In some families, parents aim to share childcare and home management equally. In other families, there is one parent (of the two, three or four) who serves as the “lead parent”. The Lead Parent is the one who runs the forgotten lunch over to school, stays home when a kid is sick, and manages the family’s childcare.
No one arrangement is best, and many families shift between these arrangements as jobs and people evolve.
Each parenting paradigm presents its own challenges for the Host Parent – Au Pair relationship. This post is about Au Pairs and a Lead Host Parent.
When there’s one lead parent, that parent takes direct responsibility for managing and coaching (and often socializing with) the Au Pair.
The Lead Host Parent and the Au Pair work as a team to care for the kids. They have to align their expectations, coordinate their strategies, and share up-to-date information about what’s happening in the household and with Host Child(ren). Often, because the interaction with the Au Pair is not equal for both Host Parents, the Lead Host Parent becomes closer to the Au Pair. Indeed, s/he needs to be.
It’s important that the Lead Host Parent and the Partner Host Parent feel comfortable about the arrangement between them about who’s in charge when. They also need to be comfortable with one parent knowing the Au Pair better than the other, not take this personally, and not use this as a wedge between them.
Reluctant GrownUp (a Host Parent) writes:
I’d love to hear some input about strategies for keeping the AP/ HM relationship from getting too buddy-ish.
I’d imagine that there are factors that make the relationship more prone to get less businesslike – Host Moms who work from home, manage a lot of kids alongside an Au Pair, interact a lot with theirAu Pair, who really take a “part of the family” approach, are closer in age to theirAu Pair, (and who may share same-gender interests like cooking, crafts, and Downton Abbey. Or Benedict Cumberbatch, notes cv)
My previous experience with live-in childcare was my niece who spent summers with us. With her, we had all of the pros of a true family member.
I modeled my first Au Pair/ Host Mom relationship on that one, and that didn’t work well. I’m trying to figure out whether the lack of fit was with that particularAu Pair, or is something I’ll have to adjust for all future Au Pairs. Our firstAu Pair was always waiting for concrete instructions, instead of a teammate with shared goals.
Now I learned more about DISC and selecting a complementary Au Pair. I’’m looking for someone who doesn’t need structure to thrive. I also learned (not surprisingly) that I’m a low D.
So my question is really —
How much can the Host Mom/Au Pair team up in an equal-ish partnership without impacting the Host Mom /Other Host Parent team or the entire family?.
What are some helpful strategies for managing different kinds of relationships between the Au Pair and the different Host Parents?
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