Concerns and Comment Moderation Policy

by cv harquail on February 1, 2013

Dear Au Pair Mom Readers,

I’ve received a handful of personal emails raising concerns about a shift in the tone of our conversations here on the blog.

Apology card thunderpeep designs.jpegI appreciate these emails and also the comments directly on the posts themselves about what kinds of comments are appropropriate here.

I take these efforts as a sign that you readers (host parents and au pairs alike) are here for a supportive and helpful conversation about the challenges (and joys) of the au pair-host family relationship.

Recently we’ve had a commenter who has struggled to offer her perspective in a way that reflects the norms of our community.

To put a finer point on it, some of her comments have felt accusatory, overly-dramatic, and lacking in the kind of nuance that suggests she’s been listening to our deeper concerns. Her comment are now being automatically held for moderation (meaning, I have to deliberately approve her comments before they get published on the blog.)

Usually, your comments are automatically posted to the blog unless you swear, say mean things about Benedict Cumberbatch, or have too many links to outside sources.

Thank You For Your Generosity to the Au Pair Mom Community

    Thank you to the folks who made an effort to keep the conversation kind by addressing this in their own comments.
    Thank you to the folks who emailed me directly to share their concerns.
    Thank you to all of you who pony up difficult situations, unconventional perspectives, and unpopular recommendations, and do this in a way that is respectful and kind.

This community runs on the generosity of all you readers and commenters, not just in your willingness to contribute ideas, but also in your willingness to extend yourselves to each other with genuine concern.

Please do email me at mom at au pair mom dot com if you have any concerns or suggestions about the blog, whether it be about post topics, comments moderation, blog policy, the groovy images I borrow from Etsy, or any other issues.

Thanks to all of you for being part of the Au Pair Mom Community.

~ cvh

Read also: The Benedict Cumberbatch Situation,by Meghan O’Keefe

Image: Apology Card, by Thunderpeep Designs. These cards and other cute ones are available on Etsy, should you find yourself in a situation where a cute card might reopen the conversation.


Host Mom in the City February 1, 2013 at 11:18 am

I’d like to say that I personally LOVE when we have au pairs come on the site and give their perspective and don’t want that discouraged. I similarly wouldn’t want to discourage host parents that have different opinions about things. Indeed, one of the main values of this site for me has been the healthy exchange of opinions that I think have made me a better host parent over the last few years.

It’s obvious to me which kinds of comments get healthy debate going – it’s the ones where someone offers an opinion that perhaps differs from some other posters’, but where the commenter offers his idea as one perspective to consider and is respectful of the differences and generally acknowledges that no matter if you disagree, that at least we’re all here in the spirit of growth and learning. There’s lots of this kind of disagreement and it’s great.

Those that fling insults, are judgmental of those posters (both APs and HPs) on here that are truly trying to have a successful year even if you don’t agree with the way they’re going about it, or claim that anyone else that doesn’t agree with them is just not listening, ignorant, or abusive, are the ones that get people riled up and NOT in a way that adds value.

Certainly, I agree that there have been times where I’ve heard of horrible things host parents do or horrible things au pairs do, and I admit to feeling pretty angered when host parents want to break the rules in one area but except au pairs to stay within the rules themselves. I don’t disagree that a lot of au pairing leaves young girls open to abusive or just not-great situations, and I hope we can talk too about how to make it safer for everyone.

Anyway, I truly hope that this post doesn’t convince some posters not to comment or participate, only that they are convinced to be respectful (or else head to that “other” anonymous au pair site that doesn’t function so respectfully!).

HostMomDP February 1, 2013 at 2:23 pm

Totally agree. Different perspectives and opinions should absolutely be encouraged. But TONE makes all the difference, in both the “atmosphere” of the site, and in terms of how/whether people will even be open to hearing your perspective.

Momma Gadget February 1, 2013 at 3:03 pm

Well Said!!!

Should be working February 1, 2013 at 11:59 am

May I add also that I really really value “us”. It is a niche blog, so the shared advice and, for regulars, the shared ‘history’, are something special. It is a tight-knit group in a way, but ‘knit’ also gives room for stretch and space for new people to enter.

Should be working February 1, 2013 at 1:45 pm

CV, I have two tiny suggestions.

First, the list of “recent comments” is shorter these days, probably owing to other material being expanded. I would love it if you could re-lengthen it. I hate to miss a comment or two to an old post if I don’t look at the blog for a few hours–I mean days.

Second, was there once a who’s who or introduce yourself? I do sometimes lose track of similar-named HMs and like to keep histories in mind when responding.

Host Mom in the City February 1, 2013 at 1:59 pm

I would love the “recent” comments section to be re-lengthened. I thought that was just my computer or something!

HRHM February 1, 2013 at 4:02 pm

Me too!

cv harquail February 1, 2013 at 6:23 pm

Nope, that was me. Your computer is naughty only when it keeps you from reading or commenting ;-)

CA Host Mom February 1, 2013 at 2:28 pm

I love both of those suggestions, SBW! I discovered that I chose a name similar to other HMs here after I started posting last year … I think I miss comments too because I can’t get back soon enough to check on them. Thanks!

Busy Mom February 9, 2013 at 6:10 pm

In IE, I have set up aupairmom comments as a feed. Look under tools, ‘Feed Discovery’ or click on the star icon across the top nav bar. So, when I have time, I can view the feed and it will display every comment I have missed. There may be similar functions in Firefox or Chrome if those are

I love that my feed is now always full…contrasted with the early days (I joined in early ’09) when comments were sparse!

cv harquail February 1, 2013 at 6:22 pm

SBW, I’m glad to know that you want a longer list of ‘recent comments’! I’d shortened it b/c someone (not a reader, another kind of blog blogger) thought they were too long. But you remind me why I made them long in the first place– since people pop around to different posts all the time!

Also, I’ll set up another introduction post in the next few weeks.

many thanks, SBW.

Taking a Computer Lunch February 1, 2013 at 8:19 pm

Wow that was fast! Thanks CV! I had missed having the longer list of recent posts as well :-)

Momma Gadget February 1, 2013 at 9:46 pm

That was Quick! Thanks!

OpinionatedHM February 2, 2013 at 5:55 pm

I was wondering why it was shortened. I’m glad you made it longer again so I can keep up with updates between visits to the blog. This blog has been a great resource. Thanks for the effort and dedication everyone!

Old China Hand February 1, 2013 at 2:17 pm

I like the idea of regular readers and posters being able to have a little blurb to introduce ourselves. Then we can keep track of people’s situations. I read the blog all the time although I have only posted once. Thanks for keeping it around. I have impressed both our LAR and the agency with my handbook and daily log, both of which are things I got from here.

JJ Host Mom February 1, 2013 at 3:50 pm

I really appreciate having this blog as a way to figure out together how to make our au pair situations run smoothly. The women and men who post here are compassionate, caring people who want to do what’s right for everyone involved. It’s actually quite amazing, given the topics we discuss, that most of the posters are able to be so respectful of each others’ viewpoints. I appreciate differing viewpoints, especially those from au pairs who are able to be a constructive part of the conversation.

HRHM February 1, 2013 at 4:04 pm

I too really like to hear the AP perspective and don’t want that discouraged. I guess as a host parent in the US though, I really mainly want to hear the perspective from foreign nationals who are APing in the US. I already know the American teenage girl perspective (after all, I was one!) ;)

Emerald City Host Mom February 1, 2013 at 6:54 pm

I wouldn’t mind an introduce yourself area either.

I love coming here for advice and a different perspective! Also, to make sure I’m not way off base. So far I haven’t had a whole lot to offer, because we are only on our second year hosting, but hopefully I’ll have better advice in the future.

euromama February 2, 2013 at 2:37 am

I am a relatively new reader (we just entered our second year) and have found this site super valuable, especially after I quickly realized how little I knew before the first year. I’m an American host mom in Europe hosting only American au pairs (so far) and I find everyone’s advice so helpful. I also love hearing from au pairs because I do find it to be a great insight into what they are really feeling/thinking about situations.

American AP in Europe February 2, 2013 at 7:21 am

Well, no one likes to be singled out to be specifically censored. Please remove me from your mailing list as well.

American AP in Europe February 2, 2013 at 7:23 am

This is amusing. I thought my comments were supposed to wait for your approval before posted.

cv harquail February 2, 2013 at 1:07 pm

Well, since you post from several different email addresses and IP addresses, it’s harder to set up the automatic moderation. It would be preferable, honestly, if you just thought twice about the tone and intent of your comment, so that moderation would be unnecessary. Your choice, of course.

Au pair with two awesome kids February 2, 2013 at 1:29 pm

I agree with CV. Aaie, we love to hear your opinion, but only if they are appropriate.

Emerald City HM February 2, 2013 at 9:50 am

You don’t have to wait for CV to remove you, there is an unsubscribe link at the bottom of every email.

davep February 2, 2013 at 1:35 pm


“Dear Internet, please cancel my subscription”

WestMom February 2, 2013 at 8:34 am

I realize that some posters might see this group as just ‘another blog’ on the Internet, where anonymity allows posters to be carefree. But this place is different. This blog offers a community I have not found elsewhere. I think what makes it different is the constancy of its posters, and the care and respect reflected in the tone of our exchanges. It feels like we know each other (I too would enjoy a little profile to make this more personal). Let’s work together to can keep it this way. Let’s write the way we would want to be spoken to.

Georgiapeach February 2, 2013 at 5:52 pm

Thank you!!! I’ve been feeling the same way but chalked it up to me being too sensitive. Now I know it was not just me who felt uncomfortable….
Aside from that specific poster, I really enjoy talking with all of you, since you all provide valuable points of view which would otherwise, never be brought to light! Thanks everyone :)

AFHostMom February 2, 2013 at 6:13 pm

Thanks so much to ECHM, GIanna, and SBW. You are right. There has been a shift in what’s acceptable, and the comparison you made, ECHM, makes perfect sense to me. I truly think that her lack of responsiveness before was a product of her flakiness and lack of understanding that we expect to be in contact with our childcare giver in near instant time. But who knows.
I think she very well may be depressed (the emotional issues she’s dealt with were tied to an impulsive decision she made on vacation, and now deeply regrets, and based on her reactions then and how long it took her to sort it out, I can’t believe she is over it). If that’s the case, she should get help. You are right that it is not my responsibility to ensure she has a happy ending–it’s just hard to approach this in any other way since she is, at this point, part of our family. I am unfortunately neither qualified nor emotionally available to be her life coach or counselor, and I’ve been sitting in both roles for awhile.
And yes, any ideas we had of sponsoring her as a student are no more–even if she does make it through the year.
I kind of just want it to be over. I’ve known for a long while that we could probably “do better” (and she may very well find success with another family, but yes, inertia is a powerful force for a busy family. More importantly, I don’t know if I can get my husband to agree to a reset, either.
I hate this. There is no right decision. (and so to anyone who ever argues that we host parents don’t AGONIZE over what to do in these situations, and don’t care about or love the young ladies we invite into our home–take your argument elsewhere)

Anonomomma February 6, 2013 at 12:24 pm

I know I don’t post much – but I always read the blog – although I had started to skip certain posts!

And I know that some of the regulars will be thinking “pot, kettle and black” as I freely admit that when I do post, some my comments come across as harsh (in that they are straight, direct, and blunt) and I do not soften the lines.

I feel that my posts reflect who I am and my HP style and some of my views (although not always popular, i.e. my stance on APs with eating disorders or APs use of antidepressants etc,) offer a different perspective.

I also feel that the way they are communicated (i.e. being blunt) emphasizes that opinion. Because although my opinions are harsh I think that it is important for APs to see that HPs can have very different styles.

I also think that some of the other commentators on this site are so super nice/rational/mature (and I mean that as a complete compliment to you all – it is something that I try to model) that some APs must think that the grass is so much greener on the other side and that if they just bring up every little issue they have with their HFs it will all be talked out and we will all live happily ever after and honestly that is not the case.

If my AP (love her as I do) came to me with some of the issues raised on this site I would not be a happy bunny.

In essence I believe my comments (tone inclusive) have their place.

*** Although let me just say I hope that I have never offended anyone.

I still care and I am totally open to contradiction, debate, education, etc.

CV – please feel free to email me if you ever have any issues.

Momma Gadget February 6, 2013 at 4:59 pm

It is always easier to seem “super nice/rational/mature” when AP issues are happening to someone else! :)
I happen to like a blunt presentation of opinion,leaving no question to where the poster stands or even a heated debate of different views… as long as it is not a personal attack, rude or antagonistic.
It is easy to get carried away when you are not face to face with someone you disagree. Paper (comment sections)is patient. When I strongly disagree with a post I often type a response, take a few deep breaths and then delete all the snide parts, before posting.( sometimes it’s my entire response :p )

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