When your au pair is getting ready to leave you, either to end her year or to extend with a different family, it’s nice to write her a letter of recommendation. Unless, of course, you wouldn’t recommend her to anyone.
When the topic of recommendation letters has come up before, you all have been of different minds when it comes to letters for so-so au pairs, or au pairs who are even worse.
Some think that ‘silence speaks volumes’ and that not writing a letter actually tells a potential family that you don’t recommend an au pair.
But, as sociologists like to say, “Silence is overdetermined”… there are too many reasons that a family wouldn’t write a letter (busy life, anyone?) You can never be sure what exactly you are signaling anything by not writing a letter.
Some think that a very plain, “She was fine” letter should suffice. Any sensible host parent would either ‘read between the lines’ and understand that this was not a recommendation. Or, host parents would be looking for an au pair that actually got affirmatively enthusiastic recommendations.
What do you all think? Here’s a letter from a host parent:
Our current AP is leaving in early Feb. She wanted to extend, but we do not want her to extend with us. She has been marginally acceptable, but due to other reasons I decided not rematch back on about month 3…..
If a prospective HF contacts me for info… how much do you say? Not say?
I feel obligated to be honest as I don’t want to see another HF in the same boat. I would not want a rematch or extension AP that is at best a warm body, acceptable…. Guess I feel more strongly on that than helping our current AP stay.
I believe she would say, do anything to stay and the way this works is the prospective HF would only get to talk to me if our current AP puts us in contact. I really believe that should change with the agencies. They have said that it is because there are some bad HF, but I think that could be dealt with by the LCC providing feedback. Another topic altogether and I guess responsibility of the prospective HF to make sure they do ask.
Just curious what others would do/have done in this situation?
Let’s take a poll, and then discuss, below!
Orange mosaic by mag3737 on FLickr
[Note: There is a very interesting post on the NYT’s Motherlode blog by Lisa Belkin on When to report a Nanny to the Police… it mentions letters of recommendation, as well some additional interesting stuff.]