Innocent Au Pair Shunned By Jealous Host Mom

by cv harquail on March 5, 2016

Sorry about the headline, but how else to summarize this dilemma, below?

Before you jump in with good advice, which you will, let’s remember that we only know one side of this story, and we should proceed with the assumption that it’s accurate.

innocentTake it away, team.

Dear AuPairMom–

Well, I’m a 23 year old AP living in a European country and have been with the same HF for a year and a half. Obviously I’ve stayed so long because I really like this family, the kids are great, I like the country and I enjoy the few friends I’ve made.

By no means has it been a fairytale walk in the park, but through thick and thin my host parents and I have aways worked things out through communication and our solid friendship.

Both host parents work full-time but my host dad has a ton of job flexibility and therefore they have organized my schedule as such: I have the mornings free while the children are at school.

Host dad comes home for lunch, which it is my responsibility to prepare and normally we eat lunch together. Then host dad and I pick up the kids from school (they have no extra car) and I help with afterschool snack and taking them to activities. Host dad goes back to work while I’m at home with the kids doing homework, bath time, dinnertime, etc. Host mom has her own activities 2 days a week after work so sometimes she’s not home until late.

In a nutshell, this schedule has me spending a lot more time with my host dad than my host mom. Additionally, on the weekends, during my free time, my host dad and his friends and/or siblings sometimes go running or hiking or cycling. They always invite me because they have become my friends too, and they know I like to do sports. Host mom always stays at home with the kids during this time.

Well here is the problem. Last month my host dad told me that host mom is very angry about how much time we spend together. I was shocked. 

Then the other week, host mom confronted me about her issues. She angrily asked me if I think my host dad is a piece of meat. She continued to express her distaste, for example, that host dad and I eat lunch together, etc. Then she told me that she knows I’m a good girl, that she trusts me and she also trusts her husband, but that she still doesn’t like it.

I was and still am extremely hurt from what she told me, and my level of comfort in their home has declined drastically. I also feel very sad that our host parent-au pair relationship has dissolved so quickly and unexpectedly. I was planning to stay another 6 months but now I don’t know.  My host mom still expects me to prepare my host dad’s lunch, but I can’t eat lunch with him. I still have to go with him to pick up the kids afterschool, but I feel uncomfortable like I shouldn’t talk to him. I’m not allowed to go running with him anymore.

My host dad is super frustrated and has even apologized to me because he says he doesn’t understand where all this jealousy (his word not mine) is coming from.  He says I have to be the one to talk to my host mom to clarify all my doubts about what she expects because when he talks to her about it she doesn’t want to hear any of it. As far as she’s concerned, she’s won (again, his words).

I don’t feel like I should have to defend myself and prove that I’m not some sort of harlot to my host mom because I have done nothing more than follow the schedule they’ve created for me. It’s ridiculous. I’m feeling very lost, very homesick and very bitter about the entire situation.

Do I just go home?

Thanks in advance for your response,  ConfusedAuPair

Image: Innocent, by 8 Kome on Flickr


TexasHM March 5, 2016 at 11:20 am

ConfusedAP I am so sorry you are dealing with this! It is absolutely not your fault and it’s beyond unfair. Given the discomfort you are in and the HMs attitude I would not blame you for creating an exit strategy. This would be agony to live in for an extended period of time. If you had a few weeks I might tell you to try and avoid them both and tough it out but 6 months? No chance. I’d sit down with them both immediately and tell them you are no longer comfortable in their home and need to create a transition plan. That you are willing to work two weeks (or whatever is fair) as long as they keep things civil but it’s time to move on.

New to This March 5, 2016 at 1:54 pm

I wonder whether the problem for HM isn’t really how much time HD is spending with you, but how much he’s not spending with her. You might be a convenient/obvious place for her to point in explaining her frustration to herself, but not really her problem at all. It sounds like they both have lots to keep them busy during their free time, and I don’t know how much time they end up making for each other. Could be that’s starting to catch up with her, and she’s still flailing about without really understanding why she’s unhappy.

If it is that (or some other deeper problem in their relationship), there’s almost certainly nothing you can do to fix the problem — and under the circumstances, I doubt any efforts to intervene would be appreciated. It’s possible you could wait it out, if you think it’s likely that they’ll eventually get to the root of the problem and work things out. Depending on how deep this goes, though, and on their ability to handle problems between them, that might take a long time, or might never happen. It certainly doesn’t sound as if they’re off to a promising start — and in the meantime, the way she’s treating you is really not okay (and neither, I’m inclined to say, is his laying it all on you to handle instead of standing up to her).

So, I’m really failing to think of any good alternatives to just getting out of there. I know that’s a disappointing outcome for you here, but I hope at least you’re able to walk away feeling confident that you did your best, and that you’re making a good judgment call in getting out of such a dysfunctional situation.

Mimi March 5, 2016 at 4:40 pm

This is what I’m thinking, also. I don’t think the problem is going to go away even if they work through the issues because seeing the AP is going to bring up negative feelings IMO. I think TexasHM has a good plan for transitioning and that six months is definitely too long to wait this situation out. Staying is also likely to jeopardize your chances of getting a recommendation for them, should you need one and/or make it harder to explain to other families if they won’t recommend you.

NYhostmom March 5, 2016 at 2:03 pm

Sorry to say this, but it sounds to me like HD is the real problem! He should NOT be sharing his marital problems with you, and I can’t blame HM for having her suspicions (about him, not you). These host parents have some serious martial problems to work out between them, and they’ve placed you in the middle. That is not okay. I would get out. Quickly!

Frankfurt AP Boy March 5, 2016 at 4:10 pm

In principle I would agree with this but in this case was there any other way to let the OP know that it was the HMs issue rather than the au pair? She was attacked by the HM and really needed some sort of explanation as to why that attack was unjustified i.e. that the HM has problems with jealousy.

Mimi March 5, 2016 at 4:32 pm

Yes, there are lots of ways.

Frankfurt AP Boy March 5, 2016 at 4:40 pm

Could you name one? I can think a few lies but none that seem credible.

Mimi March 5, 2016 at 4:53 pm

There is a wide range of responses for this from quietly modifying your behavior without saying anything to simply saying, “I don’t want anyone thinking we spend an inappropriate amount of time together.” You do not invite your AP into any conversations about the state of your marriage, whether to characterize each others behavior by labeling it as jealousy or to voice your spouse’s feelings about being angry regarding the time you spend with the AP and you definitely do not put the AP in between you and your spouse (which they both appear to be doing).

Frankfurt AP Boy March 5, 2016 at 5:07 pm

I think its important that the au pair knows she has done nothing wrong in the slightest. I think your suggestions would leave the au pair feeling that attack was provoked by something she did. She deserved an apology and part of that is an explanation of why it happened. Or course though it would have been a lot better coming from the HM though of course.

AuPair Paris March 5, 2016 at 5:42 pm

It is necessary to support your partner in a good relationship. If you don’t do that, it is not a good relationship. If your partner is so far out of line that you cannot possibly support him/her no matter how much you hash it out with him/her, that’s very serious, I think… Because of this, there are any number of socially acceptable formulae to support your partner in this situation:

A) “It’s not you, but it’s brought up some issues for me and partner, and so we’re going to change x, y and z”
B) “It’s really nothing to do with you, but it’s something partner and I need to work out, and in the meantime…”
C) “Partner and I are working on the situation, and since it’s about us, it shouldn’t come back to you again. We’re sorry that you got caught up in it. Right now we’re going to…”

There are so many ways this can be negotiated, but HM and HD need to be on the same side, and I think it’s really cowardly for one half of the equation to be like “hey… So it’s ALL partner. Nothing to do with me! Just partner!” In fact, it is indicative of the same thing that worried HM. Things that should be private to the two of them are being discussed with the AP (through no fault of her own). Which suggests *either* that the partnership is in real trouble because privacy isn’t being respected in general (partnership problem), OR that one person is being invited into that private world (one-sided emotional affair territory).

AP in this situation has done nothing wrong, but both host parents have brought her into their marriage without her permission or awareness – HD by spending so much time with her it threatens his wife, HM for then attacking the AP with this, rather than taking it up with HD, and then HD again for not supporting his wife on the subject.

I have to say, I believe AP is innocent, but I am suspicious of an HD creating such an intimate relationship with his AP that he would tell her all this stuff – including about their marriage. If he’s *not* mentally going “she just underSTANDS me the way HM doesn’t”, which seems likely, he has major boundary issues.

Frankfurt AP Boy March 5, 2016 at 4:36 pm

If someone even made the suggestion that I had feelings for a host parent, it would really creep me out and if the suggestion came from one of the host parents about the other I imagine I would feel compelled to leave. As far as I am concerned the host parents are asexual. It is too strange to even discuss sexual issues with them. For one of them to directly ask you if you find the other HP sexual attracted is just way way over my social awkwardness tolerance.

If you are not as squeamish as me.. I would imagine the only way to resolve it would be if the HM some how realised that her feelings are unfounded and apologised for it. Theres nothing you can do… It would be an introspective process on her part. This might be triggered if you talk to her about how it has made you feel and how you are considering leaving if the negative feelings you are having about it continue. Despite this possibility, I reckon the most likely outcome is that she will continue being jealous and thinking that it is everyone elses fault for that – it seems to me that it would be quite an engrained issue. I think you should prepare yourself emotionally for having to leave.

HRHM March 9, 2016 at 6:49 pm

I think it’s a rare event when the HP and AP end up involved, however, rare doesn’t mean never…

WarmStateMomma March 5, 2016 at 6:37 pm

OP – I feel for you being put in the middle of this couple’s problem. Please remember that it’s about them and not you. They’d have this issue with any AP who was following your schedule.

I agree with AP Paris and TexasHM: it’s time to tell them you’re uncomfortable that they’re having marital issues involving your role in the family, and come up with an exit strategy that works for everyone. (I couldn’t stand walking on eggshells for 6 months; the OP probably wouldn’t enjoy that either.) It’s also possible that the HM will take the AP’s offer to leave amicably as a sign that she’s not after the HD and relax a bit.

HD should also not be making the HM out to be the bad guy – it shows a lack of respect for the HM and their marital privacy and it puts the AP in an awkward position.

Old China Hand March 5, 2016 at 7:27 pm

I agree with everything said up to this point. If I were hm, I would be pissed to be left at home with the kids every weekend while hd went out doing fun things. I would also be resentful of the time I don’t spend with them during the week. The ap is clearly not at fault but the hm and hd are using her instead of dealing with their issues. I would leave. I can’t see things improving with you staying.

German Au-Pair March 5, 2016 at 8:33 pm

It seems to me though like the HD is meeting his family/friends for sports anyway and the HM wouldn’t come along because of the kids (and/or other reasons? simply not into it?)
While I can see how someone might be annoyed that another female is spending free time with her hubby, I also would think it weird to say “Hey I know you love sports and we are doing a group thing on the weekend anyways, but you still cannot come along”.
I think it would depend on how this habit came to happen but in general we’re talking about a group thing that includes a shared hobby…

I would leave, too. It’s not going to get any better. Jealousy doesn’t just magically disappear and even though she says she trusts both if you she clearly cannot be the bigger person. (I personally think it’s weird anyways that you cook lunch for him BEFORE the kids come home. Seriously, they should have both thought about this before they’ve created this weird schedule.)

New to This March 5, 2016 at 9:02 pm

My first thought was also that his leaving her with the kids while he goes out on the weekends might be a source of resentment for her (never mind the AP’s place in it), but when I reread it looked like maybe she’s also out for fun and leaving him with the kids regularly (“her own activities 2 days a week after work”), so it might be a two-way street — in which case it’s maybe no reason for either spouse to be pissed, but might still be enough that it’s straining the marriage.

Different couples need different amounts of time together, and those needs can vary with time and circumstances, so it might just be that they’re past due for some mutual adjustments. If so, though, it sounds like they’re both doing a lousy job of identifying and addressing the problem — HM is lashing out inappropriately (and partly at the wrong person) and playing power games, and he’s shrugging his shoulders and then venting behind her back.

The AP’s getting out and leaving them alone with their baggage might well end up being a helpful act of tough love for them, as well as a matter of self-preservation for her.

PacNWHostMom March 6, 2016 at 3:37 pm

This is such an unfortunate situation, and I’m so so sorry you are going through this.
I do agree that it seems like the HM may have more deep-seeded issues that have nothing to do with you but more concerns over her marriage.

If you do want to stay, is it at all possible to offer to watch the children so they can have a date night? Or somehow build that in so perhaps they can spend more time together?
Are there running/hiking clubs/FB groups you could join so you can still enjoy your sports activities but create some separation from your Host Parents?

If not, I would agree that it’s time to work on your exit strategy and plan to move on or come home. This just seems like a situation that could get worse before it’s better if you aren’t able to create some additional separation. I do hope that the recommendations here are helpful for you and that this works out for the best.

Please keep us updated. All the best to you!

ConfusedAuPair March 8, 2016 at 2:15 pm


OP here to give an update to you and everyone else who has been kind enough to shed some insight on my situation. Thanks for all your respectful comments.

I completely agree and know that the underlying issue is between my HD and HM and their personal relationship. Several weeks have passed since said confrontation with HM and the storm has calmed slightly. HM and I recently had a discussion in which she told me that my recent behavior (AKA me being more quiet, sad, reserved, even a bit angry) has been an exaggeration and that I’ve made this all a bigger issue than it needs to be. While I don’t quite see it that way, she has apologized to me for what she said to me and how she said it, and for that I am grateful. In the end, I’ve lost a lot of trust with my HP and I’m upset that after so much time with this family, this is likely what I’m going to remember from the experience. However, I’m going to try to focus on my remaining time (going home earlier than intended but still staying a bit) and make the best of it.

Thanks to all again,

FirstTimeHM March 7, 2016 at 7:27 am

Your hostparents have marital problems because HM is jealous and HD really doesn’t want to change anything and doesn’t see the problem.
This is not about you, you have followed their schedule. Having lunch together while you’re the only two people in the house and you’re making lunch for the both of you, that’s so absolutely normal. Of course you will have a conversation during lunch, also perfectly normal. Most probably that will be about the kids, plans for the day, your plans, his plans. That’s what I assume at least. Further speculation: HD talks to HM somewhere in the evening, tells her about what he’s done that day, his plans and that he already talked about that with you and that you gave him good advise/that you liked that/any opinion you might have shared with him.
And there’s were HM’s jealousy comes in. HD is treating you as a friend and discussing his plans with you and not with her. He values your point of view.

When two parents are working fulltime, with kids, with sporting activities of their own, there’s a big change they will grow apart just by not spending enough time together. Quality time can make up for that a bit, but to get a relationship back on track you need to spend time, a lot of time to do the normal things and talk about day-to-day life.

This is really the HP’s problem, not the AP’s. But the HM takes it out on the AP since she’s the one that made the cracks in their marriage visible. Since HD doesn’t want to see those cracks and is quite comfortable with his life and simply wants his wife to ‘go back to normal’, there’s no way the AP can help.
If the HP’s want to address their problems, she can offer them a date night, or if she feels very generous a date weekend. But not before, so yes, you need to work on your exit strategy.
Please think about what you want for the next 6 months and afterwards?
Would you like to stay in the country?
Would you like to go back to school?
Would you like to experience another country as an AP?

Please think about your goals and your future. Your hostparents are probably very lovely people but they’ve got issues you can’t resolve and you probably made visible.
Since you’ve been with them for one and a half years and you like them, give them notice after you’ve made up your mind and enough time to get a replacement. Your HD will probably try to talk you out of that and your HM will be quite angry at you, but it’s probably better for everyone at this point.
And again: this is not your fault!
I feel for you, it’s not easy to see your work ending like this.

Bat Mum March 7, 2016 at 10:14 am

I think all of the above posters have offered really good, sound, balanced advice…. so I wont. Though I don’t condone her behaviour, there is a little, teeny, unhinged bit of me that can identify with with the Host Mum … She must feel like the aupair has supplanted her role in the house with the kids and her husband. Her husband is being disloyal and disrespectful to her. And frankly his behaviour with the aupair smacks of ‘my wife doesn’t understand me’ (it does happen)…. To be honest, I would question why any middle aged man would want to hang around with a young girl all weekend when he is out with his friends regardless of shared sporting interests. (My husband baulked at my suggestion recently to take our aupair along on a kayaking outing at the company picnic).
As for the aupair – Why can’t she find a group of people her own age with shared interests to hang out with? At the very least she is missing out on an opportunity to meet new people and have her own social life.
There are other boundary issues that are being crossed here and not just by HM. I think its important to be kind and friendly to aupairs and treat them as part of the family like a niece perhaps – but a certain degree of separation should be maintained. The aupair shouldn’t be your best buddy because if boundaries get blurred, working relationships and family relationships suffer and feelings get hurt.
So – sorry! no constructive advice but there is a lesson here for aupairs and families.

ILHostMom March 7, 2016 at 3:46 pm

I agree with Bat Mum. I feel like some major boundaries have been crossed. “They always invite me because they have become my friends too.” HP’s friends should not become AP’s friends. Its one thing to be inclusive or friendly, but I don’t blame the HM at all for disliking the situation. In fact I would think she’s being naive if she was OK with it. Where do you draw the line? Can she set up follow up plans with these “Friends” like having dinner out, etc? While I do think the HD is a big part of the problem, AP has also played a part in failing to recognize why this would concern HM.

Mimi March 7, 2016 at 4:56 pm

Maybe I missed something (or just assumed) but I didn’t think the HD was middle aged. I was assuming that the HP and AP are closer in age that the AP running with this group wouldn’t be so very out of place as with a middle aged group of people. It also made more sense to me that the HM would be wary of the relationship (and not just because of the nature and frequency of the time they spend together).

New to This March 7, 2016 at 5:43 pm

Mimi, that was my impression too. I think kids getting out of school right after lunch sounded like preschool/kindergarten to me, and the parents’ lifestyle reminded me more of the younger/20-something parent set (maybe just all that ENERGY…). If HD’s, say, 28, and has a reasonably diverse social circle (i.e., not just his old college buddies or whatever), AP is old enough that she could easily be a natural fit.

On the other hand, I could also see that making it harder for HM — someone you can identify with, who could basically BE you with just slightly fewer stretch marks and stress-induced gray hairs, might seem just a little TOO natural with your husband — on top of just being a potentially frustrating day-to-day reminder of how relaxed and carefree your own lifestyle was not so long ago…

I also think that even if AP fits in wonderfully with the HPs and their friends, the situation does a good job of illustrating Bat Mum’s point that it’s good for an AP to have some strong connections outside the HF bubble — if only to have someplace to go for a little space and perspective if the family is (for whatever reason) going through a hard time and the AP’s getting caught up in it.

FirstTimeHM March 7, 2016 at 6:06 pm

In most German speaking countries children only go to school in the morning until they go to secundary school, they simply get a lot of homework.
We know the AP is in Europe and she stated she helped the kids with their homework. That would also explain why lunch is so much more important than in the US.

Bat Mum March 7, 2016 at 6:53 pm

I was making assumptions on the ‘middle aged’ HD front. We say middle age is about 15 years older than you are right now :). Im in Europe and average age of first time parents is near 30. And to have 2 or three in school you would expect the parents to be mid to late 30s at least. And round here the aupairs are usually around 20 to 25. So yeah… in our house we usually have a solid 20 year age gap between our aupair and us but of course there are situations with younger parents and older aupairs. Either way, the HD should know better and in my opinion its a bit niaive of the aupair to think its ok to spend so much time exclusively with HD.
I don’t think the situation can be salvaged at this stage. The parents have put this poor girl in an impossible situation. And i feel bad that her previously positive experience has been ruined.

New to This March 7, 2016 at 7:23 pm

Interesting about European school schedules; I didn’t know that! Here in the US, homework loads seem overwhelming to me (the trend has been for increased amounts, starting earlier and earlier — we’re teaching 3- and 4-year-olds about “responsibility” by sending them home with worksheets and craft projects that an adult has to sit down and do with them…), but the larger portion of the hours by far are still in the classroom.

I think the reactions to AP making HD’s lunch aren’t so much about the importance of the specific meal, though — here in the US, dinner is the more important meal, and I think most of us in the US would find it just as weird to pay a household employee to serve one spouse a sit-down dinner while the other one was working. In my household, if we’re not eating together as a family, everyone’s capable of fending for themselves regardless of the time of day.

FirstTimeHM March 8, 2016 at 4:59 am

Homework in preschool?
IMO 3-4 year olds simply need time to play. You can teach about responsibilities by making them hang their own coat and put their shoes in the shoe rack.
Primary school here (not a German speaking country) is from 8.30 – 3 pm with a lunch break of an hour and wednesday afternoon off.
My nephew lives in Germany and there primary school is from 8 – 1 pm.
My kids don’t have homework until about 10 years old, my 11 yo spends about 15 minutes a day and thinks that’s a lot.
My nephew has had homework since he was 7 for about 1 hour a day.
Secundary school both here and in German speaking countries depends on the grades you got in primary school, there are three levels and each of those give access (after graduation of course) to a different level of education. The lowest level of secondary school to vocational school, the highest to university with the possibility to get a bachelor’s degree in 3 years.
In secondary school the daily homework load is about 2 hours a day, 3 in the higher grades.
The system works differently in each and every european country and every system has it’s pro’s and con’s.

How do your kids manage a load of homework and assignments after an already very full school day? And how do you manage to help 3-4 year olds doing arts and crafts assignments? You all work full time!

New to This March 8, 2016 at 11:24 am

Well, I don’t manage it yet; mine’s still too young for preschool — and right now my mindset is still that there’s no way I’ll send him to a school that expects it. But probably the parents I know who complain about it now were all saying the same thing a few years ago…and meanwhile, I’m sure the schools will tell you they’re doing it because parents expect it. As a nation, we seem to have something of a collective anxiety disorder about our kids’ “achievement.”

One of my worries is that the answers we’re turning to — more hours in school, more homework, more structured activities — are crowding out family life, and with it, parents’ opportunities to shape their own kids’ education. Bringing it back on topic for this group, it seems like I see so many accounts of disappointed au pairs who show up eager to teach the kids games, do projects, share stories, really provide the “cultural experience,” and instead their job is mostly driving and homework supervision. I think it’s disappointing for the parents, too, who picked an au pair because they wanted the kid to get that taste of another culture, but the free time for “doing fun stuff with the au pair” never materializes…

FirstTimeHM March 9, 2016 at 4:30 am

Yes, you’re right.
Most european AP’s have had what they think a ton of homework in secondary school and think they know what to expect. Well, if I listen to what you guys tell about all the homework, sports activities etc, no wonder there’s really no time and energy left to do anything fun.
European AP’s will usually expect something similar to what they’re used to in their own country, and that means that for a primary school kid there’s loads of time to do fun things and plan fun outings. Especially the active and engaged AP’s would really want to do that and that will probably cause a lot of disappointment and quite a bit of culture shock.
Vice versa, our american AP was shocked at the amount of free time our primary school kids had and didn’t like that at all.

ConfusedAuPair March 8, 2016 at 2:30 pm

Mimi & ILHostMom,

OP here. Thanks for your comments. First, I do want to clarify that HP are middle aged. HD has many younger siblings who are close to my age and I’ve become friends with them and their friends. They were the first people HP introduced to me for ways to get out and socialize and therefore they are my primary friends. My friendships with them have been encouraged from the beginning by both HM and HD. Secondly, it’s not always HD initiating or organizing a weekend run/hike, but it is done as a group activity. HM is not really interested in sports. Also, we’re talking about going on an hour long run once every other week or maybe a 2-3 hour hike once a month, so it’s not that frequent. I sympathize with my HM in that I think all this really just boils down to her wanting to spend more time with her husband and/or her wanting more time for herself. I respect that but wish she and HD could have kept me out of it.

Thanks again for your thoughts,

LuckyHM#3 March 7, 2016 at 2:28 pm

You’ve gotten some really great advice here and I honestly dont know if this situation is salvageable. I dont think you did anything wrong here but there is something that stinks here IMHO with HD. He seems to be using you as some sort of emotionally crutch with whatever issues the and his wife are having. And HE and HE alone made the decision to bring you into their marital issues by talking to you about it and blaming his wife for JEALOUSY.. Really!

I do however think that despite how crazy the HM is coming across that the HD is being terribly unfair to not just his wife but to you, the AP.
I also dont get why you have to make lunch for HD, why cant he make lunch for himself? Why does he have to sit down for lunch every day with you? I’m pretty sure that for someone that popped out from work that he does have other things to do perhaps respond to a few emails while he quickly eats his lunch before going to school to pick up the kids. Finally, I think that its also unfair to you for him to invite you to whatever sporting activity with his family and friends every single weekend. Perhaps, you dont feel like you can say no to the invitation? Whatever happened to hanging out with people your age and your own friends.

massmom March 7, 2016 at 5:38 pm

Something does seem to stink with the HD. I’ve definitely made a joke to the au pair about my husband’s quirks before, but the way he is sharing intimate details of his marriage with the au pair sets off all kinds of red flags. I don’t think most American HD’s would want to be put in a situation where they were spending so much time alone with a young au pair, if only for appearance’s sake. Au pairs here also wouldn’t be asked to make lunch solely for one host parent, as it’s not a child related task. The whole way they have the schedule set up seems bizarre, so strange to blame the au pair for putting her in a situation of their making.

That being said, there is such a thing as a “too familiar” au pair. My husband has invited our au pairs to go mountain biking with him on occasion, and they’ve taken him up on it a couple of times. I think it’s great, but if it became a weekly occurrence, I would definitely be bothered. APs need to be aware of striking the right balance between spending time with the family and with their own friends, especially if that time is to the exclusion of one of the HPs.

Anna March 8, 2016 at 9:28 am

I am glad some other parents also think that there is such a thing as having a too close a relationship with an opposite sex host parent, and that in this situation some boundaries were crossed, specifically spending many weekends together with HD and his friends, and without the HM.
I am glad I am not the only one who thinks it is inappropriate.
I still don’t completely blame the au pair because the cultural norms may be different where she is from.
But spending social time (by choice, in your free time – I am not talking about lunches or picking up the kids) with one host parent when no kids or another host parent are around, regularly, is very off.

HRHM March 9, 2016 at 7:01 pm

I do think there is such a thing as “too close” relationship possible with either HP (not just opposite sex!) But I will say I would NEVER blame the AP for that. It’s up to the HP as the “boss” and more mature member of the relationship to set the tone. Ie, if the AP is initiating inappropriately intimate or high frequency time with HP (lets go to movie, can I run with you again today, etc), then HP needs to put the brakes on. If HP involved can’t see it or isn’t uncomfortable, then other HP (who can or is) needs to address it with HP, not AP. And then HP involved needs to quietly and quickly, dial it back without hurting or offending AP. Obviously , if AP won’t take a gentle redirect/hint, one might need to be more firm, but that should be a last course of action.

AuPair Paris March 10, 2016 at 3:27 am

+ about a million.

In an unequal relationship, professional boundaries must be enforced by the more powerful member of that relationship.

WarmStateMomma March 10, 2016 at 11:56 am

Agreed, but I also think it’s up to the people in the marriage to protect the boundaries of the marriage. The spouses have a special duty to each other to respect those boundaries that you just can’t lay on a third party (such as an AP). I’m bothered more by the HD discussing private marital issues and casting the HM as the jealous spoilsport than with the AP than HD and AP going on the same group hike.

allout March 9, 2016 at 1:52 pm

The situation is awkward and there are multiple red flags. If you were in a regular job, socializing that much with your boss would be frowned upon, and possibly a reason to fire you. The question is what you are being asked to do, and what you have to do as part of your job.
If I was the AP, I’d stop going on bike rides with the host dad and his family/friends at the very least. And realize there is a very real possibility that a divorce is in the making based on the words used, and you will be dragged into the situation. Even if the kids are great and the job is great, the employers are the major issue in every case.
Find something else as soon as possible, and take care to cover your assets in the event you are asked to testify.
The host dad and host mom are not on the same page. It is sad, but I don’t see any resolution except leaving.

HMAdvice March 17, 2016 at 12:19 pm

What kind of disturbs me about this conversation is that there are all sorts of assumptions being made about the status of your host parents marriage situation. Quite frankly, that is not your concern. What is your concern is how comfortable you feel staying in this situation. Obviously you have concerns so the question is can it change? is it worth sticking out? I would respect your host mom’s wishes and see if there is a way you can bridge the gap with that relationship. It is not your fault for how she feels but you can be sensitive to her feelings. Maybe see if you can spend more time with her or your own friends? Right or wrong, I think this situation is probably more common than you would think. If you don’t think your relationship with them can improve then you need to figure out if you really want to stay around this dynamic. I think if things don’t change then it will be pretty awkward for you for the rest of the time. You need to have some direct conversations with your host parent’s about your feelings so that you can figure out if this is the right place for you. Bring in your LCC if you need some support. I tell my au pair all the time that I can’t help her if I don’t know there is an issue.

Sarah December 27, 2016 at 5:50 am

Even though you might not have done anything wrong, it is very unwise to spend a lot of time with host dad. The host mom might start feeling that you are replacing her. It is very important for all au pairs, I think, to have a healthy distance to their host dad.
I am a married woman myself, and if I knew tgat my husband were eating lunch with another young woman, I would not be comfortable with it. So my advice is, keep a respectable, modest and healthy distance. Host moms husband is her husband. I don’t belive it was right of them to tell you about their thoughts. Theh should have solved it between them. But even though they did as they did, I must say again: spending a lot of time with hoy dad is UNWISE.

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