Our Au Pair Was Unhappy. Everyone Knew But Us.

by cv harquail on February 21, 2015

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.

5766506970_64806a7180_mWe though she was the greatest au pair: hard worker, experienced with the kids, wise…  She seemed very reasonable, honest and connected to the au pair community. 

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…



Image: Girls Whispering, by Kevin Shorter


TexasHM February 21, 2015 at 11:09 am

Wow. First of all I am so sorry and thank goodness your new AP was strong enough to make her own assessment of your family – that often doesn’t happen and they ask for a rematch solely based on what they have heard! A few quick questions:
1. It sounds like these negative comments were made at the end of her term – is that correct or did you hear that she complained all year or even at the beginning when she was struggling to adjust? I only ask because APs (and HPs) sometimes make poor choices when struggling with departure and an immature AP might try to convince herself the situation was bad to make it easier for her to leave and might tell the incoming bad things because she (AP1) is insecure and feels she is being replaced and likely by a superior candidate. NOT saying this makes it ok, just trying to understand if this was driven by grief/stress or if the entire relationship she was faking it to your face because that would vary my advice a bit.
2. Out of curiosity when you say she tracked her hours and you paid her for all the hours she worked – was she working more than 45 hours per week? The stipend is set so I found this an odd comment unless she accused you of going over and not paying her for the additional hours.
3. Tying into that it’s not clear what she said about you and that’s fine if you don’t want to post but were the comments about the kids as well? I ask because that would vary my advice too.

We had a little of this with our first AP. We declined her ask for sponsorship of a student visa and unfortunately instead of telling people the truth (it was too much to ask, it wouldn’t have worked because we needed every bit of 45 hours per week, it’s illegal and we weren’t willing to lie to homeland security on an affidavit) she told people that we wouldn’t do it because I was on a witch hunt and would report any AP and HF that did this. I wondered why they stopped coming around! She also told incoming AP whatever she did don’t ask to use the car because we hate that. AP2 laughed and told AP1 she was already using the car and it hadn’t been an issue. AP1 had limitations – no highway – because she struggled and could never show us she had the skill to do it so instead of admitting that she made it about us. We too got lucky that AP2 didn’t buy any of it (and told us why those other APs and HFs stopped coming around) but I can relate to the betrayal and frustration you are experiencing on a small scale.
In this instance, if she said things about the kids honestly that would be it for me. It’s one thing if she wants to trash me (why do HMs always get the brundt of that?!) but it’s another ballgame if she trashes my kids. I would not only confront her (maybe sedated depending on what was said) but she would not be visiting and not be permitted to see the kids because it’s a huge trust issue!
Tying into that, if she didn’t trash the kids I would still be hesitant to reunite them because who knows what she will say about you in front of them! (Or maybe she already has!)
Sidenote I think it helped you in a way that AP1 didn’t tell AP2 all this stuff before matching. Her claim that she didn’t tell incoming AP because then departing AP would have to stay is ridiculous and likely helped AP2 see through the nonsense and likely damaged their relationship enough that AP2 may become an advocate for you like ours did (to other APs, people in the community, etc).
This is the thing that stresses me the most about the AP program. Yes the APs are vulnerable living in our homes for a year but they can call rematch and leave on a dime but if they trash our family and leave I get the ripples for months! I am still getting bits and pieces about our burnout that left in early December! Thank goodness we had 3 successful APs that built us up in the AP community and smart friends that didn’t buy it for a minute or she could have done some lasting damage aside from us not being with that agency anymore and the actual fallout of a transition on our household and kids!

TexasHM February 21, 2015 at 11:15 am

Another complete sidenote to you – it sounds like you do have a pretty cushy/great situation and may be pretty affluent. I have a HM friend that is VERY affluent and she swore by rematch APs. She had 3 out of country matches and all 3 were very entitled/immature/spoiled (I suspect your departed AP may have been as well). Each time she went into rematch and managed to salvage a great APs year (vs them being sent home), they had zero expectations – usually just hope for a host family that follows the rules or doesn’t abuse them, and they were eternally grateful and appreciative of the family and situation and worked hard all year to show the family just how happy they were. After that my HM friend only selected rematch APs (no more out of country) and hasn’t had a dud yet (she is now 4 APs into her rematch only strategy). I realize that it sounds like you got a great one in AP2 but just a thought for the future! ;)

Mom needing advice February 21, 2015 at 9:14 pm

I think you hit a point, (many have) when saying that she might have been jealous / inconsciously anticipating to leave the family behind. She was complaining that we were talking a lot about new AP, and very excited about her arrival “she was always talking about you”, “did not care about me when HD was around..”.
Very good trick, otherwise, rematch AP, this is wise!!!

Mom needing advice February 21, 2015 at 10:18 pm

Oh, and the extra work is on-call covering “home” for me 1/6 weeks… when I’m on call (I’m a physician)
She knew that coming with us. We double her stipends on those weeks, because HD is not always there to cover. She knows to distract the kids while I’m on the phone, and to get up if the kids wake up and call for help at night and I don’t seem to get up… In a year I had to leave at night probably 4 times, and she never noticed… She never complained about the extra hours, because she really enjoyed the extra money, and thought that was a very good deal, even for future au pairs. Otherwise, we paid her overtime, if any, 10$ / hour – babysitter wage in my city…. (which is why the count in important!). And we made sure she logged all hours in her log book by herself, in the family room – so we can all access it. I can see if I am being clear on what is work and what is free time. I find that very useful for both the AP and me.

AlwaysHopeful HM February 21, 2015 at 12:03 pm

OP, what a terrible situation. You must feel so betrayed. Like TexasHM, I am curious about the timing . If the complaints started at the end of her stay, in addition to the departure grief she likely felt, I wonder how much was due to influence from her boyfriend. In particular, at the same time that she was saying goodbye to you and her friends from the year, she was building new relationship. She may have felt stressed and pulled in many directions, but possibly not able to understand or articulate what she felt.

For your derermination about whether to lrt her visit, i would say it depends on your goal. If the purpose is just to confront her with the lies and let her know the behavior was inappropriate, that can be done from afar, and it’s probably less painful and dramatic all around to do it that way. If your goal is to repair the reltionship, then by 1all means have her visit. But that will be a much different conversation.

Mom needing advice February 21, 2015 at 9:28 pm

We love her, and certainly would like to save the relationship, particularly now thinking that it may have been some share of “pain of leaving”… some of the things she said were very personal and judgmental of our family. We are a balanced and happy, and consider ourselves a healthy family – but she did not see it that way (the way my husband and I split chores – the way we discipline our daughters (no enough)… Even the way I kiss my husband hello when he walks home was talked about (that I was “like a child”), and those comments go beyond my limits… I get that she is young and may not know life… but would want her to learn that this is not ok. I really think she is a very intelligent young women – I just don’t get how she was so disrespectful.
How do you all balance being the employer versus mom… I feel like I want to raise her out of this habit of gossiping, tell her: we love you, but this is just wrong.

TexasHM February 21, 2015 at 12:34 pm

Oh I meant to say that too – either way I would confront her before any visit. You don’t need an emotional blowup. I am sure others would disagree but depending on the severity of what was said I might even draft an email explaining what we had heard, what are concerns are and asking for her side of the story/feedback and giving her time to read through it and think before responding. You can leave out the specifics, she knows what she did and then it’s on her to decide if she wants to fix the relationship or not. If she does then she can make amends and you can discuss a visit and terms. If not then she has made her decision and you are better off!

ProPair February 21, 2015 at 12:51 pm

That stings. It can be very easily to take these things personally, but (and there may be absent details rendering this untrue) it sounds like she was exasperated with the AP experience in general, and not necessarily your family, even if she took it out on you. I’m mostly referring to the comment from the daycare provider, as it is the most specific example. Just because someone says “I’ll never be an AP again” doesn’t necessarily mean she said “I’ll never be an AP again because Family X are a bunch of mad slave drivers who treated me completely unfairly”.

I also want to point out that in my experience, pretty much all au pairs whine about their HFs behind their backs. Complaints range from legitimate, such as too many hours and difficult kids, to “My host dad NEVER lets me drive the BMW!” The au pairs who have the most always seem to come up with the silliest complaints. I don’t want to minimise the fact that it was inappropriate of her to back talk you to your coworker and the daycare provider. If she had to complain, she should have kept it to her AP friends, to whom you would remain faceless. Some of us had challenging years and went for one more, others had great years and chose to return home for school or work. These decisions had little reflection on our host families

My advice is: try not to take things personally. She may also have talked with the new AP about how much she loves your kids or told your colleague about the awesome dinner you made one night, but people only pass on the nasty remarks because they’re “juicy”. Look at it as a her thing and not a you thing. Even if someone is great with kids, they’re not necessarily built to handle the stress of homesickness and culture shock, which can give them a bad outlook on everything.

As to her visit, send her an email beforehand saying something like “we’re thrilled to hear about your visit, but before you arrive, I’ve heard some people say you were unhappy with us. Is that true?” And leave it at that. Hindsight us 20/20, and there’s a good chance she regrets being ungrateful and really misses your kids. Hopefully you can clear the air and have a nice visit.

It is hurtful and embarrassing to have someone you trust talk about you behind your back, but remember that your actions will speak louder than her words. The fact that your new AP is happy to have you is proof of that.

SKNY February 21, 2015 at 1:13 pm

I simpatize.
Our last au pair (reason we left the program for now) quit on us and the agency. Another family found her a job after she said some big/small lies about us:
– that we labeled all food in the house and she could not eat anything other than basic food (my guess is because I would not allow her to eat my Diet Atkins bars, or drink kids school lunch juice?)
– that we FORCED her to stay in her room in the basement at all times she was not working
– we treated her like a maid and never allowed her to join the family anywhere and made her sit and watch us eating in restaurants but not feed her (!?!).

She told us the reason she was leaving was that se felt the ghost of the former Au pair was too strong and she felt we would never be loved the same.

Funny thing is that she messed up and got kicked off into the streets from the other family and that is how we discover what they told them

Mom needing advice February 21, 2015 at 9:31 pm

From where I am, we say: you should never spit in the air…

Thanks for sharing… Old AP did sometime come home with the craziest stories from some AP friends… I was a bit naive!!!

Multitasking Host Mom February 21, 2015 at 1:13 pm

Where I am from we would call a person who acts like this “two faced”.
I would be a little leery about meeting with this AP again. But on the otherhand, if you refuse to see her, who knows what stories she will make up! As they say, “Keep your friends close, but your enemies closer.” My advice is to take the high road and do see this AP once while she is back in town. Meet for lunch or dinner (since a meal has a built in beginning and an ending timeframe) at a restaurant (public place with witnesses????).
If you really want to confront her keep it light and just say, “I heard from a few people after you left that you were not happy.” Then just be quiet and let her talk. Maybe she is just someone who likes to focus on the negative and complain about it without realizing how bad it sounds to other people. Or as said above, the stress of leaving the US at the end of the year led her to act out. Or she might just not be the same person you thought she was…which would be the most troubling one I would think. At least then you would know… After you hear her out, just say something like, “Sorry you felt like that. We thought you were a great AP and enjoyed your year with us.” As hard as it would be, try not to get into the justification and rationalization of her feelings. It is a slippery slope that often doesn’t end well.

Lígia February 21, 2015 at 2:01 pm

Wow! Being an au pair is very difficult, for so many reasons, that I get someone saying they would never be an au pair again. If asked, I would say I wouldn’t want to be an au pair again – I didn’t even extend – but that didn’t have anything to do with my host family whatsoever. They were awesome, the best host family I could have had.

Although I generally had a very good year as an au pair, I could say that taking care of kids (3 under 5, in my case) full time was very difficult, that being away from my family and friends, and having to make new friends and sometimes having to cope with loneliness was difficult, that enduring long and cold winters (I’m from Brazil!) was very difficult. But I could never, ever blame any bad moments I had on my host family.

Maybe you’ll never find the true reasons your old au pair is bad mouthing your family. But from what you say, it sounds very unfair.

I agree with ProAupair. Ask her about the things she said. Clear the air. Maybe you’ll have a good time with her (specially the kids). I would feel iffy about her asking to stay at your house, but if it’s just a one-day visit, I would do it.

Maybe she regrets what she said, or she didn’t really mean it the way you think, who knows?

Good luck!

WarmStateMomma February 21, 2015 at 2:02 pm

Ouch. I would email her back saying that I was hurt and surprised to hear from several people that she’d been so happy with my family and say I’m confused about why she’d want to return to us. I don’t think you owe her anything more than a chance to explain.

WestMom February 22, 2015 at 7:28 am

I would do exactly this. I would feel so hurt in your shoes and would want clarify before opening my home to someone who could have sabotaged my chances of getting any new AP moving forward.

Lígia February 21, 2015 at 2:06 pm

PS. Again agreeing with ProAupair… we all whine about our host families at some point and, sometimes, while alone in a different country, things tend to get blown out of proportion. So… maybe this is what you heard?

PS2. I really think that if she wants to visit, it’s because she cherishes her relationship with you, or at least with the kids…

UKAu Pair February 21, 2015 at 4:59 pm

What a horrible situation. :(

Just to shed what may be some light on the comment made by your current AP:

The first family I au paired for were absolutely fantastic. Really kind, made me completely part of their family and we’re still in touch. But I almost didn’t go (and cried because I didn’t want to) because the way the previous au pair described it sounded awful. Now, she was a fantastic au pair and she also adored the family and are still in touch with them, but she wanted to be completely honest and so gave me a very balanced, unbiased view of life with them, and really emphasised the negatives so that I was sure what I was letting myself in for. It didn’t mean that she disliked the family, just that she was trying to make sure that I was prepared.

Is it possible that this could have happened with your AP? Not malicious, just slightly over-honest?

TexasHM February 21, 2015 at 5:14 pm

UK AP I see your angle but did the departing AP also go to a coworker of your host mom and say inappropriate things and tell people in the community she was unhappy? I think her comment about why she didn’t disclose says it all “Had I had told you the truth, we would not have found anyone to replace me and I would have been obligated to stay.” Completely selfish. She didn’t say “I just wanted to be open with you so you are prepared.” She more or less said “Yes, I lied to you (new AP) knowingly but I think it’s justified because I was trying to get out of here” and she attempted to poison the well for the incoming AP. This doesn’t sound like a dose of reality and their incoming AP has since told the family about what was said and that it was completely untrue about them (AP2 has not seen any sign of whatever bad things AP1 told her about) which gives me zero doubt this was not a dose of reality she was intending to give at all. Now was she jealous of the incoming AP and therefore dropped some landmines to make things rocky and make her departure more agonizing for the HF – very possible. Our most mature AP overlapped a bit with our burnout match and not once did she pile on or drive a wedge anywhere. She offered help to both sides and unwavering support. Mature, unselfish APs want their HFs to have awesome matches after them. Our AP that left due to a family emergency was beside herself about us being in rematch and finally took a breath when she saw how great the incoming rematch AP was. Why? Because she wanted the best for us and the kids. If anything I have to keep our previous APs from talking us up and telling the new APs that we are really pushovers and much more flexible and generous than our HB suggests!!!!

UKAu Pair February 22, 2015 at 7:45 am

That’s a really good point Texas HM, I hadn’t quite thought it through.

TexasHM February 22, 2015 at 6:01 pm

Just my experience but you never know! I wish we learned the end result from more OPs so that we could all see what it ended up being for future reference. Add that to my list of dreams, and world peace! :)

HRHM February 21, 2015 at 6:03 pm

I’m now on AP8 and every one of them has bad mouthed US at some point. (ok not really sure about #8 but we usually find out after they leave)

Most of what they say is petty (“the food was repetitive” – really honey, feel free to cook, since you only work 30 hours a week) or related to not enjoying reality (“HK is difficult only for me” – maybe if you acted like an adult instead of a pushover, she’d behave for you like she does for the rest of us) or downright ridiculous (“I can’t believe my bedroom isn’t bigger” – please, take the master, I’ll move into the nanny suite)

Sometimes I hear what sounds like real complaints from AP’s friends (hours violations, leaving AP for holidays, etc) but when I offer to help I get hastily rebuffed and it really feels like maybe there’s either more to the story or maybe it’s not totally an accurate portrayal after all.

While I agree that it was EXTREMELY poor form for this AP to complain outside the AP community, what’s done is done. I would chalk it up to immaturity and an attempt to separate at the end of her year. If you must bring it up with her, do so over the phone/email/skype, not in person on her visit. That way, if you still feel like you do now, you can just forego the awkward visit altogether.

You do need to be prepared that she may either outright deny it, minimize it or just have no good answer. With the one AP that I did confront about this (AP1) I got all three responses in the course of the conversation. 8 years later, I still have no good explanation for why she treated us so poorly after we were so good to her. Don’t expect closure from your AP and you won’t be disappointed.

Multitasking Host Mom February 22, 2015 at 11:27 am

I am sure we all have been bad mouthed at some point! After all, as much as I try to be a kind, considerate host mom, I am not perfect. Every single one of our APs mention, at one point, how the cluster meetings often have several other APs complaining about some small slight to them caused by their host parents. I am just lucky that it hasn’t got back to me yet about what has been said about me.
More that I think about it…I have bad mouthed people. I had a boss that was great at her job and that I learned a lot from. I respected and liked her both professionally and personally. But she tended to micromanage and every once in awhile it would really get to me. I would vent to my husband for a few minutes and then feel better about the whole situation. And I am sure if she heard what I said it might hurt her feelings. That being said I didn’t tell my frustrations to any coworkers, colleagues, post on social media, etc. That’s where the OP’s au pair really caused the harm. By telling people that she had to know would relay the information back to the host family either showed a lack of maturity and forethought, or was just being mean. Let’s hope for the OP who liked this AP and worked hard to make her year a success that it was the first reason.

Schnitzelpizza February 24, 2015 at 11:31 am

In reality I think we all need to admit that at one time or another we bad mouthed a boss or coworker. I don’t know how often I have complained about my bosses lack of communication or moaned about my last coworker’s (lack of) work ethics. And I think you will have a tough time to find an au pair who hasn’t at least once complained about their host family in some way (for me it was my host parents constantly being late and not putting the baby in warm socks and boots when letting her play in the snow in winter).
However, these are things you tell your best friend, your partner, or your mom. You don’t post it on social media and you don’t tell someone you know will relay it back to the person you complained about (unless that’s what you are aiming for). Plus, I assume most of us don’t live under one roof with their boss or coworker and don’t consider them “family”. There is (or there should be) a different level of relationship between an au pair and their host family than between coworkers in a professional work environment. On the one hand, that makes it easier for the au pair to complain (because she hears and sees ‘everything’, you can maybe cover up having a bad day at work but at home? in your own “safe spot”?) on the other hand it makes it more painful. Especially in cases like OP’s where it seems that everything is well until you find out otherwise.

But also, sometimes au pairs (even at the end of their year) can’t relay certain parts of information not because they are immature but because they lack the language skills.

“The manager of the daycare facility told us that our Au Pair said the she would NEVER be an Au Pair again” – nothing wrong with that and OP states they don’t know exactly where that conversation went. I would also never be an au pair again because of many reasons (one being I could never live under one roof with my employer again) that have all to do with me and nothing with my US host family.

“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.” – so au pair talked to a friend and a coworker overheard (!) it. Of course it’s inappropriate to talk about a host parents in a negative way but the colleague only overheard what was said and might easily have misinterpreted something. I don’t know how often I have said something negative about my husband to a friend that might sound a lot worse if you only hear half of what has been sad.

“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.” – I know that some au pairs paint a bleak picture of their host family to prospective au pairs either because they are upset that they have to leave or because they want to point out negatives to make sure that in the end the new au pair won’t call them out on those.

All that OP is getting herself worked up on is hearsay. Daycare manager told something, a colleague said something else, new au pair added a bit to that (do the two au pairs speak the same language or could there be an additional language barrier between the two?)… if OP wanted to be fair, I would confront the au pair with the situation. I agree with Multitasking Host Mom’s previous advice to meet her for lunch or dinner, in a public place, to let her know OP heard she wasn’t happy in the end… and to let her tell her side of the story if she wants to. It might not bring any closure to the situation. It could be that AP is just not who OP thought she was. But in the end it might all be a big misunderstanding and OP might find that things were not said or meant as they were relayed to OP. And AP might learn that you need to watch what you say because it can be misinterpreted easily.

caringhp February 21, 2015 at 9:08 pm

It’s easy to tell Original Poster not to take it personally but I feel for OP. She seems to be a good HM who tries hard. How awful for her after all she did to make the APs year good and the spineless AP badmouthed the HF and now the HF is left with sideways glances from daycare staff, coworkers and others. I feel for OP having been in OPs shoes. Unfortunately APs immaturely bad mouthing HPs isn’t uncommon.
It is often exaggerated; untrue; done because APs enjoy a bit of gossip and don’t realize it can hurt or damage HF in their community long after AP returns home; or as a coverup for some other issue the AP has.

I can’t stand being talked about unjustifiably and have had enough of the AP program and my kids, spouse and I are SO happy since we took a break from AP Program.
I think of returning now and again and return here to this site and realize I don’t think I have the stamina for it. The gossip was the worst. Here are examples of the exaggerations and lies that caused negative and hurtful ripple effects for us:
– ‘my HP unfairly restricted my car use one night without notice and screwed up my plans… Very mean’ . Reality: AP had a lot to drink at home and we prohibited her from taking our car and she got very worked up despite knowing our position that drinking and driving wasn’t allowed. All our neighbors (who we don’t know well) heard through their APs that we are mean.
– ‘my HPs curfew me/make me get up early so I cannot go out and meet other APs for a late night outing’. Reality. Ap was exceptionally extreme religious conservative; didn’t agree with the flirting and drinking other APs did and didn’t want to be with them for night time outings (she did like coffee, shopping and gym day time outings with them but needed to blame someone for canceling all evening plans with them)
– ‘my HP won’t give me the car at night’. Reality. aP was unable to drive at night and was very inexperienced driver. To get her comfortable at day time driving we had to pay 500 in lessons; 1000+ for backup nanny to drive the kids after AP arrived; take 1 week off work to drive practice drives with her; and as she was initially dangerous at night driving we had to wait an additional 2 months for her to be safe enough to drive alone at night and even then she could only handle familiar roads.
– ‘they don’t let me eat certain foods’. Reality: family shopping list was on white board and anybody could add anything they want to it (although we got tired of her requests for lots of expensive avocados and big containers of shrimp after a while! :)). Yes everybody in the house was restricted from eating the diabetic hypoglycemic shakes unless they were diabetic or hypoglycemic; and the special allergy food that was hard to find and had to be ordered online was only for the person with that allergy.
– ‘they won’t let me sleep, I am exhausted and overworked’. reality : that AP slept 2 hours many nights and got up to do a 2 hour middle of night Skype with overseas boyfriend and couldn’t go back to sleep properly afterwards. Not our fault but we still get a snide remark or 2 from people in our community we think are under the impression we overworked her (and NO we never once went over the legal limits of work hours and our AP spent a lot of time sitting txting and listening to music in carpool, in the karate or sports or music class waiting area relaxing on the clock (as part of her scheduled hours) while waiting for kids).
Currently our professional caregiver and After School Club bridge the gap more peacefully without drama!
I try hard to abide by rules and be nice to people and yes, I get sad when things like the above happen. I try to be tough skinned but I think I am no longer cut out for being a HP.
I think we are done with the program unless something unforeseen happens. This site has been so helpful over the years. Thank you!

Mom needing advice February 21, 2015 at 9:39 pm

Ah… I am such a debutante…!!! That help de-dramatize the whole thing: thanks!!!

SKNY February 21, 2015 at 9:33 pm

We also gave a break from the program and enjoy a drama free life.
We are now considering relocating and I feel Au pair would be the best deal, but my husband continues to reject the idea. He feels he would rather pay 5-10k more a year (for the next 3-4 years before youngest go to school) and have a liveout caregiver (where I would rather invest the difference somewhere else)

Mom needing advice February 21, 2015 at 9:46 pm

I heard male AP were great for drama-free life… you may consider that!

CAmom22 February 24, 2015 at 2:37 pm

But there’s always the exception! My current male AP causes more drama than all my previous APs together!!!

Should be working February 24, 2015 at 2:45 pm

Uh oh…CAmom22, can you elaborate? What qualities make for drama? Was it foreseeable at all from interviewing? Do you know his DISC? How does he respond to feedback??

We are progressing with a lovely male AP, having fully disclosed what is going on with DD right now. Still not sure whether we want an AP or nanny, but part of the hope is that the male AP would be less drama, less needy, but with initiative and fun and maturity at once. Obviously it’s an individual, not a gender, but there is my fantasy that gender might help.

AlwaysHopeful HM February 24, 2015 at 3:52 pm

I have to second this– I got the exception also! Current (male) AP has brought more drama than either of our two previous (one female, one male). He is the only one of the three to tear up during our feedback discussions, and he is the least able to manage my son, least creative, least observant and least proactive. In additon, he is very focused on appearance–his and others– in a way that I find irritating, but not harmful to my young son. (Except for the time that he tried to give my son a protein shake, which I luckily intercepted). He is our youngest au pair to date, and had a very conservative upbringing with stay at home mom, so I think that has more to do with it than gender.

SKNY February 24, 2015 at 4:33 pm

would Always hopeful HM and Camom2 mind sharing where their current au pairs are from? I have this new theory that south americans seem to bring in more drama than european au pairs…

AlwaysHopeful HM February 24, 2015 at 4:58 pm

Sorry, SKNY, but ours is from Germany. And our fairly drama-less female au pair was from South America. Looks like our family is just busting all the stereotypes!

CAmom22 March 21, 2015 at 10:38 am

Hi there; sorry for late response — just seeing these questions directed to me. SKNY – my AP is Western European. SBW – I don’t know his DISC profile; my agency just added those so I’ll have to study the post on DISC profiles as I start up the search process soon for next AP. He has been a fantastic AP in many ways but is extremely emotional; has highs and lows and needs a significant amount of hand holding. From the beginning he stressed out like crazy over everything. He takes his job seriously which is great but it caused him significant amounts of stress. He needed weekly meetings to connect and discuss everything for significantly longer (months longer) than any of my previous APs. He simply needs a lot of feedback and needs to discuss things. A lot. He cries from the stress. He had lived on his own and held a job before being an AP but still the stress of being in a new situation was very difficult for him (he cried one day early on telling me that he had needed a stamp and had walked to the post office and then got scared about having to ask a question at the front desk so he came back home and spent the rest of the day in bed in his room crying). Most difficult was that he simply could not regulate his own emotions enough to “be the adult” when my pre-teen daughter acted up. Rather than controlling a situation he escalated it and I felt like I had two 11-year olds fighting. After getting into a shouting match (really) with my daughter one day he actually stormed out of her room, threw his hands up in the air and shouted towards my direction that “he couldn’t handle this anymore and I had to deal with her” and went to his room to write a long emotional email (his usual MO) about how maybe he just needed to go home. I was both laughing at the hilarity of what i had just witnessed but also it was the last straw for me. I told him if he would not even try to use any of the many tools and advice I had given him and stop letting his own emotions go unchecked in these situations then we were going to have to consider rematch because I could no longer keep putting my work aside to do his job for him so that he could take an emotional break. He has said over and over to me (as well as to LCC and friends) that he cannot believe how lucky he is in our family so I know he has been very happy nonetheless he would periodically send me emotional emails after difficult days saying that maybe he just needed to go home. I told him he needed to learn to identify the difference between a bad day and being in a bad home situation and if it is the former then he needs to stop the drama and threatening to go home and if it is the latter then for all of our sakes we need to rematch. I think that discussion finally did it as from that point on I have observed him using the tools I have given (speak calmly and softly) to diffuse rather than escalate situations. He seems genuinely more calm.
He has grown and matured a lot but the relationship has taken an extraordinary amount of my energy on my part. More than I am ever willing to do again. I just don’t have it in me to mother another child in my house.
To answer your question, yes, I did have a sense from interviewing that he was going to need a lot more of an emotional connection with us than previous APs but since our AP immediately prior was one who went out the door the minute we came home and was back at starting time I thought that might be a good thing. During the interview process I told my husband that this AP was going to need more of my time and energy; I just didn’t realize how much!!

CAmom22 March 21, 2015 at 11:48 am

Lest you all think I’m raising a monster of a daughter and leaving my AP to deal with it while I laugh it off eating bon bons and watching TV, I thought I’d add one more thing.

I was also having these discussions with my daughter. I was punishing her for her behaviour during these incidents and talking with her about what she could do to diffuse these situations. It’s a good life lesson anyway since you can control your own behaviour but not someone else’s. During this particular incident with my daughter I was working at home (I don’t normally) and on a client call so I was relying on AP to be the adult in charge. I ended up having to finish up the call early and take over for the rest of the aftn/evening because he was so worked up.

What I also told my LCC about this is that I was sick and tired of punishing my daughter for situations that were not fully of her own making. So. many. times. Hence the final reset discussion which really seems to have worked.

Mimi March 21, 2015 at 11:54 am

I’ve been in your shoes with my oldest (almost 11). It’s partially the age, but also how the AP responds. We use these situations in our interviews.

AlwaysHopeful HM March 21, 2015 at 1:57 pm

Yikes, CAMom22, what a nightmare! When I first started my search for a male au pair, I spoke with someone who likely would have been similar. It was interesting, because he was endearing and funny and interesting, but I knew after speaking with him that he wouldn’t last a week in our home before I was ready to kill him! You have the patience of a saint!!

Returning HM February 24, 2015 at 3:09 pm

Not drama-free, but our three males have been much lower on drama than our previous 7 females.

I just this second clicked MATCH on our next AP – another male – and I am SO happy that we are staying with males. Our soon-to-be 13 year old daughter had put up a bit of a struggle earlier in the year about getting another male, then our 10 year old son decided to match her struggle by insisting that he would ONLY have a male, so it’s been an interesting matching process, to say the least. But we finally reached agreement, and everyone LOVES the candidate we ended up with (and SBW – I did find the DISC I was looking for, I am happy to report!), so we are hoping for a great year.

Our one issue is that this AP will be younger (at just-turned-19 upon arrival) than any AP we have ever hosted…and our car insurance is going to more than double (to $2500!). Hopefully he is worth it!

Julie February 22, 2015 at 1:43 pm

Hey SKNY, I’m all about finding the low drama au pairs. Please let me know if you’d like my help in finding one. After 7 au pairs of my own and serving as an LCC, it’s sort of my thing to find the drama-free candidates: julie.dye at lcc.culturalcare.com

SKNY February 22, 2015 at 3:53 pm

Julie, I will keep it in mind. Out of curiosity, does CCAP work with Portuguese Au pairs? We usually employ Portuguese speaking au pairs and feel that maybe Brazilians are the source of the drama. Have been wondering if a Portuguese Au pair would bring less drama than a Brazilian

TexasHM February 22, 2015 at 5:57 pm

SKNY – Julie is AWESOME and the counselor I told you about that helped us out when we were in the middle of our flaming burnout! She wasn’t even our counselor or with our agency at the time and was a huge saving grace. Now I just need to get her to move to DFW!!!

MC in bk February 22, 2015 at 12:05 am

as a first time HP, this is interesting to read about. I have heard of families in my area adding some guidelines regarding confidentiality to their nanny contracts/guidebooks. I wonder if it’s a good idea to remind au pairs in their guidebook that the family expects that the au pair will not share information about the family with others. I know it’s not practical to expect zero gossip, but I wonder if it would be helpful to discuss it in advance or when a new ap starts. curious what others think.

HRHM February 23, 2015 at 11:37 am

I think putting this in your HHHB is not a good idea.

I have many conversations with my APs regarding the talk they hear from other APs. I always make the point that there are two sides to every story and I never side with anyone without hearing both sides first. I know this won’t prevent them from saying whatever they want, but hopefully it makes them think a little before they do.

Putting something pre-emptive in the HHHB is not only unenforceable but may stir up feelings of being suppressed that are not conducive to a good relationship. Unless you are a celebrity, it smacks of elitism.

hOstCDmom February 23, 2015 at 12:19 pm

I agree re a NDA as essentially unenforceable, but if one wanted to put something black and white in the HHHB to highlight the issue, I would suggest a two way statement noting first that the HF will respect the APs privacy also:

“Since we will be living together we will be aware of some private information about each other. We will respect your privacy, and not talk about you with our friends and neighbors or post about you on social media, and we would expect the same respect of our privacy in return; thus, we ask that you not discuss our private family matters in public fora or on social media, blogs etc.”

Taking a Computer Lunch February 23, 2015 at 2:11 pm

MY handbook states that we ask the AP to respect our privacy and not to disclose our address, personal identifying information, or pictures on a Web site without asking for permission first. Child #2 is a privacy nut, and may be one of the few teenagers in America not to use email, FB, Instagram, etc. He “gets it” that once you post it to the Internet, there’s no getting it back.

I don’t think you can stop verbal gossip. It really doesn’t take that long for the cluster to forget it – especially if the succeeding AP forms a completely different group of friends.

German Au-Pair February 23, 2015 at 5:39 pm

I wonder if you actually abide by your own rule? Do you never talk about her with your friends? Like ever? Other people make weird choices and act weird and are weird sometimes. Talking about things that are funny, that you wonder about or that you disagree with are normal in my book. I actually believe that everyone does this. The real issue is having good judgment about WHOM you tell these things.

TexasHM February 23, 2015 at 11:36 pm

Some agencies actually police this (or try to). Some have strict (ticket home) policies for posting info online and APs have to get HP signature/approval to post anything online and they are strongly discouraged from comparing/gossiping and it’s not tolerated in cluster mtgs. I find the LCs can strongly influence this in their clusters. LCs that are newer or trying too hard to befriend APs can find their clusters quickly turn toxic but those that are experienced and/or drive/manage expectations and content of meetings don’t seem to have this issue. Just my humble opinion from what I’ve seen over the years. As far as talking about APs there are only a few close friends I would chat with that I trust and know wouldn’t share and I chat with them for advice on how to solve issues not just to bag on AP!

German Au-Pair February 22, 2015 at 9:10 am

I would DEFINITELY talk to her. While I get that there a points that bother her even though she was happy (I am extremely grateful to my HP and still, there were things that bothered me and that I did tell my friends about but not ever without mentioning the positive things as well) it seems like she told bad things about you if the new AP was so afraid. So I would send an email and aks her about it to avoid any awkwardness when meeting in real life. Even if it’s not relevant for her anymore, what is heard can nevcer be unheard again.

That is assuming that the OP actually acted the way she thinks she has. I know a HM who I’m sure thinks she’s done everything to make her AP feel good and who is probably completely sure that her requests (doing HM’s laundry for example) are absolutely appropriate given everything she does. I’m certain she has good intentions and just doesn’t realize how hurtful her unwanted advice is (comments on make up and clothes), how inapproriate her butting in is and how simply wrong other habits are (taking APs car when the other car is without gas and expecting the AP to fill the tank…). This HM genuinely seems like she does not mean to be mean and probably would be confused if heard how desperate the AP who hasn’t dared to say anything the whole year really was.
I’m not saying that is the case here. But reality is that not everyone who comes off as mean/arrogant etc is aware of this. The fact that this HM has a new AP who is really happy with her is no indication either since said HM now has an HP who absolutely loves her, too. Some people simply don’t click or communicate well without everyone realizing this.

Peachtree Mom February 22, 2015 at 9:40 am

I would not bother to see her, just let sleeping dogs lay. Co-workers, neighbors and daycare managers know your family, your values and ethics. They are with you for the long haul not a short yearlong stint. Sometimes it seems things are overtalked, over analyzed without resolution and result in more frustration. You did the best you could (you sound like a fabulous host family), your old au pair is very immature and needed some sort of drama in her life. I would not cowtow to a 20year old. If she wants to meet, be polite, ask how she is doing and then nicely decline due to time constraints etc. Keep the lines of communication open with your present aupair and continue the great hosting that you are doing. Let her go, let the hurt go. Our first aupair was with us for two years, she still writes, we exchange pictures etc. Our second aupair was with us for a year and was also great. Tons of tears at the airport when she was leaving. Six months later, the emails dropped off, did not answer my attempts to Skype every so often etc which surprised me because she was so close to our family. She moved on, got busy with her life back home. That is fine, she was so fabulous when she was with us, I wish her the best.

SeattleHD February 22, 2015 at 11:52 am

It’s one thing to hear things through other APs – after all, I’m sure the AP community try to outdo each other in “crazy things my HF does” stories, and that’s fine – I’m sure the vast majority do it tongue in cheek. Even the horror stories to the incoming new au pair are understandable if a little annoying (and yes that would be about the dynamics of being “replaced”). But daycare managers and your co-workers? (How did that contact even happen?)

The new boyfriend with 2 months left to go appears to be an important milestone. As she’s coming back to visit it must be somewhat serious, so new boyfriend = “dissatisfaction with slave-driving HF” is definitely a potential dynamic and motivation.

So she wants to visit – what does that mean exactly? How does your new au pair feel about this, knowing she was lied to?

I’d definitely clear this up as best you can before she arrives, because nobody wants this to blow up at the time.

Mom needing advice February 23, 2015 at 6:06 pm

Co-worker was young and from her home country. AP was always with our family and I felt that she needed help to find go-to persons, other than HD and HM (and her texting friends from home) co-worker became an easy go-to person. Co-worker is a great great person, that I trust. (He’s telling me that she had a hard time adjusting to America, mainly. He thinks transitions are hard for her. He’s pretty immune to bitching – he is a guy!) I’m really glad he was there for her. But maybe I should think twice next time before sharing my coworkers… My girl co-workers were the whistle blowers, they are quite close to me, overheard discussions that would have been safer outside of a staff party that I was not attending – I was home with the kids, so she could go out (I’m a debutante, again… I should have known better).
She moved on soon after and found her own friends, but that got her going (I think). Co-worker maybe was a game changer. I would probably do it again… I still think that was a generous thing to do for her – she was just immature / not careful no have that type of conversation in a really private setting, not on a couch in a party. It would be great to have her version of that story – she may have hated me not minding my own business and shopping friends for her, but until I hear otherwise, I will trust my gut feeling…

AlwaysHopeful HM February 22, 2015 at 12:11 pm

One thing to note about the coworker. As described by the OP, it sounds like this coworker was someone in AP’s friend circle, and not HM’s, and the conversation was overheard by other coworkers. If that’s the case, the conversation reflected a lack of discretion, but may not have been intentionally unkind.

German Au-Pair February 22, 2015 at 1:51 pm

It also may be that the AP told her friend the whole story, the good and the bad and only the bad was heard. And/or the assessment of the comment being inappropriate could be absed on the view of AP telling co-worker and not AP telling friend.
The day-care worker COULD have only focussed on a bad story and not paid attention to the good things.
Or maybe the Ap really was a brat.
I would want an explanation directly from her instead of piecing together a picture based on other people’s opinions. I know I have complained about my beloved friends several times. Had this be overheard it might have painted a wrong picture about our relationship and what I think of them. I know to only complain to friends who know the whole situation but maybe the AP lacked judgement there? There are so many szenarios and I do believe the HM owes it to the AP to allow her to explain herself. And I also believe it will give the HM peace of mind to maybe get the final piece of the puzzle and then save the relationship or end it.

Ex Aussie Au Pair February 22, 2015 at 11:21 pm

I have just recently completed my year as an au pair in the USA and when I arrived to my first host family, the outgoing au pair whom I was replacing told me late the night I arrived that she had just spent the worst year of her life with (terrific kids) and horrible HP. I was rather upset and taken aback, especially because we had lots of contact (6 months) before i arrived in the states and she hadn’t said a word. I had already half made up my mind from the car ride home that I probably would not be seeing out my year with this family. I decided to give it a chance with the family, putting up with not having a car to drive (they said before my arrival that they had a car solely for the au pair), working more than 10 hours per day, staying home for whole weekends to look after the cat and dog, being housed in the basement two floors down from the family in the only room in the house that had no heating or air con, not getting paid for my vacation week that they made me take 2 months in to my year, putting up with their general coldness and rudeness, but the final straw was the second time they left me alone with all three host children from Friday afternoon to late Sunday night as the sole carer, (after I had already done a 45 hour week) whilst they went out of state on a romantic vacation for two. I ended up staying 5 excruciating months with them before I moved to the most wonderful host family in Texas and enjoyed my time, just as I had hoped for.

During my stay with the first HF, I made my feelings and opinions very, very clear and told the truth to my LCC and close au pair friends. All of it was truthful, and I also admitted my own errors. The LCC time and time again shut me down and pretty much told me to sweep all of the problems under the rug.

I guess every situation is different, and although your au pair could have been over reacting, she could also have those feelings because of something that you may have been completely unaware of. There may have been an incident where she felt under appreciated or who knows what it may have been. But that can definitely turn things sour. She may have also kept it to herself due to not wanting any confrontation and therefore she needed to vent to others (although they shouldn’t have been your work colleagues or your children’s day care staff etc).

I would meet with your ex au pair whilst she is in town, or even ask her by email. Just be up front, ask her “Did you have any problems whilst with us that you didn’t necessarily want to discuss at the time? Because we are now hearing from some people that you were quite unhappy with us. Was there something we did wrong?”.
She has been home for a while now and has probably had time to think, and maybe looks back in retrospect and realises her situation maybe wasn’t so bad after all. She could be totally honest and explain why, which would be positive feedback for you. Or she could just dismiss it.

You sound like a fair HM so who knows, it could be her over reacting. But give her the benefit of the doubt.

Seattle Mom February 23, 2015 at 2:18 pm

What a bad situation you were in, I’m glad that you managed to get out and finish your year with a better family!

It’s really terrible when families break the rules and treat au pairs badly.. I wonder how many au pairs just stick with it because they are afraid they will not find another family in rematch.

Seattle Mom February 23, 2015 at 2:07 pm

This is a tough situation!

I’ve had a similar one (though not as bad) so I will share my experience.

Our first au pair was great. We loved her. She was great with the kids, considerate, had a great social life, etc etc. But she probably had the toughest job of any of our au pairs, because our kids were still so young. She worked all 45 hours every week, and had both kids most of the time (they were almost 3 and 1 when she started), the younger one all the time.

It was a stressful time for me because I was going to work full time for the first time since having kids. I would come home from work and have kids climbing all over me. AP and DH were exhausted, I was exhausted, and occasionally I snapped (never at AP, but sometimes at DH or kids). I did things that I later regretted.

It wasn’t horrible by any means- we were having fun and happy a lot of the time. But it was probably the hardest year for any AP to be with our family. And our wonderful AP was a little on the moody side. Towards the end of her year I discovered her guest submission to a video blog, where she was nearly in tears and kept saying she had “no regrets” but she had a lot of veiled complaints about our family.. she also kept saying that she knew what she was getting into ahead of time so she couldn’t complain, but she sort of was complaining. She didn’t lie about anything, and she didn’t say that we were bad or broke rules or anything, she just was clearly unhappy and it seemed to stem from our family. She did repeat that she loved the children and they were what kept her from quitting.

Finding this video was upsetting to me. I’m pretty sure that I wrote here for advice :). At the time I had a friend who sometimes hung out with my AP for play dates (she was AP’s age but she had kids of her own). I asked my friend for advice, and she suggested that AP was a tiny bit immature and overwhelmed emotionally, but that she thought she really appreciated us in the grand scheme of things and I should try hard not to take it personally. She saw my AP as someone who didn’t understand how hard it was to be a working mom of small children, which is a common problem when you hire a caregiver who doesn’t have kids yet- they think they know everything, and they think that when they are a parent they will do it all better than you, so they get judgmental and upset that you are doing it wrong and it is affecting their year that is supposed to be their amazing year in the USA. My friend did not see any point in me talking to AP about this, and I was glad she said that because I am nonconfrontational by nature and I really didn’t want to talk to her.

Anyway, that was many years and au pairs ago. We still keep in touch with our first au pair (and her mother!) and we hope to see her again, either in her home country or back in our home. I am really glad that I didn’t make a big deal of the video (i never said anything) and burn any bridges. Since that first au pair, my other au pairs have been less emotional and less connected to our family- for better and for worse. I don’t know if they ever complained about us. One major difference is that our first au pair was the only one who would share gossip about her AP friends- I now see how that is connected to her gossiping to friends and complaining about us on a public video. All of the au pairs we have had since don’t really tell us much about their friends situations. I think it’s better that way.

My situation is different than yours’ but maybe it helps you realize that you are going to feel different about this in a year. The fact that your au pair poisoned your second AP against you is unforgivable. And I see that she was much more openly complaining about you to people you have relationships with- that is EXTREMELY immature. If I were in your shoes, I would weigh whether it was simply immaturity or something more sinister than that in deciding what to do. I would probably send an email as someone above suggested, neutrally stating that you heard she told people she was unhappy in your home. Maybe also state your disappointment that she kept this hidden from you so that you couldn’t help to make things better. Then also ask her whether she really wishes to stay in touch, and if so why. If her response is mature and introspective, maybe you can forgive her. If she lies or makes excuses, then maybe you can’t and you won’t want to see her. But I would want to see what is going through her head now that she has the benefit of hindsight. That would matter to me. With my slightly unhappy AP it doesn’t matter, because I don’t feel that she trashed my family and she really was great and from her actions I can tell that she doesn’t harbor any bad feelings. Neither do I, I just see it as an unfortunate set of circumstances.

Mom needing advice February 23, 2015 at 5:47 pm

I’m the OP…!
Maybe this is of some use to au pairs out there: I’m upset about the gossip (less now that I have the support of a whole community!!). Gossip rarely does good, life teaches us at some point – she’ll get there – I still doubt being the best person to tell her – I’ll see what the vibe is when she visits.
I’m disappointed to find out that she did not give me feed back. Old AP is our first AP, and I have told her several times that her input was important / needed. I was an AP myself, my sister was an AP… I get it : living abroad with strangers is difficult. Obviously, we could have been better host parents to old AP, but I may never get to know how. I don’t see how I will become a good HM if my AP’s tell me that everything is great every time we do our meetings, and bitch to their friend when they walk out the door. I think that making the effort to speak-up is only fair to a Hfamily that is making the effort to get you a great AP experience: she failed us there. (Or she sabotaged AP2’s stay, which may be the case here, after all…)
Learning to give negative feedback is a skill that will be useful all you life.

Taking a Computer Lunch February 24, 2015 at 9:14 pm

I haven’t really weighed in fully here, although I have to pieces of the conversation. My advice to the OP – Let it go! Be bigger than this immature AP. Invite her and the boyfriend to dinner. If they accept, they accept.

APs complain. It’s a thing. AP #4 told us that she found it a bit boring, and her only complaint of us was that there were a lot of “men in the house” (our contractor was way behind schedule in renovating the house for The Camel, who needs a handicapped accessible home, when she arrived. I’m sure she had complaints from time to time. Venting is normal. It can be cathartic, and it is safe when done with people who don’t know each other.

My best friends at work know when I’ve made a bad match, but I use to them to vent – (AP #5 who was so sweet with The Camel – but otherwise completely retreated from culture shock, AP #8 who drove headfirst into the side of an SUV when she failed to stop at a stop sign, and AP #10 whom we called “Debbie Downer” and who was downright mean to the kids whenever she had to work weekend hours). In fact, everyone has come to know that when I start complaining, I should just go into rematch (but not bad – 3 APs in 11). Nevertheless, I’m sure that all 11 complained about us at one point or another.

Let it ride. APs come and go, they really do. Your current AP obviously is mature, because she didn’t take her predecessor’s complaints to heart. She is the person with whom to have the heart-to-heart, if you want to know what you might do differently.

I do wonder if its harder for former APs to host APs – are you more likely to bend over backward, remembering each slight when you were an AP? I’ve lived in other countries, so I can sympathize with culture shock and difference, but at the end of the day, the AP-HF relationship is one of management (albeit hopefully one with give and take on both sides, because we’re human).

I know my APs often have the short end of the stick, and don’t always feel like they’re in a position to say “No,” so when I need to apologize and give, I do (like last weekend, when DH and I went to a special event in a snowstorm that led to our using public transportation and a 2 hour trek home – we canceled our date night and gave the AP the weekend off in exchange for a 10-hour day that was out of our control).

Bottom line – you can’t control the AP-HF relationship, so when you know things are going badly be honest. When you don’t and feel blindsided, be bigger. When lies are spread – take a moment to see if there is an element of truth or an immature AP feeling like no one loves her at the end of her year.

(Me, I try to preempt the “end of my year blues” by bringing it up 8 weeks out – “I know its really hard to say goodbye to all of your friends, and I’m sure you’re thinking about how hard it will be to say goodbye when your turn comes – I need you to stay focused, no matter how bad you feel about it.” …)

Seattle Mom February 25, 2015 at 12:33 pm

I think that would be an interesting topic for a post- Do Former Au Pair’s Make Better (or Worse) Host Parents?

Seattle Mom February 25, 2015 at 12:34 pm

please excuse my incorrect use of punctuation… sleep deprivation is my excuse.

TexasHM February 25, 2015 at 3:45 pm

At a previous agency we had on ex-AP that was a HM and I felt sorry for her AP. She told the group “I don’t need an AP to love my kids, that is my job and the AP is here to complete her tasks whether she loves my kids or not.” I was taken aback. I absolutely want an AP that loves my kids. In fact we have overlooked/tolerated a lot because we had an AP I knew would take a bullet for my kids. I also think it permeates every facet of the relationship. It was clear this HM had some insecurities that were being projected. They had a very professional relationship and the HM made it clear that she had been there and the AP better not get any ideas… :(
On the flipside, I know SKNY was an AP and she seems to have been very accomodating (almost too much probably at times because she has been in their shoes) and has been taken advantage of so I bet it’s a very difficult role to take on!
I also know two other ex APs that are stay at home moms that swear they will NEVER host an AP. They say they know what they would be getting into and don’t want any part of it! :/

SKNY February 25, 2015 at 9:15 pm

I think HRHM said once she did not care if an Aupair did not like her or her family as long as she pretended well. I guess I see the point and agree I cannot make an Au pair like my kids, but I better NEVER even dream about it.

Unfortunately, as much as part of the family we make an Au pair, she is really not in the point that My kids will take precedent.

I feel the whole part of the family is kind of misleading. I was an Au pair so I think I worry too much that they are happy, they have friends, etc, and accommodate too much thinking about what I would like if it was me.

SKNY February 25, 2015 at 9:21 pm

Pressed too early. However, as much as I treat Au pair like a member of the family, she is not. She doesn’t get all the benefits my mom or siblings they would get. My mom can get away with throwing the kids in front of tv, Au pair can not. My brother spent once 3 mo with us trying to be an Au pair once. Did not work. He had no way with kids but we could not “rematch him”. He got away with a lot, because he was family. Thankfully he was the one who gave up before I had to tell him it was not working. But again, he was family.
Had my Au pair done 1/2 of what he did, she would’ve been in rematch

exaupair February 26, 2015 at 6:48 pm

As an ex AP I would certainly give an au pair program a try:-)! But I’m also pretty sure not many potential young women(or men) would be happy in my house.

Sadly, as much as you can, and should the AP to like, respect, and look after your children, you can’t expect they will love them. They may grow to love them or they might not, but locating any deeper feelings in children that are not their own isn’t the requirement for this job.

Taking a Computer Lunch February 26, 2015 at 10:12 pm

That being said, my best APs did. My least favorite considered it a job for their entire year. (I have a child with special needs, and 2 of my APs won AP of the Year for our cluster, and I nominated 3 others. AP #4 put The Camel as her wallpaper of her mobile. When I commented, she replied, “All my friends have their HK set as the wallpaper.”

Whenever we come home and see The Camel on the lap of our AP in the “comfy chair” we know that’s love. To love your HK doesn’t mean you love what you do every minute of the day, because, quite frankly, even as a HP I can’t achieve that. But, there’s a certain generosity of spirit….

German exAuPair February 27, 2015 at 7:45 am

I STILL love my kids. They are not kids anymore (the oldest is now 27 and his kids are older then his youngest sister was when I was their au pair) but I still care for their well-being a lot and still think of them nearly daily. I still have my favorite picture of them up on my office wall. They really became “family” to me in my heart. I love them as I love my cousins or my brother in law. [Plus, over the years you forget the bad days you had together ^^ that helps as well]

When my oldest had an accident last year and his church was collecting donations for him, his family and his treatment I gladly gave as much as I could at that point. And I was greatly relieved when I recently saw a picture of him being back on his feet.

German exAuPair February 27, 2015 at 7:47 am

Sorry, clicked before completing the post.

However, I really don’t think any prospective applicant would enjoy being my au pair :D I am now a really grumpy old cat-lady and adding a teenager to the mix to care for my children… nope. I wouldn’t wish that on anyone. Heck, even I don’t like living with myself quite frequently. I could never force that on a stranger.

old au pair mom February 27, 2015 at 2:42 pm

Me too. With 15 years and counting in the AP program, I would have a few interesting nuggets to share.

ProPair March 1, 2015 at 8:53 am

I wonder, too! My HM was an au pair, and she’s REALLY spoiling me. She also said she thought she would never have an au pair, but here I am!

Mimi February 25, 2015 at 3:07 pm

We have had APs complain to other APs about the usual things and have heard (or overheard) the same complaints in return. This doesn’t surprise me and I understand it is part of the coping mechanisms people use to deal with stress. I also unload to close confidants who do not interact with our APs as a way of venting. I think it helps clear my personal mental space and allows me to deal with issues without the emotional clutter that can make HP-AP relationships difficult.

We went into rematch with AP#5 very unexpectedly last summer right after I gave birth. We were distraught and baffled as to what had gone wrong because she had never said anything to us or to our LCC about any problems during her three months with us, and even went out of her way to talk about what things she really liked when we sat down for our regular meetings. When the LCC pressed her for reasons she wanted to leave, her reason was that nothing was what “we had promised her” and she wouldn’t/couldn’t elaborate. She decided she wanted to leave immediately and was not willing to have mediation or go through the regular process for rematch, instead wanting to house with the LCC while she matched (which was refused).

After she left, we found out from another AP in our cluster that AP#5 had no intention of staying with us for the year and had only accepted our offer so that she would be in the states for the same time as her friends. She began looking for a new family a little more than two months into her time with us and once she had found a family in her prime location, decided to bail on us. As it turned out, the family was with another agency and she wasn’t able to leave so she had to go through our agency rematch process and mass drama ensued.

We also found out that she frequently spoke badly of our family, mostly criticizing material things like our lifestyle compared to our incomes, but some of it was lies about us breaking agency rules. Luckily the people she disparaged us to knew our family and knew that she was not being truthful. Unfortunately they didn’t clue us in to the destructive behavior we were unknowingly dealing with which included attempting to intentionally destroy the AP car so we would buy her a better one. She also reached out to our current AP, without our knowledge, and did a lot of damage that we are struggling to deal with even now several months later. I have some lingering bad feelings about the whole situation, but what’s done is done and I can’t let it define me as a HM; but I can learn from it.

Having said all that, I agree with TACL about letting it go. If you didn’t hear anything maliciously shared, then chalk it up to immaturity and circumstance. A wise woman I know once said that one person’s trip hazard is another’s insurmountable obstacle, depending on the size of the shoes they’re walking in. Thank her for all that she taught you as a first time HM and if you feel the need to address the things she said, you can couch it in a manner of lessons learned… “HD and I continue to work on our HP skills and now that you’ve moved on and had time to reflect, is there anything looking back that we could have done differently that you can share with us?” Even things she would have done differently can give you insight that would be helpful.

Good luck and please let us know how it turns out!

SingleHM February 26, 2015 at 1:07 pm


I had an au pair like this. She was two-faced and after her year, wrote on a public blog how unhappy she was and how much of a ‘slave’ she was while here. She had an really easy setup with two school-aged kids and very little work to do. I know how hard it is to hear this,…I was angry and hurt too.

I’m happy you have a better au pair this year and that she could see through the other AP’s B.S.

I would not be inclined to meet up with the old AP. But that’s up to you.

Host Mom in the City February 27, 2015 at 8:59 am

In the fall, we had our first rematch, an au pair who had been with us for about 6-7 weeks, so certainly not long. I knew from day one she wasn’t going to be a good fit, and did everything I could to try to help the relationship along over the following weeks. She was incredibly homesick, I’ve never seen anything like it. Spent all of her free time on Skype and all of her work time texting with her friends back home. Obviously I wasn’t surprised (and I was incredibly relieved!) when she said she was just going to go back home.

After she left, I found out that she had told the LCC and her au pair friends some things that were just plain wrong, including that we were cold and unwelcoming to her and that we were terrible housekeepers, among other things. I was really really hurt by this – we are nothing if not welcoming (and have the previous au pair track record to provide it), and I’ve actually been accused of being too focused on a clean house by many people. I’m a neat freak. So not only was I hurt, I was also pretty angry because how could someone tell plain lies? It all felt very personal, and because I had no venue to talk to her about it and find closure, it was really difficult to deal with.

My LCC was awesome – I’ve known her for years now because we’ve been host parents so long, and she knows how we treat our au pairs and she’s been in my perfectly clean house many times. So that wasn’t the concern – it’s just that when someone is saying things about you that you know to be entirely untrue, it’s hard not to want to defend yourself.

Now that I know more about the situation, it’s clear that she was saying the things that au pairs sometimes tell each other to say to set up for a rematch and/or release from the family supported by the agency. The host family “does treat me like a family member” and “the house is disgusting” are common ways an LCC will support an au pair leaving. It’s possible that in her homesickness, her perception was also colored. She certainly didn’t hear me when I was asking her many ways what else we could do to make her more comfortable and tried to draw her out to see what was going on. I imagine she really thought we weren’t very nice to her at times as a way to cope with not being happy, rather than taking responsibility on herself. That way she could tell her family and friends when she returned home that it wasn’t she who made the wrong choice and failed, but rather than we pushed her to do so.

So I’ve made peace with it rather than bringing it up with her or taking any further action. I did, for the record, email my LCC with documented evidence that the things she said were untrue. I wanted that in our record just to protect ourselves. But other than that, I’ve let it go. And fortunately, our rematch au pair has been amazing, so in a way, I’m glad it all happened as we never would have met her had our homesick au pair stayed.

Might be worth considering truly why your au pair did what she did and said what she said – it’s likely more about her than about you.

NJ Mama February 27, 2015 at 12:09 pm

Hmitc – this is really insightful. I also had an au pair who was incredibly homesick. And something similar happened in that after she left I found out she had told people that we were an awful family and that my older daughter was especially terrible. What made it so hard for me to understand at the time is that when I had matched with her, I was very upfront that my daughter had anxiety and could be challenging. And the whole reason we selected this au pair is that the very first time we skyped with her, my daughter had a meltdown over something. And the ap insisted then — and in several subsequent emails — that the behavior wouldn’t bother her. And she also described handling similar situations with children under her care.

OK. So that’s the background. But here’s the thing. By the time this au pair had arrived my daughter was in a much better place. So when the au pair cried her whole first weekend, both of my girls tried so hard to cheer her up. We kept thinking the homesickness would pass, but she just grew more and more depressed. It got so bad that the ap would walk around the house with her head down. She wouldn’t look at any of us — even when we asked her a question that she had to answer she would mumble while looking at the floor. One night I came home from work to find that my kids, who were 6 and 9 at the time, had made the au pair dinner in an attempt to cheer her up!

The other thing my husband and I did was rearrange our schedule to give her as much support as necessary. And I even found a German family through church (the ap was from Germany), and we even hired a sitter one weekend when we needed the au pair so the au pair could go skiing with this family. We tried so hard with her. I was not surprised when she told me she wanted to leave after a few weeks — but I was shocked when she asked for a rematch and told the area director how awful my daughter was. They put her in rematch but she ended up going home anyway, which honestly made me relieved.

I think the thing that upset me the most is that we really tried so hard to give her so much support (and thankfully, I was in contact with the area director at the time. She had also met with the ap and tried to help. So there was no blowback there). And after she left, I found out that the one friend the ap made told all the APs in the cluster — including our new one, who was Brazilian — that not only was my daughter so horrible, but that we as a family treated her poorly as well. Thankfully the Brazilian dismissed the talk (this was the one who ultimately became bridezilla — but when she came she was awesome).

In any event, after reading what you wrote, I’m embarrassed to say that I finally understand. I think the German au pair never wanted to admit that she was depressed and homesick. She had told us before she arrived that she had always wanted to go to the U.S. and become an au pair. To go home after a few weeks must have been difficult for her. So it was probably a lot easier to blame everything on us.

I never knew what she told the German family about us. Although I spoke by phone and emailed with the “mom” of the German family, I never met them in person. In any event, we moved on. It’s hard though when you invite someone to live with you and you try so hard with them, and then they turn around and bad mouth you. However in our case we weren’t with our au pair very long. So it’s different than the OP here. But I think what Hmitc said is right — this is probably more about her than you. It’s a shame that these girls can be so immature. But at the same time, the people who really know you — through work, through daycare, etc — know what kind of family you are. The best bet is to try to move on and not think about it. Whether or not you see her is a bit of a coin toss.

Mimi February 27, 2015 at 1:17 pm

I completely agree with HMitC in that many of these situations are more about the AP than the HF. We have a similar situation now with a homesick AP who discovered the program wasn’t for her and I pulled the plug Wednesday night. Her complaints were also many of the same old cliches and it seems that she was using them because she is afraid that if she is held at fault that she will have to pay for her own flight home, which neither she nor her family can afford.

She was very defensive and petulant about the situation at first, trying to assign blame, which is a natural reaction for many people. Things happen and I think what’s more important is how you respond to these kind of issues. (Attitude is everything!)

Host Mom in the City February 27, 2015 at 2:02 pm

This is a very good point too – if an au pair wants to rematch and/or wants to go home, but wants the agency to pay for the flight, they have good reason to lie about what they’ve been through so that the LCC will support them in rematching and/or pay for their flight home even if the truth is just that the program isn’t a good fit and they want to go home. That seems like a case in which an agency policy (i.e., not paying for a flight home) is causing some unintended consequences

TexasHM February 27, 2015 at 4:17 pm

HMiTC you are dead on. We were with IE at the time and during rematch conversation the burnout AP was relieved and we mutually agreed to rematch. Then the minute the AP found out she might have to pay for a flight home all of a sudden she was asking for a 12th chance and asking us to pay her cash for extra babysitting or housecleaning under the table (we declined) and suddenly “remembered” that the car accidents happened during work so she wouldn’t be responsible (even though I have on record she had no idea when it happened) then things imploded from there. Although in fairness, AP was more desperate after each LC call (LC never came out to have rematch conversation and never spoke with both of us at the same time which created more angst and miscommunication).

Mimi February 27, 2015 at 4:53 pm

I know for certain that my AP cannot afford to fly herself home as she borrowed money for the program that she has not fully earned back yet. She admitted that she had planned on cutting her year short with us at the point where she could repay the loan and afford to fly herself home. Coincidentally, it would have been a better time of year for us to rematch and had she been better about all the other issues we were having and honest about it, we might have muddled through with her until then.

This brought up somewhat of a moral dilemma for us, too, because the AP told the LCC that she wants to rematch but I’m pretty sure she will make a half-hearted effort and go home. I could have torpedoed her chances for rematch by sharing this when the agency called me but I chose to only answer the questions they asked me.

pamom March 1, 2015 at 10:47 pm

We are in re-match right now and it came as a huge surprise. We were doing everything to keep our au-pair “happy”, even though she wasn’t doing her part. It was so bad, the LCC called me to say she wanted to put our au-pair in transition and get us a “good” au-pair, she was aware that ours refused to do anything- she would come down late in the mornings, sleep all day, not clean her bathroom, not help with home work or dinner, would sit with her back to the kids as they ate or did homework, never tried to bond with them, she complained about the 11;00pm curfew during the week, so we dropped the curfew, she complained that we weren’t buying the foods she needs for her special diet-so we started buying whatever food she wanted, she had a car just for the au=pair at her disposal all day, the kids are in school all day ( 2 kids), she didn’t have any chores -I clean my own house. I told the LCC that I could make this situation work, as long as she met the kids at the bus each day- I could do everything else, and yes, I work fulltime outside of the house. The very next day she chose not to go to the bus to get the kids-and they are young, she abandoned them at the bus stop!! I got a phone call from the bus driver saying that he called the house and no one answered, he waited for 15 minutes for her to come but he had to take my kids back to school. I called my husband – he left work to get them, he works closer to the school than I do, but that was my breaking point, she chose to not go to the bus stop. she was sleeping. she chose to go into re-match , I cant believe the company put her back in the program, all the while, she would tell me she was comfortable and happy in our home, that she loves the kids, so, you just never know. She is my 8th au-pair and I’ve never experienced this, we are in contact with all the other girls, this is our first time in re-match , she also told the potential families interviewing her that we wouldn’t let her drive a car, we wouldn’t let her drive the kids anywhere -all lies. im not sure what her agenda is, i wish her new family well

Host Mom in the City February 27, 2015 at 12:44 pm

Thanks, NJ Mama. I’m glad you found that helpful and it sounds like you went through almost the exact same situation we did.

I think this summarizes well: “to go home after a few weeks must have been difficult for her. So it was probably a lot easier to blame everything on us.”

Should be working February 27, 2015 at 12:57 pm

Can one of the LCCs on here tell us whether agencies maintain notes or records on HFs that are taken from discussions with the APs? I thought that the time we went into rematch the AP gave an exit interview with our LCC (which is about 9 LCCs and 5 yrs ago).

Meanwhile our excellent current LCC basically said that LCCs know, if a family has had a few au pairs, when the problem is truly the HG and when not. She also indicated that it is often the same HFs over and over where the AP asks for rematch. So I figure a longish-time successful HF would get the benefit of the doubt if an AP started saying really negative things.

TexasHM February 27, 2015 at 1:26 pm

There are supposedly notes taken on the monthly check in calls/mtgs and cluster meetings on both the APs and HFs. We had changed agencies, had 10 amazing months with our rematch rockstar and then got the burnout and that got us zero credibility/no support/harsh treatment from our LC but I don’t think this was reflective of the agency. I am not even in the agency anymore and I am still hearing complaints/getting calls from other families about this LC!

Mimi February 27, 2015 at 2:01 pm

Should Be Working- I asked this exact question this week because this is our second rematch in a row. I know that AP#5 lied to us from the start about many things and I shrugged it off because it was a blip on our record, but two in a row was troubling to me.

What I was told by me LCC is that CCAP keeps information about all milestone visits, regular check-in meetings, and transitions from the HF, AP, and LCC on file. This is how they determine patterns and where they red flag APs and HFs. Specific complaints that are about breaking agency rules or that are abusive in nature are investigated, but I’m not sure how exactly. Given the conversation I had the next day with the area program manager, my LCC seems to be a big part of that and it’s likely her opinion is the litmus test for “assigning blame.” The APM asked me for my opinion of the situation and indicated that my LCC had agreed with my assessment in her report.

Our LCC was aware of all the issues we had and experienced some of the same communication problems with AP#6. She assured me that she didn’t see any reason why we should consider this a ‘stain’ on our file and that she had also appended info to her report on AP#5 that included a screenshot of AP#5’s membership on an independent site proving she was matching outside the agency two months in with us. (Just another good reason why it’s beneficial to have an engaged LCC who’s good at what she does!)

NJ Mama February 27, 2015 at 5:02 pm

Mimi – When I was going through my bad stretch of rematch after rematch I was with Au PairCare at the time. I know that my area director gave a report to the agency. But one thing I learned at about rematch 2 is something that the great TACL often says — document, document, document. So I would send my area director/LC periodic emails telling her how things were going, about any trouble spots I saw and the convos I had with the AP. This way if (or in my case when) things got bad I had a trail of paperwork — and the area director was fully up to speed. I know you’ll all find this shocking but I tend to be very wordy when I write :), so I’m sure I left that agency with a huge paper trail. I just wanted to make sure they had everything documented and that my side was clearly stated, because I was never sure what went in those reports or what they said about my family when the au pairs looked at my profile in rematch. Sometimes I would also cc the area director’s boss (can’t remember the title at APC). I’m sure they thought I was a huge pain in the rear. But I did feel that my area director was my advocate at the time, so that was good.

I’m really sorry you’re going through another rematch. I know how hard it is on everybody. Stay strong!

Mimi February 27, 2015 at 5:56 pm

I’m also a huge fan of documentation, so I’ve never worried about that. I was actually pleased that it was included on file so that I know my issues were represented, especially with AP#5.

TexasHM February 27, 2015 at 1:14 pm

This just blew my mind, we had the same thing happen! This was our recent burnout! I was shocked when after she left she sent us an email blaming us for crushing her dream and wanting to know the “REAL” reason we rematched because “safety was just an excuse – I did nothing wrong”.
So first off, this AP ran the car into the house twice in one day (front passenger corner and scraped half the car on the drivers side) and had NO IDEA she did it so that alone was enough cause to not have her drive anymore and we primarily need a driver so that put us over the edge. I will spare everyone the details but suffice it to say we had major safety issues and I am ashamed we waited so long to rematch because I am very lucky the kids didn’t get hurt. We had no less than 10 safety issues, any one of which mentioned on here would have been grounds for rematch and when we did finally rematch (me in tears) she was relieved and agreed she was miserable and in over her head! It wasn’t until she realized it was likely she was going home that she turned on us and once she got home the onslaught happened. :(
She was horribly homesick/culture shocked and we gave her a dozen second chances because we thought that was the cause and she would shake it off. Not the case.
After getting her email I asked if she wanted to Skype for a minute because obviously some of her facts were wrong (she blamed us for sending her home and her not getting another family when that was the agency’s decision not ours and she was living with the LC – her choice she packed and left while the kids were at school and I wasn’t home even though we offered to house her for longer than two weeks to buy her more rematch time).
She said she was too devastated to speak to anyone (including her parents) and just cried and looked at pictures of my kids all day long. I was willing to invest a few minutes to explain in case she had bad information but at that point I realized it didn’t matter what I said, she had her own story in mind and that was that. She wanted me to email her back an explanation. I declined and wished her the best. It’s all you can do at that point but she also isn’t planning on come back to visit like this OP’s AP!!
Your line “to go home after a few weeks must have been difficult for her. So it was probably a lot easier to blame everything on us.” was an eye opener for me as well.

Emerald City HM February 27, 2015 at 1:34 pm

Did she leave your kids alone in the house when she packed up and left?!?

Emerald City HM February 27, 2015 at 1:35 pm

Oh wait nevermind. I just saw that the kids were in school. Apparently I need to take reading comprehension classes.

TexasHM February 27, 2015 at 3:58 pm

LOL no she didn’t at that point we had already rematched and immediately had AP1 take over as a nanny (shes married and lives close by and wasnt working at the time thank goodness). Although one of the ten safety incidents she let my kids play outside alone in the front, my younger two are 4 and 6 (9 yr old not as big a deal because I trust him but still!). When I saw one of them run by my office window at the same time the AP came to ask me about making her country’s food for dinner I panicked and ran outside to not only see them all outside along but my 6 year old had no coat on in 36 degree weather. When I asked the AP if she knew DD didn’t have a coat on she said “DD said she didn’t want to wear it”. :( Multiply times 10 and you get the scope of the burnout and why I kick myself every day for letting it go on so long and thanking God nothing serious happened to the kids.

MCinBK February 27, 2015 at 4:10 pm

She left them alone outside at that age? Wow. I wonder if there are major cultural differences in that regard – sometimes our AP leaves our 4 and 5 year olds unsupervised slightly longer than I’m comfortable with (one time they climbed up and raided the medicine cabinet, thankfully nobody ingested anything!), and I’m not sure if it comes from inexperience, or a difference in how kids are raised across the globe. or both.

TexasHM February 27, 2015 at 7:15 pm

I actually don’t think it’s either, I think it’s a total lack of awareness. Safety awareness social awareness geophysical awareness which some could construe as common sense and as TACL says commonsense cannot be taught in the course of an AP year. Just for anyone that has a doubt out there I will go ahead and add that this was explicitly stated in our handbook which was given to her to review during matching, reviewed again before she came and reviewed in person after arrival! It says the kids are never to be outside without AP or parent period. Goes as far as to say if they need to go to the bathroom have the kids come inside for a minute!

exaupair February 28, 2015 at 10:13 am

Might be. In my home country kids were allowed to play out of their parents view (outside of the house) for the whole day. Leaving 5 – 6 year olds home alone for few hours each day was also considered acceptable.

TexasHM February 28, 2015 at 3:52 pm

I understand but once I’ve told you it’s not ok three times the cultural difference no longer matters because you’ve been “trained” that for this job it’s not ok (regardless of your culture or personal beliefs or experience). Aside from telling her it was a safety issues and rematch able offense I don’t know how much clearer we could have made this, thus my belief it was a lack of awareness. She had this issue in every area so in this instance it wasn’t cultural. If I hadn’t given her any expectation and she did what she knew from home then yes – cultural influence but in this case she even admitted after that it would not have been acceptable in her home country either. ????

hOstCDmom February 28, 2015 at 4:46 pm

I agree – there are cultural differences — and even American family to family differences– i.e. my 6 yo walks by herself to town, school, Library, hardware store, post office, YMCA, park etc. This is part of our parenting philosophy of independence– and my kids have played outside in our yard unsupervised since about age 4 (house in village center, not on a farm, no fence etc. ). …BUT, there are also JOB EXPECTATIONS and RULES. If the HF says X must be done this way, or Y is never OK, then it DOES. NOT. MATTER. what the AP finds normal, or does at home, or did as a kid! The HP set the safety rules and the AP follows them. In the right context the AP may inquire of the HP about the why behind rules she doesn’t understand, but at the end of the day, she doesn’t have to understand them, like them, or agree with them — she just has to follow them.

Dorsi March 1, 2015 at 3:06 am

I don’t suppose you want to share where you live, do you? I’m intensely curious. I could never let my 6 year old do any of those things. When we walk home from school, she is often 50 feet ahead of me. Cars frequently stop to ask her if she is okay. She can’t leave school until the teacher has made eye contact with an appropriate grown up.

UKAu Pair March 1, 2015 at 10:56 am

As Texas HM has said, in this case it probably wasn’t a cultural thing, but for me, culturally, allowing young children to play outside unsupervised would be perfectly normal (depending on the area).

From the age of 8 I walked/cycled two miles to school every day, and got myself to all my dance classes and viola lessons. From the age of 6 my brothers and I (they would have been 3/4 at this point) regularly played in the road with the other children, and I was allowed to walk to the shop alone every morning to buy the newspaper from a similar age.

This has informed my child caring, because as long a I feel a child is responsible I’ll trust them with a similar amount of independence. However, I also understand that other parents would be uncomfortable with it and I’d never do anything that they had told me was not allowed. That said, they would need to spell it out because it wouldn’t necessarily be common sense- one of the families I au paired for in the past had a rule that all fruit had to be washed (!) before being eaten, which I have never done in my life, and they had to explicitly tell me that it was a rule otherwise I wouldn’t have enforced it.

SKNY February 27, 2015 at 7:46 pm

texasHM the one before last also did tons of safety errors like letting 2yo and 4yo alone in pool that became deeper, while sitting outside, crossing a road (although not really busy) in front of same kids and let them follow and not even turn back o look, leaving 2yo alone on upper floor while on basement on the computer… What really got her sent home was when we were in a resort and she told some people who were also there that the night before, while babysitting she let 4mo cry to sleep for 45min. She felt baby was crying because there was still sand from us taking her to beaj earlier, but she felt it was not her job to shower the baby. And if I was not mom enough to do it, then be it.
She actually found a family with teens who would take her and she declined due to location.
Still, she sent me a letter saying she felt I destroyed her dream (she was still paying her program payment plan). She also told someone that in reality she was the one who asked rematch because kids were awful and we broke all our agreements with her

NewbieHM February 28, 2015 at 4:30 pm

I can’t believe that she let a baby cry for 45 mins and didn’t do anything to help even though she thought the baby had sand. How did you handled that? I’m really curious. I know I would have flipped, it wouldn’t have been a calm diplomatic conversation.

DowntownMom March 1, 2015 at 12:10 am

One of my APs let my youngest stand on a high chair and did not touch my HK since the AP was off. I had to go around AP to keep my child from falling.

Anon for this One March 22, 2015 at 5:12 am

Just going back to the original post – I wonder does anyone use plain old-fashioned fear to “persuade” APs not to bad mouth their family – I know I do – I simply say that if I hear any sort of negative reports back (true or false) from any member of my community (and that includes my family, relatives, friends, and fellow hosting families) then AP’s bags will be packed before they get home.

This is actually in my handbook – said in pretty much the same language – I do say that if there is an issue – I will discuss ANYTHING – but if I hear any sort of gossip about my family – then there will be no discussion.

This goes for FB, and other websites and because I can read my AP’s native language and i am on most of the same social network sites – I am fairly confident that AP would actually be too anxious to post anything.

I understand that APs need to vent – and that’s fine – but they have to realise that they are usually with us for a short period of time. However I have to live in my neighbourhood, community and workplace for the rest of my life and a chance comment could impact how my family is viewed – so I explain it exactly in those terms.

It is not okay to gossip about my family – my family life is not a form of entertainment for her and her friends. And I will accept others thinking badly or me or my family because an AP is reckless with a comment or just having a bad day.

Instead I try to ensure that AP develops good friendships, takes part in activities she is genuinely interested in and learns how to release or vent any stresses in a positive way.. that does not include ranting to FB etc or to a member of my community.

But to bring it back to basics – there’s a healthy dose of fear involved.

AuPair Paris March 22, 2015 at 6:05 am

I don’t think I’ve ever ranted or badmouthed my host-family – small things, maybe – questions about if something’s normal… But if I was told something like that, my bags would be packed of my own accord immediately.

Openly using fear to control an employee isn’t ok in my opinion. It gives the sense that you’re trying to cover something up. Before anything’s even happened… If you hear gossip that consists of lies about your family, I’d defend your right to sack the AP who spread the gossip – but the advance threat makes me shudder. It makes me feel as though the family is already *planning* abuses, and doesn’t want them being broadcast.

APs talk to their friends about their work and their families, partly to find out what is normal, and what is not. What is abusive and what is not. Taking that off the table early on (and even if that kind of discussion is not what you mean, it’s strongly implied in your phrasing) would make me feel very unsafe.

Anon for this one March 23, 2015 at 4:50 am


I am a harsh HM – I say things exactly as they are – you will ALWAYS know where you stand with me – and that’s part of my curse or part of my charm .. depends on which way you see it..

I do not sugar-coat issues – and again when I say fear – I mean fear of the consequences – i.e. your bags will be packed.. and I think I made that clear in my original post – but it is fear nonetheless ..

Expectations are very clear in my house. I am not scary .. nor is my approach to the subject .. it is very measured.. but during this conversation. I make it know that this is a serious conversation – because I believe that it is important that the AP “gets” that this is serious.. this is not a “don’t leave the milk out” conversation..

And APs you should be afraid of the consequences of your actions – I believe that a lot of APs feel – what’s the worst they (HFs) can do.. and carry on with behaviour that is completed unacceptable because they figure that most HFs will not go through the pain of rematch unless something truly awful or serious happens and this is the yardstick APs use a measurement and unfortunately it’s true many HFs will bend over backwards and push themselves and their families – sometimes even their marriages – to the limit to accommodate a mediocre APs just to avoid rematch..

Well that does not happen in my house… why.. because my APs know it will not be tolerated..

Why.. because if there ever has been behaviour that I felt was unreasonable for myself or my family to deal with .. it was nipped in the bud very early on.. and AP was told .. shape up or ship out… (her choice)

Have I ever sent an AP home? NO .. why.. because I have never had to..

How many APs have I hosted over six years (4). How many have asked to return (3) – the other young lady is off travelling the world..

How many did I support in every way possible to make sure that they had an awesome experience – or when things weren’t going well (for whatever reason) done everything possible to help them through that time (4).

So although I am harsh, I am also fair..

So please no gossip…

exaupair March 22, 2015 at 8:47 am

I get your point but I’d suggest you worded that differently, for your own sake really.

If the host parent told me that the moment I open my mouth I’m out of the door , I’d much rather pack my suitcases myself and be out of the house within an hour. In reality however, I wouldn’t even match with people who have something like that in their handbook.
I’d read that as if I was dealing with people who are used to breaking rules, know they will break them, and need an AP who will be pretty much tip-toeing around them with their mouth shut, or face being sent home on their own dime ect.

By all means make sure your AP knows you won’t tolerate nasty gossip about you and your kids, but try not to sound like a fascist or you will scare people off.
Mind you, had you started off with what you have actually written at the end of your post, my reaction to it could have been different.

AuPair Paris March 22, 2015 at 9:38 am

Particularly with the “(true or false)” – just to clarify. It just makes me think “what *true* things do they want me to keep secret?!” I’ve been an au pair for a while and I know we see the “behind closed doors” version of family life – but that’s why you screen for emotional maturity. Any mature AP knows not to spread family foibles around – and any ordinary, mature human will not seriously change their view of someone knowing that sometimes they snap at their husband, etc… The idea that there are true things happening behind closed doors that would *seriously* impact the reputation of a family, to the point of threatening an AP to keep it quiet… That is scary. A serious red flag for me.

There are a lot of comments around here that talk about how the family and well-being of the kids are more important to the host family than the au pair is – which is only right and proper. But that is the same for au pairs – we have to prioritise our own safety and well-being. We are the only ones who will, after all!

Au Pair in France March 22, 2015 at 10:36 am

I agree that the phrase ‘negative reports back (true or false)’ would worry me. If I was given a handbook with that in before matching, I would not match, as I would wonder what true things you did not want other people to know about. I understand that you wouldn’t want your au pair to gossip about your family, but the way this is phrased would worry me as it sounds as though you are expecting the au pair to keep quiet about broken rules.

Mimi March 22, 2015 at 12:42 pm

I don’t find fear or intimidation to be successful tools for me with APs or my kids. I do have a blurb in our handbook that talks about maintaining our privacy and when we go over it, I talk about avoiding gossip (not just about us, but about other HFs) and encourage them to vent constructively and (preferably) with our LCC when appropriate. I’ve had to speak with only one AP about her sharing gossip about another HF. My approach is to encourage them not to share anything they would be embarrassed to have attributed to them or that they wouldn’t want out there about their own family.

This has been a problem for us as one of our cluster APs is a terrible gossip. She is the one who filled us in on the fact that AP#5 tried to destroy our car (so we would buy her a new one) and that she was looking for another family as soon as she got here (in CA, of course), and that she was smoking in our house, etc. She also perpetuated lies that AP#5 told about us, and although she was presenting them as lies told by an AP that was dishonest and drama prone, the information was out there and made it back to AP#6 who heard it out of context. Our LCC shared with us that hearing this information led to some of the problems we had early on with AP#6.

I was hoping that AP#7 would not cross paths with this gossip, but found out this week that they are already FB friends, even though AP#7 won’t be here until July and the gossip leaves in August. I’ll definitely be having a conversation about this with our LCC (soon) and AP#7 (when she arrives). I’m also debating talking to the gossip’s HF at our next family event.

Anon for this One March 22, 2015 at 3:13 pm

Mimi, you have made my point for me..

Because an AP in the cluster is a gossip you have had issues with AP6 and now going into AP7 – 2 au pairs later – because of what AP5 said about you and your family.

I would definitely approach this young lady and ask her not to mention your family in her conversations and get the LCC involved – this is serious – it is having a serious impact on your family if it has already caused issues with AP6 and now AP7.

While I use the word “fear” – I do not mean that I threaten or bully – instead I make it very very clear – that there is a very real consequence for breaking this rule – I have 2 rules in my house – and this is one of them – it is the first page of my handbook – it basically says you would not like me speaking badly of you to your mom, dad, friends, etc and I expect the same courtesy..

True or False – relates to general gossip – as all APs know – you sometimes see your HPs at their best and worst – I do not want the neighbourhood to know that myself and my husband had an argument on Friday night – or that my daughter broke curfew etc etc…. that is not news – that is gossip.

Funny enough because of the culture of the APs that I prefer this has never been an issue – they completely understand my need for privacy.


Mimi March 22, 2015 at 3:26 pm

It’s never really been an issue for us either, but all three of the APs in this situation are of (3) different cultures than our comfort zone. We acknowledge the role we have played in these situations, but this is definitely new territory for us where discretion and damage control are out the window.

Anon for this One March 22, 2015 at 3:42 pm

I wish you the best of luck Mimi

Anon for this one March 23, 2015 at 4:55 am

Just reread my original post

“And I will NOT accept others thinking badly or me or my family because an AP is reckless with a comment or just having a bad day.”

Seriously APs what you say (gossip) about your beloved HF, even if you are just having a bad day, could follow that same family for a long time, like Mimi’s post below two years on and the effects are still very real.

Mimi March 23, 2015 at 6:39 am

Just to clarify, AP#5 would have finished her year this April (next month). She was with us for 4 months, and AP#6 was here for for about the same. The gossipy AP arrived last summer when AP#5 reached critical mass, which has likely affected the situation.

Anon for this one March 23, 2015 at 9:06 am

Apologies Mimi, do please let us know what you decide to do and the outcome.

SKNY March 22, 2015 at 7:31 am

Anon mom, was it you who had an Au pair pull a child’s hair? If so would you mind give an update on whether or not the Au pair was able to rematch or was sent home?

Emerald City HM March 22, 2015 at 9:32 am

That was me. I’m not Anon on this topic.

The agency sent her home. CV has a guest post in the queue about it.

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