Dear Au Pair Mom —
I have just discovered that our first au pair, who departed three months ago after a year working and traveling with us, told *everyone* but me that she was unhappy with our family.
We did all that we could to make her situation good and our relationship strong:
- We had regular feedback sessions, probably every month, to 1) congratulate her on her great work with the kids and 2) give her the opportunity to give us feedback.
- We built our handbook of proceduresm tules and expectations though conversation with her. We wanted to make sure everything was fair and clear. We were constantly asking for her input to set the standards for the our future au pairs .
- She tracked her own hours and we paid her without question. We believe that she was paid for any hours she felt she worked.
- We were very generous with pay and an au pair car. She was able to travle all over the world with us. She was able to request (and get) extra time off.
Some might describe our situation as cushy and see our au pairs as spoiled — small hkids are hard workm but travel and extra time off seemed to be big bonuses to balance this out.
- She always told us work conditions were great. When we asked her for feedback on what we could do to help her adjust to the USA, she never had anything to say.
- We didn’t have communication problems either. Both Host Dad and speak her native language at home. We are generous and value opened communications.
Although her landing in the US was tough (she arrived quite brokenhearted, sad and had a very hard time to leave home and make friends for a couple months). Ultimately she found a boyfriend here in the US and for the last 2 months of her stay, she was more of a live out nanny, she spent so many nights with him. She seemed very happy.
Otherwise, we had some of the predictable Au Pair challenges –a car accident on personal time, talking with BF for 4 hours / day during work hours on mom’s phone bill– but every problem seemed easy to solve, with common sense and her input (and au pair mom’s website as our primary resource!).
So what could be so wrong? Yet —
Since our Au Pair left, people around us have been telling us that our Au Pair was very unhappy with our family.
-The manager of the daycare facility told us that our Au Pair said the she would NEVER be an Au Pair again.
I don’t know exactly where that conversation went between our Au Pair and the daycare manager; the manager only told me how sad it was that our Au Pair did not like her experience in our family. The manager sympathized with me, that «”some young people don’t appreciate their chance (to have such a great host family) in life “.
– Our Au PairAP found a friend in a work colleague of mine, and their conversations were over heard by other colleagues. I was not told what was said, but simply warned that our Au Pair was talking behind our backs, in an inappropriate manner.
This was just after our Au Pair had left– and it was which was news to me!
– Just today, our new Au Pair, here for now 3 months, told me how happy she was with our family, and how sad it was that old Au Pair had given her false impression of our family while they were overlapping. Our new Au Pair also told me that the old Au Pair said « very bad » things about our family, so much that new Au Pair was terrified with the idea of spending a year with us…
We had thought that our old Au Pair had helped a lot in the new Au Pair selection, serving as a resource. When our new Au Pair arrive, and heard these negative things from the old Au Pair, she asked the old Au Pair why she she was only telling her this now — the old Au Pair answered “Had I had told you the truth, we would not have found anyone to replace me and I would have been obligated to stay.” (!!!!)… The old Au Pair made the newAu Pair cry, telling her how terrible her life with us was.
So no wonder our new Au PairAP seemed terrified for the first few weeks, and flourished so slowly. Now our new Au Pair tells me that she LOVES our family, she feels comfortable and cared for. Nothing the old Au Pair said turned out to be true.
Au pairs become very intimate with host families, we have invested a lot making both Au Pairs feel at home.
Our old Au Pair was sad when she arrived. We blamed it on the old boyfriend and tried to help her move on. It got better gradually, when she started to go out and meet friends. In her last few months of work, she was cheerful, confident and happy: we were proud of her and even gave some credit to the au pair experience as a great growing opportunity.
We *never* felt or were told that we / the kids / the job had something to do with her sadness. We never knew she was unhappy. All the “bashing” came after, to my greatest surprise…
Of course, now I feel a bit betrayed. I’m worried about negative gossip surrounding our family. And this, I think, I could get over, in time.
Here’s the problem: Our ols Au Pair is planning to visit us soon. She is back in our US city on a tourist visa to stay with her boyfriend for 3 months.
I don’t want things to go sour – she is gone… At the same time, my husband and I still care enough to tell her that what she did was inappropriate and want to confront her. I am also concerned about “damage control” — who knows what she is telling everyone now
I would like some word of wisdom on that… and some next step recommendations…