Usually it helps to think about your Au Pair as ‘part of the family’.
S/he lives with you, sees what’s behind the scenes, and knows some of your family drama. Because we do integrate our Au Pairs into our family lives, situations come up that– were s/he a live-out nanny or part time babysitter — would seem awkward. Like this one.
What’s especially tough about this situation is the way that it triggers other dynamics in the Host Mom’s own family. Neither her brother nor her parents seem to respect the Host Mom’s preferences or her authority. They seem unwilling to appreciate how important it is for a Host Parent to be able to set some boundaries around which ways an Au Pair should be integrated into ‘the family’.
Dear Au Pair Mom-
I took my wonderful au pair to my hometown so that husband and I could attend a wedding. We stayed at my family’s house. Well, apparently my au pair hit it off with my brother. My husband and I had long ago told him that the au pair was off limits (before we even had matched with one!).
Despite my boundary, heavy flirting still occurred between my brother and our Au Pair. I thought it was harmless, but then I got the sense they were still texting. Eventually, it came to light that they were in fact communicating in a text from our Au Pair letting me know as much and asking if I was mad.
I called my brother and told him, again, our Au Pair is off limits. To be honest, I didn’t think that repeating my request would make a difference to him (this has since been confirmed).
Because she was the one who told me she was in touch with my brother, I figured it opened the door to a conversation. I said I think it’s appropriate to be friends with him, but I want to be clear I would be uncomfortable with them dating since it’s too close to home, mixing personal and work, and I would hate for them to then break up and make for weird family events.
I won’t go into specifics, but my telling her that didn’t go well. Later she came to me to say she accepted that. That was a month ago. They continue to communicate (on the phone that we provide to her). Its several text messages a day and long conversations at night. I had a conversation with my family who confirmed that my brother was in touch with our Au Pair. But their feeling is, “What’s the big deal?” Seriously, I think my mom wants him married off and out of her basement.
My husband (aka Good Cop in this whole au pair thing) had a conversation with our Au Pair and told her that we are aware that they are dating. She denied dating, and said they were “just talking”. He left it at us knowing how much they were communicating, so no point in denying it and we didn’t like it.
So, what’s the big deal? I mean, he does live a flight away. I’ll also just say his current situation doesn’t have him buying airline tickets to visit her.
It hasn’t affected our Au Pair’s work. However, her initial denial and subsequent coverup make for a little bit of a broken trust issue. I’d like to think I can get over that? But its all just so weird.
What happens if we need to go to my hometown again, or if they fly in to visit our family? We will not let them spend the night together in her room. Its just all too close to home.
What if he breaks her heart? Or vice versa? Will I be resentful of her?
My annoyance with the situation makes the little things like her not cleaning up after herself seem bigger. Has anyone been through this?
Is there anything I can do at this point, or am I stuck riding it out?
Thanks for the help! –HostMomma