How hard is it to see the incoming au pair making connections with the kids, settling into the AuPair room, learning to drive in the USA, and talking about all she’s going to do in her year of adventure?
If you’re the host mom, it’s not hard at all– you *want* to see this.
But if you’re the outgoing au pair? It can be heartbreaking.
TexasHM pointed out that we’ve really only discussed ‘inter-AuPair Jealousy’ in passing, as part of our larger conversations about Au Pair Overlapping and current Au Pairs helping to interview incoming Au Pairs.
(Note that inter-AuPair Jealousy is all within the same host family. Jealously between Au Pairs in different host families is a subject for another. post. not. here. thanks.)
Inter-AuPair Jealousy appears to occur often– maybe even being accepted as normal by several of the tenured host families. TexasHM notes that TACL wrote about it several times almost as a given and natural phase of the AP year.
I would love to know how host families are proactively managing jealousy between incoming and outgoing au pairs. Is there a way to do this so that everyone is better off — AP, kids, HPs and incoming AP? While none of my APs ever did anything that really impacted the kids or incoming APs, all have struggled with jealousy. They have all made the decision to end their terms with us, and they were good APs and part of the family to us.
Here is a little more context on the most recent flare up:
Recently, while on vacation, our incoming AP (Nov) angered our current AP by messaging her on FB saying “send me pics! I wish I was there with you all!”. Now, quite obviously the incoming AP did nothing wrong and the flare up was a mixture of jealousy (lots of talk about the new AP with our family, friends, kids etc) and fear (she had really wanted to extend but had a great oppty at home).
I let current AP rant and I didn’t push back, then chatted with DH and we decided to give incoming AP a heads up and ask her to give current AP a little space and be sensitive to the situation.
It is really hard to confront feelings vs facts and I agonized over whether or not I should have even said anything to incoming AP but in the end we decided it was worth it for several reasons:
1. It makes the incoming AP aware of the potential for frayed nerves and jealousy in the hopes she can recognize it and not take things personally vs not bringing it up and then having new AP wonder what she did wrong or misread if new AP gets upset,
2. Because in explaining it to the incoming AP I am prepping her for her leaving and having the same feelings at the end of her term and can remind her of this (since all of ours have had it I’m assuming its the norm rather than exception) and
3. So that incoming AP can see that we value current APs feelings just like we will value hers when she is our AP and toward the end of her term.
In the past I have handled it differently– essentially, by not handling it :)
With the previous APs, when jealousy flared up I reminded them of all the memories that were unique and special to them that will never change.
Now, to make this easier, lately I have been jotting notes on my phone – is that crazy? For example, for current AP I have “taught DD1 how to tie her shoes, saw DD1 lose her first tooth, taught DS1 how to win tic tac toe” etc etc. My first AP potty trained my girls, saw my youngest’s first steps, etc.
These ‘firsts’ will be different for each AP. I hope the list helps remind each one that their time with us is exactly that – their time. No other AP can take that from them.
What else have parents and au pairs done — proactively– to address the very real concerns about jealousy?
If it’s not avoidable, how can we manage it well?
Image: That’s My Box Too, by Marcus Metropolis