When Your Au Pair Works a Second Job, As an ‘Escort’

by cv harquail on April 16, 2014

There are some ‘random, crazy and true’ au pair stories that seem like urban myths …

The Fox in the Henhouse, the au pair who disappears two days after she arrives, and of course, the au pair who gets a second paid gig in the ‘tourism industry’.

poppins1 by keikolynnsogreat on Flickr

When I first heard stories about au pairs who were using their time in the USA to explore the “Pretty Woman” version of the American dream, I was sure that these stories were simply tall tales, fictions designed to titillate.  What young woman in her right mind would come to the US as a paid, live-with-a-family caregiver, and then choose to hustle for extra cash and ‘adventure’?

And then I became friends with a mom in my own town who had this happen with her au pair.

Why all the new clothes? Why was her au pair disappearing all weekend? Where was all this extra shopping power coming from?  After a few Friday evenings of her au pair being whisked into NYC by a Town Car, the host mom figured it out. Her au pair had signed up as an ‘escort’. When the mom confronted the Au Pair, the Au Pair displayed some alarming naiveté– she was just a paid ‘date’, the men expected nothing more. She was sure of it.

My friend was lucky: Her au pair had only a few weeks left before the end of her year, so the problem literally ‘went away’.

The host mom who emailed last night? She could really use our advice.  

Before we even get into it, let’s note that there are many views on whether ‘escorts’ are the same as hookers and whether sex work is or isn’t degrading to the women who sell their company. What’s at issue here is how this mom might respond, and what perspective would help her make a decision.

Dear AuPairMom-
I am a first time HM to a lovely 23 year old girl. Firstly I want to say that she has succeeded our expectations and hopes of an AP and she truly is our own family’s version of Mary Poppins. She’s fantastic with our kids (2, 4 and 8) clean and tidy, helpful, organized, loving, kind and a pleasure to be around. Our main concern at the moment is that she is generous…too generous. My husband and I are becoming increasingly alarmed and concerned that she may be prostituting or being paid by older men for obviously some kind of …uhh service?

Let me explain: For the 6 months she has been with us so far she has bought little things for us and the kids – cupcake kits/baking sets/chef aprons and hats with rolling pins etc, bath toys, books, DVDs, barbie dolls, play dough tables, expensive chocolates and the like – the first few times this happened we of course tried to repay her for what she had spent and explained to her that it was not necessary and she shouldn’t buy presents for the kids as she should spend or save her money for herself as we know how little she is paid. She brushed us off and said the gifts weren’t expensive and she just loves to treat them now and again.

This didn’t set my alarm bells off at first until she began taking a trip away around once to twice a month. (She usually has every second weekend completely off and finishes on Fridays at around 2pm as I get home early then and love to spend the time with my kids.) So in the past three months she has taken off on the Friday afternoon/night to NY a few times, LA, Chicago, Houston and Miami.

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Now yes I understand that AP’s want to travel and experience as much as they can in the time they are here and I absolutely encourage this and am thrilled for her to do so however what we are worried about is where the money is coming from. She has told us she saved a bit of money back home before she came here so that she could have the means to do this. I believed her at the start, until she came back from NY with a YSL bag, designer shoes, bags of new clothes and bundles of candy from Dylan’s for the kids. She showed us photos from her trip and she had stayed at a well known (and expensive!) hotel, done all the tourist attractions, seen a Broadway show etc..

Sexy Mary Poppins Costume

And this isn’t an isolated incident. Most recently she has been deciding on where to go for her week long holiday that’s coming up. She’s decided on hiring a condo in Hawaii with another AP friend (one we are yet to meet) we looked up the condo she mentioned she will most likely book and it was around ten weeks AP salary for the week.

This is just an idea of what I am going through in my mind..every Wednesday night and some Thursdays she goes out once she is off duty at around 6 and we won’t see her until the next morning. I am not sure what time she is getting home but it is before we ourselves wake up.

One morning when she had to take my 2 and 4 year old to a play date and I was having some work to do at home I was putting away laundry and went to put AP’s folded laundry on her bed when rows of Tiffany blue bags all lined up neatly over her desk caught my eye. She also had shoebox upon shoebox in the corner of her room..Jimmy Choo’s and Christian Louboutins..I didn’t snoop around as I felt very uncomfortable with being in her room and her not being there so I just walked out and closed the door.

That night she headed out for her usual “dinner with friends” and I decided to settle down in the home office and finish off some work once the kids were asleep. My laptop had died so as I was charging it I decided to use our laptop that the AP had been borrowing most recently. As I typed in the search bar a huge drop down of searched things popped up.

To say I was shocked was an understatement! Up came “Sugar Daddy Sugar Baby” websites, how to perfect the perfect ***** and “how much should a sugar daddy pay a sugar baby” etc etc!

When my husband got home from work I told him and we were both so shocked we didn’t know what to do with this information! My husband suggested we signed up to the Sugar Daddy website and search to see if AP is on there. I don’t know how I feel about this and being sneaky to try and catch her out rather than being honest and telling her I had to borrow the laptop and this is what I found?

To be honest she is a fantastic AP in every other aspect, my kids absolutely adore her.  I don’t know what to do with this.

I’m not sure I can handle someone who morally is ok with being paid monetary wise or in gifts for sexual acts,  let alone that most of these “Sugar daddies” are most likely married.

Any advice would be greatly appreciated!   ~ A Distressed Mrs. Banks


Images: poppins1 by keikolynnsogreat on Flickr, and
Yes, readers– there is actually such a thing as “Sexy Mary Poppins Costume“.


TexasHM April 16, 2014 at 9:59 am

Yowza. What a conundrum. I think there are several issues at play here and I have several questions I am hoping the OP can answer to help clarify. One of which is, if she is worst case scenario selling herself – are you prepared to issue an ultimatum and tell her its grounds for rematch if she continues to do so? When does her term finish?
First of all, lets give this AP the benefit of the doubt and not make assumptions that these men are married. Let’s also not assume she is doing this – yet. I know, looks pretty compelling but I know I have looked at that stuff before (in disbelief as a coworker was telling me about it) and I certainly wasn’t signed up for the service!
Your husband has an interesting take on how to figure out if she is on the service or not. I tend to fall into the camp of no filter, nosy and impatient so I honestly would tend toward asking her about it (just me and her). Telling her – hey my laptop wasn’t working so I went to use yours and this all popped up and see what she says. You could also use that as a passive aggressive way to manage the situation.
Meaning – if she says she isn’t doing it, you could say “oh good because we were really worried” – and then list your reasons and whether or not it would be grounds for rematch. I would assume her personal safety would be first and foremost reason followed very closely by the fact that its illegal to prostitute oneself following thereafter by the concern that this lifestyle will at some point impact your family whether that is via an STD, pregnancy, crazed ex-daddy showing up, etc but keep in perspective that you could have any of those problems with a boyfriend as well.
If she says she is doing it and it is a rematch issue for you then I would ask her to explain the nature of the relationship(s). There is also the possibility that she is only with one guy and he is now her boyfriend and you’re going to have to make a judgment call on that.
I saw a 20/20 episode where they interviewed the men that use the sites and the college girls that use them and some swore that they acted as girlfriends for events for the businessmen and that was it and some swore that they met on the site, got to know each other over time and then became bf/gf and started sleeping together and had been together for years.
I am not condoning any of this, just saying there are A LOT of possibilities here that range from her AP best friend is doing it and showed her the info on her laptop and he’s buying her shoes too all the way to worst case scenario its a new guy every few days and she’s giving it her all.
Even if you find her profile on the site, that wouldn’t necessarily mean she has been using the site and she could say it was a joke or she didn’t really know what it was and the other APs told her it was a dating site, whatever so there’s lots of gray area here.

au pair in Netherlands April 16, 2014 at 1:29 pm

this is really a great response. I’m an au pair and I find your alternative very respectful in therms of the au pair.

HM Reality Check April 16, 2014 at 10:25 am

If it walks like a duck,swims like a duck and quacks like a duck… it’s a duck.
One way or another she is selling herself.

She may be the sweetest person in the world, the question is do you really want someone who prostitutes herself for fancy shoes and accessories taking care of your children?

Amelie April 16, 2014 at 10:43 am

I’m a former au pair and I had a friend who saved a lot of money prior to becoming an au pair. She always had more money than the rest of us, travelled many times around the US and to our home country (Brazil) and bought more than 10 large suitcases worth of clothes and other stuff. so it’s possible!

But I agree with HM reality check… all evidence points to prostitution!

Two things that I don’t understand…

– If she’s making so much money on the side… why does she continue working as an au pair? Maybe she loves your kids in your family so much? Maybe it’s because of te visa?

– How can she be so energetic during the week after working on evenings and weekends?

exaupair April 16, 2014 at 11:01 am

Amelie, if she was actually prostituting herself, she still has to fulfill her au pair duties in order to stay in the US, if she left the family and only did the escort thing she would remain in the country illegally!

Amelie April 16, 2014 at 11:24 am

She could easily ask for a tourist visa…

exaupair April 16, 2014 at 11:32 am

Sure, but she would have to GO BACK, apply again and then possibly return. I don’t think you can switch from J1 visa to tourist visa while remaining in the US.
Anyway I really do hope it will all turn out well for the OP, weather they will keep this au pair or not……

Amelie April 16, 2014 at 11:34 am

I yes you can, you can ask for a change of status. Lots of au pairs do it all the time.

TexasHM April 16, 2014 at 5:40 pm

Correct me if I am wrong but you can ask for a change of status to certain visa types – aka student, but you cannot ask for a change from J1 to tourist visa. In fact if you look here it clearly states you must have a compelling reason to change your status category (aka – in a coma in a hospital).


Amelie April 16, 2014 at 7:43 pm

TexasHM, you can change to tourist.

I have some au pairs friends who have done it.

TexasHM April 16, 2014 at 8:18 pm

Amelie why did these APs switch to a tourist visa? Aren’t tourist visas 3 months? Also, visa requirements vary by country so I definitely wouldn’t say any AP could do it because I know for a fact our Brazilian AP couldn’t (she thought about switching to tourist to buy her a little time before wedding). It makes me crazy when people use blanket statements on visas, the system is complex and APs often misrepresent their status or don’t understand the rules. Do you have any supporting evidence other than other APs said they did it?

TexasHM April 16, 2014 at 8:52 pm

Ok I couldn’t help myself and looked this up. Get this – you can apply and can be denied. Also even better, you can apply, get approved but by doing so you are violating your J1 visa (condition of which is you must return to country of origin at completion of program term) so you get a tourist visa but if you ever try to return to the US the DHS would see your J1 visa as violated and could refuse you future entry into the US. It is published that the only safe way to get a tourist visa is to return to your country of origin and apply there and then return. Then you are completing the j1 terms and approved on a tourist visa without conflict. This is why I can’t stand it when APs share visa advice! I have yet to find an AP that truly understood the visa programs.

Dorsi April 16, 2014 at 9:31 pm

I will add that our last AP was able to change her status from J-1 to student (F-1? I think) by returning home. She would have much preferred to stay here to do it — and saved the money and time on the flight. BUT IT WAS IMPOSSIBLE. Cheers, TexasHM.

Amelie April 16, 2014 at 10:16 pm

I’m not giving advice. I’m just saying I know people who have done it.

Amelie April 16, 2014 at 10:18 pm

J1 to F1 – the current au pair in my host family, to mention one person, has done it without leaving the country. She is finishing her mba and hasn’t left the us in 4 and a half years.

TexasHM April 16, 2014 at 11:34 pm

You said tourist visa. F1 is student visa.

Amelie April 17, 2014 at 9:58 am

I’m saying I know people who have done the tourist status thing, and people who has changed status to F1.


I don’t know the implications, not even giving advice. i’m just very active in the au pair community and know for a fact that both these things are possible.

Host Mom in the City April 17, 2014 at 10:13 am

TexasHM, I think you’re being a little aggressive. Amelie is just saying what she has heard. If you’ve heard or know differently, that’s wonderful, and as always, I appreciate your valuable insight and information – but I don’t want anyone to feel like they can’t or shouldn’t contribute their opinions or knowledge either.

Momma Gadget April 17, 2014 at 10:37 am

Texas HM is correct. I’ve had 3 APs insist that it is possible to convert to a tourist visa only to find out ( after wasting a lot of time & energy) that they were given misinformation from their friends. It is possible to convert a J1 to a student F1, not a tourist visa.

Amelie April 17, 2014 at 10:44 am

According to the USCIS website,

If you are an international exchange visitor (J-1), you may not change your nonimmigrant status if:

You were admitted to the United States to receive graduate medical training, unless you receive a special waiver.
You are an exchange visitor and are required to meet the foreign residence requirement, unless you receive a waiver.
If you do not receive a waiver, you may only apply to change to a diplomatic and other government officials (A visa) or representatives to international organizations (G visa)

Au pairs do not fall into the first and the third category. And most au pairs receive a waiver, printed in their visa, so the 2-year rule does not apply (I had a waiver, and so did all my AP friends from Brazil).

I know what I’m saying, I have friends who have done it, for many different reasons (got a tourist status to stay longer, either living with the HF or otherwise – btw, they normally give you six months, and you can ask for six extra -, or get a F1 status to study – get into community college, pursue a masters degree or MBA).

Again, I don’t know the specifics, cause I haven’t gone trhu it, but I don’t it’s possibly and that lots of au pairs do it all the time.

They can have the change os status denied, and I’ve seen it happened. My HF’s au pair before me asked for the F1 status, started college while waiting for the answer, was denied and had to go back to her coutry (South Africa).

And, I’m not 100% certain about it, but I’m pretty sure changing your status doesn’t affect your chances of reentering the US in the future.

Just because I’m an au pair and not a host parent, it doesn’t mean I don’t know things, I’m not educated, I’m not able to research, etc. HOWEVER, I know better not to give advice about this. These things can be trick and, although I know for sure it’s possible to change the status, I don’t know much about the procedures, requirements, etc.

I’m not coming back to this thread.

TexasHM April 17, 2014 at 12:45 pm

Not my intent to be aggressive or drive anyone off, my point was saying “she could easily ask for a tourist visa” is misleading and I have seen first hand APs not take the visa process seriously because they have heard from other APs that it’s “easy” to change their visa status. Amelie, I am not saying you don’t know APs that have done these things, I am saying that the rules are complex and there is a lot of risk and misunderstanding and that includes HFs and APs.
My point – visas are complex and everyone should research thoroughly before making any plans. I am not in immigration law either – I’ve just researched for our APs (one from Brazil couldn’t change to a tourist) and seen first hand others that have tried and had it denied. This is all off topic anyway so in the words of Idina Menzel I will Let it Go! Let it Go! ;)

Seattle Mom April 17, 2014 at 7:00 pm

– How can she be so energetic during the week after working on evenings and weekends?

Our last au pair often went out every night of the week and on weekends, and she was energetic at 7am with our kids every day Monday through Friday. So it’s possible. Some people are just very energetic.

I’ve also worked with elected officials who are like that… they go on a trip and have meetings for 12 hours, then go to an evening reception and stand around talking to people they have never met, go to bed at midnight, wake up the next day at 5:30am and do it again. This is why I would never run for office!

exaupair April 16, 2014 at 10:50 am

Dear OP, I must say this is one of the most interesting and up to date questions posted on here!

I understand your concerns, but before you make any steps towards potential rematch try to get your head around it. As an ex AP I kind of feel I should defend the girl a bit.
First of all: some APs have much more disposable cash than the Family who hosts them…Fact. So maybe she simply buys what she can afford and there’s no reason she should not to, be it designer shoes and jewellery, expensive hotels and such. There’s no need for her to explain herself, and she really doesn’t have to stick to pound shops and car boot sales, or stay in nasty hostels, in order to make her fellow APs feel better. Wealth in general is nothing to be ashamed of.
Secondly, as long as her evenings are her off-duty times, and your Family doesn’t have a curfew, she’s basically free to go as long as she’s ready to work efficiently with you and your Children the next morning (having said that, she is in your home, you can expect some common courtesy at least!!)
Sugar Daddy website….oh well, Dating sites have been invented for people to use. There’s a good chance she is just looking for a man do date, nothing more. And frankly, If she chooses mature men over boys next door/ collage students/ male APs from the area than I can only stand up and applaud because she seems one of the few smart young women who’d likely choose an actual man over a boy (who has virtually nothing to offer). If those hipothetical men are married, again, she is an adult not underage girl, they are not breaking the law, even though there are numerous serious MORAL issues I could bring up.

As for prostitution(politely called being an escort girl) – you don’t want unsatisfied customers or obsessed stalkers banging at your door. I would act accordingly to my relationship with the AP.
If she’s more of an employee -If you have any doubts about what she’s actually doing….be firm, straightforward, tell her that any side “jobs” are against the rules of her au pair visa, totally against your family values and you will not expose your children onto this kind of thing. Further misconduct will lead to immediate rematch.
If she’s more of a Family Member – tell her you’re worried about her safety and ask for some closure – if she treats you with respect you deserve she will be honest with you. Lastly, If she confirms it was just for dating purposes, don’t tell her to delete her account – everyone needs a life outside of the Family, just tell her about potential dangers, she needs to stay safe.
Good luck OP!

HM Reality Check April 16, 2014 at 11:08 am

Sugar daddy websites are a far cry from eharmony. Girls don’t join these sites to find their soul mates. They join to find rich men to buy them pretty things and are willing to give them what they want in exchange.These gifts aren’t chocolates and daisies. YSL bags start at close to 2K. Jimmy Choo’s start at around 800$.

What ever they really do with these gentlemen, they do for materialistic stuff. Her god give right to choose. But is this a person you want taking care of your children? Is this the example you want paraded in front of your daughters?

exaupair April 16, 2014 at 11:29 am

Of course, but maybe the truth is that some friends told her it was a dating website…As naive as it may sound, I usually tend not to assume the worst until I gather some solid evidence.
It’s the same with every aspect of an adult life, going to casino doesn’t automatically make you a gambler, and going to a pub does not make you an alcoholic.
As for expensive clothes and shoes, I don’t know the APs background, but it IS possible that she simply could afford it therefor she bought it. The Host Mum found some pricy stuff in her room, but still it doesn’t prove she was hiding it because she might have been ashamed about the way she got hold of it. No one in their right mind would wear tiffany jewellery and jimmy choos when they are assigned to look after (and clean after) small kids for the whole day.

exaupair April 16, 2014 at 11:37 am

By the way, it just crossed my mind, if I was that girl I’d invest in my OWN laptop, so that someone else using it would be a non issue.

Amelie April 16, 2014 at 11:39 am

I thought it was weird too that she has so many things but uses the family laptop!

Seattle Mom April 17, 2014 at 7:03 pm

It is kind of funny that she has all these expensive clothes & shoes but not her own darned laptop???

exaupair April 16, 2014 at 11:46 am

This to me only proves, she doesn’t have much to hide really. She could probably easily afford a laptop, still she doesn’t mind using one of the HPs laptops and she doesn’t even delete history(plus cache and register logs). Haha she’s either not very bright, or simply a genuine girl who did nothing wrong!

HM Reality Check April 16, 2014 at 12:07 pm

It is very sweet that you want to think the best of this AP, and find a way to exonerate her.
But really!
Quack, Quack, Quack!

Host Mom in the City April 16, 2014 at 12:17 pm

I don’t know, I’m feeling like defending her too. You really don’t *know* what’s going on and you’ve done a lot of snooping and judging that’s a little over-the-top to me. Absolutely, she should not be using your laptop to look for inappropriate websites. But what she spends her money is not something you should be commenting on either way – maybe she does get lots of money from home, you really don’t know.

That goes both ways, honestly – au pairs really have no idea of the financial status of their host parents, and I wouldn’t want my au pair commenting on how many packages I receive in the mail versus how I said I don’t want her taking the kids out to lunch every day. No one gets to determine how someone else should be spending the money.

I might suggest addressing the website issue and the safety issues that appear and just asking her straight out. Anything that smacks of snooping in her room or judging her personal time or purchases is off limits. “I noticed you looked up some inappropriate websites on my laptop. That’s the one the kids use, so please do not look up anything you wouldn’t show the kids. Incidentally, one of the sites was for finding older men and appears to be an escort service, and that concerns me for the safety of my family as I don’t want anyone looking for an escort to know where we live. Are you using this site to meet men?”

exaupair April 16, 2014 at 12:25 pm

In defense of the OP, in my opinion she didn’t snoop, she said she went into the bedroom to put folded laundry away, and the designer bags and shoes were just lying around. Snooping is going through someones suitcases, drawers ect. whereas she simply saw things that weren’t hidden…..

Dorsi April 16, 2014 at 12:29 pm

Okay, I am going to call “fake letter” on this — I think we are being tricked. This has all the elements of a fantasy story. No Au Pair is interesting in Jimmy Choos and YSL and Louboutin (maybe some are interested in a few of those things, but in general, even APs with money don’t spend it on that kind of stuff). The people who fantasize about their very own YSL bag are middle-aged APmom readers.

I had an AP who had a very well off boyfriend. He let her take his expensive car (nicer than my BMW X3) out on her own — she would stay at his house, drive his car to our house (we didn’t have a car for her) work, and then drive home again. She collected lots of off name boots, tablet, laptop, smartphone, fancy trips. There was not an item that she brought into my house that I was jealous of — she had the tastes of a 22 year old from a developing country.

Here is a (warning: sexually explicit) column from everyone’s favorite internet advice guru Dan Savage on how he spots a fake letter.

The reality of escort services are much much sadder than a Au Pair who collects name brand gear and has a GREAT year while being the SWEETEST GIRL EVAH.

Dorsi April 16, 2014 at 12:29 pm
skny April 16, 2014 at 12:46 pm

I actually agree with Dorsi!!! Smells of fake to me too!!!!

HM Reality Check April 16, 2014 at 1:24 pm

Something does smell a bit fishy- could it be that the HM was snooping but is covering it up by presenting detailed and plausible reasons for being in the APs room, or looking through the lap top she uses?

These type of escort agencies do exist even in nice family oriented towns, and most definitely in the cities.

We had a gorgeous receptionist who used to come in decked out in Channel suits, and Ferragamo shoes. It turned out she was moonlighting as a dancer in a high priced gentleman’s club.

Uh Dorsi… you have some interesting taste in reading material. LMAO

Should be working April 16, 2014 at 5:28 pm

Dan Savage is pretty mainstream by now, isn’t he? Isn’t “Savage Love” a syndicated column?

Seattle Mom April 17, 2014 at 7:07 pm

Hey, nothing wrong with the Stranger! It’s Seattle’s version of the Village Voice, or the DC City Paper… good bathroom reading!

exaupair April 16, 2014 at 1:16 pm

hahaha people do have bit of imagination!

exaupair April 16, 2014 at 1:20 pm

Although, the story with the escort AP is something I would imagine was a real issue. If not the one posted, I do believe some of the girls would be temped with the illusion of expensive gifts and nice hotels.

Dorsi April 16, 2014 at 4:15 pm

I think all of us, on some level, are tempted with the illusion of expensive gifts and nice hotels. However, that is not how the sex work happens for the vast majority of people. It is a fantasy to think that you could step in and get all these rewards and continue to reliably work 45 hours a week.

Host Mom in the City April 16, 2014 at 1:21 pm

Oh :) Well fake or not, maybe we could address the greater issue of what to do when you discover your au pair is doing something with her free time that conflicts with your family’s beliefs or values?

hOstCDmom April 16, 2014 at 1:25 pm

I agree; we could dial back the OP’s situation and consider responses for when one’s AP is actively seeking or involved with a sugar daddy, but perhaps not at the level of being a PT escort. How would folks feel about that?

WarmStateMomma April 16, 2014 at 1:38 pm

What we’d consider being a gold digger is considered normal dating behavior in some cultures. Perhaps it’s the number of targets that distinguish a greedy girlfriend from a pro? AP interest in designer goods definitely exists, but it likely varies based how much status these items bring them in their home country.

exaupair April 16, 2014 at 1:43 pm

You mean a situation where she is NOT prostituting herself?
That would be treated as any other relationship the AP may have i.e. not my problem. I would only ask for her to bare in mind that her relationship can’t interfere with her job, and I would want her to keep the sugar daddy away from my kids (same as ANY other person I don’t know and therefor I don’t trust). Apart from that her time off would be hers and I would try my best to stay uninvolved. If he for instance wanted him over for family dinner for us all to meet I’d be ok with that (exactly as I would have been with a friend, another AP, her parent ect.)

hOstCDmom April 16, 2014 at 2:40 pm

Well, and other post HM’s have indicated they would rematch if an AP was smoking during her off-duty time; some HP have noted occasionally they would have an issue if their AP were sexually active because by definition APs are not married, and that would conflict with their families religious values; some HM’s have issues with their AP’s skimpy dress; so I think by logical extensions are some HP’s who would have issues if their AP were actively seeking or dating a sugar daddy in a “sugar daddy” type quid-pro-quo relationship (even if it did not rise to the level of a professional arrangement or a cash for services arrangement). That was why I proposed dialing back the 0P’s original query to something more within the realm of possible, and about which post parents might have different views and different responses.

Host Mom in the City April 16, 2014 at 2:51 pm

I think my main angle is that any of that stuff needs not to affect me and then I don’t care. I find smoking repugnant, and screen for this carefully. But as long as someone doesn’t come home smelling like smoke, speaks up and tells her friends not to smoke on my property/car, and doesn’t ever talk about it or leave any cigarettes around or anything, I don’t care. It’s when it impacts me that it’s the issue. Same with this escort thing – if she’s having someone pick her up at my house, that’s impacting me. If she’s letting someone know where she lives, that’s impacting me. If she goes out to meet people, is on time for her work shifts, and is great with the kids, not my issue.

Angie host mom April 16, 2014 at 1:52 pm

It’s her free time. As long as it doesn’t endanger my family I really have no right to say anything. However, most of our au pairs have had a good enough relationship with us that I could discourage behavior I think will be harmful to the AP.

HM Reality Check April 16, 2014 at 2:01 pm

We found out after arrival that our had au pair participated in a reality big brother type show in her country before she came to the US. We even found nude pictures on line with some digging. We were ready to send her home but stopped because of how hard she was trying to help the HCs.
Had we known, we would not have chosen this AP. She turned out to be just an O.K. AP. She had delusions of grandeur,and was sure that she was destined to be a star. She will be going home soon, disappointed at not being discovered.

Were the scenario above true, we would most definitely rematch. I wouldn’t want someone who puts material possessions so far above self respect. I truly would not like to be put in the position of explaining to other parents how she affords her expensive trinkets, or if discovered, how we let someone participating in questionable activities watch over our children or other peoples children at playdates.

exaupair April 16, 2014 at 2:16 pm

I would never let someone who is a prostitute nowhere near my kids, but having an older partner who happens to buy expensive gifts would not be a reason to rematch. Doing that I would have to admit I’m ok with interfering with the APs private life to a greater extend than I’m allowed to.

HM Reality Check April 16, 2014 at 6:04 pm

It goes back to the old joke:
We’ve established what you are, now we’re just haggling over price.

I wouldn’t want my daughter to think it was ok to use her looks or her body to get expensive toys as the APs actions would lead her to believe.

LookingForwardToBeAP(made it!) April 16, 2014 at 9:40 pm

Totally agree!! I almost believe it until the “My laptop had died so as I was charging it I decided to use our laptop that the AP had been borrowing”

As far as I know you don’t need to wait to use a laptop that is being charged…

Anna April 16, 2014 at 10:24 pm

Depends on the laptop

AussiePair April 17, 2014 at 7:04 am

Sometimes when a laptop completely runs down you need to wait for it to have enough power to start-up, have you ever tried using an iPhone after it runs out of battery? They need time to collect some charge first before it will turn on

Angie host mom April 16, 2014 at 1:48 pm

Assuming letter writer isn’t a fake – and my guess is letter writer IS fake – you really have no evidence of anything. She may have a rich boyfriend. She may have a lot of money in her home country (some au pairs do, you know) and enjoy spending it here. Things that pop up in my search box are suggestions based on what folks have been searching on in google but not stuff I’ve been searching for, and no one else uses my computer so I do know this.

I actually know some sugar babies who have the kind of lifestyle / items you mention. They are not unsophisticated au pairs visiting this country and taking care of kids during the day. They have fabulous connections and get the guy access to other girls, high profile events, etc. They spend their whole life being the best sugar baby they can be.

I can’t imagine a less sophisticated prostitute could pull in the cash required for lifestyle described.

So, my guess, LW, is if you are not a fake, you are wrong. The money is coming from somewhere else, and frankly, it is none of your business.

Anna April 16, 2014 at 9:39 pm

Why do you assume the au pair is not sophisticated? Being foreign doesn’t equal unsophisticated. I have had some very wise, bright, clever, practical, people-skilled au pairs, beautiful with great English and sexy foreign accents, who knew how to dress for any occasion and how to conduct themselves in any situation. If they put their mind to it, I have no doubt they could have pulled off being a successful professional “sugar baby” while working for me full time. Well at least for a while until I would have discovered it. Thankfully they also had morals.

Angie host mom April 17, 2014 at 3:05 am

I’ve never met a sophisticated au pair. Not because they are foreign – though that makes it harder for them to have the local connections required to get a guy into clubs and events and the like – but I’ve just never met a sophisticated au pair. We’ve had seven and met oodles of their friends. I’ve always assumed the au pair job does not appeal to the type.

Anna April 17, 2014 at 8:23 am

I think my recruiting makes me likely to get the type. I look for intelligent, college educated, with job experience, older, from large cosmopolitan cities…. Out of ten I think I can say with confidence that four were sophisticated.

FL Mom April 17, 2014 at 10:30 am

So, so, so not true. We have one right now that gets in everywhere for free, including private, celebrity-attended events. I don’t think for a moment she is doing anything immoral though, just having fun. She’s not the only one I’ve seen dressed to the nines and going out. The comment Dorsi made about the girls not being interested in Jimmy Choos is also a bit narrow – some of the girls I’ve seen would practically kill for a pair and many of the au pairs I’ve seen have a real thing for shoes. One of our first au pairs found a really high-end pair of shoes at a goodwill store and you would have thought she had hit a gold mine

Angie host mom April 17, 2014 at 6:01 pm

LOL just shows it comes down to the au pair. I’m wrong!

Angie host mom April 17, 2014 at 6:03 pm

And, I’m willing to admit I’m wrong. I can only go by my own experience.

Seattle Mom April 17, 2014 at 7:18 pm

I could believe this. None of our au pairs have had that kind of cash flow, and as far as I could tell neither did their friends. But I have known young American women who walked around with these items and bought them as casually as I load up my cart at Value Village. And I could see some of them becoming au pairs… they wouldn’t have to, since they could afford to travel and live abroad on their parents’ dime without earning a nickel, but it would be an interesting experience for them and they would be up for it. It’s not out of the question.

Probably part of the reason why I haven’t hosted any of these types of au pairs is because I flaunt the fact that our family is proud to live modestly. And I tend to avoid au pairs from wealthy families- I think it’s more likely they would be unhappy with my family.

Angie host mom April 16, 2014 at 2:03 pm

Assuming letter writer isn’t a fake, she really has no evidence of anything. AP may have a rich boyfriend or may have a lot of money in her home country (some au pairs do, you know) and enjoy spending it here.

Things that pop up in my search box are suggestions based on what folks have been searching on in google but not stuff I’ve been searching for, and no one else uses my computer so I do know this. If it is really a search history, so what, I’ve searched for some random things as well!

Here’s the thing, I actually know some sugar babies who have the kind of lifestyle / items LW mentions. They are not unsophisticated au pairs visiting this country and taking care of kids during the day. They have fabulous connections and get the guy access to other girls, high profile events, etc. They spend their whole life being the best sugar baby they can be.

I can’t imagine a less sophisticated girl could pull in the cash required for lifestyle described.

So my guess is the money is coming from somewhere else, and frankly, it is none of your business.

Host Mom in the City April 16, 2014 at 2:11 pm

I think this is where I lean (Angie host mom’s post), and why I said above that I feel like defending the au pair in this scenario. The OP really doesn’t have direct proof that there’s anything going on, and there’s a lot of judgment in her post. She also says she’s a fantastic au pair, which of course weighs heavily.

exaupair April 16, 2014 at 2:20 pm

Yup, some AP are painfully unsophisticated(my former fellow AP for instance). BUT I have seen some who were more sophisticated than their Host Parents could ever dream to be.;-)

cv harquail April 16, 2014 at 2:27 pm

Hi All-

Maybe I’m a rube, but I didn’t question whether the letter was faked. I exchanged some emails with the author before posting it to get some clarification. I’ve emailed her again with some ideas for having her verify that she’s ‘real’ (e.g., photo of her aupair agency contract, from afar).

We’ll see. If it turns out to be faked, shame on me. And the core question is still reasonable– as HostMomintheCity and hOstCDMom suggest.

And, Dorsi? ;-)

cv harquail April 16, 2014 at 2:31 pm

Upon further reading, I guess I should have been suspicious once I read this line:

“I was putting away laundry and went to put AP’s folded laundry on her bed

What host parent actually does her au pair’s laundry?

HRHM April 16, 2014 at 2:34 pm

LOL – me!

I don’t actually DO her laundry, but if I go to use the dryer and her stuff is in it, I will put it in her room (sometimes even folded!) She does the same for me.

Should be working April 16, 2014 at 2:41 pm

I sometimes fold my AP’s laundry and vice-versa. In fact I try to angle my way into her laundry queue early on to do this–to signal that this is what “member-of-the-family” means and hope she will get it and reciprocate. It’s 3 minutes of my time in “early days” of an AP’s year to SHOW her, without a word, what kind of family we are. If the AP dumps my laundry into a basket and leaves it to molder if it’s her turn for the machine, it’s not a good sign.

Host Mom in the City April 16, 2014 at 2:48 pm

I do this too. I don’t seek out her laundry, but I’ll fold it if it’s in the dryer and I need the dryer. Always pile it outside her door though – would never actually go in and put it on her bed!

spanishaupair April 16, 2014 at 3:10 pm

Haha should i feel lucky??? My HM somtimes has folded my laundry, not very often, not that she needs to do it, but a couple of times that she just came home, i was busy with kids and she was going to put a washing machine and needed the space for hanging clothes has folded them.
And in another family my HM has ironed my t-shirts when because they flew with wind i didnt see them and didnt pick them up (i usually do big washings so not control so much if i have all t-shirts just look around and pick what i see). And yeah she offered lots of times to do my laundry but just said no thanks i can do it

TexasHM April 16, 2014 at 5:47 pm

I could also say this but it doesn’t mean I do all her laundry, it means more something of hers got thrown in with ours. Just like she occasionally has something of ours and leaves it on the armchair for us, I tend to leave her things on the end of her bed because her door is always open and thats the closest thing I know she will see first.

Angie host mom April 16, 2014 at 6:15 pm

Me, on occasion!

Anna April 16, 2014 at 9:42 pm

Our au pair does her laundry with the kids’ (with my permission), and if she doesn’t fold/put it away/finish it before her days off, I sometimes have to put it away and I do put her laundry on her bed.

HRHM April 16, 2014 at 2:32 pm

I guess that based on the high-end nature of her goodies, it’s not likely from prostitution. Hookers don’t make that much money right off the bat. You’ve got to be a high end escort for quite a while to generate several thousand bucks a week.

If she has found herself a “sugar daddy” married or not, it’s no one else’s business. There are a LOT of women who base thier relationship search on factors other than a nice smile and kind to animals! LOL. Many of them come from wealthy socially connected families and don’t need to resort to websites, but for the rest of the 99%, that’s one way to marry up. If she has decided to attach herself to a man who is successful and willing to provide for her material wants, who are we to judge?

I think if her performance in your home was suffering, that certainly changes the calculus, but it sounds like she’s a great AP. In that light, her romantic relationship is a non-issue.

FWIW, I think it’s a fake letter too. But I was surprised at how judgy a couple of the responses were…

exaupair April 16, 2014 at 2:36 pm

Dear CV,
even if the OP turns out to be fake, please don’t take the post down, it is a very interesting discussion and to be fair a very common issue.

NNTexasHM April 16, 2014 at 3:18 pm

This story reminds me of a true story when my husband was working at a prominent law firm in Chicago. I was pregnant at the time and and my husband, then an associate on a big bankruptcy got to talking with some of the associates and one of the partners during a late night session (which were common) and the topic of childcare came up. The partner’s advice: “Whatever you do, if you get an Au Pair be REALLY careful”.

His story:
The gal was Russian, brought over as an Au Pair with an agency to his 3 young kids (1,3,4 none in school). The Au Pair worked during the days and was off nights at which point she would disappear only to appear first thing in the AM fresh as a daisy. Family suspected nothing other than an active social life. It was her time, her business they figured.

Until one day the partner noticed his computer in his office had been used but put back incorrectly in the docking station. Now, given the sensitive nature of his work. his office was strictly OFF LIMITS and this had been communicated to the Au Pair in no uncertain terms. After talking to his wife and figuring out that it was not her or any of the kids tampering with it, they confronted the Au Pair and told her this was grounds for rematch.

Her response: “No problem, I understand. Can you give me until 5:30 to pack up so we can contact the LC?” (This was about 1/2 hour after her normal shift).

Dumbfounded at her pleasant attitude, the family said “Uh sure”. The Au Pair calmly finished her work duties, had everything packed in a jiffy and was waiting out front when at 5:30 a stretch limo pulled up. She was never heard from again.

The partner’s assessment: Call Girl.

I am not making this up.

HM in SoCal April 16, 2014 at 4:31 pm

One of our au pairs was using a dating site trying to find rich men. My husband and I would giggle when we would see the website on our computer until it started affecting us. She was driving two hours or more each way to meet up with these men. She would be gone the whole weekend on these adventures and racked up a significant amount of mileage on our au pair car. We finally put a monthly limit of car mileage and she started dating local men who were mostly in their 50s. She had a couple come to our house to pick her up and at this point we were rematching anyways for her daily exhaustion ( after partying all the time) and constant cell phone use to the point of ignoring our kids.

Angie host mom April 16, 2014 at 6:18 pm

THIS!! This is what I would expect of an au pair’s attempt to be a sugar baby. Tons of effort expended, exhausted au pair, miles on the car, and no fancy trinkets to show for it.

TexasHM April 16, 2014 at 5:53 pm

I also know of an ex-AP locally that is a call girl. Its not clear if she was doing this while she was employed by the local family but considering she supposedly went straight from their house to living/working with other call girls in the profession it is widely assumed locally that she was already in the trade before her term ended. She was eastern European, desperate to stay and apparently is quite open about her situation as I have heard this same story from both host families and APs locally.

Mimi April 16, 2014 at 6:06 pm

We had a girl in our local group who was also on a similar site and went into rematch for it when one of her ‘clients’ became abusive and started showing up at the HF home.

Were I the OP, I would talk to the AP immediately. There are many ways to couch the conversation. (I’d prefer the most direct.)

The bottom line is that it’s a safety issue for her and the HF. I would give her a chance to explain and if she is in fact on a sugar daddy/baby site, then I’d ask her to stop immediately. The possibility she could be hurt or that it could affect the family would be foremost in my mind, but also that there could be legal ramifications that deniable culpability won’t cover.

If she can’t give up the life, then fantastic AP or no, it would be rematch for me.

Angie host mom April 16, 2014 at 6:26 pm

There is a big difference between a call girl and a sugar baby. Not in terms of the morality, not in terms of the girl being willing to sell herself for money, but in terms of the danger to a HF – a call girl will see lots of clients and be exposed to a much greater array of dangers. A sugar baby? Yes, it’s just as wrong, but it is in essence just like any dating relationship your au pair could have in terms of the danger to you as a HF.

If my au pair were a call girl, I’d fire her and probably call the police on her to get her deported. I wouldn’t want the repercussions anywhere near my house. If she was a sugar baby? And I knew it? I would realistically probably rematch in a positive way if possible. I’d still want her out of my house, but not in such a panic as if she was a call girl (or doing or selling drugs, or shoplifting).

Multitasking Host Mom April 16, 2014 at 9:07 pm

Just throwing it out there, but maybe this is some other criminal element. (Ok maybe I am reading too many detective novels lately!) The fact that everything is designer and multiple things from the same store….is this some kind of shoplifting. Or maybe a stolen credit card ring. I once read a news article about a guy who laundered the credit card numbers he stole by forging credit cards with the numbers then giving them to women to use to buy high end purses in stores. He would then resale them on ebay to get the “clean money”. Of course he either paid the women with cash or let them “buy” items. I mean the OP really doesn’t know what is going on. The only way to get the truth would be for the OP and AP to communicate. Which is good advice in almost all situations.

Angie host mom April 16, 2014 at 9:16 pm

Yes, and there are a number of high end stores robbed by gangs of thieves, she could be part of a thieving gang. Or maybe a blackmailer? Or a counterfeiter.

Facetiousness aside, we have no way of knowing. I like to think if it was my au pair I would know. Actually, I would. This is where non-invasive, non-obvious, discreet snooping – up to hiring an investigator to follow her – would come in, if I thought there really was reason to believe there was criminal activity and she disappeared and didn’t tell me what she was doing when she was disappeared.

The only au pair we had that would disappear that regularly had a boyfriend she stayed with and we knew the whole story. We may have still engaged in some clandestine espionage to verify some things…perhaps…

exaupair April 17, 2014 at 6:00 am

Angie hist mom@ disappearing for the whole night if it’s a night off is not a reason to get suspicious :-) I would be shocked to find out my Host Parents were trying to “verify” what have I been doing during my time off, especially when they wouldn’t have reasons to think I got involved in something illegal. Sorry to tell you but I personally wouldn’t tolerate any espionage( same i would not make any attempts, clandestine or not, to find out what the parents are doing when they’re away), and as amazing as the HPs would have been apart from that, I would most certainly initiate rematch and beg the LCC to let me sleep on her sofa starting from the very moment I found out :-(
This kind of behaviour would make me think the relationship is or most certainly will be deteriorating, and there’s no point staying…..

Angie host mom April 17, 2014 at 1:36 pm

exaupair – we have a saying here, “no harm, no foul.”

Which do you think really causes more tension and discomfort, being cross-examined and questioned about everything or simply never know that a HF was checking up on you once in a while?

I am not sure what other employment you have had, but in the US it is (or should be) expected that all of your email on your work pc or work account are read by your employer, your phone calls are recorded, and you are on camera when you are working. Off work, if you are driving a company car, the usage is tracked. Facebook and other posts are reviewed.

Granted, most of this doesn’t happen all of the time, but it can and anyone who doesn’t behave as if it might is deluding themself. Au pairs are generally given a lot more privacy than the typical American employee.

HRHM April 17, 2014 at 1:47 pm

I pretty much agree with exaupair. More to the point, if I distrust my AP so much that I feel the need to snoop or follow or dig, I don’t trust her enough to continue letting her watch my kids…

Not that I feel bad about the privacy issue per se – just that once you start down that road, the trust is obviously already in question.

exaupair April 17, 2014 at 1:56 pm

Angie host mom@ my professional emails and phone calls are strictly monitored, most social media sites are blocked not to tempt anyone and I don’t mind it at all. As I said, as long as the HP pays for the au pairs phone they have the right to check it, same thing if the AP uses family PC. What I don’t get is some opinions that the AP should only use the phone provided by Host Parents, otherwise she might be up to no good and can;t be trusted :-)
Plus, verifying the way she spends time on and off duty are two different things. I would have no problems with parents monitoring the time I was with the children, but I wouldn’t want to find out Host Mum was checking who I spent the night or evening with. I wouldn’t do that to her and would expect the same.

Host Mom in the City April 17, 2014 at 2:14 pm

I also agree with exaupair. I don’t think either choice (that is, either being “cross-examined” by a host parent or having a host parent that is clandestinely looking up on your personal life) is appropriate in the least.

Angie host mom April 17, 2014 at 2:16 pm

exaupair…here’s the difference. When you have an employee who does not live at your house, what they do when they aren’t at work has minimal or no impact on you. When you have an exchange student who lives at your house, the implications of their time “off duty” is much more significant for a bunch of reasons.

1. Their criminal activity can get your house and other assets seized.
2. If they piss off the wrong person, they can show up at your house and cause damage to your family. (ie au pair dating a married man, wife showing up with a gun)
3. If they make the wrong friends and tell them when you are traveling, you can be burgled while not home.

Those are worst, hideous cases. But really, the most likely reason it will impact us as HPs and generally does – is because we have to help pick up the pieces when things go wrong. When they get sick, when they get hurt by their friends, when they get in a car accident, when they get ditched at a party because they fought with a friend, when they get stranded because they’ve been drinking and their designated driver started drinking too, when they find out their boyfriend is a criminal.

Like I said elsewhere, we treat our APs as visiting adult nieces. They are adults and we’ll leave them alone if they want to be – but they wouldn’t visit us if they didn’t want a support network here, and I’d be a pretty rotten support network if I didn’t check up on a 19 year old niece who was disappearing all night regularly and didn’t talk about who her boyfriend was and didn’t say anything about what she was doing while she was gone.

German Au-Pair April 17, 2014 at 8:19 pm

I get where you’re coming from and as long as you’re good at it, I don’t see a problem. She doesn’t know and you feel better. That’s okay for everyone.
I have never worried about what my HP might know about me without me telling them (they weren’t the kind of people though) and I don’t care.
But the second I found out I’d been spied on, I couldn’t feel secure and at home in the house anymore. The moral side would bother me because I never checked up on my HP either but I’d also understand to some extend. But I know that I couldn’t feel at home anymore, I couldn’t relax and I would feel like the relationship is broken so I would definitely rematch.

BTW, I also don’t agree with “when the HP pay for the phone it’s their right to look through it”. It is not and I’d also probably rematch for that. It is their right to take it from you but you should be allowed to delete your personal things. Naturally, as an au pair, you are not going to get a second phone if your HF provides one for you so you’re going to have your FB account on it and private emails. And whatsapp. Those are the major means of communication for someone living abroad (or anyone nowadays) and it is not okay for your HF to read through that just because it’s their phone.
Hopefully, this issue is raised when it comes to extreme, safety related cases. Then of course I’d also take a good look in the room. Other than that there’s no reason I find acceptable.
You wouldn’t want your au pair going threw your stuff either. And even though you might think that every au pair does that at some point, I can tell you that I have never opened a drawer or closet in my HPs bedroom even when I could be 100% sure I was alone in the house. Even au pairs can have moral standards.

caring hp April 16, 2014 at 10:33 pm

We know 1st hand of a HF getting a shock when a Google search of the cell # they had given the AP revealed it was on a call girl website locally. Good idea to change numbers for each new AP to say the least! Thankfully it was a prepaid “disposable” cell and not one that had the HF name or main account associated with it so had the call girl ring been investigated the police would not have assumed the HF had a pimp connection I guess!

Angie host mom April 17, 2014 at 3:42 am

When I moved out of my parents house to live with a friend, the phone number we were given was still listed in the yellow pages as an escort service. We got a lot of odd crank calls til we finally figured it out when we took a live call from a man bold enough to say he was looking for an escort and to say he found our number in the yellow pages – I asked where and checked it out and sure enough, there it was. We changed numbers that day!

exaupair April 17, 2014 at 6:42 am

You know what really makes me laugh? Many Host Parents write about how they found something on the laptop that their AP was using, or on the APs mobile. Where do these girls come from? Sure it’s usually not a war stricken third world country? Don’t they bring their own laptops/tablets/mobile phones?
The voltage(not sure if I’m using the right word here??????) in the US is different than in Europe, Asia ect. and the plugs are different but it’s pretty easy to buy a suitable adapter these days.
If Au Pairs brought their own gear instead of relying on HPs electronic devices there would be no posts like “My HPs went through my mobile and found X”, or “I checked au pairs log history on the family computer and found out Y”.
Sorry for all the mistakes I might have made, hope my question makes sense.

AussiePair April 17, 2014 at 7:11 am

Most host families provide the au pair with a phone so that they can be contacted, otherwise the au pair would be well within her rights to pay for her own phone and not give the number out to the host parents. Providing them with a phone is one way for HP to ensure the AP is always contactable.

And just because you bring a phone from home doesn’t mean I will pay to use it, I use my Australian phone occasionally when wifi is available, otherwise it’s much easier to just use the phone my host family gave me. Most of the time my phone from home isn’t even charged as the difference in voltage affects the way it charges (even with an adapter)

Angie host mom April 17, 2014 at 1:37 pm

Most au pairs don’t feel the need to hide from their HF.

exaupair April 17, 2014 at 2:12 pm

Because most of them aren’t doing anything wrong. But try to imagine the most obvious situation ever: the AP has a partner back in her home country and they exchange some naughty photos or engage dirty talk on skype (or dirty texts or whatever). Than she leaves to get some house chores done, logs out but the password to her email/skype account is still in the cache. Now imagine, you or one of the kids accidentally logs in and it all pops out. Note that I’m not talking about deliberate snooping here – accidents do happen!
Or a situation when one of the Kids plays with her phone and sees something they’re too young to see.
Wouldn’t it be better if she had a separate phone and laptop to keep her private things 100% private? APs are young adults so it’s rather common thing for them to do.

Angie host mom April 17, 2014 at 2:25 pm

I agree, if an ap wants to keep a separate phone or pc I really don’t see anything wrong with it and it doesn’t imply anything bad.

Disappearing all night regularly with no explanation of where you are going and trying to “hide” it is more suspicious to me? Maybe because our au pairs are pretty open with us I would find it very strange and disturbing.

exaupair April 17, 2014 at 7:30 am

I get your point AussiePair, if the family pays for the phone it’s well within their rights to check the amount of texts ect.
I do believe AP should keep two phones though, one paid for the HF to use when on duty, and another one for off duty time only, which would be their own. There are many providers with very cheap pay-as-you-go top ups. That would resolve the problem of any possible “snooping” and wondering what on earth the AP is doing when she’s not with the kids.

OpinionatedHM April 17, 2014 at 12:15 pm

An AuPair who wants to keep a separate phone is a huge red flag to me. It clearly signals that she is planning to do things with her free time that’s she knows would be unacceptable to me. Therefore, that Au Pair would not be long with my family.

exaupair April 17, 2014 at 12:40 pm

Massive red flag would be if she refused to use the phone I’m providing her with, but who gives the Host Parent the right to forbid their AP using her own mobile she brought from home? In reality she can neither confirm nor deny using two as long as she pays for the second one with her own money. Worst case scenario, she keeps yours, AND buys second one without telling anyone.

OpinionatedHM April 17, 2014 at 1:14 pm

Let me start by saying that i have never tracked my AP using the phone we give her, I have never looked at it to see what she is doing with it, I have never checked the text or call log to see when she is using the phone or who she might be calling. Every so often, when I read about HM’s tracking their AP’s, I think wow, am I being too trusting? But the reality is, if I feel I have to do that, then I already know the trust is broken and we are done.
My concern about an AP who wants to have her own phone in addition to the one we give her is that either she doesn’t have a basic trust that I will respect her privacy, which is a bad place to start a HP/AP relationship, or she is untrustworthy and wishes to keep me from truly knowing her as a person. Neither option is acceptable to me and that is the reason why any AP who has a separate phone is not a good AP for my family.

Angie host mom April 17, 2014 at 1:39 pm

I don’t get the need for privacy. Who becomes an au pair and moves in with a family in another country, living in their house and driving their car, if they are petrified that someone might find out who they are on the phone with or visiting in off hours??

German Au-Pair April 17, 2014 at 8:31 pm

It’s not just the who-question but rather the content of the messages. Sometimes you need to blow off steam and vent to your friends. I’m sure I have said things about my HF that I wouldn’t want them to read. Not on FB, not in any way publicly but to close friends whom I was in touch woth through my HP’s phone. Friends who knew that when I called the kid a brat, I still loved it. Everyone has those friends and everyone does it. Still I wouldn’t want my HP to read it.
Then there are private, intimate things -like sexting or whatever was mentioned above- and you clearly wouldn’t want your HF to see that.
Of course I would have a problem with being in someone’s home when I can’t feel safe when it comes to my phone -I didn’t even have a passcode in mine!- but that’s a different story. I do see why someone would feel really protective about their phone.

HRHM April 17, 2014 at 1:59 pm

My current AP and the three before her all brought their home mobile with them. They all used them with wifi to text and surf. None of them used them as phones, most likely because they didn’t want to spend the money. I am not in the least bit disturbed that they have this extra comm device, nor suspicious about why they want to.
I think to assume that her use is somehow a sign that she is trying to hide stuff from is a tad paranoid.

And, for exap, most the HMs here that have “checked” the phone use are not interested in what she is doing in her free time – we usually check when we know that she is using while working (kids ratted her out, neighbor, other Mom on playground saw her ignoring kids etc) and then she lies when asked.

AussiePair April 17, 2014 at 5:58 pm

I think if there is mutual trust between the host family and au pair then the au pair shouldn’t need to have a second phone. And I think having the use of a second phone for au pairs would be an unnecessary extra cost, and it does kind of show that you could be up to no good (talking about having a second phone that CAN be used as a phone, not just on wifi).

I have an app on my phone which is connected to my host parents and they can track where I am at all times(I do have the option to turn it off, and when we installed the app they made clear that turning it off was completely ok). However I’m about 200% sure that my HF have better things to do with their time than track me. And I feel if I were to turn if off that send suspicious signals, where would I go that I don’t want them to know about? Also, this does go both ways, because I can track them with this app (usually when the kids ask when their parents will be home, I can tell how far away they are)

Patty April 17, 2014 at 7:50 am

Did anyone thinks she could have reserch it out of curiosity? I have to say I’ve done that since in my country this “sugar daddy” thing is not commom so when i first heard the term i went straight to google, and that doesnt mean i was at all curious about it.

The money can be coming from a lot of other places really. I have a friend who had a boyfriend who would give her the most expensives gifts, like a tiffany bracelet on the second date, and now they are happily married.

Also its perfectly possible the money is coming from her country. I receive every month 3 times more then i get from my AP salary as a gift from my parents, and my host mom never ever once questioned where do i get money to shop so much from. Its a trust matter really.

Patty April 17, 2014 at 7:51 am

I wasnt at all interested of doing it. Just curious *****

Host Mom in the City April 17, 2014 at 12:40 pm

I searched on it myself last night since I’d never heard of it before. I hope my husband doesn’t find it and think I’m going to try being a sugar baby ;)

Skny April 17, 2014 at 8:04 pm

I did it myself once before. I did not believe it was real. So one could have found on my search/history at some point (which would be funny from the 34yo mom of 4.

hOstCDmom April 17, 2014 at 8:14 pm

Mom of 4 !! — did you have the baby? Congrats!! :)

German Au-Pair April 17, 2014 at 8:37 pm

You know, there’s a meme out there that says something like “A real friend deletes your browser history when you unexpectedly die” or something like that. SO true. I think we all have things in our browser history that we have google out of curiosity, or just to look up what it even means or just those weird places that the “see also” part of websites and youtube has led us to.

I think this post is fake anyway but even if it’s not, it might not be anything.

Momma Gadget April 17, 2014 at 10:42 am

@ Patty- I am really curious ( not attacking), if your parents can afford to send you that much money per month, why would you choose to be an au pair instead of being an exchange student?

WarmStateMomma April 17, 2014 at 10:53 am

I’m also curious about why some people choose to be APs. Patty – In your case, it doesn’t seem like money or English skills were the reason. What made you take on child care in another country?

Patty April 17, 2014 at 4:59 pm

It all started cause i wanted to do an exchange. I came as a turist 4 times before i came as an au pair and i was on my third turist visa when I got the J-1 (im from Brasil, and there is not difficult to get a visa if u have a wealthy family really). I did considered come as an student but the truth is I wanted to have someone to have my back. I dont know if im able to explain myself here but, as an au pair u create bounds with the family that u just dont in any other way, meaning if i ever needed, being away from my family and friends in brazil, i know my HF would be here for me as im always here for them too. I didnt have to work while here, but i wanted to. So thats why i came as an AP an not a student. And its so worth.

Momma Gadget April 17, 2014 at 5:02 pm

Thanks for the explanation, Patty.
I’m glad to hear it is worth it to you.

WarmStateMomma April 17, 2014 at 5:12 pm

Thanks, Patty! I appreciate that you shared your reasons with us.

FWIW – I considered being an AP myself eons ago. I wanted to live in a particular country and didn’t have the means to do it any other way. Children weren’t related to my career goals, but I would have done my best for the HCs. I suspect my current (wonderful!) AP is in a similar situation. It’s just hard for me to imagine life in the US bring so enticing or exotic when it feels mundane to me. :)

hOstCDmom April 17, 2014 at 11:13 am

Perhaps it is a case of for some girls they may come from wealthy families in countries from which it is difficult to get a visa to the United States? For example, it can be difficult for someone from Moldova or Ukraine to get a US tourist (or other visa); however, while many people in those countries are not in as economically advantageous position as most folks in the USA, there are also a small number of people who are very wealthy, even by USA/W Europe standards. So, perhaps some girls/boys view the AP program as a way to live in the USA for a year, including as a precursor to perhaps studying in the USA in the future.

Host Mom in the City April 17, 2014 at 11:36 am

Off topic, but maybe we could use women and men or young women and men? Sounds more accurate and respectful to me, although I’m probably guilty of it myself.

exaupair April 17, 2014 at 1:08 pm

Calling people “boys” and “girls” is by no means derogatory, I refer to my colleagues “girls” or “boys” even though some of them are well in their 60s, but then again, this may be a cultural thing :-)

Dorsi April 17, 2014 at 1:18 pm

In english, it is considered by many to be derogatory to refer to an adult as a girl or boy. (When calling a black man “boy” it has particularly racist overtones). I have occasionally been referred to as a “girl” in a professional context and it makes me crazy angry (I consider it extremely disrespectful). I think the problem is that APs kind of live in the middle ground between teenager and adult — I know I have referred to them as girls on this website. On reflecting, there are certain APs I have considered “girls” and some “young women”.

exaupair April 17, 2014 at 12:47 pm

I’m originally from Poland, I personally heard of two people who were denied student visa to the US, even though they could afford to cover uni fees and living abroad for as long as they were studying. I was denied tourist visa twice! So, yes, for some people Au Pair year is the easiest way to get into the US.

By the way, I’m baffled with the opinion that only girls from the bottom of the ladder want to become APs, it’s a great way of spending a year out as long as you want to look after kids, that’s why so many young people want to do it!

Angie host mom April 17, 2014 at 1:41 pm

I would not want an au pair who was only becoming an au pair to get into the US.

HRHM April 17, 2014 at 1:53 pm

I think most APs do it because it is an easy, cheap way to tour the US for a year and doesn’t require going to school full time. My 1st, third and fifth (and maybe 6th) all wanted to travel and NOT to work or go to school full time (here or at home). Their parents would have never paid for them to spend a year bumming around the US but several did send additional money while they were here as APs.

Host Mom in the City April 17, 2014 at 12:39 pm

I apologize in advance for singling people out, but I have to admit this thread is making me really uncomfortable about how host parents appear to view au pairs. Calling them boys and girls; insinuating that if they want anything private to themselves, that they must be doing some illegal or inappropriate; saying that none of them are “sophisticated”; judging how they spend their money or implying that they shouldn’t have money or appreciate luxury items; wondering why they’re even au pairs at all if they have other money sources; using clandestine espionage to determine a young adult’s whereabouts when off duty, etc.

Am I over-reading into these things? I certainly hope so. But taken together, they are painting a picture of host parents that basically completely lack respect for an au pair’s autonomy and intelligence. Anyone else feeling this way or that can assure me that I’m reading too much into this thread?

exaupair April 17, 2014 at 12:56 pm

I’m sure it’s not the reality for all Host Parents, for some f them maybe. I’m not talking about any HP posting on this blog. As I see it – host Parents who disrespect their APs and underestimate their intelligence/ class/ sophistication you name it, are the ones, who lack all those features in the first place.

OpinionatedHM April 17, 2014 at 1:05 pm

It’s possible that it has nothing to do with the Au Pair as it is with the age group. Some people think of 18-22 year olds as adults capable of making mature decisions and some people think of them as children who are unsophisticated and require guidance.
Our own government seems to think 18 year olds are mature enough to sign binding legal contracts and die for our country but at the same time an 18 year old can’t be trusted to wisely consume alcohol.

WarmStateMomma April 17, 2014 at 1:20 pm

HMiTC – I still couldn’t tell you why my new AP joined the program but I’d like to know. I wouldn’t spy on her or deny her privacy, but I would ask Patty what her motivation was to see if there is some logical reason that didn’t occur to me.

The boy/girl thing doesn’t bother me that much because that’s how the APs refer to each other, and how a large number of American women (no matter their age) refer to each other. Maybe it’s a context thing.

APs are not all the same and their life skills, street knowledge, sophistication, whatever you want to call it can vary wildly. I don’t think it’s unreasonable or condescending to worry about the more vulnerable APs. HD just asked me this morning to check in with our former AP because the thought of her out in the world on her own is scary.

Momma Gadget April 17, 2014 at 1:22 pm

Honestly the whole topic makes me a bit uncomfortable-
“When Your Au Pair Works a Second Job, As an ‘Escort’”- implies that this is a common occurrence. Although I’m sure there are a percentage of APs who do, the majority of APs I have met have been just very nice guys and girls. ( sorry young men and young women seems cumbersome to me).

My APs friends have done some questionable things- One was partying with Russian Mafiosos every weekend, one was dating much older men from her gym. I was tempted to alert their HPs. It was my assistant who reminded me that young people (I remember way back to my own young adult self) experiment, and do things that parents would not approve of. I try to mind my own business, respect their privacy and give my APs (and my teenager for that matter) the benefit of the doubt.
Unless, some concerning piece of info comes to my attention. Then, I confess, I do turn into a very Nosey Sherlock Holmes, and will dig & dig & dig.

Angie host mom April 17, 2014 at 1:47 pm

I think I can address my piece of this. When I said they aren’t sophisticated, probably what I mean wasn’t clear, and I only meant it in the context of sugar babies. Probably I’m tainted by actually KNOWING sugar babies. They are not people you really want to have in your life….they are knowingly selling themselves to gain the most possible affluence. They are frequently in alliance with drug dealers and become a supply line as well. I guess by sophisticated I meant worldly and untrustworthy and lacking in morals — not a compliment – and that the au pairs I know are much nicer people.

I don’t think they are doing anything illegal if they want to keep things private. But my kids are important to me, and I view my au pairs as I would a visiting adult niece. If I had reason to believe she was hanging out with a scary crowd, I’d try to find out what was going on without causing her angst. We had an au pair who did internet dating. I criminal background checked the guys without telling her. Is this presumptuous? Yes, but it was with her best interest at heart. Some 18-26 year olds are very naive. Some aren’t. The ones who aren’t naive I wouldn’t feel the need to do a background check for. Can I tell the difference? Yes!

Host Mom in the City April 17, 2014 at 2:12 pm

I appreciate your clarification on what you meant by sophistication, but I cannot fathom why you would do a background check behind an au pair’s back on guys your au pair was dating. I think we have a very different approach to host parenting.

Angie host mom April 17, 2014 at 2:19 pm

Maybe we just have had different au pairs. I’ve had several au pairs who have asked me to do the background checks for them and I’ve done them and they’ve been happy to get the results. But I’ve had one who had zero guy sense and no radar for trouble.

Angie host mom April 17, 2014 at 2:19 pm

Oh, and I’ve only done it once.

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

Ok, I guess that makes a lot more sense. Your original post sounded like this would be something you would do for anyone doing internet dating, without telling them.

Patty April 17, 2014 at 6:42 pm

I do think a lot of the host families seem to think most of the au pair came from poor families, to have a chance to enjoy some luxury or something. Even my host mom, who i must say is a really open minded person, got chocled when saw me seeing the pictures of the pent house my parents are buying. She said “im starting to think your parents make more money than i do” and i really got uncomfortable answering it cause she said in a way has if it was a really bad thing, while i dont think that makes any difference in any of our lives lol it was a bit weird. But just as an fyi, some of us dont have to actually work to be in the USA. Some like just really like the “being part of the family” part of the program.

Mimi April 17, 2014 at 6:55 pm

Sometimes I think HPs forget the cultural exchange goes both ways and isn’t just for our kids.

exaupair April 17, 2014 at 7:33 pm

Patty@ I kind of get your point, and maybe I should explain why I got pretty much obsessed with my privacy and keeping boundaries when it comes to HP/AP relationship.

My first Host Family (who I left really quickly) ever was looking for one particular type of APs – the ones who will be worse off than they were, and truly grateful for the opportunity they have been given. Up to this day I can’t come to terms with the fact I didn’t notice some obvious red flags during our skype chats.

Turned out, they could barely afford the AP as such, which is fine – everyone has financial ups and downs. The thing I couldn’t stand was them getting ecstatic whenever they managed to save up 2 quid on something that was well dodgy anyway, and absolutely distasteful comments like “ooooh your shoes/bag/shirt looks sooooo expensive” whenever I bought something that wasn’t hanging in a pound shop for the last decade. I reached the point when I stopped even mentioning I plan to go anywhere to avoid listening to the comments about how bad I manage my money, which happened pretty much anytime I dared to spend more than a fiver on a night out. Not to mention asking how much I reckon my parents could spend in a year which I think was quite rude.

They were used to certain type of mentality/behavior. For instance, they were used to APs who were literally arriving with a pair of jeans and two dresses, so they kept the tradition of buying plenty of old clothes on car boot sales, which they kept in the house for every new AP to use, so they’ve been worn by numerous APs over the years. When I politely declined the bag of worn out, totally not my colour (and way too big!) clothes I was told “no other AP had problems with that, are you always so picky”. The tradition of giving every new AP some clothes to choose from is sweet and it was nice of them to offer, but the comment was unnecessary , especially when I declined in a very polite manner.

I could go on….but instead, bless them, i hope my successor will find something nice for her in that bag!

German Au-Pair April 17, 2014 at 8:55 pm

I was an au pair for almost two years and I do think you’re overreading a bit. I’m in my twenties and still feel weird when someone refers to me as a woman (but do see why that would be different in a strictly work related context. You play a different role in your job). I can be an adult and still refer to my friends as “the girls”. In Germany eventually you stop doing that, but “the other women” is something my mom would say and I think I have at least 10 years to go until then. ;)

I think being sophisticaed also comes both from an age POV and from experience. I probably can count the au pairs I view as sophisticated by MY standards on ten fingers. But my HP were very well educated people, with interests like well educated people have. From their POV none of us was sophisticated I guess.
I’m sure ten years from now I’ll view my current self as much less sophisticated than I do now.

German Au-Pair April 17, 2014 at 9:00 pm

Oh and I too was surprised that someone from such a wealthy background would become an au pair. Not that every au pair is poor but while I know some who are really well off at home, I don’t know anyone who is that well off that her parents could send her that much money every month.
I don’t think that’s offensive and I was actually really interested in learning Patty’s reasons.

Gianna April 18, 2014 at 2:10 pm

Host Mom in the City, I am guessing that what you are picking up on is anxiety that was generated by the OPs concern. All of the posters are people who have opened their home and very often their hearts to a stranger even though he/she is a carefully screened stranger. So I do not think you are reading too much into the post but I do read it a little differently. Speaking for myself, I would not care if an aupair had a separate cell phone or her own laptop but I would be very concerned about the gifts and the time away. I would feel that the aupair’s lifestyle was incompatible with my family values and I would ask for a rematch on that basis alone. I think that perhaps many of us would be surprized by how some of our neighbors and colleagues spend their time and money but I only choose as friends those people with whom I have values in common. I think many of the posters are just re-acting to fear of the stranger. Sometimes that fear is justified ; sometimes not. Just my thoughts

OpinionatedHM April 17, 2014 at 12:57 pm

If we assume this is a true situation, another possible take on this is that she is purchasing these things with the plan to sell them for a profit when she returns home. My in-laws always buy expensive luxury items here and bring them home with them. If she is from a country that adds a high tax to imported goods, or a country where there is not ready access to luxury items, she could conceivably sell the items (even if used) for a profit when she returns home. I agree that she could have been saving her money before arrival with this in mind, or she might even have a “wish list” from friends and family at home and is slowly collecting these things as she finds them.
It is possible that the AP got her own credit card somehow and is running up debt without understanding the consequences. She also might be planning to skip out on the debt.
As far as being out all night and traveling every chance she gets, I would expect this from an Au Pair or anyone that age (I certainly did) and wouldn’t immediately assume inappropriate things are happening.
My first thought about the husband wanting to make a profile to see if au pair is on the site was that he was covering his own tracks and that the husband was the one who was trolling the sugar daddy websites on the laptop. Perhaps the HM should be looking into what the HD is doing in his free time.
If it really is the AuPair who is finding a sugar daddy, then as far as I’m concerned, if it doesn’t interfere with her relationship with my family and her fulfillment of her duties as an AuPair, it’s not my business who she dates.
If she is working as an escort, that’s different as it is a job and violates her Visa and her agreement with me and the agency. if I suspected this of my AP, I would talk with the LCC immediately. I would also have a casual conversation with my AP, maybe mention that other APs have asked about getting jobs on the side to make extra money and talk about why that is not okay. Then I would wait and see if anything changed before taking further action.

TexasHM April 17, 2014 at 1:06 pm

It’s so hard to read tone in this blog (or email, etc). Of the things you mentioned specifically I read some as kidding, some as individual experience (aka – I have not had an AP this sophisticated), the boys/girls thing doesn’t bother me because at that age I was called a girl all the time so I don’t associate that to be a negative term or association with maturity. I think APs can have a taste for expensive things like anyone else, I don’t think being an AP says anything about their background/class/etc and so much varies even within the countries, plus I try not to stereotype as a whole anyway. :). I think in this instance some were taken out of context, some were unfair or based on limited experience and some were personal opinion. I was called out above for being aggressive which was not at all my intent, so I try to read these and give contributors the benefit of the doubt and maximum grace. I know sophisticated APs, ask my AP if she wants to go out with me on “girls night”, and I don’t snoop or agree with it and there are definitely smart APs.

Host Mom in the City April 17, 2014 at 2:07 pm

That could be what’s going on. I do understand that tone is hard to read on websites and context matters completely. And again, I apologize for calling anyone out specifically and for misrepresenting anything anyone said. And for calling you aggressive, TexasHM. I think with that I was reacting to your statement that you hate when au pairs give visa advice because they are never right – it read insulting to me.
I still feel, though, that if I were an au pair reading back through this post, I would feel very disrespected.

On the girl/boy thing – I too go on “girls nights” and such and it took me a long time to refer to myself as a woman. But I don’t want a girl taking on the full-time job of watching my kids. I want a young adult. I guess it just goes to my perception of my au pair – as a young adult who can handle the challenges of being an au pair rather than a girl who will need my hand-holding and parenting throughout the year.

hOstCDmom April 17, 2014 at 2:43 pm

@HMitC –
I know my post above prompted the girls/boys comment, although you were probably also referring to it more broadly as the terms are used on this blog. To clarify, my use of the term is largely mirroring what my agency, and the APs in my group do (granted the APs are almost exclusively non-native English speakers) and not intended to be a larger social or gender commentary.

We have had female and male au pairs. In practice, I use “girl” and “male au pair” — because the term “boy” , when spoken, seems too juvenile, whereas “girl”, in practice, encompasses a wider and older age range (we can debate whether it should, but I think most would agree that in practice that term is used more for 18-22 year old females, but “boy” is not used for this age range, and as Momma Gadget did above “guy” is used when “man” seems awkward for this age range. We also use “bro-pair” ( along with male au pair) to refer to our male au pairs, again, because “boy au pair” seems odd. I rarely had to specify or denote that our female au pairs were female, probably because that is the default association with the term “au pair”, albeit incorrect.

My own current, male, bro-pair (fluent in English, but a non-native speaker), even said that he finds it weird if people refer to him as a man au pair, or the question “how many men are in the cluster” etc. He prefers “boy” or “male” or “bro-pair” .Our LCC uses “boy” seemingly exclusively, as does everyone at the agency we use. Not saying this is correct, but it has been my experience and I probably have partially adopted the term in this context due to that.

But, back to my original comment that sparked HMitC to comment on the boy/girl thing, as someone who spent most of my young adult life living in countries in CEE from which it is extremely difficult to get a visa to the USA (tourist, student or otherwise), I was trying to make the point that exaupair made – that for some, the au pair program is one reasonable way to achieve a goal of coming to the USA, living and working in the USA, (and hopefully because one wants to do childcare!) but not necessarily because the au pair program offers “economic opportunity”. For some au pairs from less developed countries, it DOES represent “economic opportunity” (and one of our APs sent at least 50% of her stipend home each month) but for others, even from the same country, it represents another kind of opportunity, which, to my mind, is still very much in keeping with the spirit of the AP program — cross cultural exchange, not necessarily cross economic exchange.

Host Mom in the City April 17, 2014 at 3:19 pm

I agree, hOstCDmom, and appreciate you explaining further the nuances of those words. I think I was wrapped up in a number of things that were said on this thread and then to cap it off by calling them boys and girls put me over the edge :) lol

HRHM April 17, 2014 at 3:43 pm

I’d agree that economic opportunity was really only a reason for one of our APs (Bosnian) The rest came from middle class or higher families and it was more about social opportunity.

TexasHM April 17, 2014 at 3:42 pm

Understood. In fairness though I said I can’t stand it (personal peeve) when APs share visa advice (because I have seem the harm that results to HFs and APs) and I said I (personally) hadn’t met an AP yet that understood the complexities of the visa requirements. Not saying they don’t exist, or that APs are never right, just saying that in my personal experience this has been an issue locally and I don’t want an AP to read this and think if she doesn’t want to watch kids anymore she can “easily” flip to a tourist or any other kind of visa. I think it sends the wrong message and a dangerous one so yes, I do get passionate about that but will be more clear on my intent in the future! :). I think it’s discussions like this right now that make this blog special. Mutual respect, the ability to share conflicting opinions in a rational manner and agree to disagree. I’m glad you posted this because you’re right, we don’t want APs getting the wrong idea or anyone else for that matter.

Host Mom in the City April 17, 2014 at 4:06 pm

Thanks, TexasHM – I appreciate this clarification and agree that I don’t want anyone thinking visa switches are easy.

Angie host mom April 17, 2014 at 2:29 pm

for the record, thinking I’ve gotten way off tangent in some of my posts here, we’ve had many au pairs and never had a real problem or had to rematch.

I have a lot of respect for au pairs, any attempts to classify them is very difficult as they are all individuals – but honestly, in almost every case, every au pair I’ve met is committed to being kind to the host family children. They vary greatly in every other respect, but I have also never met a totally amoral or immoral au pair – I’ve met a lot of immature ones – but never an evil one.

In general my au pairs over-share with me, more than I want to know about their personal lives! I have snooped by doing a background check on a boyfriend, and by showing up at home unexpectedly. Once I called an au pair’s older sister – only once – and only with extreme concern. I disclosed this to the au pair shortly after the call.

Angie host mom April 17, 2014 at 3:15 pm

Here’s a snooping question. When a valuable piece of jewelry goes missing when au pair has a friend over for the night that she has only met recently, should HP tell AP at breakfast that she wants to check the guest room in case it was inadvertently left there – should she tell the guest the same thing – or should she not check the room at all until after the guest leaves the next day – or should she just look while they are eating breakfast under the guise of grabbing the sheets to wash?

It happened to us, I just talked to the AP and she told me she didn’t know the guest well and would check so I didn’t have to. The jewelry magically reappeared where it had been left.

WarmStateMomma April 17, 2014 at 3:30 pm

It’s not snooping if there’s no right to privacy – like in a guest room when the guest is not changing, sleeping, etc. I’d hesitate before checking the friend’s purse or the AP’s room, though.

HRHM April 17, 2014 at 3:50 pm

I actually had my diamond earrings, pearl earrings and diamond wedding set disappear from my dresser drawer. We immediately (on discovering the loss) talked with AP about it who swore up and down that her friends would never had had an opportunity to steal as they were never left alone. I KNOW that isn’t possibly true since they were often in our house when we were at work and I’m pretty sure she went to the bathroom and probably even showered while they were in our house alone. In addition, her brother had stayed with us the week prior from home and she left him home alone while she dropped off the kids at school and activities. I now keep my jewelry in a safe at all times. That, and our new house has security cameras that record our bedroom door from the outside. Wish I’d had that last year!

If I had found out as soon as it happened, I would have torn the house apart in front of both AP and friend until it was found. It’s not the first time I’ve had an AP steal from me, so my threshold is lower than most.

Host Mom in the City April 17, 2014 at 4:06 pm

Ugh, that’s heart-breaking. We are a very open host family and basically leave our stuff all over the place. Never had an issue, but it’s crossed my mind that we need to be more careful. I know our current au pair well enough to know that she would be absolutely mortified if something went missing on behalf of one of her friends, so I really and truly don’t think we’d have this issue. But something to consider for the future, I suppose.

HRHM April 18, 2014 at 12:18 pm

Yeah, DH always says I’m way too trusting, but I honestly felt like my stuff was safe in my own dresser drawer. Obviously I was wrong. And I don’t ever wear my jewelry, so it was at least a week or two since I had been in that drawer and it could have happened any time during that period of time. Since we didn’t have a break in, house guests (other than APs brother) or workers in the house during that time, that only leaves AP, her friends or her brother. She was never a great AP but I fairly well trusted her up to that point. (knew she was drinking and smoking in her off time but let it go – probably won’t ignore this type of lying issues in the future) Recently she asked DH if she and a friend could stay in his apartment when she came to visit the US this summer. Um, no…

Angie host mom April 17, 2014 at 4:30 pm

How miserable! We were very lucky, I noticed the absence immediately only because I had left it out on my office desk the night before (too lazy to put it in the safe) and went to put it away in the safe in the morning. If it had disappeared from a drawer (where I do keep some jewelry) I wouldn’t have noticed.

Should be working April 17, 2014 at 5:40 pm

Angie, does this mean that the AP’s friend gave it to the AP to replace the object, or that the AP had it herself and replaced it??

Angie host mom April 17, 2014 at 5:59 pm

I don’t know. I’m assuming that AP’s friend gave it back after AP confronted her – but I never asked and she never told. Nothing else went missing.

Mimi April 17, 2014 at 6:00 pm

There is such a fine line between snooping and the right to privacy that I think this topic has touched on in so many ways. It’s also funny that the previous time snooping came up here, so did prostitution.

We are very upfront about when/how often we might enter our AP’s room. We empty all household garbage weekly and periodically have maintenance things to do (checking smoke detectors, putting in A/C unit, etc.). We give advanced notice (with the exception of the HD’s weekly garbage run which is so regular you could set your watch to it). Our kids are often in the AP’s room during the day (her choice) and I remind her that she needs to keep personal items tucked away out of little hands.

I will on occasion visit her when she’s off duty to ask about weekend plans or something we forgot about at dinner (or sometimes to follow up on something that needed a private convo out of the way of prying ears). If I see something out of sorts (food/dirty dishes laying about, spilled nail polish, whatever) I address it right then and there.

Overall, we are pretty permissive HPs. The few rules we have are pretty hard and fast for clearly explained reasons. It’s important for me to trust my AP and for her to trust us, so I don’t snoop. We want to acknowledge them as adults and treat them as such with a little guidance when necessary. I think we have more of a familial relationship with ours as a result.

But if something were setting off my spidey sense, I would need to address it. Best case scenario, I’m overreacting or there’s a reasonable explanation. Worst case scenario, something bad happens to her and that’s not something I could face her parents with. If this were my daughter, I’d prefer someone to err on the side of caution and have a conversation, because as I’ve said before, even the best APs will sometimes do not-so-brilliant things.

Momma Gadget April 17, 2014 at 6:16 pm

Great post.

OpinionatedHM April 17, 2014 at 8:45 pm


Should be working April 18, 2014 at 2:53 pm

This is going off-topic into controversial territory, but I second HRHM on the surprise at some of the judginess here. Selling one’s body for sex is to me a sad choice, but not an immoral one. We all sell our labor and our time in different ways and some marriages involve an implicit trade of sex for security, stability, etc. I wouldn’t want an AP who is a prostitute or a sugar baby on the side, but I could understand what might drive some young women to make those sad choices.

CAAP April 19, 2014 at 12:54 am

Wow! What an interesting but strange situation to be in.
I am an AP, have been in America for 2 months so far and can honestly say that I did come with a bit of money saved before I came as I didn’t want to have to rely on $200 a week and I wanted to make the most of my experience here. I have been to LA and San Francisco so far, admit I have went a little crazy at Sephora, Macy’s, VS etc, did buy a Tiffanys bracelet while I was in New York for orientation and I love fashion, shoes, bags, make up in general but this in no way means that I could or would ever accept gifts or cash in exchange for being a “sugar baby”. I am a non judgmental person and if a female wants or needs to do that then that is their decision as long as they are safe however it would not be for me for many reasons!

I say this because I have at least ten months left here and I plan to make many trips when holidays or days off allow around the US and hopefully even a trip to Mexico and Canada. I most likely will buy shoes, bags and clothes along the way and make the most out of this amazing experience and if my HP thought I was prostituting to pay for my trips and shopping I would genuinely be mortified and upset.

I agree that she could of been googling because she was interested and curious, I have certainly googled my fair share of “weird” things..for example the other night I watched a documentary in my room on a man who was having gender reassignment. Curiosity got the better of me and I did google out of interest to see what before and after pictures looked like from surgeries like this. Now if my HM had looked at my history and seen that would she then jump to the conclusion that I wanted to have surgery to become a man?! I would hope not!

I see how there is compelling ‘evidence’ here that may strongly point in one direction but you have to ask yourself that if she was doing what you suspect would you be okay with her watching your children? Have you possibly thought about following her or asking her where she is going on the nights she goes out, for example if she says she’s going to XXX for dinner could you then swing by and see if she is there? I know this may be inconvenient or too sneaky but if you can’t think of a way to confirm your suspicions and aren’t going to be forward and ask her then I do think you are within your rights to do some detective work.

If she is from the UK then it is very possible she did save money from before she came and just enjoys nice things. There is nothing wrong with that and when younger girls don’t have responsibilities (children, husbands, mortgages, bills, etc..) they tend to splurge and spend their money on frivolous things. It’s not really that ominous.

Au pair advice in GA April 25, 2014 at 2:46 pm

If this is true there are so many things wrong with the situation even if she is an escort or has rich boyfriend.
It is just illegal period – for obvious reasons if she is prostituting but for the mere fact that AP are not to work outside of their HF home!
If it is just a dating website – I always say not inappropriate websites from dating to pornography – these are safety and judgement issues and anything that can give out the identity of a HF home is inappropriate! Even if this AP is the the Best Rock Star AP it sounds like poor judgement and recklessness – do you want someone with those traits taken care of your kiddos?

JenNC April 27, 2014 at 8:26 pm

Wow is all I can say, there seems to be condemning evidence, however without true proof it is up to the HF as to continue with the aupair, if they don’t trust and are concerned about situation then best to discuss and rematch if needed, trust issues can really harm and affect the HF and aupair relationship….saying if this is even a true situation. With that said, my first aupair had a very well paying job in her home country and saved a lot of money so she could have a lot of great experiences in the USA, she traveled to New York, to Las Vegas, Chicago etc, so u can’t just assume someone is paying there way if they go on trips or buy things, as stated some “girls” used lightly, do have family money but want the security of a family in the US and they choose to be an aupair, neither of my aupairs have careers in “child care” but they are both educated and intelligent women… I do advise them about safety but I can’t be with them all the time, they are women and have to make adult choices on their own. So unless their are real danger signs, you can’t jump to conclusions on just these things, I also told my aupair to bring her cellphone from home, so she has hers from home and the one we provide, it’s a non issue. Trust is very important, if you feel yu need to snoop and investigate then obviously there are deeper issues going on int he relationship and I personally don’t want an aupair I don’t feel I can trust and she shouldn’t want a host family who doesn’t trust her either…. Not good things…..jen

Anon for this one May 5, 2014 at 11:25 am

In the past I had a South American Au Piar who I believed tried it at least. Gone weekends and retuned home and dropped off right in front of the house by different men all the time for about a month. About the same time this was happening she brought over one of her Au Pair friends. She was the most beautiful woman I had ever seen, said nothing, no eye contact, like she was hiding something…. expensive clothes and the mature way she comported herself…just way too beautiful, complex and mature to be only an Au Pair. Au Pair did over stay her visa for awhile…she told had a baby sitting job. We remained in contact however we never got any detail on her new baby sitting job and we were never contacted for a reference.

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