Au Pairs and Modesty: A Challenge of Cultural Fit

by cv harquail on September 29, 2015

2126272453_e3d3d4fa7a_mI had just come back from dropping my kid off at school. As I climbed out of my car, my neighbor walked by on the way to the park with my favorite golden retriever.

I was compelled to run down the driveway and get a cuddle from that darn dog. It was only when I scooped the dog into my arms that I realized:

I was still in my pajamas.

Have I no sense of modesty? Of propriety?

I think of this as the ‘Work From Home Mom’s Walk of Shame”. That stretch from the car to the front door, where anyone can see I’m in my owl & unicorn drawstring pants from Target. What else can I do, when she needs to be at practice at 6:30 AM!

In truth, although I’m a little embarrassed, it’s no longer a tragedy for me to be seen in my pajamas by an adult other than a family member.  That’s what having Au Pairs will do for you.

Not everyone feels the same way. I know moms that won’t pull into the car line without full makeup. We all have different standards for what’s “too naked”.

And there lies a subtle question of Au Pair- Host Parent fit: What’s modest enough?

As this mom describes is:

Culturally and through my family experience “modesty” hasn’t been a subject of concern for me or our family. Apparently, the German thinking is different than the rest of the world.  Who knew :-).

So to my question…my personal preference is to find an au pair that is more similar to my way of thinking. I’d like an Au Pair who feels comfortable with our family’s level of occasional nakedness.

I certainly would not ever think of us as nudist by any means. But a little bit of undressed-ness also never bothered any of us (we have two kids boy/girl and Host Dad was raised similar in culture).

We’ve been to camping sites where clothing was optional, to some family ‘nude’ beaches here in the States. At home we occasionally have some nakedness from getting in and out of the shower (one after another), with changing clothes, swimming in lakes, etc.

After getting online I see that this comfort with a little nakedness is not really standard for all families. (Honestly, this seems just as strange to me (but I get it, we are all different)).

Bringing an au pair in the equation means we might have to rethink our behavior, but I don’t want to change our own family’s comfort level too much.

What cultures differences have other host families experienced regarding this?

I know we need to be more aware of this subject, so please share your thoughts without judgement, au pairs and moms alike. Thanks!

See also:  Is it Cultural, Generational, or just Me?
What to Wear? asks the Au Pair
My Au Pair Dresses Like a Tramp. Help!




Image: Adam Klemann on Flickr


Multitasking Host Mom September 29, 2015 at 10:53 am

The fact that my husband no longer feels comfortable walking around the house in his underwear, is the one thing that he still brings up as the down side to hosting au pairs for the last four years. (Otherwise, he agrees with me that it is a great child care choice for our family at this time.)
OP, once again this is just a place where communication is very important. And remembering that cultural issues do come into play here. Also understand that you might have to be open to making slight changes. All of our au pairs have dressed in much more revealing outfits than I personally would feel comfortable wearing, but for the most part I let it go, because there are other issues I feel are more important…like providing good care for my children.
The one thing I do insist on is a modest bathing suit when they are with my children. This is for practical reason since my children tend to tug on people when they are in the pool, and I do not want any wardrobe malfunctions. I have learned to be very specific with examples of what I mean after I learned that just saying modest bathing suit meant bandeau top bikini to one au pair because, well, everything was covered right? Um, no.
Obviously, I might be at the other end of the spectrum from the OP, but I think the same need for communication applies. Simply explain it like you did here. (I would think this conversation would be best in the later stages of matching, maybe in the last conversation before you both agree to the match.) Also, focusing on au pairs who also grew up with this type of culture…aren’t there a few countries in Europe when nude or at least topless beaches are more acceptable?…will up your chance of getting an au pair who is comfortable with your family’s level of nudity.

Host Mom in the City October 6, 2015 at 11:27 am

haha – this is the thing my husband hates most about having an au pair too. Our last au pair left last week and he’s been parading around in his underwear in celebration!!

We’re not a covered up family and don’t care a bit what kind of bathing suit our au pair wears, but at the same time, we cover up more at home than we would otherwise, just because we don’t want our au pair to be uncomfortable. Back when I was breastfeeding, I didn’t cover that up, nor did I say anything to candidates about it. There was no chance I was going to use that stupid baby cover thing while sitting on my own couch for hours a day. Neither of my Germans who were with us at the time appeared to notice or care a bit. I am frequently in my PJs, braless, at home and so were all my au pairs.

Honestly, I think Americans are probably considerably more uptight about all this than many other cultures. Be clear about it while matching – but not like skeevy clear, I don’t know. Maybe it would be best just to read about cultural differences on this topic, choose the country based on that, and then try to strike a balance between being comfortable and considerate? Nothing you describe sounds like you’re lounging around at home naked. Just normal quick nakedness – and many of your examples the au pair wouldn’t ever be around for anyway.

calihostmom September 29, 2015 at 11:55 am

I think you need to be really clear with your prospective au pairs beforehand. Otherwise, the misunderstanding aspect could be very traumatic and uncomfortable for someone from a more conservative culture (and with the imbalance of power they may not feel comfortable talking about it after they’re in the household). We keep everything covered up around our au pair and expect her to do the same, although her “going out” and even church outfits seem pretty revealing to us, there is still a basic level of modesty that works for our family. With regard to swimming, I bought her a $25 swim shirt and asked her to wear it if she’s swimming with our child (which it turns out she doesn’t do, so it’s not an issue). We also made one of her welcome gifts a bathrobe for wearing between her bathroom and bedroom (it’s not en suite).

momo4 September 29, 2015 at 12:38 pm

I’ve always thought we were a pretty middle-of-the-road sort of family where modesty is concerned, but I may be quite worng about that :).

My husband will not walk around the house in his boxers, he always makes sure he has on at least a T-shirt and pants because he doesn’t want to make our AP feel uncomfortable. I’m less modest since I’ve breast fed all 4 of my children while APs were around so I always seem to have one beast or the other exposed and it never seems to bother anyone. That said, if I had a male AP I would be concerned that it might make him uncomfortable, which is part of why I’ve only ever hosted female APs so far. My kids range in age fron 1-10 and neither may husband nor I mind if our kids see us naked after a shower or when we’re changing clothes, or if they run around the house naked themselves. We don’t do nudity in public though.

Eight of our 9 APs have been from EU countries (3 Germany, 3 Denmark, 1 Sweden, 1 GB) and one was from Thailand. All have been female and modesty has never been an issue that I know of. None of them walked around without clothes or dressed in a way I felt was inappropriate, but I admit I’m pretty relaxed about it generally.

When I was an exchange student in Germany in the early 90s I was struck by how much more accepting the Germans I met were about the naked human body compared with the Americans I grew up around (in the northeast). It was not uncommon for you people to unselfconsciously strip down to their (white, see-through when wet) underwear for unplanned swims in the lake, something that would have caused a great deal of embarassment among people I knew back home.

I think you should be able to find an AP who is comfortable with your level of exposure, but I agree that you will need to be sure to have some very candid discussions with potential APs before matching becasue there will definitely be APs that will not be comfortable at all with nude host parents.

Former Au pair September 29, 2015 at 12:56 pm

From my experience, being an Au pair in the US and coming from one of the Nordic countries in Europe. I must say that you Americans are soo shy when it comes to nudity! My goodness, even the children have to be covered up! To me that’s really strange. I know it varies of course, but overall you are much more afraid of nudity in America than most of Europe. Just be honest with the Au pair and it will probably not be a problem at all. :)

AuPair-Paris September 29, 2015 at 2:11 pm

Euuuugh. Ok, so I have no issue with wandering round the house naked (would probs find it a bit weird if my bosses did though – and it’s their house!). As an AP, I have accepted that I cannot do this, but it can be such a difficult transition. Like, especially on hot nights. Waking up at 3am and needing to go to the loo, and being still blurry, and stumbling out into the hallway and opening the unlocked toilet door and… Yeah. My host-dad and I have never, ever, ever mentioned that mutual horror, and I feel absolutely hideous for it. SO AWKWARD.

The hard thing for HFs is… It’s their house. They should be able to wander around naked if they want, especially in that kind of situation where no one’s there. But they should equally warn their prospective au pairs that it’s like that. The problem is that any even slightly vague wording can be a huuuge red flag. I think you’d have to be really specific in terms of “I am a breast-feeding mother, and sometimes my husband wanders around in his underwear. We understand that people have differing ideas about modesty, so we feel it’s important to share that up front. That said, we’re not nudists or anything!” Because imagine: “we are open about our bodies, and don’t have any hang ups – we are looking for an au pair with an equally open-mind”; TERRIFYING.

So… Yeah. Specificity is all I can think of. And please don’t judge me for the above story. If I were fully awake I’d NEVER have done it, and I know it was inappropriate… Just didn’t think.

WarmStateMomma September 30, 2015 at 2:27 pm

You made me spurt coffee all over my computer! I can just imagine the averted eyes at breakfast the next morning. And totally agreed on the specificity to avoid letting the AP’s imagine fill in the gaps.

AuPair Paris September 30, 2015 at 3:04 pm

Thank God I hadn’t put my glasses on, is all I can say..!

Mimi September 29, 2015 at 4:26 pm

We are also a family that had this issue, although my family is more open about it than HD’s. We aren’t a nude beach/campground group, though, and I don’t think there are even any in rural NE anyway. We’ve never had any conversations with AP about immodesty and never had any issues. We have had a few wardrobe malfunctions with bikini tops but it’s not a big deal to us. We also provide robes for our APs as they trek the full length of the hall to the bathroom, but it’s more about warmth in a drafty old Victorian and being able to hang wet towels in the bathroom/not leave them on furniture and the floor.

Like momo4, I’ve had the breast out though most of our APs and we’ve had pool changing where female nudity hasn’t been an issue but HD stays much more covered up than he used to given some of the horror stories he’s heard. He did have a midnight encounter in the hallway once in his skivvies when a child was up and the AP was coming in from a night out. He was mortified and asked me to apologize on his behalf and she just chuckled. (AuPair Paris I walked in on a friend’s dad when I was 11 during a sleepover so I feel your pain!)

We’ve had our neighbor complain about the kids running around in the yard/kiddie pool naked one summer (while the AP was watching them). The AP was upset that the neighbor had rudely confronted her about it, but we assured her that it wasn’t an issue for us and we ignored the neighbor until she made such an issue of it that we moved the pool to where she couldn’t see it just to shut her up. I too find most Americans very hung up on casual nudity (in an appropriate context) and don’t get me started on trying to (discreetly) breastfeed anywhere out in public without some kind of negative feedback. (!!!!!)

Our 6 y/o twins do quite a bit of running around naked on bath nights but AP is not directly involved and it never has seemed to be an issue. The 11 y/o is very body conscious right now (puberty) so more restrained and covered up. The 14 m/o is all about running around naked as much as possible. We call this ‘nakey baby!’ (which we exclaim in mock horror!) and it’s a source of much hilarity. If the AP had an issue with any of this, we could try to tone it down, but I don’t think most of what we do is out of step with most APs would expect at home.

Taking a Computer Lunch September 29, 2015 at 7:34 pm

Ah skin. There are parts of me that I just don’t want sunburned, or I’d be naked outside more often. We have a swimming pool in our back garden, and on hot summer nights I like to slip in naked (but have to turn all of the lights off so neighbors won’t see me!) DH and I have been known to go downstairs to check on the The Camel in the middle of the night, and fortunately have never surprised a late-returning AP. I’ve had an AP run upstairs on a rare morning that I’m having a lay-in – either to print something out or fetch a laundry basket – that means a quick sheet pull-up to avoid embarrassment. That being said, I do wear clothes around the house.

Child #2 preferred to swim naked until he was 9 (and as we discovered later, he has a horrible latex allergy which means most commercial bathing suits cause a rash, so it was just as well). All of our APs and neighbors were okay about it, but a neighbor’s teenage niece, who had never seen a penis in her life, yelled at him.

As for AP clothing – I don’t care what my AP’s wear, as long as they are prepared to do anything with a child. Want to wear a skimpy bathing suit? Fine, but there might be consequences (we have a private pool, so I understand our tolerance is greater than most). In fact, the LCC for AP #1 made a comment about her clothing, so I shot off a quick email which extolled the virtues of said AP and told her not to denigrate her or what she wore. Another HF expressed dismay about disco clothing, and I responded similarly. My basic feeling is that as long as an AP does her job well, and her private life doesn’t impinge on mine, then I have no need to make a comment.

Would I lead a clothing optional lifestyle in front of an AP? Probably not. Just my personal boundaries with someone who is vaguely a family member but is mostly an employee.

FirstTimeHM September 30, 2015 at 1:54 am

In most European countries breastfeeding mothers wouldn’t even have to cover up everything in public. I know I haven’t bothered with blankets and stuff. When I needed to feed one of the babies I simply did, though I preferred a quiet corner and my back turned to most of the other people. The baby’s head’s in front of pretty much everything anyway. I haven’t had an adverse reaction anywhere. Ok, I have had one remark of a grossed out 14 yo that was immediately told off by her parents.

Most au pairs have never seen a breastfeeding mom, but that doesn’t mean they can’t get used to it. It’s probably just the initial shock.

New to This October 1, 2015 at 1:47 pm

This is pretty much what I do in the US, and I’ve not encountered any obvious negative reactions. I live in a very liberal area, and there’s probably also some luck involved, but I think norms are changing a lot, too — probably nobody had it this good, even around here, ten or twenty years ago…

Rural Host mom September 30, 2015 at 6:13 am

When I saw the headline, I thought the inquiry was going to go the other way! ( I’d use a vague indicator in your initial letter/profile (progressive?) and then maybe mention it during round 3 or something. I bought a light robe for our AP since we all share the hall bath and we live in a cold state, but she sees me walk around in a towel chasing after my kids.

DCBurbTwinMomma September 30, 2015 at 7:19 am

My au pairs have been known to wear strips of cloth bikinis for swimming and their club gear is slightly more. I have come down to breakfast with one wearing what I consider more lingerie than PJs. We just explained what is comfortable for all members of the house. My husband thinks he came off as a Puritan (which he isn’t by far) but he did not want to see so much of someone who he views as a niece.

Please just be clear. There is nothing wrong with your lifestyle and trying to find an au pair who shares your thinking. However, key words can get lost in translation. Progressive can be everything from feminism to environmentalism. I personally would not understand that to mean “occasional clothing optional.” I think you explained yourself well in your post. Say that. I’ve been surprised that my use of “liberal / casual” household was misunderstood when I found myself with a conservative who was horrified with my activism. I agreed to not make her home feel uncomfortable with signs and stickers and a bit more private that year because she shouldn’t feel conflicted over non-childcare issues. I didn’t make that mistake again. My family profile is clear in what we expose our children to politically/issue based and what we hope to teach them. We have been successful in finding au pairs who are just as passionate about aligned issues in their home countries.

Good luck.

AuPair Paris September 30, 2015 at 7:56 am

As an extreme-lefty, I was all set to be like “but why should you hide your activism?!” – but then I remembered a friend who was asked to drop the kids off at an anti-vax rally to meet their parents. She did it, but I remember her saying she felt like she was being forced to participate in “celebrating child-death via preventable disease”. Now *that* stance isn’t one I’d expect to have brought up in a pre-hiring scenario – and yet I’d feel stressed and worried if I were looking after kids who I knew weren’t vaccinated. It’s so weird the things one doesn’t think of. Do you have to warn for *everything* in the end?!

DCBurbTwinMomma September 30, 2015 at 12:56 pm

About vax: we do require that the au pair get all vaccinations and go with us to the twins’ vax appointments. This is expressed in the initial interview. That has weeded out some mismatches for us. Our past omission led us to focus on not having the au pair have to go to rallies *on duty* that made her feel very uncomfortable. (e.g. Support rally for the only late term abortion clinic in the area). We did not stop being who we are, but during her work hours we limited her forced participation. I’ve had a client take the entire legal team to a strip club to celebrate a court victory. Usually I wouldn’t care but the stripper and I were the only women in this private room and it was more than the usual. My large law firm was getting paid well for this ongoing client’s litigation. I was not pleased and remembered that feeling. I didn’t want my au pair to feel that same angst. Now, the au pair and I are aligned in politics and she asks me if the girls can wear their pink to a local rally for a certain organization.

Regardless what the issue is: occasional situational nudity, politics, religion, medical philosophies… Communication will save the day.

WarmStateMomma September 30, 2015 at 2:23 pm

My AP said in China, the schools vaccinate kids and often don’t tell the parents until afterward, if at all. Can you imagine?!?!

Old China Hand September 30, 2015 at 5:41 pm

On the other hand, it is known and understood and people don’t have to worry about it. I see some benefits. I mean, you should tell the parents, but getting vaccines at school is convenient. We do flu shot clinics for college students, faculty, and staff here. I sent the ap the day I went and they vaccinated her too.

QuirkyMom September 30, 2015 at 11:52 am

I grew up with parents walking around the house naked, and I don’t mind being naked in front of my kids (they react in horror however — or laughingly grab my “tummy blubber” — so those days are pretty much over. I really wouldn’t subject an AP to it though no matter what culture she’s from. To me this is where an AP is less part of the family and more of an employee — I wouldn’t go to a nude beach for a company picnic, either. I think of my house as a workplace and would want the same rules followed there in terms of not creating a potentially harassing environment. I think that, as an employee, an AP may be less comfortable with around-the-house nakedness and feel less able to say something about it — even if it had been discussed in the screening process, the reality of it might feel a lot more squicky and uncomfortable.

I am not nursing any more but nursed my kids each to at least 2.5 years so have no problems with the inevitable boob flash, mine or anyone else’s, that the distracted toddler nurser will cause (which is preferable to playing Inspector Gadget with go-go-gadget-extendo-nipples). I think young kid nakedness is also distinguishable whether in the context of bathing, swimming pools, or general objections to clothing from the nursery school crowd.

But I think it’s entirely reasonable for my husband and me to change our behavior for our AP, even at home. It’s not that big a deal for me to throw a robe or a towel on between my bathroom and my bedroom. I’d rather make that a habit than risk my AP being uncomfortable but not feeling like she can complain.

WarmStateMomma September 30, 2015 at 2:21 pm

The OP could do a search for which countries have all nude or topless beaches (there are a lot!). Those APs are less likely to feel uncomfortable with her family.

Here’s our experience, if this helps to gauge what other families do:

We cover up more when the AP is home than when she is out of the house. We find this to be one of the biggest hassles of having an AP but the alternative – making the AP feel uncomfortable where she works and lives – feels unfair. None of our 3 APs have left their rooms wearing anything less than they’d wear outside the house, so we assume they would feel uncomfortable with the HPs in some state of undress (although we regularly wear pajamas of the t-shirt and baggy pants variety around the house). I have been less-dressed in front of AP#2 because I was post-op from a C-section and had complications, but that’s a different scenario from ongoing nudity.

So this means our door is often closed with kids giggling in our room – excluding the AP – because one or both of us is undressed. The exclusion feels awkward but probably not as awkward as having the AP see more of the HPs than she’d like.

Child nudity is just fine with us and the APs – but my oldest is only 2yo.

If we go to a beach/lake where the changing facilities are bad or non-existent, I try to warn the AP in advance to wear her swimsuit under clothes, pack a dress she can throw on easily and then remove her swimsuit, etc. A heads up before leaving the house avoids a lot of anxiety later.

The neighbors all used to talk about how skimpy AP#1’s clothes were but it was a non-issue for us. Our daughter was 3 months old when the AP arrived and wasn’t going to pick up any lasting messages from the AP’s skimpy clothes. If she were 13, maybe it would feel different but I don’t know how we could reasonably manage it anyway. The AP was very conservative in her behavior and her application photos were taken in the winter and had her covered up.

I never breastfed, but I think it’s reasonable for APs to expect to see that happen openly in the home if there is a baby in the home although it’s probably a good idea to mention up front that you do it openly at home. I felt very uncomfortable the first time I was in the room with someone breastfeeding because it felt like too intimate of an act for me to be there just sipping my coffee. Anytime someone feels surprised by nudity, it’s going to be less comfortable than if they are expecting it.

Old China Hand September 30, 2015 at 5:48 pm

We are careful to be reasonably dressed around the ap, though neither has come out of her room in anything but clothes she would wear out. They shower and get dressed in the bathroom, so no issues there.

Both kids are often naked, but young kids in China wear split pants, so I haven’t ever addressed that. Interestingly, we have had to deal with clothing more in 3 weeks of preschool for the older one because of a dislike of underwear than in 2.5 years of Au pairs. My boy loves to run around naked.

Both Au pairs knew I was nursing when they arrived and were supportive and comfortable with that. But, I don’t often nurse in front of them since both kids only nursed right before bed and first thing in the morning by the time I was back at work.

But, china is reasonably conservative and both aps wanted super conservative swim suits, so it hasn’t been an issue for us.

Seattle Mom October 1, 2015 at 5:41 pm

We are comfortable with nudity as a family, but like OP said we only really do it in passing. We don’t hang out naked, but we will all get dressed in the same room, or go to the bathroom naked in the middle of the night, etc. I consider it equal to being naked in a locker room- it’s just too much of a hassle to avoid and not really worth getting all worked up about.

And we’re pretty relaxed about our kids being naked, if that’s what they want. Yesterday evening I came home to my 4 year old eating dinner in the kitchen fully nude- no big deal, she just took off her leotard after gymnastics and didn’t feel like putting anything else on. Older DD sometimes takes off her pajama bottoms in the morning and hangs out for a while that way, but generally she’s more into being clothed. She used to run around naked when she was 4, but peer pressure.

My parents have a hot tub at their house (outside, potentially in view of neighbors) and I have gone in it naked with my husband and kids. I do not feel comfortable going in there with my parents while naked, or while they are naked (I know they go in naked). My parents actually got into going to clothing optional resorts for a while after I left home. I never saw that coming, but I guess they’ve always had the same attitude towards nudity that I have. Anyway they have moved on from the nude resorts. The ones they went to seemed kind of childish to me.

All of that being said, we are less relaxed about our own (HP) nudity with the AP around. But it’s the same for the kids- in fact my 4 year old routinely walks around outside with no clothes. I figure she’ll learn shame from someone at some point, but it doesn’t have to be from me. I just have no desire for my AP to see me in a state of undress. We haven’t talked about it but I’m pretty sure my husband is the same way. Actually he is always the first one to get dressed in the morning (socks and shoes too)- AP or no AP. He just doesn’t like hanging around in his boxers, it’s never been his thing. I am more likely to linger in pajamas if I know the AP isn’t home… I just don’t feel like being in my pajamas around anyone who is not part of my family. And APs are *like* a member of the family, but they are not actually a member of the family.

WarmStateMomma October 1, 2015 at 6:59 pm

My toddler just had a crazed naked swim session with our wild labra-goats last night. It was so fun to watch her shrieking with excitement! While HD and I aren’t into any public nudity ourselves, I love seeing my kids so happily uninhibited.

Weird thing in my house – my toddler drags her little potties around and arranges them so she can handle business with a view. Like watching contractors or yard crews by using her potty in front of a window (we have privacy films) or using it outside at a scenic overlook on a road trip. I can only imagine the what our AP’s friends and family think life in our home is like….

German Au-Pair October 4, 2015 at 8:00 pm

What a fun topic! Almost missed it because I was on vacation.
Although the comments about APs not leaving their rooms in anything they wouldn’t wear outside make me wonder…I definitely did. My TV was located outside my room so I would wtach in sleep shirt + boxers and I would also go downstairs like that. I eventually just figured that I was going to live there for a while and it would be really annoying not to walk around in sleep wear that covered everything. I know my HD would walk around nude pre-AP.
The comments that said the Op should look for a culture that das nude beaches…I don’t think that helps. I grew up in family that walks around nude in front of each other (even uses the bathroom at the same time of necessary) and our favorite beach spot was right next to the nude beach so in general I don’t have a problem with it.
But if my HP were to walk around naked in front of me, I would have found it super awkwards. With your own family the whole problem about trying not to look is just easier…sometimes someone will make a funny, eye-rolling comment or dramatically avert the eyes or make an obvious effort not to look in a way that’s not awkward. All of that cannot happen with your HP. Even though I totally grew up around occasional nudity (only when walking out of the bathroom though, not hanging out in the nude) this would totally weird me out.

European Au Pair in Finland October 5, 2015 at 4:33 am

I was an au pair in Finland for a year. My first weekend there I went swimming with the family which included (female only) nude saunas and communal dressing rooms with my host mum. Within a few weeks I got used to it and I came home much more comfortable with my body. An unexpected lesson from my year abroad! I remember actually feeling quite pleased with myself when the two girls (pre teens) asked if they could come to the sauna with me at home (where I had the option of privacy if I wanted it) and I realised that I was totally happy about undressing in front of them. I also discovered that the sauna at the local swimming pool was a great place to practice my Finnish, all the old ladies relaxing after their swim where delighted to chat with the English girl. Naked Finnish lessons!

TexasHM October 5, 2015 at 12:29 pm

Totally agreed with these points:
Communication is everything and I mean SPECIFIC examples in this case would go a long way. You need your bases covered should this come up later I would think it would be a pretty easy rematch excuse for the AP. The minute she says she isn’t comfortable in your home because she has seen every inch of DH regardless of the situation I would think LC would be on her way over to your house stat!

Surprise nudity/situations should be avoided if at all possible. I went to the bathroom with my two girls and AP yesterday (single bathroom at a restaurant) and while it was fine, I am not going to lie I hate going to the bathroom in front of other people! We all went in first so AP had the option to wait until we were done but she is very comfortable with us so just piled in without hesitation. I would not have done the reverse however (she goes in first then we pile in). I would have told the girls to wait and we would go next unless AP waved us in and insisted. Net/net – we give the AP privacy and let her dictate the standard in these situations. I had one AP change clothes in front of me all the time and one that I never even saw in pajamas!

Lastly keep in mind that APs are often desperate to live their dream and get to the US and will often agree to all kinds of things in interviewing that I think are unrealistic long term. The balance of power in this scenario is very much in your favor. I bet most APs would never feel like they could ask their HPs to cover up more which means they are in a position of vulnerability so you can’t trust them to bring it up as a concern. DH is constantly aware of his role in our household and is super careful to not find himself in compromising positions. APs usually don’t come in our room and definitely don’t come in our bathroom and DH never walks around in his underwear and he too, complains it is the one downside of the program for him. He is very careful to make sure that the AP would never misunderstand his intentions (I have talked to APs that were worried that HD was hitting on them and the behavior was normal – just a cultural difference misunderstanding). I would think if nudity was involved the odds of misunderstandings happening would likely increase.

I don’t know of any AP of any culture that would be comfortable seeing HD nude. I hear enough complaints about them seeing HDs in boxers or swimsuits (gross!) ;)

Schnitzelpizza October 6, 2015 at 9:31 am

Get a Finn… first thing my finnish friend did when I visited her was turn up the sauna and undress. Right in front of me and my then new boyfriend (now husband). My friend and I went to the sauna first, then my boyfriend and her boyfriend when we were done… meaning her boyfriend, that I had only met half an hour earlier, walked naked through the bathroom that the sauna was attached to when we were showering. Having just recently been on vacation to Iceland, it seems that getting undressed in front of each other or jumping into a hot spring naked isn’t unheard of either.

On the other hand… Germany isn’t usually that prudish? At least not within a family setting. I come from a family where going to the (co-ed) sauna on the weekends was common. I have seen my mom as well as my father and his second wife naked throughout my adolescence – in the sauna, swimming at a lake, in the bathroom, walking from the shower into the bedroom to get dressed. However, my mother would never have gone to the sauna on the same day as my grandfather. Still, I would never have considered Germany overly modest. Especially not after having seen people (like adult women) walking town in seetrough pantyhose and a shirt that barely covered anything. Or cut off shorts that were so short they didn’t leave much to your imagination. Or shirts made of so little fabric it wouldn’t have been enough to blow your nose in.

My host dad was downstairs in his boxers every morning, sometimes wearing only boxers, sometimes wearing boxers, a shirt and a tie. I have seen my hostmom in panties and bra or panties and tshirt or breastfeeding. Now yes, more I would have uncomfortable with in a “professional” setting. Full on nudity from a host parent I would have found… strange? uncomfortable? Skinny dipping okay but running around naked in the house? Without any warning? I don’t know. I have seen my boss in boxers once which he seems to have found normal (business trip, I had a quick question and popped next door in my pjs, I just didn’t expect him to be… quite that undressed) and I found awkward for the first two minutes or so. Until I remembered that his youngest daughter was my age and he’d probably had girls of all ages run through is place in all stated of dress and undress over the last fifty years, seeing he has six children and nine grandchildren. Still, I prefer him being fully clothed when we discuss work and I would have walked away had he opened to door naked.

Mimi October 7, 2015 at 10:31 am

And so this morning I realized I’d left the blouse I wanted to wear to work today in the basement laundry room so I was coming up the basement stairs in my bra, holding my shirt in my hand when the AP opened the door, scaring the crap out of me because she isn’t usually up for another hour at that time. She apologized for startling me and then I finished dressing in the kitchen while she started her breakfast (chatting normally the whole time). She had wanted to get up early to pick my brain about dealing with her ex BF and she knew that mornings were less rushed for me. No comment or notice of my undressed state.

FirstTimeHM October 7, 2015 at 4:57 pm

This could have happened to me as well, and in our (European) culture this wouldn’t have been considered undressed or half naked. This would have been considered nearly completely dressed and in the process of putting on your last garment.
If this is what the OP considers near-nakedness, she won’t have a problem with a (northern-)European AP, we’re not that shy.
Everything that’s in the OP is what I’d consider functional nakedness. Getting in and out of the shower for instance, I usually dress in the bathroom but I get kids busting in and I can’t help if someone catches a glimse of me helping one of them sort out something that couldn’t wait until I come out of the shower. It’s accidental nakedness and I either come out of the bathroom dressed (may be without socks or something like that) or in a dressing gown, or pj’s.
When I was breastfeeding in my own house on my own couch, I really didn’t mind if a bit of breast was visible. I would like my AP to be resilient to that.

My husband misses being able to sit in his boxers and t-shirt at the breakfasttable in the weekend. He’s always quite relieved when the AP is away for the weekend. He thinks that for the AP seeing another female less dressed is different than seeing a male and he doesn’t want her to be uncomfortable.

German Au-Pair October 7, 2015 at 8:14 pm

Honestly, if you don’t have a very shy or prudish AP, I don’t see why shirt and boxers would be a big deal. I couldn’t even say if I’ve seen my HD in those because I couldn’t have cared less. Since it can be assumed that during a one year stay a swimming situation might occur where you would see a lot more of your HP, I don’t see how that could be a problem.
Honestly, boxers AND a shirt wouldn’t be ANY level of undress to me…you wear pants, you wear a shirt = you’re dressed in my book.

Taking a Computer Lunch October 7, 2015 at 9:22 pm

We solve that problem with a pair of soft cotton shorts – worn commando, of course. Since neither DH nor I wear PJs, shorts and a t-shirt seem like fine morning wear, perhaps a degree above boxers and shorts, but hey, if my AP comes up in boxer and a t-shirt (and many have), we don’t blink. Love your body!

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