My Brother is Dating My Au Pair – Against My Wishes

by cv harquail on June 15, 2015

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!).

15571350437_53abe8230c_mDespite 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

See also: Our Au Pair is Dating Our Husband’s Close Friend– now what?

Teddy Bear image by Moyen Brenn on Flickr


Former Au Pair June 15, 2015 at 7:04 am

I’m afraid I don’t have a great solution to this but what I do want to comment on is her saying they’re just texting. It’s not necessarily to cover or deny their relationship. In my eyes it’s very much possible that that’s what it is for her. They have nice conversations but don’t have to be dating because of it. I would never say I’m dating someone from the information I got from your email. :) The whole dating thing is very American in my eyes. In my country we hang out or just talk. BUT I’m not saying it couldn’t develop into dating or a relationship! All I wanted to say was that in her eyes, she has not been lying to you but told the truth! :)

FirstTimeHM June 15, 2015 at 7:39 am

Wow, that’s a nice mess. I suppose it’s your younger brother and there isn’t a huge age gap between your au pair and your brother, so they are both technically adults and can technically do whatever they want. But your brother still lives with his/your parents and the au pair also hasn’t had a household of her own as well.
While I understand your parents in wanting him to move out, I understand you in not wanting your brother to move in with your au pair and you (if it were to come that far).
I can understand that you would like the contact between them to stop, but I don’t think that’s realistical. It is realistical to ask her not to phone/text him while at work, and not to pick up his calls either. This is a rule you probably already have in your handbook, so that’s something she knew up front.
If she wants to visit him on her time off, she can but will have to pay for the trip herself. If he wants to visit it’s more awkward, you can’t really turn your brother out simply because he’s got a crush on your au pair…
I really wouldn’t know what to do if they break up. Chances are you’ve got a hurt and resentful au pair and a brother and perhaps even parents that are hurt and resentful as well.
How long does she have left in her year? Perhaps, if it’s still a few months, she can extend with a family close to your brother’s?

NBHostMom June 15, 2015 at 8:02 am

Wow, that’s an uncomfortable situation! It reminds me a bit of our friend’s 18 year au pair who was dating a 32 year old man while here. AP’s host parents found the situation completely inappropriate but AP’s parents were fine with it (and even met him when they came to visit). Our friends took this approach with their AP and her dating situation: they played ostrich. They told AP that they did not feel comfortable with her choice, but acknowledged they could not forbid it. They reminded her that her personal life was hers to manage and she needs to manage it in a way that did not impact her work. They then told her they wanted to know nothing more about the situation and she should not discuss it with them, they openly acknowledged to her that any conversation about this boyfriend would only upset them. AP spent another 5 months quiet dating this man and our friends simply chose to ignore the situation. For the they couldn’t change it, so they chose to ignore it. A bit harder to take the approach when it’s your brother, instead of a much older man, but perhaps openly acknowdling your concerns to her: I’m afraid you’ll get hurt, I’m concerned about future family visits etc and then telling your AP it’s her problem to manage if she chooses to continue communicating with him may take some weight of your shoulders.

NBHostMom June 15, 2015 at 8:05 am

Just read what I typed …. So many autocorrects and typos. Hopefully you’ll understand :)

sleepytime June 15, 2015 at 8:15 am

My concern would be my family getting involved in host family- au pair issues.” its unfair she has to work 45 hours, etc.” “you don’t let her use the car enough.” I don’t think there is much you can do about it when your family won’t listen. AT least he’s far away and it will probably all go away.

AlwaysHopeful HM June 15, 2015 at 8:17 am

This is a really tough situation. It would be hard to emerge without at least a little resentment towards your au pair, your brother, and your parents. Apart from the ick factor, I would be concerned about “world’s colliding.” If they are very close, what private family info might she be divulging to your brother? What long-ago buried info about you is he dredging up and sharing with her? Are you generally close to your family? How will holidays and birthdays be celebrated?

In your pain over the situation some of the bitterness you feel about your brother may come through. Without meaning to, your au pair may become defensive of your brother, further creating a rift between you and her. Or, if you make irritated, off the cuff statements to your family about your au pair not cleaning up after herself, those statements may get back to your au pair creating hurt feelings.Are your kids aware of this relationship?

I would explain any concerns you have to your au pair and to your brother. I would let them know that you can’t control where their feelings go, but that they should be aware that their behavior is having an impact on the relationship you have with each of them. If she’s otherwise great, I would then try to make the rest of the year work. If she’s not great, I think the strain of this would be enough that I would need to rematch.

One thing in au pair’s defense — she may not have been lying about the relationship. Since their communication I’d all by text or phone and they are a flight apart, she may not consider them to be dating, no matter the content of those communications. It’s a matter of perception/ definition. But if that’s the case, what if she starts casually dating someone else while she’s “friends” with your brother? Are you required to keep quiet, because they are adults in a consensual relationship? Ugh. The more I think about this, the more layers I see. I’m so sorry about your situation.

HRHM June 15, 2015 at 11:43 am

Where I come from, “dating” requires being physically present in the same room (zipcode even) as the person you are said to be dating. Your AP and brother aren’t dating. They may be sexting or skyping or imchatting or having phone sex, but they aren’t dating. She didn’t lie to you.

I wouldn’t worry about this if I was you. It sounds like they aren’t going to be getting together on a regular basis any time soon. Tell her that you are mostly unhappy because you’ve made it clear to your brother that your APs are off limits for all the above mentioned reasons and you are sad that he feels it’s okay to betray you by diving in regardless.

She is a grown up. If she wants to spend her hard earned money and vacation time to fly to see him, that’s her business. FWIW, I bet she won’t. If he wants to come see her, make it clear that he won’t be sleeping at your house, he got himself dis-invited when he decided to ignore your needs above his own whims. Then step back and wait for it to fizzle out.

Seattle Mom June 15, 2015 at 12:50 pm


Host Mom in the City June 15, 2015 at 4:20 pm

Yup. I get the concerns, but I think it was overstepping your bounds to say anything to begin with and to expect them to stop talking, so I don’t think you get to feel betrayed about the misleading. It doesn’t sound like they are dating, nor does it sound like there is much potential for anything to actually develop other than lots of time spent on the phone. Obviously I too would rather my brother not date my au pair, but if it happened, I’d just let them know my concerns and expect them to be adults about the relationship. If it ends up blowing up, it blows up and you deal with that – there’s really not a whole lot you can do, especially since your concerns are at this point all theoretical. Hope it ends up just fizzling and going away…. or maybe if you like her, you’ll end up with a great sister-in-law that can continue to babysit ;)

momo4 June 15, 2015 at 5:28 pm

My thoughts exactly. Not your place to tell two adults who they can fall in love with, even if they are your brother and AP.

SKNY June 15, 2015 at 5:29 pm

I agree.
One: They are not dating: yet. Yes, there is distance relationships, but usually there has been a physical contact before. Not ther case. At most they are flirting.
Two: i Dont feel you can even forbid them from dating. They are 2 adults

Boys Mama July 8, 2015 at 5:32 pm


BearCo Momma June 15, 2015 at 1:20 pm

I sympathize with you and this would bother me a lot !! I would feel almost like I had a “spy” living in my house and I would not be able to talk about normal family stuff openly in the same way as before. I would also not like that it would probably mean I’d lose the use of my own family as a sounding board for anything going on with my AP.

But I agree that this isn’t worth getting upset over, because there’s nothing you can do about it while still maintaining a good relationship with your AP. I also would not consider them ‘dating’ technically if they weren’t actually spending time together in person.

What I would do is the same as what HRHM says above – tell her that it upsets you, and if it was me I personally would ask that she not mention him in front of me. Not as punishment, but to protect my feelings (and sanity!) And yeah , no WAY would I be hosting him in my house while that was going on!

TexasHM June 15, 2015 at 11:47 am

OP – so many questions for you! First off, like others I am wondering if your brother and AP are close in age? Also wondering how long she has left on her year or if she is extending – with you or otherwise?

With the limited info we have here, I see three possible scenarios:
1. You go into a planned rematch together. You explain to AP that it isn’t appropriate for her to be communicating with your brother AT ALL and you had asked them both to not do it and you both would be more comfortable if she were with another family. I know it sounds harsh but then she can date or not date him, doesn’t have to worry about family drama/impact and she can leave on good terms. You both could work together and pick a date that works best to transition and then if she needs an extra week you can offer that in good will to make sure she finds a good situation. This way it is less about the “relationship” or lack thereof and more about the fact that you asked her and him to not get involved in any way and it continues to be an issue so you are removing the barrier (her being in your family) since they won’t remove the barrier on their side (communicating).

2. You can reverse position. I know, hear me out. Ever heard of Romeo and Juliet? I just mentioned this post to my DH and the first thing he said was “Ah – forbidden love”. The fact that they both knew each other were off limits made both of them more attractive to each other and makes the idea of any relationship very dreamy/star crossed lovers-ish particularly to less mature folks. This is risky, but I have seen it work. (And it worked on me when I was a boy crazy teenager). You tell them that you thought about it and they are adults and can do whatever they want. You could even go as far as to encourage it. Then if it is attraction due to being forbidden it will die off (likely quickly) on its own. Then you come out smelling like a rose. UNLESS they really are truly into each other then it will continue and there isn’t anything you can do about it either way BUT you could still transition into option 1 the minute it becomes an issue (impacts work, impacts family dynamics etc) and then it’s a natural consequence of their decision to get involved.

3. You take the hard line and tell her and your brother explicitly that all communication is to cease or you will pursue rematch. Yes, this makes you most look like a jerk but they forced your hand. You asked them not to pursue each other in any way and they did. You then asked them to stop and they didn’t. Next step is your hand is forced and the consequence is you need to enter rematch to prevent issues for your immediate family and extended family. This also means that you would likely somehow have to be able to monitor the situation in a way I don’t agree with (check her phone, FB I don’t know) which is why I don’t think this is a realistic option and I would be more likely to pursue option 1 (she may suddenly realize how serious this is and offer to cut all contact herself but again – how can you be sure? – I would ask her that directly if that is her response and would be tempted to tell her that ship has sailed) or option 2 where at least its all out in the open.

I have a younger brother and I could totally see this happening (thank God it hasn’t) and my heart goes out to you. Just remember the golden advice from the regulars on here – an AP is supposed to make your life easier, not harder. Period. And there are AMAZING rockstar rematch candidates out there that have been in bad situations that are desperate for a chance to save their year. Why struggle through something like this with someone who doesn’t respect you enough to give you a simple courtesy (stay away from my brother) and then texts if you “are mad” – another symptom of immaturity.

Laura June 15, 2015 at 12:10 pm

All adults have the right to date who they want without interference, and people do meet at work, it happens all the time. I think you just have to leave them to get on with it – it’s up to her how she spends her free time. However, I agree with the other posters in that she shouldn’t let it interfere with her work. If she starts taking calls from him while working, then that’s when you have the right to intervene. We all have a boss, and our boss owns our working time, but when we’re off the clock then our time is our own. I really don’t understand why some people have suggested rematch – it would be totally awful if workers could lose their jobs because of dating someone their bosses don’t want them to date.

Mimi June 15, 2015 at 3:37 pm

Many companies have a policy against coworkers dating and it can be grounds for dismissal.

Seattle Mom June 17, 2015 at 3:53 pm

Just because these policies exist in many workplaces don’t make them good, or the right policy for an au pair. All it means is that it’s not against the law to have that policy (usually!). I’m lucky that I’m privileged to be able to choose to work for organizations with reasonable human capital policies, and I like to pass that along to the people who work for me. We have a lot of married couples in my office who were once dating couples in my office.

I do sympathize with the OP, I wouldn’t want my AP to date any of my family members either.

TexasHM June 15, 2015 at 3:48 pm

First off, I have seen several people lose their jobs because of workplace dating policies/drama so while adults do have the right to date whomever they please, they also fully have the right to accept any negative consequences from whatever decisions they make.

I think the fact that the OP has already had conversations with the brother, her mom and AP and DH has spoken with AP (and that HM has written in here for advice) illustrates that regardless of what AP does in her free time this is already having an impact on the family. The question becomes how much of an impact is this HF willing to tolerate? Is it better to wait and hope that it dies out or wait for the shoe to drop (they breakup, brother wants to come see her, AP lets it impact work, AP wants vacation to go see him and stay with her brother/parents) or is it better to plan a graceful exit while both sides still like and support each other and can work together?

I am not talking about kicking her out on the street when I say planned rematch. I am saying they sit down together, come up with dates and a plan and offer to house her longer to help her have time to find a great match (and them). This could be a win/win for both sides. She gets to date (or not) the brother, she might even end up much closer to him, HF maintains privacy and eliminates the current drama before the AP/HP relationship is damaged forever. They can part on good terms and just move on and have everyone be happier. The alternatives are they ban the relationship and then AP is bitter (not a win) or it goes on and the HF is upset (not a win) and worst case it damages relationships between the HM and her brother and/or her mother (it already sounds like it is).

Yes, APs are going to date, and the comparison to that vs an online predator is unfair to the OP. She asked her AP to not get involved with one person on the planet and the AP did it anyway. This isn’t an issue with the OP. If the AP and/or brother had respected their request in the first place we would not be having this conversation. This is not about a HF trying to control her whole dating life, this is a HF just saying please don’t get involved with my brother! And they were fair and told the brother the same. If you are my AP and I ask you respectfully as a member of my family not to get involved with this one person and you do it anyway yes – I would be upset.

With that having been said, I still think you either tell them to go for it but it better not impact you and you don’t want to hear about it and hope it dies out or you sit down and come up with a plan to place her in another family so she can date whomever she wants and you aren’t impacted. That decision I think will be largely based on how much time she has left and how great an AP she is.

For the record, we do tell our APs that while they are free to date whomever they please the minute it impacts us we also have the right to change/limit privileges and if necessary rematch. We have had a couple little things where I went to AP and said “handle it or I will” and its been quickly handled. I won’t have Romeos coming to the door at midnight or BF asking us if AP can take the car somewhere she knows she cannot take it or asking for her to have a day off because he’s not working (those happened) or worse.

WarmStateMomma June 15, 2015 at 4:24 pm


HF has a right to keep their family life private from their extended family. An internet creep might disappear from the HF’s life when the AP’s year ends but the brother will still be relevant. And seriously, who gets involved with their employer’s family without thinking that there may be uncomfortable consequences?

I disagree with a comment posted below that the kids’ safety is compromised if the AP can’t date the brother. That makes it sound like the AP *must* be involved with someone this year. I’m going to assume she’s better than that and actually likes the brother. The APs I’ve heard of (from my APs) who date internet creeps are on the hunt; the hunt won’t be postponed because one of the targets shows interest. The brother just doesn’t seem relevant to the “creep” risk IMO.

Old China Hand June 16, 2015 at 5:50 am


Two of my ap aged research students (college under grads) were dating and broke up and are both here for the summer. They were dragging me into the middle of this mess until my chair bashed some heads, banned them both from my lab and lab meetings, and told them they are forbidden from talking to me about their issues. They were both given alternate places to do their work. It’s been a mess and I’m not living with or related to either.

AlwaysHopeful HM June 15, 2015 at 6:23 pm

I think some of this boils down to the relationship you have with your au pair. If it is primarily a professional/work relationship, it may be possible to partition that part of your mind and just allow that what happens with your brother has nothing to do with you.

If your family is like ours, however, and the family and housemate relationship is as valued as the work relationship, this will be much harder to take. Yes, the au pair is an adult, but this was a request made to not do something that would be personally upsetting to the HM. I would have a really hard time with an au pair who ignored that because she had “the right” to see whom she pleases. No, you can’t force your au pairs to care enough to try not to hurt you, but I certainly expect that— and seeing an au pair blow that off would be enough for me to seriously consider rematch. Actually, the more I think about it, Texas HM ‘s planned rematch is probably the best approach to having any chance of salvaging relationships all around.

EastcoastHD June 15, 2015 at 12:40 pm

Let’s be honest, these girls are going to date boys/ guys in their year abroad.
Would you rather have them date a single family member that you know or a creep and or possible predator they met on the internet?
Being that the safety of my kids is my priority, I know what i would choose.

WarmStateMomma June 15, 2015 at 1:54 pm

So uncomfortable! I’d be most worried about them comparing notes on my family and other relatives taking sides in anything involving my relationship with the AP. Depending on how likely those issues seemed and how much times was left on her year, I’d either pretend the whole mess wasn’t happening or I’d go into a planned rematch like TexasHM suggests.

Agreed that it’s not fair or possible to make them call off whatever connection they have.

Maybe consider male APs next time around? :)

Seattle Mom June 17, 2015 at 3:58 pm

They could compare notes even if they weren’t dating, right? Even if they just became good friends. So the real request is “don’t gossip with any of my family members” not “don’t date any of my family members.” Then you get into really squishy territory…. how can you know they are not gossiping, unless you know they are not talking? So the only thing you can do is really say “don’t talk with any of my extended family members?”

Reasonable? Hmmm. I don’t think so.

WarmStateMomma June 17, 2015 at 4:23 pm

*So the real request is “don’t gossip with any of my family members” not “don’t date any of my family members.” *

Both requests seem reasonable to me. I’d be ok with my AP being casual FB friends with my family, but not with being on the phone with my family every night or texting them all day.

Flip side – what if the HPs bless the relationship with the brother and the AP loses interest? Would she then complain that she felt pressured by the HPs to date the brother? The HM in a no-win scenario here.

NewbieHM June 15, 2015 at 5:45 pm

I would consider rematch if they don’t stop it ASAP. The HM made it clear to her that her brother was off limits. It would make me extremely uncomfortable to have my AP date my brother for many reasons. I would contact the LLC and let her know what’s going on, perhaps she can tell the AP how inappropriate this is. I would tell her that I like her but I prefer to keep my family at a certain distance and that is not possible if she is dating him or has a fling with him, whatever she calls it. I would not want that drama in my house so she would have to find another family.

momo4 June 15, 2015 at 8:52 pm

This is a very interesting issue, because it touches on so many of the perennial HF-AP paradoxes. Is the AP more of an employee, or more of a family member? Is the AP an autonomous adult or do the HP act in loco parentis? How much control does or should the HF have over the AP? And if the AP is an autonomous adult with the right to make their own choices, what choices are the HPs willing to live with vs. sending her into rematch? And is there really any such thing as privacy when you have someone living with you??

If you are going to play the employer/employee card, then you really have to have all expectations documented, laid out, and agreed to at the start, otherwise it isn’t really fair. It sounds like the HM told her brother not to get involved with the AP, but unless I missed it, it doesn’t sound like the AP was told that the brother was off limits before she met him, let alone that flirting with him would upset HM so much that it could potentially get her sent into rematch. Sure, relationships with other employees are forbidden in many work sites with good reason, but even if the AP is strictly an employee, the HMs brother really isn’t a fellow employee; at best he is being asked as a brother not to get involved, and the fact that he disregarded this request is his fault, not the APs. If your AP is not allowed to date during her year with you, you had better tell her that before you match; and if your brother is strictly off limits, you better tell her that as well, including what the consequences of involvement will be. If she is an employee who can be fired for undesired entanglements, she is entitled to know that up front.

I think it is interesting how quick we are as HPs to assume duplicity in our APs. If the brother is as far away as he sounds to be, then I don’t think it is either surprising or unjustified that the AP says they are not dating, merely talking, it is a different perspective/interpretation of the situation but not necessarily dishonest. I also think that if the AP really enjoys talking with the brother, then finds out that HM is really upset about it (something AP undoubtedly thinks is an overreaction), her choice to initially deny it is unfortunate (and yes, dishonest) and likely reflects the poor judgement of youth, but it is at the same time really not surprising or unexpected.

If the AP really is otherwise wonderful, her work has not been affected, the brother lives far away, there are no immediate plans for further get togethers during the AP’s year, then most of the concerns seem rather theoretical. If they break off their relationship (whatever you want to call it) then you deal with it. Why should the HM resent the AP if she breaks the brother’s heart? They’re both adults after all, and it was the brother who chose to pursue the AP against the explicitly stated wishes of his sister the HM. He’s obviously a big boy who can make his choices and live with the consequences. If they really fall deeply in love then nothing the HPs do is going to change that. If they get married (something that is rather unlikely to occur during the APs year with the family) then why wish them anything but happiness?

As far as the understandably uncomfortable feeling that the AP might be dishing all the family dirt to the brother, it certainly is possible. But she could easily be (and probably is) dishing all the dirt to all her AP friends as well, so the ideal of total family privacy is partially an illusion anyway.

So it makes the HM angry and uncomfortable. She is certainly entitled to her feelings, but she should be careful not to project any of her anger at her brother onto her AP, who is at the end of the day just a young woman who met an attractive, charming, apparently available young man and has gotten involved on some level with him, and has continued to pursue that relationship Romeo and Juliet style. (What could be more thrilling than a forbidden romance during your year abroad?!) A recurring theme on this site seems to be the issues that arise because APs are young and frequently think of themselves and their wishes and desires first. I think this is simply another example of this.

Is the HM “stuck riding it out”? Of course not. It’s her home, and the AP is there only as long as the the HP feel it is working out. As other posters have described, she has several options available, including rematching. Personally, I favor just letting it go as long as it is not affecting her job performance. Maybe it really doesn’t have to be such a big issue. This sounds like an AP who is doing a great job otherwise, and we all know how much that is worth, and how there are no guarantees that the next AP will be as good. But if you can’t let it go, don’t make it a progressively more miserable year; rematch gracefully. If she does end up marrying your brother, you’ll probably want to be invited to the wedding :)

NewbieHM June 16, 2015 at 12:00 am

“Is the AP more of an employee, or more of a family member?”
Does it really matter? I don’t think is unreasonable to ask an employee that lives with you to refrain from having a relationship with a family member. Whether that is the HM’s brother or 21 her year old son. Same with a family member. For example, if my brother lived with me and then wanted to date my sister in law I would have no problem telling him that she is off limits, that is awkward and that I am not interested in having the drama in my house. If he wants to date her anyways he needs his own place, I would still love them both but don’t want either of them living with me.

“Is the AP an autonomous adult or do the HP act in loco parentis?”
I don’t think the HF are acting in loco parentis, they are acting as people that are trying to protect their privacy and family relationships. It doesn’t seem like they don’t want her to date at all, they just don’t want her to date the HF’s relatives. Is that really too much to ask?

“How much control does or should the HF have over the AP?” They don’t have any control over what the AP does, that is the AP’s choice. But they can choose not to host her any more if they feel the AP’s choices can potentially damage their family relationships.

Regarding the privacy issue. Maybe the AP is dishing out dirt to her friends but, come on, that is definitely not the same as the AP doing that with the HF’s relatives. I don’t think there is a need to elaborate on that one.

momo4 June 16, 2015 at 8:40 am

If you don’t want your AP to date your relatives, that’s totally fine, and you are absolutely entitled to make this request. My point is that ideally you should make this request BEFORE the relationship starts. OP apparently thought it was enough of a risk that she warned her brother that the AP was off limits before even matching, but she does not mention ever telling the AP until after the relationship started. As HM she can make any request she wants, it’s her house and she ultimately is the one with more power in the situation, but I don’t think it is surprising that the AP didn’t take it well.

As far a dishing dirt to relatives goes, that is very family dependent. If your family tends to be nosy, critical and interfering then obviously it could be a huge issue and you would have good cause to want to avoid gossip and drama.

Hypothetically speaking though, what is AP became BFFs with the HM’s sister? Should she forbid that relationship as well?

WarmStateMomma June 17, 2015 at 10:59 am

I imagine the warning to the brother occurred along these lines:

HM tells her loved ones the family will be hosting an AP. Brother (a flirt) makes a joking suggestion that they find an attractive AP. HM tells brother not to bother the young woman in a sisterly way (“hands off, Buddy”).

The above conversation is probably fairly common given the ridiculous tropes about APs. Most of us have probably heard comments about APs that we would not share with our APs. I wouldn’t share the above conversation with a prospective AP about because it makes it sound like the brother is a lecherous creep or that the AP is being evaluated on her attractiveness.

Hostmomma June 15, 2015 at 11:22 pm

OP here. First of all, I’d like to say I’m a first time commentator but long time lurker. Thank you so much for all of the work you put in as members to make this a great website. I used the website a lot when trying to decide on whether an au pair is right for us. So, much appreciation to all of you!

I apologize for the murkiness of my post. I Just wanted to have as anonymity as possible, but I probably overdid it. My AP is 26, baby brother is 29, sane maturity level. She has been with us for half a year, taking care of my babies. I mention this last part because I noticed no one commented on the kids perception of this. Even if we extend a year and this continues, I don’t think my kids will be at the stage to see the romantic connection, but I could see that being very confusing for older kids. I also should have stated that she is a great au pair. She loves our children very much and they love her. I’d say 99.9% of any problems were simply miscommunications but didn’t put my kids in a dangerous situation or anything.

So, as many of you gleaned from the email, there are many underlying family issues. I have some anger towards my brother for years of selfishness, choosing what’s best for him at the moment, family be damned. There was a reason my husband and I chose to tell him the au pair was off limits, and at the time he blew it off as a joke I guess. My mother has a pattern of enabling (hello basement) and justifying his behaviors, and our difference in opinions has led to hurtful exchanges. I know, I know- these are issues for a family counselor not a host mom advice page, but… I am so annoyed that this part of my life has mucked up something that was going great- my relationship with my au pair.

I agree with posters that I shouldn’t call it dating because they really are just talking (a lot). But if I can go ahead and continue venting, yes, the talking is bothering me. Even tonight for example, we had friends over for dinner and we were discussing the merits of spacing out kids vs close in age. I was going to voice my opinion based on my experience, but then thought otherwise because I was scared it would get back to my brother and hurt his feelings. I also feel like I can hear their collective snickering at my obsession with de cluttering…

There was sometime that passed since I submitted this question, and husband and I have chosen to prioritize that we think she’s great with the kids. It hasn’t fizzled but we’re hoping it will. My family is coming in for a visit soon and I mentioned that there will be no co sleeping. Mom thinks that’s going over the top to state that, but she thinks she’s got an Eagle Scout son. While I can’t forbid them from talking, the handbook has always said no overnight male guests.

My hope is that this goes away, and if we want to extend based on her childcare performance, this doesn’t affect her choice to extend with us. Maybe, as suggested, I should consider a male au pair next time ???? thanks for all of the comments!

German Au-Pair June 17, 2015 at 7:30 pm

I wonder if you have actually voiced those concerns with her? Sounds like you have a great relationship with her and that you’re really trying to be reasonable about this. Not sure how good your AP’s English is in terms of not misunderstanding certain statements but I think it would be worth a try to explain to her that there are some tensions -as there are in any family- and that surely she’d understand that you need to be able to trust her not to dish everything to your brother. Maybe explain to her that you’re not trying to be controlling about her establishing some kind of connection with your brother but that the thought of him knowing everything about your life unnerves you. I would imagine a 26 y/o can understand that.
It will come down to a matter of trust and mutual respect then but voicing your concerns may help her understand where you’re coming from and take that into concideration. I’m sure she doesn’t want to cause any more issues between you and your family and maybe telling her and giving her something specific to trust her with rather than wondering what she might say could also give you some peace of mind.
Issues like these may not be obvious to others. I personally couldn’t care less what my little brother knew and thought of me (even though we’re close!) so maybe the issue you have with this wouldn’t be that obvious to me without a chat about it.
As an AP I know I would appreciate a talk about this and would be mindful of this issue.

exaupair June 16, 2015 at 1:44 am

Dear OP, my solution for you would be removing the AP from your house. I’m not sure if you have any impact on where she will end up (different city or different state?), if you can’t make her end up as far away from your family as possible is there any way to have her removed from the program completely? If she goes back to her home country the relationship is unlikely to last, because they weren’t with together long enough and their relationship just started to flourish. That’s the least I would try to do if I was i your position and wanted to have things my way.

Having said that, I understand your AP completely. Can you blame her that she prefers to get involved with an older and more mature man than waste her time dating local college students or male APs from the area? If I was her I wouldn’t stop seeing him, unless I found someone suitable who happens not to be your relative.

ReturnAupair June 16, 2015 at 2:02 pm

Would you really send an aupair back home just because she talks on the phone to hm brother? You ruin her year just because you dont like that they are talking? Makes me said to read something like that.

exaupair June 17, 2015 at 5:02 pm

If I wanted two people to stop dating for this or that reason I would do whatever it takes. I’m not saying this is ethical in any way, however the OP asked for an advice/ solution and all I can do is to tell her what I would have done if I wanted them apart so badly.
Personally I think there’s nothing wrong with the AP dating her brother, he isn’t her husband after all, but I’m not in a position to start telling her to get over it and let them be if that’s not what she asked about.

AuPair Paris June 16, 2015 at 3:03 am

Ahhh, I get this! What a nightmare! But I am not sure you can do anything? I mean… You can rematch with the AP of course (not with your brother though… What if it *lasts*?! And if you rematch against AP’s will, that could make for some awkward Sunday dinners…).

I understand how you must feel – betrayed and upset. But in situations like this, if you extend the absolute best possible interpretation to all of the actions (with however much cynicism and disbelief you need), I find that responding as though you’re responding to that can help in these situations.
For example – it’s possible your brother likes the lure of the forbidden/is immature and just wants to annoy big sister… And that AP is immature as a child, and is living her life as if it’s a romance novel. Probable even. But the *kindest* possible interpretation is that the two fell madly in love. They’re not actually dating because they respect you so much, but they just can’t stop communicating because of how much they love each other. (I know! Total rubbish! Hypothetically possible, but VERY unlikely.)

Still, if you respond as though you’re responding to the last scenario, first of all, it’s going to remove the “forbidden” attraction, and second of all, you can achieve the same things without alienating anyone. It might take a little concentration to put yourself in the fairy tale every time you think about it. But really, imagining the best possible scenario, you’re going to rematch more gently and civilly, treat your brother with more tolerance than he maybe deserves, and refrain from alienating your family. Then if it all implodes (probable), you’re in no way implicated, you’ve done nothing but show kindness, and you get to be cynical and even a bit smug with your husband/partner later!

For what it’s worth that’s what I would do. As for my opinion of it all. Eh. It’s a betrayal by your brother and not your au pair, I think. You can’t stop your employee dating who they want (who is available and who consents). I mean, you can chuck the order about, but it’s not a right that you have over an employee really. But from your brother you can expect loyalty and consideration. So I’d be annoyed at both, I think, but more righteously at my brother. And also, there’s no way I’d say I was dating someone with the level of contact your AP seems to have with your brother, so I don’t think she was lying to you…

Host Mom in the City June 16, 2015 at 7:01 am

So funny how divergent the opinions are on this! Some of us are like “eh…let it play out – you’re overreacting” and others are saying they would rematch! Maybe this is a lid for every pot thing and rematch would be the best choice if it truly bothers you.

German Au-Pair June 16, 2015 at 7:29 am

Well maybe they ARE just texting…given the distance between them I can hardly imagine that it can be more.
I actually do know an AP who got married to HM’s brother in the end. They dated while she was still their AP and that led to them not extending but it worked out very well.
Plus, if they did fall in love there’s nothing you could do. If they were having an affair then maybe that was grounds for rematch, but I honestly would find it totally unreasonable if you proposed rematch as suggested above because they are texting…

FL Mom June 16, 2015 at 7:41 am

BTW “Talking” is the newest vernacular for dating…took me a while to figure that out when all my teenage daughters were talking about the boys. Probably developed as code to get around parental restrictions on “dating.” Good luck with this one.

Laura June 16, 2015 at 1:12 pm

I totally agree with momo4. You are totally within your rights to make any sort of rules you like when bringing someone into your home, but its not fair to make the rules later on. I used to be an AP in my early twenties, now I’m a HM, and there’s no way I would have matched with a family who wanted control over my dating life. I never brought drama into my host family, and my AP likewise dates who she likes and doesn’t bring hassles into my home either. Your family handbook should make any rules clear, and if one of those is that you need to give approval before your AP dates, then that needs to be written down, like in workplaces where dating is forbidden. As some other posters said though, how are you going to feel in the hypothetical situation that you are hostile to this situation, the AP and your brother quite rightly tell you to mind your own beeswax, and they end up married??

NewbieHM June 16, 2015 at 2:06 pm

We cannot anticipate every possible scenario when making a handbook can we? Maybe she will update hers, we don’t know.
Some families think is ok if the AP dates one of their relatives and others don’t and I don’t think there is a right or wrong answer. But like I said, I would be uncomfortable in that situation and it would be unacceptable, but every family is different. I would expect my AP to be a mature woman who knows where the boundaries are and ask first if it’s ok with me if she, my brother, my 50 year old divorced uncle or whoever, can start a relationship. If I put in my handbook I don’t care who you date as long as you don’t date my family or my neighbors and an AP declines because of that, well, good riddance.
If they tell her (not rightfully so btw) to mind her own business and end up getting married, then fine. They can both run off into the sunset and go to straight to her parents basement. I don’t think they should hate her if she tells the AP that the HF loves her and want her to be their AP but that this situation is a little too uncomfortable for them. She can still support the relationship once the AP is with another family.

BearCo Momma June 16, 2015 at 2:09 pm

I don’t think this is fair to the OP. There is a big difference between needing to give approval before the AP dates and being upset that your AP starts dating a close family member.

You can’t put everything that would bother you in the handbook , and this would be a VERY specific , and IMO weird , thing to mention in the handbook in advance. I.e., “If you meet my brother who lives a flight away, you may not start up a more-than-friends relationship with him”. I think that would read as a very strange thing to specifically mention, even though it’s totally understandable why it would be upsetting to HM and could cause family drama and stress.

NewbieHM June 16, 2015 at 2:13 pm

I totally agree.

AlwaysHopeful HM June 16, 2015 at 6:21 pm

Yep. As far as I’m concerned, this would be impiedly covered in the “respect and consideration” part of the handbook. It’s not possible to cover every permutation of that, especially something like this that goes more to the family aspect of the HF/AP relationship than the work aspect.

Mimi June 16, 2015 at 6:37 pm

I think that even a young AP can see the danger in getting involved like this and I question whether or not she realizes the implications of the contact. Many AP here don’t think it’s dating; I disagree and I also wonder if consequently the brother has more invested in their exchanges. It’s a difficult situation and I’ve seen rematch over less.

momo4 June 16, 2015 at 8:48 pm

I totally agree that putting “You may not date my brother” in the handbook would be weird and way to specific for most of us, and probably most of us haven’t actually even considered this situation as a possibility. NewbieHM is right that you can’t possibly anticipate every crazy thing that your next AP may choose to do and proactively put it in your handbook.

But in this case the OP DID think it was possible, even likely enough that she felt she had to warn her brother that the AP was off limits. Clearly, she knows enough about her brother that she anticipated he might try to date her AP before she even matched with the AP.

I think in all fairness to the AP that OP should have said something BEFORE the AP met her brother. There are many tactful, kind, and even humorous ways to warn your AP that her dating one of your relatives would be uncomfortable for you and you think it would be an inappropriate relationship to pursue. Your AP is much more likely to see things your way if she understands your feelings and the implications of her choices before she makes them.

ReturnAupair June 16, 2015 at 2:05 pm

I understand that this hostmum dont like this situation. But also sometimes its just the way of love (evan if they dont date right now) I dont like always new boy or girlfriends from my family members and friends and some seems just perfect. I also spend most of the time with my best friend and i have problems to come along with his girlfriend, but since i like my friend a lot, i accept und try to be as nice as i can, since iam happy that he has found somebody.

I would say you have 2 options, you try to talk to your aupair and your brother about how much you dissaprove and more important what are you affraid for and why you have a problem with it, And you need to tell her/him this must end or you will rematch.

The second option ist you just accept this and see it in a different way. Your brother has not much money so he cant come an see her a lot and your aupair may has not much money and time eather to see him a lot. Probably now while the somer is comming up, theire is so much to do for a Aupair that she likes is out a lot. And they stop talking. Just dont take her with you, wenn you visit your parents and ask him to not stay in your house while the aupair is still theire. After her year she will likely go back to her country.

Mimi June 16, 2015 at 2:37 pm

I’m looking at this issue outside of the scope of a relationship. The HP had a conversation about a situation that made them uncomfortable and the AP has disregarded their request. “Her initial denial and subsequent cover-up make for a little bit of a broken trust issue.” The OP needs to decide if for the remaining time the AP is there, she can deal with her resentment and the trust issue. If not, it would be best for all involved if they transitioned. Whether or not it has affected the AP’s work, it’s going to affect her experience and create tension.

I would give the AP the choice. If the relationship is worth pursuing, they can do it after her term is up with your family or be free to pursue each other from someone else’s.

NZHM June 16, 2015 at 4:12 pm

I’m a NZ host mother and I would rematch to be honest. You have already stated you are not happy with your au pair and brother ‘talking’ ‘texting’ or dating (and I’m inclined to agree with the above poster who noted ‘talking’ is a euphemism for dating these days). She has disregarded your request as has your brother. So in my mind yes she is free to date your brother if she so chooses but the price of that may be her job with you. Her choice. I wouldn’t want the drama to be honest (and you know it’s going to end in tears eventually). I view my au pairs as someone who is living me and my family who is paid to help me with my kids, they are employees essentially and a relationship with my brother or similar is out of bounds. Sexual (or textual!) relationships which step over the line with family members are rematch issues for me. My current au pair started a relationship (an intense friendship which morphed into romance) with the husband of a client of mine. I was furious and she knew it. It stopped after I spoke to both of them. To be fair she didn’t know he was still with his wife but when she found out she stopped it. But that put me in a challenging and frustrating situation. Not quite the same as OPs situation however it mixed my home life with my work life and that is no on. Just as it would be if my au pair and my brother were in a relationship. Do what feels right for you OP.

German Au-Pair June 17, 2015 at 7:33 pm

Talking may be a euphemism but in a szenario like this -seperated by a plane ride now, not enough time to get to know each other to grow something serious before she returns- what’s the difference? How is being close friends and dating really that different in an exclusively long-distances relationship?

TexasHM June 16, 2015 at 5:13 pm

Mimi – exactly what I was trying to get across.

Momo4 and others – when was it said she didn’t tell the AP? The AP had to have known something because she texted “are you mad?” to the HM. Why would the AP be concerned about the HM being mad if she didn’t know it was something that would be upsetting?

At the end of the day, this AP has chosen to continue to do something that’s clearly upsetting to the HF and they need to decide how/if they can move forward. We need to give the OP the benefit of the doubt that she has her reasons for not wanting AP conversing with her brother and this isn’t about controlling the AP dating life.

So, if you were a HF and you asked your AP not to get involved in any way with your ex-husband, brother, father, boss, best friends newly ex husband – anyone that would cause angst in your household and she (and they) disregarded your feelings/angst/concerns and continued to do it anyway, what would you do?

I don’t agree with sending her home. This isn’t about being malicious it’s just unfortunate. It’s creating an unlivable situation and since the HF can’t rematch the brother (as awesome as that would be for this HF) there are limited options, the most amicable of which is to plan a rematch and everyone help each other get resettled before it escalates or for the HF to swallow a bitter pill and pray it dies out.

AlwaysHopeful HM June 16, 2015 at 6:15 pm

Absolutely 100% agree.

momo4 June 16, 2015 at 11:16 pm

I think we’re interpreting what we read in the post differently. The OP describes clearly how she told her brother not to date the AP, but she does not say anywhere that she told the AP that the brother was off limits until AFTER it came to light that the AP and brother were still in communication.

“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.”

The conversation she is referring to ideally should have happened BEFORE she introduced the AP to her brother, since she already knew the whole thing might be an issue.

IMO, the AP’s worry about the HM being mad doesn’t necessarily mean that the AP was told by her HM not to get involved with the brother beforehand. It may well be that it was actually the brother who told the AP that HM would have a problem with their relationship since he knew this from the get go. Maybe the OP could clarify this?

None of that changes how the OP feels, or what happened afterwards, and I agree with everything else you say above about gracefully rematching given the OP’s feelings about the situation. I am actually sympathetic to the OP’s concerns, having lived through some rather nighmarish AP love life problems in my years as a HM (BF turns out to be a drug addict on parole, AP stalking divorced dad family friend 25 years older than her…) so I know how bad things can get. If HM has reason to believe that the AP-brother relationship (whatever it actually is) is going to cause trouble and drama that she doesn’t want in her life, then she should absolutely consider rematching.

I just worry that the AP is being unfairly vilified here. It may be academic, but there is a difference between initiating a relationship that you know will cause all kinds of family tension and upset your HM, and initiating a relationship only to find out later that it upsets your HM, and having to decide how to respond at that point. Furthermore, HM told the AP that it was ok for AP and the brother to be friends, and AP maintains that’s all they are. HM doesn’t believe AP and feels betrayed as a result. It’s an ugly and unfortunate situation for everyone, but it isn’t entirely of the AP’s making either given the complexity of the family dynamics she has stumbled into, and she stands to lose more than anyone else here.

WarmStateMomma June 17, 2015 at 10:10 am


Hostmomma June 16, 2015 at 8:28 pm

OP here. First of all, I’d like to say I’m a first time commentator but long time lurker. Thank you so much for all of the work you put in as members to make this a great website. I spent a lot of time on here when trying to decide on whether an au pair is right for us. So, much appreciation to all of you!

I apologize for the murkiness of my post. I Just wanted to have as much anonymity as possible, but I probably overdid it. My AP is 26, baby brother is 29, same maturity level. She has been with us for half a year, taking care of my babies. I mention this last part because I noticed no one commented on the kids perception of this. Even if we extend a year and this continues, I don’t think my kids will be at the stage to see the romantic connection, but I could see that being very confusing for older kids. I also should have stated that she is a great au pair. She loves our children very much and they love her. I’d say 99.9% of any problems were simply miscommunications and didn’t put my kids in a dangerous situation or anything.

So, as many of you gleaned from the email, there are many underlying family issues. I have some anger towards my brother for years of selfishness, choosing what’s best for him at the moment, family be darned. There was a reason my husband and I chose to tell him the au pair was off limits. I guess at the time he blew it off as a joke I guess. My mother has a pattern of enabling (hello basement) and justifying his behaviors, and our difference in opinions has led to hurtful exchanges. I know, I know- these are issues for a family counselor not a host mom advice page, but… I am so annoyed that this part of my life has mucked up something that was going great- my relationship with my au pair.

I agree with posters that I shouldn’t call it dating because they really are just talking (a lot). But if I can go ahead and continue venting, yes, the talking is bothering me. Even tonight for example, we had friends over for dinner and we were discussing the merits of spacing out kids vs close in age. I was going to voice my opinion based on my experience, but then thought otherwise because I was scared it would get back to my parents and brother and hurt their feelings. I also feel like I can hear their collective snickering at my obsession with de cluttering…

Two weeks have passed since I submitted this question, and husband and I have chosen to prioritize that we think she’s great with the kids. It hasn’t fizzled but we’re hoping it will. My family is coming in for a visit soon and I mentioned that there will be no co sleeping to my family only. Mom thinks that’s going over the top to state that, but she thinks she’s got an Eagle Scout son. While I can’t forbid them from talking, the handbook has always said no overnight male guests which is why I won’t specifically say this to the au pair?

My hope is that this goes away, and if we want to extend based on her childcare performance, this doesn’t affect her choice to extend with us. thanks for all of the comments!

WarmStateMomma June 17, 2015 at 10:39 am

My family lives in another state and we get along great now because of the distance. I really wouldn’t want someone bringing their baggage into my home or reporting back to them about my views, our family life, etc. I get where you’re coming from and wish you the best!

Host Mom in the City June 17, 2015 at 11:11 am

Thanks for posting, OP! I love when posters come back and give more details. Hope it works out for you!

momo4 June 17, 2015 at 12:02 pm

Hostmomma – Thank you so much for your original post and subsequent follow-up!

Family, and especially sibling relationships can be incredibly challenging. I’m one of 5, so I get it. From what you describe, I can totally see how the AP’s communication with your brother makes your life more complicated. Feeling that you have to censor your conversations because the AP is there and might pass things along to your brother (and by extension your parents) is a significant concern and stressor.

Since your AP sounds like such a wonderful person, do you think you could sit down with her and share how you feel? You would have to be very diplomatic and avoid venting your long standing frustration with your brother, but perhaps you could start by simply admitting to her that your relationship with your brother and parents is sometimes stressful for you, and without criticizing them, give some examples of when this has happened and how this has affected you.

For example, decluttering is something that helps many many of us feel calmer and more in control since clutter makes us feel anxious and stressed. Other people are not bothered by clutter and think we’re crazy. This hurts, especially when it is our family that does not understand how we feel and mocks us. (This can be addressed from either the hurt-feelings or the hey-this-is-just-one-of-my-quirks angle.)

After you explain this to the AP, you can then go on to explain how anxious it makes you to be worrying that anything you say may come back to haunt you later after your family hears about it. If you put it this way (and avoid criticizing your brother), you let yourself be vulnerable, but you may find that your AP is quite sympathetic and understanding.

If your relationship with your AP is good, and she is a kind and mature woman, she shouldn’t have any trouble understanding the distinction between “I don’t want you talking with my brother” and “if you share family details with my brother it can hurt me and cause me problems”. It may be challenging for her to navigate the tensions between you and your family, but it sounds like it would be worth the effort to help her see how treacherous the waters are, and how you may be hurt by the situation. Asking someone to help you avoid pain and suffering is likely to be much more effective than telling them they have to give up something they enjoy.

And if you ever need any validation on the importance and joys of de-cluttering, feel free to contact me! :)

TexasHM June 17, 2015 at 1:24 pm

I missed this when I posted this am. Thank you for circling back and please post updates later on – end of year, if extension is impacted because hearing the cycle really helps everyone here!

+100 to momo4 here – yay I love when through conversation we find a consensus!

Now that we’ve got more insight if she’s a great AP like it sounds and you are able to manage your frustration and set boundaries (sounds like you are) then that’s great and obviously the more desirable scenario but I totally agree with others that communication is key here. Tell the AP it’s not about her and it’s not her problem – BUT that you are stressed for the reasons you mentioned. Don’t give her the download on your brother just tell her that it’s really important to you that she make an effort to maintain your privacy because it WILL cause drama and while she may be here a year or two, even something minor misinterpreted could haunt you for decades! Then you’ve got to trust her, move on and hope for the best or you will make yourself crazy. :)

Oh, and if you’re willing to share your decluttering gifts and are ever in TX please come on by!! ;)

TexasHM June 17, 2015 at 12:53 am

Agreed on many points and I went back and reread too because I read the OP a different way and I see now how you could get that the AP didn’t know upfront but without the OP weighing in I don’t know that we can get clarification here unfortunately.

But you are right, if it wasn’t, ideally it should have been said before but honestly, I don’t know that I would think about something like this until it became an issue. I wouldn’t think to worry about an AP dating my boss or friend’s ex or whatnot but I do see that HM told the brother she is off limits so something made her think he might do something she would consider inappropriate but you would also want to give your brother the benefit of the doubt that he wouldn’t be a jerk and deliberately do something he knows would upset you but again – huge mess and now we are digging into the family dynamics which is in the weeds and doesn’t change the circumstances here.

I definitely don’t mean to villify the AP. In fact it’s the brother I would string up if it happened in my family but if the HF doesn’t have that option and the AP can’t let go of this relationship (or lack thereof – but this tends to make me think its more than a friendship because why would she care and fight them on it if it was just a casual far away friendship?) then unfortunately she doesn’t leave the HM many tolerable options. If the AP cares this much for the brother then it’s best for everyone if she lives elsewhere (including the AP) because then she will have free rein and possibly live close enough to visit. The only thing I fault the AP for in this scenario is continuing to do something she knows is obviously very distressing to the host family and if, like she says, there isn’t anything going on then honestly, can’t she just let it go?? The fact that the HM mentions being annoyed AP doesn’t pick up after herself already tells me there is resentment in the relationship so at this point someone is going to end up resentful. Right now it’s HF because AP is still doing whatever she wants (or may even have a little resentment that she can’t go nuts with the brother). Alternative is happy HF but unhappy AP when communication is banned and we all know – happy AP happy house so that isn’t really an option either. Only scenario where I see them getting out of this without damaging (further) relationships is coordinating parting ways before it gets worse.

You make another good point though that I think in this instance the HM needs to make it clear that communicating (friends or otherwise) is upsetting and she can do whatever she wants in another household. And I think the HM owes it to this AP to do like I said and plan a rematch and engage her and give her a reference, extra time if needed and help her find a nice family. Not let her wallow and get sent home. At the end of the day she can decide if the brother is worth it and then it’s her call to relocate and if things go south she can add it to the list of things to blame the brother for and then AP and the HM can commiserate from afar about what a jerk the brother is. ;)

AlwaysHopeful HM June 17, 2015 at 8:50 am

TexasHM, I think you are living in my head! Totally agree with all you said here. Some additional observations:

– from OP’s descripion, it sounds like the initial conversation with the brother was something along the lines of “hey, back off the au pairs.” More of a family boundary-setting than a restriction on a particular au pair’s ability to date. I don’t see that as something I would necessarily share with my au pair because I then wouldn’t expect it to come up– similar to how I’ve explained to my family that our family’s au pairs are not available to go to their homes to wait for a a serviceman “since they’re home anyway.” I’ve made the boundary clear with my family– no need to make AP uncomfortable by dragging him/her into the discussion.

– the OP was not initially concerned when she observed heavy flirting between brother and AP, presumably because 1) they were leaving the state shortly, and 2) she had already set the boundary with her brother. In restrospect, at this point maybe it would have been good to say to AP “hey, as you can see, brother is a big flirt. It kind of creeps me out because I want to maintain a clear boundary between my family and our lives at home.” Still, I can see where that opportunity could be missed.

– I personally wouldn’t consider the current relationship dating. However, I also personally don’t think it matters what it is called. It is too close for comfort for the OP, AND at this point, its continued existence is causing a strain on the HF/AP relationship. In this case, at a minimum, OP should sit down with AP and have a heart to heart about how this is affecting the family dynamic. Maybe that will result in a way to work through the situation with the AP in place, and no or few hurt feelings. Maybe it will result in a coordinated rematch. I think that’s where I would end up, but only the OP and AP could answer that.

– with that said, rematch is not for the faint of heart (or for those without local support). My recent in-country rematch took weeks on end, and my job, family and sleep patterns suffered greatly the whole while. It is not a quick fix, even when it is the best option.

– On the “wonderful au pair” but broken trust point– I totally get that. My first rematch was a wonderful au pair. We loved him greatly, and he did a fantastic job with my son. Because he was so wonderful, we didn’t rematch after the first or second screw-up. All of his “mistakes” were off-duty, but created trust issues. By the time the third screw-up occurred, we had to call it quits. It was devastating to all of us, and even through rematch, AP continued to go above and beyond in his job (for example, invented games to help son do his homework, went out and fixed son’s bicycle chain after dinner without being asked, etc.). We have maintained a relationship with him and his family since he’s been gone, but the damage to the relationship is clear. One thing we discussed is that if I had it to do again, I would have rematched earlier, before so much damage had been done, and so that he would have been in a better position to find a family. He ended up going home. So I totally understand that sometimes things can’t work even with a wonderful au pair, and that, as painful as it is in the moment, it might be better to move forward earlier rather than later.

– finally, on the question of whether it “should” bother OP that AP has a relationship with brother, or whether she “should” feel lied to. I don’t think any of the shoulds matter. The bottom line is that this is how OP feels, and it is creating problems (the resentment she noted). AP is not a villan– this is just an unfortunate situation– but she has choices just as OP does. Sadly, adult choices generally result in adult compromises; rarely does one end up with 100% of the pie.

TexasHM June 17, 2015 at 9:39 am

Yep AlwaysHopeful you are in my head too! Completely agreed and dead on particularly about not wanting to freak out the AP or mention it at a wedding when you are leaving the next day. Exact same thing I would have done. Not APs fault brother is a flirt or creep or whatever.

I don’t know if I consider the current relationship dating, nor do I really care, at the end of the day dating or not its straining this relationship considerably and once that starts to happen if it doesn’t stop immediately it’s going to continue to deteriorate unfortunately. I keep going back to – if they aren’t dating and are just friends and it’s upsetting to the HF why can’t she just leave him alone and move on? It’s just not worth it. Right now the HF feels all the angst and stress which unfortunately APs, if you cause your HFs angst and stress long enough then even “wonderful” APs are hard to live with.

I also don’t put too much weight into the “wonderful” comment because I disagree that a wonderful AP would strain the relationship like this and wouldn’t pick up after herself. It also sounds like this is the OP’s first AP and I thought my first one was wonderful too until our second came along. ;) She was a wonderful caregiver but a difficult roommate so I can’t put her in the rockstar camp because you guessed it – she caused us stress and angst and it strained the relationship. Just in the last year have we reconciled completely.

I feel for the HM and the AP. But the AP in this situation has the ability to (EASILY) squash the issue and she won’t (for whatever reason). She made her decision, now the HM has to make hers. Now that the entire family is involved and there have been multiple conversations it is clear the HF doesn’t feel like they could just get over it and move on without resentment. Damage has already been done and they are “just talking”. Imagine if they actually started dating!

We aren’t here to judge the OP and her feelings. The question was – is she stuck riding it out or is there anything she can do at this point? Not – is this an unreasonable demand or should I just get over it? So, no, she is not stuck but the options are not as Always said – for the faint of heart which is why I said HM needs to really take stock of the situation and determine if she can reverse her position (very difficult and unlikely), work together for everyone to move on or swallow the angst until something blows up and then deal with the damage (likely much more).

We too had a rematch about 6 months ago and we too gave the AP too many chances (safety issues and bad fit). She was sent home. I often wonder if we had rematched much sooner (before several of the additional safety issues and car accidents) if she would have been able to go into a house of older kids and be successful. Maybe, maybe not but I do think in hindsight it would have given her a better chance and it would have led to less resentment on our side and hers so it isn’t always best to ride things out until the bitter end.

I have a brother and if the AP were to get involved it would be disastrous for our family. Yes, its not in our handbook and yes, he lives a flight away and has no money and is on government support so like the OP, if he and AP were to hit it off we would likely be in the same boat. We actually haven’t said anything to my brother because he just isn’t a flirt/charismatic so we don’t forsee this becoming an issue but you can bet if we saw something starting we would draw the line. He would likely tell me to pound sand and tell me I am not his mom and my mom would likely get involved and say “shes a sweet girl don’t you want your brother to be happy?” and it would be a hot mess. So yes, its long distance and unlikely to go anywhere but would cause enough angst for me to ask the AP to do me a favor as a member of the family and not put us through that. If she refused, our relationship absolutely would be damaged and I would start getting frustrated about every little thing like her not picking up after herself and it would spiral until either rematch or depending on timing if it was close to the end of the year we might try to suck it up but it would definitely damage the relationship for the future.

There is only one poster on here that said send her home. One. And the HM isn’t going through the phone records so again, let’s please stop judging the OP. She said the AP told her and they can see with their EYES that she is texting during the day and HEAR them talking for hours at night. They aren’t combing through phone records so let’s not even go there please. And we already said the OP needs to tell the AP that them communicating (at all) bothers them so the AP can decide if it is worth it (continue and harm the HF further or quit and have a chance of salvaging things). AP is an adult, if she decides to continue to upset the family then they will have to make a decision about how/if to proceed. That’s life.

Mimi June 17, 2015 at 12:55 pm

I know the OP followed up here, but I can’t help but wonder what advice would have been if the situation were reversed:

“Dear AuPairMom,
A few months ago I attended a family wedding with my HF and met my HM’s younger brother. We got along very well and have stayed in touch since leaving. When I mentioned this to my HM, she was a little weird about it. She said it would be appropriate to be friends with him, but said she would be uncomfortable with us dating since if it didn’t go well it would make for weird family events. I was offended that it felt like I was being told who I could and could not date when I had only just met this person. It was an awkward conversation but since I am only friends with her brother, I let her know I understood her point of view.

Then recently my HD spoke to me about the situation and insisted that we are dating because they know how often we speak and text. They don’t like it and I felt I had to defend myself for just talking to someone even though it is not affecting my job in any way. Since then I feel like my HM is mad at me (and have even asked her about this) and I feel like all my texts and conversations are being scrutinized. I am not sure what to do. Signed – We’re Only Talking AP”

:) I know that takes liberties with the situation, but I think that without some well thought out communication, 6 or so more months of hoping it will fizzle is going to be stressfull for all involved.

WarmStateMomma June 17, 2015 at 1:31 pm

Let’s say the AP views the connection with the brother as completely unromantic and that the HM misinterpreted their friendly banter as flirting. Let’s say the AP was actually talking all the time to the HM’s sister or mother instead of the brother. Is the situation any different?

The AP may not understand the ways in which she is “stirring the pot” and I wouldn’t feel obligated to share my vulnerabilities and family drama for the AP’s consideration. “My family is complicated and I prefer that you not pursue this friendship” should suffice.

SKNY June 17, 2015 at 6:20 am

I understand your point but
1. Her first sentence says: my wonderful Au pair. Wonderful Au pairs don’t come easily.
2. It has not impacted work (remains a wonderful Au pair).
3. Host has said to ap no dating but they may be friends. Well… Let’s see… They live hrs away BY PLANE. Brother has no money or job to fly (op said it is less than likely he will). In ops parents home they flirted only (no kiss, no real physical contact). They are NOT dating. Only in USA this would be considered dating. The Au pair is young, is going out, probably has friends… At this point she is probably on tinder talking to 3 more boys other than OPs brother…. All my Au pairs would chat with many at time….
For her is just a fun friend with inocent flirt…

SKNY June 17, 2015 at 6:22 am

If the host says Au pair can be friend with brother, how many hrs of text/call is friend vs dating? I have had friends who I texted all day long in the past. Some were male….

Host Mom in the City June 17, 2015 at 6:46 am


“I just worry that the AP is being unfairly vilified here. It may be academic, but there is a difference between initiating a relationship that you know will cause all kinds of family tension and upset your HM, and initiating a relationship only to find out later that it upsets your HM, and having to decide how to respond at that point. Furthermore, HM told the AP that it was ok for AP and the brother to be friends, and AP maintains that’s all they are. HM doesn’t believe AP and feels betrayed as a result. It’s an ugly and unfortunate situation for everyone, but it isn’t entirely of the AP’s making either given the complexity of the family dynamics she has stumbled into, and she stands to lose more than anyone else here.”

Honestly some of these “send her home!” Responses are really concerning to me. Here’s a question – would the host mom have any idea they were even chatting if she wasn’t combing through her phone records for evidence?

Mimi June 17, 2015 at 7:35 am

Didn’t the AP tell the HM they were talking? As an adult, at what point when your employer/HM tells you on more than one occasion that something makes you uncomfortable and is leading to problematic conversations do you actually stop?

There have been other situations discussed here where HPs have had to add/readjust their HH rules or thinking based on circumstances and the OP has come to realize that any communication is a problem for her. Why is it not ok to ask the AP to respect and honor that or for there to be consequences when she is dishonest?

I don’t think folks here are vilifying the AP so much as they are not condoning the behavior. Whether or not she initiated contact, she can end it. Transitioning isn’t sending her home and if the situation continues to deteriorate, no one is going to be happy.

Host Mom in the City June 17, 2015 at 9:22 am

Ok, I guess maybe I’m unable to see past my own feelings on this situation – I personally cannot imagine having made the demand in the first place that the brother and AP not communicate, particularly since it doesn’t sound like anything at all has happened – no performance issues, no visits, no spilling of family gossip getting back to the OP, no inappropriate age difference, the rest of the family doesn’t care, etc. – very simply, it sounds purely like two young people who are enjoying flirting (and by text and phone no less – not even any visits). This just really doesn’t rise to the level of getting upset about to me.

As I mentioned above though, speaking generally, of course, if there’s something that upsets you as a host mom, you are free to tell your AP your qualifications for their staying in your home. If it’s stop talking to my brother, and she won’t, then you’ll have to decide if it’s worth rematching over. I just hope that the reason for rematch is stated plainly and that the host mom is committed to finding this otherwise “wonderful” au pair a great new family.

momo4 June 17, 2015 at 10:03 am

Reading over the post (yet again) it appears that the AP was only told once by the HM, and once by the HD that AP dating the brother made them uncomfortable. 2 conversations total, neither of which included the fact that at the heart of it, it seems HM really doesn’t want AP being in communications with the brother at all. HM clearly states that she told AP it was ok to be friends with the brother, and AP says that’s all they are. According to many people’s interpretation of the situation (and despite the high probability that there is romance involved) the AP and brother are not in fact dating. So after these 2 conversations (a month ago) I have to ask: Does the AP really know how upset her HM currently is by the whole thing? Or is the HM silently resenting the situation while the AP thinks she is ok?

It seems that part of the real dilemma here for the HM is the fact that from the AP’s perspective, the AP is not actually doing the thing she was told made the HM uncomfortable, so the AP may well think everything is ok since she acquiesced to the HP request that she not date the brother. Meanwhile, the HM is still uncomfortable with the reality of the situation, resenting the AP’s continued communications with her brother, and these different viewpoints are poisoning the HM-AP relationship.

I think many nice accomodating HF find themselves in this sort of bind. Leaving the “dating the brother” specifics out of it, how do HF deal with any behavior or situation that really bothers them, but that they feel they can’t exactly forbid or aren’t comfortable forbidding?

We all say communicate, communicate, communicate. Make expectations explicit. Set clear boundaries. But situations evolve, sometimes in unexpected ways, and we are left having to choose which uncomfortable situation we prefer: letting things go, or making difficult decisions that may cause us (and other people) inconvenience or sometimes even misery, but serve the long-term good.

At the end of the day though, the HM needs to come to a decision soon, because the situation is clearly damaging her relationship with the AP and causing the HM herself all kinds of inner stress and unhappiness. I speak from personal experience when I say that silently resenting the AP’s behavior hurts the HM more than it does the AP who will obliviously continue engaging in that behavior, and the longer this goes on, the worse it is for everyone.

AlwaysHopeful HM June 17, 2015 at 10:34 am

Agree totally. The one thing that’s clear is that HM and AP need to talk this through.

Host Mom in the City June 17, 2015 at 11:09 am

Totally agree.

Host Mom in the City June 17, 2015 at 6:48 am

And btw, I do actually have a brother and close cousin who are mid-20s, so I can imagine this happening to me. But I can’t at all imagine forbidding it, especially if my AP were wonderful and it wasn’t impacting her performance.

laura June 18, 2015 at 8:08 am

I’ve changed my mind on this, and actually feel that they should rematch. The OP came back and said that she hoped that the relationship would break up. If I was the ap and read this, I would be devastated that my hm wanted to make my relationship break up because she didn’t like it. The ap should find another family closer to the brother, and maybe the op should consider a live out nanny as things don’t get as tangled then. A 26 year old and 29 year old having an attraction sounds totally normal, and no one should wish a young couple’s relationship to fail. Of course, as I e said before, its a totally different picture if the ap’s work is affected. It doesn’t seem like the ap has done anything wrong, other than disobey an unfair rule. Young people are going to fall in love, and 26 is too old to have someone telling you who you are allowed to date.

NewbieHM June 18, 2015 at 12:06 pm

Stop judging this HM.
There are boundaries in every relationship and the sooner you learn that the better off you are. If your boss invites you to a Christmas party at his home, you can’t just go there and start flirting with his son without expecting some repercussions. He might not fire you, but you won’t be invited to other social events and will loose valuable opportunities for your career. If your start a romance with your BFF’s uncle you can expect her to be upset and probably not talk to you again. These bounds are different in every person and in every culture and when you move into someone’s home you need to respect that.

BearCo Momma June 18, 2015 at 1:44 pm


gianna June 25, 2015 at 6:28 pm

I agree with this and I am thinking of another scenario. I remember reading career counseling articles that said if you fall in love and have a serious relationship with your boss , think long and hard about whether you want to preserve the job or the relationship. In this case, the host parents can say ” we wish you the best but this is not going to work out . We will give you a great reference ” If the aupair wants to maintain the relationship with the brother, fine, that is their choice. If the romantic relationship is serious, better to disengage sooner than later from the host family/aupair relationship before things get messy. And I think they could get very messy in terms of conflicts over work and chores and other program rules.

NZ HM June 19, 2015 at 12:21 am

A 26 year old should also be old enough to make sensible decision about who she dates and act in a professional manner, even when it comes to matters of the heart… They should be able to be able to resist the urge to jump into just any relationship. Sometimes ‘love’ (or what feels like it) just happens – fair enough! Good judgement of how to deal with it and if and how to proceed are also signs of maturity and if any AP were to throw a hissy fit because HM explains how it makes her uncomfortable it would be a clear sign of lack of understanding and maturity.

The HM doesn’t want the relationship to fizzle out because she doesn’t want the AP to be happy or in love but because that particular relationship is problematic for her, and I can totally understand why.

laura June 18, 2015 at 8:11 am

Also, I think we have to bear in mind that being an ap isn’t a career. If asked to choose, the AP is likely to choose the relationship over being an ap. This means that the hm would have to find another childcarer.

HRHM June 18, 2015 at 1:31 pm

I think everyone here agrees that being an AP isn’t a career. The question isn’t about choosing a “relationship over being an ap” it’s about deciding if one relationship is more important/valuable than another. If the AP finds out that her flirtation with the HMs brother really upsets the HM but she is seriously in love with the brother, she should offer to find a new family. If she is just flirting/conversing but loves her HF, she should tell the brother that she can’t communicate with him anymore as it is adversely affecting her relationship with HM.

If HM loves her AP and wants her to stay, she has to decide if she will allow the fracture in her relationship with her biological family (brother AND parents by the sound of the post) should be allowed to poison her relationship with her AP. It’s up to her whether she can ignore their phone relationship and continue on with her AP as if it isn’t happening. Some of that will depend on how the AP conducts herself and also how the brother/parents act.

And although young adults are adults, you can be sure that MANY of their parents are secretly waiting silently for their less-than-savory relationships to fall apart! That’s no reason to rematch. I’ve had plenty of APs who had terrible friends and/or boyfriends where I couldn’t wait for the relationship to implode so she could move on to better people. They deserved better (and this AP deserves better than a 29 year old living in his Mom’s basement!)

momo4 June 18, 2015 at 3:08 pm


Didi June 18, 2015 at 4:22 pm

It doesn’t seem like she was covering it up because she tried to hurt you or hide from your family. I believe for her that was purely instinct, knowing you are not ok with what she is doing – and she is not willing to stop doing it.

If they are both mature and reasonable (you know it the best), and for months it still is just flirt and texting/calling, then maybe you should let it be.
Obviously they won’t stop, and if things go bad or good – it is not your call to tell them what is proper and what not. However, if it starts affecting her work, you have every right to make sure she understands, follows rules and does her job. – but that would be case for any guy, not just your brother. For now it seems harmless, so maybe telling him and her once again what your expectations are, if things go bad, might be the only and the best you can do.

Taking a Computer Lunch June 18, 2015 at 9:39 pm

Personally, I’m ready for a new topic. I don’t have anything to contribute here that hasn’t already been said, but since that’s never stopped me before…

Hostmomma, you obviously have some issues with your family, especially your brother. Personally, I wouldn’t let those get between you and your wonderful AP. Trust her – if she’s as great as you say, then she’ll wake up and smell the coffee.

I’ve had several APs who have fallen “in love” with undesirable (to me, anyway) men. It doesn’t take them long to figure out the lay of the land. AP #4, whom DH and I loved, loved, loved, seem to have a knack for falling in love with what I can only describe as affable losers. Great guys who just were never going to get their shit together – at least not during her AP year.

One of my least favorite APs met a guy while walking through a rough neighborhood, and misunderstood his interest in her. She was so sure he wanted to know her better, but, on my advice, she took a friend along when she met him, and understood what he truly wanted – sex – when they met. (The trick for me, was never saying a negative word about him – but just suggesting that when meeting up with someone she didn’t really know that it was best to have a friend along.)

The bottom line – age gives HMs a certain amount of perspective, but that does not translate into “Your 20-something-AP wants to hear your advice.” Quite the opposite! The trick is to be subtle, and let your AP have the opportunity to absorb the advice you give without feeling like it was forced upon her.

My advice, tread lightly. If your brother is truly the loser you have portrayed, a smart AP will figure it out quickly.

Comments on this entry are closed.