Sometimes a host parent’s complaints about an au pair seem legitimate. Sometimes the complaints don’t seem legitimate. And sometimes, the host parent just really isn’t sure.
Here’s a long request for advice from Anonymous . She sets it up as though she might be a bad person… and let me tell you that by the end, you’ll be wondering why she hasn’t gone into rematch already! To make it a little easier to offer Anonymous your advice and perspective, I’ve broken up her request into (more or less) one paragraph per issue. Anna and A-mom-ymous have already offered some suggestions, and I’m sure others of you will have much to say. So jump in moms & dads!
"I wanted some advice and actually just wanted to see if anyone else ever felt like their au pair just rubs them the wrong way or just irritates them for no reason. Or am I just a terrible host parent/person?
My au pair has been with us for about 9 mo now and we’ve definitely had some low and high points, but lately I really just find myself not wanting to be around her. We have 1 year old twins, and she takes OK care of them. This varies as well, she’s very inconsistent. Most of my issues with her don’t even have to do with her actual caring for my kids, it’s on a personal level, so I can’t really say anything to her about it.
So my issues with her caring for my kids are small, but I’ve been noticing that she’s awake all hours of the night meaning she has very little energy to do much with the kids during the day. I leave the tv on kid shows when I leave in the morning and she immediately turns it on music videos or a movie. Granted, my kids don’t really watch tv but my feeling is she’s the one watching tv all day long.
She’s becoming increasingly nasty to my dog, who is huge and at times also annoying, but I hear her yelling “MOVE” all the time at him, but then she’ll ask to take him for walks sometimes (but I think there’s another reason for this that I’ll get to in a minute).
She has become increasingly ungrateful for things. I bought her a $10 huge piece of chocolate cake last weekend when we went to dinner. I told her about it and rather than say “thank you” she says “why?” and then after she ate almost all of it (it took me 3 days to eat this piece of cake and I like sweets) I asked her what it tasted like and she said she didn’t really like it.
A really big issue for me is that I just don’t think she’s a very nice person. She has a lovely boyfriend who we’ve had over to the house and he’s from Bosnia as well. He lives two hours away and drives up to see her all the time and will drive back. She tells us she doesn’t really like him and is waiting for something better to come along. They were planning on going to vacation together and she said she didn’t care how much it cost because he was paying for everything (he does not come from money). She got mad at him when his brakes broke on his car and he couldn’t come get her and insisted we tell him over the phone that she did not want to talk to him. It broke my heart for this poor sucker. She refuses to take the bus to his house which costs $15 dollars and says “If he loves me he’ll come see me!”.
I try to act motherly toward her and give her advice, but she thinks it’s funny to be nasty to him. I have a really hard time listening to her talk about all the horrible ways she is acting to this really generous and sweet kid (obviously he must like it!).
On top of that, I brought her to watch my kids at a work convention out of town for 4 days, and on the very last night, they were having an ice cream social for staff and I was going to bed but told her to go down. I happened to check on her before that and she came out very provocatively dressed and the next morning I found out that “something” happened with one of the folks I am in charge of. She was very sneaky about it and after returning to work I heard from several co-workers she was on the prowl with all of the male staff. I have to take the babies to several things with me this summer for work and I don’t want to take her, I can’t risk being embarrassed in front of people who are important to my work again, or risk her going on the prowl with the wrong person!
We had a party at my husbands work (it was a family party but my hubby is in the Army) as soon as she heard the party was going to be at the base she changed her outfit so she l iterally looked like a prostitute. We tried to convince her to change her outfit becuase it just wasn’t appropriate at my husbands work (much less anywhere except a strip club) and she said she “didn’t care”.
She does take the dog for walks as well – so she can sit in town and have men approach her. We really just hate taking her anywhere with us now for this and other reasons. I am pretty young myself, and don’t expect her to dress conservatively, and know that all young girls like male attention, but it’s gotten bad.
Also, and I know this is petty, but if we’re out together she won’t correct people who think the babies are hers, she will converse and act like they are her children and I will have to go up and correct them. At first it was funny, but now I see she actually does it intentionally, because she constantly has to have attention. [editor’s note: This is not a petty complaint, imho.]
She also is very quick to correct ME at my house telling me to be careful, to wipe my child’s face, you name it. I heard her the other night complaining to my husband that I was throwing a lot of baby clothes out and that I “should save them” because she felt so.
Furthermore, despite numerous efforts, she has poor boundaries. I will put the babies in bed and they may be awake or whimpering, and I’ll walk out to see her in the middle of the room with the light on. I tell her to leave them in there and that they can cry for a few minutes and she’ll try to argue with me about it – or she’ll run in the room right before bed and start getting them excited and laughing…so they won’t settle down. I’ll see her try to sneak in the room later if she thinks she hears them. I’ve talked to her numerous times about this and she just refuses to listen.
So I feel like I am a prisoner in my house where I can’t let my kids cry for even a few minutes without her sneaking downstairs and she’ll carry on about how mean I am. She’s always just in the babies face as well – if she comes into the room, they are never able to just sit, play alone, or relax, she is constantly in their face and she won’t even really allow them to play with each other without getting in the middle to make sure she’s getting attention from one of the babies.
It’s almost like the person you just don’t like, even though they really have done nothing to you [ editor’s note: nothing? she sounds awful!!!] and I know it’s horrible but it’s really gotten to a point where me and my husband just feel constantly irritated by her. We’re moving early in two months and she’s staying here, and we’re hoping just to ride it out. I try my best to be nice to her and incorporate her with us, but she has no friends besides her boyfriend, and that’s because I don’t think it’s just us she rubs the wrong way.
So am I a monster and has anyone else EVER felt the same way I do? After reading this I feel terrible for even thinking this way!"
Anonymous, Is this your first au pair? It sounds to me like you have VERY legitimate complaints, why are you feeling that it is all in your head and you are being unfair? [editor’s note: Great question, Anna!]
After reading your post I can list already a few things that with other families would put this au pair in rematch or going back home pretty quickly, such as:
- Not following your requests in the work parties and actually hurting your and your husband’s reputation at work! this is a real biggie. As a result you cannot use her help on your business trips, but isn’t this help what you are paying for in the au pair program?
- Not following your requests in caring for children and disrupting their bedtime routines and schedules. This is also a rematch-worthy complaint. Sleep and sleep habits are critically important to children’s health and development at this age.
- You suspect she is watching TV all day long… while taking care of your kids? Are you sure she takes good care of your children?
- She seems to be really unsuited for being an au pair, immature and with possibly some mental issues, self esteem issues.
I really hope your next au pair is great, if you choose to stay in the program. Your feelings at this point are completely reasonable and understandable.
I second Anna’s perspective! These are not problems with you being petty. I’m not convinced she is trustworthy with your kids! Talk to your LCC and get a plan of action together — shape up or ship out conversation needs to happen.
Host parents– your advice?