So let’s jump on in to another awkward topic — If your au pair is having fun, safe overnights, and she just wants to make sure you’re not worried, how should she tell you? Should she even tell you?
I don’t actually want to know if my au pair is having fun. I do want to know that she is being medically safe, that she is being socially safe, and that we can find her if there is an emergency.
Me being me, I have been pretty straightforward in talking to our au pairs about their personal safety. I have said in so many words “I don’t want to know who you’re dating, I just want to know that you are safe, and when to worry.” And I have always brought this up myself with each of our au pairs, rather early in their time with us, so we had a a system established for making sure that we had the ‘just in case’ information,even before it was needed.
A System: (1) Contact phone number, (2) Home tonight yes or no?
Back before cell phones, our au pair would write down the name, address and phone number of her boyfriend, and also the contact information for her best au pair girlfriends. She sealed this in an envelope, and we put it in the cabinet to be opened “just in case”. If she had more than one boyfriend, I never knew. I just knew that there was an envelope with information just in case.
I also asked our au pairs just to let me know with with a quick phone call if they had changed plans and were not coming home that night. I didn’t want to worry if she had planned to stay out somewhere, but I did want to be able to call the police if we expected her home and she never wandered back in.
Later, once our au pairs had cell phones, a quick text message and another contact phone number were all I asked for. I really didn’t need to know “who”, just “whether” and “when” they were coming home. This managed to get me the information I needed if there were an emergency, but gave our au pair a smidgen of privacy.
[[In the background, I was also concerned about whether the guys they were dating were decent young men, but I never had real worries because all of our au pairs were sensible young women who were pretty picky when it came to American guys. (The Irish and Scottish soccer coaches were a whole different matter.) ]]
Now, consider this thoughtful email from a au pair.
First of all, I really love your blog, and have been reading it ever since I began my application last year. Host parents on the blog seem to share really useful advice.
I realize that what I’m asking may be a difficult subject to discuss (especially since I’ve gotten the impression that this is even more taboo here than in my home country), but I really need some advice, and I don’t know where else to get it.
I am happily placed with a host family I love, and I feel like I can talk to them about everything – except this.
I have kinda started seeing an American guy in the town where I live, and I’ve told my host parents that I went on a date with him. The problem is, I haven’t told them that we’re also sleeping together, ’cause I’m afraid of how they might react.
I am being careful, and I don’t just mean using protection. I always tell one or more of my friends where I’m going, how long I’ll be there, and message them when I get home. Going without sex for my whole year in the US was never really an option for me, and this guy is perfect, as none of us actually wants a relationship. I just don’t feel right lying to my host parents about where I go when I go to see him.
So what I really need some advice on is this:
Should I tell my host parents about this (in a gentle way) so that they can know where I am at all times? Or is there such a thing as too much information?
How would you react if you knew your au pair was having casual sex?
How can I handle this thing without having them lose their trust in me?
I’m not very open to comments about ending my relationship with this guy, because is a a great person and we’re clear on what our relationship is. AP22
Now, this is my kind of au pair– safe, sensible and thoughtful. What advice do you have for her?
You can buy this print from TheWheatfield on Etsy for only $22! The guy you can probably find in Williamsburg (Brooklyn).