Choosing an Au Pair: Sexual Orientation as a consideration

by cv harquail on May 5, 2010

When we are looking for au pair candidates who might be a good fit with our family, we have criteria (e.g., must drive, can’t smoke, likes dogs) that are non-negotiable.

We have preferences that direct us to candidates with characteristics we think we’d like in an au pair (e.g., is musically talented, family-oriented, German).

And then we have ‘considerations‘, which are things we want to keep in mind as we evaluate prospective au pairs.

FrenchAuPair mentioned one feature of au pairs that might be something host families consider: the au pair’s sexual orientation.

Now, not every host family cares to know about an au pair’s sex life, and not every family wants an au pair who is will be sexually active. But regardless of whether or not an au pair gets involved with a relationship partner (or partners) she or he may likely have some romantic activity over the course of her/his au pair year. This may mean crushes, flirtations, whatever. Romantic activity can happen regardless of an au pair’s sexual orientation. And, even if there is no romantic activity per se, your au pair’s sexual orientation is part of who she or he is.

Your au pair’s romantic activity may be completely off your host parent radar. And, you may want it to stay that way.

However, there are at least two reasons why you may want to be aware of your au pair’s sexual orientation.

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First, you may have some concerns about your au pair’s orientation and how to ‘fit this in’ with your family. Whether or not you are a ‘gay/bi-/queer positive’ person, you may feel more or less comfortable establishing a family-member-like relationship with a person whose orientation is different from your own and/or new to you.

Just because you’re ‘positive’ doesn’t mean you are ‘comfy’. And that’s completely normal.

Part of learning to embrace diversity and difference is learning how to develop close relationships with people whose life experiences and self-definitions are different from yours. And, this learning happens in layers… you start with one level of comfort, feel awkward, deal with it, grow closer, and then move to another level. Being ‘positive’ in theory is great; being ‘positive’ in close, daily interaction can be more challenging.

A second reason you may want to be aware of your au pair’s sexual orientation is that (1) in order to really know a person, and (2) in order to let another person grow, you need to acknowledge and be able to affirm the parts of them that they value.

You can’t have a good relationship with an au pair who is in the closet in your family but who really wants to be out. You can’t have a good relationship with a person who is experimenting with who he or she is while being judgmental of their experimenting. And, you can’t provide a healthy environment for your au pair and your family when you are unwilling to see them for who they are. This is true with regard to sexual orientation, ethnicity, spirituality, personality, and everything in between.

FrenchAuPair asks:

I am in a relationship, with a girl. My current host family doesn’t know. I am not hiding that relationship but they don’t ask about my personal life and I don’t talk about it either. I don’t plan on lying to my next family when I extend. If they ask me “Do you have a boyfriend?”, I will say “No, but I have a girlfriend.” I wonder if a lot of host families would have a problem with that.

I know some people don’t accept homosexuality. I just wonder to what extent? Would your reaction be a big No-no if a candidate was in a relationship with someone the same sex?

ShouldBeWorking replied:

Great question. I have wondered about all the ‘boyfriend’ discussions on this site, which presume that au pairs are all straight. And, moreover, do not acknowledge that as a young adult the au pair might be questioning her/his sexuality.

Not sure in your shoes whether I would say, “No, I don’t have a boyfriend,” or “No, but I have a girlfriend.” The former is to-the-letter honest but a little dodgy. If I chose the latter, I would put it in context, “Since you ask about a boyfriend, I wanted to let you know that my partner is a woman. Would that be a problem for your family? I am looking for a family that would be accepting and would not have a problem with this.”

This could pose problems for some matches, I imagine. But surely there are some families out there that would be fine with it?

Related note: I think an openly gay male au pair would face a lot of challenges getting selected, but I’m not sure whether it would even be harder for an openly lesbian woman!

Another: I have told prospective au pairs that we have gay friends, gay families are a regularity here, and ask if they are uncomfortable with that. I do this both to let them know what life here is like and to signal a gay-friendly attitude.

Similarly, TakingAComputerLunch added:

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.

Just as we may want au pairs to be comfortable with our own sexual orientation and be comfortable with the diversity across our own families, friends and communities, we want to make sure we can make them comfortable too.

Thoughts on this? How would you respond to FrenchAuPair’s question?

Image: Friendly Warmth from Alex Pete Patellis

{ 71 comments }

Mom23 May 5, 2010 at 9:33 am

My first reaction when I read this was that it wouldn’t matter what my au pair’s sexual orientation was. I really don’t care.

However, as I thought about it a bit more, I could see that an au pair in a same sex relationship might be a big plus. We live in a bigger city and some au pairs that we have had haven’t liked the diversity of living in a city, although all have said initially that they did.

Someone in a same sex relationship might seek out a more diverse environment in which to live and be happier living in a city (using the logic happy au pair = happy host mom).

One of our best au pairs was a young woman who was an extension au pair who wasn’t allowed to invite her boyfriend to her first host family’s home. We were open to it and it worked out well.

I think if I were an au pair, I would not want to be an au pair in a family that did not accept who I was. So, I think telling a potential host family would help ensure a good match.

PA AP mom May 5, 2010 at 9:43 am

I definitely think that relationship status should be discussed prior to a match.

To me, it wouldn’t matter if an AP was gay/straight/bisexual, but I don’t want an AP with any type of relationship back home. Been there, done that, lived the disasterous breakup with a miserable au pair.

I never want an AP to feel that she needs to pretend to be someone she is not in our family!

anonmom May 5, 2010 at 10:00 am

I have to be honest here, as far as my children are concerned, I would not accept an openly gay/lesbian au pair. My children are still young, and it is not something I am prepared to discuss with them at this time. I have also never asked an au pair about their sexual orientation, but I have asked them about their current relationships, and what their boyfriend or friends think of their being here for the year.

Generally, up until this year, I have not selected au pairs with tattoos. I also do not select au pairs with body piercings. Call me whatever you like, but I prefer to keep those issues out of the view of my children. The tattoos and body piercings are things we don’t agree with or want our children to emulate.

PA AP mom May 5, 2010 at 11:19 am

This, to me, is the best part of the au pair program. You can choose whichever au pair you feel is best for YOUR family and I can do the same. There is no “standard” to which everyone must conform.

The sexual orientation discussion came up early for us because a little girl in my oldest son’s preschool class (age 3) had 2 moms. He is now in the same third grade class with the same little girl and she is one of his best friends and her moms are both wonderful, supportive parents. I guess it is our background that makes it a non-issue.

That being said, I don’t discuss my current APs sexual preference with my boys. She is straight but her relationships are her business. I choose not to ask any questions and my boys aren’t interested in knowing either. Honestly, I don’t think my boys could even tell you if she has a girlfriend or a boyfriend or no significant other at all.

Calif Mom May 5, 2010 at 11:37 pm

Indeed. There are very conservative au pairs in the pipeline who would be a good fit for anonmom.

For our family, I make it clear during matching that we have queer friends. I share photos that make this very clear, as well, in case it doesn’t come across clearly enough with non-native speakers. When the aunties come to visit they stay at our house, and I don’t want to make them–or our au pair–uncomfortable about that.

I’ve never inquired about AP’s sexuality because it’s fine either way with us.

We believe gender preference is not something one chooses, it is something biological that one discovers about oneself. Multiple or non-earlobe body piercings, however, are a choice that we don’t support, either! I would have a hard time matching with someone who had big, obvious tats or piercings. Having worked in healthcare for years, there are too many risks and downstream consequences that young people don’t think about. And we’re blood donors.

good discussion, CV!

some Au Pair May 5, 2010 at 10:23 am

I would never tell my host parents about my love life. They are very religious and I am afraid that they think like anonmom.

In my opinion it is just wrong to hide children away from the world. To not let them hear words like: homosexual, drugs, war, alcohol…
But, hey, of course I respect my host families way of raising there kids!!!

Foermer AP July 16, 2010 at 11:51 am

I believe she said she was not ready tot ell her children about the sexuality issue, not that she would never tell them. I think here is such thing as being too young to know certain things.. You’re not going to tell a 4 year-old what sex is, so one might not want to tell their children that girls might like girls and boys might like boys too until they are old enough to understand it.

Elle May 5, 2010 at 10:57 am

I’ve often been annoyed that on this site most au pairs are just assumed to be straight women. My HF and I never discussed my sexuality directly (why is it their business? besides, I had a boyfriend back home) but I’m sure from small discussions and going through my old photo albums, and by the way they told me of an LGBT film festival in their capital the weekend we were there visiting that they new I did not identify as strictly straight. It never seemed to bother them (why would it?)

StephinBoston May 5, 2010 at 11:27 am

I honestly don’t mind what sexual orientation my au pair has. I do want a very honest relationship and I would want an au pair to volunteer the information if it came up. That being said, I do not ask my au pairs about their sexual orientation when interviewing.

I’ve had au pairs with boyfriends back home and some without and that’s worked well. One thing I haven’t experienced yet is an au pair meeting a boyfriend/girlfriend while spending time with us so I can’t comment on how that could affect the relationship.

JessicaLasVegas May 5, 2010 at 2:29 pm

I don’t care one iota about my female ap’s sexual orientation, nor do I care much about the existence of a significant other. My only requirement is that having an SO does not interfere with the quality of childcare, does not disturb my family’s schedule and quality of life, and that the SO treat the au pair with respect and dignity. (Not too much to ask for, is it?)

My husband has frequently commented to me that a male AP may be good for our son when our son is older. (Just an aside: I am sure my husband thinks a male AP would also come with less drama, whining and pouting.) But I’m hesitant about choosing a male AP, and I’m ashamed to admit that I would be even more hesitant about choosing a gay male AP for my son. I consider myself uber-queer friendly, I know gay men are not pedophiles, and I am also aware that many pedophiles live as straight men. But the voice in the back of my head keeps reminding me that most AP agencies have inadequate screening processes, and my screening is not bullet proof – no matter how hard I try. Does anyone else have these hesitations? I am being completely stupid?

maleaupairmommy May 7, 2010 at 3:06 am

out of three out au pairs only 1 has been gay and I didn’t care so I didn’t realize til he got here there are ways to research it on your own. The internet is full of info if you know where to look and honestly these kids do not have a clue on what I found on them. I’m like the best AP detective ever not perfect but I’m good learned over the years. facebook and translate google are my tools of the trade. BTW from experience male au pair are less drama and less emotional draining in my world. I would love a female au pair but I can’t take the chance.

Carlos May 28, 2011 at 7:44 pm

I’m curious about this topic and I know I’m replying something that was posted about a year ago but to JessicaLasVegas, if you read this let me tell you my story.

In January of this year I decided I want to spend a year as an au pair and I’m currently with cultural care waiting for a match, but when they sold me the au pair program they told me it would be easy to find a family. Something that you need to know is that I didn’t have any experience with children but with cultural care, they actually made me volunteer at a kinder garten and make hours of experience babysitting kids.

I have told this just to my family and to one client, mom of one kid that I babysat and it’s that I’ve had TONS of problems with stereotyping male care givers as gays or pedophiles, and I started to find out about this on february and I know it’s all the same on every single country but I’m from Mexico with this all macho-mentality that says that women should take care of kids and stuff, and I’ve received so many shame glances and “stay away from my kids” words that I lost the count and it really makes me feel sad, I didn’t knew this would be that hard… The minimum required of hours of experience that they ask me to have is 200, but still they said that I needed to do more so I keep trying to work with kids but this is very very hard. Not everybody trusts their kids to a guy, and in my personal opinion, I’ve seen many kids through all this months that start developing confused thoughts because families hide them from men, they don’t see us, they all have female teachers, female doctors, female ALL! they grow up following the WRONG ROLE!

About your question, as a male au pair I’ve lived thouse questions and I don’t blame parents like you, the world is such a mess right now, but please, don’t lose faith on men, we can teach, care and love kids as much as girls can.

And about the gay thing of the topic, like someone said above, If you don’t care, hire a gay au pair, if you care, hire a straight au pair, and like maleaupairmommy said down here, if you are afraid to ask your au pair about her/his sexuality you can look up for it yourself, google translator and facebook are VERY helpful… just sayin’

DarthaStewart May 28, 2011 at 8:53 pm

I don’t see how whether an au-pair is gay or straight necessarily means much for safety of the kids. I think it’s a personal preference to care whether an au-pair is straight or gay. To me, it makes no difference.

I think that in general it is very hard for any male au-pair to find a family. If you only have the minimum number of hours, then you really, really need to find time to volunteer with kids. I’ll also point out, that this experience is not a walk in the park. If you aren’t really into taking care of kids, it will be worse than a year of water torture.

Carlos May 28, 2011 at 9:34 pm

And that’s another problem that I have found lately… Cultural Care keeps telling me to get more hours of experience, I don’t know how many show on my profile but I know I have over 500 hours… and I can even do more… but let me tell you and all of the families that not all your au pairs will be taking care of kids for life… there are people like me that actually likes to do that. People has said to me that I have an angel with kids, and that I have exceptional skills… I can become a friend of a kid in 5 mins.. and I don’t need thousands of extra hours to know that and families need to know that also…

There was another post here in aupairmom.com which I really liked that was getting past stereotypes for au pairs. I personally beleive that hours of experience doesn’t mean how good you are with kids… I happened to realize on this year that I’m very good with them, I’ve been developed tons of child caring skills through all this years because my parents are psychologists and my mom gives therapy for kids, so it isn’t hard for me to control kids or to even care for them, but If something I’m pretty sure of is that I know I’m good with kids… and my future family will know that by the moment they see my profile and my pictures… get past the stereotype mrs. Stewart

Steff May 29, 2011 at 12:31 am

I feel like chiming in Carlos, because I guess I understand your ‘frustration’, that in fact, *every* Au pair goes through while in the matching process (it doesn’t matter if it’s a girl or a boy! We all go through that). In my opinion, one thing you should know, APs (girls& boys all together) outgrown the number of hostfamilies in the program *by far* :: Of course you wanna get a match, it’s pretty obvious you wanna go to the States & take care of someone’s children there for X and Y reasons, I don’t mind, but for what it’s worth, I’d tell you that you really should be patient. Sadly, perhaps even far more patient than AP-girls waiting for a match- but really, that’s just the way things are.

In my country for example, while our local agency of cultural care DOES accept male APs to enter the program, they however don’t have the same ‘200 hours of childcare experience *at the minimum* requirement’ – For male APs, the agency request from them at least, 2000 hours of experience (a lot, I know), almost PERFECT spoken English, as many courses as they can get, experience, experience, experience…and from the start, as soon as boys are even considering applying (I got friends who had wanted to be APs too) the agency told them how matching them wasn’t going to be easy– at all. Is it unfair for you and boys who really want to be in the program? Yes. I think so, too. But in truth there isn’t much more you can do other than keep preparing yourself. I think that when the agency tells you to get more experience they don’t do it because they just want to tell you something, they say that, because they know how most likely, a maleAP with 2000+ hours of Childcare experience is going to look more ‘ready’ for the job than a boy who only has the 200required hours— IMHO, the same goes with girls. They always told me to keep getting more experience with kids- all ages — and even after matched, the agency kept telling me not to stop- ‘Spend as much time with children” they said, and guess what? I did. After matched I got more experience with kids the same ages as my current Hostkids,, and to be honest, that actually helps the ‘transition’ to be easier. Being an AP is all about routines and **responsibilities**. A ‘Full-Time Job’ when you’ll be spending sometimes over 8hours a day, *every* day, with the kids. There is no way around it, if you want your year to be successful, you don’t wanna rush into it, and instead you should work hard– since home, getting as much more experience as you can… I’m anyway sincerely sorry if it’s been harder for you for being a boy, but there are things you just can’t change overnight only because they are wrong and doesn’t work for you….

Anyways, I’m sorry if my comment is not something you wanted to hear, but tbh, I kinda wanted to say it since I’ve ‘seen you’ around here for a lil while already, and well…I do wish you the best luck anyways :)

Carlos May 29, 2011 at 3:36 am

I don’t mind keep working with kids… my frustration is that there are specific families that request for male au pairs, and even though I don’t have thousands of hours of experience I do have experience, and most of the other guys have experience with a certain range of ages of kids… I have experience with kids from 2 years to 13 years… I DO HAVE EXPERIENCE… and I don’t mind getting more….

Like I said, my frustration is people not getting past the stereotype that 2000 hours with same aged kids are better than 600 hours with tons of kids from different ages…

Steff May 29, 2011 at 4:37 am

There is something you can not dispute anyway you put it : more experience is always always going to be better. Just like in ANY job. The more experience you get the better– and tbh, this is like any other job, why would a family want an AP with 100h with 3yo, 50 with 5yo , 150 with 11yo, and on & on, when they can have one that has 1000 or more with a 3yo who happens to be the age of their child?? I’m not completely in disagree with you, I just want you to see the other side of the coin. You want people to get past stereotypes & yet you DO generalize a lot, and that’s not right either (at least not IMO)

Without even realizing at first, I got for myself a good chunk of hours of childcare experience– I’ve been babysitting cousins & my nieces ever since they were babies and all the way as they grew up. I was far TOO naive thinking that was enough for the job. My last childcare experience was the one which I think really got me ready for the job. Spending five days a week, 8am till 5, with a 2yo (stuck in a small kindergarten– sometimes I’d give anything to just take her out to walk around the block as I thankfully can do with my hostchild among many other activities thank God heee), chasing after her at all times was like nothing I’ve done before. The job is a LOT of time spend solely with the kids. It was hard and at first I asked myself the “What the heck I’m doing here?” question (lol) and it took a LOT of getting used to, but then after a while I re-discovered why I actually was there, and now I love it, and I loove that 2yo with ALL my heart, but the first few days as she napped I was plain BORED…
Now I know how to deal with that, a whole ton other things (a little kid getting sick on you with temperature over 39ºC) and how I got there, getting more hours of experience. Don’t do it because of the agency or how many hours your profile will display, do it because being an AP is not just about being the kid’s friend in a five minute span, but what are you going to do over the next 8 hours or so…every day….

One thing you should really understand, “liking kids” and “being good with them” is certainly not enough. Spending time with them (as much as you can, I really stress that a lot lately) is what you should focus on right now if you really wanna be a good AP….

my 0.2cents…..

Carlos May 29, 2011 at 5:20 am

OH! MY GOD! YOU DON’T KNOW ME!

thanks for your advice, I appreciate it but seriously, I don’t think it fits in my case… let me apply your wisdom to my life in a certain way… because defenitely it was not all for me…

Steff May 29, 2011 at 7:53 pm

I was just giving you my opinion and my personal experience– the fact that even when I’ve been caring for children since I’m at least 12years old, I still wasn’t quite ready to be an AP when I signed up to it, and still wasn’t until I worked full-time at a kindergarten– I never meant to imply I knew you (When did I do that?! lol), much less intended for you to took what I said the wrong way…I am sorry you did…

To be honest, I guess I just wanted you to understand that the job really isn’t as easy as we ALL think it is when we first stumbled across the whole ‘Au Pair’ idea…good intentions aren’t enough even when you want something really bad. Experience is what matters at the end of the day, really. I’m very sorry if I came out wrong, honestly I just wanted to help :)

JJ Host Mom May 29, 2011 at 7:04 pm

I wouldn’t hire anyone, male, female, straight, or otherwise, with only 200 hours of childcare experience, especially if they had never done childcare prior to wanting to be an au pair, and even more especially if it was never on a concentrated, fulltime basis. Caring for a child (or children, in my case) fulltime is hard work and I want someone who knows that they can do it, because rematch is not as simple for the host families as you made it out to be in another post, Carlos.

Taking a Computer Lunch May 29, 2011 at 9:58 pm

Agreed.

Carlos May 29, 2011 at 10:33 pm

I encourage you to actually know me…

Carlos May 29, 2011 at 10:44 pm

And by the way, you’re not helping by saying that… that just makes me lose hope to leave before august this year… As I said before, hours of experience doesn’t mean you’re good kids…

I think I need to start looking somewhere else… I really don’t feel that my months of unpaid efforts treating with children shouldn’t be just thrown away because I didn’t have childcare experience before wanting to become an au pair.. I already said that most of the au pairs don’t plan to be nannies for the rest of their lives… 2 of my friends that are already living with a host family have plans of becoming graphic designers and musicians, so please… don’t be so rude with me… I really tried hard to fit to the basic the host family asks for and I can say without bragging that I’m one of the best shots you can have… good driver, good swimmer, and I just stopped teaching english to 2 little girls from 7-8 ages for 4 hours in a row, so I keep doing hours, I’m doing my best. I’m not just the “few hours guy” :(

Anonfor this time May 30, 2011 at 2:35 am

Carlos, I think you are expressing yourself in a rather unappealing and maybe a little disrespectful form towards HFs, and towards APs as well as I read your comment in another topic, I’d humbly advice you to think it twice before making statements as the ones you’ve been doing, having pity on yourself is NOT appealing. I hope you don’t get all “OMG you don’t know me” but take this as light advice. One thing that I’ve heard HFs look for in a male AP is the factor that they are supposed to be less drama or even drama free, but you’re not helping them buddy. Come on, do your best and don’t excuse under the “200 hours of quality is equal to 2200 hours”.

Carlos May 30, 2011 at 3:13 am

Thank you anonfor… I’m not mad, I really appreciate this… and like I said on the other post, I apologize if I offended someone because of the rematch statement, I didn’t mean to make it sound like it has to be that way… I even asked to be corrected if I was wrong and I defenitely was…

And about this topic.. I felt attacked by a lot of people, I wouldn’t mind but they are former au pairs, or even host families who somehow tell me that I will NOT make it… that I’m not enough…. people that really knows about all this au pair thing… and I felt like quitting… but then I said NAAAH!! Im gonna keep making hours as I’ve been doing.. if it happens that’ll be awesome, and if not… well I still have like half year to renew my contract with the agency so… I’ll see what happens by then…

I’m sorry, i felt misunderstood and that really frustrates me… then I wanted to explain myself and ended up worse… I’m gonna keep posting in here and forget about this ok? :)

I read everything and I like this website a LOT! it’s just amazing…

Steff May 30, 2011 at 4:14 am

I feel like perhaps this comment has dragged out a little too much already, so I’m just going to do leave it with this…to be honest, I still just don’t think you get it. You are not getting attacked– there’s a difference between “attacking” (that’s such strong word lol) and (at least trying) to give constructive-criticism.

It’s a fact you can’t dispute that more hours *indeed* mean more experience, so do that, keep getting way more experience because you are way more likely to match with a family if you learn more and more about children everyday. being an AP in my opinion is not just look out for the kids while mom and dad go to work — IMO, is a more complete role: you keep them safe, you love them, you feed them, you dress them, you play with them, you teach them, you drive them around and eventually become that person they’ll turn to when they need help. –But in truth an AP needs to KNOW how to that stuff {Know how (what) to cook to them that’s healthy enough according to their ages, which games are fun & yet appropriated enough for them, know what to do in the case (knock on wood) one of them gets heavily ill…etc. & well, how do you get that, getting more & more hours of experience– experience you’re likely to use once in the US….sadly for you, ‘experience’ is in fact measured by hours for us APs.

Without dragging out more, I just wanted to say for what it’s worth….I’m not former AP, let alone a hostparent, I’m just like you….and actually, regarding your prior post, now that I recall, I was too told by the agency I was in ‘disadvantage’ from the rest of the soon-to-be-APs because my degree isn’t directly related to childcare- i.e. pediatrician, teacher, etc… (I’m an Engineering dude (lol)- little to nothing to do with kids and mainly all about maths) & Yet, I had my experience and did more and that was not for the agency or to get a match sooner rather than later, but for *me*– because I realized (to a GREAT extend!) thanks to this site, that even when my AP year can be the best year of my life, it IS going to be HARD and not as pinky-pink as CC’s pamphlets– & to be honest, if you wanna have a great year, you gotta work hard to get it, and that means preparing yourself well since home…

Maybe you’ll get to go this August & I surely wish you luck and hope you don’t feel I’m ‘attacking’ you hehe :) I really just felt as stressing that if you are not ready, then you are not ready, but eventually you will be and more-surely then you’d get a great hostfamily with amazing kids to spend your year in the States :)

& ok, yes…I guess I’m done now …

PS : If I were you, I’d surely do the video if you haven’t already. — I for one, I’m not keen at all of APs-to-be who complain about not getting a match when they haven’t done everything the agency recommend us to do in order to get a ‘faster matching process’ lol — I hope your staff in your homecountry did tell you the statistics of approximate matching-time though : 6 to 8 months & one-year they told to us ;) Good Luck, Carlos!!

Carlos May 31, 2011 at 4:30 am

Thank you steff… the thing was that I still wanted to believe that having experience with different aged kids were better than thousands of hours with one specific age range of kids… and I know that you were not attacking me… I felt that way because I worked too hard and all of a sudden every active user in this blog started to say that they wouldn’t hire someone like me… try to understand the feeling… and now I know you were just trying to explain me that..

Well let me tell you that I keep working with kids and I’m very happy with it… I want to thank you for your advice and as I said before, for everyone else’s and steff, just to let you know also that I already have my au pair video…. I’ll be more than happy to share it with you .. just give me your email or I give you mine because I wouldn’t like to post it here.. I’ll feel like I’m selling myself or something… here’s my email if you want to watch it.. c_tena_86@hotmail.com

JustAnotherHM May 29, 2011 at 6:34 pm

We had a male AP who was more into drama than any of the girls we’ve had, and he also whined about everything. Now that I think back, I’m pretty sure he is gay (but probably in the closet). His manners reminded me of one of the gay realtors on that reality show…

Should be working May 30, 2011 at 12:45 pm

I feel compelled to point out that not all gay men are into drama, not all straight women are into drama, and whining comes in all orientations. Unfortunately. As do manners. Fortunately.

Anne Marie Segal May 5, 2010 at 2:57 pm

AuPairMom, this is a great question and very helpful and respectful treatment of the subject. Thanks for bringing this “out in the open” for discussion. I think each family needs to make its own assessment, and you are very right to say that being comfortable with someone else’s life choices is not necessarily the same as being comfortable with it in your own home.

FormerSwissAupair May 5, 2010 at 4:34 pm

Due to religious reasons, I would not feel comfortable having a homosexual AP.

FormerSwissAupair May 5, 2010 at 7:10 pm

Having said that, I also wouldn’t feel comfortable nannying for a gay/lesbian family.

girlAP May 6, 2010 at 12:09 am

Ha! This is so weird, I was just thinking about suggesting this topic yesterday, I’m kind of in a similar situation that FrenchAuPair is in, so now I have another question for host parents: I know some families allow their au pairs to have friends come over to the house and some even allow the au pair’s friends (of the same gender) to spend the night. The question is, would this benefit change if you knew that your AP is gay/lesbian?

Taking a computer lunch May 6, 2010 at 6:45 am

Not for me. We permit our APs to have friends and boyfriends/girlfriends over. Not all take us up on the significant other part – but all have invited friends to stay. My son has really bonded with some of my APs boyfriends, whom he sees as more hip than his Dad.

StephinBoston May 6, 2010 at 8:35 am

Wouldn’t change anything for me either, as long as I’m not surprised that someone is in my house when I wake up in the morning :-)

Tashina Hartley July 16, 2010 at 11:55 pm

Excellent question. Yes or no, it’s an important thing to think about!

One of Two Host Moms May 6, 2010 at 10:26 am

I am an avid reader of aupairmom and even have received the benefit of advice from all of you, but I have never commented – until today. I had to comment to say it is so refreshing to see so many of you indifferent to your au pair’s sexual orientation, while I still respect the right of each host family to choose an au pair that fits with their family and their beliefs, as PA AP Mom said.

My partner and I have an almost 18 month old son and I am pregnant with our second baby, due in November. We are currently on our second au pair and both have been straight; our current au pair even has a boyfriend here in the US. Initially I was concerned that it would be difficult for us to find an au pair willing to live with a two mom family. In all of our interviews the first disclosure I make to the interviewee is that we are a same-sex couple and want to make sure that the candidate is comfortable potentially living with us for a year (or two). I have not once had an adverse reaction in all the girls I have interviewed. Conversely, I do not ask a potential au pair about their sexual orientation because just as I wish it to be a non-issue for us as a family, it is a non-issue for me when choosing an au pair. I also realize as a same-sex couple, we are in the minority of host families and likely have a different vantage point.

cv harquail May 6, 2010 at 10:41 am

1of2HM- glad that a post got you ‘out’ as a commenter!
The idea of sexual orientation being a ‘non-issue’ for many of us is important– and I think it’s also key to recognize that (1) it can be a ‘non-issue’ b/c you don’t even think about an AP’s orientation, and (2) b/c you have thought about an ap’s orientation and concluded that it doesn’t matter to you. It’s that old Einstein quote about there being ‘simplicity, and simplicity on the far side of complexity’. My goal here is often to help us get through the complexity so that our own principles and values are clearer.

That said, now that you’ve commented, any chance we can tempt you to write a guest post about whether or not there are specific issues re: to au pairs in 2 Mom families, or something else? let me know via email…. cv

West Coast Mom May 6, 2010 at 12:25 pm

I never thought to ask about this, as it would not be an issue for us. In fact, it is the lack of acceptance that would be a problem. We live in area where same sex couples are not uncommon, and in fact, our kids have become friends with a set of twins with two moms, (whom we met thanks to our mutual au pairs, who became good friends while they were here. ) It would be difficult to live with our family without being pretty open minded about this and many other things. So we screen APs for more general qualities like open mindedness and acceptance of others.

My oldest is getting to the point of noticing the difference, but it’s just one of many things he notices about the world. One night at dinner he said, “Mommy, X and Y have two mommies. We don’t. Why?” And I said, “Well, sweetheart, families come in all shapes and sizes … a mommy and daddy, two mommies, two daddies, one mommy, or grandparents, or …” He was quiet for a moment, taking in what i said. Finally he responded, he voice loaded with envy: “Yeah, but two mommies … they are SOOOO lucky.”

And of course, he was right. ;-)

Az. May 6, 2010 at 12:49 pm

Awwww!

MAmama May 6, 2010 at 11:03 pm

I wish there was a way to “retweet” that!

StephinBoston May 6, 2010 at 4:42 pm

That’s just too sweet, it’s beautiful how children see things so simply. Thanks for sharing!

Chev May 6, 2010 at 10:43 pm

I think sexuality is one of the things that should be mentioned in your application alongside religion. I’m straight but my mum’s gay and so i’m a very proud PFLAG member back home and coming over here i made sure i had a family that was “gay positive” as CV put it.
If i was gay i’d want to suss out how a host family felt about it before confirming a match because I don’t think it’s something you should have to hide or feel uncomfortable about for a year, and if the families you were matched with did have issues with it or felt like it might make them uncomfortable living with you, isn’t it better to find out before coming over?

maleaupairmommy May 7, 2010 at 1:39 am

I feel like I really need to talk about this from my own experience. As you can see I get male au pairs and the chances of being gay or up there. Out of three male au pairs only one was gay. During the interveiw I ask him the gay one if he had a girlfriend why would I ask otherwise. He said no. He arrived and was/is best au pair. He is now living nearby and is Uncle to my kids. He had just broken up with his boyfriend of two years. Yes there was question because he had some things but our first au pair had the MO in that he was raised only by mom only child dad was never involved in their lives so I just chalked it up to that. Well I investigate my aupairs through their stay upon going through his myspace friends noticed many friends were gay and out and he came from a latin family. My husband and I are very liberal and we didn’t care we cared he felt he had to keep this hidden. He had problems with driving so we would always say well when you get your license than you can go out with girls . So one day when we were cleaning the kid’s room I said it than I go well if you like girls? He stop dead in his tracks got pale and looked shocked I said it. I said well I guess I always assume. Just wanted to let you know that if you like boys Jason and I don’t care. We don’t think it should be a secret. It’s who you are and we don’t want to live a lie. Needless to say the two years he stay with us he became more secure with who he was his mom and family didn’t know back home due to ramfications it would cause and being gay is not looked kindly in some parts of his country. He never dated or brought anyone home. To be honest male au pairs don’t talk about their social lives or private lives its like pulling teeth gay or straight no drama there. He was in the big gay pride parade we have in our city and we took our kids but that was our choice and we want them to learn acceptance at an early age. BTW they are so young they have no idea and didn’t get it they were just excited to see their Uncle in the parade waving his country flag and being helped. I was actually more pissed that he lied to me about the relationship back home than being gay. We laugh about it now. He states well I didn’t have a girlfriend. Sigh such a guy answer but I love my male au pairs and wouldn’t trade any one of them for a girl. Though I wish every year I could do it and be brave but I don’t have time for the drama.

Au Pair in CO May 7, 2010 at 10:14 am

In my application, one of the questions I had to fill out was if I was willing to work for same-sex couples, so I guess there’s gotta be some kind of screening there. I would not mind working for a family with two moms or two dads, as I am bisexual myself. It’s not something I’ve told my host family, because I don’t really see why they need to know (as I’d never take home a girlfriend anyway, I’m not that open about my sexuality).

chithu May 8, 2010 at 1:38 am

hello,
a wonderful topic. i am bisexual, but i keep that to myself bcos, well, why should everybody know? i do have a boyfriend and i am professional enough never to bring him to the house I work in. my host family knows practially next to nothing about my private life (except that I have a bf in the city and spend my weekends with him), probably bcos i am not comfy talking about my r’ships.

i do understand that parents have every right to employ whoever they want, to look after their children, but i personally feel that my sexual pref is my business! i am neat, responsible and caring… and i take my duties very seriously… that’s my work ethics and i am not sure why my sexuality has anything to do with it…

i also have this question – i see that male au pairs are very few, and certainly they are not the norm when it comes to looking after girl children (for the usual reasons). but if you have a lesbian au pair, would you employ her to look after your girl children? sorry if i am offending any one, but i really want to know! i look after three girl children, and my host family has never asked me any question about my sexuality, but sometimes I wonder…

FrenchAupair May 8, 2010 at 8:51 am

If I follow your logic, if a family as a problem with a lesbian au pair looking after their girls, that same family should have a problem with employing an heterosexual girl to look after their boys.

Lesbian doesn’t mean, attracted to little girls. I was quite shocked by what you said. But at the same time, some people might be thinking like that, and that is quite scary to me.

cv harquail May 8, 2010 at 11:40 am

One of the things that is very weird (for lack of a better word) about how some people who don’t know much about sexual orientations think about sexual orientation is this mistake: “Because someone is lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and in other ways not conventionally heterosexual, that person is somehow lascivious or deviant”.

Many people are confused, ignorant and/or mislead about what sexual orientation is and isn’t connected to, in terms of behavior. They don’t understand that a non-heterosexual person may deviate from the majority in terms of what gender person they are attracted to, but that has nothing to do with whether or not they are attracted to persons outside their appropriate peer age. In other words, gay doesn’t mean pedophile, just as heterosexual doesn’t mean pedophile.

Those who are anti-gay have done a very good job making ‘gay’ also mean ‘dangerous to children’. They take the ‘deviant’ label that they apply to same-gender attraction and extend it to any kind of ‘deviance’ they can think of.

When people start to learn how to be less anti-gay, this is an important realization they have to achieve.

FormerSwissAupair May 8, 2010 at 12:52 pm

It’s not that we are confused in terms of behavior. It’s that a lot of people, myself included, that it is unnatural and against the way God meant for people to be with each. I explain to the kids that I look after that it’s like a puzzle. Pieces are meant to fit together, and men and women are too.

FormerSwissAupair May 8, 2010 at 12:52 pm

Oops, meant to include the word “feel” in there! lol

PA AP mom May 8, 2010 at 2:24 pm

Are your host parents ok with you explaining that to their kids? I know for sure that I would NEVER be ok with that explanation coming from an au pair, even if it was what I believed in, which for the record, it is not!

aria May 8, 2010 at 3:56 pm

If I’m following your logic, FormerSwissAupair, gay men can also fit together like puzzle pieces.

Just saying. Logic’s flawed. ;)

FrenchAupair May 9, 2010 at 1:14 pm

I feel kinda offended by that… But I don’t want it to turn into a debate about religion and homosexuality. I feel like God made us like we are. What do we know about “the way God meant for people to be with each” ? We don’t choose who we fell in love with.

Anyway… Yes, I’ll stop here. It’s supposed to be a blog about host families and aupairs…

FormerSwissAupair May 10, 2010 at 8:42 am

Feel free to be offended, French AP. We are all allowed to have our beliefs and opinions. Yes, I do explain that to the children I watch. The parents and I are on the same page with most of the same political/religious matters. I am not sure why you would not want someone validating to your children what you are trying to teach them, PA AP mom. And I am not an AP, I am a nanny who has the kids around 65 hours a week. I am with these children more than there parents are, obviously. If the kids have questions, there isn’t exactly time for the mom to answer them as she rarely sees them. And Aria, gay men can fit together, true, but that doesn’t make it right. However, this is not the place for such debates.

Busy Mom May 8, 2010 at 9:25 pm

I am amused as I read these posts to realize that our family would be fine with a lesbian au pair, but would not want one with lip, nose, brow or tongue piercings! Piercings would fall into our non-negotiable category. I don’t want to look at those piercings on a daily basis and don’t want to give the impression to my tween daugters that piercings are acceptable to me.

Darthastewart May 8, 2010 at 10:20 pm

Some of my best au-pairs have had the most tatoos and piercings. Go figure.

Alejandro June 15, 2010 at 10:09 pm

Well I must say I’m very astonished and grateful for what I see here. I have always liked the idea of being an aupair but I’ve had my fears of not finding a family who would accept me for being gay. To see that there are many families open to the subject give me some relief, ’cause I can say that with my 23 years I’ve been very tired of not being completely able to be who I am in my own family eventhough they already know. I would really like to be open with my host family and show that responsibility and good care of children is not a matter of gender, is a matter of, how someone said, ethics and wanting a more human and loving world. Great subject. Thanks!

maleaupairmommy June 16, 2010 at 12:40 am

I only take male au pairs so far looks like with my new one we will be 50/50 we live in a very gay friendly city and we are a liberal family. We don’t care we just want someone who will love us and work hard. My male au pairs who have been gay have been from a Latin country where they had to be hush hush about their lifestyle. The first time this happen didn’t know I had asked if he had a girlfriend to see if he would get homesick said no they had broken up. He came and he had trouble driving but we took that in stride and he practiced took lessons and we would be like when you get your license you can go out and meet girls. Than I notice things like most of his friends on myspace were latin males that were gay where I lived in the country I know how it is so it was a lightbulb momment. So I asked him by saying, ” Well you can go meet girls soon and than asked do you like girls?” poor guy shock on his face was priceless than he turned it around and I was embarrassed. I just said well my husband and I don’t care we don’t think it should be a secret we don’t want to say the wrong things like you really want to met boys and not girls. It’s not a big deal for us. Than he came out and said yes. We had a great year and he could truly be himself here. I apperciated that he was able to open up to us. I just don’t like looking like an idoit because we don’t care and I don’t want my au pair or my own kids to have to hide their true selves from me. I will always love my au pairs and my kids unconditional. Like I said just love us for our faults and imperfections and work hard and it will be a great experience for all of us.

QueerFemaleAupair November 23, 2010 at 7:01 pm

I have to admit…I am very surprised at the amount of feedback from Host Families on here who do NOT have a problem with the sexual orientation of their aupairs. It is very comforting! I was an aupair in Germany for a few months in 2008 and I am now on the search for another host family in another country for January of 2012. I learned my lesson this time around. My first host family did not have a problem with my sexual orientation, which they guessed shortly after meeting me. However, searching for families in Spain, I have found many profiles stating that they are a “traditional” and “conservative” family. Whether or not they are traditional and conservative really doesn’t mean anything about how they feel about sexual orientation. So just to avoid misunderstandings after I fly across the world to live with them, my profile clearly states that I support and promote lgbt parenting, single parents, alternative families, and am open to questions on the matter. This doesn’t state my sexual orientation out on the internet but it also opens the door for a potential HF to ask me about my orientation if they feel it is relevant. If it’s not relevant, then they won’t ask. If they find out later and have a problem with it, they should have read my profile thoroughly and the misunderstanding is no longer on my part.

APSearchingForaFamilly May 28, 2011 at 10:43 am

I read all the replies from this post, and i have to say that i even more confuse wether not to bring up the subject or not…I mean… i’m a lesbian, i have tattoos and a nose piercing (but this i could take it off)
some famillies are GREAT… one even said that the best AP they had had tattoos…but most of the familllies dont like tattoos..
AND…if you want an AP so your children could be in contact with another culture, to show your children how the world can be different, then why wouldnt you have an AP who has tattoos, piercings and different sexual orientation? Thats just hypocrisy. =/
or maybe when you want an AP you dont want any of these, you just want someone to watch your kids while you are at work, don’t know…
but for me, being an AP means that i will be in a different culture, learn new, great things about other human beings and grow as a person.

HRHM May 28, 2011 at 1:59 pm

It’s like all other things (religion, being a veg, etc) IMHO, you should be truthful about who you are because you don’t really want to be with a family who doesn’t want the “real” you. I think it would be miserable to try to spend the year trying to hide who you are from the people you live with. Our first AP came from a 98% Muslim country but her app said “none” for religion. Of course, when she arrived, she was indeed Muslim. I asked her why she lied and she said that in her country they hear how anti-islam Americans are and she was afraid she wouldn’t get a HF if they knew. SERIOUSLY? What would have happened if she’d shown up to the most xenophonbic Islam-hating family in America? Would she hide it for the whole year while they bashed her religion in front of her? Fortunately, we were excited to have another religion in the house, to teach both the differences and the similarities and learn about her culture from that respect too. I feel the same way about your orientation, if they don’t want you do you really want them?

Gianna May 28, 2011 at 2:27 pm

I think that there are a number of issues here that are not necessarily connected.
Homosexuality is a non-issue with me – I do not care one way or another about an aupairs’ sexual orientation. Islam is another non-issue. The extent of a person’s religious practice is a concern but not a disqualifier. Since Islam has a very strong family orientation, I can understand why a young woman from a Muslim country or family might want to qualify her affiliation while she explores her own philosophy.
I know people who refer to themselves as ” recovering ” Catholics and people who say
” my parents are Jewish “. I have found that relgious philosophy fluctates and develops over a lifetime. I also know lovely young people who have tatoos and piercings. I would not feel comfortable having someone with body art live with me and take care of my children. I do not feel a need to justify this. It is not a cultural experience in which I want to participate. That’s all – just not my cup of tea.

ApEur May 28, 2011 at 7:14 pm

This goes a bit off-topic and there’s probably a post about it somewhere – but I’ve always wanted to know WHY tattoos and piercings are non-negotiable for some families? Would it be a problem if the au pair had a tattoo/piercing that didn’t show? Is it not wanting your kids to see them or is it enough just to know there’s something there to move on to the next candidate? What if your current, otherwise great au pair would have a tattoo or get something pierced during her/his year? No judgement here, I’m just curious :)

PA AP mom May 29, 2011 at 12:22 am

I am a host mom who doesn’t choose APs who have tattoos or piercings (other than ears and belly buttons). I don’t really have a concrete reason. If an au pair had a tattoo that didn’t show in everyday clothing, I probably wouldn’t mind so much, but I don’t want to see it regularly and I don’t want tongue, eyebrow, or lip piercings either.

The sexual orientation is a non-issue for me. We have had one au pair that I am 98% sure was a lesbian, but I never asked. If she didn’t feel comfortable discussing it, then I wasn’t about to push her to. She was the best au pair we have had so far and if she had disclosed being a lesbian, it wouldn’t have changed a single thing.

Religious differences is also a non-issue. We don’t practice any religion, so we tend to choose au pairs who say they attend church “never”, “rarely”, or “on special holidays”.

HRHM May 29, 2011 at 7:59 am

I don’t care in general (all of ours have had one or both) but would probably draw the line at an AP that had BUNCHES of one or both. I don’t mind a tasteful nose stud or a belly ring. And a little art is fine. But when someone has so much that it becomes a distraction, then for me that’s a problem.

I think for some families, especially with older kids, they are looking for an example and role model for their kids. In that case, I could see wanting to avoid having an AP with visible tats or piercings. And by visible, I mean in a bathing suit. Obviously, a nipple or labia piercing or a tat in a totally covered area, no one should know but the AP ! LOL

Should be working May 29, 2011 at 9:22 am

Well, I’ve thought about the labial/nipple piercing question, and actually it could always potentially happen that things ‘get seen’ unintentionally, e.g. swimming locker room or who knows, so it would be important for me to have an AP who does NOT have these piercings at all.

Taking a Computer Lunch May 29, 2011 at 2:21 pm

As the parent of a not-quite-middle-school child who badly wants a tattoo and to dye his hair to be different from his friends (and I’ve never had an AP with visible extra piercings or tats), I personally don’t mind. Perhaps an AP with visible body art might help my son understand why he should wait. (Ironically his 65-year-old aunt has a visible tat, but a deep disdain for my son’s long hair.) What’s more important to me than body art is how AP’s deal with him and The Camel – that they are loved, encouraged, that rules are reinforced, etc.

JustAnotherHM May 29, 2011 at 6:42 pm

I’m new here, and I must say I’m baffled at “The Camel” reference!

Taking a Computer Lunch May 29, 2011 at 9:57 pm

She’s mine and she’s called The Camel, well, because she spits to protect her airway. She’s severely retarded and multiply handicapped and I love her to bits. When DH and I gutted our home to put in a handicapped-accessible wing for her, we went through 25 nurses in the 11 months we used medicaid-funded nursing, included 5 that failed to show up for shift. Only 4 ever loved her even close to the way that all 6 of our APs have loved her. Recently DH and I took a month off from work to stay by her side while she recovered from major surgery. We went through some very close days when she was on life support but she pulled through and managed to return close enough to baseline after 8 days in rehab. Our AP (who does not fit the profile here) – has been absolutely fantastic, including spending hours when she wasn’t working and willingly accepting hours working with the therapists until she felt confident that she could care for our daughter alone in our home. She really has been part of the recovery team. We are sorry that she is not extending with us.

I will say, given all the back and forth on this list that I have hosted both lesbians and non-lesbians (our agency does not work with male APs), and I really don’t care what floats their boat as long as they are happy. I also care that they start work on time, treat my children well, and do what is requested of them. They can sport tattoos, dress half-naked, and kiss whomever they please – really.

Every single one of my APs has fallen in love with The Camel and all of them have treated her with respect. Most of them have changed their life goals, and all are working (or currently studying) to make the world a better place.

Me, I’m thrilled to be going back to work on Tuesday after a month off – and knowing that The Camel is in my AP’s capable hands when she’s not in school.

HMinWI May 29, 2011 at 10:36 pm

Trying to reply to TACL’s comment….it’s good to hear an update on The Camel. I’m glad her recovery is going well. I know this is off topic, but I’ve been thinking about you guys, and it’s good to have a report!

JustAnotherHM May 29, 2011 at 6:39 pm

I suspected that our last male AP was gay, but I didn’t feel comfortable asking. How do you bring something like that up? I changed the handbook from “no male friend overnights” to “no romantic overnights”. After he got here, I am sure he’s gay, but I think he’s in the closet. It didn’t other me, but I think it affects other aspects. He was so into drama and complained about everything!

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