What Kind of Parent Are You — To Your Au Pair?

by cv harquail on January 8, 2014

No Host Parent wants to feel responsible for an au pair who’s unable to take care of him/herself.

We complain to each other bitterly
If I’d wanted another ‘dependent’, I’d have had another kid!

And, we resent the idea that there is another anything (much less an actual person whom we care about) that we now need to take care of.  Most of us feel pretty tapped out already. That’s why we got an au pair in the first place, right?


Funny, then, that at the same time we want to know about our au pair’s overnight plans, we worry about what he or she wears, and we fret over mentions of how ‘everybody has a tattoo‘.

A new host mom wrote to ask:

How much parenting do we need to do for our au pairs?

I can figure out that there are some specific things I need to care about (safe driving, not drinking underage), but is there a blanket statement about how we should understand our responsibilities?

What does it mean to be a host “parent” to an au pair?

What’s the right amount of ‘parenting’? How do you know when you’ve found it?



A smattering of earlier posts about ‘parenting’ our au pairs:

In Loco Parentis? Your Parental Responsibilities when your AP’s behavior challenges your values
Au Pairs and Online Romances: Your role as a Host Parent
Halloween Party Safety Concerns for my Au Pair
Can you help your Au Pair use her free time more wisely?

Image from Flickr — it’s the movie theatre in my own town! –Attribution Some rights reserved by Edwin Torres Photography




Host Mom in the City January 8, 2014 at 9:09 pm

I think this probably varies by host parent and also by each au pair, but we don’t do any “parenting.” We try to choose responsible, mature women who we we see and treat as young adults. Honestly I don’t have time for another kid, don’t have an desire for another kid, and don’t want someone responsible for my children who I feel still needs a lot of parenting.

Our rules are simple – do a good job with the kids. We don’t do curfews, I don’t ask where our au pairs are going nor do I stay up worrying about them, I don’t care where they go or what they do. On the flip side, we pay for an iPhone for our au pairs so that they can always get in touch with us or with police/emergency and can always use the map feature to figure out where they are if they are lost, can use it to find info on cabs and safety and whatever else. We make sure they know that they are more than welcome to call us if they really need us at any time. We take a little time in the beginning to talk about our city, about crime, about telling someone where you’re going and staying with a friend always, etc. They know we will come and save them in a second if they are really in trouble.

But beyond that, I don’t spend a minute thinking about parenting when they’re off duty.

Monkey Mom January 9, 2014 at 1:37 am

I’m with you host mom in the city. As long as I don’t see any red flags, I expect an adult with the maturity to make their own decisions and live with the consequences.

I had a situation with an Au Pair who wanted to leave the program for personal reasons. She was a great person and I know this was not an easy decision for her. We agreed to work together to make sure both of our needs were met, but when she started asking me to call the agency (because she was nervous) to ask how to do this and how to do that, I told her it was time to put her big girl pants on. She made the grown up decision to leave the program. As a host family we knew what our obligations and responsibilities were, and it was up to her to figure out the same.

Seattle Mom January 9, 2014 at 5:11 pm


I am there for my au pair, if she needs me, but I don’t spend much time worrying about her when she’s off duty. I place very few restrictions on her, no curfew, etc.

American Host Mom in Europe January 9, 2014 at 4:46 am

As with HMitC, I look for responsible, mature au pairs, and don’t parent them but rather treat them as another adult in my house — the analogy I sometimes make is how my mother and I treat each other when I’m in her house (or when I was a younger adult…). I make it clear to my au pairs that, for safety reasons, I would like to know if they are in the house or not (we have a large house, it isn’t always easy to tell) especially at night, and I want to know if they are coming home or not (so if the car is missing at 4am I know if I should worry or not). If I had a friend visiting, I’d have the same requests.

I do find I’m sometimes providing guidance, but I think of it as more advice to a young adult than parenting to a child — things like tips on food preparation (although certainly some of my au pairs have been better cooks than me and that has been reversed!), and more often on finances — things to think about in saving money, what is suitable to spend / not spend and techniques for helping oneself save. I see the experience of being an au pair as partially being about learning to manage as an adult in the world, and think these types of guidance fall into that category, rather than parenting (although certainly I’ll have the same discussions with my children at suitable times).

JenNC January 9, 2014 at 10:23 am

I am a worrier by nature. With that said. I also have chosen aupairs who are in my opinions more mature, the first 26, the second 24 going on 25. Both coming from real grown up jobs, with their own cars etc. still each has their own distinct personality, my first aupair very outgoing secure and not afraid of much of Anything. My second seems more timid and more uncertain. I don’t have curfews either, they are adults used to living and I just ask them to use common sense in what is appropriate or not. My car has a curfew as suggested in other handbooks. I ask that I be told if my aupair is leaving for over night or weekend and not coming home. I give safety suggestions, I request communication about when my aupair is returning home in the evening if she is out, just so I know if she doesn’t return as expected I know to start looking or notify police. I feel like to a certain extent I am responsible for my aupairs safety, and if I sent my child /adult or not to live with another family In another country that they would be concerned for their safety as well. Ultimately I cannot know or keep up with my aupairs every move, nor do I want to. But when someone lives in my home I cannot help but be a “worried hen” until all my chicks are in the house safe and sound. I communicate this with my aupair so she understands where I am coming from. If I send a text I expect a response , not silence. Maybe I parent too much, but I want my aupair to know that I care for her , for her safety and well being, and that how. I am is a reflexion of that. Jen

Host Mom in the City January 9, 2014 at 11:08 am

I think this sounds fair. Honestly although I’ve never asked, all three of my au pairs have always told me when they’re not going to be home for the night. I don’t know where they’re going nor do I ask, but they’ve all said “hey, I think I’m going to spend the night at a friend’s tonight, so see you Sunday!” as they go out the door. I think you’re right that we are responsible for them a bit. As in, if one went missing, we’d be expected to sort of know where they were or what their plans are. I would think most responsible au pairs would at least mention to the host family a general outline of their plans.

With my post, I just meant that I don’t ask them to tell me anything about what they’re doing off-duty – I was reacting to the quote in the OP: “Funny, then, that at the same time we want to know about our au pair’s overnight plans, we worry about what he or she wears, and we fret over mentions of how ‘everybody has a tattoo‘.” because when I read that I was like “nope. nope. nope.” Her overnight plans, what she wears, and whether or not she gets a tattoo is none of my business nor do I care to make it my business. Actually all three of my au pairs have had at least one (small) tattoo anyway :)

Taking a Computer Lunch January 9, 2014 at 1:50 pm

We have an exterior light that we use as a signal. If it’s off in the morning, then the AP is home. If it’s not, then she’s not. I don’t stay up late worrying about where the AP is. I hope she would call if she were in trouble, but otherwise, I don’t feel concerned about her whereabouts. I make it clear that I don’t want to hear her coming home at 3 am – and most have respected that.

Some of the APs I have hosted have been late-night party girls (knowing that they usually have 6 1/2 hours while the kids are in school to catch up on sleep), others have been homebodies.

DH and I do casually ask if they had fun the next time we’re together. That way we learn whether or not they’re engaging in risky behavior – if they are, then we remind them that it’s okay to call us in the middle of the night if they’re really in trouble. For AP #4 (a favorite), the riskiest of her behavior ended when the friend who propelled her into it got sent home.

Multitasking Host Mom January 9, 2014 at 11:08 am

We are in the au pair program because we enjoy the part of welcoming the AP into the family. So on that side of things, for example, I do like getting to know a few of the AP’s friends and hearing about their family and friends back home. We all have dinner together about 4 times a week, and as part of the conversation, I learn a lot about what is going on in the AP’s life. I definitely know a lot more about the person taking care of my children because of this, as oppose to when they were in day care/preschool/etc. And I like that about the program. I do want to know generally where they are going in the evening (such as out with friend A or into the city). But that is more of a safety concern. If the AP didn’t come home one night, I feel like I need to at least have a clue of where the police should look for them. Now that said, I do not pry into their lives and want to know every detail…I am fine with the PG rated story.
We had one AP who was very young and immature, and she constantly needed to be told things that she just lacked the life experience to know. It was draining to constantly be the “parent” to her. I did feel that I already had my own children who needed a lot of guidance, and I just couldn’t also do that level of hand holding for her too. Our current au pair is 23, and I am just amazed by the difference. (From now on because of this, we will always pick “older” APs who have been to college or have worked a job.) It is not just the age/maturity thing, because I have known very mature 18 year olds. It is due to the fact that she already has had the practice of managing her time on her own, and she has had to make independent decisions in her life that lead her to experience the consequences, both good and bad. I think that life experience better prepared her to be an AP. And I also have found that this type of AP fits better with my host parenting style.

Host Mom in the City January 9, 2014 at 11:28 am

Well now everyone’s making me clarify everything :P We also tend to form close relationships with our au pairs and really like that about the program. Ours have all eaten dinner with us most every night and we’ve really enjoyed meeting their friends and having their visitors come stay with us.

I’m not saying I don’t CARE what they are doing and that I don’t happily talk about it if they want to, I’m just saying that I don’t see myself as their parent, per se. I don’t do any parenting. I do “fellow-adult-and-slightly-older-person” mentoring and general guidance and friendliness, but not parenting. I don’t spend time worrying about them all weekend and if they wanted to get a tattoo, I’d say “great! Someone told me this parlor was good.” and then wouldn’t think about it again unless they wanted me to be interested.

But then, except for our disastrous 19/20yo, we only choose au pairs who are older than 21 and who have had full-time jobs or school experience. No 18/19yos fresh out of high school.

Multitasking Host Mom January 9, 2014 at 12:24 pm

I get what you are saying, HMitC. Rereading what I wrote, I would compare our relationship with our AP to something similar I experienced while in college. I lived in a sorority house for three years. My fellow “sisters” were interested in each other’s lives, and we did care what happened to one another. We did form a “family” in the same way as the women on the TV show Sex in the City did. ;) But when you use the word “parenting”, like in the way the OP was originally discussing it with in the AP/host family dynamic, it takes it to a whole new level. There is so much more involved in that role…as the parents here well know. While we have a close relationship with our APs, I do not want to take on the role as a parent with our AP in the same way I take on that role with my children.

Taking a Computer Lunch January 9, 2014 at 1:35 pm

My handbook says that the AP is the third adult in the house. The 2 APs I liked the least gave me the most pushback about being adults. I don’t require a curfew – and the mistake of one AP is not handed to her successor. For example, after AP #8 had 2 distracted driving incidents (for the second she caused an accident late at night that required DH to go out well after we had fallen asleep and me to stay home and purchase an emergency AAA membership (for which I was reimbursed by her) so the car could be towed), we put a curfew on the car. Her successor started out with a clean slate (and has been fantastic).

I try to be low-key and non-judgmental about my advice (although I admit with the two childish APs I was less successful) and suggest to APs that they do things for which our city is famous.

Host Mom in the City January 9, 2014 at 1:59 pm

Agreed. Third adult. That’s how we see our au pair. Boy, did I struggle this year with the “not handing a previous au pair’s mistake to her successor!” Our second au pair was our trouble one and I rewrote the handbook to an insane amount of pages when we matched with our third. Fortunately, I scaled it way back and she hasn’t needed the restrictions at all. A good lesson to learn.

TexasHM January 9, 2014 at 1:45 pm

I agree complete with JenNC and the majority and our APs have called me their “big sister” and “aunt” jokingly and I think that’s fair. I don’t parent them because I don’t have the right but like an aunt or big sister we do want to know generally when they will be home and where they are going. In fairness, I haven’t seen this mentioned but we do the same! Meaning we tell our APs where we are going and when we will be back. When my parents visit they ask to borrow the car and tell me where they are going and when they will be back so it’s more of a mutual respect action than keeping tabs. As said above, I tell them all “I don’t want to call your parents and tell them you’re missing and I have no idea where you went and didn’t know when to call the police”. We haven’t had an issue.
We’ve been very close with our APs but we don’t pry, they ask for advice and we give it, they bring friends over and we all chat. Other APs sometimes give our APs grief about having to “report in” but then they turn around and hang out at our house and wish they had a more familial relationship with their HFs!
I wouldn’t stop a tattoo (though she would probably get made fun of by my husband because he’s not a fan), we ask them not to dress scandalously in front of the kids (duh) and whatnot but they make their own life decisions so I don’t call that parenting.

Host Mom in the City January 9, 2014 at 1:56 pm

It sounds like we’re all sort of saying the same thing. FWIW, we always tell our au pairs where we’re going and when. Not specifically, I guess – but they generally know if we’re going to be home or not and we always let them know if we’re doing something they might be interested in in case they want to come. We text them if we decide to pick up food so we can pick them something up too even if it wasn’t planned. We text them if we were planning to be home soon and have decided to stay out, etc. That strikes me as more of a “respecting people who live in the same house” thing than a parenting thing.

The more people post, the more I think my initial reaction was based on the word “parenting” and the post where the husband doesn’t think the au pair should stay out all night at all. It would never occur to me to even begin to think that it would be my place to tell an au pair that she wasn’t allowed to stay out all night.

I guess though that I am a little on the lenient side too, because I also don’t feel that it’s my place to tell an adult that I trust with my kids to be home at a certain time. I’ve always wondered how host families enforce curfews – are you truly staying up until whatever time to make certain your au pair is home? If she’s not even working the next day, I really don’t get why you would care. But we’ve had this curfew debate before I think and we’ve agreed to disagree :) Even though we had an au pair who repeatedly stayed out late and was too tired to perform the next day, I didn’t think to react with a curfew – she would have just stayed up all night on Skype, I’m sure, and been equally tired. We dealt with the core issue – which was that she wasn’t engaging with the kids.

TexasHM January 9, 2014 at 2:21 pm

We do because we have am alarm system and they would wake us coming in late. The APs get it and haven’t fought it. If it’s on occasion (being later) they just tell us and it’s not a problem.

Host Mom in the City January 9, 2014 at 4:00 pm

Completely makes sense :)

Momma Gadget January 9, 2014 at 2:27 pm

Our APs have all been older 22-26 due the age ( and now Size) of my DCs. I still feel a huge responsibility as a “host” to facilitate our APs general well being and happiness. I am happy to guide, and give them the tools they need. But I do expect them to take charge of their own experience .

I tend to be a bit more motherly even a bit pushy when they first arrive because I truly believe it is important that the AP get some roots started as soon as possible.
I want to make sure they feel comfortable, both in our house and getting around in the neighborhood. I push them a bit to get involved so that they can meet people. I do worry if they are content. If I hear about an event they might be interested in, or of a hot new local hang out for young adults- I pass the information on. I strongly urge them to sign up for the gym (we pay), the local sports teams or take advantage of the ESL classes at the local library so at least they are getting out there until they establish their own social network.

The car has a curfew, but not the AP… Once they have shown they are trustworthy even the car curfew is lifted. In their off time I expect the courtesy of being told generally where they are going and when they plan to be back… as others have stated: so I know when to call the police and where to start looking for them (god forbid.)
I will offer my advice if there is some information they might not know( being from another country), or advise them to do more research on line- if for example they want to go to Herald Square for New Year’s eve( Crazy In My opinion!). I never tell them what they can or cannot do in their off time.
As far as personal choices go, not really my concern unless it will effect/influence my kids. If the AP wants to get a tattoo on his arm etc… fine “just make sure you use a reputable clean tattoo artist”. If he wanted to tattoo, and have surgical implants on his face to transform into a lizard man…uh NO.

If asked, I am happy to help them understand some of the cultural differences/habits. I am happy to help them with any phone conversations/negotiations that might be hard due to their limited command of English. I did help one AP file a claim with his credit card company when an on line vendor refused to reimburse him for an expensive defective electronic device he returned and get him a full refund. Luckily, he had listened to me when I told him to make sure he sent his package with tracking and proof of delivery. These are small ‘guidances’ he would not have known about on his own… he though he had to just chalk up the loss as an “education cost”

I am interested to hear about his friends/family back home, or his friends here… what they thought about different experiences etc… I ask a lot of questions out of interest, Also I try to encourage our APs to ask questions and talk about their observations too. I try hard not to pry or be too intrusive on the real personal stuff ie romances.
I guess I see my role as somewhere between a mentor, a tour guide and a guardian…not quite a parent.

Host Mom in the City January 9, 2014 at 4:03 pm

I like mentor and tour guide :) We do all this stuff too and see it as hand-in-hand with being host parents. It’s part of the reason I tell people that this program takes a lot of time and energy. But I still don’t feel like that’s “parenting,” as you said.

Should be working January 9, 2014 at 3:40 pm

Reading this title even made me feel a little nauseated. As our AP leaves tomorrow I feel like I did a lot of parenting and feel tired by it. Mainly over emotional issues, I must say, because she came from a crappy, mean family. And counting up I would say 3 out of our 4 APs came from abusive families, including financial, sexual and physical abuse. So in each case there was emotional baggage that required me to treat them not as ‘equals’ but as people needing some emotional mentoring.

I do offer lots of guidance and safety advice at the start and then let up as I see the kinds of choices they make. We have a car curfew.

Here’s a doozie for y’all: We are naming a former AP as our children’s guardian in case of the worst. (Her parents, actually.) She just seemed like the best possible choice.

JJ Host Mom January 15, 2014 at 1:12 am

That’s pretty neat that a former AP is named as the kids’ guardian!

Experienced hostmom January 15, 2014 at 1:22 am

Yes, we visit her family once a year (DH’s family lives nearby) and she has visited us each year!

NNTexasHM January 10, 2014 at 1:15 am

Identifying the best relationship with our Au Pairs is still something we are figuring out – even though we are on our 3rd Au Pair! (4th if you found a 3 week rematch). Our first AP was a 26 year old from Bolivia. I thought 26 = a basic maturity but she needed hand holding for everything. It was an exhausting first 3 months getting her oriented and she truly never understood her job. Even at the end of the year I had a sense of unease with her and rarely left her alone with my child and didn’t let her drive. As someone who went to London on their own at 17 it was hard to relate.

Our 2nd Au Pair was even worse / more dependent. We chose to rematch because she flat out lied about driving and swimming capability.

Deciding culture might be a factor (Latin American) we chose a 3rd Au Pair from Hungary. I liked the relationship – we seemed to be able to talk openly and she would come to me for advice but she was a bit closed off. It didn’t bother me as she was capable and resourceful. However, in the end I learned she kept a lot from me, abused car privileges when I asked her to let me know when she was taking the car outside our area (she didn’t) and hid her personal life from me. Now I don’t care about her having a private life but since she left we heard from her maybe twice and nothing in the past few months even when we sent a Christmas greeting. Another AP shared that it was because she felt bad about lying to me about having an American boyfriend (she told me she didn’t have one) to whom she is now engaged. Really, I could care less I’m just sad that she has cut off communication and hope that changes.

I hope with our 4th we can have a warm, healthy relationship – I’m an only child so personally, I tend to like people who are independent. I don’t want to be anyone’s mother, I don’t impose curfews, personal time is not something I care to pry into unless it could potentially impact the AP’s safety or our family. If the AP wants to share – great but I almost don’t want to know all the drama because I have too much on my plate :-).

Emerald City HM January 10, 2014 at 1:51 pm

I always struggle with this, particularly when our au pairs first arrive. We do things like help navigate the social security office and bank account and sometime I wonder if that does them a bit of injustice or not. Other host parents just send them those places to handle it on their own. We don’t really have a curfew, we do ask that they are home 8 hours prior to their shift when they are working the next day, but if something comes up to let us know. We don’t really ask where they are going other than a general area. Au pairs in our house really have a lot of independence.

Now we don’t tend to tell them about every shopping trip we are making, particularly if we know she already has other plans, but if we are planning on going somewhere with the girls that they might like to join us on, we let them know. Typically the au pairs join us for outings for about the first 2 or 3 months. After that they tend to either want to sleep in on their days off or go out with their friends.

Happy Host mom January 10, 2014 at 2:00 pm

I could have written parts of what MHM said verbatim. When I spoke with both of my APs moms before they came, I told them that I feel a responsibility to keep them safe. My first was 20/21, my now second is 19/20 (and the second is more mature). I do ask where they are going, what their plans are, what’s going with them, but I do it because I picked APs who are close to their family, and we wanted someone to be part of their family. I think it would be odd for me not to ask if they have any fun plans for the weekend. And to not know where they are going. I don’t administer curfews either, but want to know if they will be out all night, so I don’t worry. I think about her family and want them to know that I am helping to keep them safe. What if something did happen to them and I didn’t know where they were. I also think the AP’s I picked like living with people who care about what they are up too. WE have close relationships, by choice, but I know that’s not for everyone. that being said, with my first AP, and being a first time HF< it was hard to tow the line between being close and also getting too close. This time, I'm better at it.

Angie host mom January 10, 2014 at 5:06 pm

We do our best to treat them like an adult niece or cousin. If they ask for advice, we’ll give it, otherwise we only enforce house and child care rules. We care and will help out if needed, but we expect the au pair to be an adult enough to say they need help.

Multitasking Host Mom January 12, 2014 at 11:30 am

So our au pair has been dating someone for the past several months. I know he brought her to meet his family over the past Christmas holiday, so I would think it was a serious relationship. When he comes to pick her up, he always pulls his car up in our driveway and then calls her on her phone to tell her to come out. I mentioned a few days ago, that he is always welcome to come in, and we would love to meet him whenever she wanted us to. (Half of this was because, I want to know who this person is who has our home address and that AP spends time with, in case of safety issue. Also, I do like to project that our house is “the more the merrier” to our APs, so they never feel awkward inviting over friends to the place that they live.) Our au pair’s response was that we are her employer and she would never introduce a boyfriend to a boss. Frankly, I was a little shocked. Yes, I am her boss, but aren’t I also, I don’t know, I little more. The thing is we often eat dinner together, and I know a lot about her life and she has learned a lot about ours. She often has friends stop by (women), and a few have even spent the night. We say hi, might talk for a minute or so, and then leave them to do whatever they want. (Our house isn’t huge, so it is hard to completely ignore them.) Even if she is open about other things, but wants to keep this relationship private, then that is fine. I do not have the time or energy to pry. It just boils down to I thought we were welcoming host parents with a cordial relationship, and I guess she only sees us as employers. We thought of our selves as one kind of host parent, and she sees us as another kind. It was interesting to know that we had a different perspective.

hOstCDmom January 12, 2014 at 12:40 pm

Could it be that she is receiving “advice” from other APs, or LCCs, or even the agency about keeping her dating life completely separate? If the LCC or agency said to not bring boy/girlfriends around and keep that completely private, she might be “following directions” and telling you that she wouldn’t introduce a boyfriend to an employer? (I could see an LCC or at the training school someone saying “you wouldn’t introduce your boyfriend to an employer, would you? so you should keep this part of your life separate and private to respect your HF, etc.” I don’t agree with that, and I haven’t heard of an agency advising that, but LCCs are individuals and they may well have very different views or advice to their own clusters. It might be worth asking your LCC if she, or the agency, tell the APs that?

Momma Gadget January 12, 2014 at 2:56 pm

Maybe the boyfriend isn’t as serious as you think.
Way back when I was single I did introduce my boyfriend (now husband) to my boss when he would pickme up from work. But it wasn’t a concerted effort.
Perhaps I am old fashioned, honestly I think it is rude on the boyfriends part, not to come to the door, greet the host/parents, and escort his GF back to the car. I hope my son will show proper respect to his GF and her family when he get’s his license and picks up a date.

Taking a Computer Lunch January 12, 2014 at 11:11 pm

I was surprised recently, to learn from an AP that had lived in our home several years ago, that she had seriously dated a man in our community. I didn’t have a clue. She was intensely private and her English didn’t really improve much. We didn’t have a great relationship, although our LCC reported that when we chose not to extend with her that she thought we were the perfect HF – perhaps because we let her keep her distance.

If your current AP views you as an employer and not as family, then she may keep her boyfriend at a distance. My boss probably sees my husband only one or twice a year. If you want to meet him, try formally inviting him for dinner, through your AP.

We do permit our APs to have both male and female friends sleep over. We have made it clear that we prefer to meet people who are sleeping in our house. There were a few boyfriends and AP friends had made themselves way too scarce over the years, but most had dinner with us at least once. (The worst boyfriend was the one who took our AP to dinner and made it “Dutch” treat even though he was in his 30s and advanced enough in his career to be able to afford to pick up the tab. The second worst never came to our home and would call the AP at midnight to come see him when he got off work.)

Host Mom in the City January 13, 2014 at 10:09 am

This is where the au pair/host parent relationship is so tricky. I have it in my head that my au pair would *want* to introduce her boyfriend to us, have him over for dinner, etc. He’d come up to the door and say hi before taking her out. I guess because I would expect this of a young adult cousin staying in my house. My feelings would also be hurt if she said we’re just her employer and so shouldn’t meet her boyfriend.

But do consider that maybe it’s not that serious and having you meet him would give him the impression that it is. Or maybe she thinks it’s serious but doesn’t want to scare him off by showing him off to her “parents.”

If she’s otherwise great and you have a good relationship, this might be one you’re just going to have to brush off. Agree that I would be hurt by it too though.

Emerald City HM January 13, 2014 at 7:22 pm

So our first au pair got engaged to her boyfriend back home during her au pair year. We never met him, even though he did come visit her during one of her vacation weeks, we knew she had a boyfriend but didn’t pry because it was clear the conversation was uncomfortable on her end. It turns out the agency in her home country told her to deny that she did. Maybe she feared we would rematch, I don’t know. It was kind of sad that she was too scared to share that exciting news with us.

Our third is from Japan and it is not customary to introduce boyfriends to family at all until it is very serious. She was surprised when we were introduced to our niece’s boyfriend and that he spent so much time with her family. So depending on where she is from, it might actually be a cultural thing too.

Experienced hostmom January 14, 2014 at 1:40 am

We are in matching for summer and I have a great candidate I’m in contact with. I have looked at over 80 profiles and only 4 of them were interesting to me, so I am picky and have some very specific but unrelated criteria. This one seems so very right for us, and communication confirms this. Except:

Candidate’s health report indicates that she has “pancreatic insufficiency” for the last four years, takes medicine, but it is improving and she will stop the medicine because she doesn’t need it anymore. I asked her about the condition, she was very forthcoming and sent me a link, it’s “exocrine pancreatic insufficiency”(EPI), failure of the pancreas to produce the enzymes to digest fats in food. (TMI alert below)

I did my own research, however, and from what I can tell (and I asked a relative who is a physician, who concurred) EPI seems to be not a freestanding illness but instead is caused by some underlying condition, like chronic pancreatitis, celiac or Crohn’s (or also much worse, unmissable things, like cystic fibrosis). EPI is apparently quite treatable with medication that simply replaces the missing enzyme, although that doesn’t on its own cure the underlying cause.

There is no reference anywhere to pancreatic regeneration or to this condition “getting better” on its own.

The AP’s doctor apparently says that her fecal fat levels (sorry) have been so good that she can go off the meds. But of course in my view the meds are what have improved her numbers, as they should! And she doesn’t seem to be aware of any underlying condition.

Armchair expert that I am, I figure this is either a misdiagnosis, or an incomplete diagnosis, and/or a wrong idea that this problem can resolve on its own. Can this match be saved?

DC Au Pair Mom January 14, 2014 at 3:48 pm

This is exactly why I rematched…my au pair was a complete child. I was in no way interested in “parenting” her. She was 19 but I was pretty sure she got a fake ID so she could go to clubs. Her Facebook posts were questionable and because I speak a little of her language, I heard her say some pretty foul things to her friends. Whatever, that’s not my business, as long as it doesn’t come near my house. She was good about that.

What she WASN’T good about was being an adult in any other way. I had to do everything for her…clean up after her, pick her up from clubs when her friends wouldn’t leave, kill spiders for her, even dye her hair for her when she tried to do it and ended up crying in her bathroom, refusing to come out until it was fixed! She also got scared if I went out at night and called asking me to come home. No joke, she actually pouted when I wouldn’t take her for ice cream while my son was at school.

I am such a easygoing host mom…your life is your own, I don’t judge as long as it doesn’t come near my child. Tattoos, piercings, boyfriends, parties…have fun! In exchange, I expect you to take care of yourself and not become a burden to me. I’ve hired you to make my life easier. If I wanted another kid, I’d give birth to one.

JJ Host Mom January 15, 2014 at 1:09 am

This is our first au pair that I don’t try to parent at all. No curfew, I don’t ask where she’s going or when she’ll be back (although sometimes she’ll tell me, sometimes not) and mostly we just live parallel lives. I’d liken our relationship to the one I had with my female roommates when I was in my 20s and single. It’s more of an equal relationship. I helped her find a good tattoo parlor (since I recently got a tattoo myself) and she encourages me to work out and to actually go out on fun dates when she’s datenight sitting (rather than ending up at Home Depot as DH and I are apt to do). She’s welcome to have boyfriend or girlfriend stay over (although doesn’t do it that often because we’re currently in a very small house while we’re finishing a remodel/addition.

She’s also closest to us than any au pair had been before. She eats dinner with us most nights and I’d consider her an actual member of the family; maybe a niece or something. We all actually like each other. It’s really great.

The one exception is that I did insist on meeting her boyfriend before he came over. Our last au pair had a boyfriend who turned dangerous when they broke up. I worked with her for months to get a restraining order against him; meanwhile he knew where we lived and she was constantly with the children. In retrospect we should have just immediately rematched and had her go somewhere far away and safe, but I was in coping mode at the time. Still, I’m very careful about making sure that boyfriends are people that I’d trust to know where we live. I explained that to our current au pair and she understood completely.

Host Mom in the City January 15, 2014 at 10:16 am

This is great, JJ! I’m sorry if I missed it, but what prompted the change to loosening the restrictions? Do you think the state of your relationship with her has to do with the not parenting or do you think you just got a good one in general?

JJ Host Mom January 15, 2014 at 12:50 pm

I think both. We used to have a “be home 10 hours before your shift” curfew because our kids weren’t in school yet and our au pair was working a tough every-day all-day schedule. With the kids in school, the new schedule is before school for a few hours, long nap as needed, after school until 8:00. If we had that curfew the au pair would never be able to go anywhere. Plus the schedule is so much less demanding; less sleep isn’t as big a deal. So we loosened up. Our current au pair has said she was specifically looking for a family without a curfew. Prior to coming here she’d already lived on her own for 10 years and she wasn’t about to go back to being someone’s child. Which suits me just fine. :-)

Katie January 17, 2014 at 2:47 pm

I have spent last 30 minutes reading this whole post + comments and I must say it made me pretty sad…:(
I am trying to get to US, since it’s always been my dream to be there, bond with american family and just become a member of someones family, while providing safe care to their children. My english is great, I have mastered the C1 level (Oxford scale), I am a very good and safe driver, I have two strong references, almost 2000 hours of childcare and still no family wants to match with me, obviously. I am really friendly, more than talkative and I love children. I come from divorced family and have been through a lot in past 4 years. I graduated high school and went off to college, which I ended up quitting, since it wasnt what I expected – probably chosen really bad major… I have been working part time in high school, now turned the job into full time one. I am fully indipendent when it comes to money and paying for my own expences. I do still live with my mother and brother but I pretty much pay everything myself. I am responsible, never been late to work. I am really active, workout a lot, read books and I love doing make-up.
Plus – I like going out, but I DO NOT drink alkohol. I enjoy a wine from time to time with good meat, but that’s it. I cant drink alkohol, because I workout a lot and that doesnt come together.
Well… all this… and I am 19/20. And because my age, no family seems to have interest in me. I hate being judged upon the age :(((

SeaAP March 18, 2014 at 9:19 am

I am having a hard time deciding whether to extend with my ap. She is good with the baby but really not good for much else, plus recently she has been going out with a sort of wild ap and they come back totally hung over for the next two days. I feel as if I am constantly cleaning up after her and I am exhausted when I get home because I have pretty much an extra child to deal with- but then again I am afraid to take my chances with someone else who may not be as connected with the infant

cv harquail March 18, 2014 at 1:56 pm

SeaAP– check out this post:
Half-Full or Half-Empty? Extending the “so-so” au pair

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