How To Resolve Middle-School “Drama” with Your Au Pair and Host Kids

by cv harquail on July 1, 2015

I laughed with recognition of the dynamics in this Host Mom’s comment– who hasn’t seen their Au Pair and their kid(s)-of-a-certain-age get into  squabbles just like 7th graders fighting over who gets to sit where in the cafeteria?

au pair problems

FubolHostMom writes:

… I’ve got a concern regarding the “attitude” issue. Over summer vacation, issues that were small annoyances during the school year are becoming more problematic. I know that I need a “reset conversation” but I am struggling with the “clarifying the specific behaviors that are missing” part.

We have middle school kids and they essentially think that the au pair is angry at them all the time. From my view it is a combination of a reserved personality with a disbelief that they cannot do everything for themselves at their age.

On the other side, if I ask the au pair to make sure they get a specific chore done he tells me that they won’t listen to him. He also thinks that one of my kids doesn’t like him. I feel like it is turning into some sort of middle school drama.

I tried to talk to kids and au pair together several months ago about some of these issues but it turned into a disaster when my son interpreted it that we were blaming him for everything.   

It’s challenging to have to talk with Au Pairs about their dynamics with the kids.

Sometimes being ‘part of the family’ draws out some of the negative dynamics from their own families back home — such as, feeling like the beleaguered older sister,  feeling like no one appreciates that you make your bed but nobody else does, and so on.

And, we assume that once the kids are articulate, that the Au Pair and the kids can work out a nice relationship between them.   Maybe I’ve been lucky that virtually all our au pairs were able to create positive relationships with my girls.  Sure, some were closer relationships that others, but most were respectful.

Which reminds me– perhaps the #1 piece of advice with this kind of situation is to make sure that the Host Parent(s) are deliberately, frequently modeling positive behavior towards the au pair –– in front of the kids.  If you are a good role model, that’s a marvelous start.

A second idea is to ‘raise up’ the conversation one more level-– instead of talking about how A treats B and B treats A, try talking about the ‘big picture’ of your family values and how you want people in the family to interact with each other.  This strategy takes the pressure of one person and also helps focus on the positive values that everyone can rally around.

What else could you do to resolve this Au Pair – Host Children relationship drama?  

au pair problems


See also: Teach Your Kids To Treat Your Au Pair With Respect
How to Sabotage the Au Pair’s Authority By Refusing To Discipline Your Kids
How Much Can an Au Pair Improve Sibling Dynamics?


Image:  Goofy Love by Amanda Tipton on Flickr


DCMomof3 July 1, 2015 at 11:04 am

I haven’t posted in awhile, but I can certainly jump in on this one! I’ve had sporadic issues over the past year with my almost 11 year old becoming very adamant about things he can do himself, not wanting the AP to do certain things for him, etc. I tried to let the two of them work it out on their own until one day when I heard my son curse at the AP and then the AP curse back at him. I sat her down and said that while my son’s behavior was certainly unacceptable and would be dealt with separately, that I hired her to be an adult role model in the house. She must not get down to the level of an 11 year old, even if he is insulting her. We went through the fact that his hormones, etc. are taking over at this point and sometimes she just needs to give him space. We also went over the fact that while he may think that he can do things for himself, we both know that he cannot always do so, which is why we have her here in the first place. Its gotten a lot better since then, but I still sometimes need to just gently remind her to either ignore him if he starts getting uppity or to stay out of his room if he wants his privacy, etc. In our case, I think some of the problem stemmed from an overly involved AP who has a very different sense of personal boundaries than we do in our family. Now that she is not taking his behavior personally (at least not outwardly expressing her displeasure) and giving him the space he thinks he needs, their relationship seems to have gotten a lot better. When things deteriorate, I can just remind her about this age, need for privacy, etc. and that she needs to be the adult in all of this, we seem to get back on track.

AlwaysHopeful HM July 5, 2015 at 9:10 am

I had exactly this problem with my disaster rematch au pair (European) and my seven year old. My son thought AP was angry and stand-offish (and he often was), and au pair thought my son didn’t like him and was bratty (also often true). I talked with both of them about the situation, but the biggest problem I saw was AP’s inability to step up and be the adult in the situation. He was our youngest au pair and admitted that sometimes he viewed Son as much older than 7. He often reacted to Son as a peer, rather than a charge, and sometimes seemed to be competing with him, which created an uncomfortable dynamic all around. I think he just really had difficulty relating to a child as an adult in charge, and unfortunately, it showed up in snarky comments, sulking and treating Son like he was a mere annoyance. I didn’t realize just how bad it was until we rematched, and i was able to remember how the right fit (also European) makes all the difference in the world. My home is so peaceful and happy now that I can’t believe I let it go on for so long!

Sorry that I don’t have any words of wisdom for you. In my case, rematch was the only option because AP was not going to be able to develop the maturity to handle the job properly, and my son was suffering for it (the whole household was). I do think the age difference between AP and child makes a differencw in how likely these clashes are. It looks like DCMomoF3 was able to get to a place of peace with her AP, so there’s hope!

HRHM July 1, 2015 at 1:49 pm

“We have middle school kids and they essentially think that the au pair is angry at them all the time. From my view it is a combination of a reserved personality with a disbelief that they cannot do everything for themselves at their age”

I think this points out a very specific issue that many APs have with families with older kids. We (most Americans) are HORRIBLE about advancing age-appropriate expectations of self care on our kids.

When an AP from Europe (German, Poland, etc) takes on a job caring for middle schoolers (or even grade schoolers), they come expecting that those kids need a driver and an overseer, but otherwise to do for themselves. In most other countries (and occasionally some families here) a grade schooler is capable of folding and putting away their own clothes, packing a lunch, washing their own dishes (certainly putting them in the dishwasher or emptying the dishwasher), making their own bed, picking up after themselves, running a vacuum, walking half a mile to school. In this country, very few kids (especially ones with APs) are expected to do any of this. So it’s a huge shock to a lot of APs about the stuff they have to do especially for older kids.

I’m a pretty “free-range” kind of parent, but even I am guilty of not forcing my kids to learn to be independent and of asking the AP to do more for them than she really should. This just reminds me of how much I had to do for myself at that age and how that benefited me in life, even to this day.

Returning HM July 1, 2015 at 2:24 pm

This is true. On the other hand, in many European countries, middle and higher schoolers also get out of school at 1pm and mostly attend neighborhood schools at this age (as opposed to commuting far away for private schools, as many middle and high schoolers do where we live), and few have the kinds of sports and other activities/commitments and expectations that are so common here. My 13 year old, for example, gets out of her private school at 3:15. She gets home by carpool at 4, and the sports practice carpool picks her up at 4:40, so she has 40 minutes to unpack her backpack, get changed, eat her first dinner, and pack her sports bag. She then goes to practice until 8:50 at night. When she gets home, she eats her second dinner, and I do everything possible to get her into bed by 9:30 because she has to get up at 6:20am 4 days a week to leave for school by 7am, and one day a week she gets up at 4:05am to be at practice by 5am (and then goes straight to school). I forgot to add, she does her homework during the commutes to and from school and to and from sports practice. The one afternoon per week she does not have practice, she has Hebrew School until 6 and then does a massive run with HW to catch up for what she hasn’t done so far during the week. Weekends she has practice both days or meets, plus Hebrew tutoring, plus volunteering at a local farm. As a family, we are also very involved in dog rescue, and that can up weekend time as well.

So yes, my 13 year old does not do a lot of the things that European kids her age do.. This isn’t, of course, to say that she can’t — and this summer in her two babysitting jobs, she does all the things listed PLUS watching up to three children for $8/hr — but on a regular basis, we just don’t ask her to do these things because we value her sleep, and that is the what would suffer if we added a whole bunch of household tasks onto her daily schedule.

Sorry if I sound a little sensitive about this, but I am. At least where we live, we ask an awful lot of our children in terms of their day-to-day performances – be great at school, do well in their activities, excel in their sports (and specialize early — at her age, I was playing three sports; now, if you’re not specialized, the coaches will not have you on the team, and the commitment is year-round), and do community service regularly. My daughter does take care of a lot of her own things (packs and unpacks her bags, puts her dishes in the dishwasher and helps clear the table after dinner) but if I added laundry and cooking to her tasks, I seriously think she would end up exhausted from lack of sleep. And I would be proving what? That she can do her laundry and cook like some German kids her age do? I already know that from what she does during her summers.

This is a conversation I have with every single incoming AP so they understand why I still ask them to do some of my daughter’s laundry (I do the personal stuff for her).

HM-Europe July 2, 2015 at 2:58 am

Actually what you assume about European middle and higher schoolers is not quite correct. As far as I’m aware, in most of the european countries the kids are in school until late afternoon. Until about 10 years ago, only German (and Austrian?) kids got out of school at 1 pm. This is changing. Living in Germany, my 6th grader gets up at 6, leaves at 6:45, gets to school by public transportation. School starts at 8 am and lasts until 4 pm. He gets home with public transportation, where he arrives at 5 pm. Changes clothes. And is off again. Sports Training starts at 5:30 pm until 7. He is home by 7:30 pm and goes to bed at about 9.30pm. During these 2 hours he learns for school, studies vocabulary (2 foreign languages so far – this is standard at this age!), eats and yes: He has to clean his room, take care of his clothes and when I’m not there has to take care for food or has to do some grocerie-shopping. My younger 4th grader is expected to walk to school 1.5 miles every day (and back) since 1st grade. And she is also capable and expected to take care of her stuff just like her brother. She as well does sports 10-15 hours a week, plays the piano, meets with friends… What’s wrong with getting the room nice and tidy after getting up in the morning. When everybody helps for 5-10 Minutes a day, I have to work 1 hour less. And they learn how to avoid chaos, if they are responsible for cleaning it up…

And this is what irritates me: When I went to high-school in the US (as an exchange-student at the age of 16) me and my american host-brothers (age 12 and 17) were expected to do those chores and more. Why don’t you ask your kids to help with family life? We stopped having an AP when my youngest child started with school, because we figured that the kids were old enough to shortly stay at home by themselves and to take care of their own matters (with our help, of course). I didn’t think that american families did have APs for older school-kids. I knew of TACL of course, but this family is in a special situation.

My kids (age 9 and 11 by now) will be on their own today after school (summer-break starts in 4 weeks…) from 5 pm until 9 pm. Not perfect, but for me aceptable as an exception. Don’t you trust your kids?

Mimi July 2, 2015 at 9:23 am

In some states here in the US it is illegal for children under a certain age to be home alone and parents risk being reported to the authorities. My 6y/o children cannot get off their bus without an adult to meet them and my 11 y/o doesn’t qualify.

Seattle Mom July 2, 2015 at 1:56 pm

Did your younger child walk to school alone in 1st grade? If so I’m impressed… and it gives me hope that I can get my kids walking to school alone pretty young. Though not 1st grade. I’m pretty sure I’d get in trouble for that! My older daughter will be in 1st grade next year. I think she could handle it safely, but I also think she would be scared that someone would say some adult would say something like “where are your parents?” to her.

My husband is really into getting our kids to clean up and do chores on their own. They are 4 & 6. It’s how he was raised, so it’s normal to him. I was not raised that way, so I have a harder time pushing it. I’m not opposed, it’s just not in my blood.

I didn’t do chores, but I did walk alone to school with my sister starting when we were 10 & 8. And we lived in an urban area, had to cross busy streets. I’m hoping my kids will be ready to get themselves to school starting at least that young.

hOstCDmom July 2, 2015 at 2:45 pm

I don’t think this was directed specifically at me, but I will answer any way. Yes, my children have walked alone (school, library, YMCA, hardware store, post office, park etc) since they were 6-7 years old. We live in the center of a mid-sized New England village. They were completely competent to do this (we taught them), crossed streets at lights/crosswalks, and there are sidewalks in our town. People stopped them fairly frequently to ask “do you know where you mom is”. We joke that our local police department has a special stop and frisk program for our youngest daughter having stopped her so often! But, to folks’ credit, their interest was caring, they would ask my kids if they were ok etc., but other than a few exceptions where a concerned mom called me to confirm what the kid has said, no one ever criticized (to our faces) nor attempted to get us in trouble. Police never, ever did more than ask our kid if s/he was ok etc. I guess that our kids’ ability to articulate where they were going, why, where they lived, was sufficient to satisfy the asker.

Mimi July 2, 2015 at 3:43 pm

We live in a semi-rural area and our children have to take the bus or be driven. Even though we live 5 miles from the elementary school they’re on the bus for 45 minutes. Our oldest attends a school you can see from our house, but is not allowed to walk. He has missed the bus a few times and the first time I had him walk while I got the twins ready for their bus which resulted in a call from the school.

hOstCDmom July 2, 2015 at 3:56 pm

Mimi- I understand the rural distance/driving needs you mention, but I am genuinely curious – how can a child be “not allowed to walk” TO school? How can a school regulate how a child gets there? I understand (in practical terms, but not philosophically) how a school could prevent a child from walking home, i.e. the school could simply refuse to release a child until an adult picked the child up. But how can they control how a child gets to school? Once the child walks in the door they are in charge, but not before that. Is it a private school and this is one of their rules?

Mimi July 2, 2015 at 4:04 pm

It’s a public school. They definitely won’t release a student until a parent comes to pick them up and will even keep them on the bus and take them back to school if an adult isn’t present at the stop (our front porch in this case). Our road is a busier route in the area and even though there are sidewalks (the only ones in town), it is an insurance liability and I was told it would be reported to child services if it continued. It’s ridiculous and we could push the issue, but it’s also a small town and not the hill I want to die on (today anyway).

SwissAuPair July 3, 2015 at 12:52 am

The “walk to school” was something that really shocked me when I was in the US.

I was used to walk to kindergarten alone when I was 6 years old and it was a 1.5 Mile walk. To School as well. And then we had kindergarten from like 9-11 and 1-3, so we had to walk that way 4 times a day. Later in Highschool I had to go to another city and had to ride my bicycel 4 times a day for 5 Miles, no parents were driving.

When living in the US, the kids lived about 1 Mile away from school and I thought it was weird that they had to take the bus. I offered the mom that I would walk with them to school, but she said that they would be too exhausted for school if they have to do sports in the morning. Kids were 10 and 12 years old.

momo4 July 3, 2015 at 12:43 pm

I live in an urban area and my oldest daughter started walking home from school alone when she was 9 since her school has a policy that 3rd graders and above may walk home alone with signed permission from their parents. We live 5 blocks from the school, and there are stop signs at all but one of the streets. She has never had any issues, no calls to the police or anything. She likes the independence, and several of her friends also walk home from school so sometimes they walk together. I also see other kids walking home through the neighborhood after being dropped off by the school bus.

Taking a Computer Lunch July 3, 2015 at 5:50 pm

We have had issues with “free-range children” in a community near mine – and the parents won. The kids were 6 & 10. So there definitely is an attitude in the U.S. that the sidewalks are not safe for children.

When child #2 was in kindergarten, I wanted the AP to walk him to and from school because he had a lot of energy – it was about 1/2 mile away along a footpath that was heavily traveled by other parents and kids walking to school. I figured out that she had started driving him because she couldn’t help him get organized to get out the door on time. DH and I continued the walking when he was in 1st grade and we had no AP (we gutted our house to make our home handicapped accessible and lived on the second floor – too crowded for another person). However when AP #4 started, we decided to have him take the bus to and from school (and we let him walk home alone – around the corner – because she wasn’t returning on time to meet him!) He stopped asking to walk to school alone (which I would have let him do in 4th grade, because all of his friends were on the bus).

I do think American parents hold their kids back in a way that just didn’t happen when I was a kid. Everyone thinks the world has gotten a lot more dangerous, but it’s actually safer. However, when child #2 was 11, we started working on riding the bus independently, and he has pushed us to be able to go over to the next community alone – he’s a teenager and we permit it. He has actually been a lot more independent in riding public transportation than several of my APs. We’re now at the point that we would let him go into the nearest city alone – but meeting someone – a parent or a friend – a first.

Now that middle school is over and he no longer needs a carpool driver, we don’t anticipate the the AP will do much except wash his laundry (he puts it away – sometimes) – and that’s just because it would be a waste for every family to do theirs separately. But, my goal is that by the time he goes to college he can cook and clean and be prepared to live independently – and just because I’m paying a lot of money for an AP doesn’t mean he should have the option not to achieve it.

AlwaysHopeful HM July 6, 2015 at 6:21 pm

We live in a well-populated suburban area, and many kids are not allowed to walk to the neighborhood elementary school. The school is on a semi-busy road, so any kid who lIves behind the school is allowed to walk, but kids directly across the street must take the bus or be driven. It’s considered a safety issue.

I also wanted to mention that as a young grade schooler, I walked several blocks to and from school, sometimes alone, sometimes with other kids. Even today I remember how terrified I was at 6 or 7, unless I was solidly in a pack of kids. So yes, I was possibly more independent than my son is now, but I was living in fear… so how great could that have been?

anonymous July 6, 2015 at 6:38 pm

I don’t understand how a public school can tell parents they can’t have their kids walk to school? How does that work? Do they all threaten to call child services like Mimi said her school told her? What if a parent wants to walk with their kids, can they still not walk to school?

Mimi July 7, 2015 at 7:50 pm

I can walk with him but I’d have to take the whole clan and the twins would miss their bus. But he can catch the bus with no one supervising.

Should be working July 2, 2015 at 6:55 am

Thanks for this RHM; we always have been likewise light on kids’ chores, heavy on kids’ commitments, and I frequently feel judged by APs for this. You put it well, I’m going to borrow this language and explanation. What is more, now that my oldest kid has a serious illness that produces stress all around and requires a lot of attention, we have basically given the kids more slack–more TV time than I would have ever allowed before, lower expectations than before. I’ve told this all to incoming AP and now I hope that if I perceive judginess I’ll be able to call it out instead of worrying or developing a grudge or second-guessing myself.

hOstCDmom July 2, 2015 at 9:11 am

This is an interesting issue, because families are so different. Our family/kid expectations are seemingly 180′ opposite of RHM and SWB’s families; while our kids have many commitments, they also have substantial chores and are highly self sufficient.

(As a point of reference, the European APs are amazed at how independent our kids are compared to “back home”. Our kids do all the things on HRHM’s list and more – like take the bus across the country, alone, at 13-14yrs, to visit grandparents (take themselves to all sports practices by riding their bikes several miles each way; transporting themselves to and from camp; cleaning the house; washing floors; mowing the lawn; making lunches; taking turns cooking dinner; 100% of pet care;).

BUT we still had the AP for reasons that were important and necessary *to our family* (language, supervision of teens at home (even if the teens were super independent, and did many chores, we didn’t want our house to be the one with no adults every afternoon; driving where walking and biking were not an option, even with our very broad view of what is “bikeable” or “walkable” ( teens really can’t drive until they are almost 18 in our state); having many kids and wanting the ability to divide and conquer for 1:1 time etc.) Not wanting to put older kids in the position of always caring for younger sibs.

An therein is the point — each family has an AP to meet certain needs *according to that family’s priorities*. As long as the family communicates those needs, it isn’t for the AP to judge those needs or re-prioritize them. That is the parents’ role. If the AP and HP agree, the AP can be a part of teaching the kids new skills, but at the end of the day, if the HP prefer that the AP do the pre-teens and teens laundry, or make their beds, or make their lunches, then, in that family, THAT is the AP’s job.

Mimi July 2, 2015 at 12:40 pm

Different families are going to have different dynamics and need to find APs that will fit in with their family cultures. We also require chores in addition to schoolwork and sports/activities and it has a lot to do with having a larger family where if they don’t keep up with their own messes, the house will look like a tornado. We limit their activities to one sport per season and one other extra-curricular activity. Luckily, our grade schools have strong music programs that support those activities so that music is still part of their daily activities.

My 11 y/o is responsible for a wide variety of chores. He is also starting to cook and he and his brothers made a pesto pasta salad by themselves with minimal oversight recently, at their request. I also leave random jobs for him like changing light bulbs and meal prep. The 6 y/o’s have their own responsibilities, to, including feeding the dog/fish. They all help with other cleaning around the house and with yard work, and we don’t pay them for chores. Many of my children’s peers don’t do any chores at all and those that do, pay for them even in families where there are no sports or other activities for the kids.

We screen for APs that have similar chore backgrounds/family dynamics to ours, which has helped significantly. What has also helped for us is a chart for each child that gives them a specific idea of what needs to be done each day. My handbook says, “There are schedules posted for the boys that list all their daily activities and chores. Please use them! It is so much easier to let the chart be the ‘bad guy’ if someone wants a treat or reward and their chores aren’t done.” Everyone knows what is expected of them and it saves time and energy in many ways.

Returning HM July 3, 2015 at 10:27 am

I actually never said my daughter wasn’t self-sufficient; on the contrary, I consider it HIGHLY self-sufficient to be able to handle the kind of intense and packed schedule she chooses to handle (and does independently), with high level academics, very intensive competitive sports, and a serious commitment to community service, all of which far exceed most children we know.

My point was that I don’t define the doing of one’s own laundry or cooking meals for oneself on a regular basis as self-sufficiency or something that I need to ask her to do, just to say I do. Instead, I look to her overall work ethic and her willingness to take on huge commitments (and live up to them) as a measure of her independence and her maturity.

This summer, while not in school, she has two babysitting jobs, for a total of 20 hours a week, where she cares for multiple children, including cooking for them and doing their laundry and emptying the dishwasher etc. So clearly she can do these tasks – and do them to the standard of someone who is paying her to do them. My point in my post was that if I were to ask my daughter to do these things during the school year, when she is gone from home from shortly after 7am until nearly 9pm (except for one 40 minute period), I would be doing it FOR ME, to prove a point to myself that she can, and not for her, and I believe it would be to her detriment since it would cut into her sleep time.

We all define our families’ needs and requirements differently. Again, be clear with your AP what you need. But please – no judgment from those who either walked to school and cooked for themselves or from those who have decided to make their kids walk and cook and clean towards those of us who don’t ask these things. We all are doing our best to parent our children and turn them into the best young people we can.

SKNY July 5, 2015 at 7:55 am

This is how I was raised. My parents worked outside at home. So at 10 I would get my 6yo brother, walk him 3 blocks to the bus (5th biggest city in the world) get bus to school. Come back, do chores, dinner…
But now raising my girls 18 (but only home for 4 years), 5, 3, 1 I have the hardest time getting them to do anything.
Would you mind sharing some ideas on how to get started? Could be in private messaging/email.

hOstCDmom July 3, 2015 at 10:40 am

RHM, apologies if you felt my post was judgmental — that was not my intent at all. I was in fact trying to make the opposite point, saying that the spectrum is broad, and no one, AP included, should be judging another family’s structure, priorities, or parenting choices re how they utilize the AP or AP care. But, I guess what I said in my post got lost in my comments about specifics/contrasts, but I will copy and reiterate the essence what I was trying to say above:

“This is an interesting issue, because families are so different…An therein is the point — each family has an AP to meet certain needs *according to that family’s priorities*. As long as the family communicates those needs, it isn’t for the AP to judge those needs or re-prioritize them. That is the parents’ role. If the AP and HP agree, the AP can be a part of teaching the kids new skills, but at the end of the day, if the HP prefer that the AP do the pre-teens and teens laundry, or make their beds, or make their lunches, then, in that family, THAT is the AP’s job.”

Returning HM July 3, 2015 at 11:07 am

I didn’t find your post judgmental, though I do think there are others that have been — and this is a strain that seems to run through some APs comments on here and in other forums (and therefore I talk about this before I ever hear any judgment from our own APs).

I responded below your post mainly because I was trying to point out the differing definitions of self-sufficiency. Even with our differing ideas of what independence and self-sufficiency entail, I suspect we both care deeply about a child keeping a commitment and fulfilling it to a high level, whatever the commitment is that we are asking of them (or they are asking of themselves).

FirstTimeHM July 3, 2015 at 4:51 am

I’m a hostmom in Europe, the middle and high school years here are not as laid back and easy as you think. A typical school day would last from 8.30 – 16.30 and they have a huge pile of homework to do after that. The kids go to and from school here by themselves, usually by bike. In the rural area I grew up I had to bike 17 km to school and I wasn’t the one furthest from school, some kids had to go 25-30 km every day. My oldest daughter will have to do 11 so that’s a lot easier for her.
School is quite demanding here, after primary you get sorted into schools depending on your grades in primary. There are 5 different levels and it’s easy to drop a level but really hard to climb back up so the pressure’s on on both parents and children.
All my kids play an instrument and that requires daily practice, some of them play in orchestras. Those are ok orchestras and they’re on biking distance. When they want to be in really good orchestras they need to be old enough to do the commute themselves (over 30 km but easily reachable by train/bus).
All kids have a sport, but that really doesn’t require more training than twice a week 1.5 – 2 hours. I would object to more unless they were really talented and wanted to pursue a career. Sports here is for fun, for exercise, but not heavy on competition. Some sports have matches every Saturday (mostly soccer) but that’s not the case with the sports my kids have chosen. Early specialisation in order to get into a team, that’s not the culture here. Kids switch sports every now and then and will simply start in their age group in the next sport. When you’ve played a bit and want to be in a team, there is usually a team for you and competition is played at many levels.
My kids have chores, not many and they don’t have to be completely independent at age 10 or so, but everyone (incl the 4 yo) has to tidy their own room and help set and clear the table. From 6 years on they have to help doing the dishes twice a week (by hand, either wash or dry, the au pair also has two turns each week). From 7 on they have to put their folded clothes away. From 8 on they have to make their bed, etc. For my 11 year old her chores take her on average 15 min a day, with a 30 min stint for dishes twice a week.
For a 13 year old to have to practice so much and have either practice or meets every day in the weekend. That’s quite unheard of here unless they are so talented that they are in the national team, but then they would go to a boarding school for their team and still have a weekend day off to keep a family life.
My 11 year old can’t even imagine this, she hasn’t been brought up that way. To her sports is for fun, music as well but requires commitment, chores are boring and you simply have to do them, school is important and she does well there. She really likes to have one day in the weekend that she can do whatever she pleases or that there’s a family outing or something like that. It gives her time to relax and enjoy life. It’s also the day she’s most creative and she likes to write stories, do arts and crafts, knit, read, etc.
Because it’s easy to drop a level in school and really hard to climb up, most parents here push for a good education and will take their kids of the sports team if the homework and grades suffer. Most sports trainers know that and don’t pile on the amount of training hours unless a kid is really really talented, and even then only if school doesn’t suffer too much.
The school system here is rather more rigid after primary school than in the US, so I guess that’s where most of the difference comes from.

Taking a Computer Lunch July 1, 2015 at 9:41 pm

We have an AP to care for a high-school aged child who requires total care, the bonus to us was that we therefore had an extra adult to drive the middle-school carpool (child #2 chose a public magnet school that did not come with bus service) for three years. I tried to get APs to bond with child #2 who had long before declared that the AP was for child #1. In two cases, the AP was too immature herself to reach out to a teen (one wasn’t much older than he, the other was nearly a decade older). The two other APs had mixed results in bonding.

We have expected child #2 to be independent – to use public transportation, his bicycle, or his skateboard to get where he wanted. Occasionally, we ask the AP to provide transportation (and schedule her accordingly if she’s not dragging The Camel along for the ride). She also does his laundry with The Camel’s. Otherwise, he’s responsible for feeding himself and putting his dishes away. For several chores around the house, including vacuuming, garbage, emptying the dishwasher. As he approaches high school, DH and I recognize the need for him to have independent living skills that his older sibling will never acquire – regardless of how much we pay the AP.

Sure, he’s got to juggle, but as he approaches adulthood, I hope he sees the adults in his life balancing multiple responsibilities. Would I have expected it of him as a 6th grader? No. But as a high school student? Yes!

Schnitzelpizza July 2, 2015 at 5:57 am

“From my view it is a combination of a reserved personality with a disbelief that they cannot do everything for themselves at their age.”

I was lucky in that my oldest host child (13) was amazing! I have never, ever in my life seen a 13-year old boy be so pro-active when it came to pitching in. He’d come home after school (around 3 pm), see me folding clothes and just… help. By the time the middle two (11 & 9) came home most of the chores would be done. I am aware au pairs are not to have favourites but heck, I loved that boy! He was an amazing child and an amazing big brother to his siblings. I really hope all my children turn out just like him.

I was also lucky in that my host parents really pushed this behavious in all their kids. The three oldest were supposed to help – put their dirty dishes in the dishwasher, help set the table, leave their dirty clothes in the laundry room and put away their clean clothes (washed and folded by au pair), help packing their school lunches and prepare simple after school snacks. The kids were aware that this was expected and behaved accordingly. One day a week we had cleaning day and for 30 minutes everybody (mom, dad, and au pair included) had to do a basic household chore (dusting, vacuuming, mopping, washing windows, taking out trash etc.) which worked out great.

I still, very fondly, remember coming home one (free) Sunday afternoon and the 9 year old yelling at me as soon as I had set a foot in the kitchen. She didn’t have anything clean to wear. Why not? Because her dirty clothes were still sitting on her bedroom floor and she had thrown some of her dirty clothes into the hamper with the clean clothes and now didn’t know what was clean and what was dirty. I was to do the laundry NOW! Host dad looked at her, looked at me, asked me when I had last done laundry as everybody else seemed to have plenty of things to wear (Friday…), asked her why her laundry hadn’t been done (it was not in the laundry room) and taught her how to use the washing machine.

When one of my friends had a similar situation (returning from a one-week vacation on Sunday and child complaining that they had “nothing” to wear) her host parents told her off for not planning accordingly and making sure that a week long vacation wouldn’t inconvenience them. She was put in her place right then and there and told to do laundry and make sure child had (ironed) school clothes the following morning.

Were “my” kids able to do everything? No, definitely not. But my oldest could unclog the toilet, the second knew how to clean a bathroom, the third knew how to load a dishwasher and the baby (2) already ‘helped’ set the table. All in addition to school, homework, practice (twice a week), music lessons (once a week), meeting friends and doing regular “kid” stuff. To my host parents this was important and the kids knew.

“On the other side, if I ask the au pair to make sure they get a specific chore done he tells me that they won’t listen to him.”

Do they listen to him? If you tell your au pair to make the kids do chores and he tells them, do they listen to him? Because if they don’t you should talk to them again. Au pair is an adult and his word should count just as yours does. Are the kids aware that when au pair is in charge, he is in charge? Do you back him up?

Did you ever request your kids do chores or is it only the au pair that is supposed to make them do stuff? It’s difficult to make children help if they are not used to it and never had to. It is usually much easier to keep up a certain level of helping in the house (and slowly raising standards the older they get) than ask them to start helping when they are heading into puberty. If they are used to others doing everything for them and if they get through without doing chores that are expected from them (ie. no concequences) it will be difficult to get them to start at an older age.

If talking to them together has already failed once, sit them down seperately first. Tell AP what you feel is lacking (which I think is the “cultural competence” to understand that the US don’t necessarily work as their home country does) and to shove it with the childish bickering (I wish people ever did – feeling like middle school in a professional office environment is ridiculous), and tell your child that AP is in charge, is an adult, and is to be treated as mom and dad should be treated and as they themselves want to be treated.


Concerning European children being out of school earlier and not having as many committments as children in the US do – yes, I agree that for most that will be true. Unless you are doing a certain sport competitively there will not be daily training and no before school practice. However, even when I was in school (and I graduated 15+ years ago) I was in an all-day school, starting at 8 am and leaving out at 4 pm three days a week (Mo/Tue/Thu), with an additional facultative afternoon on Wednesday. I also went to dance practice twice a week (but only for an hour), played kayak polo on Saturdays, worked two evenings a week and babysat one or two nights a week in a regular school week. I am an only child, my mom was a single mom who worked full time – of course I was supposed to help at home (cooking, doing laundry, walking the dog, vacuuming etc). The idea that in “Europe” school is from 8 to 1 and after that the kids run free is no more (though it was true when I was in elementary school… in the 80s).

But different families have different expectations. For some, competitive sports is more important, for others the focus is on academia, music, volunteering… Some kids are naturals in a specific area and the family wants to promote this talent… Some families need their kids to get a scholarship… Some want their “kids to be kids”… Some require chores, some don’t. It’s not on the au pair to judge. If a family decides that instead of helping with chores they want their child to do something else then that’s the way it goes. It’s just something you should communicate in matching.

Multitasking Host Mom July 2, 2015 at 7:47 am

We have kids who are upper elementary age to middle school age. We are currently hosting our first European AP after a string of APs from various South American countries. (We don’t pick by country…it has just worked out that way.) The big cultural difference I noticed right away is that the European AP just expected my kids to be way more independent than they were. Luckily, for me and our family harmony, she approached this in a non-judgmental way and worked on developing the skills in the same way a coach or teacher would.
First, she established the relationship with my children. After a few months of being here, and once they got to know each other and like each other, she slowly started getting my kids to do more. Starting first with getting them to put their dishes in the dishwasher once meals were finished, and once that was established moving on to other tasks. Just last week I was greeted at the door by my oldest. He was so proud to tell me that he had learned to fold laundry that day.
The reason this has worked is because they already liked the AP and were much more receptive to changes once they were introduced. Also, since it was gradual it didn’t overwhelm the kids. Also, the AP really praises the kids once they do something which makes them feel a lot of pride in accomplishing things.
After seeing our AP handle a situation that could easily of become what the OP is experiencing, my advice would be to talk one on one with the AP. Remind him that he is the adult and needs to set the tone. Acknowledge that there have been struggles, and that maybe it is time to take a step back. Since the kids think the AP is angry and the AP thinks a child hates him, let them work on their relationship a bit. Summer is a great time to let the AP and host kids just spend a day doing something fun (whatever that might be) with no responsibilities. Then after a period of time tell the AP to introduce back whatever chores you feel that the kids should take on and the AP should enforce…and clearly let the AP know which chores they are solely responsible for still.
Good luck with this, OP! I already see the middle school years with my kids being tough…dreading the time when they are fully teenagers!

AuPair Paris July 2, 2015 at 9:51 am

I have always had a pretty good relationship with my host-kids, to be honest – but a lot of my friends report having issues like this. Most kids ARE autonomous here, and can pretty much do most things for themselves, with supervision, from four onwards. However, there is a tendency for these things to change with the au pair/nanny. I came to au pairing from full time service jobs, in parallel with an advanced degree. For months I felt uneasily as though I was slacking. I compensated by cleaning, chasing after the kids, picking up after them, etc etc. They didn’t do anything. These well-trained, independent kids became complacent and started viewing their chores as punishments.

I was lucky enough to get it back, change my methods and get the kids back to where they had already been, but I still get a *lot* of “I don’t know how to do that” from my younger kids, when I know full well that they know how and they don’t want to. I treat that as disobedience, where an outsider might look on it as me being really harsh with kids who just need a little help with, for example, clearing their plates and putting them in the dishwasher.

Now a HM is not an outsider! Far from it – she is the ultimate insider! But the comments about the kids saying the au pair is always angry, and the idea that the kids aren’t independent makes me think… Has she taught them to do the tasks she’s asking of them? Are they then refusing to do it, because they’re unused to it? That could explain some of the tension – the AP might be mad at them because they’re not doing as they’re told – and as she knows they can do?

As for activities/chores – my HKs have a whole ton of both. It is absolutely possible! They get out of school at 4:30, have PILES of homework, music lessons, dance and karate lessons and music theory, as well as sport. They also fold and put away their towels after a bath, fold their own laundry, set the table for dinner and clear it again afterwards, and tidy up their own messes. No judgement if this is not the family’s priority – each to their own, you know! Some families maybe prioritise other skills and values. But it isn’t impossible, for able-bodied and neurotypical kids from four and up! It’s perfectly doable. And my HKs still have *tons* of time to play.

Mimi July 2, 2015 at 11:31 am

Middle school drama has at its roots insecurity in individual roles. People are not born knowing how to manage relationships, they learn through experience and those middle school relationships become drama laden as children flex their relational skills. Unfortunately, with this drama, you can’t let the parties involved work it out themselves. The AP needs to understand this is probably not about him and more about the children asserting their independence and testing their boundaries. Clarify everyone’s roles. If you have made it clear to your kids that chores are their responsibility, then make sure they know what the consequences for not doing them are. In addition, making the AP’s work harder should also have its own consequences.

Whether your children like the AP or not is not the primary issue (if you do and the AP is continuing). The bottom line is that the AP is still in charge and they needed to cooperate and treat him courteously. If they don’t, there needs to be consequences. Help the AP find ways to foster cooperation to make his job easier and make sure your children understand the importance of following his lead.

Should be working July 2, 2015 at 12:15 pm

Our first “real” AP (after our first one, fail), and our second, had lots of middle-school-like conflicts with our 10-yr-old daughter. Daughter idolized them but also pestered, competed, wanted to show off, etc. both APs didn’t deal well with it sometimes. There was occasional yelling and crying by the AP. In both cases I tried to help the AP keep in mind that she was the adult in the situation. As that daughter got older, it got easier, as she stopped being so invested in the AP. The sad side is . . . she is not so invested in the AP.

Knowing what I know now I would screen carefully for younger preteen girl siblings, maturity, and high S (DISC), i.e. patience and loyalty.

futbolmom July 2, 2015 at 2:11 pm

OP here. Thanks so much for all the advice! To clarify, our kids are fairly independent. The older one in particular will do his own laundrey, prepare meals, clean up etc. The younger one requires a fair amount of nagging/reminding around these things. I set up daily lists of chores/activities on the wall and review them the night before at dinner. Granted this has increased since they are out of school, but I think that a key word that came up in one post was “disobedience”. That is a concept that I think would resonate with our current au pair, but not with our family. Previous au pairs and babysitters would work with the kids to get things done (lets do this together! or would love to take you to the pool but xyz needs to be done first!) In retrospect I am realizing that the one other sitter the kids struggled with over the years was a girl who wanted to join the Marines and had similar attitude that the kids should “just do what they are told to do.”

I know that one solution is for me to make their days much more structured, i.e. wake up, do this chore, then go to that activity, etc (like during the school year) but frankly I have a hugely demanding job and it is tough to find the mental energy to execute that with the schedule variability that summer brings.

NBHostMom July 2, 2015 at 2:31 pm

@futbolmon, I hear you on this. With school just ending, I’m waiting for the drama to start in our house between AP and 8 year old, strong willed daughter. I think camp will be the answer for us :)

I do think it comes down to APs maturity and general ability to relate to children. Interestingly, our AP presents herself with a very mature facade (and overall has been a good AP), but attempts to manage my daughter’s compliance through whining “pleeeaaaasse”. She also can’t seem to get that my daughter has her own opinions as to what activities they should do (instead of making a picture, daughter wants to go play soccer…. AP will whine “pleeeeaaasse can we paint this picture first”.) For the sake of my sanity, I’ve decided to stay out of it as otherwise I have no concerns and they generally have a decent relationship (and her year is up in 4 weeks)…. But I’m kicking myself for not addressing this “communication method” with her at the beginning of the year.

AuPair Paris July 2, 2015 at 3:57 pm

I hear you on the disobedience issue – this is how I try to deal with my host-kids – by talking and sharing and so on. But I think it is also worth bearing in mind that after “let’s get this table cleared away so we can go and play!”, and “I’ll put these clothes away, while you tidy up those toys!” and so on, there comes a point where you just have to say “Ok, I need you to tidy up now before you go out and play. I’ll help but I’m not doing all of it.”

If the kid then continues to refuse, that is disobedience and that *is* a problem – especially for an au pair, who doesn’t have the authority that comes with years of parenting and natural consequences. And especially, especially, if this happens, and then the parent hears about it and doesn’t support the AP. Responding by saying “oh well – we don’t actually like to order the kids around…” or “he thinks you’re always angry at him – work on that!”.

I’m not saying this is what’s happening here – but I’m offering an AP’s perspective. I think sometimes host parents have really great parenting philosophies that just can’t work the same way with an outsider – who doesn’t have the same authority. I am not trying to jump on, you know… Just trying to give a bit of insight. It’s really easy for an AP to start feeling helpless, unsupported, and unable to do her job if she’s not allowed authority over the kids. And I think fundamentally “disobedience” is always going to resonate a lot more with an au pair, as the consequences they have when the kids don’t do as they’re told (haven’t fulfilled terms of their job. Have a higher up to answer/explain to/literally have someone judging their competence at managing the kids all the time – not just imagined like parents have) are more severe.

AuPair Paris July 2, 2015 at 4:02 pm

P.S. I’m the AP who mentioned disobedience in the first place above. It is very important to me – without it, I could not do my job the way I do, and I could not relate to the kids or get along with the kids the way I do. I *am* a little curious as to whether it’s the word that’s putting you off – sounding a little disciplinary? Because if you joke around with your kids – hustle them into group chores and working as a team, and then they still go “no! I can’t! I don’t know how! I want to play!” – as all kids do at some point – surely that would still be an issue? And that is still disobedience.

I guess I’m a little confused.

futbolmom July 6, 2015 at 3:52 pm

AuPair Paris- First thanks for all your comments, they have been a really helpful perspective for me.

Regarding “disobedience:” Several host mom’s with similar problems have described there kids as “strong willed”. That would fit my younger child. We have learned after years of parenting that this personality type requires careful “framing” if you really want/need them to do something in particular. Otherwise they dig in and it becomes a huge battle. You are correct that as parents, having spent years with a child, we have had tons more practice in managing them. I feel that they respond better to us not because of our “authority” but rather because of the large “emotional bank account” between us. In retrospect, our South American au pairs interpreted this personality as “passionate”- a positive characteristic in their eyes. They rapidly built emotional
rapport based on shared passions then leveraged it to get the kids to do what needed to be done.

Now I know that to some this sounds like some sort of crazy indulgent American parenting BS, BUT it is what works for us (and many other parents of “spirited children”). What has helped me from the comments is the realization that I need to really lay this out more explicitly with our current AP in addition to looping back to the kids and emphasizing that certain things need to be done to help the family, not that it is an arbitrary torture inflicted from above….

Mimi July 2, 2015 at 3:58 pm

Would your kids be old enough to set up their schedules themselves? It’s a great way to introduce them to time management.

It’s good that you can recognize how the idea of disobedience resonates with your AP but not your family and might be a good way to start the conversation with your AP about how to differently approach some of these challenges you’re having. For our family, we make sure that when we interview APs, we impart to them that discipline is important for our family and that they recognize that discipline (teaching and guiding positive behavior) is not the same as punishment (consequences for misbehavior).

momo4 July 3, 2015 at 2:01 pm

This year I have definitely had issues with AP-HK conflict. My daughter was 9 when the AP arrived, and they have clashed all year. Initially I thought it would be great to have an AP who took a firm hand and enforced rules, chores, etc, but somehow I’ve ended up feeling like I have a 5th child who is just causing more conflict and bickering constantly with my daughter (who feels the AP just doesn’t like her), and the chores are still not getting done.

I feel partly responsible for not addressing the issues earlier in the year, but there was so much going on between my newborn daughter’s unexpected health problems, my postpartum fatigue, my sons’ behavioral issues at school and scheduling issues at work that it was all I could do to get through each day as it was. Now that things have settled down, kids are healthy, son’s behavior issues resolved, etc. I have taken a hard look at the situation and concluded that the AP’s personality is not going to change, we will be getting a new AP in 6 weeks, and my best bet is to start working with my kids to prepare them for the new AP’s arrival and get them started with doing what I want them to be doing.

What I have started doing is holding “family meetings” with my 10 y/o daugher and and 5 y/o son. The AP is welcome to join us for these meetings. We have an agenda that we all contribute to, and we discuss any issues that we think need to be addressed. We discuss how best to solve issues, and consider our solutions to be a work in progress that we will review in the future to see how they are working. We also discuss what chores need to be done, and who would be best suited to do them and when. My kids love this, and since we started they have been much more cooperative and helpful around the house. They actually argue sometimes about who gets to do certain chores that they all want to do :)

These family meetings have created a sense of how we all contribute to the family and how we can all help each other. My daughter also added a “theme” for each week, the first of which was “thankfulness”. So we also all started making a point to thank each other for everything we do for each other which further adds to the sense of cooperation and willingness to help out. So now, rather than the AP or myself dictating what the children have to do, they have the feeling that they themselves have decided what to do and as a result they are much more willing and there is less conflict overall.

momo4 July 3, 2015 at 2:34 pm

I should add that I have no illusions that these family meetings are somehow going to prevent all conflict or that my kids will magically do all their chores without complaint from now on. They have simply been my way to change the atmosphere in the house and increase the level of cooperation with everyone being on the same page as far as what needs to be done and who is expected to do it and when.

I have always backed my AP’s authority up, even when I disagreed with her and it irritated me to have to do so. I cannot expect the kids to listen to her when I’m not around if they don’t see that her word carries weight.

NJmama July 3, 2015 at 7:39 pm

This is tough and I feel for the OP. When we were in our rematch hell a big reason was I had a very strong-willed then 8/9 year old and good lord, no matter how much I interviewed or talked to the AP about rising above and not going down to her level and fighting – It seemed like it was one big fight after another. I think that may be a bigger source of the problem than kids who are entitled and expect APs to do everything for them. Yes I’ve gotten the “isn’t that the AP’s job?” But the response is that it’s all of our responsibilities. It takes a certain level of maturity on the au pair’s part to get kids to do chores on top of everything else without turning it into a big fight. Older kids can definitely be harder than little ones.

The other thing I’ve noticed is that compared to other kids I think mine – while certainly not perfect and certainly they could do more – my kids definitely do more than most kids their ages. I know 6th graders who have never made their own lunch. a lot of that has to do with the attitude that we all pitch in and we all have our jobs. And also bc frankly I never had a babysitter or au pair and really didn’t want my kids to grow up not knowing how to do things like pack their own lunches or clean up after themselves. In fact the rematch au pair that started our chain of rematch hell years ago told us she had never packed her own lunch in her whole life – and she was 20 and European and not from a wealthy family. She just had a mom who was worried she wouldn’t eat if mom didn’t make her lunch. My kids still talk about that AP and I always tell them – you don’t want to be 20 and never had made your own lunch. Best thing to do is to start now.

Ok here is the other issue- time and frustration. When kids have a lot going on it’s easier for me and easier for the au pair to do it themselves. That can be a cycle that’s even hard for me to break. The other thing of course is the standoff. I think the best thing you can do – and something I do maybe every other month when things start to break down – is talk to the kids about what’s expected of them each day, then talk separately to the au pair, and then talk to everyone together. For the kids chore charts help – and money is a great incentive. For the au pairs – remind them that asking followed by demanding followed by yelling rarely works. But starting the day with a gentle reminder of what needs to be done that day – followed by frequent gentle reminders (not demands) throughout the day – is helpful. Another thing that helps is when i scrutinize their schedule for the week, I help them schedule things like 15 minutes for instrument practices on certain days and times. Same for homework and chores. This way everyone knows what’s expected of them. I’m also ok if everyone is tired and they don’t want to put away their clothes on that day – but after a day or two if the AP hasn’t gotten them to do it I get impatient and I weigh in. But that’s another thing – a little flexibility can go a long way. If the au pair asks the child to do X and the child says, “can I do X in after Y or before bed or tomorrow morning when I get up?” The au pair is allowed to be flexible… But then the child has to follow through. And sometimes you have to intervene. Asking the au pair to pitch in and help is also helpful. But you have to make sure the child understands that you’re all in it together. The good thing is that my kids are pitching in a lot more on the weekends now as well (with a lot less nagging).

None of this is perfect and all of it is a work in progress. But I do feel like we’ve gotten a lot better at it over the years. One area were working on now is food – if my kids pushed back on what I asked the au pair to make for dinner she was caving way too often – they were having way too many pasta nights. And I always found out about it too late. I also hate using chocolate as a motivator (I’d rather pay the kids a few bucks for going above and beyond or buy them something special). It has taken MONTHS and I feel like I’m finally making headway. And talking to everyone separately and then together also helped in this regard.

All this said – my current au pair leaves in a few weeks and our next one starts in August. My goal this year is for our next au pair to help make my kids as independent as they can be. It’s a tall order. It’s harder to ask someone to make sure things get done – rather than do those things themselves. I can be pretty bad at that myself when things get busy. But at the same time, if my older child has swim practice at 6 am I really do think it’s ok to ask the AP to make lunch for her on that day. I think the kids appreciate the flexibility as well.

As for whether au pairs are used to doing more themselves at a younger age – well they also need to understand that you are a different family who lives in a different place and you want/require things to be done in a way that’s best for your family. The au pair may not agree – but she signed up to follow the family’s rules. Funny when my kids were small my German au pairs complained that my kids expected the au pairs to play with them – that was apparently different in Germany where I guess the kids played on their own more. But playing with kids is a way to bond with kids. So once they understood that it wasn’t an issue. And FWIW my kids play fine independently so it’s not like it hurt them.

Sorry for the ramble – hope this helps and made sense.

NJmama July 6, 2015 at 5:50 pm

I promise not to ramble again but I’ve been really thinking about FutbolHM’s predicament and thinking about what’s worked with us in the past. Here are two things to think about:

1) is it mostly defiance/strong will from one of your kids? I have one strong-willed kid and one easy going kid. The strong-willed one is harder to get to know and the easy going one is excited to get to know whomever the next au pair will be. When we had our difficulties my older child would complain that the AP didn’t like her and favored my younger child. And then the younger child also saw that she was treated “better” and woukd then be upset with the au pair. So this made it even harder to break the cycle and everything turned into a battle. It’s so important that the au pair treat the kids fairly and not show favoritism. The AP may not even be aware she/he is doing this.

2) it’s also super important as you reset that the kids and AP bond in some way. I know it sounds silly especially w middle schoolers. But you should talk to the AP about finding ways of bonding by doing fun things w the kids. Maybe schedule the AP to work on a Saturday afternoon and have him/her take the kids on some sort of activity they all like (arcade, laser tag, whatever). If video games are what they like then maybe they get a super long session after the chores are done. I’ve found when the kids and AP get along well there isn’t as much push back on the chores.

hope that helps

momo4 July 7, 2015 at 1:00 pm

I second this as it has also been my experience.

My younger kids are easier for the AP to bond with since they are cuddly and cute even when they are being difficult, and it seems to be easier for the AP not to take it personally when they are behaving in a challenging manner.

My oldest child is always excited to meet the new AP, but when the inevitable differences of opinion and conflicts arise, there seems to be more of a tendency for the AP to take it personally and get angry with the 10 y/o in a way she wouldn’t with the younger kids. Making sure that the AP has good opportunities to really bond with the older kid early on is critical.

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