This particular pair of host parents wins the prize for “Most Invasive Expectations”.
I received an email from an au pair currently working in Europe. She writes:
Hi AuPairMom– I don’t know any other au pairs and so I’m hoping to get some advice from you on this difficult situation.
I have been living with a very affluent European family for almost 5 months. There have been a few bumps in the road but overall they are very nice people and the kids are awesome.
A few things have happened the last week that I am concerned about but am not sure what to do about them.
The more pressing concern is that the host father is a doctor. When I first got here he made me take blood tests to look at my vitamin levels. I didn’t really want to but it didn’t feel like an option.
I have not stopped being sick in some way since living in here in (northern Europe), cold after cold and the flu a couple of times and a really bad stomach bug.
My host father has been giving me b12 injections. I really didn’t want to take the needles but he really pressured me into it and it didn’t feel like an option.
Now he wants me to take all these vitamin supplements (some I don’t even understand what they are).
My own parents don’t believe that I should be taking these supplements and they are concerned about Dr. Host Dad’s views on allergies. (I have anaphylactic allergies to a few things and Dr. Host Dad seems to think he can cure them with his supplements. Of curse, this is medical nonsense).
To make things worse, allergies and vitamins aren’t the focus of his practice; he’s a radiologist.
When I told Dr. Host Dad that I did not want to take his pills, he got so angry that he said that he is going to bill me for everything (thousands of dollars apparently). I was really frustrated with this response. He also got mad at me in front of guests he had at his house, which was very embarrassing.
To top everything off I asked them a few times about their plans for the two weeks the kids have off at Easter. The Host Mother made no indication that I would be coming with them. I offered to work for them during their vacation but she said no, there wasn’t room for me at the vacation house.
She also said that I should have those two weeks off. I mentioned several times that I might travel home to the USA for the two weeks since I wasn’t invited to go with them on their vacation.
The Host Dad said it was stupid for me to go home. He said I should travel Europe. But, since I’ve already traveled while I have been here and have many more plans for the summer, I booked my ticket home.
When I told them my plans, Dr, Host Dad got mad — he claimed he wanted to bring me with them on one of the two weeks. He’d never said anything about that before. He is now very passive aggressive about my trip home.
I don’t know what to do. I feel vulnerable and and very disappointed about his overly controlling behavior.
I don’t know what to do, Please help!! ~ Vulnerable AuPair
Dear Vulnerable AuPair-
The idea that your host dad is requiring you to accept injections of vitamins that you have not be prescribed by your own doctor is a violation of his medical license. More importantly, it is a violation of your autonomy over your own body.
It is completely inappropriate and abusive. Without considering any of the other details, this is grounds for you to depart right away.
This does not seem like a situation where you’ll be able to negotiate your way to being treated with respect.
It’s beyond distressing that your host Dad would ask this of you, and that your Host Mom would agree. They are both failing you. And I can’t imagine they’d ever want someone to treat their children this way. As much as you like the kinds, I think you should leave.
Of course, that’s up to you. Regardless of your decision to stay or go, though, you must speak up for yourself more forcefully.
Use this as a learning situation, and experiment with asserting your rights, telling them what you will and will not do, and making deisions for yourself.
Au Pair years are supposed to be adventures and chances to learn and grow. Seems like
you need to grow stronger in the face of pressures to submit to illegitimate authority.
Readers– what should this vulnerable Au Pair consider?