Dear Au Pair Mom,
For the past couple of months, I had been looking for an Au Pair job in Europe (I am American), and finally found a great family via Aupair.com. I used your advice and evaluated the match by shared values, lifestyle, and mutual expectations. We seemed like a perfect fit, and everything went smoothly in our phone conversations and emails. I also spoke to their last AP, who had nothing but good things to say.
The family seemed excited, and I definitely was. We had formally agreed, the family had drafted a standard Au Pair contract, and I was getting ready to sign and deal with visa formalities, when I received a troubling email from the HM.
Discomfiting News: Marital Strife
Basically, the HM and HD had been having marital problems, which I guess had unexpectedly resurfaced. She wanted to let me know not to purchase plane tickets, or invest anything more, lest their relationship got worse over the next few days. She continued on to say that she would keep me posted, and also that she “would understand if I decided against it all together.”
I’m not opposed to working for a family in crisis, but I’m confused as to whether they still want to hire an AP at all. Regardless of what happens, they will likely still need childcare. I want them to hire me as an AP, but this situation has stripped away some of the trust I had for them, so if they do come to that decision, things might have to change. I’d probably involve an agency.
What if things went south while I was in Europe with them, and they felt uncomfortable having me in the house? That possibility scares me, and I’m not sure what to do.
What do you suggest? Sincerely, Confused Potential AP
Hi Confused Potential AP — I happened to be online so I thought I’d reply right away.
My first thought is:
Feel good that your Host Mom is thinking ahead and cares enough about you to let you know that their situation is in flux. Even though it’s unclear what you’re supposed to do with the information, you are now able to ask for more details and ultimately make an informed decision.
My second thought is about why your Host Mom might need to tell you this for her/their sake, since she’s unable to tell you (yet) what to do with the information:
Sometimes people feel they need to make a situation clear and concrete in order to address it, and they do this by publicizing the problem and telling other people. It sounds weird, but them telling you may be part of them working out that they indeed have a problem. It may have much less to do with ‘you’ than with ‘them’.
Also, about using an agency:
We all at AuPairMom know much less about how to Au Pair outside the USA than what happens inside the USA. In general, I advise Host Parents and Au Pairs to find a way to use an agency, even if they ‘pre-match’ through a reputable website. We recommend using an agency in the US since the regulations give both au pairs and host families some protection, the local counselors, give ongoing support, and the Agency helps with travel, training and emergencies (like, rematches). But I have no idea how this works outside the US, so let’s hope our non-US readers have some insight.
More soon … cv/mom@APM
From Confused Potential AP:
Thanks for your kind words and quick response! It’s been very helpful to hear your thoughts (as well as my own parents’, who said something similar), because my first reaction didn’t acknowledge any of the good things, or that this might be something the HM needs to get off her chest. I think that’s probably indicative of AP reactions on the whole; we’re young and still see things in black and white, without factoring in the complexities. So for now, I’m crossing my fingers and waiting.
Readers, now it’s your turn:
- How much do you think CPAP should worry?
- What should she ask her Host Parents about, as a followup?
- How might she protect her best interests, perhaps with a formal back up plan? Or, do you think she should look for another family?