I wasn’t really ready to blog about this particular topic, even though it’s on the list of 378 topics I brainstormed 18 months ago… We got an anonymous comment on a different post that raised the issue… so here we are. It can’t be any harder to blog about than it is to do!
You may need to provide your au pair with information about birth control.
Sometimes, you’ll get an au pair who is sexually active, or who becomes sexually active during her year in the USA. She will need birth control, or plain ole good luck, if she does not want to become pregnant.
She may need your help to find safe, affordable birth control counseling and methods. You might want to make yourself aware of the local women’s clinic or Planned Parenthood, so that you can refer your au pair to these resources.
You may also need to bring up the subject with her, because she may not feel comfortable raising the issue with you.
I learned that some au pairs get birth control pill prescriptions before they come to the USA, just in case. They may tell you that it’s to control their acne, or their moods, or terrible cramps, or whatever. Also, getting a year’s supply in her home country is a lot cheaper!
However, many au pairs don’t ‘think ahead’. Many of them simply don’t expect to become sexually active. They may have a boyfriend back home. And then, things change. Then, your au pair might need some advice, recommendations, or referrals. From you. The grown up. The parent.
Going out on a limb here:
I also recommend that, if you have any idea that your au pair is having a social life, you have a version of “The Talk” with your au pair.
- You cannot be sure that she has accurate information about birth control.
- More important, you cannot be sure that she has accurate information about HIV. She may need you to direct her towards accurate information.
With a few of our au pairs, I have found it necessary to have “The Talk”.
Yes, it was awkward. Yes, it was hard to manage the line between caring and violating her privacy. Yes, it was easier to have “The Talk” after one of the au pairs in the cluster got pregnant.
I also found it necessary to talk with a few of our au pairs about “american guys”. When we lived in a college town our stunningly tall & blonde AP got hit on by a lot of guys who made lots of sweet promises to her.
She found all the attention confusing, and she was naive about what the come-ons were about. I could not believe I was having to tell her about frat parties and why she might want to avoid them, to explain date rape, and to teach her to feel comfortable that “no means no”. I wasn’t ready to be that much of an adult, that much of a parent, or that intimate in my relationship with her.
But I took a deep breath, and brought up the subject. She appreciated it, and told me she felt cared about.
Also consider: Your beliefs and your au pair’s beliefs may likely be quite different, not only due to age/experience differences but also religious and cultural ones. You many disagree on whether or not bc is ethical or religiously appropriate, whether the ‘plan b’ pill is contraception or an abortifacient, or whether an unmarried woman should even be socially active, and so on. The point here is not to suggest that you press your values on her, but rather that you create a space to offer support proactively.The challenge is to find a way to do this that bridges these differences. You don’t have to take this on, but you might want to.
A great way to avoid sad outcomes is to prevent them with a little advice and direction.