the right course of action.

Oh and somewhere in here, she also finds out that he’s gotten a speeding ticket he never told her about.

Anonamama, what should she have done differently (or what did I miss in the story line)? That’s what I’m not getting. And what should she do now that the situation has played out – I don’t agree that just because someone makes a “mistake” (I’m reading “bad choice”) and then confesses, that all should be forgiven every single time, no matter how large the mistake. And I get that people make bad choices, but at what point does a series of bad choices become a pattern that might at least suggest infringement into childcare duties?

Host Mom in the City April 2, 2014 at 9:49 am

Anonamama, we were typing at the same time, so you’ve already responded to my question. I guess maybe we just have a different approach to host parenting. Maybe we have more of an employer/employee relationship than I thought – I tell my au pairs the terms of their “employment” with us and have very few rules, but I expect them to be followed as a condition of living with us for the year. If they can’t follow them, I expect them to be mature enough to admit it, or at least to learn from a mistake or two, not to keep repeatedly doing things I’ve asked them not to do. I don’t want to have to treat my au pair like an immature teenager and I don’t think they want me to treat them that way either. They are not my child and I do not want to feel as though I have to put up with a pattern of mistakes that the au pair doesn’t seem to be learning from and won’t take responsibility for.

Momma Gadget April 2, 2014 at 10:26 am

@ Devastated HM- Although I can truly empathize with your situation, I still agree with Anonamomma.

If I was asked to “come clean” about every misstep, I ever made at my job, I would expect some level of Amnesty. If instead ( and I am purposefully exaggerating to illustrate) it was more like “now that I know about all the things you did wrong I can calculate how many lashes to give you” and then ” wait now that I’ve slept on it, forget about the whipping post, I think a pyre is more appropriate..anything else I need to add logs for?”, I’d be a stressed out mess and unlikely to be forthcoming. I strongly feel that though this AP made some serious mistakes, he was mishandled because of your issues with trust, and your extreme issues with cigarettes.

The thing about being under constant fire is that it induces Murphy’s law. The more worried you are about making the mistakes the more you make. I also know stress can cause people to revert back to bad habits- I prefer chocolate, but others for some reason prefer cigarettes.

FTR-When I get stressed out, I have a tendency to have a lead foot too.
I can only imagine how terrified the young man was to tell you.

I really don’t see any evidence that this AP is “reckless”, or devious.
But I really think there is too much water under the bridge and you should cut this AP loose because it does not seem that you will be able to let the past go, and it is unfair to expect an AP to live in fear under constant scrutiny. I hope he finds another good family. I hope your son will recover from this blow quickly, and you are able to find an AP who minimizes your worries.

Anonamomma April 2, 2014 at 10:54 am

@ Should be working – completely agree with you – imagine – this must be a first..

@ TexasHM – I am harsh but fair – and I think that sometimes people need to hear a harsh voice of reason.

@Host Mom in the City – I suppose my answer is that I believe that Devastated HM caused some of the lying/withholding of the truth – because of her bad reactions/punishments – that the AP may have felt that he was damned if he did and damned if he didn’t (and so he didn’t) and then as if to prove a point when she asked if he was smoking a few weeks later – he was HONEST and confessed that he had smoked twice which says to me hey I’m trying to be honest and that’s what she wanted right – him to be honest… what does she do – say hey I can’t trust you and calls in the LCC – what is the boy to do…. what would any AP do?

As for taking responsibility – I think he took the punishment with grace – at least that’s what DHM said.

Look – he has 5 months left – that’s over half way – to tell a good AP that they have to rematch now – because you can’t get your head around an irrational thing that you have – when he has accepted responsibility and made an effort to try to come around to your way of thinking/behaving is unfair..

Also – be honest – what are HIS chances of rematch…

Host Mom in the City April 2, 2014 at 11:11 am

I’m so sorry, I really don’t mean to be arguing, but man, this last paragraph really got me:

“to tell a good AP that they have to rematch now – because you can’t get your head around an irrational thing that you have – when he has accepted responsibility and made an effort to try to come around to your way of thinking/behaving is unfair..”

If her sole issue was that he was smoking while out of the house and away from any of her property, then THAT would the OP’s inability to “get her head around an irrational thing” she has (which I actually don’t agree is irrational, but whatever).

And he hasn’t accepted responsibility and made an effort – he smoked in her car and continues to smoke – the only thing he’s done on this issue that you could call making an effort is tell her about two other times he smoked in the last three months. He didn’t even pay to detail the car, and I maintain that he “accepted” the punishment of the month of no car use because he knew all along all the other things he’d done that were far worse.

But all that beside the point, off-duty smoking is the very least of the issues here – I don’t think OP would be irrational or unfair for questioning the judgment of someone who has repeatedly made stupid choices.

HRHM April 2, 2014 at 11:18 am

The other question in moving forward is: can HE make the changes he needs to make to prevent repeat issues moving forward. If he can’t commit to not smoking again (or at least being careful enough that she never sees/smells/knows – that’s my criteria and I HATE smoking) and making choices that don’t lead to him NEEDING to lie in order to avoid detection, then there really is no point in prolonging the agony.

Although I get Annonamommas point about the damned if you do, damned if you don’t position HM put him in – isn’t that the case for all adults when you screw up or make crappy choices? Part of growing up is recognizing that (once you had the stupidity or impulsiveness to make a bad choice), lying when confronted only makes things worse. As far as I’m concerned, fear of being b!tch-slapped for his mistakes doesn’t excuse him for lying about them.

Momma Gadget April 2, 2014 at 11:30 am

i accidentally mis typed my email (and it went into review)so I am reposting this-
@ Devastated HM- Although I can truly empathize with your situation, I still agree with Anonamomma.

If I was asked to “come clean” about every misstep, I ever made at my job, I would expect some level of Amnesty. If instead ( and I am purposefully exaggerating to illustrate) it was more like “now that I know about all the things you did wrong I can calculate how many lashes to give you” and then ” wait now that I’ve slept on it, forget about the whipping post, I think a pyre is more appropriate..anything else I need to add logs for?”, I’d be a stressed out mess and unlikely to be forthcoming. I strongly feel that though this AP made some serious mistakes, he was mishandled because of your issues with trust, and your extreme issues with cigarettes.

The thing about being under constant fire is that it induces Murphy’s law. The more worried you are about making the mistakes the more you make. I also know stress can cause people to revert back to bad habits- I prefer chocolate, but others for some reason prefer cigarettes.

FTR-When I get stressed out, I have a tendency to have a lead foot too.
I can only imagine how terrified the young man was to tell you.

I really don’t see any evidence that this AP is “reckless”, or devious.
But I really think there is too much water under the bridge and you should cut this AP loose because it does not seem that you will be able to let the past go, and it is unfair to expect an AP to live in fear under constant scrutiny. I hope he finds another good family. I hope your son will recover from this blow quickly, and you are able to find an AP who minimizes your worries.

Anonamomma April 2, 2014 at 11:51 am

@ everyone – really enjoying this discussion.

I think it shows how different we are – and what is major to some is minor to others.. but realistically on an objective scale – they are minor…. and I would see AP confessing to DHM that he had smoked again – as a genuine effort to be truthful..

DHM – got the car detailed and at a time when she had just blown her cool and I would say he just kept his head down and did what he what he was told – perhaps he was afraid to open his mouth re: making an offer of payment..

But here’s my issue – when she asked him a few weeks later had he smoked again – he was truthful – she didn’t detect smoking on him in the meantime so she wasn’t going to find out – and he was truthful anyway.. when given an avenue to tell the truth he did..

And then maybe because she didn’t blow her cool on him – he later came back to her to tell her about the ticket – perhaps because he felt there was an avenue… (perhaps because his friend told him – she’s going to find out anyway) but still instead of waiting for her to find out – he manned up and did told her the truth….

That’s what she was asking of him – and that’s what he did..

What more does she want???

Devastated HM April 2, 2014 at 2:47 pm

Regarding the toll ticket: he didn’t deliberately blow past a toll. The tolls on that road are confusing, and he just missed one. He was shocked to get the citation, and especially shocked to have to pay a $50 fine for missing a $3 toll. Regarding the timing of the speeding ticket: he received the ticket in early March. At the time, our family was in a good place, trust was being rebuilt, etc. He mentioned to me that he had been stopped and given a warning for expired registration my fault), but didnt mention the other part of the “discussion” with the officer. Later that month, the toll citation arrived, which we discussed. About 2 weeks after the driving to NY/ lying discussion, he showed me the speeding ticket, volunteering as he did that a friend told him that it would be reflected on my insurance. I didn’t really react, except that I did ask if he would have told me if he didn’t think I’d find out. (I recognize that question was unfair). He said he would have, and that he wanted to wait until he had paid it before he told me about it. We haven’t discussed the ticket since, and honestly, while it is a part of the pattern, and I know a lot of folks here view it as a last straw, I’m not really too worked up over that.

Confession about recent smoking: this was a voluntary confession during the discussion about the NY/lying situation, possibly prompted by the discovery of 2 additional lighters in the car earlier that day. I can’t recall then specific sequence of the conversation, but he maintained that the lighters were not his, and he did not connect the confessed smoking to them.

Sequence of “punishments”:when I learned about NY/lying, I was very angry. I did not want to address the situation while I was in that state because I felt it would be unproductive. So, I did what I’ve tried to teach my 7 year old to do– walk away. I let AP know that I wanted to talk, but not before I could talk calmly. We did not discuss it that day. The next day, he went out with friends to celebrate a friend’s birthday. He drove, and I did not object. The next night (Friday), he also drove. He often spends then weekend with friends, starting Friday night. We still had not spoken about the situation, but I didn’t want a whole weekend to go by without knowing where the car was. So, i asked that he bring the car home by 2 each night. At some point in there I also let h know I was ready to talk when he was. On Sunday night we talked, calmly. I let him know my feelings about possible rematch, etc. He confessed about the additional smoking and a couple of other minor things and said there was nothing else he was hiding. I also told him that I had called the LCC, not to initiate rematch, but to keep her informed and get advice…and I told him she was unhelpful. I let him know that I didn’t know what to do, and that the judgment/lying issues were really bothering me. The next morning, I asked that he not use the car for personal use for now, and that i didn’t know how long that would last.

His attitude/ fear of me: it is true that he has not once become defensive or sullen in responding to the situations we’ve had. In fact, during the initial rebuilding process, I told him how impressed I was by his handling of the situation, and how much I appreciated it.I praised him for coming clean and being open and honest with me after being caught and cited that as another reason rematch was never on the table even though the conduct ( smoking) was third rail. So, maybe saying that made him feel he couldn’t tell me at that point that he was still hiding something big.

Detailing car– asking him to pay for that would have felt punitive. The cost was more than a week’s stipend, and the damage was to my trust and my son’s health, not the car.

What more do I want? I guess some reason to believe he’s going to be honest and respomsible in the future. I don’t what that would take. Maybe the LCC can help with that…if she would ever call back!

Finally, @Anonamomma, I’ve definitely thought a lot about what rematch could mean for him. I would not want him to have to go home. I would hope that he could remain local, because he has such a good group of strong friends, and I think it may not always be easy for male au pairs to find a community of friends. Rematch is a last resort only, but it’s not off the table.

Hopefully, LCC will call back soon, and I can let you all know what happened.

Should be working April 2, 2014 at 2:59 pm

So he didn’t irresponsibly blow through a toll, and he did show you the ticket without being forced into a corner by you directly (the friend showed him it was a corner already, but still he came to you) and you aren’t really bothered by these things anyway. It’s the lying and the smoking. I already said what I think about the smoking.

Can you muster up full faith to give him a chance and tell him that there can’t be any more lies? (I would detach this rule from smoking, but that’s me.) And then see how it goes?

If you think you really can’t give him that chance, then fire him. But wouldn’t it be easier on your conscience to give him that chance rather than send him home because of the previous lies? It would be sad to end this without one more chance, no?

TexasHM April 1, 2014 at 8:51 am

I totally get it on the smoking, I really do. We have the same conversation and it’s in our handbook. He blew it, and it’s frustrating you are in this situation. But, you’re in this situation and you really have to say “is the occasional action done during his free time as long as it doesn’t impact us worth losing a great AP?”. I almost can’t believe I’m saying this myself but as long as it’s not in your car or brought in your house I would say no because at the end of the day my kids and their health/happiness are paramount and apparently I would tolerate a lot for a great AP.
The car thing was stupid of him, but taking the car away for a month probably fits both of those offenses together so I would mediate and move on.
Make it crystal clear that if he lies again he is done. 3 strikes you are out AND you might even give him the opportunity to confess anything else without threat of punishment. I know that’s super hard but might get anything else on the table so you can move on. You might even prep him in advance so he doesn’t panic in the moment and tell him that he needs to come to the meeting ready to come clean about everything and ironically if he does you might feel better and it might rebuild the relationship a bit. Or he could confess things bad enough to make you feel better about having to rematch.
Tough call. Previous poster is right you can’t make someone quit and despite being asthmatic I took an occasional drag in college socially (STUPID) so it sounds like a bit of a maturity issue so this meeting is giving him the grow up notice. Best to you!

TexasHM April 1, 2014 at 8:54 am

Also, if you do decide to rematch, you might ask him to stay on for longer so you have more time to interview/match and he can help train next AP and ease transition. Something like he gives you 90 days and then he goes into rematch a week before new AP arrives and maybe you offer him extra time if you have the room that way it’s a positive transition with everyone working together.

5kids=aupair April 1, 2014 at 8:56 am

I didn’t read all the responses besides yours, but given what you’ve said, I would not rematch. Your family’s direct safety was never a concern. I’ve done way worse as at teen to my family. Can you use this as an honest teaching moment about character? Can you take him to an anti-smoking program? Or have him “pay” for the mileage for his 5 hour car trip? Make him detail the car? Have him start running with your son or exercising to promote a healthy lifestyle? I have a troubled son as well and I know how difficult that can be.

eastcoastmom April 1, 2014 at 9:51 am

I’ve had a lying AP too, and we cut her extension year short because of it (she stared off so great we were happy to extend). Her personal life had become the number 1 thing to the point where she was taking my kids on ‘play dates’ so she could spend the whole time socializing with her friends. What your AP did is bad, but because he’s so great with your son and because it happened in his off time I don’t think I’d rematch over it. I know you have major issues with smoking, but I think the smoking in the car is the one thing that would really get to me there. My son also has asthma and that 3rd hand smoke is a problem, so I’d lay down the law and tell him if it ever happens again in your car he’s out – no question. But if he smokes outside on occassion I guess I’d expect him to clean up before being around my kids and let that go (and I’d tell him that’s the expectation so he doesn’t feel the need to lie about it). The car use – it sounds like you would have said no to him if he asked for an exception on NYE, and I don’t blame you there. I kind of wonder if he may have been drinking and driving, and that’s why he accepted his punishment so easily. The “if she only knew” comment from above. If I found out that was the case I’d rematch, again no question. Our AP car has to be home by 11 every night. That rule was put in place after the AP I mentioned above – she ruined it for all subsequent APs. But now we can avoid any 5 hour-long trips. Could you put that kind of a restriction on him permanently instead of suspending car use entirely for a month?

I don’t know how you get past lying. My 3rd AP lied on her application about her infant care experience. I found out when she made an offhand comment to me about only having changed a diaper by herself 4 or 5 times before she got to my house (she claimed 900 hours of by-herself infant experience!). I get it that she wanted out of her country and lied to get out, but I rematched because I couldn’t trust her. Someone who lies about something that directly relates to the care of my children is out. And maybe he draws a line there, or maybe he doesn’t. I have an adult friend who told me she dropped a baby when she was working as a nanny and never admitted it to the parents. When they questioned the bump on his head she made something up. She regrets it now, but what good does that do? You have to decide what kind of person you think he is – would he lie about something important relating to your child, or just lesser things like the smoking and the mileage? I’m sorry you’re in this position. Good luck with the mediation meeting.

Anon April 1, 2014 at 11:56 am

UMass Researcher Finds Link Between Lying And Popularity

WarmStateMomma April 1, 2014 at 3:35 pm

OP: I find myself agreeing a lot with HMs on all sides of this issue, but I think you should try to let it go.

Punishing the AP like a child may be encouraging him to act like one (or at least a teenage son). As a teenager, I was a great student but my parents’ rules were so strict that I lied through my teeth to my parents to do what the other good kids were allowed to do, and then some. The “and then some” part was easy to tack on because I already felt forced to lie. It may be that your AP feels forced to lie because your household rules and punishments are pretty strict, and if he’s already lying, why not take that trip into the city….? The only difference between your AP’s smoking and road trip and what an American college student would do is that the American probably wouldn’t feel they had to lie about it.

Your son is in a delicate place and your AP really connects with your son. I’ve known a lot of people whose lives would have turned out a lot better if they’d had a relatable role model to encourage them. You may not like the guys your son finds on his own if your AP leaves. Your son will know that you are the reason the AP left, and that will leave him feeling resentful and maybe rebellious. It’s just not worth pushing your son away or leaving him without the lifeline your AP provides.

Devastated HM April 1, 2014 at 3:57 pm

Wow! I didn’t mean to cause such a reaction. I think I should clarify the timetable and background. On NYE, our AP drove our car to NYC to celebrate in Times Square. Earlier that morning, believing he was just going to be leaving the car at a friend’s home, I switched cars with him (the one he usually drove was better on gas). When I got in the car, I noticed that it reeked of smoke. There was also a lighter on my son’s booster seat (I think it must have fallen from his pocket) I sent him a text to ask him about it, and he admitted to smoking. We agreed to discuss it when he returned. When he returned the next evening, we had a long discussion and he promised to not smoke again. Admittedly, I was furious, and he could clearly see that. I told him that he would need to take the car to be detailed in the morning (I paid), and that, consistent with the handbook, I was going to suspend personal use of the vehicle, but only for one month. I expressed my strong disappointment and asked him to please let me know if there was anything else he was hiding– that now was the time to get it on the table and behind us. He assured me there was nothing else.

The next morning, we switched cars back so that he could take the other in for detailing. I saw a toll receipt in the car and asked if he drove to NY. He said convincingly that he did not. I believed him and worked hard to put the smoking deal behind me. We had a good discussion where we sat down and went page by page through the handbook to see where some rules could be more flexible, what may be tough to comply with, etc. We also talked places in the handbook where i hadnt held up my end and set deadlines for us both to get back on track.

Things had actually gotten much better, and I was starting to trust again when about 2 weeks ago I received a notice of toll violation in the mail. Before I could even figure out what it was, he began to say “hey, I wonder why this came here, and not to friend who drove”. At that point, I asked over and over if he took the car, partly out of incredulity, because i really did believe him on January when he said he did not. He denied it over and over even while standing holding the citation. Finally, I told him that the toll booth has a camera that photographed my license plate, and that the car was on the road even if he was not in it. At that point he confessed. He told me later that he was afraid to tell me back in January ( which I understand–i was rabid about the smoking), and that he was afraid to tell me to my face when we received the citation, so he felt he had to “stick with the story.” I didn’t immediately restrict the car in any way because it seemed unrelated to the issue of lying (which was what was big for me, more so than actually taking the car). The next day, I decided that I just didn’t want the car out overnight any more, so I told him the car needed to be back by 2 a.m. And the following day I said actually, just don’t use it for personal use right now, basically until further notice. I agree that it doesn’t make sense to restrict use of the car, but I feel a bit like I’m flailing around trying to figure out how to process it all.

So during the more recent talk I asked again “has there been anything else?” He admitted to a couple of minor things and told me that he’s smoked twice since January, away from the house and car. He didn’t tell me about a speeding ticket he had received, but did finally tell me days later when one of his friends told him I would hear about it through my insurance.

When I told him I want to have us talk to the LCC, that wasnt meant to be a punishment. I really want help to figure this thing out. I know that I am irrational about smoking, but it is so. It truly bothers me to live with a smoker no matter where they choose to do it. It’s just how I feel. So I do want to know– are you going to be able to live with my unreasonable rule? I also don’t think rematch is always a punishment, at least that’s not how I would view it here. I’m considering rematch because I can’t decide if we would all be happier I’m a different situation– him in a house with different rules, me with a person I have an easier time trusting, and my son with a person who may not be as much fun, but may also not be as reckless. It’s not what I want to have happen, but I can’t rule it out as a possibility, especially because I don’t have a clue as to how to just “get past” not feeling confident that AP has the maturity to be honest with me.

Host Mom in the City April 1, 2014 at 4:14 pm

Ugh, OP. He sounds like a teenager. Is this what we’re supposed to settle for when we have an au pair? Because if so, I am most definitely not sticking with the program after this year. A speeding ticket too?

He’s basically shown three times now that he has no regard for your house rules and that his initial instinct is to lie unless and until he finds out he’s going to be caught. Seriously makes me wonder what else he’s done that he hasn’t told you. Those are just the things you’ve found out about. Based on your last post here, I’m leaning toward sending him home – it’s not a punishment, it’s a “I can’t trust you with my child and my property, so unfortunately, I can’t have you living here anymore.”

As I said earlier, I’m not someone who has restrictive rules on our au pair, but I have no trouble at all with the rules – tell me immediately if you get a speeding ticket, no smoking in my car, and no driving my car five hours into New York City on New Years Eve. Those are not overly restrictive rules.

Seattle Mom April 1, 2014 at 4:20 pm

You make a good point…. not fessing up to the speeding ticket immediately is a really bad sign. It is a sign of serious immaturity. That would drive me crazy.

My awesome 27 year old former AP had a little tiny fender bender and texted & emailed me about it as soon as she got home. It wasn’t her fault (maybe that makes the confession easier) but she didn’t stop and get the other driver’s info, which I told her she needs to do if ever there is an accident. So she didn’t act perfectly, but she was honest through and through and that really did increase my confidence in her.

HM Reality Check April 1, 2014 at 6:11 pm

He doesn’t sound like a teenager. He sounds like a decent caring young adult who has made several serious mistakes. He has been badgered about them to the point that he is worn down and doesn’t trust the HM to be rational or reasonable with the consequences.

OP- Perhaps it would be best to rematch, because you seem beyond overwhelmed by this, and it does not look like you can move on.

FTR-It seems like throwing the baby out with the bath water.

Seattle Mom April 1, 2014 at 4:15 pm

We posted at the same time, so I didn’t see this when I wrote my comment. It actually seems like you have the same idea that I do- you need to figure out if you can get past your worry that this AP might be lying to you. Because if you can’t, and if you spend a lot of time worrying about it, then it’s really not working out and it’s causing you more stress than it’s worth.

Now understanding the whole story, I personally would keep driving privileges suspended – NOT because it’s a punishment, but because everything he did against the rules happened in the car, and that is where most lapses in judgment can have the greatest consequences. If it makes you feel better. Because it really would solve most of the problem for me.

And then move on. Have a re-set discussion about the rules you expect him to follow from here-on-out, have him tell you if he thinks he can do that, and then move on from there. No more asking him if he broke any other rules you should know about- let that stuff go, it doesn’t really help matters any. Now part of moving on is listening to your gut instincts- if he continues to break rules and try to cover up you will have clues about it. If you listen to the clues and follow through on them you can find out, and then rematch might be in order. But if you can pay attention to the signals while still hoping for the best, then I think it makes sense to give it another try.

I guess my point is that if you deep down believe that this is in essence a good person who wants to do the right thing, but is fallible (maybe more than most humans- because we’re all fallible), then you should try to help him succeed.

And I would say never ever ask again “is there something else you need to confess?” Because you kind of force them to say “no, nothing” and then when you confront them with some other evidence the fact that you squeezed a “no there’s nothing else” out of them before makes it really hard to come clean. Same goes for the kids….. it doesn’t help matters at all to issue a blanket “Now you must come clean about everything.”

anonamomma April 1, 2014 at 5:34 pm

@ OP

I really think you need to stand back and take a good hard look at your situation.

Bar these three infringements of the rules (two of which happened weeks ago and the AP has been punished enough for it) is there any other reason to distrust your AP?

Because I would say at this stage if you can’t build a bridge and get over it – then perhaps you should not be in the programme at all.

APs will make mistakes…. there are either deal breakers or not. The fact that you haven’t immediately gone into rematch means these mistakes are not deal breakers.

So either you move on and you build on your relationship with your AP again – or you don’t… that is your choice….

But think about what you will be losing and what your son will be losing.. someone he loves… and although the AP has made errors in judgement when it came to the car .. you do not seem to have any issues with him childcare wise.. in fact you state the opposite – you stated you “love” him..

My AP has made errors in judgement – some we laugh at now – others we don’t… she is an awesome AP and I know that when I leave my house in the morning she greets my children with a smile and when I come home they greet me with a smile and tell me about their day…

Yes she made mistakes along the way… some of them irritated me so much.. mad me so mad.. but ..

Does she make my life easier? Yes
Does she make my children smile? Yes
Does she keep my children safe? Yes
Does she make a mean chilli sauce? Yes
Has there been bumps along the road? Yes
Did we smooth them out together? Yes
Do I love her? Yes

Should be working April 1, 2014 at 7:08 pm

Here’s a “devil’s advocate” view of the speeding ticket: Did he PAY it? If he did and didn’t realize you would find out via insurance, he was actually RELATIVELY responsible. He paid a ticket he received. If he didn’t know that it’s connected to your insurance, why tell you?

Honestly to me this might be a “litmus test” if I were in your shoes. He paid it–he understands what people do. He didn’t–he is impulsive and doesn’t follow through.

Please update, I’m curious as to whether he paid it!

Devastated HM April 2, 2014 at 12:16 am

Yes, he paid it the day he told me about it.

Should be working April 1, 2014 at 7:14 pm

I must add that he doesn’t seem like as bad a liar as I thought: When you texted him about the smoke, he admitted it. When you asked if there were anything else, he admitted some more smoking.

Having someone lie to your face feels galling, but to me it is actually not a dealbreaker.

If he is still cheerful, positive, sincere and friendly–not resentful, not sullen–about any of this, that would to me also be a really important thing. Teenagers get resentful; it takes a lot of maturity to not be resentful for being ‘punished’ even when you know you broke the rules. That would speak for keeping him, if it were me.

Seattle Mom April 1, 2014 at 4:02 pm

Ay this is a tough one. I’ve read most of the comments and I’m still not sure how I feel about it.

On the one hand, your rules and expectations were clear, and he went ahead and didn’t follow them. On the other hand, you are most concerned about the lying (not the actual infractions) and it made sense for him to lie if he really thought he was going to be in rematch for breaking the rules.

I’m also in the “don’t punish your AP” camp. I have told my APs that we don’t tolerate any smoking, and the real rule is no smoking that I can detect- not that would smell up clothing and certainly not in our cars. What they do with their friends away from my property is their own business, as long as it doesn’t affect what they bring into the house. If my AP smoked in the car…. I’m not sure what I would do. I could see taking away all free-time car privileges for that. But our APs ride the bus 90% of the time for their free-time travel anyway… it’s much more convenient for going downtown, and we don’t have a dedicated AP car.

So anyway back to your problem…. in your shoes I would at the very least take away all car privileges. And don’t frame it as a punishment- it’s not. It is a precaution you are taking so that you don’t have to wonder where your car is going and what is being done in it (smoking, etc). If that makes you feel a lot better and allows you to move on, then it solves the problem and AP can stay but have no more car privileges for the rest of his year. If you still have a nagging sense that you can’t trust this person and you wonder what other things he’ll be up to…. then maybe you should just rematch.

Your child will be upset, but kids are resilient and the AP is going to eventually have to leave anyway. I would be careful what you tell the child though- you have to make sure he understands that if he lies and breaks rules you will not send HIM away… if he has fear of abandonment that could be the real root of it… that he’s worried that if he breaks your rules you will not love him anymore or you will go away. You have to make him understand that the AP had to go home because you weren’t sure he would keep your son safe anymore.. that you were doing it to protect your son. It depends how old he is too. When we rematched with an AP who my kids liked (but didn’t love and she was only with us for about 6 weeks total) they were only 4 & 2 so I was pretty vague when I told them why AP had to leave. The 2 year old obviously didn’t care but the 4 year old did wonder what was going on.. I just told her that AP went to live with a different family that would be better for her, and we would get an AP who would be better for us.. without going into specifics. The hard part was convincing her that our new AP would really stay for one year (and she did). If we had gone from rematch to rematch that would be tough… I really feel for families in that situation.

TexasHM April 1, 2014 at 4:18 pm

Very well said and your last paragraph in particular shows you have a strong, rational, level-headed grasp of the whole situation. If there was an easy answer you would have found it yourself by now. Mediate with the LCC, put your heads together and see if you can all work together to put this behind you. If you can’t, then you have your answer and I still think you plan a smoother, longer transition period and work together. There are lots of awesome APs out there and although every transition I worry about the kids bonding with the AP (esp my son who is shy and older), they have bonded to every one and understand that APs bless our lives for a time and then move on. Even our recent rematch went smoothly because we told the kids right away and keep them in the loop as we made plans and everyone stayed positive.

London Mum April 2, 2014 at 3:15 am

If your kids love him, keep him, but then I don’t feel so strongly about smoking and everyone gets a speeding ticket at least once in their lives, don’t they!

TexasHM April 2, 2014 at 9:40 am

Devastated HM, I think Anonamomma is being a little harsh with you. I understand her perspective, quorum has already said the smoking consequence was not congruent with the action (and you impressively admitted that you see that and agree). If you were setting this AP up to fail I don’t think you would be responding and clarifying for days on this blog (thank you btw – it makes the conversations worlds better to have the interaction – CV- maybe a future requirement?). He smoked in your car, no one can say that doesn’t impact your child and your property. It absolutely does so don’t bother defending yourself on that.
As I said before, you seem to have a clear, rational understanding of the issues and complexities of this situation and I suspect if there was an easy answer you would have whittled it out on your own already and wouldn’t be seeking the feedback. Part of being a parent/HP is modeling appropriate behavior and the fact that you apologized for the zealous response to the smoking and made clear you didn’t want to rematch (vs letting him squirm) are all great signs.
Unfortunately at this point, you are likely going to have to go with your gut. This AP will leave at some point anyway whether that is soon or at the end of his term so like I said before, that doesn’t have to be your holdup. I also liked your point about perhaps he would be happier in a family with less restrictions – perhaps you should ask him that. Have a very candid conversation. Tell him you will not be angry, you really want to know because I promise you, it is SO not worth it to have an unhappy AP whether that is from homesickness, perceived restrictions or whatnot. I have a HM friend that uses the tag line “a happy AP = a happy home”.
It is clear you are devastated by your comments and diligence in this conversation. I feel for you because I can completely understand how frustrated and disappointed you must be and I know that I personally would also have a very hard time just moving on and not watching him like a hawk. I agree with the previous poster that for sanity purposes (and unfortunately due to immaturity on your APs part) you get one of those GPS tracking devices for the car unless you revoke all car privileges which would likely make him miserable and not be a viable long term solution. Of course you tell the AP this and he knows there are no more chances with the car.
The speeding ticket is interesting, I would be curious as well to know if he paid it. Speeding tickets aren’t great but as another poster said, if he paid it and then told you I would have a lot more respect than if he tried to skate it and you found out by accident. I know a lot of people have said that an AP with bad judgment has to go (of course) but I actually have had an AP that had great judgment with my kids and believe it or not, really poor personal judgment. That was maddening and sounds like it may be the case here. That AP never once made a childcare decision that wasn’t 100% what I would have done but then she would be off work and trust people she shouldn’t trust, we found out she had been lying for months about where she was going (said class and the gym, was actually class and guys house – like we CARE!!). Car got scraped and I pointed it out and she said must have been us (we hadn’t driven that car in almost a week – I wasn’t saying it was her but it must have been hit when she had it parked or something and I just wanted to know if she had any idea when it happened, instead I got major CYA overcompensation).
Our kids were SUPER bonded and my youngest was only 2 and glued to her so yes, I gritted my teeth and counted the days at the end and in hindsight, I wouldn’t change it. Yes, it was a hardship on me but my kids still love her (she married that guy and lives here) and I was willing to take one for the team in putting up with her off work time shenanigans. She did have limited car privileges and I did manage the situation which I think is all you can do if you don’t want to rematch. Is it too soon to start interviewing for your next AP? That might help lighten the end of the tunnel for you. Just a thought!

Host Mom in the City April 2, 2014 at 11:45 am

Setting everything else aside (and remembering that I don’t have any car restrictions in reality) – If an au pair asked me if they could drive the car to NYC on New Year’s Eve, I wouldn’t be thrilled about it and would probably suggest another way of getting there. But if I did indeed say no, I don’t want my car driven ten total hours into the city on the busiest night of the year for safety and insurance purposes, and then found out that my au pair went ahead and did it anyway and just lied to me about it, I would absolutely flip my lid.

It sounds like many posters don’t think this is that big of a deal. Am I being irrational on this one???

Should be working April 2, 2014 at 12:01 pm

I think it is a big deal. But it doesn’t seem to be the dealbreaker for DHM, it’s more like she WANTS to get past it but can’t.

Momma Gadget April 2, 2014 at 12:31 pm

That’s what I said all along!
This would have been the biggest issue for me. If he were otherwise a great AP we would have an intensely SERIOUS conversation get past this with a promise of not breaking our rules again.
I have a serious aversion to smoking too- I watched my grandma suffocate to death from cigarette induced emphysema. We don’t allow smoking in our house, cars or on our property. I expect our AP to respect this, but I do not feel I have the right to dictate he not do this away form my home on his own time.

Make no mistake- if AP broke a major rule a second time AFTER we had discussed it, I would rematch.

WarmStateMomma April 2, 2014 at 12:36 pm

I would flip my lid, too. But eventually HD would remind me that I took my old beater car on these kinds of road trips as a 17-yr-old college student and never gave it a second thought. The average American teen probably drives better than the average AP, but maybe there’s an element of being less willing to assume risk for an AP than we’d accept for our own child. The family/employer dynamic is pretty complicated and rational HPs could easily reach pretty different conclusions.

Host Mom in the City April 2, 2014 at 1:01 pm

Which is why I would have said yes to the request if my au pair had asked me to drive the car on that trip (I actually did that exact trip myself and it was so fun!). But again, if I thought about the request and ultimately said no (which I still don’t think is unreasonable), and my au pair did it anyway, I would have a really hard time getting over that. I don’t think the doing it anyway part was a minor mistake.

WarmStateMomma April 2, 2014 at 2:23 pm

Agreed – it’s the “doing it anyway” part that was the problem; not the trip itself.

Should be working April 2, 2014 at 2:28 pm

We had an AP take our car into the nearest big city (10 mi away) despite our expressly asking her to take the so-so public transport option instead. She did it every Fri and Sat night. We noted the mileage and tolls. This was our “excuse” for firing her, but actually the problem was that she was a depressed, sullen, trashy, unfriendly AP. (This is the one we suspected was working as a prostitute. MEANWHILE if you check her Facebook page she appears to have become some kind of porn star.)

If she were great with the kids and did this anyway . . . not sure what I would have done. Certainly I would ask for financial compensation for wear, tolls, gas. Maybe I’d make her pay the extra insurance–hey, that’s fair enough.

WarmStateMomma April 2, 2014 at 2:37 pm

@SBW: Are you serious about this?!?!

Should be working April 2, 2014 at 2:49 pm

I am serious that if she weren’t sullen, depressed, trashy, etc. but instead GREAT with kids and in other ways, but took the car when we said not to, yes I might suck it up. Basically I have learned that if the AP is responsible with the kids and the kids are happy, then I am happy. It’s my job on top of that to make sure she does enough tidying to make having an AP worth my while. My kids are older and picky, and get attached; I can more easily handle being annoyed than I can handle them being distraught.

Should be working April 2, 2014 at 3:02 pm

Keep in mind, I also sucked it up when a then-great (later declined) AP refused to change sheets every week (only every 2 weeks). And current AP worms out of weekends. And as I’ve indicated…DH is the softie in the house, so however wimpy I am about these things, he is worse.

WarmStateMomma April 2, 2014 at 3:05 pm

@ SBW: I meant, are you serious that (a) you were concerned she might be a prostitute and (b) she later appeared to have become a porn star? That really took me by surprise. I know from reading your comments that you’re level headed and wouldn’t make wild judgments because an AP wore a skimpy outfit, etc. Choosing an AP whose next career will be in adult entertainment will be another worry to keep me up at night next time we are in the selection process. During pregnancy, I stupidly thought that changing diapers in the middle of the night was going to be the challenging part of parenthood….

Should be working April 2, 2014 at 3:12 pm

LOL about my misunderstanding. Well, based on her extremely trashy clothes, her hair extensions, her unbelievable makeup, her silence about her private life, and her returning in full gear and very smeared makeup at 6:55am to start slapping sandwiches together (next AP got a curfew), I joked to my husband about it once. And he said he had wondered the same thing. And once we both realized we thought of it, we sort of wondered whether that was a coincidence. She did eventually appear to have a boyfriend, though. I also had to ask her to be more covered and conservative when picking up kids. Now it’s in the handbook.

We are not in touch at all since she left, but her FB page pictures show that she has, um, had large . . . enhancements done since then. And there are lots of photos that look soft-porny. And there are pics of her in what appears to be movie shoots–like with that “Take 5” square board thingy. Maybe she’s not a porn star. But she suuuure looks like one. Maybe a wannabe…I guess maybe actual porn stars don’t look like that in their FB pages.

Emerald City HM April 2, 2014 at 1:45 pm

There is still a difference though, I had to pay for my car and insurance at 17, so there is some individual ownership there. I certainly didn’t take my parent’s car on a road trip.

Our “au pair car” now has major oil issues, so we have been told by the mechanic not to take it on any long trips because the chances are very high the car will strand us there. So if our au pair was to take the car on a 5 hour road trip and the engine siezed, well that would be one expensive tow back at her expense. It hasn’t been an issue.

Host Mom in the City April 2, 2014 at 2:12 pm

Good point – when I took my NYE NYC trip, it was in a car that I had paid for and insured myself.

Should be working April 2, 2014 at 11:59 am

I am wondering how much of this is DHM’s excessive aversion to smoking that makes this so complicated. She admits that it is an over-the-top feeling about smoking, not even a rational problem with it. If DHM could imagine that she didn’t have the aversion to smoking, how would the feelings shake out then, would it seem like she could get past the lying (which was done under unfair pressure–hey, I never noticed that I otherwise always disagree with Anonamomma)?

It’s like the obsession with the smoking fuels the unbearability of the other stuff. Any real psychologists on here? I’m doing armchair. I recognize that we can disapprove of smoking, hate the smell, hate the idea. But if you can’t stay at a hotel that even ALLOWS smoking (presumably there were non-smoking rooms) that to me signals a kind of OCD or something that in its excessive irrationality makes all this hard to sort out and definitely hard to “get past” or “get over”.

It might be helpful for DHM to try some kind of cognitive behavioral therapy or something with this extreme aversion to smoking. It strikes me indeed as something that causes strife and unnecessary pain–she acknowledges it as unnecessary pain with the hotel story. A personal obsession that affects relationships like that might be worth addressing. I mean this kindly–I’ve had a few that I’ve addressed in therapy.

Anonamomma April 2, 2014 at 12:16 pm

CV needs to get a like button :)

Anonamomma April 2, 2014 at 12:20 pm

I just think you are way nicer than me in general – and you always seem so thoughtful and full of wisdom and I always seem a bit harsh – I promise I’m nice – I’m not a meanie really… :)

Should be working April 2, 2014 at 1:00 pm

I save my harshness and thoughtlessness for my children…. ;)

Devastated HM April 2, 2014 at 4:01 pm

Well, I do think my smoking obsession overshadows some other issues, but the lying thing is separate. Perhaps I’m equally obsessive there! Where is the Valium when you need it?? :)

WarmStateMomma April 2, 2014 at 4:10 pm

It would be so nice to share a bottle of wine with other HMs, wouldn’t it? Tonight, I will drink to a successful resolution for your family. Let me know if that works and I will be happy to drink a glass of wine for all the other HMs. :)

Anon April 2, 2014 at 7:32 pm

Nobody paid attention to the article I posted, but the fact is that he has the typical personality of a manipulator.

There’s a HM here that always talks about the DISC profile and how good qualities and flaws come in packages…. Well, I don’t know if the DISC profile say this, but very high social skills come with a great deal of manipulation and often with lies.

You can’t change his personality! So, rematch!

Should be working April 2, 2014 at 7:55 pm

That HM would be me.

The link is to a 2-sentence summary, not the article. I looked it up on my own at another source.

The DiSC profile, and any responsible personality test, does NOT say that high social skills are a “package deal” (TM SBW) with lying and “a great deal of manipulation”. And neither does the article. The article says that liars tend to have high social skills, it is what makes them good at persuading. That does not mean that people with high social skills are therefore liars and manipulators.

The author of the study also adds (I quote): “This study tells us something about people: It’s unrealistic to expect them to always tell the truth. In fact, it’s not even the way we want people to always behave,” [the researcher] said. “Children are taught at an early age to be polite and say something nice in social situations, even if it’s not the absolute truth.” So his point is not to say that socially skilled people are bigger liars. In fact, he states what I stated elsewhere in my lax view about how telling untruths is not the same as “lying that hurts people”: I don’t believe we should get too hung up on insisting that our kids (or APs) be 100% honest; instead they need to understand WHEN it is imperative to be honest (morally and pragmatically) and act accordingly.

Anon April 2, 2014 at 8:50 pm

I never meant to use the DISC profile to back me up(as I said, I didn’t know what it said about it), I just mentioned it for the general “package deal” idea. Anyway, sorry if I implied anything.

I admit, I am generalizing. But I think it’s a good thing given the context.

That being said, social skills are manipulation skills and you can’t be that popular without “a great deal of manipulation”.

Emerald City HM April 2, 2014 at 9:14 pm

I wouldn’t say that your last statement is necessarily true. It’s too absolute and there are no absolutes when dealing with human interactions and personality.

I know very popular individuals who aren’t manipulative, they have a personality that people enjoy being around and they honestly give more to others than they ask of others.

For the record, I am not, nor have I ever been “popular”, so I’m certainly not trying to defend myself.

Emerald City HM April 2, 2014 at 8:37 pm

I don’t really get the sense that he has the personality of a manipulator. He sounds like a pretty terrible liar.

Manipulators and good liars are usually aware of how they can get caught and have explanations that are simple and sound reasonable to explain things. This kid just denied stuff.

TexasHM April 2, 2014 at 9:07 pm

I completely agree, he isn’t smooth enough to be a manipulator. Trust me, it takes one to know one and I was the WORST in teens/early 20s. I would have had a WAY better story and a plan B for everything. This guy just sounds impulsive and immature. Big difference. Also, a manipulator wouldn’t feel bad and many have said he sounds remorseful.

Devastated HM April 2, 2014 at 10:06 pm

Absolutely agree. Having been talked off the ledge (thank you all!), I feel comfortable saying that I don’t at all see him as a manipulator. At least I haven’t felt manipulated… But maybe that’s a sign that he’s really good at it! :)

Devastated HM April 2, 2014 at 10:10 pm

By the way, I really would like to know… What IS the role of the LCC in helping to resolve issues? Is she only brought in as a heavy, or can she ever be used as a true, impartial mediator to facilitate a resolution?

TexasHM April 2, 2014 at 10:19 pm

Unfortunately largely for reasons not their fault (poor pay, lack of training, lack of support) they are not really motivated to invest large amounts of time to mediation. There are great counselors out there, we have had consistently good ones but even they were hamstrung by the agency as they couldn’t make any major decisions. Mileage varies greatly in this area but because you are having the reset or rematch conversation I think she does need to be there to document in case you pursue later so everyone is on the same page. I would also prep her for the conversation and let her know what you expect of her.

Host Mom in the City April 3, 2014 at 8:17 am

This is a big reason we chose Au Pair in America over Cultural Care. Of course this varies by counselor, but our APIA counselor is amazing. She will absolutely sit down and talk to both parties and offer advice and solutions such that both sides feel heard. Our CC counselor had nothing to offer in this regard. No advice, solutions, no interest in listening to problems – she could hand you a rematch form and that was the extent of it.

Returning HM April 3, 2014 at 9:28 am

I agree. Our CC from APIA was absolutely amazing. Truly. I learned so much from her – she is trained as a school psychologist so had a great way of working with both the APs and the families to ensure that everyone felt supported. The one from CC this year (we’re on our second – first one quit) is nice but meh. She has yet to be able to answer a single question I ask of her. If APIA would actually recruit, screen, and make available for selection male APs (as opposed to saying “OK you can bring one over but you have to find him yourself and do all the work yourself”), then I would very happily go back to APIA for just this reason.

TexasHM April 3, 2014 at 11:26 am

Our experience with APIA was polar opposite. Its becoming clear to me that the regional directors wear the pants there and have a great deal of influence. Our two APIA counselors (in two years) were great women but got no training, no support and couldn’t make any decisions. I am still friends with them but after we recently left APIA I got the scoop from the ex-LCC and will never, ever go back based on our experiences and the info I got from her. (She left on great terms with them BTW)

Anonamomma April 3, 2014 at 4:27 am

@ Devastated HM

All mediations are client led – it is not the role of a mediator to come up solutions – they can offer advice to each party – and try to make one see the other’s perspective – but they are not judges or arbitrators, i.e. they do not making decisions for other parties. If the parties cannot agree on a solution – then a mediation has failed.

Also an LCC is not a trained mediator – so you cannot expect her to come up with specific solutions to resolve the issues you face with your AP – it is up to you to do that, i.e. you must come up with the solutions.

The LCC can then say whether these solutions are fair/allowed in the programme or not.. but you need to know going into the meeting what you want…

I think that you need to take hold of this matter and own it.

I always say that if you own a problem then you are in control and you can fix it… I don’t get any sense of ownership from you. You have asked the AP to “fix” it. Now you are asking the LCC to “fix” it.. when (imo) you are the one who needs to find a way to build a bridge – you can’t put that on others.

Either way you have gotten some really good advice from others on going forward – I hope you come to a solution that works for you.

Please do keep us posted – would love to hear that Devastated HM is no longer Devastated

Devastated HM April 3, 2014 at 6:15 am

Okay, thanks. I was thinking that based on experience, training, etc. she would be able to facilitate a conversation to help us come up with a solution. Helping us each see the other’s perspective would be great, if she could do that, but maybe that’s not realistic to except. If she’s really just there to document the conversation, I can see why calling her in would be viewed as punitive, rather than an attempt to find a solution for everyone.

HRHM April 3, 2014 at 7:54 am

I don’t think it’s punitive, I think it’s necessary if you are planning on going forward with rematch. Or to document for the next time he acts up and you want to go straight to rematch then, without a bunch of agency induced malarky. BUT if you have no intention of ever rematching, then it’s unneeded.

Host Mom in the City April 3, 2014 at 8:23 am

I agree. I think talking to the LCC and keeping her in the loop is absolutely necessary – for documentation purposes, for suggestions on how to proceed, and to let him know you’re serious. But then I have a fantastic LCC who I can see sitting down with all of us and leading a great conversation.

TexasHM April 3, 2014 at 8:17 am

Completely agreed but also you never know, maybe she will surprise you and be really helpful. :) Good luck!

Eastcoastmom April 3, 2014 at 3:42 pm

My LCC has been great at facilitating a rematch conversation, even when I wasn’t exactly sure that was where we were heading. She had an opinion and read me well, and had the sense to affirmatively tell me that the AP’s offence was worthy of rematch, that I should t put up with it. I feel she would be helpful if I were in your situation. But, she’s also always called back right away and never blown me off like yours seems to be doing. The LCC we had before her was not helpful at all. I would have gotten no help from her. I wonder how they screen LCCs and what “qualifies” them. The last one had some psych background and this one doesn’t. Doesn’t always mean anything.

NJmama April 3, 2014 at 9:31 pm

I know I’m coming late to the party but I found this whole discussion fascinating.

I have no prob w the way DHM handled the situation and I really feel for you. Yes the smoking thing may be a little over the top but I have kids with asthma – I get it.

I also can’t stand liars and I found it odd that so many people justified your AP’s lying. Ananamomma I have never in my life heard of a person who “didn’t invite honesty.” Sounds like a bizarre deflection – like saying lying was the fault of the person who was lied to. Say what? It’s like people who tell someone who discovered their spouse was cheating “you need to consider the role you played in this.” I never understood that line of thinking either, but I digress.

DHM it sounds like this lack if trust is eating away at you. You must be thinking, if it’s been so easy and convincing for him to lie about these 3 things, what else is going on?

I say meet with the LC. Put it all on the record. Give it 2 weeks and if you still feel unsettled then rematch. I understand kids with transition issues – believe me I do. But trust for me is a big deal.

Cali hostmom April 4, 2014 at 6:18 pm

I agree that the biggest problem seems to be your lack of trust.

Honestly, I have a hard time believing you’re going to get him to stop smoking. In many other countries, it’s a completely normal and accepted thing. He shouldn’t have lied to you to get the job (strike one) — but from what I’ve heard, the agencies will often advise au pairs to say they don’t smoke even when they do. I think at this point, the best you could hope for — and the best thing for the relationship — would be to tell him that you don’t want to know he smokes. No smells, no paraphernalia sitting around, no talking about it, no smoke breaks on the job, nothing. I had a nanny who smoked off hours and took smoke breaks during the day. If she came in smelling like smoke, I would ask her to go air out a little. You can be stricter than this, but I think making him stop smoking is not realistic. So if it’s an absolute dealbreaker for you, you’d better rematch before you drive yourself (and him) crazy with suspicion. You’re basically setting him up to have to lie to you.

That said, the car stuff would be huge with me — a definite strike two. If it happened here, that would be the end of off-duty car privileges. It doesn’t matter whether he regretfully confessed — the fact is that he did it. And it wasn’t like he didn’t have ample time to change his mind and turn around.

It does sound like you want to keep him, and he wants to stay. So my advice is to have the LCC come in, tell him on the record that you love him, the kids love him, and you want to make this work, but if he hits strike three, he’s gone. No discussions, no apologies. Whatever your non-negotiables are, lay them on the table, and let him know that if he makes another huge mistake, you’re rematching.

It’s not like he’s very good at hiding the stuff he does wrong — he’s been caught in two major transgressions, so I’d advise him strongly to toe the line from now on.

Yes, your kids love him, but they’re also being sent a message about what kind of behavior is acceptable in your household.

Devastated HM April 5, 2014 at 6:44 pm

I wanted to check back in and say thank you for all of the advice, support and tough talk you all have given here. I really feel like I have a much clearer sense of direction and am feeling more hopeful about being able to navigate a resolution. AP and I are planning to sit and talk early next week (not earlier because of schedules), and to meet with the LCC afterwards for a more formal discussion. You all helped me focus on what concrete things I would really need to see happen in able to be willing/able to rebuild trust. And, you helped me see that I need to ask AP what he needs from me in order to feel confident enough to be truthful. We’ll lay those things on the table and see if we can manage them. If not, at least we’ll know that and moving forward will be cleaner. So, please keep your fingers crossed!

Busy Mom April 8, 2014 at 9:54 pm

I’ve been catching up on 3 months of Aupairmom and have found this conversation fascinating.

We’re on AP 6 and this is the first who has tested our rules.

My 16 yo told me that the AP was texting at a traffic light while driving my teen. Seriously!? I scheduled a monthly meeting and told her that was illegal and that I’d checked the Verizon log and confirmed that she was texting at that time. I told her I’d continue to monitor. She seemed to think that she should answer when my kids text her – I set her straight on that one and told her they could wait for an answer. She has not repeated the texting infraction.

I despise cigarette smoke and have a keen nose for it. Our handbook says nos moking, but what I really don’t want is to see or smell her smoking. We had 3 conversations about smoke smell in the car (she drives 2 cars, but the one that holds the smell is the one she drives on wkends and I drive on weekdays with cloth seats).

# 1 conversation. Her: It’s my friends. Me: I don’t want to smell smoke in the cars. Tell your friends not to smoke and ride in our car.

#2 conversation.
Her: It’s my friends.
Me: Have your friends drive. Just fix it. I don’t want to have to talk about it again.

#3 conversation.
Her: It’s my friends.
Me: I thought we agreed that they’d drive
Her: I like to be in control
Me: Take separate cars. I have never had to have a conversation like this with any of our au pairs. I am tired of having this conversation. I am going to call our LCC and ask her advice

I spoke with the LCC who recommended taking away driving privileges if it happens again. So, I told AP that we were going to have the car detailed to get the smell out and that if we smelled cigarette smoke again, she would lose car privileges for 2 weeks and she would need to pay for the detailing which costs $100. The detailing was practical and not punitive in this case because you could still smell the residual odor in the car. I figured this was a natural consequence of breaking the rules.

Jumping to a rematch after either offense seemed like too great a leap, both in terms of the level of infraction and my ability to absorb someone new. Too busy.

She does her job well, she’s very friendly, but has not made much of an inroad on a relationship with my kids (youngest in 6th grade so they have their own lives/interests/etc and it gets harder every year). However, the smoking issue has damaged our relationship and her relationship (already limited) with my teens. They despise the smell as much as I do.

For a variety of reasons, this will be our last AP. Crossing fingers that 16 yo will pass her driving test – just before AP departs – which will cover 60% of our child driving needs. Still will need a sitter, though.

Four of 6 have been terrific, though. Even the 5th never, ever broke our rules…we just didn’t mesh in terms of personality with our family.

Should be working April 9, 2014 at 12:49 am

Is she young? I wonder, because of schlepping-kids-around needs, if we will end up having an AP when my daughter is 15-16. How great that your teen told you.

I guess she must really not know how our smoke-free noses can detect it so easily. Probably in more smoke-friendly countries everything smells a little smoky, so people are used to it?

Should be working April 9, 2014 at 12:50 am

Is she young? I wonder, because of schlepping-kids-around needs, if we will end up having an AP when my daughter is 15-16. How great that your teen told you about the texting.

I guess she must really not know how our smoke-free noses can detect it so easily. Probably in more smoke-friendly countries everything smells a little smoky, so people are used to it?

Busy Mom April 9, 2014 at 3:04 pm

SBW – she’s 24! We’ve only hired 21+. I’m really disappointed because I had really high hopes that she would use her very outgoing personality to forge a gone with busy/stressed/into their own lives teens.

Always Hopeful HM May 16, 2014 at 6:17 pm

Just curious…what happened with your AP? Did you take away driving privileges? Has she continued to leave a smoke smell in the car?

Devastated HM April 11, 2014 at 10:56 pm

So, after a lot of discussion and hard thinking, I decided to continue the match with AP for now. One thing that influenced me greatly was that my son has begun showing signs of increased anxiety. I’ve tried to be careful not to discuss the situation around him, but he may have overheard conversations, or sensed tension between AP and me.

For his part, AP really fell on his sword and expressed great remorse. I tried to lay out clearly what I would need to see to get on the path to trusting again. As before, he did not become resentful or sullen. I did get a tracker for the car, which is both a blessing and a curse. I hva it set so that he gets the same alerts I do. I want him to know what I, seeing. So for now,mower taking it one Fay at a time and hoping for the best!

Should be working April 12, 2014 at 2:01 pm

This seems like a really fair way to move forward, DevastatedHM. I think you can rest assured that if another lie comes up, you have done your due diligence. I hope your son’s anxiety improves. If he doesn’t have a therapist, maybe it would help to have someone like that in his life who is (not a parent but still) steady, reliable, and won’t go away in a year.

TexasHM April 12, 2014 at 2:03 pm

Devastated HM, glad you were able to reset and set a course for moving forward. Great idea on the alerts to you both! Hopefully this was a maturity teaching moment and he will grow and become a better person for it. The sunshine and butterflies part of me says he may even come back and thank you someday. ;)

Comments on this entry are closed.