Choosing an Au Pair: How much does the home country matter?

by cv harquail on April 29, 2010

Host parents are often asked why they’ve chosen an au pair from a particular country, and whether an au pair’s home country matters.

How do you answer that question, without sounding like you’re stereotyping too much?

When it comes to having preferences for countries, we feel very comfortable prioritizing home countries based on language— if you want your kids to practice their Spanish with your au pair, it doesn’t make sense to look for au pairs from Thailand. And, we feel reasonably comfortable using home country as a proxy for religion— if you are Jewish family and you want an au pair who will keep kosher, it makes sense to look first at candidates from Israel, simply because Israel has a higher proportion of observant Jewish families than other countries.

But what about distinguishing between countries, based on what you’ve heard about au pairs from ‘there’?

choosing an au pair, au pair selection advice, how to choose an au pairAre all those Brazilian au pairs spoiled princesses? Based on my one experience, I’d avoid Brazil the next time.

Then again, we had a great Swedish au pair, and I’d look for another Swedish au pair. But, my sister’s Swedish au pair left after 4 months in the middle of the day after having 10 guests visit her in NYC. Worse, 6 out of 6 Swedish au pairs in her cluster last year left before their 12 months were up.

A host mom candidly emailed:

I wish there was a way to have a discussion about au pairs and nationalities and preferences without it getting negative or unhelpfully critical. The reason I bring this up is because the agency I use seems to have a lot of Brazilian au pairs but my husband and I are dead set against getting one because we have heard so many negative things, especially about their interest in partying. But at this time almost all of the au pairs in the agency pool are Brazilian.

I’m willing to be convinced to consider them but so far have not read anything compelling me to do so.

Do you think a blog post such as “Tell me which nationality is your favorite source for au pairs and what characteristics make you feel this way?” would lead to a positive discussion about nationalities generally that I can glean something from?

Bottom line, we will continue to look at candidates and try to evaluate our fit with them based on the information we have available– but in the back of my mind, I still wonder whether I should preference some other countries. We’re not interested in looking at another agency because we have been happy with au pair care and our local contact person is great.

Do you have any thoughts about this?

Host parents: How much does home country matter when you look for an au pair?

  • Does home culture matter much to you when you look for au pairs?
  • Which nationality is your favorite source for au pairs?
  • What characteristics make you feel this way?

Note: This is not an invitation to trash or defend au pairs from Brazil, or Sweden, or anywhere else.

Let’s focus on whether, when and how cultural stereotypes matter, and what to do about that.

[Note: We’ll talk about the role of socioeconomic background in upcoming post…]

See also:
Religion as an Au Pair selection criterion
Language as a Selection Criterion (Poll)
How to Avoid a Princess

Image: Brazilian Girls from rooshv


PacificNW_mom April 29, 2010 at 12:41 pm

We only go with German au pairs after two bad experiences with different nationalities. We’ve ruled out Brazil and New Zealand forever. While we know that the stereotpes we experienced don’t apply to all girls from these countries, we are not ready to risk it again. And we find that the German girls are more mature, and have similar values regarding what we see as a healthy lifestyle- outdoor play, eating fruits and veggies, like things to be organized, etc.

Portland Mom April 30, 2010 at 11:18 pm

Where are you PacificNW_mom?
I have had Germans too!

Amelie ex au pair April 29, 2010 at 12:45 pm

My ex-host family is on their third brazilian au pair (out of a total of 5 or 6 au pairs) – I was the second. None of us were party girls!

VA MOM April 30, 2010 at 8:50 am

Amelie, Thanks for your input, it makes me feel more excited about my next au pair. My family has had 6 au pairs (5 German, 1 Swedish) and have matched with a Brazilian au pair for our next year. So far our communication with the Brazilian is been great (weekly) and we are looking forward to her arrival. I have to add that our last 2 German au pairs were not the best but the first 3 were great. The Swedish girl we ended up rematching. It was not a good experience for us. So in the grand scheme of things, I think that it just depends on the maturity level of the girl that you match with and not necessarily the country.

Amelie ex au pair April 30, 2010 at 9:16 am

Good luck for you! There are a lot of amazing au pairs from Brazil out there, I hope you got one of them!

PA AP mom April 29, 2010 at 12:56 pm

Our friends had a Brazilian au pair and she was great! She had a great work ethic, was wonderful with the kids and still had her weekend party time with friends.

We wouldn’t use another German au pair because of our last one and that is a shame because the largest pool of applicants is usually German. Ours was the typical party girl/princess usually associated with Brazilian stereotypes. She was a HORRIBLE driver and her English was just ok.

Our Swedish au pair now is the best we could ever hope for, but another family in our cluster had a Swedish AP and she went AWOL after 4 months.

I guess what I’m trying to say is, that even though we (including myself) stereotype by country, it really comes down to each specific individual!

Brazilian - Future Au Pair April 29, 2010 at 1:00 pm

Never generalize! I think you have to know very well who you are taking to you home, because the most of host families call au pair 2 or 3 times, and send some e-mails for a couple of weeks and match!! It’s too fast! Brazilian girls like to have fun, like anyone else, when the hostmom was a teenager, what was she used to do in her free time with her friends?
Now, when the partying becomes getting drunk, smoking, driving irresponsible, and influencing to the family and worst – to the kids, so it’s a big problem!
For us, au pairs, it’s really difficult spend 1 or 2 years in another country, far from our families and friends and do not have a “safe” fun. Being au pair is like a dream coming true for us, living in another country, meeting new people…it’s very exciting!!

Beatriz February 2, 2011 at 11:19 am

Perfect :) Totally agree!

Anna April 29, 2010 at 1:06 pm

I cannot judge or blame anyone who rejects a particular nationality forever because of one bad apple. I have experienced it once and vowed it myself (but this year I relaxed that vow and looked at all the countries)

I had a terrible experience with an au pair from Russia, and my friend (more than one) had the same with Ukrainian au pairs. I am really extra suspicious now when studying applications of girls from there, and I am looking for signs of trouble.

Judging from our hosting history, our favorite nationality is Brazilian.
Last year, after a disasterous Russian au pair, I was specifically only looking for a Brazilian one (we had a great year before that with a Brazilian girl). This year, even though I was considering everybody without regard for the country of origin, we are going to welcome another Brazilian au pair into our home.

Home culture does matter to me, somewhat. I grew up in another country (former Soviet republic) and I am familiar with culture there, and some negative aspects of it. My husband is Brazilian so I am familiar with that culture as well. I am afraid to discuss further, not to hit on stereotypes and get bashed forit.

So I am going to talk about positive things, and what makes Brazilian culture especially compatible with our household.

Brazilians are warm, and warm and affectionate with children. I believe they are truly capable of loving your children. It is important to me

They are sincere and open – I never felt (like I did with a Russian) that they were thinking bad things about me or judging me behind my back. Very tolerant.

Brazilian culture (and latin american culture in genereal) is less antisemitic than any european culture. Us being observant Jews, it matters a lot. Brazilians in general like and respect Jews, and are very religiously tolerant and respectful.

Many Brazilians are happy, and have a sunny disposition. It really makes it so much easier to see my smiling au pair in the morning, sincerely smiling, instead of grumpy one who doesn’t even squeeze out a hello.
It makes the whole atmosphere in the house lighter and more pleasant.

Our successful Brazilian au pairs had exemplary work ethic. They were very punctual, responsible and treated their job with our kids very seriously. That probably had to do with the fact that they both were college-educated and worked before coming here, and they were from a city of Sao Pauolo, which has a reputation for good workers.

Now to the negative sides of Brazilian culture (but I can live with them) – very few will cook or even know how to (but it is possible, just ask the right questions), and very few will be helpful around the house. All middle-class Brazilians can afford household help (the class divide is so deep that it is very cheap), and might either be lacking skills, or having a classist view on doing household tasks themselves. I don’t mean they will be slobs and not clean up after themselves, the kids, and keep their room nice; but they might do the bare minimum and only the things you directly specify as their duty, not the things you think a reasonable household member must do (such as taking the trash on the way out, or wiping the kitchen counters in the end of the day, or washing you cup together with washing kids’ breakfast dishes…)

West Coast Mom April 29, 2010 at 1:34 pm

“Many Brazilians are happy, and have a sunny disposition. It really makes it so much easier to see my smiling au pair in the morning, sincerely smiling, instead of grumpy one who doesn’t even squeeze out a hello.”

This rings very true for us. Current AP is so grumpy in the morning that we have stopped scheduling her unless absolutely necessary. It’s such an awful way to start the day, that we’d rather have no morning help at all.

Jenny April 29, 2010 at 5:33 pm

Before having an Au Pair, I had a nanny who would come in in the morning with the weight of the world on her shoulders, sometimes even evidence of crying on the way to work. She wasn’t mad, she was sad, but I agree, it is the WORST way to start the day and leave your kids in the morning. It’s hard enough with a happy care giver!

This has nothing to do with nationality, but might be helpful to anyone else who is having this issue. I actually put in my handbook that you must come down in the morning and say “Good morning!” to everyone with a smile on your face, and look the kids in the eye when they talk to you and act like whatever they are saying to you is the most important thing you’ve ever heard!

I also ask in the interview, are you enjoyable to be with in the morning? Can you get yourself out of bed and come down to greet the kids and us with a smile?

I’m not a morning person myself, but for my kids I fake it. Even if she is not a morning person, she can do the same! Asking it in the interview and putting it in the handbook is a small detail, but there is no chance she doesn’t know that I expect that from her. And for me, it is a big detail to start the day off right each day.

I just matched with my second German Au Pair this morning. Having no negative Au Pair experiences, I would have matched with the right candidate whoever she was, wherever. But I’ll admit, I’m used to and can understand well, the German accent and so does the rest of the family and Germany is dear to our hearts now. We have our “house rules” posted in English and German, and the kids are really starting to learn a lot of German words, so I was leaning toward another German. I was just happy to find another great match, fingers crossed! :)

West Coast Mom April 29, 2010 at 1:27 pm

This is a really interesting and timely topic. I hope it stays civil.

Like many families, we have some preconceived ideas about certain countries, and for our first match we avoided Brazilian (reputation as party girls), Russians/Ukranians (looking to nab a husband), and Thai (alleged to be poor drivers) APs. I’m a little embarrassed by this now, but when you are looking for someone to care for your kids, I think most of us will consider anything that might help us find the right fit.

We chose a Canadian for our first au pair, because we were concerned about language and, frankly, because we were overly-cautious, as it was our first (and Canada is basically like upstate NY, right? ;-). But our Canadian AP has been less than great. Because she was Canadian? No. Because she is moody and doesn’t really like children!

Having said all that, we are now focusing on girls from Germany and Brazil for a different reason … and that is, because so many APs in our area are from these two countries. One problem with current AP was that she never made any friends, other than disaster boyfriend, and she says it was because the German and Brazilian girls were clique-y. I don’t know if that’s true, but I believe a significant source of current APs unhappiness was failure to make friends, and I want to give our next AP every advantage … so our next (German or Brazilian) AP should arrive to a ready-made group of native speakers with whom she can hang out and hopefully, become friends.

One last thought: how about the positive stereotypes? I’ve heard that Germans are “the best drivers” and Thai APs are the best with infants.

It’s all a little silly, isn’t it?

TX Mom April 29, 2010 at 3:23 pm

FWIW I tried to match with AP’s from a country (or shared language) when there was a significant “clique” in our cluster and it was about 50/50 success rate. The clique is fluidic since AP’s come and go often and the AP personalities and ages mattered as much as their common language.

Au Pair in CO April 29, 2010 at 4:02 pm

The cliques aren’t really as bad as they’re made up to be. I am the only Scandinavian au pair in my cluster, and the only Norwegian one in the area, but both the Brazilian and German girls around here have been very open and welcoming:) Yes, so it is a little annoying when they start speaking Portuguese (German I understand), but it’s not that bad:)

FormerSwissAupair April 29, 2010 at 4:06 pm

Aupair in CO, where are you in CO?? I am in Colorado Springs. I just moved back from Switzerland where I was an aupair for a Norweigian/Finnish family. I learned a lot!

Au Pair in CO May 3, 2010 at 3:53 pm

I’m up in the Boulder area:)

former extension au pair in CA April 29, 2010 at 7:45 pm

ohh i totally know what you mean! i HATE when people start speaking their own language when there are other people around who dont understand.. im a norwegian too and i have BARELY met any norwegian au pairs during my (now: 2 1/2) years in America..

Au Pair in CO May 3, 2010 at 3:55 pm

Where in CA were you? I know lots of Norwegian girls in the area around LA and San Fran. I have met another Norwegian girl here too, and there are two more coming in this summer. The funny thing is, it’s easier for us to have our conversations in English than in Norwegian when we meet, as it just feels weird talking our own language now:P

Jenny April 29, 2010 at 5:39 pm

West Coast Mom – where are you? I’m in Portland and would love to find another AP mom in my area. Our cluster had a lot of Germans and it was so wonderful for my German AP to travel with and do things with. The rest of the group thought they were cliquey (in this case I think cliquey means someone else to speak your native tongue with!), but they were also warm and welcoming to all others. This time (to arrive in August) I chose another German and a involved church girl. I like the idea of someone finding a social circle for themselves outside of the AP group. Something that is harder than it sounds I think. My German is a great driver and also great with babies! :)

West Coast Mom April 29, 2010 at 7:16 pm

I’m in Northern California. Too bad, sounds like we’ve had some of the same drama! Congrats on matching, we’re getting close ourselves. As you say, fingers crossed. ;-)

Calif Mom April 29, 2010 at 1:59 pm

All stereotypes are based–somewhere deep down–on generalizable (but certainly not inevitable) characteristics of a group.

Men like power tools; women love shoes, right? But my hub gets palpitations at the thought of putting a hole in a wall (all picture hanging and repair work is my job, including donning a Tyvek suit and running ducts through the attic) and I am a terrible shopper. I hate it, I avoid it, and as a result own far fewer shoes than my husband. In fact, half of my walk-in closet is his overflow. So much for stereotypes.

Of course we are all under the influence of the opinions of others as we seek advice on launching our journeys into hosting. Our first counselor was from Eastern Europe and a former au pair herself; she loved the Baltic girls. So we followed her advice and had a terrible Baltic region girl (Pointy Boots!) and, later on, a miserable, depressed Ukrainian. I’m pretty much done with that region; my admittedly limited but 100 percent first-hand experience of girls from there is that the attitudes are not a good fit for what I need. I haven’t found one who is like our counselor in personality, charm, and skill with children. Not saying they don’t exist, but I struck out when I tried. Am I conflating correlation with causation? Probably. Maybe. I don’t know. Certainly there are other factors (and I have much better radar now when evaluating profiles and having interviews, but I’m still a softie. I had a terrible time directly asking hard questions this last time around with interviews; I wrote out a fabulous list of questions but chickened out and relied on my hub to be the tough guy. There’s a stereotype that held! :-) )

I have mixed experience with Brazilians. Two fabulous girls (both from rematch), one Princess (my fault; I should never have picked her in the first place). Only one was a partier, and she was a responsible partier, if ever there was such a thing. It really wasn’t a problem, since our girls were 5 and under. The other Brazilian was Baptist and spent all day at church on Sundays, a teetotaler, with lots of church friends. Again, a very responsible young woman but the polar opposite of your stereotypical Brazilian party girl.

Because of family history, I avoid Germans like the plague and would never pick one by choice; and yet, I would have had no problems with the fantastic German AP I knew who was being driven crazy by her host mom’s OCD tendencies.

Exceptions are the rule, but I do think that if you know what the potential issues/traits of a country of origin–as well as knowing what types of family backgrounds are common within that country of origin–you will have a leg up and know which areas of questions to plumb especially deeply and scrutinize every photo for.

Trust but verify, right?

Anonymous April 29, 2010 at 2:07 pm

I asked my LCC to direct us toward the nationalities with the highest success rate and she told me that she preferred not to do that because although most families ask this question and appreciate a honest, balanced answer, one host mother took everything she said out of context , twisted it around and them misquoted her on an electronic bulletin board ( she didn’t identify the LCC but she did identify herself ). The LCC suggested that I talk to my friends about their experiences and judge the candidates I saw on the basis of my reactions. I was very disappointed not to be able to get better input from someone I trusted who had so much experience but I guess I would feel the same way in her situation. I just thank God for this website

JaneMom April 29, 2010 at 2:13 pm

Let’s see, I’ll just give the numbers on the au pairs I’ve hosted or known well enough to comment on.

4 German APs. 2 were great. 1 was awful (smoked, disobeyed house and childcare rules). 1 was ok but I wouldn’t have wanted her (a bit too whiny).

4 Brazilian APs. 2 were great. 1 was awful. 1 was ok but I wouldn’t have wanted her (more interested in friends than the family).

1 Australian AP. Can’t comment on her child care but she borrowed money from friends and didn’t pay it back, and ended up in the hospital with alcohol poisoning…would have been a big no for me.

1 African AP. Good au pair, couldn’t drive.

I am guessing if you do your homework you’ve got 75/25 odds of getting a good one, regardless of home country. But if you want a driver, make sure you get one from a country with roads or freeways like the ones your au pair will drive on here.

TX Mom April 29, 2010 at 3:16 pm

I think all you can hope for in using any stereotype – ethnicity, religion, nationality, personality, etc – as a filter in the matching process is to improve your odds of making a good match. There is certainly no guarantee you have a good match, though. (Actually, I think there is a rule against using the “average of averages” in statistics – so maybe it guarantees a less than perfect match!)

Generally, I think our AP’s lived up to some stereotypes but that didn’t distunguish whether they were good, bad or OK AP’s. Here are the stereotypes that resonated:
S African = good English speakers, Western diets/culture
Brazillian = friendly and family orientated
German = disciplinarians, good drivers
Thai = good with babies, poor drivers

Monique April 29, 2010 at 3:28 pm

I think that regardless of country of origin of the aupair. You should consider your culture and tradition. Ask yourself what it likes and dislikes, and then ask the same questions for their future aupair.

And the item quoted above (search for aupair with experience in roads like the ones you have in your town) is the ideal to be done, and also things like if your religion relates well to the religion of the au pair, if you prefer fun people or quieter, whether or not you bother with the kind of au pair’s personal life (which she studies, she goes to parties, what kind of music she likes, etc).

And it will be great for both sides, because the au pair will feel good with the family too.

And I think that ideally, the au pair and family sit together on the day of arrival of the aupair to have a conversation of things allowed, disallowed, preferences, etc. .. and both must be very sincere, because they omit or lie, will suffer the consequences of that with the passing days.

I think the basis of any good relationship is good communication and patience.

Anonymous April 29, 2010 at 3:37 pm

Has anyone had any experiences with British au pairs? I’ve never seen them mentioned on this blog.

Melissa April 29, 2010 at 3:41 pm

Home country is one of the first things I screen for when looking at applicants. As others have said, I of course realize that cultural generalizations don’t apply in all (even most?) cases, but nonetheless I do factor in what I’ve heard or experienced regarding certain countries. Like West Coast Mom said, I’ll factor in any info I can get when it comes to finding good care for my kids. I wouldn’t ever consider such things as nationality, appearance or personal beliefs when hiring someone at work, but I’ve learned it’s a whole different story when choosing the person who lives with you and is a role model for your kids. For example, I don’t look at candidates from Brazil because of the ‘party girl’ rep, mostly because that’s a really important issue for me. I understand that I may be needlessly crossing some potentially great, non-partying Brazilian APs off my list because of that, but it’s too big of a risk because we REALLY don’t want a partier.
We had one bad experience with a German AP, who was a TERRIBLE driver (so much for that stereotype!). The issues that we had with her I don’t think were related to being German, but nonetheless, I tend to avoid German applicants now, just for fear of a repeat of that situation. We had really good experiences overall with South African APs. All four we’ve had from there were different from one another (one was a homebody, one a partier, one was very religious, other 3 not at all), but overall they were a good cultural fit for us. It seems that their culture is pretty similar to ours (food, dress, social conventions, etc), so we’ve had the luxury of not having to worry too much about culture shock. Also, their English was near-perfect, and we’ve become so accustomed to this that now I look for applicants from countries that typically speak good English (one of my children has a developmental disability, & learning English will be difficult enough for her, so I worried that having language/communication issues with our AP would only add to her confusion).
As for experience with APs from other countries, we knew one Eastern European AP who did fit the stereotype of not being very warm and looking for a husband (and who is now here illegally), and a few Swedish girls who were big partiers.

FormerSwissAupair April 29, 2010 at 3:43 pm

From having lived abroad for years in both New Zealand and Europe as an AP (I am American), I would base my choices of AP’s based upon the attitudes and cultures of the places where I visited. Having said that, I would definitely go with a Swiss or German AP. They don’t seem to party as much as other places, and generally have higher education, excellent driving skills, and a great work ethic. Having said that, I would (for myself) decide against having an AP for Eastern Europe or the Baltic regions unless I had verifiable child care experience and a police report.

Mary April 29, 2010 at 3:47 pm

There are other reasons to consider or rule out au pairs from specific countries beyond stereotypes. As a dual military family with host parents who both hold security clearances, we only consider au pairs from countries that we would consider “allies”. It just makes the paperwork easier as we have to report ongoing contact with non-US citizens. Other than that, we looked for the best candidate for our family at the time. When my children were younger, we gravitated towards au pairs with applications that showed tendencies toward physical affection and experience with children in the same age range. We ended up with South/Central American (Peru & Panama) au pairs. As my children moved into elementary school, we looked for athletic, outdoorsy types who had experience at sports camps with children about the same age or similar experiences. We selected Europeans (German & Swiss). They’ve all been great and what our family needed at the time.

M in NY April 29, 2010 at 4:44 pm

I just think that as a host family, you need to speak with the au pair candidate as much as possible before you make a decision. Let the kids speak with him/her on the phone (on speaker of course), and make sure both host parents (if there’s two) speak to the candidate.

I’m an au pair (almost done with my year now) and I’ve seen the clique-y South Americans and Germans, the friendly South Americans and Germans, the good Scandinavian drivers, the bad Scandinavian drivers, the party girls from Sweden, the non-party girls from Sweden, the Thai girls with BAD English and the Thai girls with good English.

I guess it doesn’t matter where you come from, it’s about how you’ve been raised and from what background you come from. It also depends on what your reasons for being in the States really are – is the au pair REALLY here to take care of kids, or is she running away/taking the opportunity to travel/wanting to meet new friends or a boyfriend?

So, TALK to the au pair candidate! Call, e-mail, Skype…and trust your gut feeling. Don’t rule out nationalities,but if you find one that works for you, stick with it.

Nina from France April 29, 2010 at 5:24 pm

It’s so interesting to read all your comments and I particularly agree with M in NY. I had always wondered why so many families decide to have German aupairs!

Now I’m just being curious and would like to know if any of you experienced French aupairs? How was it?

Mom23 April 30, 2010 at 10:27 pm

I have interviewed French au pairs. There was one whose application I was very excited about. But, when we called her she could barely speak English. We didn’t think that she would be a good fit with one of our children who needs his au pair to be able to communicate with him.

JJ host mom May 4, 2010 at 2:25 pm

We’ve had two French au pairs. The first one was awful. The second one’s been wonderful. We’ve also known two other French au pairs and we think they were both great, although they did end up rematching with their host families, so it must be a cultural thing. (My husband is French, I’ve lived in France, so we’re used to that culture.)

French people are, by nature, reserved, and probably appear shy and perhaps aloof to many Americans. But for the most part, that’s okay by my family, because we’re the same. I think it’s more about knowing your own family’s personality and needs, and finding a culture that matches that.

FormerSwissAupair April 29, 2010 at 5:40 pm

I traveled frequently to France, and while there were some friendly people, most seemed to dislike America and its’ attitude and culture. Based upon that, I am not sure I would have a French aupair. They would have to be extremeley open minded.

Deb Schwarz April 29, 2010 at 5:40 pm

Of course there are generalizations about country of origin: we are all taught values by our parents, and these do tend to get passed down through the generations. I also wonder if there is a genetic component (where do all those German’s get their fabulous organizational skills?). At any rate, we’ve had 15 au pairs (soon to be 16 tomorrow), and we have been in a rut…..pretty much only Australians and South Africans (with a few temp. Germans and New Zealanders)

Initially we started out with native English speakers because our children were speech delayed – but then I started to realize that with four children born within 20 months of each other, we need certain traits in au pairs: they have to roll with the punches, and not be afraid of chaos and hard work. Not every Aussie and South African fits this description, but we have found that most do. Now that my children are older, I’m thinking that a German or Austrian would help with the organization necessary to get four kids to four different activities without missing a beat (and not missing their swim fins, or gymnastics leo).

As an LCC, I do steer host families based on their needs: For babies, I think that South Americans with their large extended families just have a knack and a soft spot for babies. Thai au pairs have the experience with the baby day care centers in their country (not to mention that many are great cooks!), and have that baby thing going on. As children get older and need more boundaries – if a host family is dead set on a Latin country, then I advise Brazil since they tend to have more gregarious personalities and are usually a bit better at setting boundaries than the typical South American. Now – of course, there are exceptions to the rule, but these are generalizations that I have seen over the past 10 years of living and breathing the au pair arena. Germans are usually good drivers and organized and I have found some are rigid and others aren’t, while Swedes are usually more easy going, open minded and mature (what do they do in that country to breed such maturity and independence?) Did you know that in Sweden the government gives every mother or father a year off from work? So, as you can imagine, there aren’t that many Swedes that have experience looking after infants under the age of 1.

So shoot me for making broad generalizations, but I find that it is helpful most of the time. I happen to love it when I find an exception (e.g. a South American au pair that can discipline a child, and a German that is messy) – it’s what makes life interesting and keeps us on our toes!

And yes, tomorrow, I venture into the vast unknown – our next au pair who arrives tomorrow is from Hungary. I have no idea what Hungarians are like, but I’ve read up on their values and personalities (yes, such info. exists on the Internet) – and I picked her because I just really liked her on Skype (and she had been an au pair in England before). I nearly selected a Swede (I was determined to try a Swede this time)……thank goodness for Skype as I think it helps us gain more information about an au pair’s personality vs. the phone call and application of past years. I am an avid reader of body language so Skype is a godsend. Now, if I can only stop looking at myself in the little box….that’s so annoying!

Deb, host mom to 16 au pairs over the past 10 years (yes, two at a time for 5 years!)
LCC for 5 years, Multiples Specialist

Michigan Mom April 29, 2010 at 6:24 pm

I actually don’t look at nationality at all. My husband does tend to be a little wary of South American candidates, because our first au pair was from Colombia and was a bona fide disaster. But even with that, we went with a Salvadoran au pair this time because she had a great application and after many conversations with her, we felt that we really clicked.

If anything, I hope over the years to find au pairs from many different countries to expose the kids to as many cultures as possible. We are Jewish and do keep a kosher kitchen, but we don’t look for Jewish au pairs because we want our to kids to learn about people and places they might not otherwise. (They go to a Hebrew day school, so they get plenty of Jewish culture!)

Anonymous April 29, 2010 at 7:33 pm

I think it is important not to generalize about regional areas: Scandinavian cultures differ greatly in my experience and South American countries have very different cultures from each other. I know less about the regions within the former Soviet Union but I am willing to bet that there are significant differences from one republic to another . At least I think so

Au Pair in CO May 3, 2010 at 3:59 pm

Norway and Sweden really have a lot in common, while Finland/Denmark/Iceland are more different. I can’t really think of any cultural differences between Norway and Sweden..:)

Previous au pair April 29, 2010 at 8:35 pm

I agree with all the comments about not generalizing. If you do that based on someone elses experience or a previous au pair then you could be missing out on having a great au pair and a good year.

Anne Marie Segal April 29, 2010 at 9:42 pm

Regarding Brazil–
We have had two au pairs from Brazil, and while they both were very social they understood that when they were “on duty” the children were their primary focus. I think the Brazilian stereotype is more based on a misunderstanding of the culture. Brazilians are very friendly as a general matter. But that doesn’t mean they can’t or don’t know that “business is business”.

NoCAMom May 3, 2010 at 10:16 am

I agree with this. We are on our second au pair, and have just extended for another year – and our first au pair (also Brazilian) also extended a 2nd year with us. They both love to have fun with their friends – but they are amazing caregivers with our children and love them deeply.

I don’t begrudge them their “fun time” when they are off-duty. They respect our curfew and rules and adore our young children, and keep them safe. I couldn’t be happier.

And, for the record, with young preschool kids, we deliberately chose Latin/South American candidates because their cultures truly celebrate children.

Lee April 29, 2010 at 9:55 pm

When considering an au pair nationality, be aware of the time of year you will have her arrive. Most South American au pairs and other au pairs from the southern hemisphere – arrive December – March due to the end of their school year being at that time. Few European arrive during this time as they are usually enrolled in university or are in their first year of a job following university.

Most Europeans arrive in the Spring – early Fall months after they have finished university for the year (or have graduated).

Your agency can help you out by telling you what time of year the au pair pool has a high percentage of au pairs from your desired nationality. Don’t be afraid to ask :-) If you’re considering an agency, ask what countries they have the most au pairs from before committing to them.

Busy Mom April 29, 2010 at 11:00 pm

We’re on our 2nd au pair (one German and one Brazilian). I admit that I screened out Thai au pairs due to the “not the greatest drivers” stereotype because ours is a heavy driving position in a heavy traffic area. While I’m sure that there are excellent Thai drivers, I needed a quick way to focus my search and didn’t have the time to screen all the Thai drivers more thoroughly. Once I applied that and our our three primary screening criteria (age, university education (or in the middle of one) & experience driving on highways), the pool shrank so much that it would have been impractical to screen further by country. On a practical note, the relationship with the German au pair ended messily, so I did avoid German au pairs in the 2nd search because I didn’t want our new au pair to hear complaints about us from AP# 1’s friends with whom she would overlap. I would definitely add Germany back to the mix next time.

Taking a computer lunch April 29, 2010 at 11:22 pm

I don’t worry about nationality so much as – has she focused on childcare and education. I reject business majors, econonomics majors, etc. right out of hand. It’s pure discrimination, I admit it. They might have been absolutely lovely with children, but I’m really not going to subject my children to a year of someone that I suspect is only becoming an au pair to master English.

All five of my au pairs have been perfect for one or both of my children in many ways. I’ve had two Brazilians who were affectionate, thorough, responsible people, but used to spoiling children more than Americans! (My son came home from a Brazilian market with a football sized piece of chocolate saying “I’m not going to eat anything nutritious today.” He was 2.) My Austrian au pair was more of a disciplinarian, but also willing to play sports with my son and take my kids to museums. She begged me to let her work on Saturdays so she could take my son to the movies. My Swedish au pair gave my son’s hamster a peanut butter massage when he got stuck in a glue trap in our basement (and she hated the smell of peanut butter). My Chinese au pair makes my special needs child delicious homemade food, volunteers in her school, and is so gentle with her.

I must admit, having lived with one Chinese au pair, that it would take some convincing for me to match with another. Ours did $1000 worth of damage to another car on her first day – just backing out of pull-in/out parking space (she turned too quickly in backing out). Our LCC, seeing our frustration with her at our 2-week meeting, said to me, “I can’t send a Chinese au pair back home.” And so, with our agency’s help, the au pair and I paid for driving lessons. My husband put in countless hours behind the wheel. (It turns out that you really can’t learn to drive with a Chinese driving coach once a week.) After 8 1/2 months she still hasn’t done what is required to get an American driver’s license.

It turns out that I want an au pair who wants to be part of the family (oh I realize that most develop deep friendships and cease joining in each and every family event after a few weeks.) This Chinese au pair never wants to spend time with our family. We have her make dinner once a week when DH and I are taking the kids in opposite directions, and that’s the night she eats with us, otherwise she’s out of the way as soon as possible. She barely answers questions when asked, and she never asks questions of us. She missed a perfectly good opportunity to improve her English by talking with my son, instead of at him. (She’s fine at making him breakfast, monitoring his TV time, but she’s never asked him what music he enjoys, what he reads.)

It turns out that I also miss a house filled with young women. My current au pair has eschewed bars, and late nights, and that is fine. However, we haven’t met one of her friends in months. I’d rather have a gaggle of women in the house getting ready for a night of clubbing than one quiet au pair who would rather not talk to me at all.

And then, to your comment about Israeli au pairs. We reject au pairs who say that they couldn’t live with anyone who doesn’t believe in Jesus Christ because we’re a secular Jewish family and quite frankly, we don’t. However, we recently communicated with an Orthodox Israeli, and it turned out she was way too religious for us too (well, my son & husband eat pork…). My son likes the idea of having an Israeli au pair, but I’m afraid the venn diagram of Israelis with special needs experience who put up with traif is non-existant.

But still, in 9 years, we’ve never gone into rematch. I’m not saying every moment has been perfect, but any relationship requires compromise and communication.

'sota gal April 30, 2010 at 12:12 am

I was really shocked when our AD was telling me her stereotypes before we started the interview process… It really floored me that she was telling me these things; that Brazilians are great w/kids and love large families, the Thai are bad drivers and she just went on and on.

I try not to look at nationality and focus on their application to see what stands out about them and makes it sound as though they fit in with MY family and what we are looking for. I also have a stereotype about our cluster, seems like what ever nationality we have the largest amount of is always the “partier” nationality. When the majority of AP’s here were Brazilian, they were the wild ones and now we have mostly German AP’s so now its them. I know that I do this, and I realize that it is just because the majority of the AP’s are from the same country, but I cannot have another partier so I have tried to seek out AP’s from other countries just so that they maybe (hopefully) don’t get lured into the mentality of following the crowd, but rather seek out true friendships. It worked once, here’s hoping it works again! :)

HRHM April 30, 2010 at 7:49 am

I avoid Brazilians not so much because they party (I don’t really care what she does in her free time as long as she follows the rules) but because of the “domestic issue” I ask and expect my AP to clean the girl’s and her own room, their shared bathroom, pick up toys and straighten the common areas, cook and clean up after doing so (for the kids), do their laundry. The one Brazilian I’ve had left in less than a week because she expected that we would have a domestic to do all these things and that’s not what she came here for. I know a lot of HF have a cleaning service, but we don’t (I actually consider that one of the reasons to have an AP – with them taking care of the kid’s mess, I can actually manage the rest of the house on my own) If I had to also pay a cleaning service, then having an AP really becomes prohibitively expensive. So, no brazilians for me.

I also avoid Thai APs for the potential driving issue, because most have really weak language skills (tried to interview some but couldn’t due to their poor english) and because they all seem to have a background in tourism (I prefer more kid oriented backgrounds)

So far we’ve had 2 rough AP experiences from the former Yugoslavian states, but I don’t think that was cultural, I think the individuals had issues.

Current AP is a Czech and so far so good, but she was already an AP for a year so she had experience and language skills. She told us recently that all Czechs are lazy – so I’m not sure this is a ringing endorsement for future Czech girls! LOL

NoCAMom May 3, 2010 at 10:19 am

Just wanted to share that both of our Brazilian au pairs have done cleaning far above & beyond their standard duties. Many times we’ll get home from a weekend away and find that our entire house has been cleaned!

Neither of our au pairs had domestic help back home – again, generalizations are just that – and some key interview questions can help flush out that issue. They are both wonderful cooks, too!

Sam April 30, 2010 at 7:58 am

Very interesting topic. Personally we’ve always gone for Spanish au pairs as my partner is Spanish and we wanted the girls to speak more Spanish at home. Some of them enjoyed a great social life at weekends and we hardly saw them. This actually fitted in well with our family as they either stayed over with their friends, or sometimes with prior agreement a friend might have stayed with us. Having friends outside of the family also helped them settle in better, they were happy and that in turn was good for the kids.

I know many Brazilians who started out as au pairs. All were hard working, many non-drinkers and certainly not into parties. My cousin actually married a Brazilian who is now highly regarded as a nanny for the family she works for (they poached her from a creche their children attended).

I’d say with any nationality you have all different types of people, and it’s at the interview stage you need to shortlist the candidates that fit the type of person you are looking for, regardless of where they come from.

Internet sites such as have candidate profiles that tell about each candidate, along with some good interview and selection tips.

Anonymous April 30, 2010 at 8:29 am

This really is a fascinating discussion – good topic, CV!

We will not consider Brazilian APs because of the party girl reputation – and we have seen that stereotype play out repeatedly in our cluster which has about 6-8 Brazilian APs at any given time. We will not consider Thai APs because of the driving issue (we have seen that play out in our cluster as well). We will not consider Germans because of the tendency to be so rigid and organized – I lived in Germany for a period of time, and I now that is a relatively common (although not universal) characteristic. We’ve also experienced many German APs in our cluster come over to our home and complain non-stop that their host families are not rigid enough with their children, the children are spoiled, and telling us they disobey their HF’s directions in order to get the kids on a more rigid schedule. No way would that match up with our relatively laid back, flexible, manner of raising children.

We need a strong winter driver, so that is our first focus. We have heard negative stereotypes about French APs – that they are spoiled, they don’t want to do hard work, that they don’t like Americans – but we really wanted a French AP next time around because one of our children does ballet and really wants to learn the French language, and another of our children is studying French in school. So…this year we’re going with France. We’ve selected a candidate that we’re very excited about, and she arrives with us in August – we’ll see how it goes!

FormerSwissAupair April 30, 2010 at 8:40 am

It wasn’t only because they didn’t like Americans; For me, it was because they tended to be very closed minded in general. And quite rude. My only worry would be that they would get here, and find fault with American culture, my family, etc.

Janet April 30, 2010 at 8:44 am

I try to stay away from countries where my previous au pair choices could not get a visa. For example, two AP’s from Brazil couldn’t get a visa. I understood the one was because she was an orphan, but the other was told “It’s just not your time to be an au pair.” The other was from the Ukraine and the embassy said she was too well educated. I wonder if the embassy saw something I didn’t, but the agency just felt it’s bad luck.

I also try to stay from au pair’s who are starting their second year since it seems like they aren’t as interested in being a part of our family.

Anonymous April 30, 2010 at 6:00 pm

I have known a number of candidates from the former Soviet Union who were turned down for a visa because they were too well educated or had limited family ties at home. As wonderful as these girls seemed on paper , by email and on the phone, it was a great expenditure of time that I would not want to go through again. I feel that sometimes practicality takes first place.

Taking a computer lunch April 30, 2010 at 9:33 pm

We had a Brazilian who was turned down for a visa on her first visit (she had the financial resources to fly to the city where the consulate was for a second visit). We sent her a letter of support and our agency coached her on the correct answers. Maybe the woman was in a better mood that day, who knows. Since then, for non-European au pairs, we make sure they are coached before going to their embassy interview.

A little tip – western European au pairs can fly back home before their first one-year visa is up and get a new visa for their second year. This allows them to leave the country and re-enter for their second year. We’ve had one au pair who did this after 9/11 (her condition for extending was getting to go home for Christmas and she needed the visa to do it).

StephinBoston April 30, 2010 at 9:27 am

We are going to be welcoming AP #4 in September, AP#1 was Brazilian, AP#2 German, AP#3 Swiss and AP#4 is Estonian. I’m quite happy to be making my way around the world, I have high hopes to one day be able to do an AP tour and visit them all, they have all brought something very different to our family. I can’t say I screen for country, this is how I go about it.

#1: Age: 20 (about to turn 21) or older, I don’t want to deal with the “no drinking under 21)
#2: From a large family (3+ kids), more family oriented in my experience
#3: Experience driving 3+ years, daily driver, lots of driving required around here.
#4: From a small town, we live in the Boston suburbs, it’s not a hot night club type of place, APs from large cities can be miserable in this environment.

That’s the most important to me from the get go, I won’t consider anyone outside of this criteria. Of course , this has evolved since the first AP and I now know what I REALLY want. Nationality comes into play but I think it’s more about personality. As the kids get older, I also see myself gravitating towards APs who have great English skills since I need them to hit the ground running. Our #1 au pair barely spoke English but she was like a 2nd mom to my babies and I’m so grateful she came to us when she did.

As I say this, it makes me realize that each one of our beautiful, unique au pairs have brought something to us that I will always remember, they truly are wonderful women. And I say that taking in consideration all the drama that goes with having an au pair, they make it up to me with all the others things they do to make my life SO much easier.

Au Pair in CO May 7, 2010 at 10:00 am

I think it’s funny to see that so many families screen au pairs based on their family. I was a single child, but I’ve had 4 years of child care experience to make up for it:P

Previous au pair April 30, 2010 at 9:33 am

However it is also being ignorant to not get person because they are from a certain culture that you may only know some aspects about?

TristateMom April 30, 2010 at 9:38 am

This topic is also important to me, mainly because of the (limited) experience I have had:
We had a German AP that was a disaster – very cold and introverted, didn’t have the heart for childcare, didn’t have good work ethics and was a total slob. But she was an excellent driver :) We went separate ways after 2 months.
Then we had a Colombian AP that was wonderful – warm, loving with the baby, very good work ethic, imposed enough discipline, very clean and joy to have around. She was a terrible driver :(
Next time I will try to pick an AP while also considering this: we are calm, little drama, we like order and discipline, but we treat AP with great respect and care about her as a person. We are not a family with a lot of perks and the job is hard (2 kids under 2). But we also observe the AP rules, really want the AP to be part of our family and will not exploit her.
So we are not the right family for an AP that wants to live and benefit from the lifestyle of a very wealthy family and in exchange is willing to put up with less than stellar treatment. Instead, we don’t offer a lot in material things and the job is hard but it is within the 45 hour limit, all rules are observed, the AP is respected and part of the family.
Don’t know yet what culture our family would most appeal to or if we even sound attractive to potential APs???

Danny Boy April 30, 2010 at 9:47 am

We’ve only had one au pair and having interviewed the next bunch we think we’re starting to get a much clearer picture of how to use all the information.

For us, nationality IS a good general indicator but you have to take it as one piece of information. Someone from a big city may be very different from someone who never left their village. I think what other people have said about how people are shaped by the general culture is very true. From what we have seen, many of the au pairs seem to be aimless, one of the reasons they think they want to be au pairs in the first place. Then when they get to America it becomes one of two things: time to party or the realization that life is pretty much a routine here, too!

You also have to look at if that culture will be a good influence on your family. People that come from communist (current or former) countries tend to look at life VERY differently, and the examples cited above are classic.

The way we have adjusted our search process is to seek someone who seems to have good strong interests to begin with. For example, a red flag for us is an au pair whose list of interests is “I like hanging out with my friends, going to movies, going to the coffee shop.” That eliminates 80% of them right there! They don’t show any creativity and won’t suddenly find it in America. The one we just matched with has strong interests in design and photography and plans to pursue them when she gets back.

The other big red flag for us is someone whose childcare experience consists mostly of working in a kindergarten as an assistant, maybe with watching their siblings thrown in. They seem to end up more as baby sitters than teachers. Our current match, among other things, leads the equivalent of a girl scout troop so she is the one creating the activities and fostering their learning.

Au Pair in CO May 7, 2010 at 10:05 am

Assistants in kindergarten in my country are actually responsible for as much learning as the teachers are. We have to plan a learning schedule for the kids, plan field-trips, meals, keep track of each kids sleeping routine, plan different activities for every day (everything from crafts to storytimes to playing music), keep individual records of each kid, have parent/teacher-conversations and hold meetings, pretty much everything that the teachers do. So assistant obviously doesn’t have the same meaning here as it does in my country:)

FormerSwissAupair May 7, 2010 at 10:31 am

I was going to say the same thing. Obviously you are not overally informed about what an “assistant” does in the U.S. because you sound quite ignorant. I was “only” an assistant in a kindergarten class through college and helped create lesson plans, taught on my own, etc. We are not merely babysitters, as you seem to suggest, which is quite insulting.

maleaupairmommy April 30, 2010 at 11:52 am

Well to be honest I’m really into the home country. No more Germans for me unless they are a really good candidate with special skills. They are too rigid that too we had didn’t want to be involved with the family and it was all about them. One male and one female. The female German au pair was so bad that I have swore off female au pairs probably forever. Every time I think I would like a female someone in our cluster or online reminds me why I will never go back to female au pairs again. Our family culture goes well with South American au pairs sadly the one quality that I liked about the Germans they could drive really good right off the bat and get their license as the state of WA allows Germans with international DL to get their state DL without taking written or driving test. I have pretty much sworn off all of Europe though leaning towards Sweden for the next one or Brazil but it was because the male au pairs had great videos and once I get to know them better I will decide. South Americans have had the perfect balance of going out having fun but respecting the rules and being okay with the rules like care home at a certain time texting me if they are late or when they get home etc. At the same time love spending time off with the family just hanging out and doing stuff with us they want to and would be offended if we didn’t invite them to the zoo or the kid’s birthday parties or concerts etc. Thanks for having this conversation I myself have been super curious and wondering if I was being too strict. My current male au pair from Aregentina is the best I wish I could clone him. He spends time with the family is always singing and smiling in the morning and ready to go. He has American friends and goes out with them but loves doing stuff with us. He just totally clicks with our family. I found him on my own and signed him up with our agency so I got to talk to him a whole year before he came so he automatically felt at home and he felt like he was suppose to be with us. It is equally important for me to talk with them, look at their facebook, and see what they have written on their facebook etc. It’s amazing what info you can glean from that. Most importantly if I haven’t said it enough no more girls for me!!! I don’t need the drama or the princess attitude. This time though I’m having a hard time finding the right male au pair I think the more experienced I get the more picky I become.

Talliecat April 30, 2010 at 12:42 pm

I love this post….I guess it is a reminder to me ( as I am searching for a new au pair when the one we have leaves ) is not to have an preconcieved notions. We seem to struggle more with an age issue rather than nationality. My husband always wants a younger au pair because he feels they are moldable and won’t be telling us how to raise our children ( we had a Columbian nanny who really bossed us around, I loved and hated it at the same time). We live in a rural area and it is important to find the right fit for our area.. Someone who is outdoorsy seems to work well and we do like the skiiers. I am always more drawn to candidates who are use to the cold weather… although my LCC tells me sometimes the au pairs are use to something totally different than their own country. This all being said… I will never choose an au pair from Finland because we had an au pair from Finland who had a nervous breakdown and it is now my assumption that it is a depressed place ( it is dark after all ). Silly.. yes!

European Mom April 30, 2010 at 3:11 pm

I’m hosting a brazilian au pair at the moment, we are from europe. At first I refused the idea of an au pair in our house so my husband searched her and found her. it’s true that we wanted someone who speaks english for our children. But This brazilian had an experience in USA before, had a drivers license since she was 18 (she is 24) and she was well educated, graduated from university and so on, so he picked her. The truth is that she is adorable, she is really nice with the kids, she has energy and plays with the kids very often. But the problem that I see is that she doesn’t like to spend too much time with us, on the weekends it’s very difficult to see her around, she doesn’t enjoy the winter and she gets stressed to stay too much inside, and she doesn’t like to clean around, her room is a mess, but at least she does her laundry and the dishes everyday. But I’m really happy with her and really sad that she will be leaving soon and we will have to replace her. Oh and she is excelent cooker, she make us diner every day

Marin County Twin Mom April 30, 2010 at 4:04 pm

Our first ever au pair arrived 6 weeks ago today. We couldn’t be happier with our choice. She is Norwegian, and was the only Norwegian in our pool in January and February of this year when we were searching; we understand that there is a bigger pool of Scandinavians and Europeans at the end of summer, rather than winter, due to school sessions.

Anyhoo, during our search, my husband and I recalled the helpfulness of service workers and resort staff during our 10+ years of international travel to luxury resorts from Guatemala to Bali to the Maldives to South Africa, Europe, China, Egypt and more. We loved how the Thais made us feel, like royalty, but we didn’t like their submissiveness for our particular household. We have a Brazilian housekeeper who is on her cell phone constantly, vacuuming and cleaning with one hand, and although I don’t tell her it drives me crazy because she cleans in 2.5 hours and does a good job, I don’t want that happening with my kids, so that rules out anyone from North, Central and South America, where the time zones are too similar and our Au Pair would be on the phone all day while the kids want to play with her. Since our babies are only 13 months old now, and have no appointments they need to make that I, a SAHM, can’t take them to, our au pair does not need to drive (in fact, we didn’t want a driver at all), and from what I have heard, we would be really risking things to let a Brazilian drive our kids, or our cars, around…same with Asians. We heard New Zealanders and Aussies are partiers, so that ruled them out, which was the same reason we ruled out all Eastern Europeans. (Interestingly, our first “match” was a Slovakian who moved to Austria as a youngster, but at 25 still lived at home, had never left the country except for a short visit to Dubai to visit her sister, and had a boyfriend of 8 years, who drove her own car daily, and who wanted to come to the US to be an au pair as her “last chance for freedom before she got married and had kids”. Worst…”match”….ever…). To avoid prima donnas, we steered clear of the French, and the English drink too much. Furthermore, we didn’t want a non-caucasian girl because we wanted to be able to take her out, travel with her, go to nice restaurants, and not look like the rich family from the ‘burbs out with their “help”.

Do I care if this sounds racist? A bit, which is why I didn’t use my real name attached to this comment. But do I care enough to keep that to myself when it comes to placing a caregiver in my home to be responsible for the well being of my children? You bet I don’t give a damn what anyone thinks. I remember kind of apologizing to the Match Coordinator for expressing my feelings. Hey, it’s my house, my rules, and if I don’t want a Latina party girl with a driver’s license and an attitude living in my home, then that’s my choice.

Turns out, it all worked out and we couldn’t possibly be more in love with our au pair. She fits in to our little family as if there was a puzzle piece missing, which there wasn’t.

I wouldn’t waste time worrying about what others are going to think of the reasons for your decision. Getting the right fit is too important, and finding someone who brings with them positive energy is key to your happiness and the success of the program for your family. If that means ruling out certain races, classes, colors, religions, orientations, etc, then so be it.

Mom Who's Had 1 AP April 30, 2010 at 4:52 pm

This thread reminds me of something a professor of mine said: “CYA: (not what you think!) Challenge Your Assumptions.”
A lot of good has come into my life when I remind myself of this.

Anonymous April 30, 2010 at 5:21 pm

We have had great experiences with brazilian APs who were NOT party girls but were warm, friendly, and very responsible. I do agree with previous posters that middle/upper class women from brazil generally have domestic help and are not accustomed to cooking or housework. We do not have a cleaning agency/housekeeper and at times I do wish I had a bit more help around the house with the basics–emptying the dishwasher, cleaning the kitchen counters, etc..

Future Aupair April 30, 2010 at 7:40 pm

On behalf of all the Brazilian au pairs, I would like to thank our host families, who despite the stereotype, give us a chance, and discover how wonderful is to have a Brazilian au pair.
Just as not every American is ignorant that only knows about the own country, and eat burger for breakfast, lunch and dinner, not every Brazilian is irresponsible party girl. We’re at the twenty-first century, it is very closed minded person who still has that kind of prejudice. I’m very responsible, and know many other Brazilian au pairs, which are not a party girl. I’m still looking for my host family, and hopefully be lucky enough not to fall into a family that thinks that way about Brazil, and enjoy with me the world cup! =)

KM April 30, 2010 at 10:35 pm

Rather than nationality or country, my focus is on the au pair’s family culture. What is it like? What values does the au pair’s family have? How permissive was the au pair’s home environment? For example, if an au pair has not had a curfew since age 14, then being an au pair in our home would not be compatible regardless of the au pair’s home country.

A little research can go a long way toward finding a compatible au pair without generalizing based on country of origin. Checking Facebook, Myspace and other social networking sites is a tool that can remove the telephone or Skype interview veil. Are there photos of the au pair smoking? Drinking? Clubbing? Partying? Risqué photos? Are there family photos? Birthday or holiday photos?

Also, reading an au pair’s application thoroughly is helpful. Learning to read an application is an art – reading between the lines or finding inconsistencies or understanding code words (i.e. meet my friends at cafes). However, if au pair applications are sanitized, it can cause problems. Getting a lot of information, comparing applicants and rating them on skills or family priorities helps.

Generalizing based on country, gender, age or other factors may result in missing a wonderful au pair for my family. Have had a couple that did not work out – but have not eliminated their countries when searching for a new au pair.

Anonymous May 1, 2010 at 11:45 am

I am not sure that the party life is a national issue. Kids here at college party alot and enjoy an enormour amount of freedom. Also, I am wary of an aupair who lived too controlled a life at home. To my sorrow, I found that some of those girls were chomping at the bit to come here and go a little wild.

theGermanGirl-FutureAP May 1, 2010 at 8:24 am

Hey everyone,
I’ve been studying this site excessively since I decided to go to the US to be an AP in October and I just have to say I find it SO helpful in understanding what the extpectations, obligations, duties and experiences are and how to fit myself into that to be a really great AP.

Yet, this is the first thing I ever comment on because I’ve asked myself the ‘home-counry’-question, too, wondering if I had good or bad chances for matching being from Germany.
A topic that comes up often here is the ‘partying’ topic and that’s what I worry about and I’d really like your thoughts on that because I don’t really know what to fully make of it.
In Germany the drinking age for beer and wine is 16, (all other liquor at 18) so reality has it that the first contact with alcohol is around 14, so generally along with the loss of curfew-hours, so I’m used to going out and having a beer or two (responsibly), going dancing and simply having a good time.

But I get afraid to write that into my application because I’m worried that it will paint a wrong image of myself, because I don’t want to come across as a reckless, binge-drinking party-princess, that’s just not what and who I am.
It’s just that ‘night life’ is a part of my culture at my age (19) and I really love to go out with friends the same way I love to stay in and cook for my family.
I’m afraid that, once I’ll be in America I’ll will stay in on week-ends, doing nothing and being miserable because I don’t want to piss off my possible host family who hate the stupid party-girls, eventhough I would only go out to dance (and wouldn’t drink at all due to the regulations).

I have no idea if I’m making myself clear, I find it hard to explain it but I hope you understand, I don’t want to lie about the things I like to do, I want my future host-family to know that I love both dancing and reading and that in my country it’s perfectly normal to hit the clubs every now and again without this making me an alcoholic excessor…How can I make that destinction clear? How can I say: Hey, I like to go out on a saturday night but I’m not a dropdead idiotic party-animal.

Thank you so much for your advice!

StephinBoston May 1, 2010 at 8:46 am

Hi theGermanGirl-FutureAP,

I think most of us mean party girls who are out EVERY night, come home at 6AM every weekend, are too tired to work when they are suppose to. Drink excessively and get into dangerous situations. I haven’t had a party animal AP, most of my APs were social just as you described and that is absolutely fine with me. I rarely see them over the weekend and that’s also fine, everyone is entitled to time away!
I say be honest about who you are, most HFs will appreciate that and you will find the perfect match.

Previous au pair May 1, 2010 at 8:53 am

I think as long as your not an alcoholic crazy party animal you will be fine :)
you are young after all and need to get out and about as well as being part of the family. I’m not sure about most host families but based on experience I think they might be quite alarmed if you stayed in every single weekend and be house bound. If you are 21 you are legally allowed to drink in the US just dont get completely trashed (as an au pair did who came after my friend finished her year she didnt last a month). Your main reason to be in the US is for the children. But you have to have the chance to meet and socialize with people. If this helps when my host parents asked me if I did drink during the interview process I said only occasionally.

Host Mommy Dearest May 2, 2010 at 6:37 pm

I also think your social life description sounds totally reasonable as well, but keep in mind that most clubs, unless it is a special, less frequent “under 21” night, will not even allow you to enter the door of the club regardless of whether you plan to drink a drop of alcohol or not. One concern for me is whether the incoming AP will stay home and be miserable at 19 in the US, or will she find other fun things to do with her friends that are creative, adventurous and legal? Most APs know they can’t drink under 21, but they don’t know they can’t “get in” to clubs.

theGermanGirl-FutureAP May 3, 2010 at 7:37 pm

hey, thank you all for the replies!

I hope it will be fine and of course there are plenty other fun things to do and I’ll make sure to find them :)

but I’m really glad that it’s not how I thought, that ‘partying’/going out is not an absolute no-go but really okay, so thanks again for your answers!

MommyMia May 1, 2010 at 1:11 pm

I agree with PA AP Mom that extension APs are quite attractive to many families, and definitely be honest if the question of your partner comes up. Some families will be OK with it, and you may find that certain states/cities are more conservative than others, but remember since the feed here is “stereotyping” that every family is unique, and there will be accepting families who are mainly concerned with your relationship with the children. And, many want/need an au pair who’s not just an employee but it is a part of their family! Good luck.

FrenchAupair May 1, 2010 at 1:41 pm

Thank you PA AP mom and MommyMia for answering :)

I’ll definitely go with the honest answer. I’ve always thought that. I just wonder how many families could decide that I can’t be their AuPair because of that reason. I know I’ll start talking to families soon and it stresses me. I thought I had found the perfect family the 1st time but it wasn’t the family for me. I don’t want to make the same “mistakes”. I’m definitely more aware of the families’ expectations now that I have spent months here. I realized that the 1st match went way too fast. Anyway, I am rambling now. I’m glad I decided to post and ask that question :)

Donna May 1, 2010 at 5:35 pm

Wow I’m amazed no-one has mentioned British Au Pairs? Not any views on them at all?…

Dorsi May 3, 2010 at 1:26 pm

Are you in the U.S. Donna? Have you ever seen a candidate from Britain in your applicant pool/local cluster. For whatever reason (visas, opportunity, language, etc) — I don’t think British Au Pairs come to the United States, or do so in such small numbers that no one is ready to generalize. (And this site is mostly about US families and their APs.)

Donna May 3, 2010 at 3:35 pm

No I’m hoping to become an Au Pair in US though :) There seems to be plenty who go out there from UK, probably not in such great numbers though. I was just amazed no-one has come into contact much with them.

Taking a computer lunch May 1, 2010 at 9:00 pm

I would not have a problem with an au pair who is either gay or lesbian. I’ve had au pairs who have had lesbian relationships – I just wanted them to be happy and in a good relationship. (We’ve never had male candidates – as much as it might be easier for The Camel to be cared for by a strong man, either our agency doesn’t have many or most do not have experience with special needs children.)

On the other hand, I would advise you to tread lightly about how much of yourself you reveal to a potentional HF. When The Camel had nurses instead of au pairs (we were living in 3 bedrooms while the rest of the house was gutted), one reacted very strongly to the daughter of our next door neighbors – she didn’t understand how she could have two mommies and was rather vile when she realized what it meant. If it is very important to you that your host family be aware, then ask a leading question about tolerance. Of course, if you really want to be sure that you are completely accepted, then do come out to them.

Long Island Host Mom May 2, 2010 at 2:30 am

Our 1st au pair was last year and she was a German au pair. We communicated for months…I thought I really knew her – but boy was I wrong. She hated rules…was a partier and was more interested in her hair and makeup than childcare. We realized the safety and care of our 1 child was in danger. Needless to say we were in rematch after 1 month. I was skeptical not only about getting another German au pair – but the au pair process as a whole. There was a German au pair close by in rematch – we met after reading her profile…and decided to take a chance. How I wish we had her from the beginning. She is just great. And now as we are searching for her replacement for this summer – since she is going back to start university for her career – and we are actually interested in German, Austrian or Swiss Au pairs. We know and met all her friends (and she has alot) and they are all lovely. I learned my lesson…I know now what to look for and what to ask. Her responses will tell alot. So – we are hoping for the best and like many have said – its somewhat the roll of the dice….but goals, upbringing, things they do in spare time, family relationships, lots of topics and issues need to be explored…read between the lines = its not what country they are from – its more about what family they come from and what they want their year to be and what goals they have when they go back.

Natt May 2, 2010 at 4:25 am

We’re onto our 5th aupair now, and our 4th nationality. Aupair #1 was from Germany – she was a great driver, great with the kids, lovely and laid back attitude. #2 from Australia (We are in Australia) – a complete and utter disaster! Very immature, to say the least! She last 6 weeks with us before we asked her to leave. #3 from Germany – more rigid and argumentative. Good with the kids. Didn’t drive. #4 from Japan – wonderful soul!! Fabulous cook, a little soft on the children, very driven and focused. #5 from Sweden – with us for 6 weeks now, and going strong! :)

The more aupairs we have, the more I realise that nationality isn’t really important. Alot of countries cannot get the working holiday visa required, so that rules out people from Latin America, except Chile (IF they are tertiary educated). Also excluded is Spain, South Africa, and other countries I can’t recall off the top of my head!

Our next aupair is coming from The Netherlands, and we are in the process of finding someone for early next year. Visa holders can only stay with one ’employer’ for 6 months, hence the rapid turnover of aupairs.

We really look for somebody who will mesh well with our family. Somebody who is patient, likes a bit of ‘craziness’ (my husband will never grow up haha), and really wants to be part of our family.

FormerAu Pair 2 times May 4, 2010 at 2:46 pm

what about Latin AP´s? from Mexico, Argentina, Ecuador?

Darthastewart May 4, 2010 at 3:39 pm

I tend to not get au-pairs from those countries. I had one from Mexico, and we ended up speaking nothing but Spanish. It is SOOO hard to speak English, when it would just be easier to explain in Spanish or Portuguese (Brasil).

anonmom May 4, 2010 at 3:30 pm

We never consider au pairs from Brazil, Ecuador, Mexico, etc. This is based on a few reasons, not the least of which is the lack of experience driving in ice and snow. That is our first reason, as we need a good driver. In addition, as far as sterrotypes go, sadly ,the Brazilian au pairs we have seen in our cluster have been the most ‘social’- by that I mean partying at all hours, and not caring much for host family rules. In addition, we usually only choose au pairs from very specific countries- such as Norway, Denmark, Sweden, and Germany. Again, the main reason is that their driving requirements are such that we feel comfortable knowing that when they arrive here they will, almost always, be better drivers than most NY drivers. In Germany, as part of getting a license, the driver takes CPR and First Aid as part of their classes before they get their license. We also choose au pairs based on whether they list a religion or not. If they say they are atheist, then we will not select them. This is important to us. It does not necessarily matter if they are Jewish, Catholic, Protestant, etc. but I feel it is important that they are raised with some religious beliefs/instruction. To me, it goes toward their moral compass, and their desire to be part of a family, understanding rules, etc.

We will not take au pairs from Thailand, China, Japan, etc. as 1) the driving issue, and 2) the differences in culture may not be compatible with our family. Friends had a wonderful au pair from Thailand, but she was scared to death to drive here in US. For us, our au pair is also a ‘taxi’ driver to the kids. We hosted an exchange student from Korea, and while not an au pair, we would not ever consider an au pair from their, either, based on that experience.

Aupairgal May 5, 2010 at 5:14 pm

Religion has nothing to do with “moral compass, and their desire to be part of a family, understanding rules, etc.”

Az. May 6, 2010 at 12:39 pm

I agree. I also find that quite offensive.

Aupairgal May 6, 2010 at 4:02 pm

anonmom, I would also like to point out that the countries from which you prefer to choose aupairs from, are also countries that have some of the largest percentages of atheists in the world.

aria May 6, 2010 at 6:05 pm

I understand how what anonmom said about moral compasses can come across the wrong way, Aupairgal, but I see where she’s coming from.

I was raised Catholic, went to Catholic school, and then when I was about 13, I decided religion was stupid and I was going to be an atheist, and now, I’m in a happy medium, and I would classify myself as agnosticky-Catholic. BUT- if and when I ever have children, I know for sure that I would raise them in the Catholic Church, because of what anonmom said- being part of an established religion does instill certain things in you. It doesn’t mean you need religion to be a good person, or vice versa, but it does create something.

Az. May 6, 2010 at 7:28 pm

With all due respect, I think that’s complete nonsense. Having a family who care enough to teach you the importance of certain values will instill them in you. Whether those values come from religion or not is irrelevant. I can think of plenty of religious people whose moral compass is warped, just as I can think of plenty of atheists/agnostics to whom this also applies. It all comes down to your upbringing and/or your character.

CV, would this subject perhaps be better as its own post? I’m curious to see what other people think.

Lucky 7 HM May 6, 2010 at 10:50 pm

I am certainly not going to weigh in on the value of religion, but I don’t think anonmom is saying you have no moral compass if you’re not religious (I could be wrong here). This post is all about generalizations and trying to find an au pair that is a good fit for your family. We all try to get a sense of an au pair candidate via phone interviews and emails, but sometimes we have to resort to generalizations, like Germans are good drivers, or older candidates are more mature, or religious candidates have a more solid moral compass. None of these generalizations are necessarily true, but unfortunately I have found that much of what is written on many au pair candidates’ applications is not true either. I think if people find generalizations that work for them they should stick with them.

Aupairgal May 7, 2010 at 5:46 am

aria, I’m not sure what you mean by “create something”.

I am also baffled by the conjecture that an atheist/agnostic (whatever you want to call them) would have no “desire to be part of a family” or might have difficulty “understanding the rules”.

PA AP mom May 7, 2010 at 1:10 pm

I guess I am the opposite. I agree that religion has nothing to do with “moral compass”. I was raised in a church with a lot of hypocrites who showed one face at church and quite another the rest of the time. I am now an agnostic.

We don’t want an AP who is religious and regularly attends services. We NEVER want to put an AP in the position to have to choose between church services and family events. It wouldn’t be fair and lots of our family stuff is during normal church time, because none of us attend church.

You can be a moral and spiritual person without organized religion. For sure.

Taking a computer lunch May 7, 2010 at 3:01 pm

While we don’t mind religious au pairs who regularly attend services (we’ve had two non-Christian Brazilians who went to “temple” every week and are now hosting a Buddhist), we do look carefully at applications when it comes to religion. DH and I are raising our children as secular Jews and do not want them put in a situation where they feel uncomfortable in their own home. We can only look at “special needs willing” au pairs, because of The Camel, and a high proportion of them seem to be evangelical Christians. I’m grateful that they sprinkle references to God through their documentation and write such things as “I wouldn’t be comfortable living with someone who didn’t believe in Jesus Christ,” because it permits me to decline their application without a second thought. I am sure they are good women, and will be a perfect match in someone else’s home. We have rarely ever asked an AP to work on a Sunday, but we often need help on Saturdays when DH or I must work, so that rules out religious Jews, as compelling as they might seem.

Mi May 6, 2010 at 12:53 am

I didn’t read all the comments, because really let me down. I’m a brazilian girl, and i’m going be au pair in august. And i thank God, that my host family don’t think that way. Please, like some brazilian au pairs said here, we are not all “party girls”. Most of us want to be au pair for to know your culture, improve english and have better opportunities when back to home. It’s not because Brazil is the Carnaval country that we make party all the time and we’re interested just in have fun. Is not to easy for us spend one year or so, far away of family so we really need of friends and have fun. Of course, a lot of responsibility, au pair is a job. I thank my host family for giving me the opportunity to show more about my country, how rich and amazing it is. We can take care of your children with love and affection. Help them has a healthy childhood, rich in discoveries. Like any au pairs from any other place from Europe. If you know more about Brazil, you can see a happy and lovely people but also hard working, smart that respect each religion, each race, that has arms opened to recieve everyone that approach. I love my country, and is not fair let anyone that are not prepared to be au pair represent us. Sorry if has some mistakes, but one of my reasons to be au pair is improve it.

Previous au pair May 6, 2010 at 2:00 am

I agree you cant generalize people. goodluck being an au pair:)

Beatriz February 2, 2011 at 11:16 am

I’m Brazilian too and I’m going to to be an au pair in April. My host family is amazing and I’m very very that they don’t think this way, like yours.

luziane May 6, 2010 at 8:25 am

I didn’t read all the comments, because really let me down. I’m a brazilian girl, and i’m au pair in Boston this its my second year . And i thank God, that my host family don’t think that way.Its so funny because my host family just choose another Brazilian girl..lolol… Please, like some brazilian au pairs said here, we are not all “party girls”. Most of us want to be au pair for to know your culture, improve english and have better opportunities when back to home. It’s not because Brazil is the Carnaval country that we make party all the time and we’re interested just in have fun. Of course, a lot of responsibility, au pair is a job. I thank my host family for giving me the opportunity to show more about my country, how rich and amazing it is. We can take care of your children with love and affection. Help them has a healthy childhood, rich in discoveries. Like any au pairs from any other places. If you know more about Brazil, you can see a happy and lovely people but also hard working, smart that respect each religion, each race, that has arms opened to recieve everyone that approach. I love my country, and is not fair let anyone that are not prepared to be au pair represent us. Sorry if has some mistakes, but one of my reasons to be au pair is improve it.


TomPier May 6, 2010 at 11:20 am

great post as usual!

Aupairgal May 7, 2010 at 3:38 pm

I will say that when I interviewed with my family, I did ask them how they were religiously. I also informed them a bit about my beliefs and what I would tell the children if asked directly by them and that I cannot lie about my beliefs, even though I would always phrase it as “Well, I believe that…”.
I will also say, just as a plus point, I specifically asked my host mom what she would be comfortable with me saying if her son asked me about such things as sex, a penis, a vagina,…etc. I respect that it is their choice for them teach their children the way they want to, which is why I asked such questions.

potential AP in match process June 10, 2010 at 3:21 am

Hi DHM&DHD! My name is Karelin & im a potencial au pair in the match process with 7120hours of childcare experience, I trully love kids so Im looking for a lovely family which would love to spend an incredible experience with me, Im with Au Pair In America & I did a page about me & my environment & my skills specially for you, dont hesitate in call me or ask me anything. Good day!

south african au pair June 13, 2010 at 10:30 am

just wanted to say related and unrelated i think south african girls make great au pairs. South africa has many different cultures and are very open to accomodating others and their cultures. i’m not saying some arent ‘party girls’…i think all countries have those. i am a white afrikaans south african girl, i add this because my culture differs from black/indian south affrican girls so i cant speak for them. In general afrikaans girls are raised with good values and respect for older people is a major thing. i dont like the idea of getting an au pair because you perhaps want you kids learning a new language or about a new culture…if i looked for an au pair i would look at their similarities…things like this girl has a good family life back home…so she will understand my family and our family values. i wouldnt ever get an au pair who didnt speak english really well or was from another religion…but that is my preference i guess. the agency i am using is very strick about who can and can not au pair. I have to take a personality test and the assessment is done by scotland yard…and some girls have been told they cant go because this test does pick up if you have other intentions or whether you are lying or hiding something.
i havent been aproached by host families since i havent completed my portfolio yet…but i wouldnt agree to live/work with a family if i didnt feel that we have enough in commom that i would fit in…

If anybody has a horror story about a south african au pair…i would really like to hear about it…

(english is not my first language so sorry if there are any mistakes;) )

Happy Host Mom January 2, 2011 at 12:44 pm

Dear HMs and HDs and APs: I have had 5 au pairs from 4 countries. While there are cultural commonalities that you can generalize – much as folks around the world generalize about Americans – each au pair is an individual. Their country’s cultural and religious/secular views do color the girls’ personalities and experiences. It is what makes them interesting and sometimes can make the match a difficult adjustment for the parents, children and au pairs. I have had friends from different areas of the world who I know would not make a good au pair fit and have sought to avoid the most challenging differences while my kids were too young to be understanding or flexible. However, as they mature we are discussing those options with the understanding from the girls that they too will have to be flexible to make it work (they are now tweens and heading to teens). We have had a wonderful Brazilian au pair (did have a bit of adjusting to the more social behavior – but would happily have another Brazilian in our home) whose warmth and wonderful food really benefitted our family. She still emails 5 years later and we loved her. We’ve had two very different Swedish au pairs (also very enjoyable experiences) and a German and South African. The more I know the girls, the more I realize how their cultures color their life views but also benefit us. If you are a very organized and rigid personality (I’m not) then a girl (or boy) from a similarly structured culture may be the best place to start. If you are very warm and outgoing (think Brazilian, South American and mediterranean for examples only) you may like to start there. Each au pair is a person and so look for markers of characteristics that will suit your family and help the au pair adjust more quickly. Be frank about who you are too – as it is not fair to miss that it is a two way street – both sides have to work like in any relationship to make it really good and happy. This is for your children – so don’t expect it to be too easy or be shy of what you are looking for and ask her too. We realize an au pair with similar sibling experience is really helpful – they have taught me more than a thing or two about having sisters (which I didn’t have) and how they can argue and grow together. Let them cook – encourage it – it’s a great way to share culture. Invite their friends to the house if you feel comfortable with it – it’s a great way to share more.

For generalities, they do form a bases for a reason: Swedes have a fairly open, democratic and fairness based approach – which I really appreciate. We have a real appreciation for how they view things, and like their open families and acceptance of others. Brazilians are very warm and many are very family and friend oriented. If you are in their orbit, and encourage their friends to join you, it can be wonderful. Their social network is strong and so if the girl feels welcomed, she will be a happy and loving caretaker for your children, especially if you don’t look down on her need to socialize. Germans (besides being wonderful drivers) may at first appear less warm, but are very loving au pairs, but if you are chaotic and changeable, it can be a struggle for both sides. I realize for this relationship to work, I have to be honest about who I am and meet the au pair on common ground. My S.A. au pair we love but there are at least 3 or 4 different cultures there and each is very distinctive. Ours was Afrikaans. I wouldn’t trade her for the world. One of our Swedes suggested an S.A. because of a friendship she struck up. Turns out one was English and the other Afrikaaner which is very different – still the end result was a great choice for us. We didn’t realize that say OMG was a “curse” to her, and it took a bit to change so we didn’t offend, but couldn’t manage that for everyone else she came in contact with – became a little bit of a running joke (she had a great sense of humor). We look at each au pair as a new opportunity. I have learned to cook many new foods, heard different tongues, discussed many different religious and cultural views and problems…it is a little like traveling to a new country each year. To appreciate it truly – you have to be a little flexible and so does your au pair. We have a pretty strong house hold personality and the kids don’t exactly jump when you say jump so have avoided cultures where that might be a bit problem (thai – lovely but fear my kids would walk on them from my college friendships with charming thai and indonesian women, asian cultures – though we may try that next for my Japan crazy daughter). Our friends have had different cultural experiences and we’ve really liked their APs so again country is a start but personal experience and interests has to have a higher place in the decision making. Who she is, is really going to more important, than what passport she holds and what tongue she speaks… though it does impact her views on how life is and should be. Remember they are young women – and think back on who you were at the same age – for a sanity check. Think if you could do this … leave your home and move to a strange country and culture and live with strangers on a personal level for a year without any bumps in the road. It’s a big thing and can be a great opportunity for success or not. Good luck and enjoy it! We are about to start thinking about our 6th au pair… I hate looking it means I have to say good bye soon to a new friend. But I love meeting new people – all a paradox heh? LOL!

Beatriz February 2, 2011 at 11:10 am

I’m shocked with the opinion of that host mom and reputation of the Brazilian au pairs! Not so!
I am Brazilian, don’t like parties AT ALL and I like to stay home reading, talking to my family, playing with my little cousins, watching a movie…
I don’t think has much to do with nationality, but the person by its own!
I’ve met many mad Germans girls, and they have a reputation for being neat!!!
The Brazilians are lively, cheerful, fun and full of energy, but that does not mean we are “addicted to nightlife au pairs”!
I vote for Brazilians best au pairs that exist! Were it otherwise, would not exist so many of us are applying … we are the majority and I think we’re also very loved by the families!
I apologize for the arrogance, but I’m very upset with the review! And thanks SOOOO MUCH to all the host moms who have defended us :) I’m sure that many Brazilian au pairs will bring great pride to their families and very caring and fun for kids!

Alessandra February 2, 2011 at 11:35 am

Are all American people fat? Are all New Yorkers workaholic? Are all men from San Francisco gays?
Some families may have had a bad experience with a brasilian au apir, but we are not all like like!

Alessandra February 2, 2011 at 12:08 pm

To be continued…! lol
…Some families may have had a bad experience with a brasilian au pair, but we are not all like that.
I´ve known many stereotypes related to American people (I´ve written some above). Do you think any of them is true???
There are so many Au pair girls from Brazil that look up to America and want to learn about a new language and a diferent culture there…I just CAN`T believe that not even one girl is what you´re looking for…..

She February 2, 2011 at 12:39 pm

Spoiled princess? Are you kidding?
We, Brazilian au pairs, are very lively, fun, and yes, we know how to have fun! We do not accept being treated like garbage, it does not make us spoiled?
We, Brazilian, are extremely responsible, we fulfill time, we do not like drugs and irresponsible direction! We don’t pass a teens in rehab.
Most of us are formed in college, work until early and go forr a dream of living a year in the United States to gain fluency in English and return to this great experience.
Because we studied, and we are very loving, we don’t accept being treated badly. That does not make us spoiled!
The vast majority of good host families who had a Brazilian au pair, work with Brazilian forever. As my lovely host family, who had four brazilian au pairs and visits Brazil often.
If we Brazilian believed in all that talk about the Americans, we never cease our wonderful country for a year to go to America! It turns out that we Brazilians are not prejudiced.
This post has great appeal prejudiced, judge and generalize.
Surely this is much the cruel host family with their au pairs, mainly to make a comment like this deplorable.
sorry about my bad english, I’ll improve!
Thanks and good luck!

Steff February 2, 2011 at 2:34 pm

Oh boy…here are my two cents playing Devil’s advocate somewhat…You can NOT generalize ALL Brazilian APs as “great” APs per se. “We, Brazilian, are extremely responsible, we fulfill time, we do not like drugs and irresponsible direction! We don’t pass a teens in rehab…” Really?? ALL of you are like that? I highly doubt that. Of course, I understand where you are coming “defending” your home country and stuff, but you can’t on the other hand come here and tell there aren’t Brazilian girls who are indeed NOT responsible, and LOVE parties, and like drugs, and end up in rehab. No country, no culture, especially, NO person is perfect, and you are certainly lying to herself and to us, trying to talk us into believe every Brazilian AP is lively, fun and a great AP. Of course, many are, maybe you are one of those, but you’d find BAD seeds everywhere you go. EVEN, in Brazil buddy…

HRHM February 2, 2011 at 2:55 pm

I have to say, my two concerns about Brazilian APs are 1) it’s not a “car culture” and so MOST young brazilian women do not have great driving experience (this can be said for a lot of countries and is also why we don’t consider Thai, Russian, Ukraine, etc) 2)in Brazil it is VERY common for even families of modest means to have domestic help so most Brazilian girls were raised in household where much of the dirty work was done by someone paid to do so. In the US, most middle-class families can’t afford domestic help and so the HPs (and the AP!) need to cook, clean toilets, wash dishes. For many Brazilian APs this is a foreign idea and can lead to some conflict, some however, rise to the challenge easily with a little training.

I don’t care if Brazilian APs party their butts off on the weekend, as long as they are rested and ready for the work day.

Kely February 2, 2011 at 4:11 pm

Sorry, but you should definitely avoid using this kind of expression: “party butts off”. Besides sounding of bad taste, it also sounds mean, prejudiced and somehow sexist.
But that’s up to you. That’s you and your choice. It is just my piece of advice.

Thank you.

Kely February 2, 2011 at 3:40 pm

First of all I am Brazilian. And I am not a “party girl”, at least not in the bad concept some people may have when they use this expression. And I feel so sorry for these people who still believe in stereotypes. They are poor people to me. They can be rich of money, but they are poor of spirit. That’s the worst quality a person can have in my opinion. I have always hated any kind of prejudices. That’s how I was raised. That’s the education I got from my family, from life and from my good sense. I am young and of course I like having fun. Just the way I am sure all young people do(Actually having fun, in my opinion, has no age), it does not matter if they are Brazilians, Americans or French people or whatever their nationality is. And by having fun I do not mean acting in a “wrong” manner. I am not for or against people who do so, I just respect people and their choices and most of it, I respect their differences. What I am trying to say is that we are different. Not all people act like that to have fun. I can have fun and keep with me my character and principles at the same time. I do not need to be lecherous to enjoy life and I should definitely not be classified as being so, just because some people have chosen to be. We should not assume we know about a whole population and country from what we read in the newspaper/internet or from what we watch on TV. There are a lot of good things that some means of communication are just not interested in showing us, because they sell what is profitable for them to sell. That’s our decision judging if we are going to buy everything they try to sell us and if we are going to believe that it is the whole and only truth that there is for us to know. We should not generalize people. That’s inhuman, not to say prepotent. I am sorry, but that’s the way I think. We are not machines to be put in a room and classified as the same, as thinking the same and acting the same. We have brains, we have personalities and we have own free will to decide who we want to be and how different we want to be. And I believe there are a lot of girls, all over the world, not just here in my country, Brazil, who are correct and good girls, no matter the wrong view and idea some people may have built of their culture and of them. I am one of these girls. I know who I am and it will not be some (fortunately) few people, who do not know me, who will say who I am just because they have a stereotyped idea that we are all the same. I have always been hard-working, honest and respectful. I have principles and personality. I know how to differ good things from bad things, and I have always chosen the good and healthy ones for my life. But that’s me. And there are a lot of other people who are just like me in my country. We are different, but we carry the same honorable style of life. Most of my friends, who are going to be au pairs too, are always struggling to do their best. And that’s how I see Brazilian good girls. That’s how I see African, Swedish, French, Argentinean, North American, Japanese, Chinese, Chilean, German and all the good girls in the world.

Let’s please stop judging and stereotyping people, shall we? Let’s remember that each human being is unique!

Thank you.

My best regards.

Au Pair London September 8, 2011 at 6:25 am

In my opinion, nationalities itself are not important. It does not make a lot of sense to me if German au pairs are picked because people say they are”organized” and “mature”. Or Brazilian or Swedish au pairs get the job cause they are know for being so “loving” and “caring”.

a great au pair September 9, 2011 at 9:17 pm

I am not brazilian but I have been there many times because it is a wonderful country. You said that Brazil does not have car culture.. Seriously, do you think that brazilians travel by crocodile? that they just party all the time and live in a jungle… you have a prejudice I invite you to go to Brazil and realize that apart from Argentina and Colombia, is the most developed country in south america, that has big cities and of course big road and CARS, and not automatic ones, what means that Brazilian and south americans DOES drive not like here that cars are like toys!!!!….. and for your information Americans party more than them and with that comment you did you just show how ignorant and egocentric some Americans (NOT ALL OF THEM) can be… Good luck with your prejudices…

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