Au Pairs are very aware that they are expected to follow the parenting philosophy of their host parents.
Usually, Au Pairs draw on their own cultures’ and families’ parenting practices when they find that the Host Parent’s approach simply isn’t working for them.
Then, as long as they’re not going entirely against the host parents’ preferences, Au Pairs try to put their own spin on working with their host children. Most times the Au Pair can find a way to work with a host child that fits inside the parents’ expectations.
The Au Pair who writes, below, has been trying to follow her Host Mom’s advice…. but when the Host Mom’s frustration escalates and the child still refuses to eat, what happens next horrifies the Au Pair.
The Host Mom hits the child– something the Au Pair thinks is wrong.
Is this a situation where the Au Pair should rematch?
Dear Au Pair Moms,
I hope that I can get some advice, because I have no idea how to handle this situation with my Host Mom. I am a first time au pair and I have been here in (European Country) for a month now.
My boy is a lovely, cheeky 8 year old boy. Personally I think he is over-scheduled, but i recognise I am not a parent and this is how he is being raised – not my business. However, he does not like to eat.
With all the activities, it’s important that he does eat.
He only ever wants to eat a mouthful at a time and then says ‘I don’t want it’ ‘I can’t eat it’.
I can understand his reaction — his tummy must be so tiny of course he can’t eat very much in one go.
Personally I would like to see him have 4/5/6 tiny meals a day to get the calories into him, rather than one massive lunch meal which he can never finish. But again, he is not my child.
However, the big problem here, is that when he refuses to eat, his Mother loses her temper.
Like, really loses it. She screams in his face, pulls his arms, slapped his face and kicks him. When he cries, she screams and he runs away, I see and hear her catch him and hit him. He is screaming and crying and she force feeds him the same size portion as she and I have.
It makes me feel so sick to watch her force this poor boy to eat and hit him when he cannot eat all she has given him.
He clearly has a complex about mealtimes now, before he has even sat down he is already saying I don’t want it. When she’s not there, I can sometimes get him to eat a few more mouthfuls, but then she comes back and screams some more, which makes him scream and eat even less. But I’ve also seen her hit him when he doesn’t want to do homework which I just can’t stand.
Its not even about getting him to eat more, its the fact I have to watch a child be hit and kicked, which in my opinion makes me partly responsible.
I feel so sick. My own Mother says that I should leave.
In other ways, the Host Mom seems like a caring parent. My own Mother says I should stand up for him and tell her its not OK to hit him, but I can’t forget the fact I’m a 23 year old, first time au pair. Am I in a position to tell her how to raise her child??
He clearly loves her very much, always wanting to be with him Mummy I barely get a minute alone with him to talk with him about how he feels.
I have no idea what to do, please if anyone has any advice I would appreciate it so, so much.
Image by Gary Hons on Flickr