Divorce Difficulties: When Your Ex-Spouse Gets an Au Pair

by cv harquail on March 12, 2014

Childcare arrangements for families with two sets of parents can be difficult for everyone.  

The non-custodial parent often has very little influence over the childcare choices the custodial parent makes. If this parent knows very little about Au Pairs as a concept, or has only met Au Pairs who have not made a good impression, it can be hard for that parent to feel comfortable with the arrangement.  Add on an acrimonious divorce, a non-custodial parent that’s kept out of the loop, and that is the father who’s hiring a young woman to ‘live in’, and the situation gets awkward really quickly.

In these “I don’t trust my ex-spouse” situations, what can a parent do?


The mom who emailed us (below) should quickly get up to speed about how an Au Pair caregiver works– so that she can feel comforted that an au pair can be a caring and often emotionally helpful addition to the family in the experience of the host kids.

She should also take heart that there are many single fathers who get au pairs — and rarely is there any problem with an inappropriate relationship between the dad and the au pair. Of course, everyone will tell you about that *one* dad who married the au pair… but that’s the exception that proves the rule.  Remember, too, that single dads are not really what an au pair is looking for when it comes to an American boyfriend.

The more serious issue here is that the custodial parent, the dad, is refusing to let the mom have any kind of meaningful interaction with the au pair. Ideally, when children have divorced parents, the person who is their childcare provider can bring an element of emotional and behavioral constancy, helping the kids bridge the differences between one household/parent and the other.

— LCC readers, do you have any suggestions from an Agency’s point of view?
— Are there are any host moms or dads who might help put this mom at ease?

Dear AuPairMom–  I am a mother of two little girls who needs some au pair related counsel.

After a bitter divorce my ex husband holds custody of my 2 kids.  Last year he hired a Colombian girl from CCAP.   Although I made several attempts to meet the Au Pair, I never did.  My ex husband and I even ended in court because he never let me meet the Au Pair.  The au pair turned out to be a party girl — even smoking inside the house.  Her English was very poor and she wanted to go out all the time. She lasted for 5 months.  

 To replace this girl, another au pair arrived last Friday. All I know is her name. My children are 3 and 5, so they can only provide very sketchy details about the au pair.

I am concerned, because I do not know my ex husband’s intentions.  

I’m insecure about what au pairs do in a household with an unmarried host father. I do not mean to be rude, but do au pairs and single host fathers get together? Is that a myth?

I’m also concerned because in his house the au pair doesn’t have a her own bathroom. She will share it with him and the children. Many things cross my mind, like “Will she wear a bathrobe? Will she get out of the shower wrapped up in towels? Are my kids going to see all this? What are the boundaries?”

After arriving for 48h he left them with her.  I want to make sure my children are safe.

Our custody battle seems endless.  And I actually don’t want an au pair in our lives. I believe that between the both of us we can raise our children.

Can you offer me some advice?  ~~ DivorcedMom


See also:

Myths about Au Pairs: The Fox in Your Henhouse
Recent Widower / Single Host Dad: How to find the right au pair?
Can This Relationship Be Saved?: Host Dad’s au pair is causing problems for me, in my house

Image: Flint Fox Cowl crochet pattern available on Etsy from thevelvetacorn


Should be working March 12, 2014 at 7:54 pm

My heart goes out to this mom. I wonder if divorce decrees have provisions about caregivers and consent of the noncustodial parent. Maybe there are some divorced HPs on here that have ideas. I am imagining that major decisions about childcare should be shared between parents, and then the mom should have some say in the au pair selection. But maybe primary custody means that the parents don’t share those decisions.

I would say, however, that romance, bathrobes and showers are not what this mom should focus on. Instead the question is how she handles the children, what kind of discipline she uses, how she handles feeding them, her DRIVING SKILLS and so on. These are what the mom should be trying to find out.

The thing about arrival/48 hrs was not clear to me. Did he leave the kids alone with her after 48 hrs after her arrival, or did he leave the kids with her for 48 hrs? Either one is against the rules, the AP gets 3 days of not being alone with kids when she first arrives, and she can’t be in charge for more than 10 hrs straight, including while sleeping.

I can imagine that the agencies have some rules about whether they need to communicate with noncustodial parents at all, but I guess it is worth contacting the agency for info?

I’ll watch for what others say, this looks like a rough situation. Custody battles are so sad.

Emerald City HM March 12, 2014 at 9:00 pm

Do you have any joint legal custody?

I echo SBW in what your concerns should be. Most au pairs do not come here with the intent to hook up with the host dad. Sure, there are always exceptions, but your ex could also bring random other women into the home and does not have to tell you that either.

In an ideal coparenting situation you would also get to know the au pair, just as you would daycare personnel. However, on the surface it doesn’t seem like your ex wants to coparent.

Emerald City HM March 12, 2014 at 10:13 pm

Gosh, and here’s another problem with my quick phone posting, that came out way more harsh than intended.

I was trying to say that your question does seem like you are more concerned about your ex possibly being inappropriate with an au pair than with the level of care that your children might be receiving.

I do absolutely think that at the very least you should know and be allowed to communicate with the caregiver of your children. This part might really be more of a legal issue. My suggestion would be to have a lawyer look at your custody agreement and go the legal route when it comes to that aspect. Particularly, if your ex is completely cutting you out of the loop. However, your argument needs to be based in knowing the caregiver of your children in the spirit of co-parenting.

I also understand the Non-Custodial Mom stigma and a lot of what that carries with it. If you would like some extra support for that, I am okay with CV giving my email to you, I might be able to point you toward other resources.

AmericanAP in Germany March 13, 2014 at 1:28 am

Personally I find it distressing that the aupair does not have her own room, not because of the potential for inappropriateness, but because for me that’s already a red flag for a possibly subpar hosting experience. I agree with the others that your concern should mainly be on these young girls’ ability to take care of your children, their English and driving skills, etc. I don’t know the details of your divorce and I’m certainly not expecting you to lay it all out here, but is there some reason he’s keeping the aupair away from you? Do you think he has concerns that you’ll “poison” her or something with false/bad information about him? I’m not at all suggesting you would actually do this, just that it wouldn’t be so strange for him to be paranoid about that. I only know my specific experience as far as aupairing goes, and those of my friends, but I really think aupair/host-dad romance should be the least of your worries. Though my host parents are married, I did consider a single-parent family (father) because the family seemed like a good match and I thought it would be a great to help out a single parent, especially when it’s much harder for single men to find a match. I chose my current family for location/schooling reasons in the end, but I can promise you that I would have NEVER considered having a romantic relationship with my host father and that was not my intent considering that family.

WestMom March 13, 2014 at 5:44 am

OP mentioned they are sharing a bathroom, but nothing about the AP not having her own room. The family would not be accepted in the program if that were the case.

AmericanAP in Germany March 13, 2014 at 6:30 am

Ah, you’re right! I completely misread that. The rules over hear are different, but it did seem VERY strange to me that a US aupair wouldn’t have her own room. Thank you for pointing that out :)

Aussiemum March 13, 2014 at 5:10 am

This is really hard. My separated friend has similar feelings about her ex husbands new partner, her teenage kids being responsible for their young kids and after school arrangements. It sounds to me like the same lack of communication between the parents drives your anxiety. Can you have some kind of mediation or joint counselling on the issue? Not sure how your family court system works

I also think it’s unlikely the aupair finds a stressed single dad a great catch. But I understand your feelings, I’m sure I would be the same

WarmStateMomma March 13, 2014 at 8:06 am

It must feel terrible to know so little about the person caring for your young children. I’m not sure what the answer is, but I’m sending warm thoughts your way OP and keeping my fingers crossed that you get the information you need to feel better about the situation.

TexasHM March 13, 2014 at 8:57 am

Ok bracing myself – while I feel horrible for you, I also really worry about his AP. We have been with 2 agencies over the last 4 years and I have had both LCs tell me they have been lobbying the agencies to no longer accept single dads.

I wish I could say I knew of one that had been successful here but out of the 6 I have known of, all were asked to leave the program. Only one was sexual harassment and that was after 5 months of verbal abuse, 120 hr workweeks and worse (we housed her and he threatened the LC and tried to find her). The other 5 were staggering program violations (not allowing them to enroll in school, leaving them alone with kids for days, sometimes weeks, not giving schedules and expecting them on call 24/7, and actually most of them did all of these things together).

I think it’s important for the OP to know that APs come to the US (with the exception of an occasional bad apple) to better themselves by learning the language, going to school, etc, not to get a husband and the ones that do love it here and want to stay usually find a single American guy their own age.

Not one of those 6 situations I knew did the AP have any attraction to the host dad but all 6 of those APs stayed in an abusive situation way too long and why? Because they loved the kids and were worried about them. The one we housed cried all day when she left because she knew she would never see those kids again and that he would continue to tell at and ignore them. My point is the AP could be an amazing addition to your children’s lives but I agree it’s ridiculous that he’s dividing you.

Please single dads write in and tell me that you follow the rules!!

Old China Hand March 13, 2014 at 12:09 pm

Here’s a positive story about a single dad and a au pair: http://goaupairphiladelphia.wordpress.com/2012/10/11/can-a-single-father-hire-an-au-pair/

I agree though – the au pair can be a fantastic addition to your children’s lives.

Chelsea March 13, 2014 at 10:50 am

Hello everyone, first of all I would like to show my appreciation on each single response I got from you.

When I made the comments about my ex spouse’s hiring AP — I understand it did raise some eye brows about me being more concerned about his personal affairs than the safe of my children.

A month before hiring someone from South America, I found out he was on a dating website considering a possible “relocation” to Brazil, which is the country I am from. He has sole custody of the children and I fear him taking them out of country without my permission.

I also would like to clarify the 48h point I made. The AP arrived on a Friday from another country, and by Monday she was left in charge of the children and the house.

The agency from where he is hiring AP’s which I made my own research does not have good reviews.

My children are barely 3 and 5 they aren’t able to provide me with any details and he refuses to provide any as well.

The first AP — according to the agency had amazing credentials, was reliable, could speak the language and drive. It did not turn out that way. She lasted for 5 months and I made several attempts to meet her, without any success. I understand some judgments will be passed.

I am only allowed 1 phone call a day between the hours of 18h to 20:30. In many occasions he wasn’t home from home until after 20:30, as a result I would lose my phone call. I am not allowed to call his house.

He made clear I will not meet this AP and her length of staying is until September.
He tells me I have to trust him and trust my children are being taking care of.

Which mother would absolutely trust an stranger who doesn’t know my children to be fully reliable and be ok and accept the situation?
That same man doesn’t allow me to go to my oldest child’s ballet classes but will fully trust an stranger to bathe them, feed them.
I fear that AP will be passing on principles, beliefs and morals to my children, although they are small and don’t comprehend what it means.

I’m sure there are AP’s out there who are wonderful, I don’t want to assassinate your character.

I tried several times to get the guidelines from the agency and nothing.

What are their boundaries? Rules? All I could get is that AP are big sisters, well that statement is vague and gray.

My children will never be loved and taken care the way I do.

Again, I appreciate all responses and comments.

Warm regards to each one of you.

Host Mom X March 13, 2014 at 3:54 pm

My heart does go out to your feelings here – that someone is taking care of your small children, and you know nothing about her (and can’t feel that there is objective oversight, as in, e.g. a daycare or preschool setting). And the description of the re-match situation is tough: it sounds like that first au pair was no good, and your ex probably should have re-matched much sooner. If you search this website for posts about re-matching, you will see that this does happen, even to host parents who are experienced and generally good at screening. It is not a reflection on all au pairs. I feel that none of the agencies (at least the larger ones) do a great job with screening the au pairs – it’s really up to the host parents, and it sometimes just doesn’t work out. Someone who seems great on paper and even in a few interviews turns out to be exactly the opposite of what you hoped for. And if you are just hearing about this situation with your kids but have no idea what actually happened or what their care was truly like – so hard, I can’t imagine.

You asked about where the regulations are posted. If your husband hired through one of the State Department approved agencies, the federal regulations for au pairs are posted here:

And here is the government’s “laymen” description of the program:

Each agency may have some of its own specific rules, but those would only be in addition to the federal regulations.

It would be permissible for the au pair to start caring for your children solo on Monday if she arrived Thursday night (as the au pairs generally do from the training, or Friday if they got the extra day of infant training). While we generally do a bit more on-the-job training than that with our APs (at least one parent at home for a couple of days), our best APs would have been fine to start on their own that first Monday from the standpoint of keeping the children safe and stimulated, but would have just needed some guidance/instruction on the fine details of their care, living in our home, getting around our neighborhood, etc.

So – I do hope at least you feel that you can arm yourself with more information about the program, if not about the specific person who is now caring for your children.

Separately, and this is not meant as an attack, but as an observation. None of us know the details of your story. But it is described as an acrimonious divorce, with it sounds like ongoing custody issues. It sounds like you probably fought to have at least joint custody, or that your ex not get sole custody, and it sounds like you lost that battle – for whatever reason (and believe me, I do know that the courts get these things dangerously wrong all the time). I assume you are probably still fighting to get more access to your children, and perhaps to take away access from your ex. Doing that may involve showing the court that your ex is unfit to have sole custody.

Your ex may assume that you are constantly on the look-out for evidence that he should not have full custody, so one assumption might be that he is keeping you from access to the au pair as best he can because he fears that you will use a relationship with or access to her to gather that evidence. Either to prove that she is unfit (and by extension him), or to use her as a conduit for information about him. I have seen this happen before.

A former nanny of ours, who we loved very much, fell victim to this kind of situation. She cared for the small child of a divorced mom who had ongoing custody issues with the child’s father. The father would, seemingly innocently, ask the nanny for pictures of the child that she took with her phone, etc. He’d ask her for lots of details about everything the child ate, etc. He then used the pictures in court to try to show that the mother’s home was unfit for a child (too messy, or something like that), and told the court that the child was “forced” to follow the vegetarian diet of the mother and was malnourished. The mother blamed the nanny for trying to sabotage her (though the nanny’s intention was nothing of the sort), and fired her. I am not saying you would do something like the father I described in this situation, or that if you did, it would not be justified (because it might be eminently justified); just that perhaps that is your ex’s worry, and might explain his actions in depriving you of access to the au pair.

Again, my intention is not to make a personal attack on you. You have come here for advice and support, and I hope you have found some. I was just imagining other parts to a story about which I obviously don’t know much.

HRHM March 13, 2014 at 4:51 pm

I’m a little confused about the “allowed” phone call. Are you saying that you only have access to a phone during that time period and that he fails to call or that you are only allowed that one phone contact per day by court order? If it is by court order, I don’t imagine that there is anything preventing you from trying to friend the Au Pair on Facebook or send her an email. You may be able to engage the LCC to pass your contact info to the Au Pair on the off chance that she would like to contact you and then hope for the best.

As far as the agency, they are ALL certified by the State Department and have to follow the same rules, so bad reviews are more about customer service and less about the Au Pairs themselves. The rules can be seen by googling “state depart au pair regulations”.

While I understand that you feel out of control in this situation, it also sounds like your custody agreement is VERY restrictive in your part in your childrens’ lives. Since a court has decided that your husband is competent and the better choice for making key decisions in your kids care, I don’t see you have a choice but to let it go and move forward.

AND, not to be dismissive, but he’s not your husband anymore and it’s not at all your business who he sleeps with – even in the unlikely event that it ends up being the 19 year old Au Pair…

Emerald City HM March 13, 2014 at 5:21 pm

I just want to point out one thing here:

“Since a court has decided that your husband is competent and the better choice for making key decisions in your kids care”

The “court’s decision” is frequently influenced by which party can afford a better lawyer in many, many cases. A lot of courts have recently taken the path of not starting out with the assumption that mothers are the better caregiver and generally in the average houshold fathers can afford the better lawyer. This really hurts stay-at-home mothers, particularly if they have a vindictive ex.

Chelsea – My only advice is really to try to find a better lawyer, because it sounds like your custody order is not that great. You might be able to find one that will take on your case pro-bono. Also, to find support groups or counseling. Your situation is an uphill battle.

WarmStateMomma March 13, 2014 at 6:08 pm

Agreed. I once lived in a state that frequently gave custody to fathers where the father refused to pay child support, causing a low-income or SAHM to get evicted and move into a motel. The rationale was that the father could provide a stable home and the mother could not. “Best interests of the child” is a subjective standard that means different things to different courts.

Regardless of whether OP or the ex should have the kids, my heart goes out to her. Being separated from my little one would make it impossible for me to be objective about the AP issue.

Amelie March 13, 2014 at 7:14 pm

That’s why, as a feminist, I never recommend to anyone being a SAHM. You’ll work your ass off, and in the end, if you end up getting a divorce, things might not be seeing as they should (the wife supporting the husband’s career by taking care of the house and the kids – therefore, his money is her money), but only as a woman who wants to live off the ex-husband forever.

If you work, you’re safe and independent in cases like this.

(This is a general comment, not adressed to the OP specifically).

Now, to the OP…

Being an ex-au pair, I’ve never heard of any au pairs who had affairs with their host fathers, being them married or single. In most cases, prospective au pairs think twice before accepting an offer from a single dad, and do not accept it unless they’re 100% sure the HD doesn’t have any other intentions beside finding good and affordable childcare for his children.

I understand that you feel unsafe about your ex-husband hiring someone you don’t know to take care of your children. This must be a really difficult situation, and I’m really sorry for you.

But believe… most au pair out there are interested in doing a good job! Most likely, your children are in good hands.

AmericanAP in Germany March 14, 2014 at 5:57 am

My parents went through very bitter divorce/custody proceedings, and there’s no question that these decisions are often biased (sometimes based on gender, sometimes finances). However, it is probably important for OP to realize that no matter how unfair and money-influenced the court’s decision may have been, that is how the situation is likely to be perceived. Because of the stigma attached to this, it’s probably going to be hard for her to find any legal ground to meet this AP. As long as her children seem happy and well taken care of when she does see them, I think it’s best for her to move past it, even though having your children in a stranger’s care is obviously very anxiety-inducing.

Angie host mom March 13, 2014 at 3:55 pm

Rules for au pairs are actually very straightforward in general and black and white. They are provided with a place to live, the ability to go to school, emergency health insurance, car insurance if they drive and roughly $200/week. They get 2 weeks of vacation a year and are required to earn 6 credits of education a year. They can work up to 45 hours a week, no more than 10 hours a day, and get at least one full weekend off a month. They are allowed to work doing child care and related house care – like kids laundry, kids meals, tidying the kitchen, etc.

Rules about schedule, curfews, driving, smoking, texting, computer use, phone use, vacation time, friends over, playdates for children, etc, are all set at the family level, generally in a host family handbook or other initial document that the parties agree to. Your ex may or may not have one, most families do by the time they are on their second au pair.

Forgive me, but I think the issue you have is less that your ex has an au pair and more that you do not have custody. If your ex had a girlfriend living with him or a nanny caring for the children I would expect you would be just as upset.

I am sorry you have ended up in this situation and hope you can find your way to a better one.

It may help you to know that in my experience, the vast majority of au pairs are kind and loving to the children, completely uninterested in the host dad in any romantic way, and decent caregivers. They vary widely in skills with driving and cooking and homework, and they vary widely in the amount they like to drink/smoke/party/date/work, but most kids are “safe” with them and most kids are genuinely loved by their au pairs. Even au pairs that are sent home or rematched are generally failures in a particular household because of household rules or norms beyond basic child care, it is usually a “fit” issue.

Best of luck.

didis March 14, 2014 at 1:26 am

I noticed how you wrote you are worried no one will love and take care of your kids as you do.
I just wanted to assure you and maybe give you little peace of mind, if possible, that there are au pairs who genuinely care about kids they take care of and wish them all the best. I can only hope, that it has to be a reason why your ex choose this new au pair and possibly he learned from his mistakes.
I believe in this case you should maybe more focus on the fact why are you not allowed to meet her, than who is she, and what her status in his house will be.

German Au-Pair March 14, 2014 at 11:59 am

Also, as was said somewhere before, even au pairs who are not happy with the situation or the family, usually still really love their host kids. The only ones I know who didn’t were the ones who couldn’t connect with the au pair and were really mean and bratty towards her all the time, making it impossible for her to form a bond.
So whatever you do, however you feel, if you want the best for your children, do NOT discourage their relationship with the au pair. She will never replace you but she can be another grown up in their lives who makes them feel loved and that is a great thing. When you ask about her, always encourage them to be nice to her and so on. You may feel horrible about it but if you want this situation to work out for them, you should try to be as supportive about it as you can.

Seattle Mom March 14, 2014 at 12:22 pm

This is so true.. I can only speak from my own experience as an HM, but even our AP who was not a good fit for our family, and we did not like the way she interacted with our children, she still clearly was attached to our kids. We knew we couldn’t live with her for a whole year so we went into rematch pretty early on, and the way she talked to my children made me cringe, but even despite all of that I knew that she really was going to miss the children and wanted to have a good relationship with them.

Seattle Mom March 14, 2014 at 12:33 pm

I think the OP has gotten good advice & insight here- it really does sound like mostly a custody issue, and that she needs to insist on better communication in her parenting plan, and maybe legal intervention is needed. I have many friends going through acrimonious divorces with custody battles, and it’s never pretty. My cousin went through it as well and it was heart breaking that her ex got shared custody even though whenever the kids were with him he left them with a nanny (not au pair) and went out partying. My cousin herself had an AP, although the AP started with them before the separation and stayed through the eventual divorce years later.. on a student visa after her AP term was done. Really great girl, and part of the reason I now host APs!

Anyway I digress. I wanted to bring up one point that hasn’t been made yet- the OP mentioned that the agency didn’t do a good job of screening the first AP, and that is part of her anxiety with the whole situation. Unfortunately that is not uncommon. You can read many stories on this blog to find that there are many AP candidates who make it through the agency’s screening process by lying or cheating in some way- sometimes they don’t really have great childcare experience, sometimes they bought their driver’s license (more common in some countries) and aren’t really good drivers, sometimes their motivation for coming to the US isn’t to take care of children, they just want to party. Sometimes they have all the best intentions but it just turns out to be too hard for them. Most of us host parents read this site because we are trying to figure out the formula for finding a great au pair among all the candidates- it really isn’t that easy. If you don’t trust your ex to do the legwork to interview and be careful in selecting an AP then that is a problem, but there is NO au pair agency that does a perfect job of doing that, though some are supposedly better than others (I don’t know). If he were choosing a nanny or other day care provider you would have the same problem, except that it is a little easier to choose one because you get to see & meet them in person before making a decision.

If your ex is a sketchy person who you do not trust to take care of your children then you are going to have a problem whether it is with an AP or something else… the main difficulty with the AP program, in addition to the extra challenges in finding the right AP, is that now you have a young girl from a foreign country who is vulnerable and possible at risk of being exploited, depending on what your ex is like.

ReturnAupair March 14, 2014 at 11:06 am

In my first Aupair Year i had a Single Mom who had ful custody of the Kids. The Dad was not allowed to see the Kids and if he came i should call the police (did not make me feel great). She did not tell my at the beginning why but later she told me the reason.

But he was allowed to call the Kids at any time and he did. He Called 10min before the Bus came to pick up the Kids. 5 Min before we had to leave for soccer practice. My little One she was 3 always hang up and the other ons when they had to go somewhere. The Dad yelled at me on the phone i should give the phone to the kids but if they refused to talk i did not feel to push them to the phone or told him we had to leave or they had to get ready.

I do not have any Idear how to solve the Problem but i do feel that Familys like that need an Aupair who is mature enough to handle such difficult situation.

For the OP: Aupairs wont be theire new mother and the kids will always know the difference. I dont think Aupairs come to the states to be mean to Kids. In this Case you will need to trust and ask the kids maybe questions like: Does she takes you to the playground? Does She make you delcious lunch? Does she play with you. That are easy Questions and your 5 year old will tell you what he thinks.

Good Luck

Host Mom in the City March 14, 2014 at 1:58 pm

Well ok. Not sure we can really assist further then here on an au pair host parent discussion board.

German Au-Pair March 14, 2014 at 2:16 pm

Then why did you come here asking for advice? I don’t know what it feels like having your children taken from you but I also don’t know if the court decisions wasn’t based on who is actually the better choice to raise those children. Either way, it is done, and honestly it doesn’t matter much what you think about that decision. The only thing you can do is to make it easy and good for your kids by at least pretending to be okay with this. How will your kids feel if you constantly signal them that the person they have grown to love -and host kids to love their au pairs most of the time- is actually not right and that they are not supposed to? You will get nothing out of it, because the au pair will still be there. But your kids will be the ones suffering from it. And then it really doesn’t matter what your cultural background thinks about au pairs. The children should be number 1 priority.

Host Mom in the City March 14, 2014 at 3:50 pm

What an utterly uncalled for, rude, and frankly, just plain strange response. I count my children as incredibly lucky that they have not only their parents, but also two sets of grandparents AND their three au pairs – all to love them. What parent wouldn’t want that for their child?

German Au-Pair, I hope you’ll just flat out ignore that comment.

Amelie March 14, 2014 at 3:54 pm


At this point, I don’t know why you came here for advice. And quite frankly, your comment about au pairs is really offensive.

The au pair has nothing to do with your whole situation. She didn’t just appear in uninvited, she was hired by your ex-husband.

Au pairs might not be real members of the family, but in most cases, we do love te children we take care of (I most certainly love my hosk kids, even after 4 years after my au pair program as over), and we remain good friends with the family.

I don’t even know why I’m discussing this with you.

It sounds like you are in a terrible position, and I’m really sorry for you. Mothers should never be separated from theirs kids like this. But I really don’t think anybody here can give you any kind of help.

Everybody here believes in the au pair program, that’s the whole reason of this website.

I truly wish you the best of luck.

Momma Gadget March 14, 2014 at 3:59 pm

Chelsea- it seems like you are in an awful,frustrating, painful situation. I can understand your bitterness.
A little tough love: If you do not want an AP taking care of your children, then you need to pick yourself up and and figure out what you need to do to prove to the courts that you are more than capable of supporting your children. Regardless if you have been raked over the coals and given a raw deal- you need to fight for your own future in order to fight for a future with your children. Some have offered you great advice- find a support group, find a new lawyer. It is just like on an Airplane- in the case of an emergency “put your own air mask on before assisting small children”.

You don’t have to ‘believe’ in the AP Program, but at this point you do not have a choice but accept this is the childcare choice your ex husband has made. You have offered you reassurances that APs are usually great loving people, and that you beautiful children are most likely loved and well cared for. Even if it is not you taking care of them, this is not nothing. As an adult child of a nasty divorce, I can tell you, every stable, kind, loving, responsible adult in their life is a blessing, especially when Mommy and Daddy are too crazy with their own vindictiveness to see how they are hurting their own children.

Every Mom on this blog loves their children just as much as you do. We all make difficult choices and sacrifices to keep a roof over their heads, food on the table, shoes on their feet, and provide them with the best life with in our power.

Sympathy, advice and piece of mind has been offered. Take it or leave it.

German Au-Pair March 14, 2014 at 4:02 pm

I think we are dealing with a mother who is so wrapped up in her own life and problems now that she cannot see things even a bit rational anymore.
I think you got one thing wrong: no child can EVER have too much love in his/her life. No grown up loving a child can ever replace another .Nor do au pairs want to.
The point of the au pair program is to be part of the family but even in a more employer-like relationship like mine, we do care deeply for the children and if you live with a child for a year and don’t feel love for her/him, then something has gone wrong.
I feel sorry for your situation and I can tell you’re desperate here but I really really hope you can find a way to act in the best interest of your children. They are not at fault for anything that has happened and they have to deal with this situation, too.
Your behavior will only make it harder for them to cope. You will either make them uncomfortable living with the person who is caring for them on a day to day basis, or, sorry to be so frank, you will drive them away from you. If one of my parents tried putting down someone who really cares about me every day and who the other parents clearly trusts, I would wonder about their intentions and judgement. I hope you can overcome or at least cover your opinion in the best interest of your children. And now I’m out.

Didis March 14, 2014 at 4:39 pm

I believe in beginning you wrote how you don’t know why (or something similar) you are not allowed to meet au pair. Probably because of this uncalled hostile attitude towards them.

It is not about language, culture and fact we don’t have our own children to take care of.
If father of the kids has to take care of them, provide for them, raise them to be amazing people in the future, shouldn’t you be grateful that your kids have kind person to help him with that, regardless of is it au pair, neighbor, grandma or babysitter?
Shouldnt you be happy that since you can;t in this point give your best and help raise them, that they still have someone to hug them, take them to school?
Shouldn’t you feel blessed that your husband is trying to make your kids life easier? Having constant care instead of changing nannies all the time?

I wish you all the luck with finding peace in this situation, because not agreeing that it’s ok to someone foreign to love your kids…it’s something I can’t understand.

Angie host mom March 14, 2014 at 5:13 pm

I think I was reading this wrong too – she’s obviously not living in the US.

Didis March 14, 2014 at 5:14 pm

I agree with you, I have used more harsh words than I meant to. It is hard not to feel attacked or little insulted as au pair and not try to push your opinion.

Should be working March 14, 2014 at 5:17 pm

This mom is in a hard, hard place, and I wonder if we might be better off acknowledging that this board is indeed the wrong forum for her because we are focused on working toward positive experiences with au pairs–and leaving it at that. I can see how she wandered in here, especially since there is no better place (and certainly not a no-cost place) for good advice about dealing with au pairs than here. But her concerns are coming from a different place than host parents’ concerns.

I would suggest comments be closed on this post. CV?

cv harquail March 14, 2014 at 5:35 pm

Thanks for the heads up. Done.

hOstCDmom March 14, 2014 at 5:26 pm

While the OP and her particular circumstances have caused this thread to veer off, I do think the initial query and general discussion point regarding how to handle a situation where parents are divorced and one of them chooses an au pair. is a very relevant issue. The agencies actively market themselves to “single” parents, and by that I broadly mean those who are single without an ex partner, those who have an partner , those who have joint custody and/ or sole custody and the ex-partner. I think the AP program could be quite good for “single”parents and help increase the adult band with in children’s lives *without* supplanting either the custodial or noncustodial parent. BUT, it is also a situation where the parent who is not choosing the AP could be quite uncomfortable with this arrangement. We all here on this site grapple with difficulties when we are involved in the choosing.

So I think this is a very valid and relevant issue for us to discuss and where experience host parents could offer words of wisdom to the parent who has had had an AP “imposed” on them and their children by their ex partner.

hOstCDmom March 14, 2014 at 5:28 pm

Sorry for typos! Posting from mobile and could really use that “edit post” function!!

Chelsea March 16, 2014 at 9:59 pm

Obviously the post thread was closed. And my side of the story will never be heard.
I appreciate it anyways.

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