Family Invitations: Should your Au Pair be included?

by cv harquail on July 27, 2011

How do other people see your au pair?
When you tell them that she or he should be treated as “part of the family”, what do your think that means to them?

Grandparents, next door neighbors, teachers, and mail carriers all have their own ideas about whether, when, and how an au pair is or is not part of your family. From these ideas, they have their own expectations about when they ought to include your au pair when they are doing things with your family.


When it comes to including an au pair in a ‘family’ activity with other families, there are a lot of perspectives to take into account.

First, figure out if including your au pair is right for you and right for your au pair.

Holiday meals, kids birthday parties, and trips to the Statue of Liberty seem like easy calls – of course your au pair is invited to join you. Other people’s weddings, date nights, family counseling, and long vacations are trickier.

Your decisions can change based on the event, your current au pair’s personality, the arc of your relationship with him or her, and what you as a host parent want to enjoy about the event.

  • Do you want to share this event?
  • Will it cramp your style?
  • Will it be fun/interesting for your au pair?

Is the event appropriate for your au pair?

  • Will including the  au pair (in as much as s/he is a stranger/ newcomer)  mess with the social dynamic of the event for the person(s) hosting it?
  • Does your au pair have the conversation skills to get along with a lot of new people?
  • Will there will be other people for her or him to hang with (like, other young adults or au pairs)?
  • Will s/he attend as a guest or instead be ‘on duty’?
  • Does s/he have appropriate clothing to wear?
  • Will s/he know the customs of the event and know how to act in that setting?
  • Will s/he will stay for the whole event, or leave after the cake and before the dancing/beer drinking?

Think too about the situation of the family throwing the event.

  • Are they welcoming people?
  • Are they folks who are generous with food, drink, and conversation?
  • Can they afford another guest?
  • Are they somehow interesting people, making it an ‘experience expanding’ event that’s worthwhile even if it might take extra work?
  • Are they interested in people like your au pair?


Your decision for each particular event and (potential) invitation will be unique, but will also express your family’s general preference.

With all these questions in mind, you’ll know whether or not you’ll want your au pair to come along with you. So now you have the biggest challenge– communicating to your friends and family how you would like your au pair to be included.

Consider that:

    • People who don’t have au pairs themselves need to be educated not only about au pairs in general, but about your au pair and your family’s relationship with her or him.
    • Even with people who do have au pairs, you need to communicate how you feel about including your au pair, or not, in various kinds of family events.
    • People will take their cues from what you say and what you do, so be sure to educate them about how your au pair ‘fits’.

What else should we consider when it comes to including our au pairs (or not) in family invitations?


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Taking a Computer Lunch July 27, 2011 at 10:35 pm

The answer, like many is, “it depends.”

My own parents have taken APs to the Grand Canyon, including putting them up in a hotel room near the rim, and paying for many of their meals. APs are always welcome in their home, and many have joined us on Christmas holidays and other vacations. One AP shared a room with my mother so she could get a free trip to Niagara Falls (they ended up best buds and while many APs might feel squeamish about it – my AP took the practical approach – it was a free trip with relatively few childcare responsibilities after all). Another AP got to visit Orlando that included Disneyworld, Epcot, a dip in the ocean, and other sites for free in exchange for childcare during a ceremony and dinner that was important to my mother (meaning she didn’t get to attend).

On the other hand, my in-laws saw APs as servants and definitely not part of the family. They were less than welcoming and sometimes said “No” outright to the inclusion of our APs in our trips to their home.

In all cases, the bottom line is that we do the ask. “May we bring X along?” If the answer is no, then the answer is no. If having an No answer means you can’t come because you won’t have childcare, then make that clear. We make it clear that our AP is not our servant, but we have welcomed her into our home to make our lives substantially easier (why else would we fork over so much money?), and that her participation in events smooths our way to a much more enjoyable event.

The only time I insist is during the first month an AP lives with us. At that point, APs rarely have a strong enough body of friends to entertain them, and are more likely to feel abandoned. Would I book an unnecessary trip at that point? – No – I took an AP on a family vacation within a week of her arrival and I won’t repeat that experience again. But when I was asked to represent the congregation at the Bat Mitzvah of a friend’s daughter within a week of an AP’s arrival, there was no question but she was coming along (we set it up as a cultural experience for her).

At the point we push to have our AP included in an event, it becomes our responsibility to make sure she dresses appropriately and to prepare the AP on what to expect.

Heather July 27, 2011 at 11:26 pm

I am relatively new to the blog – I am a soon to be first time HM and this blog has been the most useful resource in deciding whether to host, selecting an agency and selecting an au pair. So I was not surprised to see today’s entry bring up a point I have been thinking about. Our au pair arrives September 1st and my sister-in-law is getting married on October 15. We live near all of our family. My guess is that we will include AP in the ceremony if she wishes to come but will attend the reception on our own. We had not planned to take the children (who are invited) because we are looking forward to an adult evening together. We will likely have my mom babysit as we will use all of our AP time during the week. The thing is if this was a wedding in my family we would probably include AP in the reception as well. I cannot put it in words, but the in-laws are just different.

Amelie ex au pair July 28, 2011 at 8:34 am

Sorry, my answer was for the first time argentinian HM… =/

About the topic… something that all of you forgot mentioning… unless you require the au pair to working during these events… I think one of the most important questions to be asked is: does she want to go?

cv harquail July 29, 2011 at 2:50 pm

Whether your Au pair wants to go is obviously an important question. And, it’s one you can’t even bring up until you have addressed the questions above — you can’t aks her or him until an invitation has been proffered. Hence, it isnt in the first set of things to consider …. That would make a good followup post tho — what makes an Au pair want to join/ be included, or not?

German Au-Pair July 29, 2011 at 7:34 pm

Yes, that would be a great followup post!

AnnaAuPair July 28, 2011 at 8:48 am

I agree with all that’s said above (“it depends”). But especially in the first few weeks I’d say it is hard to figure out if AuPair fits into the occasion or not. You might not know her/him that much and – more importantly – s/he doesn’t know what will be expected of her/him.
If s/he is quiet shy and wants to do everything right, s/he might be afraid to join because s/he’s afraid of behaving wrong – even if s/he generally would like to join.
If her/his english isn’t that well, s/he might be afraid to join and IF s/he joins, s/he might just sit around and not talk to anyone. From my point of view it’s better to not have her/him join, than having her/him sit around the whole time, not saying anything – because that will make you fell bad for her/him.
I think it’s important to make sure s/he understands it, when you say it’s optional. I know a lot of AuPairs who just join, because they feel like they have to even when the HP said s/he didn’t have to.
On the other hand, if you don’t want her/him to join or if it’s just not possible for her/him to join: explain why!! Otherwise s/he might feel like you don’t want her/him to be part of the “family” or that s/he did something wrong and therefor you’re leaving her/him.

emmiejane July 28, 2011 at 11:05 am

I am about 8 months in as a first time HM. I agree with everything that TACL has said. Interestingly, with our au pair, this has not been a big issue. She very quickly set up her own network of friends, and while we often tell her she is welcome to come along to various events and things, she doesn’t typically do so unless we explicitly need her.

I think the “does she want to go?” question is very valid. For instance, we are going to visit DH’s sister over Labor Day weekend. She is welcome to come with us; I have told her this, but she doesn’t have to come. It is easier for us and sister-in-law if she does not come because of space constraints, but we are all willing to have her there. This said, as I knew would be the case, she would rather take the long weekend opportunity to visit Chicago with friends or something else. She has already been to DH’s sister’s house, and between the two families there are 5 young kids, and frankly I get that it doesn’t really appeal for a long weekend where you are not on duty. I guess my only point is that instances like this where she could come, but it might be easier not to have her have generally worked out because she doesn’t really want to come anyway. I suspect many au pairs would also just as soon have that time to themselves.

I had our au pair work recently at a going away party that my husband could not attend, and I wanted to be able to visit and not just be chasing my youngest child the entire time. She was a big help, and it was part of her “on duty” hours, but there is no question in my mind that it was not super enjoyable for her. It was all of our friends, many with young children, and while everyone is pleasant, they are at a very different place in life and not particularly focused on getting to know our au pair, and I know she would never have chosen to attend that party on her own.

Even more recently, my cousins threw a 50th wedding anniversary party for my aunt and uncle at a fairly pricey restaurant. I didn’t feel like I could ask them to also pay for our au pair. I wouldn’t have thought twice about it, but this party was while we were out of town, so it’s not like she had anything else to do. I decided not to bring my young children and leave my au pair at the cottage with them. She was fine with it, and I ordered her food from a local restaurant, so she wasn’t stuck with mac & cheese.

I guess in the end, I think each situation needs to be evaluated individually, but I don’t feel this has been a big issue with our current au pair. For the most part, she would rather be doing her own thing than hanging out with our friends. She is a great au pair, and I don’t know what it will be like the second time around, but for the first time, I am pleasantly surprised that this is barely an issue.

Nerb July 28, 2011 at 12:24 pm

This topic is interesting to me. I am in month 10 as a first time HM and, sadly, we no longer invite our AP anywhere with us. I believe we have an exceptional case, but our AP is a social misfit. She has made zero friends since she’s been here and I can count on one hand the number of times she’s left the house without us in 10 months. I’m not talking about going out on the town or sightseeing, she hasn’t even ventured outside to go for a walk! We are very socially active and have a large family that we see regularly. We invited our AP to everything in the beginning. We even planned trips so that she could see some of the US, but she was never impressed. However, after about six months of her just sitting in one seat, not saying a word for an entire event (I’m talking 8 hours sometimes) it just became too awkard for us and for everyone else too, I think. It got to be such a strain on me (DH is much less tolerant of her anti social behavior) worrying about her, whether she was okay, had she eaten anything, etc.. that I couldn’t enjoy myself. I really feel like I have a 5th child when she is with us. We are going on vacation next month and we did not invite her. I had planned on it all along, but I know if she is there, we won’t fully enjoy ourselves (she has chronic ailments as well…), and it is, afterall, our vacation. I have so much guilt over this because (1) it is not like me to exclude anyone, especially someone who is supposed to be a member of our family and (2) as a first time HM, I had such different expectations for this experience. The bottom line in my *limited* experience I think an important question to ask when considering whether to include your AP is “Will she fit in?” Amelie’s question is also a great one – “Does she want to go?” Afterall, this is her year to experience as much as she can too. In our case, I know she wants to come, because she’s never said no when we’ve asked to join us, she just doesn’t “fit in” in our world.

MommyMia July 28, 2011 at 11:31 pm

Nerb, Please DON’T feel guilty for not inviting her on YOUR vacation. Sometimes a break from each other is just the thing everyone needs to make it through the remaining time together. It’s tough, I know, when your expectations don’t match the experience (going through that myself, and it’s a real pain!). Encourage her to plan a trip on her own, or get together with another au pair just to explore some local sights and please at least try to use your LCC/LAR as a resource to assist you in doing so – it’s their job, and they should be trying to help the APs have a good experience. Although I know that’s easier said than done sometimes, too, as I’ve had two awful ones myself thus far.

Nerb July 29, 2011 at 10:03 am

Thanks MommyMia. I feel guilty because I know that she will sit inside the house for the entire week that we are away ~ and I just can’t imagine that. As I said, I recognize that our circumstances are exceptional. She definitely has depressive issues. She has zero gusto to do anything, she doesn’t drive, is extremely phobic about all social settings, doesn’t pick up on social ques etc. We actually went into rematch in our third month, but I kept her because I pitied her. (The wrong reasons, I know) Now I’m just biding time until she leaves. I digress, vent over…back to original topic.

Calif Mom August 1, 2011 at 4:57 pm

From the Queen of Digressing and Venting, you are absolved!

Nerb, you can’t take on the guilt of her choices. We had one like yours for a fwe months once–The Morose One– and it was misery. Focus on your search for her replacement, and really spending time kicking all the tires and being sure you aren’t talking yourself into a candidate who isn’t perfect. Listen to your instincts, take time to really see and honestly evaluate any yellow or red flags that come up. It gets better.

Carol August 10, 2011 at 11:00 am

Nerb, you definily can’t feel guildy about your au pair. I am an ‘au pair-to-be’, and I think that it is also our responsability try to make things feel good for both parts. Ok, we are in a strange country and living in a strange house, but if we want to be part of family, and feel include (and we really want!), we have to be as sociable and communicative as we can. In first place, to be an au pair, the girl needs to be sociable and communicative, and maybe your au pair is an exchange girls for the wrong reasons.

Deb Schwarz July 28, 2011 at 2:24 pm

Hello all,

This reminds me of a situation that came up in my group. The au pair was very excited about her first U.S. Thanksgiving (she was German). She called me in tears after the day and told me that the host family sent her to the basement to entertain the kids (with another au pair) for the meal. She had prepared a special dish and was sorely disappointed that she wasn’t invited to the meal. Obviously, the family wanted an adult meal (sans kids) but the expectations should have been set especially since she had prepared a dish. It broke my heart to hear about this.

BTW – for those regular posters out there – I am about to start radiation (for early stage breast cancer) – am back from a wonderful vacation in Bermuda and the East Coast feeling rested – and hope to start posting regularly on AuPair Mom again now that I’m feeling better. We are coming to the end of our 15th au pair’s year, and we are thinking about (gasp) not getting another one since the kids are 10 years old (x3) and 12. We may get a local student since we only need 20 hours or so (homework help, kids laundry, etc). Of course, I know that I will be back in the au pair saddle again soon – as I’ve always said – until at least one of our kids drives, I will need help shuttling four to their various activities and school (wish we had school buses here in CA!).

Oh – and for those who are looking for weekend education options on the West Coast, I’m helping to start a weekend class option for au pairs at College of Marin (near San Francisco) – I’ll keep you all posted as I know it’s sorely needed on the West Coast.

Deb Schwarz

As a mom to four children (including triplets), market researcher, realtor, and host mom to 15 au pairs, Deb has a passion for helping families navigate the au pair process and find the right fit for their family.

Carlos July 28, 2011 at 4:43 pm

Woow! her story is kinda sad… and I really hope she gets well..
I think this pretty much says that if HF consider their au pairs as a “member of the family”, which I think that should be specified in the matching process, they must talk with their au pairs about those events even though they’re just gonna tell them that they cannot assist, or that they’ll be taking care of the kids there…

There are different types of au pairs, I have a friend that’s already in the USA with a HF but it doesn’t seem she’s very into the “member of the family” thing, she’s more independant and her host mom respects that, again, I guess they specified that before starting her year… just sayin’

MommyMia July 28, 2011 at 11:27 pm

Hi, Deb
Welcome back, and I wish you a complete recovery (radiation is a piece of cake compared to chemo – been there, done that – eight year BC survivor myself!) and wonderful future. Kudos on pursuing the weekend class (although we’re on our last au pair, too, so won’t get the personal benefit). And BTW, I live in SoCal, and we do have school busses here – LOL!

Anonamomma July 29, 2011 at 5:34 am

Hey Deb, hope your recovery is as swift as possible, no better woman I say! all the best.

Silvia July 28, 2011 at 4:10 pm

I am always welcome in the family events .. ALWAYAS i haven’t miss anything they always include me

Busy Mom July 28, 2011 at 10:29 pm

We’ve had 3 au pairs. We always extend optional invitations to come along to our own family outings, school concerts, dance recitals, birthday parties, dinners out…nearly eveythig that involves only our nuclear family. When we celebrate Christmas and Thanksgiving locally with extended family, we invite our au pair and my in laws have been very accomodating.

The exception is vacations and we make clear when matching that we travel sans au pair. We travelled once with our first au pair and I found that I was spending so much time & effort making sure that she had a good time that I didn’t.

We have, however, drawn a line at asking our friends to include them in events we have been invited to as a family. I feel that it’s an imposition to ask friends to include our au pair. There’s extra expense, social awkwardness, a language barrier… Moreover, I don’t think our au pair would enjoy events surrounded by a late-40s crowd (basically the age of many of their parents) and a bunch of kids. I’ll probably get coments about not fully treating our APs as “part of the family,” but this approach has worked for us. We had excellent relationships with APs #2 and #3 and I don’t think either of them felt excluded because of this. (We didn’t have great relationship with #1, but that was due to other reasons…)

The only tricky issue is when these events occur during the APs first week with us. This year, 4 days after our AP arrives, our family is invited to the birthday party of my daughter’s friend and will be out for the afternoon. Then, 9 days after she arrives, we are attending a bat mitzvah. It’s unfortunate timing, but something similar occurred with AP #2 about a week after she arrived. I just let her know about it before she arrived so she would be prepared and wouldn’t feel that she’d done something wrong to earn exclusion…I’ll do the same this year for AP #4 and suggest that she make plans with someone that she meets at orientation.

We also have made a point of planning two fun family outings on day #2 and day #3 so that we’ll be spending a lot of time with her.

Aupair in Germany July 29, 2011 at 6:27 am

I think this is a really important question to consider!

As an au pair I LOVE spending time with my host family, and my host family are really wonderful about going out – if it’s a family thing I’m ALWAYS invited – unless they need me to stay home with the kids for some reason. I don’t go every time but I really like the extended family – they’re so lovely and friendly, I’ve probably only turned down 2 or 3 events in the 6 months I’ve been here, and then only because I already had plans. Often these events take place on my days off so I’m turning down free time to go along but the family are really great so I totally don’t mind.

I’m also (for the most part) invited out when it’s something from friends as well – I’ve even been to a wedding here! In that case the whole family (me included) went to the church ceremony, and then they have a sort of morning tea/mini-reception directly after that we all went to. After that we all came home and I stayed with the kids so the parents could go to the reception that night.

There’s been a few things (eg 40th, 50th etc. birthdays of friends) that I was not invited to, mainly because they were not kid-friendly and so I stayed at home in the evenings with the kids, but, my host family are very upfront about everything so there’s never any misunderstanding. I think that everything needs to be made clear right away – when you first mention the invitation it should be said exactly WHO is going. And if you’re not sure, it’s ok to say “I have to talk to [other host parent/host of event] first to see whether you can come or not”!! Also, my family this weekend are staying at their grandparents place and although I’m normally invited too when we go for the day, this time I’m not, because there’s simply not enough space and that’s ok too.

Going on holidays is different again – being farmers, my host family don’t take a lot of holidays but they go every year up to Denmark for a beach holiday and the aupair is invited. I’m really looking forward to it as well!!

So basically I think it does depend on the aupair as much as the event – issue a few invitations in the first couple months (don’t be discouraged in the first month if they say no – due to the language barrier I found it REALLY overwhelming in that time!) but if they keep saying no then don’t push it – mention the invitation and say they’re welcome to join in whenever they want.

Should be working July 29, 2011 at 9:29 am

We had one au pair who never came with us on family outings (ended up in rematch, she was ‘adequate’ but depressive), and one who almost always did join us, the true member of the family, although she had maturity issues and there were some issues now and then (just like real family, I guess). Next AP arrives soon–I have a feeling she will want to join us on outings, she talks SO much about her family at home and seems warm and fun.

Two kinds of issues come to mind with this post:

First, deciding whether to include APs on expensive vacations.I t was a little awkward to decide, before ever meeting our soon-arriving AP, to bring her along on a family reunion trip coming up soon at an expensive resort. What if we really don’t enjoy her so much, or she’s not the family-reunion type? But I just can’t see NOT inviting her along, and we have to hope it will be good.

Second, scheduling ‘family’ events as work time–this topic has come up before, e.g. with respect to kids’ birthday parties. We have some kids’ performances and family events coming up right after new AP starts, and I scheduled those already as work time. She told me very warmly that this isn’t necessary, she absolutely wants to join in, but I feel it’s only fair to schedule it as work because I am requiring it of her even if she would choose to do it anyway. I think this is a good precedent–later in her year she may want to skip out on a ‘family’ event because she has a better offer or invitation with friends, but if I’m requiring her to turn down other invitations, it’s work time, even if it’s totally fun and she’s happy to do it.

DarthaStewart July 30, 2011 at 9:57 pm

We generally invite the au-pair to everything we do. Not too many times that it’s awkward, actually.

Calif Mom August 1, 2011 at 5:00 pm

Yours must be better at dressing appropriately than a couple of mine have been! OMG, I shudder to remember the looks we sometimes got at the outfits our APs were wearing, even after I had coached them… sigh.

Love love love our current au pair.

Dorsi August 2, 2011 at 6:17 pm

I wonder all the time if I dressed so bad when I was 20. I don’t think I was nearly as socially inappropriate as all 3(!) of my APs have been. But they are all clueless about it, so maybe I was too. The various fashion scenes:
–Cleavage, Cleavage, Cleavage with a side helping of Oh my gosh that skirt is so short!
–I am probably a 14-year old boy.
–This is my favorite super cool t-shirt and even if it is gray (and used to be white)I will wear it to every fancy event. Aren’t you impressed by my cool cool tshirt?

LVHM August 3, 2011 at 1:29 am

What is it with the cleavage? Although I am not that well-endowed, I don’t generally wear cleavage bearing clothing, unless I’m going out for a special evening (cocktail dress), and so I would think our APs would not necessarily dress like me, but at least follow along with the program and realize that bearing the cleavage means they look very different than how we dress in our household. But nonetheless, all but one of our APs have had their share of outfits that made me cringe a bit. As much as I want our APs to be part of the family — and we definitely prefer that type of arrangement where our AP is very involved with us —- the outfits sometimes make me hesitate to invite them along.

Busy Mom August 3, 2011 at 11:05 pm

Is it cultural or simply generational? I look at what some of the high school girls are wearing and I cringe. I’m in my mid-forties and, back in my high school days, wearing clothes like that would earn one a certain unflattering 4-letter label that no “nice” girl wanted to earn. My oldest will enter high school this fall and we’ve had discussions about appropriate garb. She’s relatively conservative in what she chooses to wear, but it’s hard to explain to a kid that bosses and peers (and I have to think teachers) don’t take one as seriously if you wear tight clothing, display your bra for the world to see, don shorts that barely cover your bottom, and/or bare your cleavage. Particularly when the media pummels these kids with sexy images and clothing for tweens makes them look 20. Then I wonder if younger generations of men are just diferent and are able to look past all that bare skin and appreciate a girl’s brain. But I digress…

Should be working August 4, 2011 at 4:00 pm

Pursuing your digression, I’m also horrified that my kids know the lyrics to some very explicit songs and practice dance moves that are highly sexualized, but they don’t really know that yet. This IS an AP-related topic, because I’m going to forbid certain radio stations while kids are in the car.

Taking a Computer Lunch August 4, 2011 at 5:20 pm

If your children are older elementary school age, then your AP may not be the source of their information. My 10-year-old and his friends share a lot of information about YouTube and other Internet sites, sing song lyrics to each other.

While it’s okay to ban radio stations, TV stations and Internet sites, do be aware that your children will still be exposed to a variety of media out of your control, especially as they get older. I try to talk to my son openly about why certain things bother me, so that he thinks about the song lyrics, the videos, books, etc. – instead of taking everything at face value. He’s hearing my message, even if he isn’t able to fully absorb it yet.

hOstCDmom August 4, 2011 at 8:23 pm

Also, keep in mind that if your AP isn’t a native English speaker, she may not understand many of the words, allusions or implications that you deem inappropriate for your children. Or if she does understand she may not react to or be focused on language that doesn’t hold an inherent meaning or taboo to her ear, and thus may be largely oblivious to the impact of such words or phrases. (I speak a number of languages proficiently to fluently, but I can say that with the exception of the language in which I am truly native/bilingual, expletives or epithats, or explicit lyrics, in these other languages don’t resonate with me in any way like they do in English and bi-lingual language. I could listen to hard core sexual, misogynistic, and/or violent songs and would likely focus more on the music than the meaning.)

For example, if one doesn’t have a grasp of English to understand the implied message, the meaning, or impact of certain lyrics, Lady Gaga’s Poker Face is just a song with a catchy dance beat….but if you are a native English speaker listening to a 5 year old sing along verbatim, you may well be bothered by the confluence of child + lyrics….

It might be worth explaining, in a somewhat black and white, explicit manner exactly what is objectionable in songs; words and messages that are inappropriate so as to help your AP make better judgement calls.

HRHM August 5, 2011 at 9:52 am

Which is why, it is often better to say “you may only listen to the CDs that I have put in the car while you are driving the kids” Because if her grasp of English is limited (or she just plain has lousy judgement) you don’t want her being the one to make the decision.

AP2 couldn’t understand why Barbie Girl wasn’t appropriate when DD5 plays with Barbies all the time…”you can comb my hair, undress me anywhere…” REALLY!? So I started being the one to choose ALL music when my kids were around.

emmiejane August 5, 2011 at 10:48 am

I actually had this exact conversation with my AP. I came into the kitchen, and she had music on the radio that I didn’t want my 1 and 3 year old exposed to. I told her in a nice way that I don’t want her listening to that music around my kids. She apologized and basically said, I have no idea what they are saying, I just like the sound of the music. To her credit, she has never done it again; she understood where I was coming from, but without being able to really grasp the lyrics, she is unable to identify inappropriate songs.

German Au-Pair August 5, 2011 at 8:35 pm

Also man au pairs might not even think about it. As I hardly ever listen to German music, I can listen to whatever song I like when I have kids with me because they simply don’t understand the words. And when they catch a bad word, in our culture people just don’t mind that much. If a child catches a sh* or f-word, it’s not a big deal here because it’s not common for them to pick up an English word and use it themselves.

And even if you do understand the lyrics, when you are used to not having to care about a specific song, you might just miss that suddenly this song might be a problem.
For example the “Barbie Girl”. At first I was like “why would that be a problem?” but when you quoted this part it made sense. In my mind it’s just in the folder of being okay for kids as German kids will never understand this meaning.
Talking to your au pair might create much more awareness.

nj LC July 31, 2011 at 2:30 pm

Very rich responses- thank you all. I’m curious about something? Doesn’t the definition of “family” member differ from culture to culture, even within the U.S.? I’d be interested in opening this up as a separate post someday.

German Au-Pair July 31, 2011 at 6:24 pm

I wouldn’t say culture, I would say it differs from person to person. I would even go as far as saying it differs between different interpersonal constellations.

Lidia Silvestri, first time HM from Argentina, but in the USA August 4, 2011 at 4:33 am

I keep sending emails but don’t know why CV does not get them. I saw you wrote me an email and I kept answering it several times but since I hear nothing back I’m afraid you don’t get my emails! Can you please let me know something here?
Also, please take my comment above to make a new post… september is coming soon :/
If I can’t send my comment by email to have a new post, you feel free to take it from here and make a new post!
thank you very much. Lidia

Anonamomma August 4, 2011 at 5:09 am

There is a whole section(s) on welcoming a new au pair and there is also a post on new au pair new host mom, there is welcoming the new AP, her first few days, leading into your AP is not your guest/maid, seasons of an AP, etc.

Honestly there is already sooo much on this particular topic that I really suggest you read the older posts as they nearly cover everything I’d say and hey – it would be great if you could add something new.

Taking a Computer Lunch August 4, 2011 at 2:37 pm

I’d like to second what Anonamomma just said. Scroll down the page (or up depending on your browser) and look at the topics on the right side of the screen – you may have to adjust your browser window to see them. CV has organized past postings by topic, and you’ll see one: “Phases of the AP Year,” with appropriate sub-headings to your issue. Read them over and see if your topic has been addressed in the past. That’s the appropriate place to post what you wish to add, so that the thread follows through for other HP to find. When you post something that doesn’t belong to a particular thread, it becomes lost to future readers who may, like you, seek advice on a particular topic.

Eden August 4, 2011 at 5:33 pm

This is great. Our first au pair is nearing the end of her time with us so must be sure to follow this guide.

I created a “list” of tips & things to consider when getting an au pair and included your whole blog as a key resource as well as linking to this article for the farewell part. Check it out at the link below. Would be great if you wanted to do some specific guides/lists on various aspects of au pairs (different agencies, welcoming au pairs, cultural differences, key interview questions.) If this is something you may want to do, email me & we can chat. It’s free AND you can embed the content in the form of an engaging widget for your blog.

Thanks again for the blog. It’s one of the few resources out there.

Swedish Au Pairs August 10, 2011 at 4:45 am

Yes of-course they are a part of your family helping you in every situation, than if you get any invitation than the au pair must be included in that…..

Anonamomma August 10, 2011 at 6:14 am

But they are not part of my extended family and therefore are not included in every/any invitation that I or my family receive, i.e just because my cousin invites me to her wedding dpes not automatically mean that she invites my entire family (i.e my children or the Au Pair).

Same goes for MY friends – when they invite me over to their house for dinner etc my Au Pair is not invited (nor is my husband for that matter).

I think that if your family is planning a day out – then yes you should give the AP the option of joining you – if you have been invited out – then 9/10 the person extending the invitation will not include the AP and that is their right.

And quite frankly – I do not want to bring my AP everywhere with me – when I see my friends & family I like to be able to give them my fully attention – and I can’t do that if I am trying to ensure that my AP is comfortable and getting along okay.

Taking a Computer Lunch August 10, 2011 at 5:16 pm

While we probably invite our APs to join us in more events than not, I do think that if you, as an AP, want to be included in “everything,” then you’ll need to ask questions at the interview stage before you match. Will the HF include you in their vacation plans? If it’s important to you, then don’t match with a family who responds negatively. Will you be attending family functions (weddings, funerals, reunions, birthday parties, etc.) or not? Ask their previous APs how much they were expected or invited to family functions.

I think as some of the posters have made clear, they look for a dynamic participant in events – APs who assist even if they aren’t officially work, those who show appreciation (whether it’s in the scenery or in the celebration), and those who engage other family members, are more likely to be happily included in family events. I, as a HM, will go out my way to get an invitation for an AP who goes above and beyond. However, the HM or HD who issues an invitation with “Don’t feel obligated to come, but we’re….” is probably hoping you’ll say no. Those who say, “I’m sorry, but…” mean that the person who issued the invitation is not going to make room at the table for you (and yes, my mother gets the family member part but my in-laws never did).

HRHM August 11, 2011 at 8:37 am

And you may find that your level of invitation is predicated on the behaviour of previous APs, as unfair as that may seem. We invited AP1 to EVERYTHING. We took her to Disney World and spent 875 for an extra hotel room(normally we all stay in one room), 300 for park tickets (yes that was just for her) 300 for her airfare, probably about 400 for food during the week and had to rent an SUV instead of a regular car which added 300 to that cost. It was her vacation week so we were paying her as well. It would have been nice if she had offered to pay for some of her own way, but she didn’t. It would have been REALLY nice if she had offered to take the girls for a few hours so that DH and I could go to grown up dinner or have some date time. She didn’t. So instead of paying over 2 thousand dollars to take subsequent APs on vacation, our policy changed that APs go on their own vacations while we are on ours.

Gianna August 11, 2011 at 3:09 pm

I disagree with this … I agree with Anonamomma… sometimes I just want to be with my friends and talk. Sometimes I want to be with my husband alone. Sometimes I just want to spend special time with one of my children. I respect that choice when my husband and children make it , too. My own children want some privacy with their friends and I understand that. Most aupairs would not want a host mom to hang out with the aupair and friends when they come over to visit or go out. Everyone needs to be sensitive in this situation. And yes, some family invitations exclude children.

Gianna August 11, 2011 at 3:11 pm

I meant to say that I disagree with aupair above who said that aupairs must be included in every invitation . I am not in disagreement with the poster just above me. I responded in the wrong spot

sleepytime December 22, 2011 at 1:11 am

I’m mostly curious- has anyone experience this problem? Christmas is coming, and my Mom is really hoping that our au pair will not come to their house for Christmas. Partly it is because my Mom gets anxious about Christmas preparations, but partly its because our Au Pair made the impression of being unhelpful and self-absorbed at Thanksgiving. Our au pair wanted me to see if one of her au pair friends could come too (I was hoping my Mom would say yes so they would occupy each other ;), and when My mom said no I did offer to let her have a bunch of au pairs stay over at our home so they could all celebrate together (au pair declined).
I’m not really looking for advice- I know our au pair’s feelings would be incredibly hurt if she knew, and so she’s coming with us. I’m just wondering if anyone else has run into this situation- a family that really doesn’t want you to bring your au pair for a visit, and an au pair that would be hurt if you don’t.

Should be working December 22, 2011 at 1:58 am

We have been lucky for the most part in this respect, but I have in-laws that don’t want the AP around. It is easier if it’s the spouse’s parents–or perhaps the spouse who is not related should be the one to say something.

What I said is, “HD and I are taking the kids to visit GM and GP for the holiday. You can join us if you want to, but honestly his family is very cliquish and I don’t think you are going to feel very warmly welcomed there. They are just like that sometimes with people they don’t see as part of the family–although we see you that way ourselves. I just want you to know what you are getting into–and I wish I could stay home with you but I am truly obligated. Anyway, if I were you, I’d plan a really fun event here, and here are my suggestions and some money to do it with if you want.”

She came, in-laws were unfriendly, she didn’t come the next time.

Taking a Computer Lunch December 22, 2011 at 7:57 am

When my father-in-law was still alive, we had this issue, too – DH’s step-mother saw APs as servants and didn’t want them included. I remember one holiday where she asked if my AP could feed my special needs child in the kitchen and have her own dinner there. I put my foot down and said both were part of my family. The result? The host’s AP got to eat in the dining room, too.

Personally, I would not ask your AP to stay home. It would be different if she wanted to spend Christmas with her friends, but she clearly wants to be with you, her HF. Christmas is an emotional time for everyone – and it is very hard to be away from home. Explain to your mother-in-law that your AP is a beloved part of your family. Explain to your AP that your mother-in-law will expect that she pitch in. You might even help her, by saying, “X, let’s clear the table” or “X, let’s wash the dishes together so Grandma can relax.”

In the long run, your mother-in-law can be unhappy and get over it (and maybe if she sees that your “extra” guest is willing to pitch in she won’t be so unhappy), but if you isolate your AP it may cost you a good year. Our APs always went with us to our in-laws (and the comparison was really hard because my own parents were so welcoming – in fact we just spent a week with them and they paid for our AP to have her own hotel room, rather than being stuck on the fold-out couch in the living room of the suite).

Anonamomma December 22, 2011 at 9:19 am

I’m on the other side of the fence with this one – sorry guys but I am visiting some family members over the holiday and I have told our AP (in the nicest way possible) that she is NOT invited.

If I were you – I’d break it to her gently – let her know that it’s not your decision and that unfortunately there is nothing you can do about it – and encourage her to make alternative plans.

When you break it down it is a no-win situation if you take her – MIL is upset and if you leave her at home – AP is upset.

But I think it is far easier and you will have far more opportunities to make it up to your AP – plus the decision is not yours – so in a way you can absolve yourself from the responsibility.

It may not be so easy to make it up to the in-laws and it will be your decision therefore your responsibility – and could potentially spoil the entire day for everyone – and this might spill over depending on your in-laws – they have asked that your don’t bring her so don’t.

Good luck.

CAmom22 December 22, 2011 at 2:26 pm

I had this problem with my MIL and my last au pair. My last au pair, once she got settled in and comfortable, was very proactive and took charge around our house and was all around a huge help. My MIL goes out of her way to make guests feel like guests and won’t assign any chores but also (I have learned over time) really does expect guests to proactively pitch in. Anyway, my MIL never liked having my au pair around because she felt like she was a burden and didn’t pitch in. I was blunt with my au pair and told her to act at MIL’s’ house the way she acted in my house but it just never worked, always made get togethers at the in-law’s house and on joint vacations very stressful for all involved and I always felt in the middle of it. So long story, but best you can do, I think, is to tell your AP very clearly that as part of the family the expectation at your mother’s house is that she (AP) will pitch in to help with holiday preparations and clean up and hopefully the second impression will be better than first and the rest of the year will go more smoothly with family get-togethers. Good luck.

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