Host Family Abandoned My Daughter! Should she rematch, or come home?

by cv harquail on February 12, 2014

Dear AuPairMoms,

I’m a mom from South Africa. My dear daughter, S, has just arrived in America for a year au pairing. She completed her orientation week in New York, loving everything about it, and travelled to a nearby town to meet her Host Family last Friday. We had all been skyping the family since November and were all really excited for S.

where door goWhen S arrived, all was hunky dory with the Host Mom and kids but by Monday, the Host mom was no longer talking to S and also had no explanation to the silent treatment. After tiptoing around for all day and asking several times what the Host Mom would like her to do, she only  got abrupt, one- word answers.

That afternoon, the local co-ordinator arrived to collect my daughter from the Host Family. The Host Mom said she made a mistake and no longer wants an aupair or anyone else caring for her children.

The co-ordinator begged the Host Mom to try for a few more days to work things out but she refused and said she does not want anyone living in her house. Needless to say, my daughter is shattered!!.

S is now “in transition”, with the co-ordinator and has no idea what will happen now.

This experience has really given her self-esteem a knock and she is now questioning her au pairing abilities.

Does she stay on and get rematched? Or does she come home and put this all behind her?

We would appreciate your comments on the situation. Kind regards, AnotherMom


Photograph available from BelAtelier, on Etsy


Should be working February 12, 2014 at 1:20 pm

There are some cuckoo HFs out there, and she got one. She should go into rematch and try for a better family. Rematch is harsh, because it’s a short time frame for the au pair to find a new family. She should try to stay calm and not just take anyone who comes along. She should not take this personally; if the HF is pulling out of the program then it’s not just her.

My best advice would be that she be her most helpful, generous, cheerful self while staying at the LCC’s house, because that LCC can do a lot for her. I took an AP out of rematch even though the family said she was terrible–and I took her because the LCC basically hinted that the family was nuts (and left the program) AND the LCC told me she was lovely and that she would take the AP herself if she didn’t already have one. LCCs see a lot of APs, so I knew that was a valuable recommendation.

Rematch is truly a bad hand in this situation. Maybe the agency can lobby more vigorously for the AP.

NoVA Twin Mom February 12, 2014 at 2:01 pm

I echo Should be Working – as much as we talk about “challenging” au pairs here, there are just as many “challenging” (or flat out cuckoo) host families. Please don’t think we’re all like that.

As SBW said, your daughter is actually in a great position for rematch – her new family would get her for a whole year, and if the LCC really goes to bat for her, the new family will realize this was NOT her fault at all. I would have LOVED to have found your daughter in the rematch pool a few months ago.

Tell her to keep her chin up, return phone calls from prospective host families ASAP, and be open to new parts of the country (though I’m sure she was mentally “ready” for the area she is in now, she can always visit on vacation.) Have her ask her LCC to “shop” her profile *everywhere*, not just in the local area. (If possible, have her LCC reach out to other LCCs “advertising” a great au pair in a bad situation, rather than waiting for other LCCs to contact her about potential candidates). Her perfect host family may be 3000 miles away from where she sits now, and neither of them know it. And remember, families enter “transition” every day too. So her new host family might not be in the pool yet, but may be entering any day.

Sometimes I think rematch opens up opportunities for Host Families and au pairs who wouldn’t have otherwise matched to find each other – I know if we hadn’t sent AP number 4 into rematch we never would have found fantastic AP number 5, because we wouldn’t have been looking for an au pair when she was available.

And hugs to both you and your daughter. You must be unimaginably stressed to have this all happening so far away from you when it feels like you have no way to help. As bad as it seems at the moment, she is better off not in a house where she’s not welcome. The LCC will help her figure out what to do next, and hopefully your daughter has some friends in the area as well. Maybe suggest to your daughter that she and a friend go out to dinner (if there’s a Cheesecake Factory where she is, that’s the FAVORITE restaurant of all of our local au pairs) and shopping, just to have a “girls night out” to have some fun.

Good luck – in summary, I definitely recommend that your daughter try to rematch!

NoVA Twin Mom February 12, 2014 at 2:14 pm

Sorry, just one more thing. Tell your daughter to stay on top of phone calls/emails from prospective new families. Even if she’s out with a friend, answer the phone and ask to call back later. Or talk for a few minutes! That way potential families will see her as enthusiastic and eager to rematch rather than hard to get a hold of. :)

Host Mom in the City February 12, 2014 at 3:07 pm

Ugh, how awful. I’m so sorry. She should definitely rematch if she still wants to complete her year – she should have no trouble at all. Host parents that go into rematch are typically very interested in determining whose fault the rematch really is when they look at a candidate. In this case, it’s clear cut – the host family decided after only a few days that they wanted out of the program entirely.

If I were in rematch, finding a candidate who just arrived and thus still had a whole year on her visa and was thrown in with a family that immediately left the program would be the best news ever.

She needs to act with total integrity until she finds another family. She should not bad-mouth her first family, but stick to the facts “my host family decided they did not want to be in the program after only a few days.” She should continue to do her job to the best of her ability and she should work hard to impress her LCC because the LCC is who is going to make or break this for her. She should immediately let her LCC know that she’s committed and is open to going anywhere and to whatever situation. If a host family contacts her, she should get back to them as soon as she can (not while working obviously) because host families in rematch typically move fast.

Best of luck to her (and to you!)! I can only imagine how stressful this must be to everyone. Totally and completely not her fault, I hope she knows that. There are just some crazy host families out there and it sounds like she got one :(

Momma Gadget February 12, 2014 at 3:50 pm

What a shame! My heart goes out to both the new AP for her disappointment, and to the Mom who has to witness this from so far away. I cannot imagine how helpless she must feel.

As hard as it is for the daughter, better it happened so early on in her stay, rather than suffer with an uncommitted, resentful family. This program takes time and effort on both sides to make it work.

She should absolutely rematch! Our best AP came to us from transition ( from a crazzzzy situation). He extended with us and will be coming this summer to visit. Maybe ‘S’ will also find a family that will begin a life long friendship.

The others have offered some great advice. ‘S’ needs to keep positive and open minded, enlist the help of her LC, and proactively respond to families that contact her.

I truly believe that everything happens for a reason. There is a better family out there for ‘S’. Having this initial set back will serve to make the rest of her experience so much sweeter. Good luck!

spanishaupair February 12, 2014 at 3:52 pm

Best of luck and i agree with the others try to keep on the program and find someone, she should be a good deal for families in rematch because she hasnt done anything wrong, just the HF decided to leave the program
I have entered myself in rematch as soon as starting working in Ireland a bit different, because my HF was moving to my country. It was crazy and i got quite mad but i couldnt have never been more lucky, i have been talking with the family for 5 months but in the end didnt like them and moved to an amazing family, ok they have their things like any family, but i was staying for 6 months and im already 18 and going to be 25 months with them. Things happen for some reasons but she can finish in a great family that she will love her experience and keep in touch with them forever
Good luck

Dorsi February 12, 2014 at 7:19 pm

I will say that with each drive home from the airport, I have had the thoguht, “Oh, no, what have I done? I can’t believe this person is coming into my house for the next year!” It feels overwhelming (to me, at least) to be committed to this stranger and wondering what you have really gotten yourself into. They are exhausted, often difficult to communicate with (not your daughter’s problem) and often overwhelmed. It sometimes feels as though one has taken on a Herculean task.

Having said that, I am a grown-up who honors my commitments. I suck it up, put on a good face and begin integrating the AP into my family. And it usually works pretty well. Anything less that a good effort is profoundly disrespectful to the AP (and her support system rooting for her from abroad).

I don’t say this to justify what the family did. Unless there is more to the story, they are absolutely wrong. I tell you my feeling to explain why this may have happened with no fault of your daughter’s.

I imagine she can do very well in rematch, and can have a great year — most families are truly caring and committed to their Au Pairs.

Please let us know what happens!

Ihopeulikemykids February 12, 2014 at 8:14 pm

She should absolutely rematch! She’s in a good position, it clearly wasn’t her, the family sounds a bit off, and it’s a crazy time of year for matching, so I’d bet families would be happy. Just tell her to stay positive as much as possible. Also, if she’s considering a rematch nearby, she should try to meet them if possible. Good luck

FormerDCHostMom February 13, 2014 at 4:29 am

Yes, she should re-match. But as one other poster mentioned, she should make *sure* that her LCC is listing her as available NATIONALLY. And she should ask the LCC to call other LCCs directly rather than waiting for them to call her (waiting on anything when you have only 2 weeks is a bad idea).

We picked up an au pair in rematch under similar circumstances…I was upset and fearful about the rematch process, and the au pair we found was upset and fearful about rematch after matching first with a family where the mom simply couldn’t cope with having someone else living in the house. It turned out for the best — she was a wonderful au pair.

But she mentioned to us that her local LCC wasn’t the one who brought her to the attention of our local LCC (halfway across the country) — it was another LCC of another group who had gotten to know her who actually helped. So it’s super important that the LCC *CALL* other LCCs, who may know of other opportunities not listed publicly. Our au pair said that for the whole first week when she was in rematch, NO ONE called her. But once word got out, in week two, she had interviews and offers from 8 different families. (YAY us, we won!)

I was an Au pair February 13, 2014 at 7:15 am

Well I retuned home 2 years ago and I was an au pair since 2010 to 2012.
My first host family was horrible (kids were insane so were the parents) and they made me feel miserable all the time, I felt like a slave not like a human being, I lost 5 pounds because food was limited for me, I remember, that i wanted desesérately to go back home until I rematch and I got the best host family on earth, they were simply awesome to me, and we still keep contact. so, I also recommend her to wait calmly and to find another family.If possible, tell your daugther to ask the family to let her talk with their current au pair, so she can have a better idea of what is the family like.

good luck and remember: tha stronger the storm is, the sooner calm comes :)

TexasHM February 13, 2014 at 10:03 am

It unanimous – she should try to rematch. As a host family that was in rematch just two weeks ago (current AP had family emergency and had to fly home) I can tell you just as your daughter seems to be a great AP in a tough situation, there will be great families in a tough situation and this could turn out to be a win/win for both. Our transition AP arrived last week and she has been a godsend and quite possibly our best AP yet.

Great tips already mentioned above that made us select our transition au pair – stay positive (she didn’t trash talk though I found out later she had plenty of material!), be a gracious houseguest (LC said our AP was the best transition she had housed in 10 yrs in the job) and take the interview process as seriously or moreso than she did originally (our emails were always answered in less than an hour, she was always available to Skype to fit our schedule, etc). It only took us 3 days to match and she was in our home 3 days after that.

Above all else – tell her not to panic and not to settle. If she has red flags or her gut is telling her a family is not a fit, don’t match with them out of desperation. Much better to wait and find the right match or go home than to pile on another unsuccessful match or tolerate a poor situation for a year just to say she finished.

She has the opportunity to be a huge blessing to a family in need if she chooses to approach it that way. Best of luck and prayers to you both!

Anna February 13, 2014 at 11:34 am

Am I the only one whose first reaction is – let your daughter decide.

This question is from the mom, not from the au pair herself in the situation. It could be a situation with an overbearing mother or a girl too attached to her family – which we all know could spell difficulties in her au pair year for her host family.

We know nothing about S au pairing abilities because sadly she didn’t get a chance – so we don’t know that she is a great au pair. She won’t have a reference from her current host family after just a few days. A new family taking a chance on her is the same as a family taking a chance on a brand new au pair from out of country, with the exception that they can interview her in person if they are local. Of course she will look good in comparison with many girls in rematch because here it is clear cut that it is solely the family’s issue, and not hers that led to rematch.

Momma Gadget February 13, 2014 at 12:58 pm

I didn’t get the impression that this was anything more than a concerned mother looking for advice “Mom to Mom”. I see nothing wrong with seeking the oppinions/advice on behalf of her daughter, so that the daughter can make a more informed decision.

I agree that this APs skills are untested. I also agree that it is really up to her to decide whether to pick herself up, dust herself off, and try again;or pack it up, and run home with her tail between her legs.

If this were my child my heart would want her to come running home to my comforting arms. But I know from experience that facing adversity and succeeded is a far better fix for bruised self esteem.

Momma Gadget February 13, 2014 at 1:02 pm

Also I’d like to add- there are no guarantees that she will find her dream family. This last experience will hopefully help her be realistic in her expectations and choose wisely.

Tristatemom February 14, 2014 at 10:52 am

I am totally with you on this one. Why is the mother involved from SA??? If she was mature enough to decide to become an AP, the daughter should try and handle all that can come with it, including this situation.

Anyway, lots of APs post on facebook, I think there is an “I am in rematch page”??? (I am not on facebook but my husband found lots of candidates that way).
Good luck to the AP.

NoVA Twin Mom February 14, 2014 at 3:12 pm

I could be off base, of course, but when I saw the OP I thought that while her daughter is doing her part here in the US, the mom in SA wanted a different perspective. As independent as the au pair may be (thinking the best here), she has probably asked her mom what she should do. And the mom wants to know what she should say.

So I answered from that perspective. The mom is on the other side of the world, six or more time zones ahead of her daughter, and doesn’t know how to help. As much as her daughter wants independence, mom still wants to help. She probably googled something along the lines of her original question, and found this website and us. So she asked her question. As much as we like to talk and comment, we gave honest opinions – that the daughter should at least try to rematch before simply giving up and going home. That doesn’t change the new host family’s need to exercise due diligence, of course, but some lucky rematch family might find her in the pool.

Anyway, I guess I see the question as not such a bad thing coming from the mom – I saw it as Mom doing her part to help while au pair S takes care of business from here.

Host Mom in the City February 14, 2014 at 3:53 pm

I agree. One thing I really like about my current au pair is that her mom was (and is) very concerned about her well-being and general happiness during the matching process. We even chatted with her mom briefly, and she’s coming to visit us in a few months. They are close, but in a healthy way that I would want/expect of my own daughter when she is in her early 20s. If I sent my daughter across the world and she was immediately put out by the family that had agreed to welcome her as one of their own, you’d better believe I’d be concerned and involved. Not in an over-involved making-decisions-for-her kind of way, but in a available to talk and guide her through this kind of way.

Should be working February 14, 2014 at 4:25 pm

AP’s loving relationship to mom is a new criterion on my list. We had 2 APs with conflictual relationships with their moms, and both were complicated, moody and tended toward resentment. The other 2 APs had loving relationships with their moms and were calm, loving and not resentful. Again, this might be a tea-leaf criterion, but if there is a hint of conflict toward mom I want to hear the AP talk about it and hear how she handles it.

But they all write about their “lovely mom” and have cheerful pictures, so in both cases I couldn’t have known ahead of time.

TexasHM February 13, 2014 at 12:10 pm

Since the OP said “we” would appreciate your insight and mentioned that her daughters self esteem has taken a big hit I took that to mean that her daughter came to her disappointed and asked her mom for advice, at which point her mom came here so of course it matters what the daughter wants but that already sounded vetted to me.

Also yes, we don’t know about her abilities but she never got a chance and yes, for the host families they will have to interview her like they would an out of country but that is always the advice for transitions – always always interview them like you would out of country AND do the diligence on why they are in rematch. In this case its easier because its clear the family changed their mind on the program so there isn’t anything to vet out which is a plus for her in the rematch pool.

So she has two big advantages – a no fault rematch and a full first year term remaining. I wouldn’t advise an AP in this scenario to give up. Yes, she got her knees taken out week one but that doesn’t mean she can’t dust herself off and have a great experience and be a lifesaver to another family – IF she is willing to move on.

It sounds like she needs perspective. The same reason we didn’t rematch as a first time HF. We thought when it was horrible it was because we made mistakes as a HF and didn’t try hard enough or interview right. Now we are experienced and know that wasn’t true. She needs to know that she can still be an asset to a family and have a great experience.
There absolutely is success after rematch.
As her mom I would give her all this great advice and help her be patient and keep her head up (sounds like you already are). It doesn’t hurt her to try and rematch and if it doesn’t work out she will come home anyway. She is likely in shock from this quick change of events and just needs to know it can be ok.

Between a good LC and a good mom like this I think this AP has a great chance.

EnglishTeacher February 13, 2014 at 12:41 pm

I teach a class for au pairs and I see a lot who go into rematch. I agree with other posters that there are some crazy HF out there. The au pairs do not share all the details with me (appropriately), but all the ones I have known who were in transition have found happy situations when they rematched. My heart goes out to you and your daughter. This is not what you or she imagined when she left home for her au pair year. But, she has support and there are opportunities in many places. There is a host family for her out there and she will find them.

JBM February 14, 2014 at 9:35 pm

Hang in there… She got this far so don’t throw in the towel yet. Some of my best au pairs (and I had 23 over the course of 18 years) were rematches. There is a lot to gain on both sides of the relationship and MANY MANY times more great families out there that just need a helping hand than the ones that can give the program a bad name.

Angie host mom February 15, 2014 at 3:23 am

This one is easy. Rematch if she can get a host family she is comfortable with who is experienced in the AP program. If not, go home.

There are good HFs out there, but two bad host family situations is too much for any au pair!

Chris Sherman February 15, 2014 at 7:40 pm

She should interview new families. As a counselor for a sponsoring au pair agency, I have seen au pairs have fantastic years after rocky starts in rematch as well as develop life time relationships with their new families. Wishing her luck!

ToniAnAmericanAuPairInTheNetherlands February 17, 2014 at 4:06 pm

Speaking from personal experience, as I just got out of rematch after being there for two weeks. It’s a horrible part of the experience, but I found a family that seems to fit with me. And the plus side, the ‘problem’ child has bonded with me so I’m safe I think. Still keeping my fingers crossed. I think she should stick with it, there are times when she’s gonna want to cry, or cry or feel like she doesnt know what she’s doing and starts doubting yourself.

Sometimes you dont find a good family on your first try, I didnt and after 3 weeks, they came home a monday night and was like, you’re gone. I’m in Europe it’s different then in the USA, as Au Pairs have places to stay, luckily I caught a break. Anyway, those were the longest 2 weeks of my life so I understand how she’s feeling.

If she truly wants to be there, tell her not to give up. That it will get better, and I wish her the best of luck. And oh this time, just because you in rematch doesnt mean you’re not allowed to be picky..Tell her not to settle and to trust her gut!

Allison taylor February 19, 2014 at 12:24 pm

She can come be my au pair!! Been searching for one :)

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