We’re enjoying a visit from one of our former Au Pairs, and a friend of hers. Although both of them speak English well, I’m aware once again of how challenging it can be to interact across language differences, as well as cultural differences, and even family norms.
With communication challenges, I always prefer it when folks try to “fix it forward”, by acting. By saying something. By trying rather than by retreating. So I get where this host mom is coming from.
If she lived nearby, I’d give this HostMom a copy of Susan Cain’s book Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking.
What advice would you give her? Should she get adjusted to the World’s Quietest Au Pair? Or try to draw this new Au Pair into conversation, in different ways?
Dear Au Pair Mom — Our latest Au Pair arrived 5 weeks ago. During our interviewing process she was very engaged and talkative. But, when she arrived at our house, she was very quiet. As in, hardly says a word.
Our previous au pair was still around for a few days, so I thought it would get better when she left as the new au pair would have to interact with us more. Her English is excellent, so it’s not a language issue.
Fast forward to now and our new Au pair literally doesn’t talk to us.
We have tried and tried to have a conversation with her about anything and we get one word answers at the most. We invite her out to dinner, include her as much as possible, ask her about home and family, etc. She says she isn’t homesick and the LCC said she seems happy with us. She is around a lot…eats dinner with us most nights, sits in the family room when we watch TV and is generally around (but looking at her phone most of that time).
I don’t think she has ever said a word to us unless we asked her a question. She does have au pair friends that she hangs out with on the weekends, so she isn’t just painfully shy.
I’m not sure what to do about this. We have had quiet au pairs in the past, but never like this. She does a good job with the kids from what I can tell and they said she does talk to them when we aren’t around. Would love ideas or suggestions anyone has. I don’t think I can take this for another 10+ months.